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of brass. The knight upon the iron side, of course, did not receive the correction. He maintained that he was right, and, after carrying on the controversy for a short time by harsh language, they gradually grew angry, and soon drew their swords. A long and furious combat ensued, and when at last both were exhausted, unhorsed, and lying wounded upon the ground,-they found that the whole cause of their trouble was, that they could not see both sides of a shield at a time.
Now, religious truth is sometimes such a shield, with various aspects, and the human mind cannot clearly see all at a time. Two Christian knights, clad in strong armour, come up to some such object as moral agency, and view it from opposite stations. One looks at the power which man has over his heart, and laying his foundation there, he builds up his theory upon that alone. Another looks upon the divine power in the human heart, and, laying his own separate foundation, builds up his theory. The human mind is incapable, in fact, of grasping the subject,-of understanding how man can be free and accountable, and yet be so much under the control of God as the Bible represents. Our Christian soldiers, however, do not consider this. Each takes his own view, and carries it out so far as to interfere with that of the other. They converse about it,—they talk more and more warmly-then a long controversy ensues— if they have influence over others, their dispute agitates the church, and divides brethren from brethren; and why? Why, just because our Creator has so formed us, that we cannot, from one point of view, see both sides of the shield at the same time. The combatants, after a long battle, are both unhorsed and 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 dependance 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 dependance and humility, which this view is calculated to give. Then look at the other aspect of this subject, the active poner of man, and go here just as far as the Bible goes; and carefully learn the lesson of diligence which it teaches. Suppose you can
not 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, and in a sense of ignorance which they fully realize and frankly acknowledge.
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 principles of duty, and spend your moral strength in endeavouring 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 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. 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 com
mon 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. 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. says God made the earth first, and afterwards 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 afterwards 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, 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 answerable. 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." Take another case. You are a sister. You love the Saviour, and have endeavoured to win your younger sister's heart to him. You have taught her to feel the happiness of confessing her sins, and doing her duty, and through your kind and gentle influence she is growing up daily to piety. Every evening, when she lies down to sleep, you sit a few minutes by her bedside, and review with her the duties and the sins of the day, and accompany her in her evening prayer
for forgiveness and peace and protection. You have explained to her the sympathy of her Saviour, and taught her to repose her trust in him. She has accordingly studied his character, she reads with interest what the Bible says of him, and she brings with confidence her questions to you. "Sister," she says to you, just as you are about to bid her good night, "I wish you would explain to me one thing which I do not fully understand. If Jesus Christ was God, how could he pray to God while he was in the garden? I never could understand this, I have thought a good many times I would ask you."
She says these words with a tone and manner which speak humility and a sincere desire for instruction. She looks and speaks as if she was exposing ignorance, not, as in the other case, displaying sagacity. Still you cannot explain this difficulty. The greatest theological scholar in christendom will acknowledge that he cannot remove it from his own mind, and how can you expect to remove it from that of a child? If you attempt it, you perplex yourself and her. She thinks you understand it, because you attempt to explain it, and she is distressed because she cannot follow you.
"What shall I say then ?" you will ask.
Say this,-"I do not understand it, sister. The Bible says that Jesus Christ was God and was with God. This seems clearly to mean that he was in some sense the same, but in some sense different. But I cannot clearly conceive how. I must believe what the Bible says about it, and perhaps in another world we shall understand it. In the mean time we can trust in the Saviour, and love him, and he will take care of us, and save us at last. You are willing, are you not, to go on trying to do your duty, and seeking to please him, and to wait till God shall show you at some future time his full character?"
"Yes, sister," she may be expected to reply; "good night."
And thus, universally, the possession of a humble, docile spirit, and a consciousness of the weakness of our powers, will disarm every theoretical difficulty of its power to perplex us, or to disturb our peace.
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 a degree of evidence, in all the concerns of life,—a kind and 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 certainty. 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 favourite plans.
Still it is very far short of demonstration or absolute certainty. For example, a merchant receives in his countingroom 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 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 sceptical spirit as this? Would