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ruler in Israel” had evidently failed to comprehend the vital element in His ministry. In this conversation between two great teachers, the greatest of the two affirmed that a teacher should be known by what he says and not by what he does—by the truth which he utters and not the miracle which he works. Miracles belong to the physical or material realm, but Truth belongs to the realm of the spiritual. To the limited view and narrow comprehension of a Nicodemus, a revived or resurrected physical frame was of more value and importance than an eternal truth or an everlasting reality. Nicodemus was a learned and cultured aristocrat, representing the highest ideals of orthodox Jewish society, but in the philosophy of his soul he was a materialist. A miracle had disturbed the materialistic equilibrium of his mind and therefore his amazement, consternation and apologetic attitude, expressed in the carefully chosen words of approach, as he stepped into the presence
of the Nazarene. The design of Jesus was not to glorify the material, or to magnify the physical, but to reveal the spiritual. Truth is the philosophy of the spiritual realm. The truth expressed in the words : “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” is of vastly more importance than the beneficial results following the command, "Take up thy bed and walk.” But truth had less charm for Nicodemus than a miracle. He had no eye for the invisible. He had no faculty for the unseen. He was not even a child in spiritual things; therefore the Master said to him: "Ye must be born again."
In John X. 41 we have a vital distinction, well worthy of careful consideration. The words have reference to John the Baptist and the distinction marks a contrast between the relative value of a truth well expressed and those peculiar gifts of personality by which a miracle is wrought. The words are these : "John did no miracle, but all things that John spake of this man were true.” In setting forth the sum total of a man's gifts, talents, genius and influence, there is no greater praise to be registered than that expressed in the word "True.” Miracles are but for a moment; Truth is for the ages. Miracles attract attention rather than confirm or substantiate. Men of evil principle, and men of no principle at all, have possessed miracle working power, if we are to accept the plain statements of Scripture and certain popular traditions to be found in other literatures aside from the pages of Holy Writ. Truth is truth even though unaccompanied
. by miracle, wonder or sign.
Christianity is different from all other religions in one respect, namely, the author of Christianity made a direct and persistent appeal to the human reason and founded His religion on the truth. One of His first and fundamental propositions was couched in these words: “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free;" and the last confession of His life was framed in words such as these : "To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth."
Thus Jesus stands with the philosophers of all the ages. Tennyson had inwrought into the mosaic in the vestibule of his home the motto: “Truth against the World.” Goldwin Smith exclaimed, “Truth, the last refuge of the soul," while Daniel Webster affirmed : “ Truth is truth, even though it come from perdition." How the poets have gloried in the truth
“ Truth never dies. The ages come and go,
The mountains wear away. The seas retire.
And empires, states and dynasties expire ;
Truth never dies."
In this chapter we wish to propound three questions : 1. What is Truth? II.-Has Christianity produced
a living illustration of the Truth ? III.-What special phase of Truth is peculiar to
I “What is Truth ?" That is the question of the ages! How we worry about insignificant questions: Is the Genesis story of the creation reliable? Who wrote the book of Deuteronomy? Were there two Isaiahs or only one? Is the book of Jonah fiction or fact? Was the book of Daniel written before or after the captivity ? Was the flood a local disaster or a universal catastrophe? Did God commission Joshua to massacre the Canaanites ? Did Joshua command the sun to stand still ? Did Israel live on manna for forty years ? Did God instruct Abraham to slay his son ? Did Moses bring living water out of the rock? These are all interesting questions, but no particular doctrine of fundamental importance is affected by them. There is one question, however, greater than all these : “What is Truth?”
What is Truth? Let the philosophers of the world answer. Truth is a photograph of the mind of God. Truth is the constitution of nature. Truth is the soul of the universe. Truth is the spiritual quality of all things. Truth is the foundation of all knowledge. Truth is the unexpressed thought of God. Truth is the spiritual thought behind the material metaphor.
But we weary of truth in the abstract, and well worded definitions sometimes fail to enlighten. The practical man asks for truth in the concrete. He is seeking for a working definition of the truth, which, like a well constructed key, will fit into the lock of human experience. I venture such a definition in
I three words : What is truth? Truth is relationship. Truth is the science of universal relationships.
Astronomy is the relationship of star to star, sun to sun, planet to planet and system to system. Geology is the relationship of rock to rock, stone to stone, atom to atom and speck to speck. Botany is the relationship of seed to soil, plant to planet, leaf to branch and bud to blossom. Physiology is the relationship of bone to bone, nerve to nerve, muscle to muscle and sinew to sinew. To recapitulate, geology is the relationship of stone to stone. Astronomy is the relationship of sun to sun. Physiology is the relationship of nerve to nerve. Botany is the relationship of seed to soil. Morality is the relationship of man to man. Religion is the relationship of man to God. Christianity is the science of universal relationships. Genuine truth and ideal Christianity are synonymous terms.
Truth is relationship, and a perfect relationship means peace in the soul, equipoise in the mind, and beauty in the life. Truth in the realm of music means harmony; truth in the realm of architecture, proper proportion; truth in the realm of colour, perfect blending; truth in the realm of mathematics, exact calculation; truth in the physical realm, grace in action and beauty in form. Truth in repose is philosophy. Truth in operation is love. Truth in manifestation is grace and beauty. Truth in the social realm brings peace. Truth in the political realm guarantees progress. Truth in the commercial realm is the foundation of all genuine prosperity.
My friend, it's the truth that saves. “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.' Conviction is the first touch of the truth. Regeneration is truth in its inward operation. Conversion is truth in its first outward manifestation. Sanctification is truth producing a spiritual evolution in the life of the believer. Glorification is truth enthroned in the beauty, simplicity and strength of a full-orbed character. Never has a soul been born again or a