Page images

with scorn, “A!!, I think that book only fit for old women and weak minds.”

“ I know, sir," I answered seriously, “ that it is very good for me, though I am certainly not an old woman. As to a weak mind, I will not decide upon that; you must judge.”

“ I beg your pardon, sir, if I have offended you by my foolish expression ; but allow me to speak freely, and to say, that I cannot understand how a man of sense and education, as I perceive you to be, (I say it with respect,) can approve, and, above all, can believe such a production. Voltaire at least did not, and certainly he was not wanting in discernment, or knowledge, or good sense.” Here the pupil of such a teacher repeated, with equal fluency and sharpness, the invectives of the philosopher against the Galilean, and his doctrine. The incarnation of the Word, the miracles, the prophecies, the death, and above all, the resurrection of the reputed son of Joseph, were passed over in review, and the conclusion of the whole argument was a song of triumph as to the reason and wisdom of the present age. The young unbeliever was delighted; he thought me reduced to silence and overcome, for I listened to the whole without saying a word.

When he had ended, I own I was tempted to oppose sword to sword, and to answer the follower of Voltaire by arguments, as I thought, of better reasoning than his own. But I was impressed by these words of holy writ-" The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ,” 2 Cor. x. 4, 5; and, leaving in its sheath the feeble weapon of my own reason, I seized the sword of the Spirit, and answered only in these words: “ If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them," 2 Cor. iv. 3, 4.

“Yes, yes," replied the youth, "so says that book, but on what authority does it speak, that is the question ?”

“If any man will do his will,” I continued, still reading, “he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself,” John vii. 17.

- That is to say,” he answered, “ that all the learned scholars and philosophers; in short, all men of sense and judgment, in civilized society—all these superior men are wicked and impious, and even atheists, or scoundrels, because they refuse to believe the mysteries, not to say the absurdities, of an obscure book."


still reading, “should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God," 1 Cor. ii. 5. “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise ; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty : and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are," 1 Cor. i. 27, 28. “He that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God,” John iii. 18: and “ He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life ; but the wrath of God abideth on him," John iii. 36.

“ Very well, sir; my lot, you think, is settled; and hell, with everlasting flames, is prepared for me, and for the flower of the whole human race; I thank you for your charity.”

“ Sir," I answered, calmly, “it was not I, but God himself, who said by his apostle, that 'there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved, but that of Jesus, Acts iv. 12. Jesus also says to you, as well as to every other sinner, “That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life,' John iii. 15. You hear these words; they are full of love and mercy.”

The youth was silent, and knit his brow. His countenance was gloomy, and for a long while he remained still. Nagit came on. My neighbour was still dumb, and I thought his ill humour would last until he fell asleep, when, suddenly turning towards me, he said, with much appearance of feeling, “ Where, sir, can I obtain the book you have there ? for, I must tell you, I begin to think that perhaps I may be wrong, and that you are in the right path. I am even concerned, sir, for the thoughtless words that”— I interrupted him. “ Pray, sir, do not think of any apology, but as you seem already to feel that the word of God is superior to that of a philosopher, do not let us part without your having this book, which you will allow me to offer to you, when we reach Bourdeaux."

From that happy moment our conversation was easy and unrestrained ; and it was not till after we had spoken of all the vital doctrines of Christianity, that we both yielded to slumber.

The next day my young companion was calm, cordial, and perfectly open; and when I left him, he took my hand, saying, “Do you remember the promise that you kindly made me? there is my address.” “In a few moments," I answered, “ the most precious of books shall be in your hands;" and I hastened to the house of a friend, a Christian brother, to whom Į related the above-mentioned facts, and who immediately went to the house of the young traveller, to whom he gave the book of God, accompanying it with words of peace. He also

informed him that, on the same day, and other days following, I should explain some portions of the Holy Scriptures, at meetings to which he would be welcome,

This invitation was not given in vain. The same evening the young man, with his book under his arm, came to take his place among the serious hearers whom the gospel drew together.

The next day he returned again at the same hour, and, after service, came up to me, and said, with earnestness, "Sir, you never can know all the good which this book has already done me, and all the pleasure I have felt in hearing you, both yesterday and to-day. Henceforth this book shall be my study-my sole study."

" And what will you do to-morrow ?" I asked him, “It is the king's birthday; there will be a great ball, and much bustle, and no doubt you will be invited." “ I have refused," answered the young man, with firmness. I shall not be there. In the morning I shall go and hear you, as you preach in public; and in the evening, if it please God, I shall come and hear you again."

He came ; and, for the first time, this fashionable young man, who had hitherto made plays and balls his chief pleasures, considered it his highest privilege to worship God in his temple, and in the evening to join some disciples of that Saviour whom be had once learned to scorn.

On the same evening I took leave of this youthful seeker after the truth. He again expressed his gratitude and earnest desire for the accomplishment of the prayers I offered for him, and he declared, before many witnesses, that he believed the Bible, that he worshipped the Lord Jesus, and desired to live and die a Christian. We spoke of possibly meeting at Toulouse, but we have never seen each other from that day.

Here may be seen how the word alone resisted the attacks of an infidel, and subdued, at the feet of Jesus, the follower of vanity, even one who had long scoffed at the Son of God and his gracious offers. Let this word, then, be in your mouth, when you attempt to answer the wisdom of this world, or the treacherous arguments of infidels; for this only can reduce them to silence.

Reader, if you are not a believer, but are resting on your own reason, and the Bible is in your eyes only a book for narrow and weak minds, learn that this very word will judge you at the last day; and it were better for your soul that you had never been born, than that, despising Him who speaks to you from heaven, you count as an unholy thing the blood of Jesus shed upon the cross, which alone can cleanse you from all sin.

[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][merged small]

An early Christian writer states, that Julitta, a pious lady possessed of wealth, was required, under the penalty of losing her property and life, to offer incense to idols. Hearing the impious decision, and supported by her Lord, she exclaimed, “ Farewell, riches; welcome, poverty! Farewell, life; welcome, death! All that I have, were it a thousand times more, would I lose rather than speak one wicked word against God my Creator. I yield thee most hearty thanks, O my God, for this gift of grace, that I can despise this frail and transitory world, esteeming the possession of Christ above all treasures." To any question after this, her answer was, “I am the servant of Jesus Christ.” She welcomed a sentence that doomed her to the flames, and when committed to them her words and looks declared the joy that filled her heart. Doubtless this devoted but happy sufferer founđ in her Saviour a rich compensation for all she sacrificed. She had given her heart to God, and God still demands the heart.

This is required for God by the first and great commandment, “ Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind," Luke x. 27. This commandment is binding on all on earth,

and all in heaven. No intelligent being can be exempt from obligation to love his Creator, and no child of man, from still weightier obligation, to love the Divine Redeemer,

Think of the gift required. Not lifeless forms, or outward offerings merely, the wealth of the rich, or the estates of the noble, the honours of philosophers, or the crowns of kings. All these, if you could give them, would, if offered alone, be mean and contemptible in the view of God. “Give me thine heart.” The heart often signifies the affections. Give these to Christ, yield yourself to God, acknowledge his right to you. Say, “Lord, here take the purchase of thy death; I am for ever thine. Thou didst die to ransom me from debasing servitude to sin and Satan, and from the horrors of eternal death. Now, take me, and all I am, and all I have; for thou hast a right to all. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” Thus present to God the sacrifice he loves, 66. a broken and a contrite heart," Psa. li. 17: a heart in which Christ may dwell, Gal. ii. 20; Ephes. iii. 17.

By most this offering is withheld from God; by the open sinner-his heart is full of evil and given to vanity; by the merely moral-he shuns the open vices of some, but gives not his heart to God; by the undecided-in them there may be much that has the semblance of piety, but here is their great want-the heart is not given to the Lord. Like them, are they who take up the profession of religion, but give not their hearts to Christ; and hence the many inconsistencies that prove their religion to be vain.

Traveller to eternity! consider for whom and by whom this gift is demanded. The claim on thy heart is made for God, the infinite, the blessed, the high and lofty One, whose love would bless, but whose frown would undo you for ever. His favour is life, his anger is death, and worse than death. A dying sinner said, “O thou blasphemed, yet most indulgent Lord God, hell itself is a refuge, if it hide me from thy frown." Give him thy heart. It will not be to a feeble friend, for He is the Almighty God; nor to a poor one, for all the wealth of heaven is his. He has blessed many that have made the offering; he can love, and save, and bless you. Him you must shortly meet, and, appear as a disembodied spirit in his awful presence, Eccles. xii. 7. Would you be blessed then, give now thy heart to God.

Present the offering to the Lord Jesus, who appeared as “God manifest in the flesh.” How many are his claims and excellences ! He is the only Saviour. His love was so vast, that it brought him from the throne of the heavenly glory to the cross of deepest woe. His grace is so wonderful that he will cast out

« PreviousContinue »