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be visited with the divine vengeance. Hence they want to receive their opinions—especially their religious opinions—upon authority; for by so doing they think that their own responsibility will cease. Some time ago I met an old friend, who told me he thought of becoming a Roman Catholic. I asked him why. “Well,” he said, “I'll tell you. Theology is in such an unsettled condition in my own denomination, that I don't know what I am to believe. One man, for example, teaches the eternity of future punishment; another insists on universalism; and a third maintains the doctrine of annihilation. One man holds the old substitutionary view of the atonement; and another the modern revelatory view. I should like to belong to a Church which would tell me authoritatively what I ought to believe, and then I would believe it.” This is not an uncommon state of mind. It has led thousands of men and women to join the Church of Rome.
Now it is quite true that the search for religious truth is a serious and solemn thing; and it is also true that this search often leads men for a time into a very unenviable state of perplexity, uncertainty, and doubt. The old foundations of their existence totter and threaten to fall, and
they feel as if they were sinking, sinking, sinking into the blackness of despair. But such a state of mind, though painful, is neither wicked nor ignoble. “Behold, I go forward,” said poor broken-hearted Job,—“Behold, I go forward, but He is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive Him: on the left hand, where He doth work, but I cannot behold Him: He hideth Himself on the right hand, that I cannot see Him. But He knoweth the way that I take; when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” If you would see this strikingly fulfilled, read the Life of Frederick Robertson.
The creed which a man accepts merely because he has been told it is correct, and which he has not made his own by thought, investigation and study, is for him a worthless creed. He does not really believe, but merely, as Coleridge puts it, “believes that he believes.” Holding his creed in this stupid way, it becomes to him, not (as it should be) a means to progress, but (as it should not be) a barrier against progress. He believes, as he thinks, what he ought to believe; hence he has no anxiety to make any further acquisitions; and even what he thinks he believes has no practical influence upon his life.
The only excuse to be made for such men is,
that they have not known the truth, and therefore they are ignorant what it is they are despising. “Ye shall know the truth,” said Christ, “and the truth shall make you free,”—free from such pitiful conceit, free from such contemptible indolence, free from such unworthy fear;
“ For Truth has such a face and such a mien,
As to be loved needs only to be seen.”
He who has once stood face to face with Truth, and gazed upon her matchless beauty, loves her with more than a lover's love, and will not grudge an eternity of effort or of peril, spent in wooing and winning her for his own.
THE VALUE OF MANLINESS.
“Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalein, 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.
T HAVE already mentioned that the word used 1 for man in the Hebrew of our text is a term which stands for a high type of man as distinguished from a low. Some are men in outward semblance only, but the manly man or hero is a man in soul. His character is manly and heroic. According to Jeremiah, he has two distinguishing attributes. 1. He does right. He obeys the dictates of conscience, however strong may be the enticements of expediency or of pleasure; feeling that, “because right is right, to choose the right is wisdom, in the scorn of consequence.” 2. He seeks truth. He does not profess to believe things merely because others believe them. He examines, to the best of his ability, the worth of currently received opinions; and, recognising that his actual knowledge involves but the most fragmentary acquaintance with the truth, he strives diligently and continuously to make further acquisitions. Upon these points I have already dwelt.
Such a conception of manhood no doubt is idealistic. The best of us will sometimes slip. The wisest of us will sometimes feel incapable of mental effort. But it behoves us to ask ourselves whether or not this ideal is our standard of excellence, towards which we are honestly and earnestly doing our utmost to approximate.
It remains now to consider the value of true manliness. I need scarcely say that, from the point of view of political economy, it is a worthless possession, or even worse than worthless. It is not a marketable commodity. It will not increase any one's income, nor improve his position in society. History teaches us that men who have been, in any marked degree, wiser or better than the vulgar herd, have usually suffered in proportion to their superiority. Those to whom Greece was most indebted, for example,