THE Bible contains the true religion, or there is none. There is light in the Bible to save the world, or the world is lost. Our only choice is between the Bible and nothing. Judaism is abolished. Mohammedanism has no claims in internal merit or external evidence. The fruits of all Paganism show that it is evil, and only evil, continually. Infidelity has nothing for the world. While it would take Christianity from us, it has nothing to propose. It is no system—no doctrine—teaches nothing and defends nothing. Its only province is to stand and deny. It finds fault with everything, starts doubts, destroys confidence, fills the world with fears, and spreads an eternal gloom over the prospects and hopes of all nations. Reason and the light of nature have been tried longer and more effectually than any system in the world. At least four thousand years have the pagan nations been trying what they could do for our race without a revelation from God. In all the experiments yet made, with no guide but reason and the light of nature, the tendency has been downward. Deterioration has been the universal result, without the light of the Bible.
We then, cling to the Bible, and the religion it reveals, as the only hope of the world. If it fails, all must fail, and all must be lost. But it is folly of the most stupid order to speak of the Bible failing. Its Author is emphatically the friend of man. Its holy lessons are all for our good. All who have been led by it, are thankful they ever knew it. It has never deceived one or misled one. No one has ever lamented being led by it. The more solemn and affecting the circumstances around us, and the greater the trials in which we are placed, the more comforting and precious are its holy consolations to the soul. It encourages all that is good; discourages and condemns all that is evil. It is our guide and comfort through the journey of life; nor does it fail when we are sinking in death. No one who believed it before, in a dying-hour denies and repudiates the Bible. But many determined infidels have recanted and repudiated their infidelity when sinking into the eternal state. That which they talked in health, that which dwelt upon their tongues in their mad career through life, they themselves condemned, in the most awful and solemn moments of life, and with their dying lips repudiated. How shameful and preposterous, that a man should live such a life of folly and inconsistency as to be compelled in his dying moments to condemn all his past life, with all the sentiments he had cherished and inculcated, and warn all men against them!
Benjamin Franklin (1812-1878)