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but it is like the path of those who are justified by its faith, which is as "the shining light which shineth more and more unto the perfect day." In some old Bible of your grandfather, between the leaves which enclose some cherished passage that had often cheered the old man's heart, there is, perhaps, a little relic of the past—a rose leaf, a sprig of heliotrope, a forget-me-not. The colour is gone, the scent has evaporated, even the grace of form is crushed out of all recognition. You must touch it very tenderly, or it will crumble into dust, and be all gone. It abides, after a fashion, as human things abide; it does not live and abide as divine things live and abide. But the promise, over against which the little faded flower is lying, not only abides, but lives-lives! It lives in ten thousand hearts as well as in yours, as rich in colour, as fresh in fragrance, as delightful to the soul as ever it was. "All flesh is grass," and even our reviewers come under that head—“ All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away; but the Word of the Lord endureth for ever." The Word of God is not like that of Demosthenes or of Cicero, whose speeches may still move to admiration, but can no longer lead men on to action as in the days when they were fresh and strong. The Word of God lives and breathes; lives with the life and breathes with the breath of the Spirit of the living God. This is the secret of its perennial freshness; this is the secret of its immortal youth. "It is the Spirit that quickeneth." "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life." Of Homer, and Virgil, and Dante, and Milton; of Aristotle, and Seneca, and Descartes, and Bacon; of Demosthenes, and Cicero, and Burke-it may be said, "he being dead, yet speaketh;" but of the Author of the Bible, and of Him alone, it can

be said, "He, being alive, yet speaketh." "The mighty God, even the Lord, hath spoken." And speaketh still : 'I am He that doth speak; behold, it is I." The Spirit of God may use, often does use, other books; but He identifies Himself with the Bible. He makes it vocal with His loving voice, and vital with His living power. He breathes through it on the living soul, and thus communicates the life eternal. And so the work of this Society is not that of a mere publishing firm. It is a great missionary work. This Society is called of God to the grandest missionary work-called of God to send forth His light and His truth, His Word of ever-fresh and living power, to the ends of the earth.

IF

XIII.

THE SPIRIT OF THE AGE.

F we were asked for the thought which is most comprehensively characteristic of the intellectual development of the present generation, we should be inclined to give for answer, "The Reign of Law." On all sides the domain of Law has been extended until, in the minds of many, it bids fair to become universal and absolute. And this ever-widening reign of Law is not by any means confined to the domain of physics; mind as well as matter is now asked to bend beneath its yoke. Men's opinions are discovered to be not their own opinions at all, but simply the product of certain intellectual forces which were in operation before they were born. They think so and so, they believe so and so, just because they happen. to have been born in such a country, at such a time, and in such circumstances. Alter a little the circumstances, or the place, or the date of their having come into the world, and their opinions and beliefs will be just so much, or so little, modified. Alter any of these things a great deal, and the difference will be vast. How vastly different would our ideas have been on almost all subjects if we had been born in Siam or in the interior of China; and how vastly different most of them would have been on many subjects if we had been born, even in any Christian land, two or three centuries earlier, or even fifty or twenty years earlier, than we have been !

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It is not, indeed, denied that reason and argument enter into the case; but it has come to be noticed that they enter into it less than is generally supposed. The proportion of those who even attempt to make a thoroughly independent investigation into the grounds of their opinions is always small. It is much larger now, perhaps, than it has ever been before, but even yet it is small. And then even those who attempt to conduct a thoroughly independent examination never succeed in making it independent. There is always a bias on one side or another;-" on one side or another," we say; for it is a great mistake to imagine that the bias is always on the side of what one has been taught. son has entered, or supposes that he has entered, on an independent examination of the opinions he has learnt from others, he is very apt to come to the investigation with all sorts of prejudices against that which is old. The love of novelty may influence him; the love of singularity may influence him; the hankering after the merit of originality,—the ambition to be considered an independent thinker,—the notion that, in diverging from common ways of thinking, he is establishing a claim to intellectual superiority to other people,―motives of this sort are apt to have a very powerfully disturbing influence, adverse to the old, and favourable to all kinds of divergences from it.

Further, independent investigation now-a-days must largely follow the course of reading. It is obvious that that man's opinions would be worth least of all who would act the intellectual hermit, and resolve to form his opinions on all subjects without reading a word that had ever been written about them. No man has such a fount of wisdom in his own mind that he can afford to ignore all the wisdom of other people. He cannot even

make himself master of the needful facts without availing himself of the labours of others; and he cannot read up even the facts without getting the philosophy of the men who recorded the facts inextricably mixed up with them. In this way a man cannot escape the influence of other minds; and in course of time it will be found that his opinions are traceable very much more to the course of his reading than to any independent thinking he has done.

Now this certainly does not look very encouraging. It is not a very attractive thing to be so necessarily and absolutely the creatures of circumstances; and our philosophic friends who insist so much upon it see that it is not at all pleasant. The attempt, accordingly, is sometimes made to get some relief; as an illustration of which we may quote a passage from the distinguished author of "The Rise and Influence of Rationalism in Europe":"Those who have appreciated the extremely small influence of definite arguments in determining the opinions either of an individual or of a nation,—who have perceived how invariably an increase of civilisation implies a modification of belief, and how completely the controversialists of successive ages are the puppets and the unconscious exponents of the deep under-current of their time, will feel an intense distrust of their unassisted reason, and will naturally look for some guide to direct their judgment. I think it must be admitted that the general and increasing tendency in the present day is to seek such a guide in the collective wisdom of mankind. as it is displayed in the developments of history." This passage may be fairly accepted as expressing a sentiment widely entertained by thoughtful men in our time, most of whom, however, instead of speaking of "the collective wisdom of mankind," would prefer to use Goethe's

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