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Let the writings of pious and wise men occupy much of your leisure, but the Bible is the fountain of light and knowledge; therefore Jesus said, "Search the Scriptures." You must search perseveringly; you must dig deep into this mine of heavenly stores, if you would get all the good that may be acquired.
Get good in the sanctuary. Oft frequent the holy courts of the Lord. There the best good is treasured up; there you may draw heavenly supplies for your mind; there are supplies suited to your largest desires.
Get good by becoming a member of Christ's visible church. Rest not contented till you are a fit subject for such a holy association; for it cannot go so well with you as it might until you are gathered into the fold of the Lord.
Get good by uniting yourself to some Religious Institute or Society, where your energies may be improved and called out by lectures and discussions on holy and profitable subjects. In these several ways try and get good, and thus qualify yourself to be more useful to your fellow-creatures.
That is excellent counsel in Prov. iv. 7: "Wisdom is the prin.. cipal thing, therefore get wisdom; and with all thy getting, get understanding." Remember that ignorance is not only a disgrace to a rational creature, but it is a curse; yea more, ignorance is a sin, where there is opportunity of being wise. Be willing to make some sacrifice, to endure some denials, if by so doing you may get good. Give up part of your accustomed sleep, and part of your usual animal indulgences, if need be, so that you may acquire useful knowledge; thus redeem the time, and you will be well repaid for any self-denial. Thus try to get good, but not to hide the knowledge which you acquire, or to live only for yourselves; let every acquirement be used for the glory of God, and the good of your fellow-creatures. Often inquire what talent you possess, and endeavour to use it in the best way.
Not only get good, but do good. There is the Sabbath-school; more teachers are wanted, and such as have acquired knowledge. The class of teachers that are employed are in general much too low in knowledge; they have not got sufficient good.
There is the Ragged-school; look at the poor, half-naked, hardened, uninstructed urchins. Pity them: they have mind-try and cultivate it. It will call out your patience, love, energy; and while you attempt to do good, you will surely get good. He that watereth others is sure to be watered himself. You cannot impart instruction without getting good.
There is the Religious Tract Society, where you may obtain supplies of the most useful publications at the lowest possible rate, which you may distribute in all directions. A very amiable and pious friend, who used to co-operate with me in that useful Institution, was wont to say respecting the handbills, "Be sure, when you go from home, to take some small shot with you.”
Do good by speaking to your companions, as you have opportunity, about their souls! Do good by your example; fill up your station in life to the glory of God; and if you are thus endeavouring to be faithful in small matters, you may hope, in God's good time, to be useful in greater things. I began my career by visiting the sick, addressing Sabbath-school children, collecting for the Bible Society, and assisting the Missionary cause; and the Lord has condescended to promote me in his service, and I have been preaching the everlasting gospel nearly a quarter of a century. To him be the glory. Nor doubt if you endeavour to get good, that you may do good, but God will own and bless you.
INFIDELITY AND CHRISTIANITY COMPARED IN THEIR PERSONAL CHARACTERS.-No. IV.
"Ye shall know them by their fruits," MATT. vii. 16.
It has sometimes been urged as an objection to Christianity that it is a system adhered to only by weak-minded, credulous men; that men of learning have repudiated it as fettering the free-born energies of man, and destroying alike his independence and happiness. Never was objection more unfounded in fact; for men the most preeminent in every department of literature and science-men who perfectly understood the value and force of evidence-men the last in the world to be the dupes of delusion, have ever expressed a conviction of mind with regard to the truth and importance of Christianity such as they have felt on no other subject whatever. True, infidelity has not been destitute of intellectual advocates; but arrayed against the genius and talents of men in favour of Christianity, they shrink into utter insignificance. When, for example, has infidelity enrolled amongst its followers such names as Newton, and Boyle, and Locke? Who has analogized like Butler, philosophized like Bacon, or analyzed like Edwards? Who has written allegory like Bunyan, or poetry like Milton? Who has preached like Chalmers or Hall How is it that the writings of such men as Paley, and Lardner, and Watson, and Clarke, and Leland, and Campbell, in defence of Christianity, have not been answered? Is it not because they are unanswerable? Christianity, however, with a princely generosity and noble independence, forbids that its followers should pin their faith to the sleeves of any man, saying, "Call no man master on earth;" and so far from shunning, invites, nay, rewards the closest investigation, adding, “Come and see;" and again, “Prove all things." Nor can we do this better than by ascertaining the influence of infidelity and Christianity in the formation of character; for the system that makes man better must be true-the system that makes man worse must be false. Tried, then, by this test, let us contrast the characters of infidels with the characters of Christians, 1. In their life.-Far be it from us to load our adversaries with
unmerited reproach, but the truth must be spoken. Not that we mean to insinuate that every infidel is immoral, or that every professed Christian is virtuous; but this we do assert, that if the infidel be moral, he is so contrary, whereas, if the professed Christian be virtuous, he is so agreeably, to his principles. As a tree is known by its fruits, so generally are a man's principles by his conduct.
In private life, then, what have infidels and Christians been? Voltaire and Madame du Chatelet exhibit scenes revolting to human nature. We may not uplift the veil: suffice it to say, that his total want of all moral principle, his irreligious habits, his filthy sensuality, his base adulation, his unwearied treachery, his hypocrisy, will render him for ever the scorn of mankind. Rousseau, according to his own confession, lived in the same manner as Voltaire for a series of years. Paine, filthy and drunken, was a compound of all the vices. The morals of Blount were execrable. Behold the private virtues of real Christians!-What moral worth! what humility! what devotion! what integrity! what benevolence! We need not mention names; their record is on high: "their Father, who seeth in secret, will reward them openly.'
In domestic life what have infidels and Christians been? Voltaire was anything but what he should have been. Rousseau, for fear his children should want after his death, sent them to the workhouse during his life. Paine's conduct towards his wife was sufficient to blast the memory of a man even in all other respects virtuous. He was guilty of the worst species of seduction: the alienation of a wife and children from a husband and father. Oh! what a hell upon earth has many a sceptical family exhibited! But turn to Christian households, and how different the scene!
And all the charities of father, son, and brother;
Not to mention other names, never perhaps was there on this side the grave a holier, a happier, a more agreeable family than the Henrys. What lovely piety! what meekness! what affection! what kindly reciprocity! Their counterpart is not wanting even in this degenerate age. Who has not read "The Dairyman's Daughter?" How is it possible for a religion productive of such general excellency not to be divine?
In public life what have infidels and Christians been? Voltaire was the greatest instrument of rousing the French to anarchy and revolution, while he fattened upon the spoils, at the same time exhibiting the most consummate treachery and perfidy to his native land. Speaking of his productions, he said, "I must be read, whether I am believed or not." What reckless ambition! Hobbes wrote his 'Leviathan" to serve the cause of Charles I.; but finding him fail of success, he turned it to the defence of Cromwell, and made a merit of it to the usurper. What unprincipled conduct! Tindal put on and off the mask of virtue as served his purposes: at one
time professing himself a Roman Catholic, at another a Protestant, at a third an infidel, at a fourth, nothing! What consummate hypocrisy Paine was vain, avaricious, envious, malignant, an unprincipled and despicable traitor, a cheat and a sot; abandoned even by his friends, who crossed over the street to avoid him. What a character! Nor are these the exceptions; the bulk of infidel writers were men of immoral and licentious lives. Not so the defendants of Christianity. We might mention Wilberforce in the senate, Hale in the law, Boerhaave in the faculty, Gardiner in the field, Wilson in the navy, Edward VI. on the throne, Addison at the desk, Knox, Luther, Whitfield, Wesley, Watts, Doddridge, and others in the pulpit the excellent of the earth; a praise to humanity, an ornament to society, and a blessing to the church and the world. We will not insult your reason by asking which of these classes, the sceptical or the Christian, are in the right. "Actions speak louder than words:" their conduct testifies. Not more conclusive, however, are the characters of infidels and Christians in their life than
2. In their death.—In life man may dissemble, but in death he cannot. "Here tired deception drops her mask,
And real and apparent are the same."
It is well known that Voltaire's mental agony was dreadful beyond exaggeration. His cries were piercing as the shrieks of a fiend; his atheistic associates, who would fain have steeled his spirit, fled before his curses; the nurse who waited upon him would never afterwards attend the death-bed of another infidel; and Dr. Tronchin, his physician, declared that the furies of Orestes were nothing to the tortures of Voltaire. "I am abandoned," said the wretched sceptic, "by God and man. Oh! doctor, I will give you half of what I am worth you I will give me six months' life." "You cannot live six weeks," was the reply. "Then I shall go to hell." Addressing himself to his infidel companions who remained, he said, "Retire; it is you that have brought me to my present state." A Roman Catholic priest was sent for, to administer to him the sacrament, but it was of no avail; his agony abated not, but increased to the last. At this his abandoned mistress cried out, "Give me some more laudanum, that I may not think of eternity and of what is to come." Not less awful were the last moments of Paine. "O Lord, help me! God, help me! Jesus Christ, help me! O Lord, help me!" he cried out in a tone which alarmned the whole house. The unhappy woman "whom he had seduced said, "For this man I have given up my family and friends, my property and my religion; judge, then, of my distress when he tells me that the principles he has taught will not bear me out." At his own request he was supplied with brandy till it burned up his liver. He died swearing drunk! "Ah! my dear," said Rousseau to his wife, "how happy a thing it is to die when one has no reason for remorse or self-reproach.' "If there
be a God," said Tindal, "I desire that he may have mercy on me.' Shelley, whose daring and licentious genius hurried him into a pre
cocity and profaneness of unbelief almost without a parallel, overtaken in a storm at sea, insomuch that the vessel which conveyed himself and his companions was almost sinking, he cried out vehemently to that God whose very being he had been wont to deny. Rallied by his associates for his inconsistency, he pretended not to have known what he had been uttering. Another storm succeeding, his perturbation returned, and he was drowned without the opportunity to repent: "God is not mocked." In striking contrast with that crew we may mention another of an opposite character. The same watery grave awaited them in a more dreadful hurricane; but instead of lifting up their voices in shrieks and groans, they sang a hymn as they went down, thus awaiting, in a serene act of piety, the last, the swift approaching hour. "How much grander was that hymn than the ocean's roar!" Time would fail to tell of the patriarchs, the prophets, the evangelists, the apostles, and the martyrs : "these all died in faith." "6 Come," said Addison, "and see how a Christian can die." "Here I lie," said Halyburton, "pained, without pain; without strength, and yet strong." "I lie here," said Dr. Payson, "and feel these convulsions extending higher and higher; but my soul is filled with joy unspeakable. I seem to swim in a flood of glory, which God pours down upon me. And I know, I know that my happiness is but begun; I cannot doubt that it will last for ever! Were I master of the whole world, what could it do for me like this? Were all its wealth at my feet, and its inhabitants striving to make me happy, what could they do for me? Nothing! nothing! Now all this happiness I trace back to the religion I have preached, and to that time when that great change took place which I have often told you is necessary to salvation; and I now tell you again, that without this change you cannot, no, you cannot see the kingdom of God." "Farewell, sun, moon, and stars," said Professor Kidd, "which have guided my wanderings in this valley of tears: to you I acknowledge much assistance in all my attainments. Farewell, thou atmosphere, with thy clouds, and thy rains, and thy dews, thy hail and thy snow, and different breezes, which have contributed so much to my life and comfort. Farewell, ye earth and sea, which have borne me from place to place, where Providence has ordered my lot, and with your productions have supported my bodily wants so often and so long. Ye summers and winters, adieu! Farewell, my native country, and every place where I have had my abode. I bid adieu to my library, and to my Bible, which has been my companion from my earliest days. I leave the volume, but I carry with me, as the ground of my sure hope, the contents found in Psa. lxxiii. 23, 28; John xiv. 3; Psa. cxxxviii. 7, 8; and Psa. xxiii. These I take before God, as my dying support and comfort. Farewell time! -Welcome eternity! Farewell earth!-Welcome heaven! Amen and Amen." Could contrast possibly be more perfect? What accounts for it? Infidelity a damning lie in the one case; Christianity saving truth in the other.