From Practical Truths, 80–81.
I think it is John Newton who somewhere says that he never knew any person who appeared to be actuated by a sincere love of the truth, who did not come right after a while, however far off he might be when he began to feel this motive operating. The case of the Rev. Thomas Scott is a remarkable illustration of this remark. When he commenced his correspondence with Mr. Newton, he was a Socinian and was solicitous to engage his correspondent in a controversy on the point of difference. Mr. Newton, however, while he avoided controversy, still entertained and expressed the hope that Mr. Scott would come to a right belief, because he thought he perceived in him a sincere desire to know the truth.
It seems to me that this is one of the first lessons which they learn who are taught of God. The Holy Spirit, when He would lead any one to the saving knowledge of the truth, produces in him a spirit of humble docility. The soul led by the Spirit thirsts for the knowledge of the truth. This is a very different thing from ardent attachment to particular opinions which have been imbibed from education, or from the connection with a particular sect. Such attachment cleaves to error as tenaciously as to truth. A man may be willing to lay down his life in defense of his opinions, and yet may be destitute of the love of truth. The genuine love of truth makes its possessor willing to relinquish his most cherished opinions as soon as it shall be satisfactorily demonstrated that they are not true. The love of the truth renders a man not only earnest in the pursuit of the beloved object, but impartial in his judgment of evidence. He fears deception, and admits new opinions only after the evidence has been thoroughly sifted and weighed.
This disposition is commonly accompanied with a deep sense of our ignorance and liableness to error. The lover of truth cannot be satisfied with mere plausible appearances; he must have solid ground to rest upon; he therefore digs deep until he comes to a rock. And as the Holy Bible is the treasure of divine truth, he searches the Scriptures daily to find out what God has revealed. But conscious of his liableness to be misled by ignorance or prejudice in interpreting the oracles of God, he is incessant in his prayers for divine illumination. Such a one trusts little to his own reason or human authority; he wants to hear what says the Lord. And they who search for truth as for hid treasure shall not be disappointed. There is a gracious promise that if we seek, we shall find. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him.”