Infidelity as a principle cannot be conquered. The infidel may through grace become a true believer; but infidelity, which is merely unbelief in a full stage of development, is ineradicable. Unbelief is a weed that is indigenous to the heart, and is one of the sad fruits of an evil soil—the flesh—that cannot produce anything good.
Infidelity may assume various forms: it may be ignorant and gross, or it may be cultivated and religious, in which form its danger is multiplied tenfold; and to this we are increasingly exposed today. An unsanctified heart will find pleasure in employing the vast stores of learning that are within reach nowadays to the destruction of the truth of revelation. The Bible becomes the chief point of attack, and the clever infidel-brain is unwearied in its endeavour to overthrow its authority and to question its truth. Such is the sad, though not surprising, effect of education.
But if infidelity cannot be conquered, it may be and is completely answered. It would be strange if sin of any kind could not be met and silenced.
What is infidelity? It is aberration from the truth, the denial of the truth. It is therefore negative both in origin and end; it starts with negation, and concludes with the same; it questions everything, but it supplies nothing; it takes, if possible, but it does not give; it dwells amid darkness and doubt, whilst its unhappy admirers feel certain of nothing but their own uncertainty. How could it be otherwise? Now if infidelity be to err from the truth, it is clear that the truth meets, exposes, and answers all error; just as disease, being a derangement of bodily soundness, is perfectly answered by a healthy state. Obtain health and disease flies away; establish the truth and there is no place for error. It is answered.
I was struck lately by the statement of a young man, who, in the course of his daily business, is thrown much into the company of professed infidels. He said that some years ago, whilst a young Christian, he found their questions difficult, and himself laid open to many intellectual perplexities that he could not meet. Just at that time he heard a preacher say that the best answer to infidelity is uncompromising decision for Christ. This short but pregnant sentence found a deep place in his soul, and opened out to him a new line of testimony against unbelief. A life of uncompromising decision for the truth he now saw was the one grand and perfect answer to infidelity. It may not conquer the principle, but the patient, faithful Christ-like life that humbly seeks to maintain the truth is evidently of much greater value as a witness than argument, or evidences or miracles, or any outward signs.
Argument appeals only to the brain; signs and wonders speak to the eye; but in the life of the true Christian—that beautiful life of self-denial, of holiness, of love, of kindness, and of truth—the life of Christ, there is that which speaks to the conscience, and which reaches therefore a far deeper seat of existence than anything else.
“How came you to be converted?” I once said to a young doctor.
“Just by seeing the lives of So-and-so and So-and-so,” he replied.
Yes, “the lives.” All that is the need of the day; the deep, crying need of the day. How effectually, alas! can the infidel point to many a Christian, and say, “If that is Christianity none of it for me!” It may be no real excuse for him, yet it is a stumbling-block, and a thousand shames to him who causes offence.
Did the ways of Christ stumble anyone? Were they crooked or deceitful or worldly or grasping? Were they not pure and holy and honest and truthful? Could any point to Him and find out inconsistency? Never. “I am altogether what I said unto you” (John 8:25). Himself and His ways were the same—absolute harmony; so that a reviling thief at the point of death, won by the discovery of that harmony, could raise his solitary voice in opposition to the universal roar of condemnation, and declare that “this man has done nothing amiss.” It was His life, His being what He said, that, speaking after men, converted this poor dying malefactor; and it is Christ reproduced in His people, and seen over again, in our ways, the fair fruit of His own grace, uncompromising decision for Him, that alone answers infidelity.
Preaching, argumentation, &c. &c., these things may fill their place, but life, LIFE, LIFE, the life of Christ seen in us, that only avails.