SOME think it hard that there should be nothing for them but ruin if they will not believe in Jesus Christ; but if you will think for a minute you will see that it is just and reasonable. I suppose there is no way for a man to keep his strength up except by eating. If you were to say, “I will not eat again, I despise such animalism,” you might go to Madeira, or travel in all lands (supposing you lived long enough!), but you would most certainly find that no climate and no exercise would avail to keep you alive if you refused food. Would you then complain, “It is a hard thing that I should die because I do not believe in eating “? It is not an unjust thing that if you are so foolish as not to eat, you must die. It is precisely so with believing. “Believe, and thou art. saved.” If thou wilt not believe, it is no hard thing that thou shouldst be lost. It would, be strange indeed if it were not to be the case.
A man who is thirsty stands before a fountain. “No,” he says, “I will never touch a drop of moisture as long as I live. Cannot I get my thirst quenched in my own way? “ We tell him, no; he must drink or die. He says, “I will never drink; but it is a hard thing that I must therefore die. It is a bigoted, cruel thing to tell me so.” He is wrong. His thirst is the inevitable result of neglecting a law of nature. You, too, must believe or die; why refuse to obey the command? Drink, man, drink! Take Christ and live. There is the way of salvation, and to enter you must trust Christ; but there is nothing hard in the fact that you must perish if you will not trust the Savior. Here is a man out at sea; he has a chart, and that chart, if well studied, will, with the help of the compass, guide him to his journey’s end. The pole-star gleams out amidst the cloud-rifts, and that, too, will help him. “No,” says he, “I will have nothing to do with your stars; I do not believe in the North Pole. I shall not attend to that little thing inside the box; one needle is as good as another needle. I have no faith in your chart, and I will have nothing to do with it. The art of navigation is only a lot of nonsense, got up by people on purpose to make money, and I will not be gulled by it.” The man never reaches port, and he says it is a “very hard thing — a very hard thing. I do not think so. Some of you say, “I am not going to read the Scriptures; I am not going to listen to your talk about Jesus Christ: I do not believe in such things.” Then Jesus says,. “He that believeth not shall be damned.” “That’s very hard,” say you. But it is not so. It is not more hard than the fact that if you reject the compass and the pole-star you will not reach your port. There is no help for it; it must be so.
You say you will have nothing to do with Jesus and his blood, and you pooh-pooh all religion. You will find it hard to laugh these matters down when you come to die, when the clammy sweat must be wiped from your brow, and your heart beats against your ribs as if it wanted to leap out and fly away from God. O soul! you will find then, that those Sundays, and those services, and. this old Book, are something more and better than you thought they were, and you will wonder that you were so simple as to neglect any true help to salvation. Above all, what woe it will be to have neglected Christ, that Pole-star which alone can guide the mariner to the haven of rest!
Where do you live?
You live, perhaps, on the other side of the river, and you have to cross a bridge before you can get home. You have been so silly as to nurse the notion that you do not believe in bridges, nor in boats, nor in the existence of such a thing as water. You say, “I am not going over any of your bridges, and I shall not get into any of your boats. I do not believe that there is a river, or that there is any such stuff as water.” You are going home, and soon you come to the old bridge; but you will not cross it.
Yonder is a boat; but you are determined that you will not get into it.
There is the river, and you resolve that you will not cross it in the usual way; and yet you think it is very hard that you cannot get home. Surely something has destroyed your reasoning powers, for you would not think it so hard if you were in your senses. If a man will not do the thing that is necessary to a certain end, how can he expect to gain that end? You have taken poison, and the physician brings an antidote, and says, “Take it quickly, or you will die but if you take it quickly, I will guarantee that the poison will be neutralized.” But; you say, No, doctor, I do not believe in antidotes. Let everything take its course; let every tub stand on its own bottom; I will. have nothing to do with your remedy. Besides, I do not believe that there is any remedy for the poison I have taken; and, what is more, I don’t care whether there is or not.”
Well, sir, you will die; and when the coroner’s inquest is held on your body, the verdict will be, ‘Served him right!’ So will it be with you if, having heard the gospel of Jesus Christ, you say, “I am too much of an advanced man to have anything to do with that old-fashioned notion of substitution. I shall not attend to the preacher’s talk about sacrifice and blood shedding.” Then, when you perish, the verdict given by your conscience, which will sit upon the King’s quest at last, will run thus, “Suicide: he destroyed his own soul.” So says the old Book — “O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself!” Reader, I implore thee, do not so.