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Difficulties of children.

Children's questions.

wounded; their usefulness and their Christian character

is injured or destroyed.

Now what is the true course for us to take in regard to such a subject? Simply this. Look at our dependence on God for a change of heart and for the exercise of right feeling, just as the Bible presents this subject, and go cordially and fully just as far as the Bible goes, which is a great way. Fix in your heart that feeling of dependence and humility which this view is calculated to give. Then look at the other aspect of this subject, the active power of man, and go here just as far as the Bible goes, and carefully learn the lesson of diligence which it teaches. Suppose you cannot find where the two come together, be willing to be ignorant of a theory which God has not revealed.

It has been my design in presenting this subject, to convince Christians that they cannot understand every thing connected with Christian theology, and to try to induce them to repose willingly and peacefully, in a sense of ignorance fully realized and frankly acknowledged.

3. Difficulties of children. I have discussed this subject too with direct reference to children, for the sake of trying to guard you against two faults. One is, coming to your parents or teachers with questions, and expecting that they can in all cases give a satisfactory answer. They cannot. They do not know. The wisest parent, the highest intellect, is incapable of answering the questions which the youngest child can ask in regard to the truths of Christianity. Do not expect it then. You may ask questions freely, but when the answers are not perfectly satisfactory to you, consider the subject as beyond the grasp of your present powers. Be satisfied if you can understand the principies of duty, and spend your moral strength in endeavoring to be as faithful as possible there.

There is one other suggestion which I wish to make to you. When you carry questions or difficulties of any kind to your parents or teachers, be very careful to be actuated

Difficulties of parents and teachers.

The school-boy's question.

by a sincere desire to learn, instead of coming as young persons very often do, with a secret desire to display their own acuteness and discrimination in seeing the difficulty. How often have young persons brought questions to me, when it has been perfectly evident that their whole object was not to be taught, but to show me their own shrewdness and dexterity. They listen in such cases to what I say, not to be taught by it, but to think what they can reply to it, and bring objection upon objection with a spirit. which refuses to be satisfied. Be careful to avoid this. Ask for the sake of learning. Listen with a predisposition to be satisfied with the answer, and never enter into argument, and take your side, and dispute with your parent or your teacher, with a view to show your dexterity. If you have this spirit and exercise it, an intelligent parent will always detect it.

4. Difficulties of parents and teachers. I wish to have this discussion the means of helping parents and teachers, and older brothers and sisters, out of one of their most common difficulties-I mean, that of answering questions brought to them by the young. Learn to say, "I do not know." If you really will learn to say this frankly and openly, it will help you out of a vast many troubles.

You are a Sabbath-school teacher, I will imagine. A bright looking boy, whose vanity has been fanned by flattery, says to you before his class,

"There is one thing in the lesson I do not understand. It says, God made the earth first, and afterward the sun. Now the sun stands still, and the earth and all the planets move round it. It seems to me, therefore, that he would have been more likely to have created the sun first, for that is the largest and is in the middle, and afterward the planets."

As he says this, you see a half smile of self-complacency upon his countenance as he looks round upon his classmates, to observe how they receive this astonishing display of youthful acumen. If now you attempt any explanation,

Pride in asking questions.

Humble spirit. Evidences of Christianity.

he does not follow you with any desire to have the difficulty removed. He either is absorbed in thinking how shrewdly he discovered and expressed the difficulty, or else, if he listens to your reply, it is to find something in it upon which he can hang a new question, or prolong the difficulty. He feels a sort of pride in not having his question easily answered. He cannot be instructed while in this state of mind.

"What then would you say to a boy in such a case?” you will ask.

I would

say this to him: "I do not understand that very well myself. I know nothing about the creation but what that chapter tells me. You can think about it, and perhaps some explanation will occur to you. In the mean time it is not very necessary for us to know. It is not necessary for you to understand exactly how God made the world, in order to enable you to be a good boy next week."

And thus universally I would inculcate the importance of a humble, docile spirit, which will disarm every theoretical difficulty of its power to perplex us, or to disturb our peace.

CHAPTER VII.

EVIDENCES OF CHRISTIANITY.

"God who at sundry times and in divers manners, spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath, in these last days, spoken unto us by his Son."

THE first inquiry which meets us in entering upon the consideration of this subject is, "What sort of evidence are we to expect?" The only proper answer is, that sort of evidence which men require to produce conviction and to control the conduct in other cases. The human mind is so constituted that men are governed by a certain kind and degree of evidence in all the concerns of life—a kind and

The merchant.

The doubting clerk.

a degree which is adapted to the circumstances in which we are placed here. This evidence, however, almost always falls very far short of demonstration, or absolute cer tainty. Still it is enough to control the conduct. By the influence of it a man will embark in the most momentous enterprises, and he is often induced by it to abandon his most favorite plans. Still it is very far short of demonstration, or absolute certainty. For example, a merchant receives in his counting-room a newspaper which marks the prices of some species of goods at a foreign port as very high. He immediately determines to purchase a quantity, and to send a cargo there; but suppose, as he is making arrangements for this purpose, his clerk should say to him, "Perhaps this information may not be correct. The correspondent of the editor may have made a false statement for some fraudulent purpose, or the communication may have been forged; or some evil-minded person having the article in question for sale, may have contrived by stealth to alter the types, so as to cause the paper to make a false report, at least in some of the copies."

Now in such a case, would the merchant be influenced in the slightest degree by such a skeptical spirit as this? Would he attempt to reply to these suppositions, and to show that the channel of communication between the distant port and his own counting-room could not have been broken in upon by fraud somewhere in its course, so as to bring a false statement to him? He could not show this. His only reply must be, if he should reply at all, "The evidence of this printed sheet is not perfect demonstration, but it is just such evidence in kind and degree as I act upon in all my business; and it is enough. Were I to pause with the spirit of your present objections, and refuse to act whenever such doubts as those you have presented might be entertained, I might close my business at once, and spend life in inaction. I could not, in one case in ten thousand, get the evidence which would satisfy such a spirit."

The unexpected letter.

The sick child.

Again: you are a parent, I suppose; you have a son travelling at a distance from home, and you receive some day a letter from the post-office in a strange hand-writing, and signed by a name you have never heard, informing you that your son has been taken sick at one of the villages on his route, and that he is lying dangerously ill at the house of the writer, and has requested that his father might be informed of his condition and urged to come and see him before he dies.

Where now is the father who in such a case would say to himself, "Stop, this may be a deception; some one may have forged this letter to impose upon me. Before I take this journey I must write to some responsible man in that village to ascertain the facts."

No; instead of looking with suspicion upon the letter, scrutinizing it carefully to find marks of counterfeiting, he would not even read it a second time. As soon as he had caught a glimpse of its contents, he would throw it hastily aside, and urging the arrangements for his departure to the utmost, he would hasten away, saying, "Let me go as soon as possible to my dying son.

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I will state one more case, though perhaps it is so evident, upon a moment's reflection, that men do not wait for perfect certainty in the evidence upon which they act, that I have already stated too many.

Your child is sick, and as he lies tossing in a burning fever on his bed, the physician comes in to visit him. He looks for a few minutes at the patient, examines the symptoms, and then hastily writes an almost illegible prescription, whose irregular and abbreviated characters are entirely unintelligible to all but professional eyes. You give this prescription to a messenger-perhaps to some one whom you do not know - and he carries it to the apothecary, who, from the indiscriminate multitude of jars, and drawers, and boxes, filled with every powerful medicine, and corroding acid, and deadly poison, selects a little here and a little there, with which, talking perhaps all the

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