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“Some subjects are so vast, Edward, that the human mind cannot possibly grasp the whole, and then it is not wonderful that different men should dwell upon different parts of a subject; and of course, that which they have contemplated most, seems to them the most important."
“Ah! I can understand, papa, how an astronomer may think most of the stars, and a botanist most of plants; but I mean in reference to truth and justice. Ought not every body to think alike upon truth ?”
“A large proportion of the human race, my son, have no access to the source of truth, but are taught error from infancy."
“Well then, papa, how is it that people who have the same Bible, and profess to be guided by its wisdom, still think so differently as your visitors yesterday?”.
"Perhaps, my dear, we all read the Scriptures with our colored spectacles on, and thus invest the sacred text with a hue of our own fancy.”
“What can you mean, dear papa ?” exclaimed all the young people in a breath—“we none of us possess colored spectacles."
“Not material spectacles of visible glass, I grant you," answered Mr. Deacon, smiling, “and yet, not to mention the natural dimness of men's depraved and sinful vision, it is scarcely possible for parents and teachers to avoid giving, or children to avoid receiving, a certain bias in all religious as well as other instruction,—which may be compared to the aspect under which every surrounding object appears when viewed through colored glasses. Hence you observe denominational distinctions so frequently transmitted from generation to generation ;-even family peculiarities of thought and diction, respecting religious truth, are handed down from father to son as accurately as the family likeness.”
" Then, papa, before we make sure that our own opinions are the most correct, might we not fancy how the same subjects would appear to other Scripture students ?”
"Such a plea as that would perhaps prevent many heartburnings among Christian brethren who ought to be mutually forbearing upon points of minor importance-such as the observance of days, the form of apparel, or the order of social
worship,—but the most liberal-minded disciple upon these heads must be uncompromising upon others.” . “How can we distinguish these, papa ?”
“St. Paul forbids any religious communion with those who deny the divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, or with those who professing themselves his followers, disgrace his cause by immorality. Especially beware, my dear children, of regarding sin and sinful pleasures through the false glare of colored glasses."
“Please explain your meaning a little more, papa ?” said Edward.
“An elegant writer asserts that vice itself loses half its evil by losing all its grossness', but this is not the sentiment of the Bible. The Bible warns us against Satan transforming himself to an angel of light, and he needs to be stripped of his borrowed rags to startle you from his temptations."
“I never thought of that danger, papa!" said Edward, thoughtfully.
“One of the most common methods by which Satan has blinded the eyes of our minds is by tinging them thus, making us to see through a glass darkly; so that one looks with a jaundiced jealous vision upon every object; tracing nothing but misrule and misery in the dominion of his Maker,—nought but evil in his fellow-men. Another condemns all who dare to dissent from his own august and infallible opinion. One uses glasses so distorted as to magnify every defect, and to diminish every excellence, while the world and its pursuits are invested with the most attractive hues, and the fleeting concerns of time are rendered paramount to the endless condition of eternity."
“Oh, papa, what a dismal list of faults you are making, and yet I am sure it is very true," replied Jessie, " for if you had been with us last evening, you would have seen exact specimens in Miss C. and Mrs. G.”
“Stay, Jessie !” interrupted Mr. Deacon, “I do not wish you to enumerate the motes in your brother's eyes, but to consider what beam rests in your own, obscuring all truth, or tinging it with some hue foreign to its pure light.”
“Indeed, dear papa! I think I only see things as they really
* Vy dear Jessie, Jesus says “The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single-(or sound,--healthy, as the original idiom gives it) thy whole body shall be full of light; but if thine eye be evil (or diseased) thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness. Moreover the ascended Saviour's message from heaven counsels those who know not that they are blind, to anoint their eyes with eyesalve that they may see ;-a significant expression for dispelling the false medium which has hitherto deceived them.”
“But cannot you tell me wherein I am blind, dear papa ? And yet," continued Jessie, turning with a blush to her brother and sister, “I do not quite want to hear in public !"
“ It would be better for each of you, my children,” rejoined their father affectionately, “to seek in private that God himself would · enlighten the eyes of your understanding' by his own Holy Spirit, to detect the peculiar defects of your characters, and seek to have them removed by the cleansing efficacy of the Redeemer's atoning blood."
“But how shall we learn to look at other people through a true medium, papa ?"
“In respect to the heart, my dears," answered Mr. Deacon, " you will find the truth of a general remark of ancient date : 'that those who attend well to the work of their own houses, will find enough to do without looking out of their windows.'But when an opinion upon others is quite unavoidable, remember, how, in addition to human depravity, a thousand influences of circumstances-of education of companionship-of temperament--of weal or of woe, may have modified them and their characters and opinions, and never omit the use of that graceful eye-glass--the charity which thinketh no evil-but believeth all things-hopeth all things_endureth all things.'"
E. W. P.
ZEAL AND LUKEWARMNESS. A converted Indian, when he overheard some strictures on too great eagerness in religion, remarked, “Surely it is better that the pot should boil over, than not boil at all.”
CHALMERS, THE BIBLE STUDENT. Richard Baxter, who was a favorite author with Dr. Chalmers when a young man, has left behind him this impressive testimony—“To tell you the truth, while I busily read what other men said in their controversies, my mind was so prepossessed with their notions, that I could not possibly see the truth in its own native and naked evidence; and when I entered into public disputations, though I was truly willing to know the truth, my mind was so forestalled with borrowed notions, that I chiefly studied how to make good the opinions which I had received, and ran farther from the truth. Yea, when I read the truth, I did not consider and understand it; and when I heard it from them whom I opposed in wrangling disputations, or read it in books of controversy, I discerned it least of all; till at last, being in my sickness cast far from home, where I had no book but my Bible, I set myself to study the truth from thence; and so, by the blessing of God, discovered more in one week, than I had done before in seventeen years' reading, hearing, and wrangling.”
His own intuitive sagacity suggested to Mr. Chalmers what experience had taught Baxter. From the beginning of his religious course he was most sensitively afraid lest the truth, as God had revealed it, should come to him distorted or mutilated, because coming in the form in which it was presented in human systems, or in theological controversies. His primary and most earnest effort was to derive his Christianity immediately from the Divine Oracles-to lay his whole being broadly open-to take off from the sacred page the exact and the full impression of Divine truth in the very form and proportions in which it was there set forth. We find him consequently writing to his younger brother Patrick_“I look upon Baxter and Doddridge as two most impressive writers, and from whom you are most likely to carry away the impression that a preparation for eternity should be the main business and anxiety of time. But after all, the Bible should be the daily exercise of those who have decidedly embarked in this great business, and if read with the earnest sense and feeling of its being God's message-if perused with the same awe and veneration and confidence as if the words were actually coming out of his mouth-if while you read, you read with the desire and the prayer that it might be with understanding and profit, you are in a far more direct road to becoming 'wise unto salvation" than any other that can possibly be recommended to you. There is no subject on which people are readier to form rash opinions than religion. The Bible is the best corrective to these. A man should set down to it with the determination of taking his lesson just as he finds it—of founding his creed upon the sole principle of “Thus saith the Lord,” and deriving his every idea and his every impression of religious truth from the authentic record of God's will.
His regular and earnest study of the Bible was one of the first and most noticeable effects of Mr. Chalmers's conversion. His nearest neighbour and most frequent visitor was old John Bonthron, who, having once seen better days, was admitted to an easy and privileged familiarity, in the exercise of which, one day before the memorable illness, he said to Mr. Chalmers, “I find you aye busy, sir, with one thing or another, but, come when I may, I never find you at your studies for the Sabbath.”
“Oh, an hour or two on Saturday evening is quite enough for that," was the minister's answer.
But now the change had come, and John on entering the manse often found Mr. Chalmers poring eagerly over the pages of the Bible. The difference was too striking to escape notice, and with the freedom given him, which he was ready enough to use, he said, “I never come in now, sir, but I find you aye at your Bible.”
“ All too little, John, all too little," was the significant reply.
His journal furnishes the following information. Under 29th September, 1812, he states, “I finished this day my perusal of the New Testament by daily chapters, in which my object was to commit striking passages to memory. I mean to begin its perusal anew, in which this object shall be renewed, and the object of fixing upon one sentiment of the chapter for habitual and recurring contemplation through the day shall be added to the former."
That he might come into immediate contact with the truth in the very words in which it was first made known, he recommenced his study of the Greek and Hebrew languages. “I visited him," says his old neighbour Mr. Smith, in the year 1811.” At that time he informed me that he had determined to