Edward Payson Archive

Selected Thoughts

Objections of Sinners to the Answer of the Gospel Answered

Suppose that, while you are dying of a fatal disease, a medi­cine of great reputed efficacy is offered you, on making trial of which, you find yourself restored to health and activity. Full of joy and gratitude, you propose the remedy to others, afflicted with the same disease. One of these persons replies to you, “ I am surprised that you place so much faith in the vir­tues of this medicine. How do you know that it was really discovered by the person whose name it bears? Or, even if it were, it is so many years ago, and the medicine has passed through so many hands since, that it is probably corrupted, or perhaps some other has been substituted in the place of the genuine medicine.” Says another, “ It may not be suited to the constitutions of men in this age, though it was undoubtedly useful to those who first used it.” “ The disease and the cure are both equally imaginary,” says a third. “ There are many other remedies of equal or superior efficacy,” objects a fourth. “ None of the most celebrated physicians recommend it,” re­plies a fifth; while a sixth attempts to silence you by objecting to the phials in which it is put up, and repeating that boxes would have been more suitable. What weight would all these objections have with you? Would they induce you to throw away the healing balm, whose effects you even then felt, send­ing life, and health, and vigor, through your whole frame? Even thus may infidels and cavillers urge objections against the gospel; but the Christian heeds them not, for he has felt, in his own soul, its life-giving power.
Will you say there are no real stars, because you sometimes see meteors fall, which for a time appeared to be stars? Will you say that blossoms never produce fruit, because many of them fall off, and some fruit, which appears sound, is rotten at the core? Equally absurd is it to say there is no such thing as real religion, because many who profess it fall away, or prove to be hypocrites in heart. Or will you say that a medicine does no good, because, though it removes the fever, it does not restore the patient to perfect strength in an instant? Equally groundless and absurd is it to say that religion does not make its possessors bet­ter, because it does not, in a moment, make them perfect as the angels of God.
The many false and counterfeit appearances which we meet with, instead of proving that there is no religion in the world, not only prove that there is, but that it is extremely precious; otherwise it would not be counterfeited. No one will be at the trouble of counterfeiting, either what does not exist, or what is of no value. No one will make false stones, or false dust, though many make false pearls and diamonds. If there were no real money, there would be no counterfeit; and so, if there were no real religion, there would be no false religion. One cannot ex­ist without the other any more than a shadow can exist without a substance; and he who rejects all religion, because hypocrites sometimes borrow its name and appearance, acts no less absurdly than he who throws his gold or jewels into the fire, because gold and jewels have sometimes been counterfeited.
Surely, if Christianity be a delusion, it is a blessed delusion indeed; and he who attempts to destroy it is an enemy to man­kind. It is a delusion which teaches us to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God; a delusion which teaches us to love our Maker supremely, and our neighbor as ourselves; a delusion which bids us love, forgive, and pray for our enemies, render good for evil, and promote the glory of God and the hap­piness of our fellow creatures, by every means in our power; a delusion, which, wherever it is received, produces a humble, meek, charitable and peaceful temper, and which, did it univer­sally prevail, would banish wars, vice and misery from the world. It is a delusion which not only supports and comforts its believ­ers in their wearisome progress through this vale of tears, but attends them in death, when all other consolations fail, and en­ables them to triumph over sorrows, sickness, anguish and the grave. If delusion can do this, in delusion let me live and die; for what could the most blessed reality do more?

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