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WILLIAM INNES, 31 HANOVER STREET;
“ The great question, What is truth ? seems to have been proposed afresh to the civilized and listening world.
The human mind is starting with new eagerness in the course of discovery ; the magic influence of authority is sunk to rise no more; evidence alone will in future be accepted as proof; all systems will be examined ; all creeds will be tried ; all churches will be weighed in the balance of revelation ; all opinions will be sifted, and by the various and conficting winds of doctrine that are rising and murmuring along the horizon, every light will be blown out but that of truth ; and all the devices of error will be scattered like chaff upon the mountains. One auspicious sign of the times is apparent, which we hail with a fearless and delighted mind,--the Bible, amidst all the stir and the strife, is seen ascending to a higher altitude above the clouds and currents of opposing opinions, and Christians are coming to an agreement upon the arbiter of their differences."
This eloquent sentence was written somewhere about twenty years ago, in a temperate and valuable tract “ On Dissent," by John A. James. If it was a correct representation of the state of public opinion then, among a large class of professing Christians, it is more emphatically so nou. The recent aggressions of the Pope have constrained Christians, of alț denominations to fall back on the grand fundamental principle, that The Bible and the Bible alone is the religion of Protestants.—It is by this test, that I wish the following “ Hints” to be tried.
I feel I stand on vantage ground—I am not pledged to any system of polity, and can feel for brethren who so far are so, that they cannot, without much inconvenience, make the smallest alteration on that to which they have publicly given their adherence. Infallibility is claimed by the Church of Rome, but is it by her alone ? Touch
any of our peculiarities, and who is not disposed to wince. The late Mr. Fuller, in writing to a lady who had lost her husband, said, I am always disposed to be resigned in general, it is only when I come to particulars I fail.—So, in general, we all admit our fallibility, but in parą ticulars we feel the difficulty.
It has often been suggested that, while it is one advantage of the Evangelical Alliance, that, by bringing Christians of different denominations into friendly intercourse, they see more clearly that in the most essential points they are all one ; another may be, to make them look with more candour at those in which they differ,--to exer-, cise greater forbearance, and be more willing to examine the grounds on which such difference rests. In a beautiful description of a clergyman, (the Rev. Zachary Mudge,) given by Dr. Johnson, it is observed, in accounting for his
forbearance with those who differed from him, that “ knowing with what difficulty Truth is found, he did not wonder that many missed it.”
We have the following magnificent description from Milton, in his “ Treatise on Education," of the way in which Truth was treated when she first appeared among men :
“ Truth, indeed, once came into the world with her Divine Master, and was a perfect form, most glorious to look on ; but when He ascended, and His Apostles, after Him, were laid asleep, then strait arose a wicked race of deceivers, who, (as that story goes of the Egyptian Typhon with his conspirators, how they dealt with the good Osiris,) took the Virgin Truth, hewed Her lovely form into a thousand pieces, and scattered to the four winds. From that time, ever since the sad friends of Truth, such as durst appear, imitating the careful search that Isis made for the mangled body of Osiris, went up and down, gathering up limb by limb, still as they could find them. We have not yet found them all, Lords and Commons, nor ever shall do, till Her Master's second coming; he shall bring together every joint and member, and shall mould them into an immortal feature of loveliness and perfection. Suffer not these licencing prohibitions to stand at every place of opportunity, forbidding and disturbing them that continue seeking, that continue to do our obsequies to the torn body of our martyred Saint.”
To this splendid passage from our great poet I add another from one of the most eloquent