Blight on our Intelligence
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.
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.
great 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 prolific Sun:
"But not a poet tells us to this day
Who made Prometheus first, and who the clay,
Who made the great prolific Sun,
And where the first productive work begun."
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,
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,
"Forgetting first that something must bestow
Existence on those atoms that did so."
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.
pays homage with a trembling brow,
And conscious men but faintly disallow
The secret trepidation that racks his soul.
That when he says, 'No God,' replies, 'You fool.'"
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.
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."
Worst Form of Profane Talking
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 Maker.
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.
the God of Heaven
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.
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 characteristic.
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.
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, Robinson Crusoe.
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
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 ourselves.
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
am Not a Wicked Man"
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 remedy.
Let the guilty apply it to themselves, and the proud but good man
humble himself and avoid it.
Man Perfect in Outward Forms
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 communication.
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
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?
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
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 God.
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.
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
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,
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.
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.
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.
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 forbidden.
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.
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 Volumes")