Page images
PDF
EPUB

FOURTH LECTURE..!! MC

[ocr errors]

b Christianity contrasted with Infidelity, in its influence on the happiness of Man in this world.

údiola

[ocr errors][merged small]

tių "" The law of the wise is a fountain of life, ... but the way of transgressors is hard.

[ocr errors]

Bi ! In a previous lecture we have contrasted the learning arrayed against Christianity, with that which has been enlisted in its favor and defence. We did not confine ourselves to any one branch of knowledge; and to whatever department of letters and science we have turned our thoughts, we have still found the ripest scholarship, the highest standard of learning, on the side of the Bible. But before we have done with this part of our subject we would carry the contrast between Christianity and Infidelity still farther.

It is admitted on all sides that happiness is the

great object of human pursuit, one great end of man's existence. No one who claims to be a ra. tional being would so blaspheme his Maker, or do such violence to his own nature, as to deny that he was made to be happy. God is perfectly blessed in himself, and “in his own image made he man.” Of course, whatever most effectually and really promotes our happiness here and hereafter, bears on its face that it comes from God; for it contributes to the fulfilment of His wise and merciful purpose when He called us into being. Let us now weigh Christianity and Infidelity in these balances, so far as may be practicable in a single discourse. Let us contrast their respective influence on the happiness of those who embraced the one or the other. Nor will we here speak of what awaits men in the eternal world, when they have passed beyond that vail which no human eye is allowed to penetrate. We confine our argument to what we can all see, respecting which there can be no dispute ; and we ask, is the christian or the infidel the happier man in life, and at death, even was there no eternity to follow ?

I am the more willing to take a view of oui

[ocr errors]

subject in this light in order to meet and refute a reproach that infidels are constantly casting on Christianity. We all know how loudly they talk of the bondage and the privations which religion inflicts on the christian; and how triumphantly they contrast all this imagined misery with their own enlarged measure of enjoyment, springing, as they would have us believe, from their rejection of the faith and practice enjoined in the Bible. On a question like this, facts well attested should be allowed to speak for themselves; we accordingly appeal to them, and in evidence of how far infidelity makes the infidel a happy man, we will let him speak for himself. Let it be observed too, that as

witnesses on behalf of Infidelity, we will select those with whom the world has dealt most kindly.

We will cite those, and those only, who, according čito their own creed, possessed every advantage { which tends to give peace and happiness. They

shall be those who not only had wealth and whatever it could procure, but who had also gained a prize that gold and silver could not buy; they had

fame—a world-wide fame; they had station to I which all around them looked up; they had an

homage paid to them for their acquirements of mind, which even princes and kings could not com. mand. They had everything but religion; every, thing but what we call “the one thing needful,” but which they called the one thing needless and vain. Let us learn from their own confessions of what avail were their high attainments to give them peace and happiness while they lived and when they died, and then contrast their state with that of men who superadded to intellectual distinction and high station a firm and controlling faith in the Gospel.

Let us glance at some of them when in the prime of their strength and greatness, when the world was still smiling on them with its flatteries, and their fame yet towering at its culminating point. It was at such a period of his life that we will look at Voltaire, and hear from him, the utterings of his heart in view of all around him.

“ Who” he exclaims, “can, without horror, consider the whole world as the empire of destruction? It abounds with murders; it also abounds with victims. It is a vast field of carnage and contagion. Every species is without pity pursued, and torn to

pieces through the earth, and air, and water. In man there is more wretchedness than in all the other animals put together. He loves life, and yet he knows that he must die. If he enjoys a transient good; he suffers various evils, and is at last devoured by worms. This knowledge is his fatal prerogative; other animals have it not. He spends the transient moments of his existence in diffusing the miseries which he suffers ; in cutting the throats of his fellow-creatures for pay; in cheating and being cheated ; in 'robbing and being robbed'; in serving that he may command, and in repenting of all he does. The bulk of mankind are nothing more than à crowd of wretches equally criminal and unfortunate, and the globe contains rather càrcases than men. I tremble, in the review of this dreadful pictüre, to find that it contains a complaint against Providence itself; and I wish that I had never been born."

Equally gloomy and disconsolate were the views of Hume while immersed in his infidel philo. sophy, as he tells us in the confession :" Methinks," he

says, “I am like a man who, having struck on many shoals and quicksands, and narrowly escaped

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »