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TRUTH AND ITS SANCTIFYING POWER.
BY REV. OTIS A. SKINNER.
Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth.”-JOAN xvii. 17.
have not so learned Christ; if so be that ye have learned him, and have been taught by him the truth as it is in Jesus.”—Eph. iv. 20: 21.
TRUTH is used in the Scriptures synonymously with doctrine and gospel. “Ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth.” " Take heed unto thyself, and unto thy doctrine, continue in them; for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself and them that hear thee." "I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation, to every one that believeth.” Here the work of salvation is ascribed alike to truth, doctrine and gospel. By Christian truth, then, we understand that system of religion which was taught by the Saviour. I would not imply by this definition, that we find it formally stated in
the Bible, after the manner of those divines who have written works designed to give a complete body of divinity. The Great Teacher did not present first a description of God and his government, and then pass on, in a direct order, to all the doctrines and duties which he was commissioned to preach. Christianity, however, is on this account, no less a regular system ; for when we examine its different parts, we find that they all belong together, and when united make a regular system. It is with the strictest propriety, therefore, called truth, for it has unity. In this idea, several things are implied; and,
1. The agreement of truth with the outward world. All that originates from an infinite mind must be in harmony with itself; for any
absolute antagonism implies imperfection. Temporary antagonism, however, may exist, for by the law of opposing forces, harmonious results are often most successfully accomplished, as when by the action of heat and cold the earth is made productive. But permanent antagonism implies some radical defect, for it is force acting against force, and thus preventing the execution of any purpose. We know, therefore, that Christian truth
is in harmony with the whole arrangement of material things ; for if the Bible requires that which arrays us against one of the physical laws, it is an injury to the body, mind, or heart; and that which makes such a requisition must be absolutely wrong. We may be as certain of this as we are that two statements in direct contradiction cannot both be true. But the Christian system lies under no such imputation, for it is one of its distinguishing glories, that it keeps the whole man — body, mind, and heart - in harmony with the outward world ; so that while obeying Christ, we fill the place, and act the part, for which we were designed by God.
2. Truth is in harmony with man. By examining different writers on moral philosophy, we find them contradicting each other on fundamental principles. The same is true with respect to medical writers. It is no assumption, therefore, to say, that much is taught in works on moral philosophy and medicine that is directly opposed to man. If a physician understood perfectly the laws of human being, and the remedy for every disorder, he could prepare a work which would be an infallible guide in preserving health and
curing disease. That God has a perfect knowledge, not only of our physical, but of our intellectual and moral natures, needs no proof; and hence it is certain that his truth has an exact fitness to man, the same as light has to the eye, and sound to the ear. Consequently those governed by it, will be perfect in physical, intellectual, and moral stature.
3. Truth is perfect in itself. Being the production of an infinite mind, it must be adequate to answer all the ends for which it was given. It has completeness; there is no doctrine, no moral or religious rule wanting. If you add to it, you encumber, disfigure, and weaken it; if you take from it, you destroy its symmetry and perfection, and render it incapable of doing the work for which it was intended. In a fragmentary and imperfect state, it may have power and produce good, but only to a limited extent.
In these propositions, we have that only which is self-evident, providing we admit that God is the author of truth. Assuming that, I will ask your attention to its necessity in the work of sanctification. I will begin by saying, that it was given to govern our motives and actions, and holds the