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homage to truth.-To use a familiar illustration:-how very often, when we hear a person say of a proposition that seems exceedingly plain-"I cannot see that,"-do we find that there is some consideration of interest, in one or other of its endless varieties, that prevents him. His mental vision is thus obscured, or distorted. There is a mote in his eye. He cannot see, simply because he is unwilling to see.

Before proceeding to the direct illustration of the text, in which a predisposition against the truth of God revealed in the gospel is so strongly and generally asserted, I wish to offer one additional observation.-I would not make the eminent person whose sentiment has been the subject of comment, responsible for more than lies justly to his charge. Now there is a class of persons who may be fond enough to lay hold of his principle, but who lay hold of it unfairly, and for whose conduct it can afford neither cover nor palliation. What his own practice may have been in regard to the Bible, I know not. For ought

I can tell, he may have examined its contents and its evidences, or he may not. I have to do at present only with his words as they stand before me:-and here I find him declaring, "the only unanimity desirable 66 among rational creatures" to be "the agreement proceeding from full conviction "after the freest discussion."


The belief or the unbelief, then, which, according to that statement of his views by which our censures must be limited, is considered as exempt from moral imputation, is a belief or an unbelief preceded by examination of evidence.-Whatever, indeed, may be thought of belief or unbelief, in themselves, it can never be questioned, that there may be a contraction of guilt by the refusal or the neglect to attend to evidence. The degree of this guilt must be in proportion to the intrinsic magnitude of the subject,—the authority under which it presents itself,and the importance of the consequences depending on the determination of the question at issue.

Now there is a host of un


thinking sceptics,-of uninquiring infidels, -to whom the sentiment I have been combating, were it ever so true, can be of no avail. It affords them no shelter. It yields no apology, no palliation of their conduct.. It supposes consideration; but they have not considered: it assumes examination; but -it they have not examined. Whether belief be voluntary or involuntary, there can be nothing but what is wilful in the neglect or refusal to attend and to inquire. It admits of no excuse, no extenuation. Investigation is duty; and every thing concurs to aggravate the criminality of neglecting it. The subjects are of unutterable magnitude;—the authority is the highest that any doctrine can claim; and the consequences are the most momentous that can possibly await the issue of any inquiry. On such a subject, not only is investigation imperiously demanded, but no light, partial, superficial inquiry will discharge the obligation. It must be earnest, persevering, full. No source of evidence that is accessible should be left unexplored.


A revelation from our God must be desirable,-supremely desirable. I will not reason with a fellow-creature that can question this. His intellect must be disordered; and disordered, there is reason more than to fear, by the power of a perverted conscience and a vitiated heart. And in proportion as such a revelation is desirable, should the importance be felt of our not being deceived,— of our neither being, on the one hand, the dupes of a witless credulity, nor the victims, on the other, of an incredulous obstinacy. O how inexpressible the folly and the impiety of the man, who has in his hand what professes to be a communication from the Sovereign and Judge of all, and who does not think it worth his while either to acquaint himself with its contents, or to inquire into its authority! Here surely, if anywhere, there is guilt without apology. The conduct that incurs it is neither accidental, nor involuntary, nor a matter over which there can be no control. It is, in all respects, wilful;

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and therefore, on no just principle, capable of vindication.

The declaration in the second part of the 18th verse" he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God"-is susceptible of two interpretations:

1. Men are guilty as having transgressed the divine law. They lie under a sentence of condemnation; that law having the explicit sanction annexed to it," Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them." The declaration, therefore, in this part of the text, when taken by itself, might simply mean, that in consequence of their not believing in Christ, the guilt of a violated law still stands to their account. They remain under the sentence, and exposed to the penalty, as the unavoidable result of their neglecting or refusing the only means of deliverance. In this sense, unbelief is not the

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