Sidor som bilder

cise than the faith required in the scriptures, as we have defined it. What can be more rational than hearty consent to, or confidence in, what we know is and must be true of the divine character? What more rational-nay, what so rational as that we should commit ourselves to Him, and plead every promise He has given us, with the fullest assurance of receiving the thing promised? Men confide their lives, their reputation, their treasures, their earthly all, even to their fellow men, relying assuredly, in the generality of cases, that their confidence will not be abused; and this they deem rational even in a world like ours. What then must it be to confide in God? Truly the faith of the Christian is perfect concurrence with the demands of reason.

3. On the contrary, nothing can be more unreasonable than moral unbelief, that is, withholding confidence from God. There is not and can not be one single good reason for it;every possible reason lies against it. If it would be unreasonable to withhold all confidence from every fellow man, and to treat them all as utterly unworthy of being trusted, what must it be thus to treat Him of whom every voice in the universe declares that He cannot lie?—and that too, despite of all He has done to favor us and to secure our confidence?

"What then is unbelief? 'Tis an exploit,
A strenuous enterprise; to gain it, man

Must burst through every bar of common sense,
Of common shame, magnanimously wrong:
And what rewards the sturdy combatant?
His prize, repentance; infamy, his crown."

4. Hence, the Bible legitimately says "He that believeth not God, hath made Him a liar, because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son," that is, he does not confide in his testimony. His whole conduct, as well as the heart from which it proceeds, is a perpetual and blasphemous impeachment of the divine veracity. It is proclaiming in the most effectual way possible, namely, by example, that the whole gospel is a divine falsehood, fabricated for human delusion, and should not be relied on as true. Astounding as this seems when expressed in words, it is, notwithstanding, precisely what every one who does not actually trust in God is, in fact, guilty of, no matter how clear may be his intellectual apprehensions, or how deep his convictions of the truth. Hence, the reason is perfectly obvious why the divine indignation so glows and burns, and the divine anathemas are so fearfully hurled against unbelief. It not only treats as false

hoods and fables the declarations and eternal verities of God, but directly tends to break the control of his sceptre over the race, to unmoor it from truth and virtue, and to send it floating over an occan of ignorance, error and moral perversity. No wonder then that He thunders so fearfully against its miscreated and audacious front! No wonder that those who persist in its commission are so specially marked for the endurance of eternal retribution!

5. On the contrary, we are at no loss for reasons why real confidence in God is so peculiarly the object of his approval and complacency. It is so not only on account of its essential implications and natural consequences, but because it is a voluntary consent to the infinite excellencies of his character-it is admitting and proclaiming to the world and the universe his infinite trust-worthiness. Oh, is it not intrinsically beautiful, and must it not be well pleasing to the eternal Sire to see a soul yielding Him its hearty confidence in the face of such multitudes of men and devils, who have made the very world ring with their articulate and inarticulate slanders respecting Him? Oh, is it not beautiful? We have seen the weak ones of earth dependingly rely on those who were stronger--we have seen the wife evince a sweet sense of security as she walked by the side and hung on the arm of him she had chosen as her earthly stay and supportwe have seen the child put its hand in its parent's and walk amidst dangers on every side, so strong in the confidence of parental love and protection that nothing could daunt its assurance; and we have admired and gazed at such lovely visions, exclaiming again and again—"how beautiful! how delightfully beautiful!" But far lovelier still is the vision of a human soul, rising up in the midst of so many counter examples and influences, and meckly yet courageously disregarding them all, and placing its reliance on the everlasting arm. Perhaps it is the strong man--perhaps it is one of the less sturdy sex-perhaps it is an inexperienced youth--or it may be a mere child who thus turns the hope of its spirit to God; but in any case to him who has an eye for moral beauty, it must ever be a scene of absorbing attraction-of exquisite loveliness. Surely, it must be well-pleasing to God.

6. In showing the conditions of intellectual faith, we adduced the fact that voluntary, is in an important sense the condition of intellectual faith; and on the other hand that voluntary unbelief, inevitably tends to that which is intellectual. This being so, it follows, that, other things being equal,

the man of true faith must inevitably excel the man of unbelief in the apprehension and knowledge of all moral subjects to which faith stands related. It is a most philosophical and demonstrable truth, affirmed by the apostle Paul, that "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual discerneth all things."

From the nature of the case, it must be so. While the unbelieving mind instinctively turns away from that whole department of truths which regard the spiritual relations and responsibilities of man-which connect him and his current life with God and, eternity-these are, of all others, precisely the truths which the believing mind seeks, prizes and ponders, and that, just because they are to its clarified vision, intrinsically the most real, important, instructive, and glorious of all other truths-yes, and because it is from their reflection that all other truths are, like sable clouds, silvered and gilded by the light of the sun, set forth in a lustre and beauty not otherwise seen. What views and prospects are opened to its contemplation! What thronging realities in relation to life and death, time and eternity, heaven and hell, immortality and God pass before it in stately and solemn procession! How they hold it the prisoner of amazement and wed it to themselves! The fact is, the true believer will not only excel cæteris paribus, in understanding and learning the lessons conveyed in the Bible, but in rightly reading and interpreting the works and providences of God. He it is, emphatically, who,

"Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in every thing."

He it is, emphatically, who,

"Traces in leaves and flowers that round him lie,
Lessons of earnest love and piety."

He it is, emphatically, who,

Sees God in clouds, and hears him in the wind."

He it is emphatically, to whom, "the heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handy work"

who hears "day unto day uttering speech, and night unto night showing knowledge."

But, from the very nature of the case, it is inevitable, that, as we have already affirmed, the reverse should not be true of

every mind that withholds confidence from God. It cannot be otherwise, than that it should take comparatively but little, or no interest in those great, illuminating, central verities which alone solve the mysteries and conduct through the labyrinth of creation. It cannot be, and is not, as a matter of fact, otherwise, than that it constantly dwells within, and generally far within, the perlieus of scepticism, amidst the disjointed and fragmentary odds and ends of truth, confusedly jumbled with errors; where the illustrious end of human existence is unapprehended, the eternal diapason all unheard, or turned into torturing dissonance by intermingled discords, the bearings and responsibilities of human relationships veiled and unexpounded, the moral government of God an incomprehensible riddle, eternity an infinite night, and all it embosoms a limitless chaos, or a splendid dream. From this horrid waste, haunted by myriad fantisies, and "calling shapes, and beckoning shadows dire," while it remains such, it can gain no emergence, and attain no height, from which it can,


-look on truth unbroken and entire;
Truth in the system, the full orb; where truths
By truths enlightened and sustained, afford
An arch-like, strong foundation, to support
The incumbent weight of absolute, complete
Conviction, where, the more we press, we stand
More firm; the more examine, more believe."

Never did "the moral muse" pronounce more truly than when she said,

The mother of true Wisdom is the Will;
The noblest intellect, a fool without it."

But, we go further, and affirm that withholding confidence from God, and the revelations he has made of himself, especially in his Word, directly tends to, and produces credulity. Of course we mean credulity in respect to doctrines, theories and, statements in opposition to the truths and inculcations from which, as we have just shown, it naturally averts the mind. It tends to, and produces this, wide-mouthed, in precisely the same way, in which it tends to, and produces scepticism-by preventing the intelligence from perceiving and assenting to truth, and the evidences, intrinsic and extraneous, which support it. They are, in fact, of the same nature, neither of them consisting in intellectual mistakes and misapprehensions, but both in voluntary assumptions. They are the mis-shapen, Calaban-like, offspring of a perverse




will. Credulity consists in assuming and accrediting theories, doctrines or statements, or in discrediting and rejecting them, without the warrant of any good and sufficient evidence, intrinsic and extraneous. Hence, we find men discarding doctrines and statements, most signally stamped with the characteristics of truth, for want as they say, of evidence in their favor; and yet, at the very same time, accrediting and advocating, as true, the most monstrous absurdities that ever had birth or being. There are many who repudiate the Bible, for lack as they say, of evidence of its divine origin, although inspiration radiates, and flashes in splendor from its every page, who, at the same time, adopt and proclaim theories and views, respecting the matters to which it relates, the most preposterous that folly ever framed, or credulity ever swallowed.

Look, for example, at the Author of the "Vestiges of Creation." It would doubtless be a feat of faith, surpassing his utmost ability, to assent to the scriptural account of the creation of the earth and of man-of the nature, destiny, relations and responsibilities of every human agent—of God's perpetual interventions and providences respecting our race; but he can most confidently accredit and proclaim, not only that "the great globe itself, and all that it inherit," but that the solar system, and even the entire universe of suns and systems, with all that they contain, inorganic and organic, inanimate and animate, are the elaborated product of mere physical law, which, countless ages ago, commenced its operations in various points of an inconceivably diffused and attenuated fire-mist! This mystic and marvellous law, he indeed professes to believe, emanated from God in the outset, but, from that moment, has been obliged to toil on alone, receiving not the least attention, or aid from its author, during all its wondrous exploits and achievements. It found the universe an illimitable ocean of fire-mist, and lo! what it hath wrought! Let its operations in working out our system, and our globe with all it embosoms and bears, exemplify the whole. It first placed an eddy in that portion of the fire-mist which occupied the entire field enclosed within the orbit of our outmost planet, and thus gradually set the whole into a tremendous whirl! In its whirling, it naturally attracted the extremes towards the absorbing center of the mighty maelstrom, and, at first view, it would seem likely to have absorbed the whole into one stupendous globe. But our law took care for that. Somehow or other, it caused the outer edge to cool

« FöregåendeFortsätt »