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sense of the deep obligations under which he lay to him. The latter, after a few introductory observations of that general kind which are usually made on one acquaintance meeting with another, stated plainly, but mildly, the purpose of his visit. He expressed the deep concern with which he had heard of Joseph's regularly absenting himself from a place of worship, utterly neglecting even the external observances of religion; and resigning himself, without restraint, to the impulses of those criminal
propensities which are inherent in human nature, though not equally powerful in all. He reasoned and remonstrated with him, not only on the moral criminality of the course he was pursuing, but on its certain effects, if persisted in, even as regarded his status in society and the means of his subsistence. He pointed out to him, that the loss of moral character would, sooner or later, be infallibly followed, not only by the loss of his situation, but probably his utter ruin, even in a worldly point of view. Mr. Jenkins listened,
with the greatest attention, to all that his benefactor said. He felt that every word he uttered was true; in his own bosom it all met with a ready response. He urged a variety of excuses for himself, ascribing his errors (as he called them) to the circumstance of his being professionally obliged to associate with young men who led him astray. He expressed a grateful sense of the friendship which prompted Mr. Lovegood to point out his “ errors,” and gave him a solemn assurance, that he would be more careful, for the time to come, as to whom he associated with, and how he acted.
Becomes an infidel-Causes of infidelity—Wretchedness of an
infidel creed-General remarks.
HITHERTO, Mr. Jenkins might be regarded as a speculative believer in revealed truth, though in his practice trampling on all its most sacred obligations. If any one had expressed or insinuated a doubt of his Christianity, he would have resented it as an unpardonable insultan unjustifiable reflection on his character. Nay, he would have gone even farther than this; he would have entered the lists (and on repeated occasions did enter the lists) as a champion for the Christian faith when its truths were assailed in his presence. Nor, in this respect, was he a singular character. Christendom is crowded with such persons. That the parties themselves do not discern the glaring inconsistency of their conduct is only one of the innumerable proofs that are daily furnished, of the moral blindness which sin has produced in the minds of men.
Eventually, however, a conviction began to break in on the mind of Mr. Jenkins that, if Christianity were true, the course of conduct which he had latterly pursued, was not such as to warrant a belief, that his would be a happy hereafter. On the contrary, he looked forward to a future state with apprehension and alarm. The result was precisely what might be expected: he began to wish that there were no future state at all.
No one can have bestowed any consideration on the operations of his mind, without being cognizant of the fact that, when a man anxiously wishes that any particular position in morals were true, he almost invariably, sooner or later, reasons himself into the conviction that it is true. In all such cases his mind is sealed against the admission of adverse evidence, while its portals are thrown wide open to whatever VOL. 1,
arguments can be brought forward in its favour. So it was in the instance of Joseph. He studiously abstained from the perusal of any
work which had for its object to prove the authenticity of the Scriptures, and the consequent truth of Christianity; while he eagerly sought for, and carefully read, whatever books had been written in favour of infidelity. With his mind thus filled with the leading objections which have, at various times, been urged against Christianity, while wholly unacquainted with the triumphant answers which have been given to one and all of these objections, it will not occasion surprise when the reader is informed, that the wishes of Joseph were eventually converted into convictions.
He became a speculative, as he had before been a practical, rejector of Christianity. There were seasons, it is true, in which the unwelcome suspicion and terrible apprehension, that the Scriptures might after all contain a divine revelation, would obtrude themselves on his mind. His hours of soli