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THE CANDOUR OF LOVE.
"Charity beareth all things."
SOME writers consider this seventh verse as an amplification of the foregoing one, and explain it, in reference to the truth, in the following manner :— "It beareth all things" reported in the truth, however opposed to the corruption of human nature, and counts none of them hard sayings or unfit to be borne; "it believeth all things" imported in the great truth, or all the inferences which the Apostles have deduced from it, as being well affected to the source from whence they flow; "hopeth for all things" promised in it, and "endureth all things;" or patiently suffers all the afflictions that can attend a steady attachment to it. This gives a very good sense of the words, and admits the full force of the universal expressions. Yet it certainly agrees better with the scope of the Apostle, to understand the verse with reference to the brethren as the objects of it.
If we render the first expression, and which we are now about to consider, as our translators have done, it may signify our bearing one another's
burdens and weaknesses, which is to fulfil the law of Christ and it must be confessed this is strictly true; for whoever is under the influence of this principle, will possess a spirit of tender sympathy. In this world we all groan, being burdened. Each has his own load of care, or grief, or imperfection. This is not the state where we find perfect rest. How wide is the scope, how frequent the opportunity, how numerous the occasions, for sympathy! And, who that is possessed of benevolence, can allow himself to pass a brother upon the road, labouring under a heavier load than his own, without offering to bear a part? We are not to be impertinently officious and intermeddling, nor to pry into the secrets of our neighbours with an inquisitive curiosity; but to inquire into the cause which gives them so much solicitude or so much grief, is the duty of those who are the witnesses of their careworn countenance and downcast look. What an unfeeling heart must that man have, who can see the very form of care and sorrow before him, and never kindly ask the reason of its existence? It is but little that sympathy can do for the sufferer, but that little should be most cheerfully afforded. To be unnoticed and unpitied in our griefs, adds greatly to their weight. For what purpose are Christians collected into churches? not merely to eat the Lord's Supper together: this could be done without any such distinct recognition of a mutual relationship, as that which takes place in the fellowship of believers. The end and design of this bond is, that being united as one body, the members might cherish a general sympathy for each other, and
exercise their benevolence in the way of mutual assistance. The rich, by their munificence, should help their poorer brethren to bear the burden of poverty; the strong should aid the weak to bear the burden of their fears and apprehensions; those who are in health and ease should, by seasonable visits, and soothing words, and kind offices, bear the burdens of the sick; counsel should always be given, when it is sought by those who are in difficulty; and a disposition should pervade the whole body, to render its varied resources, talents, and energies, available for the benefit of the whole.
But though this also gives a beautiful meaning, and enjoins a necessary duty, it is not the right view of the passage. The word translated "beareth" all things, signifies also, "to contain, to conceal, to cover." The idea of "bearing" is parallel in meaning with that of "enduring," of which the Apostle speaks in the latter part of the and it is not probable that it was his intention to express the same thought twice. Adopting "concealment" as the sentiment be intended to express, and the failings of others as the object to which it refers, I shall go on to show in what way it is practised.
To do this with still greater effect, we shall exhibit a general view of those sins to which the view of Christian charity stands exposed; and these are, slander, detraction, and rash judging, or censoriousness.
Perhaps there are no sins which are more frequently alluded to, or more severely rebuked, in Scripture, than those of the tongue; and for this reason, because there are none to which we are
so frequently tempted-none we are so prone to indulge, or so bold to excuse--none which are so fruitful of disorder and discomfort to society. Besides swearing, falsehood, obscenity, blasphemy,the Scripture speaks of bearing false witness, railing, tale-bearing, whispering, backbiting, slander, and reproach: a dismal enumeration of vices belonging to that member which was intended to be the glory of our frame. By SLANDER, we understand the circulation of a false report with the intention of injuring a neighbour's reputation. Its most vicious excess is the invention and construction of a story which is absolutely false from beginning to end. Its next lower grade, though little inferior in criminality, is to become the propagator of the tale, knowing it to be false. "This," says BARROW, "is to become the hucksters of counterfeit wares, or factors in this vile trade. There is no coiner who hath not emissaries and accomplices ready to take from his hand and put off his money; and such slanderers at second hand are scarcely less guilty than the first authors. He that breweth lies may have more wit and skill, but the broacher showeth the like malice and wickedness. In this there is no great difference between the great devil that frameth scandalous reports, and the little imps that run about and disperse them." The next operation of slander is to receive and spread, without examining into the truth of them, false and injurious reports. It is a part of a good man's character, that "He taketh not up a reproach against his neighbour;" i. e. he does not easily entertain it, much less propagate it; he does not receive it but upon the most
convincing evidence: but slander founds reproachful tales upon conjecture or suspicion, and raises an injurious representation upon a suppositious foundation. Sometimes it withers the reputation of a neighbour by rash speaking, or vehemently affirming things which it has no reason to believe, and no motive for affirming, but the hope of exciting ill will. Slander is sinful, because forbidden in every part of Scripture; cruel, because it is robbing our neighbour of that which is dearer to him than life; and foolish, because it subjects the calumniator himself to all kinds of inconvenience,—for it not only exposes him to the wrath of God, the loss of his soul, and the miseries of hell in the world to come, but it makes him odious in the present life, causes him to be shunned and discredited, arms his conscience against his own peace, brings upon himself the most reproachful accusations, and not unfrequently the vengeance of that public justice, which is rightly appointed to be the guardian not only of property and life, but of reputation also.
DETRACTION, or backbiting, differs a little from slander, though, in its general nature and constitution, it closely resembles it. Slander involveth an imputation of falsehood; but detraction may clothe itself with truth: it is sweetened poison, served from a golden cup by the hand of hypocrisy. A detractor's aim is the same as the slanderer's-to injure the reputation of another; but he avails himself of means that are a little different. He represents persons and actions under the most disadvantageous circumstances he can,-setting forth those which may make them appear guilty or ridiculous, and