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followers of Him who came from heaven, who was sent forth from the Father to conduct us thither, are so indisposed to turn their thoughts and contemplations to that unchanging state of being into which they are so shortly to enter? It is not, we perceive, that to move forward is not congenial with our mental constitution: it is not because we are so enchanted with the present scene, as to be incapable of diverting our attention from it; for we are continually disquieted by a restless desire of something future : it is not because we are seldom warned, or reminded of another state of existence, for every funeral bell, every opening grave, every symptom of decay within and of change without us, is a separate warning.
Were any other event of far inferior moment, ascertained by evidence which made but a distant approach to that which attests the certainty of a life to come; had we equal assurance that after a very limited though uncertain period, we should be called to migrate into a distant land, whence we were never to return, the intelligence would fill every breast with solicitude; it would become the theme of every tongue; and we should avail ourselves with the utmost eagerness, of all the means of information respecting the prospects which awaited us in that unknown country. Much of our attention would be occupied in preparing for our departure ; we should cease to regard the place we now inhabit as our home; and nothing would be considered as of moment, but as it bore upon our future destination. How strange is it then, that with the certainty we all possess of shortly entering into another world, we avert our eyes as much as possible from the prospect; that we seldom permitit to penetrate us; and that the moment the recollection recurs, we hasten to dismiss it, as an unwelcome intrusion? Is it not surprising that the volume we profess to recognise as the record of immortality, and the sole depository of whatever information it is possible to obtain respecting the portion which awaits us, should be consigned to neglect, and rarely, if ever, consulted with the serious intention of ascertaining our future condition ?
(REV. DR. ANDREW Thomson.] IT T is amidst trials and sorrows that Infidelity ap
pears in its justest and most frightful aspect. When subjected to the multifarious ills which flesh is heir to, what is there to uphold our spirit, but the discoveries and the prospects that are unfolded to us by revelation? What, for this purpose, can be compared with the belief that every thing here below is under the management of infinite wisdom and goodness, and that there is an immortality of bliss awaiting us in another world! If this conviction be taken away, what is it that we can have recourse to on which the mind may patiently and safely repose in the season of adversity? Where is the balm which I may apply with effect to my wounded heart after I have rejected the aid of the Alnighty Physiciau !
Impose upon me whatever hardships you please ; give me nothing but the bread of sorrow to eat; take from me the friends in whom I had placed my confidence ; lay me in the cold hut of poverty, and on the thorny bed of disease ; set death before me in all its terrors ; do all this,-only let me trust in my Saviour, and I will “ fear no evil,”—I will rise superior to affliction, I will“ rejoice in my tribulation.” But let infidelity interpose between God and my soul, and draw its impenetrable veil over a future state of existence, and limit all my trust to the creatures of a day, and all my expectations to a few years as uncertain as they are short, and how shall I bear up with fortitude or with cheerfulness, under the burden of distress? Or where shall I find one drop of consolation to put into the bitter draught which has been given me to drink? I look over the whole range of this wilderness in which I dwell, but I see not one covert from the storm, nor one leaf for the healing of my soul, nor one cup of cold water to refresh me in the weariness and the faintings of my pilgrimage.
The very conduct of infidels, in spreading their system with so much eagerness and industry, affords a striking proof that its influence is essentially hostile to human happiness. For what is their conduct? Why, they allow that religion contributes largely to the comfort of man,--that in this respect, as well as with respect to morality, it would be a great evil were it to lose its hold over their affections,—and that those are no friends to the world who would shake or destroy their belief in it. And yet in the very face of this acknowledgment, they scruple not to publish their doubts and their unbelief concerning it among their fellow-men, and with all the cool deliberation of philosophy, and sometimes with all the keenness and ardour of a zealot, to do the very thing which they profess to deprecate as pernicious to the well-being and comfort of the species. Whether they are sincere in this profession, or whether they are only trifling with the sense and feeling of mankind, still it demonstrates the hardening influence of their principles; and from principles, which make those who hold them so reckless of the peace and order and happiness of their brethren, what can be reasonably expected, but every thing which is most destructive of human comfort ?
It is true, the infidel may be very humane in the intercourse of life ; but, after all, what dependence can be placed upon that humanity of his, which deals out bread to the hungry, and clothing to the naked, and yet would sacrifice to literary vanity, or to something worse, whatever can give support in trial, and consolation in death ? He may sympathize with me in my distress, and speak to me of immortality, and, at the very moment, his constitutional kindness may be triumphing over his cold-blooded and gloomy speculations. But his speculations have shed a misery over my heart, which no language of his can dissipate, and which makes his most affectionate words sound in my ear like the words of mockery and scorn.
He has destroyed me, and he cannot save me, and he cannot comfort me. At his bidding I have renounced that Saviour in whom I once trusted, and was happy, and he now pities me ;—as if his most pitying tones could charm away the anguish of my bosom, and make me forget that it was he himself who planted it there, and planted it so deep, and nourished it so well, that nothing but the power of that heaven, whose power I have denied, is able to pluck it out!
Yes, after he has destroyed my belief in the superintending providence of God,-after he has taught me that the prospect of an hereafter is but the baseless fabric of a vision,-after he has bred and nourished me in the contempt for that sacred volume which alone throws light over this benighted world,-after having argued me out of my faith by his sophistries, or laughed me out of it by his ridicule,-after having thus
every drop of consolation, and dried up my very spirit within me,-yes, after having accomplished this in the season of my health and my prosperity, he would come to me while I mourn, and treat me like a drivelling idiot, whom he may sport with, because he has ruined me, and to whom, in the plenitude of his compassion, too late, and too unavailing, he may talk of truths in which he himself does not believe, and which he has long exhorted me, and has at last persuaded me, to cast away as the dreams and delusions of human folly. From such comforters may Heaven preserve me! My soul, come not thou into their secrets. Unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united.”