But before proceeding further in this inquiry, let me remind you, and be myself reminded, of the moral importance of truthfulness. I do not allude to the truthfulness which despises all hypocrisy in word, and seeks to maintain with sacred care an exact harmony between what is believed in the heart, and confessed with the lip; or which boasts, perhaps, of the honesty that never conceals a creed, however offensive its doctrines may be to others. Let us not undervalue this kind of honesty when real. But, alas! how often is it only apparent, while the real feeling is selfish vanity craving notoriety, or moral indifference which is insensible to the pain of either the existence or confession of unbelief. And thus where that truthfulness of character exists, which cannot give to others a false impression of what is really believed, how often is there wanting the kind of truthfulness, so much rarer and more difficult to attain, so much nobler and more important to possess, which seeks to harmonise not only profession with belief, but belief with truth itself. For it is in the innermost sanctuary of the spirit, into which no human eye can penetrate, and where truth, as a holy messenger sent from God, presents herself, seeking for admission to dwell there, and take possession of the soul’s temple for ever,—it is there that the reality of a man’s truthfulness, sincerity, and honesty must be tried and decided upon by the all-seeing Judge, who can alone search the heart. How do we deal there with what claims to be truth? With what spirit do we listen to her voice? With what care do we examine her credentials? These are questions settled in the secret of our own personal experience; and just as the process of investigation is conducted before the eye of conscience, can it be determined whether or not we are really honest. But as sure as there is in us a genuine truthfulness of spirit, it will, by a divine instinct, recognise truth when revealed. Like a string rightly tuned by God, the truthful soul will strike an harmonious chord with the note of truth wherever it sounds. The “single” eye will perceive the light from whatever quarter it shines. When, therefore, I ask my readers to consider, with sincerity and honesty, the teaching of the Scriptures regarding the Person of Jesus Christ, I crave from them that kind of honesty which is evidenced by the whole tone and spirit with which they deal with what professes to come from God, and what, therefore, claims their faith because it is true, and their love because it is good.
I. Consider this question in the light of His own teaching. By this I mean, read the Gospels, and from all Jesus said regarding Himself, say what impression did He intend to convey as to His own person. Remember I am not asserting the truth of His claims, but proposing merely to inquire into what His claims as a matter of fact were, in so far as we may fairly gather these from His own words.