Imágenes de páginas

instinctive, not founded on reasoning. It is reasonable for us to fear some things connected with death, and a sense of unpardoned sin will make death terrible indeed; but no small part of the apprehension which every man feels in looking forward to that hour, is the result of an instinctive principle which Providence has implanted in the human mind; and the only way by which it can be counteracted without the Bible, is by banishing the subject from the thoughts. That is the way that soldiers acquire courage in battle-by accustoming themselves not to think of death at all. It is not in human nature to contemplate its approach, habitually and calmly, without such a preparation as the Bible gives.

Come in imagination to this sick chamber. That young man tossing restlessly upon his pillow is soon to die. His physicians have given him over. His friends despair, but, by a most absurd and preposterous species of kindness, they will not tell him of his danger, for they know he is unprepared to die, and the knowledge of the approach of the dread hour they think will distress him. But the sad secret they cannot conceal; he reads his sentence in their anxious looks and agitated words-his pale cheek turns paler with fear, and to the natural restlessness of disease, there is added the overwhelming agitation of mental anguish. Can you soothe him? Can you calm him? Your very effort reveals to him his danger more distinctly, and his heart sinks within him in hopeless terror. Sometimes, it is true, this fear of death does not reign in the heart at the closing hour, for reason may be gone, or the soul may sink into stupor. But when death is really foreseen and known to be near, while the faculties retain their power, the expectation of it weighs down the human spirit with overwhelming fears.

But the Bible tells us that the sting of death is sin, and that Christ will give believers the victory over it. The Bible most faithfully keeps this promise. See that dying

Christian mother. She knows that death is near, and has calmly made all her arrangements for the closing scene. She is a Christian, and looks forward to an entrance into the world of spirits with no foreboding and no anxiety. Her husband and children and friends stand in agitation and distress around her bedside, but she is calm. A Christian death-bed very often exhibits the astonishing spectacle of composure and happiness in the one who is to drink the cup; while those around, who are only witnesses of the scene, are overwhelmed in agitation and sorrow. The very one who is to encounter the suffering, is the only one who can look forward to it without fear. It is because the Spirit of God has applied the truths of the Bible to her heart, and by their instrumentality has disarmed death, the very king of terrors, and given to a weak and suffering mortal the victory over all his power.

But I must close this chapter, and with it close the short and simple view I have been endeavoring to give of the evidences of Christianity. I cannot but hope that my readers see evidence enough to satisfy them that the Bible is really the word of God. If you do, lay up the conviction in your heart, and let it guide and influence you. But let me, before I dismiss the subject, give you two or three short practical directions.

1. Do not think there is no other side to this question. There are a great many things which may be said against the Bible, and some things which you, with your present attainments in Christian knowledge, perhaps cannot answer But they do not touch or affect the great arguments by which the authority of the Bible is sustained. They are all small, detached difficulties. Then let your mind rest, calmly and with confidence, upon the great but simple arguments on which the strong foundations of your belief stand.

2. Never dispute upon the evidences of the Christian religion. The difficulty with unbelievers is one of the heart,

not of the intellect, and you cannot alter the heart by dis puting. When they present you with arguments against Christianity, reply in substance, "What you say does not reach the broad and deep foundations upon which, in my view, Christianity rests; and consequently, notwithstanding what you say, I still place confidence in the word of God."

3. Notice this, which, if you will watch your own experience, you will find to be true. Your confidence in the word of God and in the truths of religion will be almost exactly proportional to the fidelity with which you serve Christ. When you lose your interest in your progress in piety, neglect prayer, and wander into sin, then you will begin to be in darkness and doubt. If you are so unhappy as to get into such a state, do not waste your time in trying to reason yourself back to belief again. Return to duty. Come to God and confess your wanderings, seek forgiveness through Christ, and submit your heart to be inclined to him. If you do this, light for the intellect and peace for the heart will come back together.



"Able to make us wise unto salvation."

It is not my intention in this chapter to give any description of the Bible itself, or of its history since it came into the world; nor shall I endeavor to establish its divine authority, or present the evidences or the nature of its inspiration. My object is to point out practical duty, and I shall confine myself to a description of the best methods of reading and studying the book.

I ought, however, to remark at the outset, that I intend the chapter to be of a highly practical character, and I shall go accordingly into minute detail. Besides, I am writing for the young, and shall, as I have generally done in this book, confine myself exclusively to them; for I have much more hope that they will be influenced to follow the course which I shall endeavor to describe, than that my efforts will produce any good effect upon those who have gone beyond the meridian of life. If a man has passed the age of thirty without the Bible, it is to be feared that he will go on unaided by its light through the remainder of his pilgrimage. It is different, however, with the young. You shrink from passing life in impiety. You know that the Bible can be the only safe lamp to your feet; and if you are not now living by its light, there is hope that you may be persuaded to come and give yourself up to its guidance.

The Bible should be studied. Every person, old or young, ignorant or learned, should devote a portion of time every day, or, where this is impossible, at least every Sabbath to the study of the Scriptures, in the more strict and

proper sense of that term. But to show precisely what I mean by this study of the Bible, I will describe a particular case. A young man with only such opportunities as are possessed by all, resolves to take this course. He selects the epistle to the Ephesians for his first subject; he obtains such books and helps as he finds in his own family, or as he can obtain from a religious friend, or procure from a Sabbathschool library. It is not too much to suppose that he will have a sacred atlas, some commentary, and probably a Bible dictionary. He should also have pen, ink, and paper; and thus provided, he sits down early in the morning to his work. He raises a short but heartfelt prayer to God that he will assist and bless him, and then commences his inquiries.

The epistle to the Ephesians I have supposed to be his subject. He sees that the first question evidently is, "Who were the Ephesians?" He finds the city of Ephesus upon the map; and from the preface to the epistle contained in the commentary, or from any other source to which he can have access, he learns what sort of a city it was— -what was the character of the inhabitants, and if possible what condition the city was in at the time this letter was written. He next inquires in regard to the writer of this letter or epistle, as it is called. It was Paul; and what did Paul know of the Ephesians; had he ever been there; or was he writing to strangers? To settle these points, so evidently important to a correct understanding of the letter, he examines the Acts of the Apostles-in which an account of St. Paul's labors is contained-to learn whether Paul went there, and if so, what happened while he was there. He finds that many interesting incidents occurred during Paul's visits, and his curiosity is excited to know whether these things will be alluded to in the letter; he also endeavors to ascertain where Paul was when he wrote the letter. After having thus ascertained every thing relating to the circumstances of the case a far as he is able, he is prepared to come to the epistle

« AnteriorContinuar »