On the great rocks and crags of the California coast near Monterey, one can see cedars of Lebanon growing in the very midst of the rock. In some way the seed found a place in the rock and, with nature's mighty and mysterious power of germination and growth, drove its way straight up and through the heart of the rock until it found the sun and the light and waved its branches over the surges of the Pacific. So is the power of one single seed of divine truth.
In the Apocryphal book of First Esdras (chaps. 3-4) it is related that after a great feast which Darius, the king of Persia, had given to the governors of 127 provinces, from India to Ethiopia, four young men of the king's guard agreed that each of them should speak a sentence, and that he whose sentence should seem wiser than the others should be clothed in purple, drink in gold, sleep on gold, have a chariot with bridles of gold, a chain about his neck, sit next to Darius, and be called his cousin. Each one wrote his sentence, sealed it, and laid it under the pillow of the king. In the morning the king found the writings under his pillow and called the young men before him to defend their statements.
The first had written: "Wine strongest." In defense of his proposition he cited the well-known effects of strong drink, how it leveled all distinctions of rank, making the fatherless child and the king on the tlhrone as one; how it could cause a man to forget pain and remember neither sorrow nor debt; how it made the poor imagine themselves rich; but also how it made men forget both friends and brethren, and fight one with another, arousing a hidden personality of evil within them so that afterward they could not remember what they had done or said. For these reason wine was strongest.
The second had written: "The king is strongest." In defense of his proposition he pointed to the unlimited sway over land and sea of such a monarch as Darius. In remotest parts his word was law. If he commanded one people to make war upon another, it was done. Men slew and were slain at his bidding. The farmers brought forth their increase and bore it unto the king as tribute. Only one man, yet none dared to depart without his permission; and what he desired, that they fulfilled. What could be stronger than such a power?
The third had written: "Women are strongest." In defense of his proposition he reminded his judges how kings might be great upon the earth, but that it was women who bore them, and that without women men could not be. Gold and silver and all goodly things men forsake in behalf of a woman. Even a man's own father and mother he would forsake for love of a woman. His country, too, he would forego if love called upon him to do it. All the fruit of his labor man will give to a woman. For woman's sake man sails the seas and crosses the rivers and fights with wild beasts and walks in darkness. For a woman men make fools of themselves and become slaves of passion, "For her sake" being the epitaph of many a man. By thousands men sinned and perished because they were drawn on by the awful and mysterious power of love for woman.
The fourth had written: "Truth is strongest." In defense of his proposition he told his judges how all the earth called upon the truth, how heaven had blessed it, and how evil works trembled in the presence of the truth. Wine and kings and women are strong, and they are wicked—but all of them perish. Truth endureth forever. She is the source of justice and order. She is the strength, kingdom, power, and majesty of all ages. When he had finished, all the people shouted and said, "Great is Truth!"
Fox wrote of John Wycliff: "For though they digged up Wycliff's body, burned his bones, and drowned his ashes, yet the word of God, and truth of His doctrine, with the truth and success thereof, they could not burn; which yet to this day for the most part of his articles do remain."
"The brook," wrote Thomas Fuller, "did convey his ashes into Avon; Avon into the Severn; Severn into the narrow seas, they into the main ocean. And thus the ashes of Wycliff are the emblem of his doctrine, which now is dispersed all the world over."
And Wordsworth, following the lead of Fox and Fuller, has preserved the same simile for us in the well-known sonnet:
As thou these ashes, little Brook! wilt bear
Into the Avon, Avon to the tide
Of Severn, Severn to the narrow seas,
Into main ocean they, this deed accurst
An emblem yields to friends and enemies,
How the bold Teacher's Doctrine, sanctified
By truth, shall spread, throughout the world dispersed.
The late Dr. A. T. Pierson told the following story of General Robert E. Lee. Hearing General Lee speak in the highest terms to President Davis about a certain officer, another officer, greatly astonished, said to him. `General, do you not know that the man of whom you spoke so highly to the President is one of your bitterest enemies, and misses no opportunity to malign you?' Yes,' replied General Lee, 'but the President asked my opinion of him, and I gave him a true answer, he did not ask his opinion of me.'
(Prov. 12. 17; Zech 8 16; Eph. 4. 25)
Truth is a queen who has her eternal throne in heaven, and her seat of empire in the heart of God.—Bossuet
(Dent. 32. 4; Isa. 65. 16; John 8. 32; Rom. 3. 7)
Since truth is always true
And only true can be,
Keep me, O Lord, as true to truth
As truth is true to Thee.—T. Baird
(Eph. 4. 25; Heb. 6. 18)
Careless seems the Great Avenger; history's pages but record
One death-grapple in the darkness 'twixt false systems and the Word,
Truth for ever on the scaffold, Wrong for ever on the throne:
Yet that scaffold sways the future, and behind the dim unknown
Standeth God within the shadows keeping watch above His own.—J. Russell Lowell
(2 Tim. 4. 4; Titus 1. 1, 14)