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God, whose character and whose throne is built on it, and who has pledged all in him that is sacred, that it shall exist and flourish commensurate with himself.
O, that its enemies did but know their destiny. When they shall have done their best, and cried aloud to their gods, and leaped upon their altars, and wounded themselves till they are covered with their own gore; then God will speak, and fire will come from heaven to testify to his truth, and devour its adversaries. No warfare has ever been so unpromising as theirs. The victory has never hung in doubt an hour. When the foe has been intrenching himself, and was proud of his forces, and sure of the victory; and the friends of truth lay on their faces between the porch and the altar, and could only say, "Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach ;" even then, angels were not afraid, nor God afraid, nor, nor should faith have been afraid, that the truth might suffer. Do vou still ask me, "What is truth?" I an
VIII. Truth is that which never becomes obsolete, but is rendered the more illustrious by use. It may at times seem obscured, and likely to become extinct, in some limited territory of this world, but it will come into credit again, and will pervade the very ground from which it seemed excluded. The human heart does not love it, and would destroy it, and has been making efforts to this effect ever since the apostacy; but the conscience, to whatever extent it has light, is on the side of truth, and often exerts an influence to give it countenance and currency, where it would otherwise be without a friend. Its light may be eclipsed, but cannot be extinguished. So the sun may suffer some little world to roll athwart its beams, and cut off a few fragments of its light from some other world, but the sun, when eclipsed, is not extinguished. While the ignorant multitude stand appalled at the brooding darkness, he emerges from behind the screen, and rolls and shines with unbroken velocity and undiminished lustre.
Some have believed, and many have hoped, that the Scriptures would one day become obsolete, and men be released from its obligations and its terrors. Poor souls, they think it a great grievance that there should be any sun to light the moral world. They would it were one unbroken night through all the territories of intellect. So we have known when the thief and the robber cursed the opening day as a nuisance, and were not ashamed to wish that the sun might cease to shine, and the moon and stars
withhold their light. But the prayer of the thief will not put the sun out, nor will the enemies of truth live to see the Scriptures perish. No, the men will perish, and the arguments that have stood in martial array against that book, while the book itself is destined to outlive all the nations, and will be in the hands, and deeply impressed upon the heart, of that last believer who shall rise to meet the Lord in the air. This great luminary of the moral world, will hold its station, and shine on in all its glory, and lighten and warm the beings it was sent to cherish, till the elect are all gathered in. Every doctrine of that book will outlive its foes, and will be embraced and loved by every believer that shall be sanctified through the truth. Wisdom is justified of her children. There is no danger, nor has there ever been, that any one doctrine of the Bible should be lost. No power but that which can build a world can stop truth in its course, and that power will not. Bury in one common grave every Bible that has ever been published, and let them lie till their mortal parts perish, still their doctrines, like so many imperishable gems, shall resist corruption, and emerge unhurt from the embers of the last conflagration.
By being controverted, truth increases its lustre. The attacks made upon the doctrines of the reformation, gave them currency. Men would risk their lives to see that book which was so much the dread of some of the ruling powers, especially the powers spiritual. Thus the eyes of a blinded world were opened the more effectually upon the glorious gospel of the blessed God. And all the efforts that have been made since then, or that may be made against the truth hereafter, have had, and will have but this one effect, to establish its friends in the more perfect belief, and the more full enjoyment of the precious Bible.
Truth is in most danger when its foes are asleep, for then its friends sleep too. "While the bridegroom tarried they all slumbered and slept." To drive his people to their post, God sometimes gives their enemies a temporary triumph; never, however, leaving it doubtful in the eye of faith where victory will rest. When infidelity threatened to deluge the world, God raised up a standard. And when it crept within the pale of the Churches,
"As when a prowling wolf,
Whom hunger drives to seek new haunt for prey,
Leaps o'er the fence with ease into the fold;
an eye Divine watched all its movements. And its defeat is now as certain, as when it libelled the entrance of the grave-yard, and daringly proscribed the Nazarine. God can recognize his enemies under whatever vestments they may conceal themselves. It requires only common faith to predict, that the Churches of our Lord Jesus Christ will not long harbor in their communion errors that dethrone their Master. In the present, and in every future conflict, the result will be as in the past. God will not suffer a flood of error to pour in, mightier than the standard he will lift up against it. He will continue for ever to be the friend and advocate of truth, and should the time again come when he must blot out a world to recover its influence, he has all his stores of wrath ready. Do still ask you me, What is truth?" I answer,
FINALLY, Truth is that 'against which an impenitent world is armed with objections. I mention this characteristic of truth, because many conceive that nothing can be truth that meets with opposition. They act on the false supposition, that the world is friendly to truth, will readily embrace it when distinctly seen, and will object to nothing that is truth. Hence if they hear a doctrine objected to, in the belief of which they have been ever so well established, they feel it to be their duty to doubt its truth. And yet there is no doctrine against which there may not be brought a variety of objections. In the affairs of common life it would not answer to act on this principle, else we should believe nothing. There stands a tree by your door, and you affirm that it grew there. I object to your position, first, that such a mass of timber could never rise to such a height without hands; secondly, that earth cannot produce wood, as every effect must have the nature of its cause; and thirdly, the tree was never seen to grow. But do you doubt whether the tree grew there, because I have offered three objections to your faith? And if I could offer thirty, instead of three, would it shake your confidence? Then why are the precious doctrines of the gospel to be yielded on the first attack?
The fact is, and it is a fact that we ought to know, the truth is far more likely to be assailed with objections than error. There are more who are engaged in opposing truth than error, perhaps
ten to one.
None but the true believer finds a real interest and a real pleasure in supporting the truth, while the great mass of ungodly men are strongly in the opposition. Hence all those whose hearts are at enmity with truth, are engaged, and have been ever since the apostacy, in fabricating objection to truth, while very few have endeavored to meet these objections with a proper answer.
And moreover when objections to truth have been invented, there are ten who will circulate them, where one will make the same sacrifice to disseminate the truth. Hence when a book or pamphlet full of error leaves the press, many. because they hate the truth, will purchase it, and give it circulation; but if there follow it an able answer, there will be few, perhaps none, who will make a similar sacrifice. Christians should not be so remiss, but it was long since declared, that "The children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light." The fact then must be that ten will become familiar with objections to truth, where one will hear those objections answered. Against the truth then there will stand more objections than against error, hence a doctrine strongly and frequently objected to by unbelievers, has presumptive evidence of its truth. And perhaps, in a world like ours, truth has no test more infallible.
We shall be sadly mistaken, however, if we suppose that a mere profession will make men the friends of truth, and that all is error to which those who make profession are opposed. It not unfrequently happens that truth finds its bitterest enemies within the pale of the communion, and even in the sacred ministry. As there was a Judas in the apostleship, so in the gospel ministry there are men, O that it were not so, who bend all their energies to betray the design and to pollute the honors of their Lord.
But let us apply the rule. What doctrines are constantly assailed by unsanctified men? What doctrines are the drunkard, the liar, the profane, the swindler, and the Sabbath-breaker, ever prepared to repel? What doctrines has it been considered improper to preach, because of the numerous objections that stand against them, and which are supposed to destroy their usefulness? Ascertain those facts, and you learn what is truth. I close with
1. We see why the Bible in all its parts is so entirely harmonious, and has so long continued in use. Writers so numerous, and so separated as to time, place, education, and habit, could not have written so harmoniously, but from the fact that they all wrote
truth, and nothing else, and truth is consistent with itself. And if the sacred volume by Divine direction should be continued, and an additional prophecy or epistle be written in every future age down to the last day, they would all agree. Each under the guidance of the Holy Ghost would write only unadulterated truth, and truth is consistent with itself. Hence the word of God, unlike every other book, can never thwart its own track, and can never become obsolete.
2. We see why no other book can outlive a few short generations. All others, although containing some truth, contain also error sufficient to bring them soon into disuse. Error is ever transitory. Let a book have been written if you please in the first age of the world, be it inspired or not, and let it contain nothing but truth, and that truth important, and it shall be fit for use till the funeral of the world, and shall be new and interesting to every succeeding generation of men. The character of God is pledged for the security of truth, and nothing else. It is as old as God, and will have a being commensurate with his. Its very nature is eternal. Truth is the reflected image of being and of fact. Hence ever since there was any being or any fact, and while these endure, truth must live. But error has attached to it no such immortality. Perhaps it would not be saying too much to assert that every uninspired volume, has attached to it error sufficient to sink it sooner or later into the grave.
3. We are now prepared to say, that one cannot reject the truth and be innocent. The marks of truth are so visible, that one cannot mistake it but from choice. Its features are all prominent and visible, and must be familiar to every man who has made a proper use of his eyes and his understanding. Hence, to not know the truth, or embrace error, is sin, and argues a heart unsanctified. He who loves God must wish to know and love the truth. Christ viewed the truth of such importance, that he came into the world to declare the truth, and will now frown upon the man who diminishes its value.
It is absurd to suppose that truth has a character so doubtful that it cannot be known. If God has placed his statute-book in our hands, he will expect us to be familiar with the laws of his kingdom. He has not furnished us an unintelligible code. He has not suspended our destiny on a belief of the truth, and yet left it so uncertain what we should believe, that it is no crime to believe a lie. The Holy Ghost would not inspire for us a volume which we cannot understand. If God sanctifies his people through the