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My Thoughts on a Lonely Island - Selected from The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, Vol. III
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A 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.

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.

"The 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."

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,
"Forgetting first 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 faintly disallow
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 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.

Denying 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.

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 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.

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, 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 work.
        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.

Deceiving Ourselves
         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 this world.

"I 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.

A 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 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 Troubled
         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 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 for them.
        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.

The Capstone
         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 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.

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 Volumes")

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