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was insulting his understanding by insisting on these arguments ----certainly no infidel who would not ask me if I had no better reasons than those for believing in the immortality of the soul. Of this work, and of Plato's reasonings in it, Cicero, in his Tusculan Questions, most feelingly and strikingly remarks: “I do not know how it is, but when I read I assent; but when I lay down the book and begin to reflect by myself on the immortality of the soul, all my assent glides away.”[-Nescio quo modo, dum lego, assentior; cum posui librum, et mecum ipse de immortalitate animorum cæpi cogitare, assentio omnis illa elabitur.] But, as a matter of simple fact, this result does not follow from the faith reposed in the New Testament. The hope of immortality becomes a fixed and ruling principle of the nature, just as certain and determinate in its influence on the life as the belief that the sun will continue to rise, and that the laws of nature will remain unchanged. On the whole, and in a word, I look at my nature in reference to its capabilities and wants, and to the question whether the gospel meets those capabilities and wants, and I can see no deficiency-nothing which it has not provided for. Man is endowed with reason ;-it meets his reason in the evidence of its truth, and in the nature of its revelations. Man has a conscience ;-it discloses the way in which it may have peace. Man has sinned ;-it reveals a way of pardon. Man pants to live for ever ;--it tells him he will. He is made to be influenced by hope ;--it has set the highest conceivable hopes before him. He has duties to perform ;-it has told him what they are, and how to perform them. He is to be governed by motives ;-it has told him what they should be. He is in a world of trials ;-it tells him how to bear them.

He has an imagination ;--it sets before him objects niost brilliantpared with which the most splendid descriptions of genius die away.

He sees in himself some evidences that he has an immortal soul ;-it confirms them, and raises this beginning of hope from a state of uncertainty and doubt when it produced no influence on his life, to most certain assurance, and makes it the most influential of all the principles of action.

IV. In the fourth place, I cherish this hope, and embrace this system, because of its undeniably happy influence on all the interests of man. I am aware of the objection which some may start here, and do not forget that I might be referred to the wars, and crusades, and persecutions, and horrors of the inquisition, and the miserable superstition in pilgrimages and the rules of the monastic life, which it would be said have grown out of Christianity. But I trust I need not argue this point. I am


speaking of pure Christianity; not of Christianity perverted and abused. I am speaking of what every man knows will be its influence if an individual, or a family, or a larger community, comes under its power. These things to which I have just referred are no part of the proper effect of true religion, and I presume that they who would urge the objection know that as well as I do. Every man knows what the effect of pure Christianity is and when its professed friends evince any of these things, its enemies are not slow to remark that they do not “live up" to the requirements and the spirit of their religion. But let a few simple facts be submitted under this head in the form in which I am conducting this argument—that is, stating reasons why I cherish the hope that is in me. We who are professed Christians, then, look (a) at the influence of that gospel on our own character. None of us who are Christians have anything of which to boast, and there is not one of us that is not sensible of serious defects in his character, and of errors and follies over which he mourns in secret. But, as far as we can trace the influence of that gospel on our minds and hearts, it has not been a bad influence, or an influence of which we should be ashamed. We have found it giving us the victory over low and debasing propensities and passions ; furnishing a check, in numerous cases wholly effectual, on what were before unbridled appetites; elevating our views, and expanding our conceptions, of the dignity of our nature, and of the objects for which we should live; raising us in the scale of being, and teaching us to aspire to fellowship with the more exalted intellects before the “ throne;" removing the acerbities, and destroying the unevenness of our temper; making us willing to forgive our “enemies, persecutors, and slanderers," and to pray that God would " change their hearts ;" giving us cheerfulness, peace, and “minds contented with our present condition ;" purifying our hearts, subduing the stubbornness of our will, and making us submissive in trial; disposing us to kindness and affection in the various relations of life, and inclining us to look with an eye of tenderness and pity on the oppressed, the fatherless, and the sad. (6) We look again at the effects of the gospel on the minds of our friends living and dead-and we find there, too, only the same purifying and happy influence. It has given the chief virtues to our living friends; it has done more than all things else to hallow the memory of those who are dead. A father, a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, has none the less claim to affection by becoming a Christian ; and we feel that whatever may be their native amiableness, there is not a virtue which will not be brightened, not a lovely trait which will not be rendered more lovely, and not a defect which will not be lessened or removed, by the influence of the gospel. No man believes that his wife will be made less pure, kind, virtuous, chaste, faithful, by being a true Christian; no man supposes that his son or daughter would become a more ready prey to corrupt influences and evil passions by being brought wholly under the influence of the gospel of Christ. As far as we can trace that influence on the character of any of our friends now living, or on the character of those who have departed, it has been a happy influence. We fear not that it will injure the cherished memory on earth of those who have left the world, or hinder their salvation in the future state; nor do we fear its proper influence on the life and heart of any living friend. When the sailor-boy leaves his home for a seafaring life ; when a son embarks on a vessel to go to a distant land for scientific purposes, to perfect himself in some liberal art, or for commerce, we do not feel that he will be injured by any fair influence of religion on his soul. We sleep not the less calmly at night when the storm howls and we feel that he is danger; nor are We the less serene when we think of the temptations to which he is exposed in a distant land, nor when the thought crosses our minds that perhaps we may never see him again. It is not a record which we are unwilling to have made on the stone which marks the grave of a friend that he lived and died with the Christian hope; it is not one which would dishonour us if it should be at last cut on our own. (c) The same remarks, expanded, might be made respecting a neighbourhood or a nation ; respecting the relation of Christianity to the progress of society, to civilization, to learning, to the arts, to schools, to social customs, to human liberty. Look around you, and ask what injury the Christian religion has done in the institutions of our own land ; or rather ask what we have here which has not been originated or improved by the influence of the Christian religion. What is there in this land now that is valuable that it does not preserve; what is there that has cost so much blood and treasure, and that now so much excites the hopes of humanity everywhere, that would not soon become corrupt and worthless if it were not for the influence of the gospel of Christ? I confess that I feel that it elevates my nature to cherish a hope derived from a religion that has scattered blessings in every age and every land; that has been connected with human progress everywhere; that has been identified with the best notions of liberty and civil government—with the progress of learning—with institutions of charity--with the sweetest virtues and enjoyments of domestic life—with all that gives support in trial--and with the only real consolation that is ever felt on the bed of death.

V. I had intended to have dwelt at some length on a fifth point as a reason for cherishing this hope, but perhaps all that I could say might be condensed into a sentence or two, and, at any rate, must be now: it is this, because I feel assured that I shall most prize this religion when I come to lie upon the bed of death. You will not understand me to imply that I think the dying moment the most favourable time to form a correct judgment on any subject, but that the judgment which will then be formed will be in accordance with the views which I have been endeavouring to set forth. I am certain that when I come to die, my sense of the truth and the value of this religion will not be diminished, and that I shall not then regret my having cherished this Christian hope. I am not accustomed to see men die sorrowing that they are Christians, nor have I found, in the books which make record of the last thoughts of the dying, expressions of regret from the lips of saints and martyrs that they had too early in life embraced the hope inspired by the gospel of Christ. I think we cannot be more firmly assured of anything than that when we come to die, we shall not find the Christian hope valueless, or wish that we could recall and change that hour in our lives when we gave ourselves to the Saviour. I give this, then, as a reason-last, but not least--why we cherish this hope, that when the final hour of our lives shall come, and

our eyes shall be turned for the last time to behold the sun in the heavens," when all the plans and hopes which we have ever cherished shall be ended, and we shall give the parting hand to the friends, few or many, that affection shall summon around our beds, we shall prize the hopes of the gospel of Christ more than we do now-more, infinitely more, than we shall all other things. We shall see the whole subject rise with a dignity and value which we cannot now estimate, and the brightest earthly crowns will be baubles then, compared with the crown of righteousness laid up for us in heaven. I would that you all could see in these considerations reasons why you should embrace and cherish this hope also, but, whatever may be the effect on you, they are the “ answer" which we are required to "give to any man that asketh us a reason of the hope that is in us."




JOHN vi. 68.-_“Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go?

thou hast the words of eternal life."

ANY system of religion which has had a wide and permanent influence in the world, must be founded on some principles of plausible or solid philosophy. There must be something in human nature, or in the relations of things, which furnishes a basis for it on which to rest, and by which it may be made to appear to the human mind to be true.

It may be doubted whether the mind can long cherish error, knowing it to be such, and whether the arguments from supposed interest can be so magnified, and rendered so plausible, that the race would long adhere to what is known to be false. It may be presumed, then, that the great mass of those who have embraced an erroneous system are the victims of delusion; and yet, that the delusion is kept up by something which deserves the name of philosophy. There is as real philosophy at the basis of the views of the heathens now, as there was in the speculations of the Greeks; there is much adaptation to certain wants and laws of human nature in the religion of Mohammed ; there are at the basis of the Roman Catholic system those profound views of man, of his wants, and of his passions, which have been ascertained by the keen investigations of more than a thousand years; and neither of these systems is to be overthrown by declamation, or denunciation, or by arguments drawn from superficial views of the nature of man. I would not despise any system of belief which has held on its way amidst fierce discussions and in the face of violent opposition for ages; which has lived while empires have arisen and decayed ; and which draws to itself with mighty power the minds of succeeding millions of the race.

It is supposed by many persons now, as it was by those who turned away from the Saviour, that by not embracing Christianity, certain difficulties are avoided which are regarded as inseparable from that system, and that thus dissociated from it

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