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The shield of brass and iron.

One kind of controversy.

of the road between them, in such a manner that the shield presented its surface of brass to the one, and of iron to the other. They immediately fell into conversation in regard to the structure before them, when one, incidentally alluding to the iron shield, the other corrected him by remarking that it was of brass. The knight upon the iron side of course did not receive the correction: he maintained that he, himself, was right; and, after carrying on the controversy for a short time by harsh language, the disputants 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 can not clearly see all at a time. Two Christian knights, clad in strong armor, come up to some such subject 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, and 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 can not, from one point of view, see both sides of the shield at the same

3. Difficulties of children.

Children's questions.

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 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 can not find where the two come together, be willing to remain ignorant of a theory which God has not revealed.

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, that of coming to your parents or teachers with questions, and expecting that they can in all cases give a satisfactory answer. They can not. 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 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 by a sincere desire to learn, instead of coming as young persons very often do, with a secret desire to display their own acute

4. Difficulties of parents and teachers.

The school-boy's question.

ness 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. This discussion is intended also as 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.

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

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There is one thing in the lesson that 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 class-mates, to observe how they receive this astonishing display of youthful acumen. If now you attempt any explanation, he does

Pride in asking questions.

Humble spirit.

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 can not 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. not very necessary for us to know. you to understand exactly how God made the world, in order to enable you to be a good boy next week."

In the mean time it is
It is not necessary for

Thus universally, a humble, docile spirit will disarm every theoretical difficulty of its power to perplex us, or to disturb our peace.

Evidences of Christianity.

The merchant.

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."

66

THE first inquiry which meets us in entering upon the consideration of this subject is, What sort of evidence of the truth of Christianity 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 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 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 of the goods, 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

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