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were created by him and for him, and that he is the true God and eternal life; and I despise the meanness of those, who, in order to make the writings of the followers of Jesus tenable, explain away their obvious meaning. They would act more like honest men, if they either received the whole, or rejected them, as I do, altogether.
I am of your mind, Sir, answered I, in that respect. But notwithstanding I approve of your not endeavouring to corrupt the Scriptures, I am sorry that you should reject them altogether, or in any measure ; since, although they should prove to have no foundation in truth, I am better off than you, because at least they render me happy in this world : but in case they should prove true, as I doubt not they will, you will be miserable, and I happy, in another. However, Sir, you may fancy that Jesus of Nazareth and his disciples were deceivers, you can have no assurance that that was the case ; no, nor yet any foundation supported by the least probability that it was so. Therefore, Mr. Clifford is playing a desperate game, in which he has staked his soul against a feather ; yes, Sir, and much less than a feather. For I can tell him what he may think to be a secret ; he is very unhappy, and frequently wishes he had never existed, and even envies the happiness of the dog that follows hiin, and of the horse upon which he rides. He indeed strives to put away these thoughts that trouble him; but, like the stone of the fabled Sisyphus, they return upon him,
I must acknowledge, Madam, replied he, for I love to be ingenuous, that I have not been so happy as I could have wished. It is far from being pleasant to live in doubt and uncertainty, and to have all our views bounded by the grave; and I confess, I should not like when I leave the world to take a leap in the dark, if it could be prevented. But I endeavour to bear with fortitude those evils which cannot be avoided. Besides, no mortal can believe what he pleases; we assent or deny, in all cases, according to
the evidence which is brought to support or invalidate the matter in question.
I told Mr. Clifford, that if this was true, then unbelief was certainly no sin. Or rather, said I, there would be no such person as a deist where the gospel is preached, or as an atheist where the sun enlightens the earth. But shall we say, that the Supreme Being has not sufficiently mani. fested his eternal power and godhead in the things which he has made ? Does not the return of day and night, and of the different seasons, demonstrate, that he who made, still governs the universe ? The heavenly bodies, together with this earth, notwithstanding their amazing magnitude, and their distance from each other, perform their revolutions with such exactness, that it would be dishonouring them to compare them with the most curious timepiece that has ever been invented. The eye, the ear, the hand ! The creatures made for our use, and the food provided for their sustenance! But why do I mention the proofs of a God? The evidence is infinite. And yet, Sir, we find, that men do not assent to this truth in any proportion to its evidence. Sin has so biassed our judgments, that foolish men still say in their hearts, if not with their lips, that there is no God. The evidence also of the truth of revelation is not rejected because of its weakness, but in consequence of human depravity. That sacred book begins with an account of the creation of the world, and of the fall of our first parents, of which last truth we see and feel the dire effects every day. The next important thing recorded is, a promise that the seed of the woman should bruise the head of the serpent, accompanied with a declaration that there would be two different kinds of people in the world, between whom there should be a continual enmity. This is a summary view of the Old and New Testament.
Mr. Barnwell, who had been silent some time, cried out, well, Miss Neville, you may stop now; my friend and I are to be given to the devil, I know very well, without your saying any thing else. You, and my daughter, and her aunt, and perhaps half a score more, are the elect; and Mr. Clifford, and I, and every body else, are reprobates. Tell the truth, Madam ; is not that your sentie ment?
I have no right, answered I, to say, that the greatest sinner on earth is a reprobate ; since mercy is proclaimed in the gospel to the chief of sinners. Nor has any person on earth reason to conclude himself a reprobate, unless he have formed a settled resolution to trample under foot the blood of the Saviour, and even thousands, I am persuaded, of this description, have had their fetters knocked off, and have been brought into the glorious light and liberty of the sons of God. You perceive, Sir, I do not confine the number of those who will be saved, to myself and nine or ten more, as you say I do.
I beg, Mr. Barnwell, said Mr. Clifford, you will not interrupt us. You will oblige me, Madam, by resuming the subject.
I have told you, Sir, replied I, or I meant to tell you, that the whole of divine revelation is little more than an account of the methods which God has taken to accomplish his promise, that the seed of the woman should bruise the head of the serpent. Abraham was informed that this seed, in which all the families of the earth were to be blessed, would descend from him. The sacrifices under the law, were the gospel preached to the Israelites. And all the prophets, though they lived in different ages, agreed in declaring, that a glorious. Personage would arise for the deliverance of Israel and of the Gentiles : yet they seemed to damp the hopes of the Jews, by showing them that he would be a sufferer, as well as a lawgiver and deliverer. If that people had understood these prophecies, they would not have been fulfilled : but they almost universally expected that the Messiah would deliver them from the Roman yoke, and make them a great and flourishing nation. These prejudices were not eradicated from the breasts of the disciples till after the resurrection of
Christ. It is plain from the prophetic writings, examined without prejudice, that the Messiah came to destroy the kingdom of Satan ; and that, though he was to exalt his followers, they were not to be great in the present world. The life, death, resurrection, and ascension of the Saviour, exactly correspond to the prophecies concerning him. If it be asked, why then the Jews did not believe? I answer, The prophet Isaiah had long before declared that the di. vine report would not be believed: that the Messiah would be despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and that his nation would hide their faces from, and despise him. Surely, says the same prophet, he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows ; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astrat; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, 80 he openeth not his mouth. It appears to me, Sir, continued I, that the world was created with no other view than that it might be the stage of this grand transaction, compared with which, the sun, moon, and stars, yea, heaven and earth, and angels and men, hide their diminished heads. Believe me, Sir, I would not, for one year only, be in that state of doubt and uncertainty wherein you are, if I might be made em. press of the globe. *. I believe you, said he, to be in earnest : but your years are nothing. The older you grow, the less able you will be to believe such things as shock your reason. Alas, my child, this earth is a mole-hill if compared with the sun, or with some of the planets which revolve around him : and what are they when compared with the universe! I have always thought it a very sublime expression of the prophet Isaiah, that in comparison of the Deity, the na.
tjons are as the drop of a bucket. Reason tells us, that you and I, and even our earth and all its inhabitants, are infinitely beneath his notice ; yea, more so than the ants in a mole-hill are beneath ours.
We never run into greater errors, Sir, replied I, than when we measure the Almighty by ourselves. You think if you were so great, you would not condescend to regard things so small. Against such condescension your reason revolts. But reason itself became depraved, and unreasonable, at the fall of our first parents. They reasoned so bad. ly as to imagine that they could hide themselves from the divine presence among the trees of the garden. But when God has renewed us in the spirit of our mind, after his own image, then our reason and divine revelation begin to speak nearly the same language. I believe, therefore, nothing but what is agreeable to my reason. My reason tells me, that however I may disregard the ants in a mole-hill, their Maker does not disregard them, nor yet the smallest microscopic animalcule, shoals of which sport in a drop of water. He would not have created them unless to answer some valuable end, though we, perhaps, are unacquainted with it ; nor would he otherwise continue to open his munificent hand, and to give them their meat in due season. With regard to mankind, the most High having given thein ability to contemplate both himself and his works, it is reasonable to suppose that he intends to enlarge the number of the Angelic armies from the human race. As to the small spot which we inhabit, peradventure it is the nursery of the universe ; and with respect to our weakness, and our wants, they teach us that we can never be above a state of humble dependence. Humility is a virtue of all others the best adapted for the benefit of society, and the best calculated to make us proper companions for him who is infinitely condescending, and who abhors the proud above all other sinners. The character of Jesus Christ was the character of the invisible Jehovah; for he was the brightness of his glory, and the express moral image of his person. If, therefore, he became a descendant of Da