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imagination is active and bright, 1 detailed, we differ from each other when the judgment is well informed in religious beliefs. Do not charge aod skilful, when the will is most the difference upon the truth. The under the dominion of reason, we are universe is one and the same, look best fitted to form religious beliefs. upon it who may. Systems of We do not ask you to cease to think astronomy make no difference to the that you may cease to differ ; but movements of the heavenly bodies ; Te rather urge you to think more their revolutions pursue the same that you may comprehend with all course whatever men's beliefs may saints what is the breadth and length, be about them. The Christian reli. and depth and height, of Divine | gion is one and the same, look upon tnth; and when you have thought, , it who may. Systems of theology or ani reasoned, and compared, you opinions about Bible truth make no will begin to see that God has found difference to the contents of the an everlasting task for your intel. Scriptures; they have remained unlect, and you will exclaim, “ O the changedamid all the changes through depth of the riches both of the wis which men's faith has passed. The dom and knowledge of God! How fact that all do not believe alike unseаrehable are his judgments, and suggests to us that we should look his ways past finding out!” The for the cause and the cure of this answer to the appeal of our text, difference in ourselves. “If I say “ If I say the truth, why do ye not the truth, why do ye not believe believe me?” is not, because men me?” Jesus well knew that the reason about religion, but rather reason was not in him or in his saybecause men do not reason. Their ings, but in the Jews. A consideraunderstanding is darkened, their tion of the manner in which relijudgment perverted, their will de gious beliefs are formed will show us prayed, and therefore they believe why they differ. not the truth. If men were ruled Among the things that regulate by reason, they would believe the and determine our faith, I assign the sayings of Jesus.
first place to education and culture. This leads me to the next step in Among the proverbs which exmy argument. Religious belief is perience has verified is this :not determined by evidence, either * Train up a child in the way he solely or mainly. The same heavens | should go"-or in the way he should are above us all, and alike declare not go" and when he is old he will the glory of God to all; the same not depart from it.” As the twig is firmament encircles all, and alike bent the tree grows. Who does not showeth God's handiwork to all ; know that the influences which sur. the same day uttereth speech and rounded our childhood, the instructhe same night showeth forth know tion and inspiration received from ledge alike to all; the same Bible honoured and beloved parents, early is put into the hands of all, and the scholastic training, and our religious same Gospel message is sent to every associations in youthful days, have creature; the same helps are pro had much to do with the formation of vided for all, and the same Holy our beliefs ? Children generally tread Sprit surrounds all with his Divine in the footsteps of their parents. influence. Obviously, therefore, if In politics, the same families take the evidence determined our beliefs, if samo views, ally tbemselves with the our faith necessarily agreed with the game party, for generations. And it Tevelation made to us, we should all is the same in religion. Whether eliere alike. This is not the case. | Tory or Whig, Churchman or Nonith all the sameness that I have conformist, the father usually hands
down his faith along with his name / sponding with a lazy yawn to the to his son. “ Adam .. begat a son preacher, or with your thoughts in his own likeness, after his image." among the flesh-pots of Egypt' But there are exceptions to this rule. while he is discoursing on the Bread Sons have differed and do dissent that cometh down from heaven,' from their fathers' beliefs. Roman your beliefs will be neither en. Catholics have become Protestants, larged nor amended.” And let me and the children of Quakers have add, that as long as sects and parties become members of the Established attend exclusively to their own creed, Church. This fact reminds us that study only their own authors, and another element of power has a part refuse to look at any other than their in the production of our creed. I own side of a controversy, it is refer to knowledge. Very much de morally impossible that Christians pends upon the information a man should cease to differ, and begin to has acquired. An open and candid agree in their beliefs. We want more mind often remains in error because attention to the word of God as read, ignorant of the truth. It was so to men's words as heard. Moses felt with the Apostle Paul. No sooner this want, knew that the Hebrews did he learn that Jesus was the were ruined by thoughtless inattenChrist, than he preached the faith tion, and hence he exclaimed, “O which aforetime he sought to de that they were wise, that they un. stroy. Such, I doubt not, is the derstood this, that they would con. case with many a Pagan, with many sider.” I am afraid that the chief a Papist. “How shall they believe factor of our beliefs is, after all, the in Him of whom they have not | disposition. We believe what we heard ?” Ignorance is the mother like; the heart rules the head more of unbelief; faith is the child of than the head rules the heart. It is knowledge. A man cannot believe no uncommon thing for a man to rein that of which he knows nothing; solve that he will never change his while doubtless the books we read and belief, that he will live and die in the the ministers we hear, very largely | faith of his fathers. Men put their influence our beliefs. A third agent foot down, and say, that is my opinion; in the formation of our faith is, 1 and, because it is theirs, they abide attention. Men do not believe the by it, even though they may be untruth read or heard, because they do able either to support or to defend not attend to it. In vain do you go it. Argument with such is useless, through the form of reading the
“Convince the man against his will. Scriptures, whether on Sunday or a
He's of the same opinion still.” week-day-in vain is the truth plainly stated and fairly placed before you They love their own thought and in vain are reasons urged why you way more than they do God's, they should believe the words of Jesus love their own church more than they and receive them into your hearts do Christ, they prefer the lighted in vain are spiritual treasures poured candle of their sect or party to the at your very feet-so long as you noontide light of the Sun of Righteare inattentive. With your privi. ousness. There is more or less of this leges, surely you should have learnt in each of us, and I fear that, if the much truth ere now. If any one secrets of our hearts were laid bare, were to ask me, “How is it that, we should be found among the numreading so many books and hearing | ber with whom belief is as much a so many sermons, I know so little ?" | matter of prejudice as it is a question my answer would be, “So long as you of truth. “If I say the truth, why read and hear without attention, re. I do ye not believe me?" It was be. cause the Jews were disinclined; they doubt but that you would have been lored darkness rather than light, a Pagan. If you have been more and therefore they believed not the highly favoured, and know the truth, truth.
do not act the part of the Pharisee, I bare altogether failed to secure “and despise others, but exercise the object I have in view, if you charity. God never reaps where he fail to learn a lesson of charity. has not sown-will, in the judgment, A reasonable man will not expect require no more than he has given ; uniformity of beliefs. Just as long so that it will be more tolerable even
education varies—and it ever will for heathen cities than for self-sufiivary with the circumstances and the cient Pharisees. Give credit, I pray manions of parents-you must have you, to your neighbours for honesty, Izquality of culture, and with it dif and never refuse to them that charity ference in belief. Just as long as which takes pleasure in covering a knowledge is unequally distributed | multitude of sins. among men- and this will be so long This, however, is only half the les. 26 men are unequal in mental power son I have been striving to teach. and in opportunities for acquiring “If I say the truth, why do ye not knowledge-you will have diversities believe me?" There is truth which of religious beliefs. Just as long as we do not believe. Some of us have some give more attention and others very little truth. How is this? I less to what they read and hear, hold that we are responsible for not mea's beliefs will not be the same. believing more truth. Do you plead Just as long as the inclinations of | inferiority of intellect? My answer Then differ will their beliefs be unlike. | is, “Had you devoted to the improveThe wise and good man, therefore, ment of your mind the precious hours will ever make due allowance for the which you have wasted on veriest misbeliefs of others; and in estimating | trifles, you might at this moment their honesty will not forget the in- | have had an intellect quick to see, fuence of parentage, education, and patient to investigate, skilful in sepaassociations. Only the narrow- rating the chaff from the wheat, wise minded bigot, whose intellect is too to judge, and firm in its grasp of small to admit of enlarged views, will truth.” Many a man and woman is cor.demn as dishonest those who blameworthy for neglecting mental difer from him, and denounce as culture. Do you plead ignorance? heretics-that is, men consciously Still I charge home the fault on wrong-all who will not pronounce yourself. Have there not been in. his shibboleth. Remember that had structors willing and eager to teach you been born in a High Church you? You might have read good family, and carefully secluded from books, had you been so inclined. And the influence of Dissent, the proba- | the ever-blessed Book of books has balty is that you would have shunned been in your hands, inviting you to the chapel as though it were a lazar dive for its pearls, to gain its heights house; had your parents been Aus of thought, and to explore its untrans, you in all likelihood would searchable riches. If you have prebare believed in the pope, and would ferred the last new novel, or to-day's have shrunk from Protestantism as paper, to the word of God, you have from a plague; had you been trained only yourself to blame that you are in the haunts of thieves, do you think as yet “unskilful in the word of that you would now have held the righteousness," and "need that one enlightened views you do about teach you again which be the first morality and religion ? and had your principles of the oracles of God.” lot fallen in Japan, there is little | Ignorance in the present day is a sin
against God as well as a wrong done | world can add. Look at them for a to our own souls. Do you acknow | moment. Men smile on error-it is ledge-I know you will not plead- | fashionable; they endow it with gold disinclination? I would fain per -it pays in the current coin of the suade you to change your disposition. realm; they minister to it-all pleaNever hesitate for a moment between sures attend it. Truth is frowned truth and error. Believe me that on. It is unpopular; it is persecuted; wisdom says, “ Buy the truth, and poverty dogs its footsteps; it is sell it not." Whatever it costs, | cast out to die; sorrow is its porthough you have to pay for it precious | tion. Still, I say, “Buy the truth." friendships, long-cherished associa Truth and error are seeds; in the tions, darling day-dreams, brightest other life and through eternity error prospects, “buy the truth.” I hold | will yield corruption, while truth up before you the “ the balances of shall bring forth the fruit of everthe sanctuary.” In the one scale is lasting blessedness. Be it yours and truth, and in the other error. We mine to have the truth. Ask not will have truth alone--no, not alone, whether the many walk in the way, for where truth is there is God-but | but whether it is the way of truth ; we will have in one scale truth, sepa ask not whether the rulers believe rated from all worldly advantages on Jesus, but whether he is the and affections, and in the other we | Son of God, and then believe his will place error, plus all that the sayings.
BY THE REV. J. W. LANCE. “Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it. . .... The just shall live by his faitli."--Habakkuk ii. 2, 4.
WHEN Habakkuk watched, and waited, for the Lord, the Lord answered him in plain and open vision. The prophet, too, was to make it plain to others, not indeed as the popular inverted order of these words puts it, that “he who runs may read," but that he who reads may be excited to run, quickly and earnestly reporting the word of the Lord. “One post” shall, with this vision, as well as concerning the taking of Babylon, “run to meet another," and by this running knowledge of the Lord's word shall be increased. To this end the vision is to be, not only plainly spoken, but written upon tables. What is this vision ? Now for the most part we connect with a prophet's vision ideas of mystery, splendour, torror, and so on, or of future things revealed. What Isaiah saw in the Lord's house the year that King Uzziah died, what Ezekiel saw by the river Chebar, what John saw in Patmos, these are prophet's visions; but let us remember, too, that a prophet was a preacher and a witness for God as well as a seer, and the vision which this prophet was to make plain was not so much one of supernal glory, or future destiny, as of present duty. In a word, this is the vision, and no loftier theme can engage a prophet's speech or pen—"The just shall live by his faith.” As to the third verse, concerning the “appointed time,'' &c., I take the meaning to be, that Though Divine aids, rewards, and punishments, may be delayed, yet
in due time they come; and with respect to them, as to all else, “the just man lives by his faith.” The just man, in Scripture meaning, is the good man; and the moral of this plain vision is that a good life is a life of faith. Let us see how this is illustrated in the thought which Habakkuk develops.
1. A good life is one which by faith conquers pride. “Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him.” There seems here almost a play upon words, or verbal paradox. The woman who “could in no wise lift up herself” was not upright, but bowed together; and David says, “I lift up my soul unto Thee.” Ah! there it is—the man who by faith lifts up his soul to the Lord is upright, but he who lifts up his soul to vanity or pride is maimed, crooked, and deformed. Nebuchadnezzar's soul was not upright when he said in the pride of his heart, “Is not this great Babylon that I have built ?" and the Divine judgment fell upon him, making the posture of the body to correspond with that of the earthward soul, each grovelling alike, for he was driven from men, and became as the beasts of the field; but when at the end of the days he lifted up his eyes to heaven, then his reason returned to him, and he was restored to the habitations and the likeness of men.
Hezekiah's soul was not upright when in the matter of the messengers from Babylon he lifted up his heart to pride, showing to those heathen ambassadors the treasures and the precious things in his house. Those of you who dwell in your ceiled houses may be sinning as these kings sinned, and if you would conquer this most vulgar form of pride, this lust of the eye, you must do it by faith : ponder the things that are invisible, turn the eye of your mind from that poor Babylon that you have built-for after all it is poor—to the celestial city, whose builder is God-from those treasures that you have amassed, to those more precious things which abide in the heavenly house. This is the vision we would make plain to you to-day, and may God so enlarge your hearts while you read it, that you may “run” in the way of his commandments.
There are, however, more subtle forms of pride against which the good man by faith will wage continual war. There is pride of intellect which affects to despise wealth, and there is pride of goodness which, with much unctuous talk, sneers, in its feeble way, at intellect. One man is proud of his morality, another of his religion, and a third is proud of his “ views.” Between these I, for my part, see nothing to choose. Whether you expect to be saved by your religion or your morality, the issue is pretty much the same; you are depending on yourself rather than on Christ the Lord, who is our righteousness. You may hold the most orthodox “views," look with pity on those benighted ones who expect to be “saved by their works,” and be yourself, at the same time, one of the veriest Pharisees that ever trod the temple floor. Faith in the things that are not seen will deliver us from the pride of life; faith in that gracious Saviour who is himself meek and lowly will deliver us from pride of heart.