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Ineffable. Go, wander where thou wilt
W. M. LESSON XIX.
TRUTH. What is Truth ? This question has been propounded from age to age, and philosophy has rarely found its answer. Pilate who questioned Truth itself, as Lord Bacon observes, would not wait for an answer, thereby showing that in his mind, and in the minds of his race and generation, truth was not only not known, but that it was deemed vain to think of knowing it, and therefore he wasted no time for a reply.
From its extreme simplicity it is indeed difficult to define truth, although it may be said to define itself in its direct opposition to error; but this distinction cannot be made till eaco be precisely known. We must know that things are what they are,—how they are, and what powers they possess, before we can act in a manner corresponding with their natures. There are, however, some general definitions which may be extremely serviceable in our investigation of truth-marks by which we may judge of it-gnomons by which it may in some degree be measured.
Truth is agreement. In God alone and in his works perfect agreement exists. We observe in our examination of nature that the eye is formed in perfect agreement with the substances called light and air, and with the laws of optics. That the wings of a bird are formed in agreement with the fluid through which it has to pass, and the gills of a fish have also an agreement with the element in which it is destined to live. In short, throughout the whole of nature you find this most perfect agreement, and when that agreement ceases in one sense, it immediately passes into another agreement equally perfect. For instance, the organs of respiration in an animal meet with some accident which destroys this agreement. The animal perishes; but another law of agreement takes up the decomposing
particles, and they exist true to themselves in another state of existence as regards form and qualities, but still true to the very law to which they have been so resolved, and from this we judge that God is Truth because in Him all things have their being. This kind of agreement may be termed Physical Truth.
Again, there are other agreements. Truth is the agreement of a representation with the things represented. This agreement may be either intellectual or moral. It is intellectual when the painter, the sculptor, or the poet, give us faithful copies of nature; or when the mathematician realizes the pure forms of the understanding. And only in proportion as this agreement exists towards perfection can the poet, painter, or sculptor become great. Now the mind having the essence of truth within itself, seizes these agreements and becomes impressed with a sublime sensation, and hesitatės not in the moment of its exaltation to call the power or being which embodies these creations Divine. Again, truth exists in the same agreement when conceptions are verbally raised in the mind, corresponding to the real things whose representations they are. This is truth strictly moral : when these conceptions are at variance with the things or states of feeling which do exist, a lie is generated. Thus the study of truth is perpetually joined with a love of virtue, for there is no virtue which derives not its original from truth ; and on the contrary there is no vice which has not its beginning from a lie.-W. M.
SUBJECT CONTINUED. Truth is also the agreement which exists between the revealed will of God and the pure reason of our minds by which we are enabled to discover its consistencies at all points with itself, and its absolute and necessary relation to the spiritual condition of man, and by which we would realize in ourselves the pure ideal of the Christian character by our great prototype Christ, who declared himself to be the way, the Truth, and the Life. This Divine Truth living in the heart moulds the inner and spiritual man to itself, and makes him the pure representative of the Eternal, though that representation may be but as his shadow. The flesh is weak, said the Lord of Life to his sleep-bound disciples ; and what guarantee has the Christian that he violates not daily the sanctity of this ideal. Yes, the flesh is weak! He, every touch of whose pencil was beauty, was oft heard to bemoan himself that the hand never could realize the perfect image which his mind had fashioned; so he who aspires to high moral excellence will oft weep that he cannot embody in act those pure conceptions that are the joy of his soul. But of the pictures of Da Vinci who has not felt the beauty, and who can examine the life of a virtuous man, and withhold his praise ? He contents not himself, indeed, though the world may admire him, but does he therefore throw aside his ideal ? As little as Da Vinci threw aside his pencil-he cannot. His virtue has become a living part of himself, and his struggles with the flesh have but brought before him in nearer prospect the land of promise, and but stirred him more fondly and religiously to cling to the hope and surety of an after-life of spiritual peace.
The law of the Gospel of Christ, the pure ideal of Christ himself thus living in his heart, the Christian will know and understand what is truth. And this he will make a law for his will, and the first pure principle of the moral law, and which will make it valid for humanity, necessary, absolute, inviolable. The ground of every axiom, every precept, every moral thought; it must enter into every motive, and penetrate every particular act. To the man this divine truth as found in
the Gospel of Christ, and reflected from the heart, is the law of universal brotherhood,—to the citizen it is the law of universal citizenship ;—and to the individual the one great idea that gives unity and purpose to the moral drama of life, and merges sense and understanding into pure spirituality; and gives that spirituality immortality.-Such is truth.
Such being the nature of truth, he who tells a lie does a violence to his own nature ; breaks in upon these beautiful agreements which are the laws of the Most High: nay, he may be said to break in upon the Most High himself, and to do him violence.
How forcible with these considerations must appear to every reflecting mind the declaration of Scripture : lying lips are an abomination to the Lord. The most high and lofty Being who inhabiteth eternity whose name is Holy, who has established in the power of truth all order; who has made its immutable essence the vital spirit of his laws, whether they relate to the physical, the intellectual, or the moral universe. He who took upon him the form of a servant and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross, for the sake of truth aloneHe has said that lying lips are an abomination to Him. Who then shall have the awful temerity to strike him in the face, and defy him by a lie! Is it thou, fragile youth, who in thy dawn of adolescence and flush of healthful blood, forgettest in high enjoyment that God is true to thee by upholding thee in the day, and after steeping thee in forgetfulness brings thee back again into communication with the beautiful creation and the morning sun. Wouldst thou cancel and tear to pieces that great bond that uniteth thee to the Father of Light, the God of Love? Wouldst thou smite the Omnipotent? Reflect, I pray thee, when through the temptation of some lust, some paltry human fear, thou mayest be tempted to Lie !-reflect that the moment you deal in a misrepresentation you wilfully separate yourself from God. You generate moral evil; you