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tude, and particularly of temporary sickness, were especially seasons of this nature. The visit, however, of a worldly acquaintance, or the occupation of his mind with literary or secular matters, usually had the effect of ridding him of such unwelcome reflections, and of causing him to relapse into his infidel notions:
Infidelity is a miserable system: no man ever yet found happiness in it. A happy unbeliever is a contradiction. Desolate, indeed, is the soul of him who rejects the revelation which the great Creator has vouchsafed to his creature man. None but an infidel can form any idea of the wretchedness which reigns in an infidel bosom. Not only have all who have been delivered from the dreadful domination of unbelief, been forward to bear their testimony to the misery of which it is the parent; but those, also, who have renounced Christianity, and embraced an infidel creed, have, even while the victims and slaves of atheism or deism-for there is, in effect, scarcely any difference between the
two-been forced to make the admission, that misery and unbelief are inseparably associated together. The experience of Joseph afforded a striking illustration of this. Though never a Christian in the evangelical or legitimate acceptation of the term, he was (as before remarked) a speculative believer in revelation; in other words, was a Christian in his own estimation. And, while he continued so; while he was in the habit of attending externally to religious observances, he enjoyed a certain kind and amount of happiness, though falling far short of that kind and that amount of bliss which invariably accompanies the work of regeneration. How different the state of matters now! His infidel notions not only afforded him no consolation, but plunged him into unspeakable wretchedness. He talked of Christianity as a delusion, but he admitted it was a most delightful delusion. He talked of infidelity as a reality, but he confessed, because he felt, that it was a wretched reality. Nor was this all. Though the prevailing impression on his mind was, that Christianity was false, the idea (as has just been observed) would, every now and then, force itself upon him, that there was, at least, a possibility that it might be true; and if so, where should he be ?
In this respect, I am persuaded that Mr. Jenkins was only undergoing a mental process which every infidel is more or less frequently doomed to go through. I feel assured that the man never existed, provided he were acquainted with revelation, whose mind had become so steeled with infidelity, as to be impervious to even an occasional apprehension that, after all, Christianity might be a divine system. Infidels, I know, may, in the spirit of bravado, affirm that they have lived for years in the entire and constant disbelief of Christianity. I confess I cannot believe them. I should like to hear their testimony on the point, when they are stretched on their dying-beds, and are conscious that they stand on the verge of the world to come. No
instance, that I am aware of, is on record, of a dying infidel having, in his last moments, gloried in the fact that he was then dying, as he had always lived, in the full conviction that Christi. anity was a system of fraud and falsehood.
At all events, Mr. Jenkins could make no such boast. He was often assailed by the apprehension that, after all, Christianity might be a revelation from Heaven. To describe the alarm with which the apprehension filled his mind; to convey an idea of the wretchedness it produced in his breast, were wholly impossible. Those, only, whose minds have been similarly exercised, can form any adequate conception of it. The horror which, on such occasions, took possession of his soul, did not exhibit itself in the same way as the horror of which Bolingbroke was the victim, when he could not endure to be one moment in a dark room by himself; but it made him spend many a sleepless hour, and caused him, whenever practicable, to shun that solitude which is not only essential to the spiri
tual health of the mind, but in which every true believer finds his highest happiness. To be shut up in a room by himself, without books or writing materials, or any other means of occupying his mind or amusing himself, would have been, to Mr. Jenkins, a most terrible doom. His own thoughts, in his moments of sober reflection, he felt constrained to regard as his greatest enemies. Most earnestly would he have then wished that he were a believer in Christianity, were it not that revealed religion annexes the most fearful penalties to the course of conduct which he still continued to pursue.