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A missionary in Africa asked a little boy if he was a sinner. The boy replied by asking if he knew any one who was not. The missionary then asked him who could save him from his sins. He replied, "Christ." "What has Christ done to save sinners?" "He has died on the cross." "Do you believe Jesus Christ will save you?" "Yes." "Why do you believe it?" "I _feel_ it; and not only so, but I consider that, since he has died, and sent his servants the missionaries from such a far country to publish salvation, it would be very strange if, after all, he should reject a sinner." It would be so indeed, with respect to all that come to Him; for he has said, "Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out."
_Proof that there is a G.o.d_.
A converted Greenlander, conversing with a missionary concerning his former state, said that, before he had ever heard about G.o.d or Jesus Christ, he used to have such reflections as these: A boat does not grow into existence of itself, but must be made by the labor and ingenuity of man. But the meanest bird has far more skill displayed in its structure than the best boat, and no man can make a bird. But there is far more art shown in the formation of man than in any other creature. Who was it that made him? I thought perhaps he proceeded from his parents, and they from their parents; but some must have been the first parents--whence did they come? Common report informs me that they grew out of the earth; but if so, why do not men now grow out of the earth? And from whence did this same earth, the sea, the sun, the moon, and the stars, arise into existence? Certainly, there must be some Being, who made all these things--a Being that always was, and can never cease to be. He must be inexpressibly more mighty, knowing, and wise, than the wisest man. He must be very good too; for every thing that is made is good, useful, and necessary for us. Ah! did I but know him, how would I love him and honor him! But who has seen him? Who has conversed with him?
This poor heathen, groping in the dark, was led to the same train of reasoning to prove the existence of G.o.d that is used by the learned Christian philosopher; thus proving the truth of that pa.s.sage in Rom. i. 20:--"The invisible things of G.o.d, from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and G.o.dhead."
_How to prove the Bible true_.
At one of the South Sea Islands, which had been converted from heathenism by the labors of the English Missionaries, they were holding the annual meeting of their Missionary Society. A British vessel arrived, and the officers and crew attended the meeting. A native took the chair, and native speakers addressed the meeting, with great effect.
Every thing was done in good order; and the speeches were interpreted by the missionaries to the Englishmen present from the ship. But some of them said the natives were mere parrots, and only repeated what the missionaries had taught them. Others said that was impossible. After a warm dispute, they agreed to submit it to Mr. Williams, the missionary; who declined deciding the question, but told them if they would visit him in the afternoon, he would collect ten or twelve natives, whom they might ask any questions they pleased. They came, and about fifteen natives were present, but without knowing the object of the meeting.
The first question asked was, "Do you believe the Bible to be the word of G.o.d?" They were startled. They had never heard such a question stated before. A doubt had never entered their minds. After a moment's pause, one of them replied, "Most certainly we do; undoubtedly we do."
"Why do you believe it?" they were again asked. "Can you give any reason for believing the Bible to be the word of G.o.d?" He answered: "Why, look at the power with which it has been attended, in the utter overthrow of all that we have been addicted to from time immemorial. What else could have abolished that system of idolatry, which had so long prevailed among us? No human arguments could have induced us to abandon that false system."
The same questions were put to another, who replied, "I believe the Bible to be the word of G.o.d, on account of the pure system of religion which it contains. We had a system of religion before; but look how dark and black that system was compared with the bright system of salvation revealed in the word of G.o.d! Here we learn that we are sinners, and that G.o.d gave Jesus Christ to die for us; and by that goodness salvation is given to us. Now, what but the wisdom of G.o.d could have produced such a system as this presented to us in the word of G.o.d? And this doctrine leads to purity."
Another made the following singular reply, which is worthy of a learned philosopher: "When I look at myself, I find I have got hinges all over my body. I have hinges to my legs, hinges to my jaws, hinges to my feet.
If I want to take hold of any thing, there are hinges to my hands to do it with. If my heart thinks, and I want to speak, I have got hinges to my jaws. If I want to walk, I have hinges to my feet. Now here is wisdom, in adapting my body to the various functions which it has to discharge. And I find that the wisdom which made the Bible exactly fits with this wisdom which has made my body; consequently I believe the Bible to be the word of G.o.d."
The argument, in this last answer, is the same as that which proves the existence of G.o.d: the perfect adaptation of all the works of nature to their design, shows them to have been the work of a Supreme Intelligence. The perfect adaptation of the Bible to the condition, wants, and necessities of man, proves it to be of divine origin. The Bible just suits the design for which it professes to have been given.
It gives us just that information and instruction, which we should expect a revelation from heaven to give. It gives a rational account of the origin of all things; of the object of man's existence, and of his relations and duties to G.o.d. It explains how man came to be in his present fallen, wretched condition, and makes provision for his restoration to the favor of G.o.d. It provides for a radical reformation of character; gives a perfect code of morals, and takes hold on the heart, and inspires a devotional spirit. Human wisdom could not have produced such a book; but if it could, _good_ men would not have been guilty of imposing a work of their own upon mankind, as a revelation from heaven; and _bad_ men would not have made a book to condemn themselves, as the Bible condemns all wickedness. We must, then, conclude, that the Bible is a divine book.
SECTION II.--THE SABBATH.
_Nothing lost by keeping the Sabbath_.
A pious sailor, on board the steamboat Helen McGreggor, in 1830, was ordered by the Captain to a.s.sist in handling freight on the Sabbath; which he objected to do, because he wished to keep the Sabbath. "We have no Sabbaths here at the West," the Captain replied. "Very well," said the sailor, "wherever I am, I am determined to keep the Sabbath." After a few more words, the Captain settled with him, and he left the boat. He was soon offered higher wages, if he would come back; but he refused. In a few days, he shipped at New Orleans for Europe. The first newspaper he took up on his arrival contained an account of the terrible disaster which happened to this boat soon after he left it. On the morning of the 24th of February, 1830, she burst her boiler at Memphis, Tenn., and nearly one hundred lives were lost. This dreadful disaster he had escaped, by adhering, at all hazards, to his determination, wherever he was, to keep the Sabbath.
When George III. was repairing his palace, he found among the workmen a pious man, with whom he often held serious conversations. One Monday morning, when the king went to view the works, this man was missing. He inquired the reason. At first, the other workmen were unwilling to tell.
But the king insisted on knowing; when they confessed that they had returned Sabbath morning, to complete a piece of work which they could not finish on Sat.u.r.day, and that this man had been turned out of his employment because he refused to come. "Call him back immediately," said the king. "The man who refused doing his ordinary work on the Lord's day is the man for me. Let him be sent for." He was restored to his place; and always afterwards, the king showed him particular favor. Here was a strong temptation to break the Sabbath, for the man's employment depended on it. But he found it both safe and profitable to keep the Sabbath.
_A wise answer_.
A wicked man said to his son, who attended the Sabbath School, "carry this parcel to such a place." "It is the Sabbath," said the boy. "Put it in your pocket," said the father. "G.o.d can see into my pocket," the little boy answered.
_Danger of breaking the Sabbath_.
It is believed that more sad accidents happen to young persons, while seeking their pleasure on G.o.d's Holy Day, than by any other means. A great proportion of the cases of drowning, among boys, occur on the Sabbath. One fine summer's morning, two sprightly young lads started for the Sabbath School; but they were met on the way by some rude boys, who persuaded them to go and play with them by the side of the river. They hesitated for some time, instead of resolutely saying "No," to the first temptation. When they yielded, it was with troubled consciences, for they were well instructed at home. They played about the river for some time, when one of them, venturing too near, fell into the water, which was deep. His companions were too much frightened to give him any a.s.sistance, and he was carried away by the rapid current and drowned.
Thus were these two boys punished for their disobedience to G.o.d and their parents.
_But one Sabbath in the week_.
A person being invited to go on an excursion for pleasure, on the Holy Sabbath, replied, "I should like an excursion very well; but I have but one Sabbath in the week, and I can't spare that." This expresses an important truth in an impressive manner. When we have but one day in the week exclusively devoted to the concerns of eternity, while six are devoted to the affairs of time, can we spare that one day for pleasure?
It is the best of the seven. It is worth more than all the rest. If rightly employed, it will bring us a richer return. What we can earn in the six days is perishable; but the fruits of a well-spent Sabbath will endure for ever. The Sabbath, when properly spent, is the day for the highest kind of enjoyment. If, therefore, you would seek pleasure, you can better afford to take any other day in the week for it, than to take the holy Sabbath.
SECTION III.--EARLY PIETY RECOMMENDED.
A man eighty-seven years of age, meeting another aged man not quite as old as himself, the other inquired of him how long he had been interested in religion. "Fifty years," was the old man's reply. "Well, have you ever regretted that you began so young to devote yourself to G.o.d?" "O no," said he; and the tears trickled down his cheeks. "I weep when I think of the sins of my youth."
Another man between sixty and seventy years of age, said, "I hope I became a disciple of the Lord when I was seventeen;" and he burst into a flood of tears as he added, "and there is nothing which causes me so much distress as to think of those seventeen years--some of the very best portion of my life,--which I devoted to sin and the world."
This was the experience of David, who, in his old age, prayed, "Remember not, O Lord the sins of my youth." And it will be the reader's experience, should he ever be brought to a knowledge of the truth, after giving the flower of his days to the service of sin and Satan.
_Danger of delay_.
A---- M---- was an impenitent youth. His friend, who had just embraced the Saviour, in the ardor of his first love, besought him to turn to the Lord. He acknowledged the great importance of the things which were urged upon his attention; and said that, long before, the Spirit of G.o.d had called upon him, and he was "almost persuaded to be a Christian."
Once he stood almost on the threshhold of heaven. "But now," said he, "I am fallen, fallen--O how far! I know that I am not a Christian now. I am a great sinner. I have quenched the Holy Spirit. If I should die as I am, I know I shall be eternally lost, for I believe the Bible. You may think, because I am so careless now, I shall die unconverted. But no, I have more thoughts about death than many suppose. _I mean to repent before I die_, and become a Christian. I cannot think of dying as I now am; but you need not be concerned about me, _for I mean to repent yet_."
Not many days afterwards, he was crossing a river, with a number of others, for the purpose of spending the day in amus.e.m.e.nt. The skiff upset, and they were plunged into the water. All the rest of the company but A---- (who was the best swimmer among them), reached the sh.o.r.e. He was heard, as he struggled towards the bank, to utter a fearful oath, calling upon G.o.d to d.a.m.n his soul. G.o.d took him at his word. He sunk to rise no more--a fearful warning on those who presume on future repentance!
SECTION IV.--UNCERTAINTY OF LIFE.
"Go to now, ye that say, To-day or to-morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy, and sell, and get gain:
"Whereas ye know not what _shall be_ on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time and then vanisheth away.
"For that ye _ought_ to say, if the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that."--JAMES iv. 13, 14, 15.
On Friday, the Editor of the New-York Commercial Advertiser, met a Mr.
Storrs in the street and requested from him an account of an Indian adventure which he had heard him relate. Mr. Storrs replied, "I am going to New Haven in the morning. I will write it there and bring it down for you on Monday. You shall have it on Monday." These were his last words.
On Monday he was buried. Such is the uncertainty of all human calculations! Let the business of the day be done to-day; for no one is sure of to-morrow. Especially let the great business of life always be done, and then sudden death need not be dreaded.
_Sudden death of an impenitent sinner_.
On a cold day in the middle of winter, a carriage drove up to a minister's house and he was summoned to attend the death-bed of a young man, who, in the midst of life and health had been just struck down by a violent kick from a horse, and was not expected to live more than a few hours. The blow had broken his skull bone, and cut out a piece as large as the palm of his hand, presenting a ghastly and horrible sight.
When the minister arrived, he found him just recovering his senses. The physician came soon after, and decided that there was no hope of saving his life. The minister, after saying a few words, and engaging in prayer, proposed to retire for a short time, to give the young man a little rest. "No, no," he exclaimed, "do not leave me for a moment. I have but a short time to live, and I dare not die as I am. O what shall I do? Tell me quickly before the light of reason forsakes me."
"James," said the minister, "there is but one way in which a sinner can be saved, and that is, by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ;--whether an hour only, or years be allowed you, the only way for you to secure salvation is, by casting yourself unreservedly into the Saviour's hand.
Only his blood can save you; and you are welcome now, this moment. All things are ready--come now."
The young man, with a look of anguish, replied, "Do you remember, sir, when I was putting up some shelves in your study, eight months ago, that you asked me to stop, while you talked with me about religion, and prayed for me? It was then that I felt that I was a sinner, and after going home, I endeavored to pray for myself, and determined that I would seek religion. Two or three days, these feelings continued; when, unhappily for me, I took up a book, which I had commenced reading before our conversation, and though conscience remonstrated, I went on and finished it. My feelings were much enlisted in the story, but when I got through I had no disposition to pray; and my anxiety about religion was gone. I resumed novel-reading, of which I had been very fond, and compromised with my conscience, by resolving that at the end of one year I would throw all such books aside, and seek the salvation of my soul.
Only two thirds of that year are gone, and here I am dying! Fool, fool that I was, to sell my soul for a novel--to prefer the excitement of an idle tale to the joys of religion."
The minister begged him, whatever had been his past folly and guilt, to look to Christ for the forgiveness of all. But while he was speaking, the young man's reason began to fail. In a short time he was delirious.
"Fool, fool!" he would exclaim, at intervals, and this was all he said.
In this state of mind, death overtook him, four months before the period arrived, to which he had put off attention to the concerns of his soul--a sad warning to those who defer this first and great concern!
_Sudden Death of a Christian_.