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that truth exceeds in value the choicest silver, and faith is better than tried gold. These are comparisons, and not contrasts, be it remembered, so that there ought to be some close analogy in the Divine Mind, between the things compared. But, is it so ? Does God esteem gold, silver, and precious stones, as things of any-much less of consummate and transcendant-value? Or rather," saith He not it altogether for your sakes ?” Could he, in fact, make himself at all understood, did he not thus condescend to human infirmity ?
Some persons will, no doubt, be ready to say, “We find no fault with mere figures, similes, or poetical expressions, where the subject is in keeping ; but surely absolute, unqualified truth, should be spoken in matters of fact."
This objection naturally suggests the enquiry, “What are facts ?”—a question less easily answered than is usually supposed. For how many centuries was it a “fact” that the earth was stationary, and that the sun revolved around it? In England, until the days of Bacon, but two centuries ago, almost everything was mere conjecture or hypothesis. Men dreamt or invented truth till this great man arose
the first experimental, practical philosopher our land can boast of. Allusion has been already made to the “ facts” of astronomy. Look only at the sun. For ages he was believed to move round the earth; till Copernicus affirmed that he stood still. He did so for a few centuries, when the discoveries of Maedler shewed that he was again a planet, revolving like his kindred suns around the present centre of the universe. At one time we were told, and we believed it, that he was a ball of fire. It was the “ fact,” of our younger days. Now, he is a dark, opaque mass, surrounded only with a luminous atmosphere. He was once light itself, and the source of light-but he is now merely a bearer or instrument of light--a lantern, having his candle outside instead of in.
How then, on points of philosophy or science at least, are we to decide whether the Bible speaks the language of fact or not? A careful examination of this wonderful book will shew us that all the errors attributed to it, belong to our own ignorance; and establish the great truth, that all the words of the Lord are tried words, as silver purified seven times.
Another prejudice is this. That the characters mentioned in
the Bible were not men of like passions with ourselves. Hence our good men find most injudicious apologists, who think God's Word more likely to be wrong than man's life. The trite but true remark ought ever to be borne in mind, that the best of men are but men at the best. How many timid Christians have trembled for the religion of the Bible, because Abraham told a falsehood about Sarai; or because Sarai herself laughed incredulously at God's promise to her husband. Again, how often and how strenuously has it been urged that Moses was justified in killing the Egyptian who maltreated one of his brethren in Egypt, just because Moses was a good man, and such an act was likely to prove ruinous to his character. Why, even Joseph, with all his excellence, was not without sin. He practised divination—swore profanely, and behaved with very anchristian hauteur and unkindness towards his father and his brethren-crimes which commentators and critics have been so unwilling to allow, that they have committed sad havoc with the letter of God's word for the sake of extenuating them. One apostle tells us of another, the “ infallible” Peter, that he “ to be blamed," and yet so tender are many timid readers of the Scriptures, that they would rather unsettle the obvious meaning of a text of Scripture than allow that good men were occasionally guilty of comparatively trivial offences. The Bible teaches no such doctrine; the great distinction which it draws between the righteous and the wicked being this—that the one hates sin, while the other loves it. With the good man it is but an accident; with the bad man it is the habit.
One of the strongest proofs indeed, to the divine origin of the Scriptures has always appeared to us, to spring from the fact that men are represented there, as sinners--never lauded as spotless or infallible. In human biographies, a writer almost always exalts his subject_his view is taken from below. With God it is not so. “ The heavens are unclean in his sight, and he charges his angels with folly.” He looks down upon the loftiest; and just as an artist infers from the direction and the angles of those lines that form a drawing, the precise point of view from which the sketch was taken—the Bible-student may detect in the mental and moral pictures of Holy Writ, the whereabout and the capacity of that Great Mind in whose sight the inhabitants of the earth are as grasshoppers.
Another evil arises from this idea of the characters described in the Bible. In their best points they are regarded often as too excellent for imitation. Speak of Paul's usefulness, his zeal, his intrepidity and singleness of object, and you are sure to be met with the remark, “Oh! but he was inspired!" And what hope do the Scriptures give of any one who is not inspiredwho is not enlightened, directed, and strengthened of God for the work of doing good to souls ? It would seem as if Christianity were at a low ebb indeed when men talk thus. Our standard is a much higher one. The apostle himself bade us follow him so far only as he followed Christ; and he himself referred us to the perfection and holiness of his Father in heaven.
A fifth prejudice, the last to which we shall refer, is this, That the Old Testament Scriptures require and derive support from heathen testimony.
This mistake may be rectified in few words. The latest books of the Old Testament were written before the first profane author appeared upon the stage-about the middle of the fifth century B. C. When, therefore, we hear of profane authors confirming or illustrating this portion of the Bible, it were well to ask who they are. If any names be furnished, a biographical dictionary will soon dissipate the illusion by shewing either that they did not live near the time referred to, or what is still more likely, that if they ever lived at all, all that relates to them is of so visionary and uncertain a character, that it cannot in any way affect the validity of Holy Writ. Yet in one sense our old historians and traditions
be said to confirm the Scripture narrative. A shadow proves the existence of an interposed object-a reflection demonstrates the fact that there must be something to be reflected. Just so profane history points us to the great original whence all its truth is borrowed. Or to use another figure, it represents in dim dissolving views a series of exaggerated pictures from the vivid and beautiful spectra of the Bible.
“A glory gilds the sacred page:
Majestic, like the sun,
-It gives; but borrows none."
CHRIST, ALL OR NOTHING. WHEN a young man, the late Dr. Chalmers "experienced a very great transition of sentiment,” in consequence of reading Wilberforce's Practical View. of Christianity. “ The critical condition of the reader," says his biographer, “ lent power to Mr. Wilberforce's volume. A prolonged but abortive effort had prepared Mr. Chalmers to welcome the truth of a gratuitous justification before God through the merits of Christ. For upwards of a year, he had striven with all his might to meet the requirements of the Divine law, but that law rose in its demands, as he rose in his endeavors, and, continuing our narrative here in his own descriptive words, “ it still kept a-head of him, with a kind of overmatching superiority to all his efforts. His attempt to scale the heights of perfection, to quell the remonstrances of a challenging and not yet appeased commandment, was like the laborious ascent of him, who, having so wasted his strength that he can do no more, finds that some precipice still remains to be overcome-some mountain brow that scorns his enterprise, and threatens to overwhelm him." He struggled hard to recover his immeasurable distance from that high and heavenly morality which the law required; and after all, found himself “a helpless defaulter from the first and greatest of its commandments.” He repaired to the atonement, to eke out his deficiencies, and as the ground of assurance that God would look upon him with a propitious eye, but notwithstanding an unappeasable disquietude hung heavy upon his heart, and “he walked among the elements of uncertainty and distrust," till at last, he came to see that the Saviour had already and completely done for him what, with so much strenuousness, but with so little success, he had been striving to do for himself. The felt insecurities of his position, he had been in vain endeavoring to strengthen, by mixing up the merits of Christ, with the sincerity of his repentance, and the painstaking of his obedience, to form together the ingredients of his hope and security before God. But the conviction was now wrought in him, that he had been attempting an impossibility; that he had been trying to compound elements which would not amalgamate ; that it must be either on his own merits wholly, or on Christ's merits wholly, that he must lean; and
that by introducing to any extent, his own righteousness into the ground of his meritorious acceptance with God, " he had been inserting a flaw,-he had been importing a falsehood into the very principle of his justification.”—Hanna's " Memoirs."
THE PROTESTANT VALLEYS OF DAUPHINE AND
(Continued from page 215.]
In company with M. Masson, the pastor, and young Alart, we commenced our arduous scramble to Dormilleuse,-the highest inhabited spot, and perhaps, one of the most secluded in Europe. The scenery was very bold. A conically-shaped rock towers at the summit of the valley, and many cascades pour gracefully down on both sides; one of these over-arching the pathway.
As we stood on the top of the rugged cliff, by the nearest hut of Dormilleuse, a living page of church history, extending over 1800 years, was spread before us in the valley beneath. This sterile spot—the home of the tempest and the avalanche-had been the home and sanctuary of the truth when Europe was in darkness. We beheld, in the distance, the precipices on which mothers and infants were indiscriminately dashed to pieces, or cruelly massacred; and we stood on the place where oft and again a mere handful of sturdy mountaineers had defied the chivalry of France and Rome. In their other mountain strongholds, they were frequently dispersed by superior numbers; but Dormilleuse, with its “munitions of rocks," has always been impregnable. No artillery was more effective than the masses of granite they hurled down upon their assailants below.
We found Dormilleuse invisible, till within fifty yards of its first hut. This happened to be Neff's summer residence. From its window, he commanded a bird's-eye view of his own rugged valley, with the villages of Minsas, Violins, and Fressiniere. This was the first cot we entered; and certainly it abundantly verified the truth of Dr. Gilly's description. We were ushered into a room which amicably domiciled hens, goats, calves, and human beings. Farther down the village, we inspected the