What Is Truth? -- By: J. C. Murphy

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 029:114 (Apr 1872)
Article: What Is Truth?
Author: J. C. Murphy


What Is Truth?1

J. C. Murphy

A brief answer to this comprehensive question may not be unseasonable at the present time, even though it may be expected to partake in some measure of the idiosyncrasy of the respondent. We misunderstand one another very often, simply because we do not speak out, frankly and plainly, what we think. Let us divest the question of the technicalities of the schools, treat it as a matter of vital interest to every child of man, and endeavor to find at least the first principles of a direct, explicit, and veritable reply. The question came, at first, from a strange quarter, whence we should least of all have expected any reference to things so high. But we bear in mind that Pilate had the rare advantage of coming into contact with a perfect mind — the mind of him who had come down from heaven to solve this very problem, to give a new turn to the philosophy of man, and to open up to the mind of humanity a new, practical, and hopeful view of the relation of God to man. Pilate said to this wonderful visitor of our nether sphere: “Art thou the

king of the Jews?” His prisoner replied: “My kingdom is not of this world.” Pilate rejoined: “Art thou a king, then? “The stranger then said: “I am a King. To this end am I born, and to this end am I come into the world, that I may bear witness of the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.” Thus we find that Pilate’s mind was raised, for the moment, to the contemplation of this great question, by being thrown into converse with the eternal Son of God, now born of a woman and come into the world for the express purpose of giving a practical answer to this very question. Pilate, the spokesman of the fourth and last world-monarchy, now stands face to face with the eternal King of that fifth monarchy which shall not be moved, whose wand of spiritual power is the truth, and in profound bewilderment of mind puts the natural question: What is Truth?

2. It is manifest that we must arrive at some one general governing principle, if we are to shape an adequate answer in any brief compass to this momentous question. Every fact, every art or science, every chapter of history, is part of the complex answer to this inquiry in its most unlimited range. But all the arts and sciences of the physical world form only a subordinate part of the great system of things. The history of man and the phases of the human mind yield the materials of that metaphysical science which is the sublimest theme that can engage the attention of man. Mind surpasses matter. But even in the study of the mind there is a lower an...

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