Eighteen hundred years have intervened between that day and this; and now the same inquiry is heard, and often with the same earnestness as then. Men ask, and often ask in vain, “what is truth?” and yet the great problem to millions remains unsolved.
Generations pass on, and leave to others the great question for them to ask, and they, in turn, to leave unanswered. The child, ere it can speak in words, looks from its wistful eye, “What is truth?” Youth comes, and all the emotions of the soul are awakened. It arises from the playfulness of childhood, forgets its little games, and, finding itself an actor in the drama of life, looks over the long programme of parts from which it is to choose its own, and anxiously inquires “What is truth?” Manhood feels the importance of the question; and Age, though conscious of its near approach to the world of revealed truth, repeats it.
The present is an era of thought. Men begin to assume a spirit of independence, and to look less upon human authority, and more upon that light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. And it is well that it is so. It is well that we begin to look upon liberty in another light than a mere absence of iron bonds upon our hands and feet; that we begin to discern that “He is a freeman whom the truth makes free, And all are slaves beside.” We are pressing on to know the truth. We have grown weary of darkness, and are seeking the light. We should remember, in our researches, that, to find out truth, we must not be pledged to any form, any opinion, or any creed, however old or dearly cherished such limitations may have been with ourselves or others. We must come to the task like little children, ready to learn. We must leave our beliefs behind us. We must not bring them, and attempt to adapt our discoveries in the realms of eternal truth to them; but we must build up the structure with the material we find in the universe of God; and then, when reared, if we find that in doing so we have a stone from our old temple nicely adjusted in the new, very well;—let it remain, and thank God for it.
Men have trusted too much in the views of past ages, and taken for truth many an error, because some one back in by-gone ages introduced it as such, and it has been believed in and held most sacred.
Let our course be our own course, and not that of others. Let us seek for truth as truth. Let us be honest and press on, trusting in God the rewarder of all, who will bless all our efforts to ascertain his truths, and our duty to him, to our fellow-men, and to ourselves.
He had wandered far and long, and when, on his return to the scenes of his early life, he came in full view of the old house, in which and around which those scenes were clustered, he throw down his oaken staff, raised his hands, and clapped them like a child. Then a tear would roll down his face; then a smile illumine it; then he would dance with joy. As he approached the building, he observed that the door was open; and the large, hospitable-looking room was so inviting, and there being no one present, he entered, and indulged in thoughts like these: