We in our day have
reached a level of knowledge greater than any which has been seen before. Or
at least we imagine this to be the case.
But that very gift
through which greater glory should accrue to the Author of all Wisdom, this
brightest of all heavenly blessings is used even to deny His existence.
It is used to bring upon
God's majesty the greatest contempt that mankind is capable of bringing. Even
the heathen nations of the world stop short of this. The most refined philosophers
acknowledge a First Cause of all things, a Something that is superior, whose
influence governs all things and whose being is to be kept sacred.
The Devil himself, who is
full of enmity toward the Supreme Being, has never prompted the most barbarous
nations to deny the existence of God. The notion was too absurd to be imposed
on the world. But our age has come even with him in his folly and denies his
Devilship too, so that you have neither one nor the other.
A Miserable Sham
It is worth noting what
weak and foolish arguments the most refined of our atheists fly to in defense
of their ideas. And they do this in the face of the most convincing arguments
that nature and reason can produce for the existence of a Deity. With how little
consistency they explain away all the phenomena of nature and creation! On
other points they argue strenuously. They will be satisfied only with strong
reasons and sound arguments, but here they admit sophisms and delusive
suppositions and miserable shams to prevail over their own judgments.
Promethean artist, poets say,
First made the model of a
man in clay,
Contrived to make its
parts, and when he'd done
Took vital heat from the
"But not a poet
tells us to this day
Who made Prometheus
first, and who the clay,
Who made the great
And where the first
productive work begun."
Epicurus' philosophy will
satisfy some people who fancy that the world was made by a strange,
fortuitous coming together of atoms without any pre-existent Cause. The Greek
poem has been translated,
"But some have
dreamed of atoms strangely hurled
To become the structured
order of the world.
And so by chance
combined; from whence began
The earth, the heaven,
the sea, animals and man."
To which I beg to add one
word by way of confutation of this folly,
that something must bestow
Existence on those atoms
that did so."
The arguments for the
existence of a Deity are so numerous and so unanswerable that it is needless
to add anything further. No man in his right mind needs any further
demonstration of it beyond what he already finds within himself.
But I have just a two questions
to ask of our modern atheists:
1. Whether or not their
most serious thoughts do not reflect back upon them as they make their
arguments and give the lie to their contentions? Nature has upon her an
acknowledged sense of this great truth which recoils at so horrid an act as
denying the existence of a Deity.
"Nature pays homage
with a trembling brow,
And conscious men but
The secret trepidation
that racks his soul.
That when he says, 'No
God,' replies, 'You fool.'"
2. What assurance does
the most confident atheist have of the negative side of this question? What a
risk does he run if he should be mistaken? Of this we may be sure, if a man
asks proof of the existence of God, he is much more at a loss to prove that
God does not exist. If there is such a thing as a First Cause, which we call
God, those who have made it their business to insult Him by denying His
existence have very little reason to expect much from Him. In their denial,
they have not acted like wise men, for they have not so much as used the
caution of good manners but have made fun of the very idea and have turned
matters of faith into ridicule.
It seems to me that these
gentlemen act with little discretion. If it should happen in the end that
there is a God, and that He has the power of rewards and punishments in His
hand, as He surely has, they would be in a bad way.
"If it should turn
out, and who can tell,
That there is a God, a
Heaven, a Hell;
Mankind had best consider
well, for fear
It should be too late
when his mistake is clear."
The Worst Form of Profane
There is a built-in sense of
the Deity lodged in the understanding of a man, though he may pretend to deny
it. It is stifled only with some difficulty and it struggles hard with a
man's conscience when he seeks to be more than ordinarily insolent with his
Blasphemy is the worst form
of profane talking. With some atheists, they are always insulting the
invisible Power or ridiculing their Maker. Their conversation seems
constantly to run in this direction.
Below these we have the sort
of people who will acknowledge God, but say He must be such a One as they are
pleased to make Him--a good natured, gentleman-like Deity who would not have
the heart to condemn any of his creatures to eternal punishment, or be so
weak as to let His own Son be crucified.
These men expose all the
doctrines of repentance and faith in Christ and salvation to banter and
ridicule. The Bible, they say, may be a good history in most parts, but they
treat the story of our Savior as a mere novel and the miracles of the New
Testament as legend.
Denying the God of
If a man once ceases to
believe in God, he has nothing left to restrain his appetites but mere
philosophy. There is no supreme Judge. He must be his own judge and be his
own law, and he is determined to be so. The concept of hell and the devil are
empty things and hold no terror for him since his belief in a power supreme
over them has been obliterated.
How incongruous it is that a
man should be punished for drunkenness and yet have the liberty to deny the
God of Heaven! He talks against the very sum and substance of Christian
doctrine and turns such matters as the salvation of the soul and the death of
our Savior into ridicule. He may speak treason against the Majesty of Heaven,
deny that the Redeemer is really God, make a jest of the Holy Spirit and
insult the Power we adore, and yet do it with impunity.
Speaking the Truth
I suppose that everyone who
reads me will acknowledge that lying is one of the most scandalous sins
between man and man. It is a crime of the deepest dye and it leads to
innumerable other sins. Since lying is used to deceive, to injure, to betray and
to destroy, it encompasses all other sins.
It is the sheep's clothing
hung on the wolves' back. It is the Pharisee's prayer, the whore's blush, the
hypocrite's paint, the murderer's smile, the thief's cloak and Judas' kiss.
In a word, it is mankind's darling sin and the Devil's distinguishing
They that lie to gain, to
deceive, to delude and to betray have some purpose in their wickedness. And
though they cannot give this as an excuse for their sin, they give it as the
reason and foundation of it. But to lie for sport or for fun is to play a
dangerous game with your soul and to load your conscience for the mere sake
of being a fool.
For Upright Purposes
The writing of a parable or
an allegorical history is quite a different matter. It is designed and
effectively used for instruction and upright purposes and has its moral
properly applied. Such are the historical parables of the Scriptures and Pilgrim's
Progress, and such, in a word, are the adventures of your fugitive friend,
If any one objects here that
the first two volumes of Robinson Crusoe seem to be condemned by these
considerations, and the history I have given there of my own life is called
into question, I ask in justice that the one objecting wait till he sees the
end of the scene. Then all that is mystery will be made plain and the work
will abundantly justify the pattern followed, and the pattern abundantly justify
The Scripture command is,
"Let every man speak truth with his neighbor." If we must tell
stories, tell them as stories, adding nothing to expand them in the telling.
If you doubt the truth of it, say so, and then everyone will be at liberty to
believe as he wishes.
Negative virtue starts out,
like the Pharisee, saying, "God, I thank You." It is a piece of
religious pageantry. It is like a malformed infant dressed up in colorful
clothes. Stripped of its trimmings it is seen to be a pitiable thing.
Such virtue is fit only to
deceive fools. It is the hope of the hypocrite, a deception in the
neighborhood. It is a mask put on for show, used to deceive others and even
In a word, negative virtue is
a positive vice, used either as a mask to deceive others or as a mist to
deceive ourselves. If a man were to enquire how it would help him in the life
hereafter, he would find it the most unsatisfactory condition that can be
imagined when leaving this world.
"I am Not a Wicked
This man says, "I am an
honest man. I have not defrauded anyone. No one has ever heard me swear or
heard an evil word come out of my mouth. I never talk profanely. I never am
missing from my seat at church. God, I thank You! I am not a wicked man, a
robber or a murderer."
Yet these men know themselves
to be wicked persons. Conscience, though held down for a time, tells them
plainly what their condition is.
Often they repent. Others,
though they do repent and God is pleased to give them grace to return to Him,
come to it very late, perhaps on a death-bed or through some disaster. But
the negative man I speak of is so full of himself, so persuaded that he is
good enough already that he has no thought of anything other than to take off
his hat to God Almighty now and then and to thank God that he has no need of
Him. This is the opiate that keeps his soul drowsy, even to his last breath.
His lethargic dream carries him along until he arrives in that light where
all things are naked and open.
There he sees, too late, that
he has been deceiving himself and has been hurried along by his own pride, in
a cloud of negatives and into a state of positive destruction that is without
Let the guilty apply it to
themselves, and the proud but good man humble himself and avoid it.
A Man Perfect in Outward
The man of negative virtue
is intoxicated with the pride of his own worth. He is a good neighbor, a
peace-maker in other families but a downright tyrant in his own. He appears
in a public place of worship for show, but never gets alone to pray to Him
who sees in secret. He appears spiritual in order to be seen by men and to be
taken notice of. But between God and his own soul there is no intercourse or
He knows little, or perhaps
nothing of faith, of repentance or of a truly Christian life. In a word, he
is a man perfect in the outward forms of religion, but perfectly a stranger
to the essential part of being a spiritual man. He has persuaded himself that
he never did anything wrong and he entertains no notion of judgment to come
or of eternity.
It would not be possible for
a man to entertain one proud thought of himself if he had a right idea of
what our future state will be like. Could such a man think that anything in
him, or anything he could do, would purchase for him a blessedness that would
last through eternity? What! Is it possible that a man should be able in one
moment, or even in a life-time, to do anything for which he would deserve to
be made happy though all eternity?
God's Unbounded Grace
What then must the Pharisee
do? He needs to think not of himself and of all his boastings. He should look
rather to God's rich, unbounded grace that rewards according to itself and
not according to what we can do. He must understand that if he were to be
judged at the last day according to his works his situation would be hopeless
and he would be undone. We are to be judged rather according to the sincerity
of our repentance. We will be rewarded according to the infinite grace of God
and the purchase of Christ. On this basis we will be given a state of
blessedness to an endless eternity.
Now let us bring our man of
negative virtue to see the unseen world. He looks into it with horror and
dreadful apprehension. He is like Felix when the Apostle Paul talked with him
about self-control, righteousness and judgment to come.
Felix was a man of
negatives, like the man I am speaking of. How did he react? He trembled! Why?
If I may give my opinion, he was a philosopher and a man of power. He had
practiced self-control and righteousness, considering that to be the life which
would unquestionably be rewarded by the powers above, in accordance with the
Roman maxim that the gods would reward virtue
But when the Apostle came and
reasoned with Felix, Paul showed him that these negatives could not purchase
our happiness in the hereafter, and that the gods could not be in debt to us
for the practice of virtue. He argued that eternal happiness must come from
another source, that is, from the infinite, unbounded grace of a provoked
He argued that God would one
day erect a righteous tribunal where every heart would be searched and where
every tongue would confess itself guilty and would stand self-condemned.
Jesus Christ, whom Paul preached, would separate those who by faith and
repentance He had brought home and united to Himself as part of His family.
He would do this on the basis of His having laid down His life as a ransom
When poor negative Felix
heard this, he realized that all his philosophy and self-control and
righteousness, even if they had been ten thousand times as great, could count
for nothing before this Judge. He began to see the justice and reasonableness
of this and became troubled, as well he might, and as all negative people
should be troubled.
The Proud Pharisee
What a strange idea that
Pharisee must have had of God! He went up with the publican to the temple to
pray. It is clear he came with the assurance that he could come to the altar,
as he did, but not to offer any sacrifice, for he carried none. He thought he
was a good man, and that he had no sins to confess. He came to tell God that
he had done everything that was commanded, even from his youth. So he just
took off his hat to God and let Him know there was nothing between them at
present. And away he went about his business.
But the poor fellow whom the
Pharisee despised acted quite differently. He had at first resolved to go up
to the temple out of a sense of his duty. But when he saw the splendor and
majesty of God represented by the glory of that great building, he looked
into his own heart. All his negative confidence failed him and a sense of his
miserable condition came upon him. He stopped short, and with a heart
perfectly unmixed with any of the Pharisee's pride, he looked down in humility
and lifted up his heart in penitential faith and said, "Lord, be
merciful to me a sinner!"
Here were faith, repentance,
duty and confession all joined together in one act, and the man's work was
done at once. He went away justified. The Pharisee went home the same
self-filled wretch as when he came. He still was saying, "God, I thank
You," with a mass of pride in his heart that nothing could shake.
In what glorious colors the
Scriptures present these two hand-in-hand graces, faith and repentance. Every
reference to faith in the whole Bible recommends it to our admiration and to
our practice. It is the foundation and the cap-stone of all true religion,
the right hand to lead us and the left hand to support us in the entire
journey of a Christian through this world and into the next. In a word, it is
the sum and substance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the terms of which are,
"Believe and live."
Faith is the effective
instrument leading to eternal life.
Now let us follow this poor negative man to his death-bed. What should a
pastor do as he prays for such a vain-glorious man? Must he say, "Lord,
accept this good man, for he has not been a drunkard or an immoral person. He
has been an upright, charitable man and has not willfully wronged anyone. He
has not been as wicked as is customary these days, nor has he shown a bad
example to others. Lord, be merciful to this excellent, good man?"
No, no. The sincere pastor
knows better than this. When he prays with him, he turns him quite inside
out, showing that he has been a poor, mistaken man.
Now at last he sees that he
is nothing, and has nothing in himself. He casts himself entirely, as a
miserable lost sinner, into the arms of a most merciful Savior. He prays to
be accepted on the merits of Jesus Christ and no other. Right there, all his
negative boasts come unraveled. And if they do not, his situation becomes
worse than ever.
An Honest Man
When I first came home to my
own country and sat down to look back over the circumstances of my wandering
years, the condition I was in was a very happy one. The captivity I had
formerly suffered made my liberty very sweet to me, and to find myself all at
once catapulted into easy circumstances from a condition lower that the
common level made it sweeter still.
It occurred to me how much
it all depended on the principle of honesty, in God's providence, in almost
all of the people with whom I had been concerned.
Honesty not only leads to
the discharging of every ordinary debt. An honest man acknowledges himself to
be a debtor to all men, to do as much good to them, whether for soul or body,
as God in His providence puts the opportunity into his hands. In order to
discharge this debt he looks continually for opportunity to do acts of
kindness and beneficence.
Though very few consider it
to be so, a man is not a completely honest man who does not do this. I
greatly question whether a covetous, stingy man, one who lives only for
himself, can be an honest man. To do good to all mankind, as far as you are
able, is the highest law of honesty.
Scoundrels and Villains
If we enquire about honesty
towards God, I readily acknowledge that all men are born scoundrels and
villains, and nothing but the restraining power of God keeps us from always
showing ourselves to be such. No man in himself is righteous before His
Maker. If he could be, all our creeds and confessions would be ridiculous
contradictions and impudences, inconsistent with themselves and with the
whole tenor of human life.
Some may take exception to
me--poor, wild Robinson Crusoe--for going on about such a subject as this. He
calls to mind either my sins or my misfortunes, and supposes me therefore
unqualified to defend so noble a subject as this of honesty. I take the
liberty to tell such ones that those very wild, wicked doings and mistakes of
mine make me the most proper man alive to give warning to others.
You see, the fact that God
in His providence gave me time enough to repent of my failings, and gave me
assistance to do it effectually, helps to qualify me for the present undertaking.
It makes it possible for me to recommend that rectitude of soul which I call
honesty to others.
Honesty of the Tongue
Some people who call
themselves honest keep a very slender guard over the honesty of their
tongues. I refer to evil speaking, and the worst kind of it, speaking hard
and untrue things of one another. This is certainly covered by the clear and
emphatic command of God, "You shall not bear false witness against your
neighbor." Slander, bringing a false and hurtful charge against
another's character and conduct and spreading it for truth, is expressly
There is a kind of murder
that can be committed with the tongue that is as cruel as that of the hand. He that practices it cannot be an honest man.
"A man of
integrity" is the best title in all the world that can be given. All
others are empty and ridiculous without it, and no title can be really
scandalous if this one remains. It is the main thing by which a man's
character will be known when personal abilities and accomplishments have
become worm-eaten by time.
Indeed, so general is the
value of integrity, and so well is it recognized, that it seems needless to
say anything in behalf of it. To the extent that it is found on the earth, so
much the image of God seems to have been restored to mankind. True honesty or
integrity is simple, plain, genuine, sincere and without pride. If I hear a
man boast of his integrity, I cannot help but entertain fears for that man
that his integrity may be languishing.
A Counterfeit Commodity
There is an ugly weed,
called cunning, which is particularly pernicious to integrity. I have heard
of some who have planted this wild honesty, as we may call it, in their own
ground and have made use of it in their friendships and dealings. But they
have always lost credit by this counterfeit commodity. It has become the
occasion for a great outcry about false friends and about trickery in a man's
dealings with the world.
A situation can be called
doubtful when it borders on the edge of dishonesty. He that is resolved not
to be drowned had better never come near the brink of the water. The man who
will do nothing but what is barely honest is in great danger.
He may be an honest man who
cannot pay his debts, but he cannot be an honest man if he can, but does not.
So, the Sovereign Judge of
every man's integrity has laid down for us a general rule in which all the
particular situations are resolved: "Do unto others as you would have
them do to you." This is the test for all behavior and the last great
article we can turn to when laws have nothing further to say.
(Selected from "The Real Robinson Crusoe-all Three Original