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be left to himself in his sorrows: and that he who, in the days of his prosperity, drives every one from him by the unkindness of his disposition, will find, in the season of his adversity, that they are too far off to hear his cries for assistance.
This is not an incurable temper; but it is a disease that requires immediate and diligent attention. Where it not only exists but predominates, the spring of human action must be renewed by regeneration, and we must have that new heart, which is brought to love God supremely, and our neighbour as ourselves. We must meditate often upon the deep criminality of this disposition, and look upon it in all its deformity, till we hate it: being careful, in order to this, to strip it of all the disguises which the deceitfulness of the heart has thrown over it. We must abound in contemplation of the character of God, as infinite in love, and of Jesus Christ as an incarnation of pure disinterested affection. We must exercise great mortification, labouring to the uttermost to subdue, and if possible to eradicate, this vile disposition; and repeating this again and again, till we begin to taste the pleasure, and to feel the habit, of kindness: at the same time praying earnestly for the help of the Holy Spirit, to assist us in the mighty work of vanquishing a selfish temper.
THE UNSUSPICIOUSNESS OF LOVE.
"Charity thinketh no evil.”
THERE are two senses which may be attached to this beautiful description of love.
I. It does not devise evil. What a horrible demon-like disposition has the Psalmist ascribed to the individual who has no fear of God before his eyes!" He hath left off to be wise and to do good; he deviseth mischief upon his bed." Such is the delineation given by the inspired writer of the character of some wretched men; and the original is often to be found. They are perpetually scheming to do injury; even their hours of rest are devoted to the impulses of a wicked heart, and they sleep not except they have done mischief. Instead of communing with God upon their bed, this is to commune with the devil, and to hold nightly conference with him who goeth about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. But without going to the extent of those who live by plunder, extortion, or oppression, and who, as the wolves and tigers of society are ever prowling about for their prey, there are many who maintain a
tolerably respectable character, but are still far too busy in devising evil: this may arise from various motives, to all of which Christian love stands firmly opposed.
Desire of gain may lead them to devise means by which they may injure a more prosperous neighbour, a more thriving tradesman, than themselves. They cannot endure to witness his success, and leave no effort untried to hinder it. They are inventive in the way of insinuation, inuendo, or explicit declaration, to check the tide of his good fortune, and are ever scheming to circumvent and injure him. Or they may be moved by envy, to devise means for blasting the reputation of a popular rival, or at least to render him less a favourite with the public. Revenge is ever busy in laying plans to injure its object; it broods in wrathful silence over the real or supposed injury, and looks round on every side for the opportunity and the means of full retaliation. A love of sporting with the fears of the timid and the weak has led some to delight in finding means for exciting their alarms: they do not desire to inflict pain so much from a malignity of disposition as from a wanton pleasure in raising a joke. Such jests as occasion distress, are, whatever may be pretended by their authors, a kind of devil's play, who can never relax from the work of tormenting, except it be to occasion lighter pains, and whose very sport is the infliction of misery. It is dreadful that the human intellect should ever be employed in devising evil; and yet, passing by the cabinets of statesmen, where hostile and unprincipled aggressions are so often planned against a weaker state; and the closets
of monarchs, where schemes which are to entail the horrors of war upon millions are contrived without compunction; and the slave-merchant's cabin, where the details are arranged for burning peaceful villages, and dragging into captivity their unoffending inhabitants; and the robber's cave, the murderer's chamber, and the swindler's retreat;-passing by these haunts of demons, where the master-spirits of mischief hold their conclave, and digest their dark and horrid purposes;—what a prodigious movement of mind is perpetually going on among the subalterns! What a frightful portion of every day's employment of the mental and bodily energies, all over the globe, is seen by the eye of Omniscience, directed by the parent of evil, who is ever going about to do evil; so that a great part of mankind seem to have no other prototype but the scorpions which John saw rising out of the bottomless pit, armed both with teeth and stings!
To all these persons, and to all this their conduct, love is diametrically opposed. It thinketh not evil, but good; it deviseth to communicate pleasure, not pain, It shrinks back with instinctive abhorrence from inflicting a moment's suffering, in body or in mind. "Love worketh no ill to its neighbour," but employs all its counsels and its cares for his benefit. Like a good spirit, it is ever opposing the advice, and counteracting the influence, of envy, revenge, or avarice. It would make the miserable happy, and the happy still happier. It retires into the closet, to project schemes for blessing mankind, and goes out into the crowded regions of want and wretchedness, to execute them: it deviseth good on
its bed, and riseth in the morning to fulfil the plans of mercy with which it had sunk to rest. "Love thinketh no evil."
II. But probably the apostle meant, that it does not impute evil. Lovely charity! the farther we go, the more we discover thy charms: thy beauty is such, that it is seen the more, the more closely it is inspected; and thy excellence such, that it never ceases to grow upon acquaintance. Thou art not in haste to criminate, as if it were thy delight to prove men wicked; but art willing to impute a good motive to men's actions, till a bad one is clearly demonstrated.
It is proper, however, to remark here, that love is not quite blind: it is not, as we have already said, virtue in its dotage-having lost its power of discrimination between good and evil; nor is it holiness in its childhood, which, with puerile simplicity, believes everything that is told it, and that is imposed upon by every pretender. No; it is moral excellence in the maturity of all its facultiesin the possession of all its manly strength. Like the judge upon the bench, penetrating yet not censorious, holding the balance with an even hand, acting as counsel for the prisoner, rather leaning to the side of the accused than to that of the accuser, and holding him innocent till he is proved to be guilty.
There are some persons of a peculiarly suspicious temper, who look with a distrustful eye upon every body and upon every action. It would seem as if the world were in a conspiracy against them, and that every one who approached them came with a