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It is plain enough that the Bible is true. It is a book that no mere man could ever have written; and a book, in my opinion, that no one, however wicked he may be, can read, and believe in his heart to be an imposition. I have tried often to believe so. And no one can look at the Christian religion, and see what it is designed to effect, without feeling that it must be from God. In fact, no man can be a Deist who isn't a fool. For reason and conscience confirm the Christian doctrines, and satisfy me that there is a place of happiness and of misery hereafter.”
Henry was amazed at these confessions from one who had been nurtured in infidelity, and was regarded by the pious as a heavendaring young man. At length he replied, “If this is your belief, B-, you're in an awful situation. What can you think of your present course ?."
“Why, it's a pretty bad one, to be sure: but I've no thought of dying so. I mean to become a Christian. But the fact is, a man must have property : unless he has, he is scarcely respected even by Chris. tians themselves. And I mean to make money and enjoy life; and when I've got things around me to my mind, then I will be liberal and feed the poor, and do good that's the way church members do."
“But how long do you think it will be safe for you to indulge your present habits? Being out late and drinking have already injured your
health." “ I've thought of that," answered B- “But I'm young and hearty; though I intend to quit cards and drinking pretty soon.”
“I speak as a friend, B- ; but I did not suppose, from what I have heard you say, that you believed in a Saviour, or in heaven
“I do, as much as you or any man.”
“Do you remember playing cards at - ?” And here Henry referred to most horrid profanity uttered during a night of carousal.
“Oh, when I swore so, I was a little intoxicated; but I felt sorry for it afterwards. I know it's wrong, and I always feel sorry. But when I'm among those fellows, I can't very well help it.”
“But how often,” continued his still doubting friend, “have I heard you say, that religion was nothing but priestcraft, and that Christians were a pack of fools !”
“ I know I've said so when they've crossed my path and made me angry. And I think now, that a good many of those who pretend to be Christians are nothing but hypocrites. But that there is real religion, and that there are some who possess it, and have what you and I know nothing about, it's no use to deny."
The conversation continued much in this strain for some time; and made a deep and most happy impression on the mind of Henry.
As for his companion, “madness was in his heart” as long as he lived, and he soon went to “the dead.” He continued to drink, until he was known to be a drunkard. He mingled with gamblers, till his moral sensibilities seemed wholly blunted. At length, after a night of dissipation, he started for home_was thrown from his waggon and badly bruised; disease set in with dreadful severity upon his constitution, greatly enfeebled by irregularities; and in a little space delirium tremens hurried him to his grave!
Every reader may well be astonished at the inconsistencies, as well as shocked at the impiety of this poor wretch; yet who can avoid seeing that his character is essentially that of thousands who mean finally to enter the kingdom of heaven? Are there not many who read this, respectable before the world-free, as they think, from gross vices, and from danger—that have already entered the path which sank this young man to eternal night? Let the gay and the fashionable, and especially let every young man remember, that the steps which take hold on hell are by no means seldom those which first led to the convivial card party. Here the lovers of pleasure find an atmosphere peculiarly intoxicating, which renders serious society and instructive employment altogether distasteful; and are drawn step by step into the associated vices which destroy body and soul.
Let him who peruses this narrative also remember, that, however confident and bold he may be in scepticism, his confidence will desert ! him at the hour of need. Nay, his hopes from any system of infidelity will vanish now, if he will only sit down and reflect_if he will but seriously listen, for a few hours, to the sober decisions of reason and conscience.
And, finally, let no one imagine that religion is something, always, as it were, waiting on him ; a prize, which, at any future time, he has little more to do than to reach out his hand and take. It is not so. And yet many trust in this delusion, and quiet themselves with this hope, at the very hour that they are passing the bounds of mercy. Reader ! are you saying, "I've no thought of dying as I am-I mean to become a Christian?” Beware!
THE HID TREASURE. A traveller once called at a poor cottage to ask for a draught of water ; on entering, he found the parents of the family cursing and quarrelling, the half-starved children trembling and crouching together in a corner, and all around bore the marks of wretchedness and poverty. The stranger admonished them to live in peace. “Ah! sir," said the man, “you know nothing of the life and trials of a poor man, when, do what he will, every thing goes wrong, and all the recompense we get for our hard labour and sufferings is scarcely bread and water, with quarrels and disputes from day to day.”
The stranger, having drunk the water, was about to go, but thought he caught sight of a Bible;on a dark dusty shelf in a corner of the cottage, and therefore addressed them in the following words. “Dear friends, I know well what would help you; there is a treasure concealed in your house; search for it, and you will find it; and if you use it aright, in a short time you will be so rich and happy as never again to envy any one in the world :" so saying, he left them.
At first they thought what he had said was in jest, but could not help thinking about it. So when the man was at any time left alone, he searched and even dug, that he might find the treasure, and the woman likewise ; still they found it not, and increasing poverty brought only more quarrels, discontent, and strife. One day, how. ever, as the woman was left alone in the house, she began to reflect on what the stranger had said, with greater wonder than ever. She looked, now here, now there, till she cast her eyes (by chance, as some would say) on the Bible which lay unheeded in a dark dusty corner. A strange foreboding took possession of her mind, and she said to herself, what if it was this book that the stranger meant. She took it from amongst the rubbish where it lay, and opened it; it had been the gift of her mother; and on the title-page was written in her mother's hand-writing, “ The word of thy mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver.” It cut her to the heart; “Ah!” thought she, “this is the treasure the stranger had in mind;" she read from that old Bible, and every word went to her heart as she had never felt it before.
On her husband's coming home as usual quarrelling and in a rage, instead of meeting his angry words with angry replies, now she spoke to him with meekness and gentleness. He was astonished and ashamed, but she said, “Husband, we have sadly sinned, we have nobody but ourselves to blame for all our misery, we must lead a different life.” He looked amazed, and exclaimed, “What dost thou say?” She brought the old Bible, and sobbing, cried out, “ There is the treasure; see, I have found it.” Her husband sat down in si. lence, she read to him out of it, how the Lord Jesus so loved sinners as to die for them. The husband's heart was moved, and he trembled. Henceforth they began to read their Bible every day, and to pray, and to teach the children out of it.
A year passed by, when the stranger returned again that way. “Behold," said he to himself, “ yonder is that poor cottage; I will just speak to the poor people once more, and see how they do now.” As he said, so he did; but he scarcely could believe it was the same place, it was so clean, so neat, so orderly, and the inmates came to meet him so kindly and cheerfully, with cheerfulness and peace beam. ing in their countenances. “ How are you now?” said he; then they knew the stranger, and for joy could not speak for some time, tears choking their words. Thanks, thanks, dear sir," they exclaimed, we have found your treasure. Now dwells the blessing of God in
our house and his peace in our hearts;" so'said they, and their entire condition, and the happy faces of the dear children neatly clothed, said the same still more plainly. May all readers of this, similarly circumstanced, go and do likewise.—Tract Magazine.
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE SOUL.-Our natural love of ease is strong. We are clothed with slothfulness as with a garment, and nothing can so effectually strip us of the fatal garment as the deep conviction that our souls are even our all; yea, that they are of a weight and value, as to move both heaven and hell. We learn their importance from the anxiety and the conduct of the angels of God. These happy beings desire to look into the great salvation which is prepared for souls; and they rejoice over every sinner which repenteth. We learn the importance of souls, from the amazing means of their redemption. Love must be put forth in its mightiest stretch: blood must be shed: life must be given. And whose love? The love of the everlasting and glorious Godhead. And whose blood must be shed ? The blood of the “Word made flesh.” And whose life must be given ? The life of the Prince of Life and the Lord of Glory. And were such means to be used, before the redemption of souls could be accomplished ? Surely none but God can comprehend their value; and nothing but eternity can tell it. We learn the importance of souls, from the exceeding and eternal weight of glory, in which the redeemed will rejoice; and from the everlasting anguish, which all who die in their sins, will certainly endure. We learn the importance of souls, from the earnest sincerity with which the Redeemer addresses us. He warns us,—" Flee from the wrath to come.” He invites us,—“Be ye reconciled to God.” He encourages us, even by his oath—“As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked.” He promises to him who cometh, that he shall not be cast out: and to him that conquereth in the spiritual battle, that he shall be made a pillar in the Temple of God.-Housman.
Man's NATURAL STATE.- .-How deplorable is this condition, which is common to us all as the children of Adam,—“dead in sins !" How great are the privations of which this death in sins is significant! It implies the total loss of that righteousness and true holiness in which man was created, the entire absence of that freedom in which the affections went forth delightfully towards God as the supreme good, and were enlarged to the extent of the divine will,—the loss of that heavenly calm in the conscience, and of that full enjoyment, which fowed from the fountain of happiness, and in the room of it the operation of fear, and shame, and sorrow, and despair. To be dead in
sins, is to have the whole nature corrupted and defiled, and to be so utterly void of the principle of spiritual vitality, as to be incapable of exercising any of the affections, or of discharging any of the duties of spiritual life. To be dead in sins is to be held as already dead in law, condemned to an everlasting exclusion from the divine presence, and to be cut off from all the influences that might restore to spiritual life. It was in this helpless state, which is the state of all mankind as uni. ted to the first transgressor, involved in one common ruin, that the God who is rich in mercy, looked down in pity on our misery, while he looked with abhorrence on our guilt. “No eye pitied thee, but thou wast cast out in the open field, to the loathing of thy person. And when. I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee, when thou wast in thy blood, LIVE.”_Dr. Dewar.
EARNESTNESS.-Solicitude, with reference to eternal things, is much pressed upon us in the word of God, and many are the promises made to those who are in earnest. “If thou seekest wisdom as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures, then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God.” How few act thus ! How few are thus blest! If we saw a person walking carelessly over a field, now and then turning up a few inches of the soil, or looking under a stone which lay on the surface; and were informed that he was searching the ground for treasures, we should smile at his simplicity, and should advise him to adopt a different course, if he hoped to succeed. But do not many act thus with reference to eternal things ? Not so the poor slave who toils in the diamond mines, and who receives his freedom if he finds a precious stone above a certain weight. Behold him with a stone in his hand, see his anxiety till he ascertains whether it is of the required value—and then his joy when his wishes are all realized. Sinner, behold the Bible the mine of truth
“ This is the field where hidden lies,
SIN MUST BE PUNISHED.-This is evident from its nature. What is sin but the offering of the highest indignity to the Infinite and Supreme Being, the Creator, Preserver, and Benefactor of mankind? It is an affronting of all his perfections, a reflection upon his wisdom, a contempt of his power, an insult to his holiness, a disparagement of his goodness, and an open defiance of his truth and faithfulness. If then sin be such an evil, an evil infinitely worse than we are capable to represent it, how can any imagine that God will forbear or neglect to punish such who obstinately live and die in the practice of it.-Boston.