Infidelity

Voltaire prophesied that at the end of a certain time the Bible would be an exploded book, that it would go out of print, and only specimens be found, relics of a superstitious age.

So much for Voltaire’s prophecy. What of facts? His own printing press at Geneva was, after his death, busily employed in printing Bibles, and today, long after the expiry of the time of Voltaire’s prophecy, there are more Bibles in the world than ever, and it is translated into many more languages than it was in his day.

Thomas Paine wrote the well-known infidel work, “The Age of Reason.” The house in which he died in such agony of mind and body was afterwards used as a young ladies’ school, and the room in which the infidel studied and wrote was for long utilized for a prayer meeting by the young ladies of the school.

The other day I stood by the statue of Charles Bradlaugh, in Northampton. I am told that Sunday after Sunday a band of Christians preach the gospel close to the spot where it stands, and that many souls have been converted to God under its shadow.

It made me both glad and sad to think of it. Glad to think that infidelity cannot hinder the blessed work of God, glad to think of the gospel being sounded out in clearness and power on such a spot. Sad to think of the dead infidel as beyond the reach of recall. I can imagine eyes glistening with emotion when the story of stories is being told out at the foot of the statue, but no gleam shines in the eyes of the statue. How many ears have rejoiced as the old, old story has been sounded out by men, who have been converted by it themselves, yet the ears of the statue hear not.

But what of Charles Bradlaugh himself? Is he a believer or not now? I assert without a shadow of doubt that he is a believer. If the prayers of his evangelist brother are answered, and at the last he turned in reality to the Lord, then, of course, in the best of senses he is a believer. But oh! the deep remorse that must have seized him as to his propagation of infidelity, if such were the case. But if, on the other hand, he died as he lived, he is now a believer. “The devils also believe, and tremble” (Jas. 2:19). ALL in heaven believe. ALL in hell believe. On this sad earth alone is found the unbeliever, the indifferent, the careless.

But here lies the whole secret. There is all the difference between believing about a Person and believing on a Person. Christians believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. They believe on Him “to the saving of the soul.” They know Him as a personal Saviour. They are cleansed by His blood. They confess Him as Lord. They are sealed by His Spirit. They are happy in His love.

But the one who believes about Christ merely is one whose mind bows to the fact that such a Person existed, assents that He was divine, admits that He died to save sinners on a cross of shame. But they have no personal link with Him, and, with all their knowledge, are only on a par with the demons and those who have believed too late, with this difference, that the great gulf is not fixed for them yet. There is no more terrible description of hell than that it is “the truth believed too late.”

Infidelity is a poor business. It tends to make a man unlovely in life and despairing in death. It helps to make a man hard and cynical until the truths he will not own are burned into his soul when too late.

Gospel Tidings Annual 1905, p. 82