Abbildungen der Seite

I remember to have begun by remarking, that the religious world - has not been sufficiently instructed in the Evidences of Revelation; or, as to the ground on which thinking men receive the Bible as the Word of God. Young converts are so affected with the discovery of their lost condition, of the importance of salvation, and of the Scriptures as their only rule, that they are for proceeding as soon and as fast as possible. If they can but build rightly on the foundation, they have no question as to the foundation itself. And, indeed, if this foundation should never be called in question afterwards, all would be well; but I feel convinced that something more than an implicit faith is necessary here: a merely traditional adherence to Scripture lies too much exposed to assaults, especially in such an age as this--an age, in which one can scarcely take up a daily print, or pass an hour in company, without meeting some remark which has a tendency, more or less, to sap the ground on which we stand.

I myself was once a professed infidel : that is, one who, carried away first by the love of sin, hoped the Bible might not be true. I then listened to such as were hardened enough to assert that it was not true: till, at length, I believed my own lie; and the vanity of appearing something like a philosopher, who had thrown off the traditions of the nursery, set me on propagating that lie. But when, like the prodigal, I came to myself,

I had many painful steps to tread back, and many difficult and intricate paths to retrace. I now wished that the Bible might be true, and was glad to receive help from any able guide who had written on its evidences. Grotius, Bishop Butler, and many others helped me to see, that he, who is acquainted with the evidence which God has annexed to his word, has not only every thing he can reasonably require, but that, as Mr. Soame Jenyns has remarked, he will find it requires more faith to be a consistent Infidel than to be a Christian.

But you ask, “Do you never feel a shake after all this enquiry and experience?” I answer, Now and then, an unexpected and malignant blast meets my mind, and obliges me to have recourse to my usual method. Perhaps, after what I have, known and felt, I ought to repel it instantly as a temptation. Perhaps, at my standing, I ought not to honour such an assault with any examination at all. But I am not telling you what may be my duty, but what is my practice. Moreover, such is the frame of my mind, that I fear no other method than that which I take would satisfy it. As soon, then, as an alarm is given, I cast the eye of my mind over the leading evidences of the Scriptures, of which I have an habitual recollection, and which I need not particularize in their order to you. I likewise contemplate facts and experience, and soon obtain repose. Like a man

who is told that the foundation of his house is in danger, I call for the key of the vaults on which my dwelling stands. I light a candle, walk down stairs, and pass very deliberately through the arches: I examine very particularly the arch suspected; and, after having satisfied myself that the foundation remains perfectly safe, I walk up again, lock the door, hang up the key, put out the candle, and quietly go about my business, saying as I go, They may raise an alarm, but I find ALL IS SAFE.

“ Have you had occasion,” say you,“ often thus to go down ?" Not very often.—“Did you always return satisfied ?” Always.—“ Then be so kind as to mention some part of that train of thinking from which this satisfaction arises."

Were I, Madam, conversing with an avowed Infidel, it would be proper to bring forward a regular statement of the evidences of Revelation : but this will not be necessary here; especially as your present request respects only those considerations which generally satisfy my own mind.

I shall begin with informing you, that I cannot look around me, without being struck with the Analogy observable in the works of God. I find the Bible written in the style of his other books of Creation and Providence. The pen seems in the same hand. I see it, indeed, write, at times, mysteriously in each of these books; but I know that mystery in the works of God is only another name for my ignorance. The moment, therefore, that I become humble, all becomes right.

I observe nothing coming from the hand of man like the Scriptures, in majesty of wisdom, in sanctity or simplicity: especially in marking the distinctions between right and wrong; and that too at a time when the most enlightened of the pagan word were confounding them. When I look into the theology of the heathen (that is of all without the light of Revelation) I find the grossest errors, and often the most extravagant fables, pervading their best systems: but, upon turning to the Bible, it seems to be said again, LET THERE BE LIGHT.” Here, alone, I find the true God; and discover his real character from his own declarations and dispensations. The altar raised to an Unknown Godstands a monument of the blindness and wretchedness of the worshippers : But, in the Bible, I see Glory is given to God in the highest; peace on earth is revealed; and goodwill to men so expressly points out the means of this

peace, that, if these means were universally adopted, the present “ Bedlam of the Universe"

'' must be immediately changed into a happy state of order, truth, and love. Of this I can no more doubt, that I can doubt I that am at this moment endeavouring to recollect our morning conversation.

The Bible also contains the true history of man; so that there is not a word in his mouth, nor a thought in his heart, but its Author knew them altogether." Well, therefore, might one say, “Give me a Bible and a candle in the deepest dungeon, and I will tell you all that is going on in the world.” In this book only, I see the real character and deep malignity of that disorder in creation called Sin, fully exposed. I see also a holy law, by wbich it must be tried. I see the infinite worth of that soul of man, on which sin acts as a fatal poison. I am able to see so much of the eternal world, as to form a just estimate of the present. I am here taught my real wants and resources.-But what benighted views had the wisest among the heathen of these most important truths! Well might he say,

" Either God must send a special teacher, or man must for ever remain in ignorance.”

I see also in this Sacred Record, a Redemption or Recovery suited to my fallen state; and that, in this recovery, God has not only consulted the need of his creature man, but also the honour of his own character and government. But, in his conducting of the concerns of an infinite government, I do not stumble at finding that God's thoughts are not as my thoughts.

I see the means of this recovery pointed out to man at his fall; and expressly held forth by prophecy, during a course of four thousand years : and that, by a succession of pious men, of various ranks, ages, and nations; and living under differ

« ZurückWeiter »