Page images

Born with a deceitful heart, and prone, like other men, to go astray as soon as he is born, speaking lies;" the first and most inveterate enemy the youthful Valiant finds to encounter, is his own evil nature. Happy is it for him if, sensible of the plague of his own heart, and having it cleansed by the blood of the Lamb, he gains the help invariably rendered to all who seek it from that Spirit, whose office it is to “guide us into all truth.” Even in the nursery and play room, must the baby Valiant learn to be on the alert, for his proper dread of parental discipline, or laudable desire for approbation, present continual allurements to compromise his integrity, to deny his faults, to magnify childish virtues, to make careless statements of exaggeration, to cheat at marbles or to appropriate a companion's bauble, to allow blame to rest upon the innocent. How often are the cat and dog the convenient dumb scape-goats for the censure which more properly appertains to their juvenile owners! That was a noble boy who declared, in answer to a proposal of holding his empty hat as a bait for his strayed pony, “No! that would be cheating him, and I would not cheat even a horse!” So he forthwith filled the hat with grass.

The context of the passage, whence the family name is derived, evidently implies, that the truth” signifies moral and practical honesty, not merely the belief and diffusion of certain doctrines; consequently, they are not valiant-for-the-truth who cannot forego deception, even in sport, for the truth's sakem who would win a game at cricket or bowls, by placing their antagonists at a disadvantage-or, who would make bye laws at an archery meeting, which shall exclude half the aspirants for the prize, after the fashion of “the Master Sweepstakes!"

The school room and college hall also present an arena for trial, demanding increased efforts of undaunted heroism. School is a miniature world, and temptations are there more varied, more insidious, than in the bosom of an affectionate home circle. None but the youthful Christian can know how difficult it is to endure valiantly the warfare of tongues which contemn and assault his aim to keep the badge of truth unsullied. He is stigmatized as coward, if he refuse to take the name of his God in vain l-Miser, if he decline to join in swindling or plunder !--Tell-tale and spy, if compelled to bear Toe stimony as his companies iniquity? Hypocrite and sms, * set stads Bible and persevere in regular desatice: The master be has to bear, is that of being “sent so Cerestry is zici tor: bat like Daniel at the Barco 22. te voeg Tsisnt be enabled to maintain

ency bedre God. zo sner of burt will be found sper - He a seeth secret, will reward him

Pistal as these cirensstances sy be, they are salutary disqëse, and trace up the character for more important conflicts.

Haring prored the mot at school and in college, the Toeg om goes Seth is the name of the Lord, so girded about with the preparatite the gospel. that the sling and the stone os ruas sehilste formidable opposers. A complete pencs, burete, is st hand: and with the helmet of salvation, the treast piste of truth, and the shield of faith, in addition to the sword of the Spirit, brately does the yonng man fulfil the campaign of the season!

Aas! he is assailed where he least expected it! Parents have been careful in selecting his business oceupation, his commercial instructors,--and he is astounded that men, bearing the Christian rame, members of the Saviour's visible church, should require his connivance at evading taxes-taking advantage of legal quibbles, and playing upon the ignorance of customers. We transcribe, from Dr. Hamilton, an eloquent description of such every-day tests :

“When called to give your testimony for Christ, the flesh may be weak, and the willing word like to expire in your choking utterance. It is not Nero's hall, but a quiet parlour you are entering; but, before you come out again, you may be a poor and friendless man. The yes or no of one faithful moment may have spurned the ladder of promotion from under your feet, and dashed your brightest hopes on this side the grave. Or by the time the letter you are now penning is closed, and sealed, and posted, and the sinful assent, or the compromising proposal, or the resolute refusal is written, the Lord Jesus will have said, 'I know thy works,' with his sentence of approval or condemnation.”

And so, through life, is the genuine Valiant-for-the-truth

beset. Pecuniary difficulties, or temporal allurements may beguile him into some “accommodating transactions” which will not bear the scrutiny of that Judge, who declares that the light weight and short measure are his abhorrence,--who even specifies “the false balance” as “an abomination !"

Nor are the daughters of this ancient race less exercised in their more retired sphere. In early youth, similar training awaits them ; but as time brings them to maturer age, the guerdon of insiñcerity wears more appropriate fascination. It is no easy. matter to withstand the solicitations of admiring affection, the offer of every earthly blessing, as the reward of a compromise with conscience; and in social intercourse, how much easier to adopt the fashionable phrase—“Not at home," than to risk offending influential acquaintance by any obsolete scruples as to the propriety of using words which bear not their true meaning. But the rule-Whatsoever ye do, do it as to the Lord,” decides the point; and the Lady Valiant will dare to be singular and courageously confess she is engaged, when her vocations render company inconvenient. Nor is so trifling a change to be deemed insignificant--for once pass the Rubicon -break the hallowed bond of truthfulness-and it is easy to repeat the sin, to loosen the already-lax principle, till everyo thing is sacrificed.

The Valiant-for-the-truth family never break-never forget their promises. Indeed they make but few; for they anticipate the probability of unforeseen hindrances to their designs.

There is an indescribable, an irresistible charm in a truthful character. It commands the involuntary respect and confidence of all around. Its possessor is raised above many difficulties ; for the Tempter dåres not ask him to countenance, much less to partake of, his evil' deeds. Half the perplexities of human society arise from want of truthfulness. It has often been remarked, that no novel could be prolonged through the accustomed three volumes; but for some concealment, some lack of openness among the “dramatis persona.". And in ordinary life, there is perpetual manoeuvring, false play, or double dealing. Few have sufficient moral courage to make their yea, yea;

and their nay, nay!

In his spiritual pilgrimage too, the Valiant-for-the-truth passes lightly over the Slough of Despond. His eyes are never too dim to see " the stepping stones.” Moreover he is quite beyond the reach of Giant Despair, and Doubting Castle. He always means what he says, -how can he mistrust the promise of an Almighty helper? Prospects may lower; earthly resources be cut off; refuge fail; but it is written, “They that trust in the Lord shall not want any good thing;" and so he pursues his happy course, "resting upon the word on which God hath caused him to hope;" and like Daniel, realizing its fulfilments because he believed in the Lord his God!

If the life of the Valiants be happy, spite of external suffering, so most blessed are their deaths! Bravely do they meet the last enemy, whether his summons be sudden and hasty, or affording leisurely farewells to accompanying friends! Truly do they enjoy an abundant entrance into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ! Well may "the trumpets sound for them on the other side" of the river of death, while the Master's voice greets them with, “Well done, good and faithful servants, enter into the joy of your Lord !"

E. W. P.

REASON AND FAITH. EVERY day's experience shews us what a common and easy thing it is to believe, whilst at the same time it convinces us how difficult and uncommon it is to believe rightly. In nine cases out of ten, “ the wish is father to the thought." We are disposed to think that true which we desire should be so. Many statements are received without the least enquiry into their common sense, and a habit of speaking, and hearing, and reading carelessly, is thus encouraged. This is just what God intended should not be the case when he gave us the faculty of Reason, that we might think, associate, compare, and analyse. The lower animals have no power to do this, and yet they are not half so credulous as man. It is really easier, wilfully or unintentionally to deceive a fellow-creature, than a horse or a dog. This, though a true, is so strange a state of things, that at all events it deserves investigation. There must be a fault somewhere: let us, if we can, trace it out and amend it.

To believe on proper evidence is a right thing ; but to believe blindly, a very dangerous one. We ridicule the heathen for believing all the impossibilities recorded of his gods; and the catholic for yielding implicit obedience to the unauthorized and ridiculous dogmas of his spiritual advisers; but in many things the professing Christian is equally foolish, and his cre. dulity as unsubstantial and unenlightened.

The Bible is most decidedly opposed to such faith as this. " I speak as unto wise men," said Paul, “judge ye what I say." “ Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” The' nobility of the Bereans consisted in their staid, and advised, and cautious reception of even apostolic preaching they searched the Scriptures" before they agreed to give it full credence, and are commended for it by the evangelist who records the fact. Nothing can be more open and manly than the appeals of the Bible, whether it addresses us by fact, or narrative or precept. The great teachings of that book will not only bear, but actually demand, the light. "Come now and let us reason together saith the Lord.” Sovereign as he is, he commands in no despotic tone. The whirlwind and the fire are not his accustomed channels of communication: he is in the “ still small voice" of Reason, commending itself to the conscience, working in us and out from us, and not impelling us by any extraneous power to blind or unwilling submission. The lively hope to which His Word begets us, is not enough; we must be able to give "a reason” for it. Yet how few even of those who profess and call themselves Christians can do this. We

e can imagine that it will be argued against all this, that there are many things in the Bible which Reason cannot understand, and that therefore, if believed at all, they must be believed ignorantly. Many well-meaning persons will urge, and have urged, that these truths are not contrary to Reason, though they are certainly beyond or above it. But if a thing be beyond Reason, it cannot be measured by it, to know whether it is, or is not, consistent with it. So that this plea will not stand. What then is to be done? The answer is very easy.

Reason is well defined to be “the power by which man deduces one proposition from another, or proceeds from premises to consequences.” Beginning therefore with the proposition,

« PreviousContinue »