Doubtless you have read Ephesians 1:18, — “The eyes of your understanding being enlightened.” This implies that the mind has a looking faculty, as well as the body; and that our Creator has provided light as admirably adapted to the wants of the mental eyes, as natural light for those of the body. The Ephesians, it appears, had been blind. Total darkness renders the eyes useless, while it continues. St. John speaks of a sinner walking in darkness, not knowing whither he is going, “because the darkness hath blinded his eyes.” Now, a man may close his eyes against the light, and place himself in circumstances as if surrounded by darkness, or he may destroy them altogether. I have read of an old philosopher, who put out his own eyes that he might not be disturbed by light. Would it not have been very irrational, had that man denied the existence of light, and affirmed that those objects said to be discernible through such a medium were all imaginary? Suppose he had been present at a lecture, in which the sun, moon, earth, sea, and colors, were the subjects of discussion; but, on returning home, should entertain his friends with the absurdities of the lecturer, showing all to have been nothing more than a mere tissue of falsehood,– that such things had no other existence than as the brain-creations of him who desired to secure their money. “I can only believe what I see,” he might say, “and, therefore, it is all fabulous.” Which would his hearers say he had flung away from him, his philosophy, or his reason? “Both,” you will reply. Are you not aware, my dear sir, that this is the ridiculous position in which you have placed yourself? By a sophistry peculiarly infidel, you have either put out your mental eyes, or closed them so firmly that the light of truth shines no more into your soul; or, you have let the devil do it for you; 2 Cor. 4:3, 4. But, is it rational in you to deny that the light of truth is still in existence, or assert that those subjects made evident to the mental vision by faith’s “realizing light” are as “insubstantial as a dream”?
Had the old philosopher insisted that all other persons were blind, because he had chosen to make himself so, would men favored with sight have believed him? You have read of foolish Harpaste, spoken of by Seneca, who, insensible of her own blindness, always complained that the sun was down, and the house dark; but who, in daylight and sunshine, could have believed Harpaste? It is thus that infidels now talk; and shall those who live under the full blaze of Gospel day believe them?
“Infidelity, grown bold with joy,
Forth from his dark and lonely hiding-place,
Owl-like comes forth, sailing on obscene wings
Athwart the noon, and drops his blue-fringed eyelids,
And holds them close, and, hooting at the sun,
High in mid-heaven, cries out, ‘Where is it?'”
To revert again to the philosopher: admit that he and Madam Harpaste had been once familiar with light, and all the delightful varieties of visible things, which was really the case, -they must have become the veriest dupes in the world, had they affirmed that light was fabulous, and all the glowing descriptions given of the beauties of our world the “visionary creations of heated enthusiasts.” Though the philosopher was much to blame for destroying his eyes, because light annoyed him, I shall not insult his memory by bringing this unfounded charge against his understanding. There is, however, no unmerited contempt offered to your character; nor am I preferring a false charge against your judgment, when I assert its applicability to you in matters of religion. Once you were as familiar with the light of the Gospel as with that of day, nor were you any less certain of things invisible than of those magnificent aspects and pleasing features of the spacious landscape spread around your dwelling by the hand of your Creator. Now that “the light has become darkness,” and that invisible world a blank (only to yourself observe, for others see and believe), allow me to say how greatly it affects me, to perceive you either the dupe of your own impositions, having permitted the devil to swindle you out of principles which were at once your honor and your wealth, or basely acting the hypocrite in denying the existence of those things you once believed, and which your secret conscience may whisper still exist. The feeling is deepened by the probability that the last conclusion is the correct one, — that the impression of their reality has not as yet entirely faded from your mind. What was said of another “soi-disant” [soi-disant adj. self-styled or pretended. — Oxford Dict.] infidel, not improbably may apply to you:
“He almost thinks he disbelieves, indeed,
But only thinks so; to give both their due,
Satan and he believe and tremble too.”
As you have closed your eyes, beware lest your doings are against the Lord, to provoke the eyes of his glory, Isaiah 3:8; and lest that should come upon you which he has threatened in Ezekiel
5:11. Upon the bed of his last sickness lay one of your brethren in infidelity; he was asked a question, to which his countenance replied, before he had uttered a word: “Are your principles sufficient to sustain you in this trying hour?” He answered, sternly, “No;” and, after a pause, unable to restrain his feeling, he exclaimed, — “Surely I am the greatest fool in the world to have become the dupe of wicked and designing men; I am justly consigned to that hell, the idea of which I once laughed at.” Offers of pardon through the blood of the Lamb were freely presented, but sadly and sullenly put away. He heard the exhortation with patience, till “penitent sinner” was mentioned; when he cried, “Penitent sinner! I am not penitent. It is the fear of eternal damnation that is at work upon my guilty soul; this is nothing else but a pledge and foretaste of the misery of the damned. Eternal fire! eternal fire! who can dwell with everlasting burnings? My body cannot live, and my soul dare not die. O that I had another day! but this would be of no use; I must perish, and reconcile myself to my lot as I can; I am dying! I am dying!” A second attempt was made to turn his despairing conscience to the cross, which he heard with more than usual patience. When the individual ceased, he became very restless, and at last shrieked fearfully, crying, “See! see! do you not see them? They are come for me. I must go to my own place.” The horror of his countenance was infernal. His last words were, “Damned, damned, forever damned!”
You say, “Christianity is a fable;” have you ever read of any faithful believer dying thus? Surely were it for nothing else than to avoid the terrors of a death-bed, the comfortless and dangerous system of infidelity should be abandoned.