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tious, dissipated turn of mind, which must disqualify any person who is under its influence, for judging impartially of the evidences of the scriptures ?
Does the infidel boast of his pleasures ? The be. liever does not boast of his ; but he is cheered and made happy by them, in the intervals of solitude, when the former experiences a dreadful vacuity, or his joys are succeeded by the stings of remorse ; in the season of affliction, and the hour of death, when his past crimes, rising like so many ghosts from the grave of oblivion, encompass him with terrors, and an opening eternity presents to his view the '
unutterable horrors of despair. What are the hopes of infidelity, even in a time of health and prosperity ? It has none, except this poor, grovelling, fluctuating hope, that life shall be protracted a little longer, and that to-morrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant. Whether there be a state beyond the grave, it is unable with certainty to tell; it is afraid to inquire from a misgiving of mind, which it strives in vain to overcome ; or, if it ape the language of religion, and speak of that state with confidence and expectation, it is in those moments, when its nerves are braced, its spirits are el. evated, its blood flows with a full and regular tide, and the supposed distance of death allows the coward to put on the airs of a hero. - The hope of the believer stoops to no sublunary object, but terminates on felicity too great to be conceived, and too sublime to be enjoyed, in this state of imperfection. He expects to triumph over death, to survive the present system of things, to prolong his pleasures through an endless duration. His eye brightens, as he approaches the last term of life ; he welcomes the pang of dissolution. The infidel affects to pity the christian, but in reality there are moments when he envies himn. The christian never envies the infi. del, but at all times he thinks of him with the most tender pity.
The consequences of rejecting the scriptures, on the supposition that they are divinely inspired, are serious and alarming. In this case, the threatenings against the unbelieving and impenitent, will be found to be no vain terrors, no bugbears contrived by priests to keep the silly, unsuspecting multitude in awe.
Infidels may make damnation their sport, but by all their art they shall not be able to avoid it. It is surely a crime worthy of the severest punishment, to reject, to misrepresent, to ridicule, to revile a revelation stamped with conspicuous characters of divine wisdom and grace, and attested by wonders, which the arm of omnipotence hath performed. If the scriptures be a revelation from heaven, the light of nature is not sufficient. It is not sufficient for any man, whatever some may thoughtlessly and unguardedly assert; it is manifestly not sufficient for the infidel, who hath ungratefully, and contemptuously closed his eyes on a much clearer light. It cannot conduct any individual to happi. ness; it leaves its deluded votaries in misery. If the scriptures be a revelation from God, there is only one method of gaining his favour and a blessed immortality; and that method infidels despise. They must, therefore, suffer the doom denounced in the gospel. “ He that believeth not the Son shall not see life ; but the wrath of God abideth These remarks are submitted to the considerationof such of the readers, as may unhappily have imbibed the principles of infidelity. Perhaps it is not so necessary to present to persons of this description evidences of the divinity of the scriptures, as to endeavour to awaken in their minds serious thoughts, with regard to their immortal interests. Infidelity, I will repeat it, is not the effect of a religious spirit, rendering men cautious, in general, what they admit as the rule of their conduct, and, in this instance, unreasonably scrupulous: it is the offspring of a perfect indifference to all religion, of a total want of concern about things invisible and future. The most cogent arguments cannot be expected to convince, while the mind is diverted by the cares and pleasures of life ; but I should not despair of the conversion of the most determined enemy of revelation, if he were once brought in earnest to inquire how he might please God, and be forever happy. He would soon discover that no religion but the gospel can furnish an effectual antidote to his fears, and a solid foundation of his hopes.
* John iä. 36.
To persons in the outset of life, the arguments of infidelity are addressed in circumstances peculiarly favourable to their success. Men, whose minds are sobered by time and reflection, are not so apt to be misled, unless some occasional cause lend its aid to warp their understandings. But there are two disadvantages of youth, to which the reasonings of unbelievers are indebted for the fatal influence often exerted on the mind at that period, immaturity of judgment, and the strength of passion. The young, indeed, are much disposed to overrate their own talents and acquirements, and to think themselves
competent to the investigation of the most difficult questions; while the scanty measure of knowledge which the greater part of them possess, and the limited information which the most diligent can be supposed to have attained, disqualify them for encountering on equal terms the champions of irreligion, versed in all the arts of sophistry and deceit. They cannot comprehend all the bearings and relations of the subject in debate. The glare of eloquence dazzles their eyes, and the high tone of affirmation overawes and silences them. At the same time, the opinions which are urged upon them with all the confidence of truth, accord too well with the natural propensities of their hearts. Their warm temperament can ill brook the cold maxims of morality, the teasing restraints of religion. Entering upon a gay scene, where pleasure presents itself in many a tempting form, and wooes them by every alluring art, can it be expected, that they will sit down calmly to examine the arguments which are intended to prove, that they may yield to its solicitations with innocence and safety? By those who long for the air fruit of the forbidden tree, the authority which repeals the prohibition to taste it, will not be scrupulously discussed.
Let me beseech my readers of this class to pause a little and reflect, before they make a surrender of their faith. It is possible, that the arguments against revelation are not so strong as to you they may appear ; it is certain, that men of faculties more matured, of larger experience and more extensive inquiry, do look upon them as inconclusive; and it may be presumed that a closer and more dispassionate consideration of them would convince you of their weakness and futility. Ought you not to proceed with caution, to examine with the greatest care the merits of the question, to have the evidence fully and fairly presented, before you venture to give sentence against a religion, said to have been attested by the most astonishing miracles, embraced by the wise and good in all ages since its publication, and by yourselves held sacred from your childhood ? Would you not do well to inquire what is offered you in the room of that religion ; with what system infidels promise to supply its place ; and whether this substitute will serve better than religion, as a source of wisdom and a rule of life ; will contribute more effectually to your intellectual and moral perfection?
You are now entering upon life, without having thought much of its duties, and, it is probable, hav. ing still less considered its difficulties. But life is not a mere play, a pastime for the giddy and the idle, a succession of frivolous amusements. It has serious business attached to it, and brings along with it, in its progress, many evils both physical and moral. Is it by the principles of infidelity that you will be trained for the bustling, trying scene ; disciplined for the duty, the resistance, the patience, the self-command, which its varying postures may require? Will they prove a safeguard to your integrity, amidst strong temptations to falsehood and injustice ? Will they support your virtue, when assailed by the blandishments of vice? Are these the principles which it would be safe to carry into the details of life, into the bosom of families ; by which you would wish your nearest and most tender relatives to be governed ; which you would be pleased