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they were to be given up to their own natural unbelief. But if the strongest would not stand in their strength, the feeblest will not be plucked from the hand of the heavenly Father. After the fearful example of Peter and of Thomas, let no disciple of Christ trust in his own stedfastness. We are strong only when, seeing our own weakness, we have our strength in the Rock of our salvation. The world in general, and philosophers in particular, look upon Christians as a weak-minded people, who are prone to believe without sufficient evidence. The man of science, even when he can find no fault with the man of God, still thinks himself justifiable in considering him as utterly below himself in mental powers. He thinks there must be a soft place in his head somewhere. The best thing that he can find to say is, that he is an amiable enthusiast." The truth, however, is far otherwise. Whether the believer is a man of strength of intellect, or feeble in mind, he would be equally an unbeliever with the most talented of his enemies, were he left to himself. Yea, the weakest would likely be the most presumptuous, and rash, and blasphemous in the extravagance of their complaints against the gospel. Thomas would not be behind Paine in the rashness of his demands and assertions. The Christian is made a little child by the word and Spirit of God, but by nature he receiveth not the things of the Spirit, for they are to him, as well as to others, foolishness, until his eyes are opened to discover them.
It is a matter of fact, worthy of particular attention, that the simplest of the men of God make a more correct and a more scientific estimate of the philosopher, than the philosopher can make of him. The philosopher, with all his knowledge, knows not God by his philosophy. He knows not, then, the correct and enlightened views of the man of God on the highest of all sciences. The philosopher, not appreciating the value of the soul, nor the amount of the unspeakable glory of the heavenly inheritance, as well as of the danger of overlooking condemnation, sees not the wisdom of the conduct of the man of God. He has no way to judge of him but by himself; and, therefore, as he himself is wise, the other must be a fool. The pleasure of knowledge, and the glory of fame, are, with the philosopher, the very essence of the happiness of the third heavens. In all this, the man of God, even the weakest of them, can enter into the feelings and sentiments of the men of science : for, by nature, he is such a one himself. And he still finds, in his very best moments, that if he would lose sight of heaven, and be left of God, he would make his paradise with the philosophers, or, at least, according to his taste, with some group of those who are, in different ways, in pursuit of earthly joys. The Christian is not amazed that men seek the praise of men more than that of God; and that they pursue the things of this world rather than the things of God. He is rather amazed that God has turned himself out of this course, and enables
him to resist the temptations which he daily meets in the world. To him there is no mystery in the character and choice of the philosopher, of the sensualist, of the men of the world. In them he sees himself as he is by nature.
It is with new eyes that he sees spiritual things in a correct manner. “ The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him : neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man." The Christian is the true philosopher. He not only has knowledge of the most sublime of all the sciences, of which the wise men of this world are as destitute as the wild ass of the wilderness, but he has that discernment of human views and character which human wisdom never has attained. The Christian knows the philosopher better than the philosopher knows himself. Of all the sciences, the science of mind is the most sublime ; and Christians have a knowledge of the mind of man which no mere philosopher can obtain by his art. The philosopher gives an account of himself and of others, and of his own notions and views, which every Christian can detect as delusive and unreal.
In this providential fact, we see the forbearance and condescension of Christ to his people, even when they are unreasonable. He graciously removes the doubts of Thomas, though he might justly have left him to perish in his presumptuous unbelief. From this we may be assured, that, in one way or
other, the Lord will remove the doubts of his people with respect to the evidence of the gospel. If he will not give them that evidence which extravagance may rashly demand, he will keep them from such extravagance, or remove their doubts by opening their eyes to understand the proper evidence. This will be the same thing with presenting to their view and to their touch his hands and his side. He will assuredly overcome the unbelief and hardness of heart of the most obstinate of his chosen ones. If he was not provoked to give up Thomas, his patience cannot meet with a more extravagant case of incredulity. He could call a Saul of Tarsus in the midst of his furious enmity to him, and he did overcome the unbelief of the incredulous and obstinate Tho
What a consolation is this to the believer! What thoughts of unbelief arise in the heart! And how Satan could perplex the mind of the highest saint on earth, none but the believer can have any conception. If we were for a few minutes, from a state of the most assured faith, to be given into the hands of Satan to sift us as wheat, how would our faith fail us? Who knows what effect the fiery darts of the wicked one would have upon our minds, if they were not quenched ? And quenched they cannot be but on the shield of faith; and in the case supposed God permits that faith to fail. What, then, will support us? How shall we without dismay look into an eternal world ? But though God may for a moment suffer us to be tried by the tempter, he will not suffer us to be tempted above what we are able, but will with the temptation make a way of escape, that we may be able to bear it.
Our constant prayer to God ought to be, that he would not give us into the hands of Satan, or that he will continue to give us the shield of faith. In matters of so great moment, the mind, particularly at death, naturally looks for and wishes every evidence of the truth, and sometimes demands unreasonable evidence. Nothing but the blood of Jesus should be before our eyes; and we should always remember that we glorify God, not by doubting, but by believing his word. Were not Jesus present with his people in the time of their trial, and especially at the time of their death, nothing could deliver them from horror. That they are not only saved from fear, but enabled to rejoice and triumph in death, is the surest evidence that the gospel is true. It is not surprising that persons ignorant of the character of God, of their own character, and of the
consequences of sin, should be stupidly unconcerned at death. But the Christian knows too much to be kept from the very agonies of hell, if he has not the light of heaven when he passes through the dark valley and shadow of death. In the removal of the doubts of reason, let us gain confidence that the Lord will not forsake us in the time of our need. To a Christian, who is deeply acquainted with his own weakness, hell itself is not a greater object of horror, than to be given up without assistance from God, to wrestle and combat with the prince of this world at the hour of death.