« AnteriorContinuar »
disposed, might fetch it and give it him for a football. You laugh at the child who sets himself the task of carrying away the waters of the ocean in his tiny pail. You laugh at the barbarian who fancies, when he first comes upon the sea, that he has reached the end of the world. You would laugh if a man who proposed to build himself a house, became so pleased with the foundation that he thought it unnecessary to go on with the building. You would laugh if an athlete, who was going to run a race, grew enamoured of the arrangements at the first end of the course, and while others were pressing on towards the goal, contented himself with running round and round the starting-post. But I will tell you of something more laughable still. There is no conceivable object in the universe of God half so ludicrous or absurd, as the being who thinks that as soon as he can repeat his creed like a parrot, he has mastered truth; who imagines that truth — illimitable, infinite, ever-unfolding truth—is deposited in a corner of his own finite mind,-a mind that is not only finite but small, shrivelled into almost nothing for the want of use. Did I say such an one was a fit object for laughter? I was wrong. I should have said for tears; for he too might have been a man.
What, then, is the conclusion of the whole matter? Why, this. Truth has heights and depths and lengths and breadths, which eternity itself will be too short to traverse and explore. Truth is high as heaven, deep as hell, broad as the universe, infinite as God, everlasting as eternity. The answer to the question, “What is truth?” is one which will be ever telling, yet never completely told. In our present state we are at a disadvantage. We are painfully conscious that there is
“ A deep below the deep,
And a height beyond the height:
And our seeing is not sight.” But, throughout the never-ending cycles of eternity, we may, if we will, continually rise, by means of the truths already acquired, as upon stepping-stones, to truth still higher, still nobler, still more sublime.
“Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now,
and know, and seek in the broad places thereof, if ye can find a man, if there be any that executeth judgment, that seeketh the truth; and I will pardon it.”—JEREMIAH v. 1.
[N Hebrew, just as in Latin and Greek and 1 other languages, there are two words for Man,—the one applicable to the whole human species, as distinguished from the lower animals, the other applicable only to those who possess the noblest characteristics of manhood—to those whom, in English, we should call manly men, or heroes. It is, of course, the latter of these words that is used in our text. There were thousands of beings in Jerusalem who had the outward semblance of men; but the question was, whether
any of them had a manly character. Alas! the expression, “a manly man,” is by no means tautological. The noun refers to the body, the adjective to the soul. It is quite possible to have the body of a man and the soul of a baby; or worse, to have the body of a man and the soul of a beast; or worst of all, to have the body of a man and the soul of a fiend.
Two qualities are mentioned in our text as characteristic of the real, genuine, bonâ fide man -he executeth judgment, and seeketh the truth. Executing judgment may be better expressed in modern English by the phrase “doing right.” And there is no article before the word truth in the original, so it should be taken in its widest signification. A manly man, then, is one who does right and seeks for truth.
I may perhaps just point out, parenthetically in passing, that the same qualities are characteristic of a womanly woman. Women should be in some respects different from men, though not a few of them at present seem in danger of forgetting this. We do not admire—if we be refined and sensible persons—women who dress like men, and walk like men, and talk like men, and look like men. And similarly we do not like a woman whose character, considered as a
whole, would be called masculine. There are qualities which are charming in a woman but contemptible in a man. There are qualities, again, which both should possess, but which we expect to find more highly developed in the one sex than in the other. But the genuine woman, no less than the genuine man, must do right and seek truth.
I have selected this passage from the Old Testament because it sums up in a striking manner almost the whole of what I shall have to say. The doctrine of the Old Testament in regard to manliness is, however, the doctrine of the New. The importance of what, in theological language, is called “works,” is not diminished, but increased, in the Christian dispensation. Genuine faith in Christ inevitably produces a more or less Christlike life. Some professed followers of the Nazarene are so utterly ignorant of the first principles of His religion, as to believe that the advantage of being a Christian lies mainly in the fact that it relieves them from the necessity of doing right. If such persons have ever opened their Bibles, they certainly cannot have read as far as the seventh chapter of St Matthew's Gospel, where we read, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the