Pain is the Price of Truth

by Alan Burns

THERE are such things as the growing pains of truth. The expanding power of new life and light gives many a wrench to the decaying props of systematized belief. When the supposed solidarity of the former ideas begins to shake and quake beneath the touch of a truer faith, the very heavens themselves begin to tremble, the very mountains to quiver, as if all things trembled on the verge of dissolution. The teacher of new truth, in the light of his own experience, should be as tender as he is true. The average man shrinks from the travail of thought, as many a woman would fain evade the pangs of motherhood. This aversion to the birth-pangs of new truth reduces the majority of Christians to a somewhat similar state to that in which Sir Roger de Coverley found himself when he first came to his estate, and found a ghost was seen there, and another portion boarded up for a like reason, in short shut out almost entirely from his own house.

Does the church occupy its own property? Does it possess in fact what belongs to it by moral right? Are we not living, instead, in the hall-rooms of truth, when we might be occupying the whole house? and dwelling in the corridors when the mansion itself is ours? This is what the true teacher does for the Christian church—he opens the doors of the unused rooms and bids the Christian student make himself at home. The false teacher, however, does not do this, but he seeks instead to bar the entrances and seal the locks with the authority of the church, as the Roman soldiers sought to seal the tomb with the authority of Caesar's name.

It is only through much tribulation that man may enter into the kingdom of truth. He has to conquer it before he can possess it. It has to be fought for before it can be won. And in the victory he must be content to stand alone; indeed, we may question whether the severest price that a man has to pay for truth is not the loneliness consequent upon its possession.

There are two objects which he who seeks is almost sure to find—the one is, the knowledge of what he ought to do—the other, an excuse for what he is inclined to do. We are lazily inclined from our very birth, and are natural in this seeing that we but follow nature's path of the line of least resistance. We are lazy where investigation is necessary, and shrink from the mental discomforts involved in a critical examination. This laziness to investigate new doctrines we excuse as loyalty to old ones, and too often label as conscience that which is but the cowardice of mental travail. So true is this that many may be said to follow the dictates of their conscience only in the same sense in which a coachman may be said to follow the horses he is driving. In thus labelling our antipathies and antagonisms let us beware that our labels are labels and not libels.

When people have resolved to shut their eyes, or to look only on one side, it matters little how good their eyes may be. The trouble with the church of today is not a matter of its eye-sight but of its eye-lids. "Men make up their minds, beforehand, and assume, with regard to any reasons brought before them, the office, not of judge, but of an advocate, who aims at drawing out of each witness whatever he can that favors his own side, and cushioning all that makes against him. Thus many a reader of the Bible reads it with colored glasses."

The bias of Balaam leads many to consult the Scriptures as he consulted God. The idolatry of inclination led him to try once more "what the Lord will say," to see if he could find something in line with his preferences, and God indulged him in his idolatry. Is the spirit of Balaam in the Bible-study of today?

Our inclination towards ease biases us against the investigations which would disturb it. Orthodoxy, to many, is the cushioned pew of theology. Such mistake comfort for correctness, and probably look upon discomforts as one of the necessary adjuncts to heterodoxy. The "case" of Twentieth Century churchdom is the disease, of modern thought, and true Evangelicism suffers from mental paralysis.

Is the reader anxious to mother a great truth? Let such remember that the price of motherhood is pain, and labor, and one must pay the price if they would enjoy the privilege.

Concordant Publishing Concern

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