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WHAT IS TRUTH?

BY THE AUTHOR OF PETER PARLEY'S TALES.

It is a question yet involved in the mazes of metaphysics, whether the mind exists before sensation. But however this may be, it seems first called into exercise by the senses, which rap at the door, and call up the sleeper to a consciousness of existence. The eye opens and reveals a world of realities. The touch, the taste, the ear, the olfactory nerve, all come like busy messengers to the waking spirit, each bearing some reality to the mind. One brings the ray of light, another tones of music, another odours and incense, another sensations of taste. They are all presenters of realities, all dealers in facts, all ministers of truth.

This is the first visible process of intellectual and spiritual existence; and it is to be noted that as the body begins to be developed through the instrumentality of food, the mind begins to be developed by the instrumentality of truth. Nature, the great nurse, has provided for the nutriment and growth of the one as well as of the other. She has made as careful and as ample provision for feeding and fostering the mind, whose nutriment is truth, as for invigorating and perfecting the body, which depends on substantial aliment. The relation, then, which the mind bears to truth, is similar to that which the body bears to wholesome food. Truth is the aliment of the mind.

It may be further remarked, that the intellectual faculties receive their power and use from the existence of truth and their adaptation to it. Perception is but an artist whose pictures are all portraits; memory is a recorder of realities; belief is the assent of the mind to facts; reason is a weigher and gauger of truth's merchandises. Even fairy fancy weaves her silken fabrics of the fibres of truth. There are no dreams, even, previous to experience, and the wing of imagination can only carry us to new combinations of scenes furnished by realities. As no mixture of hues can go beyond the colours of the rainbow, so fancy can produce no picture, the lights and shades of which do not consist of truth.

Existence itself is but an appreciation of truth, yet it is a reality of which consciousness assures us. The minute philosophers have contended that man can neither demonstrate his own existence nor that of matter. This poor quibble was well answered by Dr. JohnBoswell tells us, that when walking in a field with the great moralist, he pointed to a stone, and asked the doctor if he could prove its existence. To this the latter replied in the affirmative and stamping upon the stone, exclaimed, "Thus I prove it!"

son.

Existence is a reality too clear for proof; it goes before and rests in a conviction to which external evidence can add no force. We

feel that we live and breathe, and have a being. Imagination may amuse, dreams may beguile us. Fiction may transport us to other climes for a moment, but truth draws us down to a world of realities. Gravitation ties our bodies to the earth; hunger and thirst pursue us; hope beckons to us; fear warns us; passion tempts us. Expectation, love, friendship, gratitude, anger, hatred, suspicion-all struggle in the bosom and declare the reality of existence. There is a never-dying desire of happiness, a sleepless aversion to pain within the breast, which comes every moment to rap at the door of the house we live in, and wake up the tenant to the assurance that life is no dream, no fiction, no fading fancy; but an inevitable truth, a stern reality, a fixed, unalterable fact!

The force and meaning of existence lies in the fact that we feel! If there were no pleasure and no pain, if we were not endowed with a capacity for happiness or misery-and were it not that we are perpetually realizing the one or the other, existence would be a blank without interest or significance. But we are roused to an appreciation of good and evil, and we cannot shake off our desires of the one, nor our dread of the other.

The activity of the mind renders this capacity of a man a matter of almost fearful interest. Let a person turn his eye in upon himself, and how rapid is the flood of ideas, pouring in a ceaseless cataract through his mind. The wing of thought never seems to flag. Even in dreams it is still busy, and flies with a swifter and more daring pinion. And every thought brings to the breast its quality of good or evil; every thing tastes of pleasure or pain. The mind is perpetually grinding at the mill, and never without its grist of happiness or misery.

This view of the subject acquires interest from the reflection that man, thus endowed with existence, and constituted with powers of appreciating pleasure and pain, and with a ceaseless activity of these powers, is also to know no end. Existence to him is not a lease of ninety-nine years, or nine hundred and ninety-nine years; but it is a fee-simple, and that without the power of alienation. The instinct of all nations, in all ages, assures man of his immortality. The sail of thought once spread, its voyage is upon a shoreless deep; the car of intelligence once started, it is upon a tract that knows no terminus.

Whoever doubts this, it would seem, must doubt in the face of the highest evidence. The voice of instinct is the voice of truth. Nature's inscriptions are never false. She tells the lion and the tiger that flesh is their proper food, and she tells the truth; she tells the deer and the sheep to feed on herbs, and her counsel is wisdom; she guides the heron and the bittern to the pool, and there they find the prey that is adapted to their organization. She instructs the bee in the economy of the hive; and the mathematican finds with wonder that Nature has been an honest school

master, teaching the unlettered insect the profoundest results of human science. The migratory bird, without chart or compassand all unskilled in logarithms-is guided in safety from one zone to another. The waterfowl, brought into life upon our northern lakes, with no almanac to predict, no experience to instruct, still hears a voice in the breeze, whispering of winter, and warning it away to far-off climes of southern summer. In all these cases, instinct is the voice of truth. There is no instance in which an universal instinct is a lie. And if the voice of Nature, calling the birds away, and guiding them from one zone to another, be true, surely that Voice is true which has assured man in all ages, that he, too, is bound to another country, and another home!

SEPARATE SERVICES FOR SUNDAY-SCHOOL CHILDREN.

BY THE REV. SAMUEL MARTIN.

THE times in which we live, are marked by earnest inquiry into the utility and rectitude of all public institutions and procedure. The “fan” is in every man's hand, and it is employed on every "floor." Thoughtful men regard this universal winnowing with mingled feelings: complacency and disapprobation, joy and sorrow, hope and fear are excited by different aspects of this same circumstance, and alternate with the character of the phase which this circumstance wears. It cannot be expected that no wheat will be driven away with the chaff; but yet it may be hoped that immediately an extensive separation will be effected between things useful and things useless; and that ultimately every grain of precious wheat will be garnered, and the chaff burned with unquenchable fire. He who has truth and right on his side will not faint when his own opinions and procedure are subjected to a sifting process; and although when he sees the threshing instrument recklessly and wantonly used, fear and kindred emotion may disquiet his heart, as he looks on the results which must ultimately be gained, the language of his soul must be, "I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice." The real friends of Sabbath-school instruction will not barricade their floor and say, "No man with fan in hand shall enter here." They wil not, by repressing discussion among Sabbath-school teachers, "muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn." But we overdrive our figure. Who is there, having an intelligent and earnest attachment to Sabbath-school teaching, that wishes to perpetuate modes and plans, simply because they were established some twenty, thirty, forty, or fifty years ago? We ought to grow out of our modes of working, as in the days of our childhood, to the cost of our parents, our extending limbs exceeded the dimensions of our garments. "I said days should speak and years teach wisdom." As we learn by experience in other matters, we ought to gain wisdom in our Sabbath-school operations by the trial of past labours. and the test of by-gone years. Let us go on unto perfection. If in our Sabbath-school enterprise some instrumentality appear useless, let us take away the branch that beareth not fruit; if any mode of action

appear to need revision, let us prune that branch that it may bring forth more fruit: if the whole tree appear sickly and weak, let us not hesitate to ply even the root-let us dig about it, and dung it; and by every available means let barrenness be kept far away from our Sabbath-school vineyard. With these remarks we introduce the subject of this Paper, viz., "The attendance of Sabbath-school children on religious services professedly conducted for adults; and the propriety of establishing an order of worship and ministration suited to the juvenile mind."

The public services of most Christian congregations consist in worship and preaching: the former including prayer, praise, confession of sin and thanksgiving; the latter including instruction, warning, correction, reproof and consolation. Blended with worship and preaching is the communion of saints. Those who conduct these services contemplate, chiefly if not exclusively, the minds and hearts of adults. Liturgies have been compiled, and extemporaneous prayer is offered, in view of the state and feelings of the adult. And so far as the individual conducting these exercises throws himself into the services, it is the thought and feeling of a man that is expressed. The minister could by the aid of memory and imagination cast himself back into the position of a child; and he could put forth the thinkings and the feelings of those who have not put away childish things; but he does it not in these services, and for obvious reasons. In the majority of instances children are a minority in the congregation; but even if children be the majority these services are not instituted for them. The minister has been called on these particular occasions, to lead the devotions of adults and to preach to adults. On these occasions the case of the adult is the more important; and no man, in our judgment, can at the same time successfully minister to persons of widely distant years.

Let us define the word "children." We mean by it, all whose modes of thought, currents of feeling, and forms of speech, are some grade or grades below the mind and heart and tongue of men and women; and who are in this inferior position by reason of their tender years. There are infants in age who are men in soul; there are men in years who are infants in soul. These cases are, however, exceptions: the rule is, that a human being between five and fifteen years, is in capacity a sphere below his fellow-creatures from above twenty years of age.

If the Bible contained any law upon the subject of children's attendance on Divine worship, we need but to direct every Sabbath-school teacher to that book of statutes, and ask, "What readest thou?" But we have found no precept concerning this matter. If instances of children attending general worship were rcorded in the New Testament, we might refer to the authority of precedent. But we are not aware that the Bible records such cases. The Hebrew male children from twelve years old were required to go up with their fathers three times a year to Jerusalem; but in this is neither law nor precedent on the question before us. We are left to judge by what appears wise and likely to be useful. And thus judging, we are prepared to advise-" Appoint and conduct separate services for Sabbath-school children." Our reasons for this advice are as follow:

First, Services adapted to children can alone be expected to beget among

the young, the habit of attending public worship.—We take this argument from the lips of those who advocate the attendance of children on ordinary public services. They say, "hereby you form the habit of attending God's house." From this we entirely dissent. Is it in the character of our ordinary services to interest children, and can it be? Is not the heart of an adult-in its tones, and the mind of an adult-in its operations, and the circumstances of an adult-in their seriousness, distinct from the condition, feelings and thoughts of children; and is there sufficient in common to the adult and child to render what is interesting to the former interesting to the latter? Distinct amusements, separate pursuits, individual companionships, say-" Decidedly not." But where interest is not felt habit is not formed; or, if habit be formed, it is destitute of the element of intelligence and of conscience. Without appealing to facts, therefore, we affirm, that the habit of attending public worship cannot be formed by children attending services not adapted to their case. But what is the evidence of circumstances? So far as our personal observation and our inquiry extends, we are constrained to say, the habit affirmed is not created by children attending general wor ship. The habits of listlessness, wandering of the eyes, restlessness, playing, talking, wishing for the final Amen, longing for the time when they can spend their Sabbath as they please, and such like, are formed; and regarding our Sabbath-school children en masse, we know of no other. Upon this point there are certain forward witnesses whose testimony must be rejected. These are the Christians who sit comfortably in their pews on the Lord's day, and who pleasantly dream that children sit as they sit these are the Sabbath-school teachers who never sit in the children's gallery, but who talk most glibly of the ease with which children are kept quiet-these are the church-members and churchofficers who would put children into places of worship for show, or to occupy vacant pews, as the hair-dresser puts blocks in his window, or as the clothier suspends suits in his show-room-these are the religious conservatives who imagine that when they protect from invasion the cus toms which years have sanctioned, they necessarily preserve what is useful and good. Such witnesses are not competent, and their testimony is little worth. But the Sabbath-school teacher who sits with the chil dren, and who wishes to see them enter into public worship, will tell us that bad, not good habits, are formed by the attendance of Sabbathscholars on the services of ordinary worship. We do not mean to assert that no careful, intelligent and earnest teacher will defend the present system; but we speak of majorities not minorities, of rules and not of exceptions. Appealing to the bulk of devoted teachers on this subject. we think we can anticipate the nature of their reply. If we say to them, "Is it a fact that the majority of our Sabbath-scholars attend public worship when they leave our schools?" Their answer will be, “We think not." And if we add, "Of those who continue to frequent the house of prayer, how many come because they were brought in the ranks of the school?" Their reply will be, Few, very few-perhaps none." Now we do not affirm, that services for children would! necessarily and invariably beget the habit of attending worship; but this we say hereby no impediment would be put to its formation as in the present case; means adapted to the end would be employed, and on

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