An affectionate appeal to those who have been entangled in the snares of Infidelity.
When I reflect how many there are whose faith in Christianity has been shaken, and whose minds have fallen a prey to the wiles of scepticism; and, moreover, when I call to remembrance that so many of the young and promising rank among the victims of this moral contagion, I cannot but feel an earnest desire to become an instrument of good to a portion of my fellow-creatures, at once so interesting and so much exposed. O that God would strengthen me to speak a word to unhappy and deluded sceptics! With all the zeal for their salvation to which I can possibly give utterance, would I make my appeal to their judgments and consciences. Let me bespeak their candor. I am conscious of no motive but a desire to honor God, and to save their souls. Regarding them as the victims of that fatal error, I am devoutly anxious to see them extricated from it. Their creed I hold to be alike gloomy and pernicious, and I would show them a more excellent way, and would introduce them, with a bounding heart, into the light and liberty of Christianity.
What, then, let me ask, has led you to reject Christianity? Have you carefully examined it, and
found its evidence defective? If so, where does the difficulty press? If you are really perplexed, ask counsel of some enlightened Christian, and he will readily aid you in disposing of the doubts and misgivings of a mind really sincere. I believe a doubting man may be sincere There are many volumes suited to your state, and which you might read with the greatest possible advantage. Let me particularly recommend to your attentive perusal, "The Gospel its own Witness," by late Rev. Andrew Fuller; "The Evidences of Christianity," by Dr. Paley; "A Short Method with Deists," by Leslie; Dr. Chalmer's work on "The Christian Revelation," and a work entitled "A Treatise on the Nature and Causes of Doubt in Religious Questions."
But let me deal honestly with you, as your friend. Have you all this supposed difficulty about the evidence and the truth of Christianity? Or is your hesitancy of a very different
order? Do you feel a repugnance to the holy requirements of Christianity, and a consequent dread of the judgments which it
threatens? And does this prompt in you the baneful wish, "O that it might not be true?" Remember what Rochester said, "A
bad life is the only grand objection to this book;" laying his hand emphatically on the Bible. Has not this been very much
the case with you? You have fallen into sinful courses; you have yielded to the ways of the world; you have gone with a multitude
to do evil; you have
forsaken your better fellowships; you have learned to spend your Sabbaths in pleasure, and you have gradually become more and more careless. In this state you have been very unhappy at times; you have thought, well, "What if, after all, the Bible be true! What if, after all, the wicked shall be turned into hell!" At this juncture some one further advanced in scepticism than yourself has aided you in shaking off the galling yoke of conscience, He has put some infidel publication into your hand; you have read it; it has fallen in with your previous wishes and habits; you have said, "This is the very thing I wanted;" and you have, at last, learned to revile the Bible, to set light by its hopes, and to talk slanderously of its professors.
Come now, my friend, and let us reason together. Look back on the process. Why did you so readily drink in the poison contained
in the infidel volume? Why? Because you were in a state of mind very much the opposite of that which the Bible demands.
But what have you found, my friend, in the regions of scepticism? You have relinquished the hopes of Christianity by Christ
Jesus. What have you obtained in their place? Amidst all your acquirements, have you found peace of mind? Will your present
character and your present religion sustain you in a dying hour? Multitudes of infidels have found their creed, at death,
insufficient to meet the awful catastrophe. Not a single instance can be produced,
in which a believer in revelation was terrified or dismayed because he had been a Christian. Many have been distressed on account of the defective evidence of their Christianity, but none on account of their being Christians. Does it never occur to you, that if Christianity be true, you are undone?—that if it be false, he who believes it can suffer no injury?* Who, let me ask you, are your companions? What are you pursuits? and what your hopes? I deeply feel for you, while I greatly blame you. You may have been inadequately instructed; you may have seen bad examples; you may have witnessed great inconsistencies in some of the professors of religion. Granting, however, that all this may have been the case, still the interests of the soul are a personal concern. No man can stand in your place when you die. I beseech you, then, to arouse yourself from that lethargy into which sin and unbelief, acting and reacting, have conjointly sunk you.
Ask yourself this question, "What makes me a
sceptic? Is it because I have examined for myself, and know the Gospel to be a fable? or is it because I desire that it may be one?" And why should you desire this? If Christianity does not meet your case, no other system can. Infidelity has not met your case; it has not awakened hope; it has not allayed despair; it has not ministered peace. No: it has only stupified a conscience which must yet awake; it has only taught you to put the evil day far away; it has only blinded you for a time to the dread prospects of a future and impending eternity.
Why, I ask again, should you wish that Christianity may not be true? Is it because you feel yourself guilty, and shrink from the condemnation which it threatens? Well might you thus shrink if it did not reveal a remedy, as well as disclose a disease, and point out its consequences. You are guilty, yea, ten thousand times more guilty than you ever imagined yourself to be; but what I maintain is, that if you turn away the eye of faith from that great sacrifice which Christianity reveals, you must sink for ever beneath the pressure of your guilt, with this superadded horror, that you perish at the threshhold of mercy.
Is it because you do not love the pure and holy demands of Christianity, that you turn away from it? Well; but is not this,
its pure character, the proof of its celestial origin? and if so, will it avail you to reject it? Will the holy life it requires
obligatory because you determine not to pursue it? Will the great Judge excuse you at last because you loved your sins more than his revealed will?
Besides, what is to root out unholy inclinations, to correct depraved habits, to superinduce devotion, and to raise the soul to God? Is it not divine meditation on the blessed word? Here is that consecrated fountain which, by the grace of God, shall quench your thirst for sin. Here you may read of "the new heart" till you know, by experience, what it is. Here is a divine Deliverer, whose "name is called Jesus, because he saves his people from their sins." Here is a divine Sanctifier, who can " create within you a clean heart, and renew within you a right spirit." One word more, and I have done. Ask him to remove your blindness, to allay your prejudices and, above all, to prevent any sinful habit from giving a bias to your decision. Make no delay in this work. If you die a stranger to the hopes of Christianity, it had been better for you that you had never been born!