Billeder på siden

persons, to exaggerate everything they relate. Whatever be the philosophical cause, into which a fondness for the marvellous, and a delight in exciting surprise, may be resolved, its existence, and its prevalence, are unquestionable. Perhaps, we all like to relate what is new, and strange, and interesting; not excepting even bad news. To such a pitch is this carried, by those who are deeply infected with the propensity, that they never tell anything as they heard it every fact is embellished or magnified. If a neighbour has displayed a little warmth of temper, they saw him raging like a fury; if he was a little cheerful after dinner, he was tippling; if he was evasive, they protest that he committed palpable falsehood, if not perjury; if he had not been so generous in his transactions as could be wished, he was an extortioner, and devoid of common honesty. Nothing is moderate and sober in the hands of such persons; everything is extravagant, or extraordinary. All they meet with, is in the form of adventure. Out of the least incident they can construct a tale; and on a small basis of truth, raise a mighty superstructure of fiction, to interest and impress every company into which they come. Undeterred by the presence of the individual from whom they received the original fact, they will not scruple to go on magnifying and embellishing, till the author of the statement can scarcely recognize his own narrative. How strange it seems, that such people should either not know, or not remember, that all this while they are telling falsehoods. They do not seem to understand, that if we relate a circumstance in such a manner as is calculated to

give an impression which, either in nature or degree, does not accord with reality, we are guilty of the sin of lying. Where character is concerned, the sin is still greater, since it adds detraction to falsehood. Many a man's reputation has been frittered away by this wicked and mischievous propensity. Every narrator of an instance of misconduct, not, perhaps, heinous in the first instance, has added something to the original fact, till the offence has stood before the public eye, so blackened by this accumulative defamation, that, for a while, he has lost his character, and only partially recovered it in the end, and with extreme difficulty. Remembering the existence of such an evil, we should be backward to take up an unfavourable opinion upon first appearance; and where we cannot believe all things, be willing to hope such is the dictate of charity, and such the conduct of those who yield their hearts to its influence.



"Love endureth all things."

CHARITY is not fickle, unsteady, and easily discouraged; not soon disheartened, or induced to relinquish its object; but is persevering, patient, and self-denying, in the pursuance of its design to relieve the wants, assuage the sorrows, reform the vices, and allay the animosities, of those whose good it seeks. It is as patient in bearing, as it is active in doing; uniting the uncomplaining submission of the lamb, the plodding perseverance of the ox, with the courage of the lion.

It is no frivolous and volatile affection, relinquishing its object from a mere love of change; nor is it a feeble virtue, which weakly lets go its purpose in the prospect of difficulty; nor a cowardly grace, which drops its scheme, and flees from the face of danger; no, it is the union of benevolence with strength, patience, courage, and perseverance. It has feminine beauty, and gentleness, and sweetness, united with masculine energy, and power, and heroism. To do good, it will meekly bear with the infirmities of the meanest, or will brave the scorn and fury of the mightiest, But let us survey the

opposition, the difficulties, the discouragements, the provocations, which it has to bear, and which, with enduring patience, it can resist.

Sacrifices of ease, of time, of feeling, and of property, must all be endured: for it is impossible to exercise Christian charity without making these. He that would do good to others, without practising self-denial, does but dream. The way of philanthropy is ever up hill, and not unfrequently over rugged rocks, and through thorny paths. If we would promote the happiness of our fellow-creatures, it must be by parting with something or other that is dear to us. If we would lay aside revenge when they have injured us, and exercise forgiveness, we must often mortify our own feelings. If we would reconcile the differences of those who are at variance, we must give up our time, and sometimes our comfort. If we would assuage their griefs, we must expend our property. If we would reform their wickedness, we must part with our ease. If we would, in short, do good of any kind, we must be willing to deny ourselves, and bear labour of body and pain of mind. And love is willing to do this; it braces itself for labour, arms itself for conflict, prepares itself for suffering: it looks difficulties in the face, counts the cost, and heroically exclaims, "None of these things move me, so that I may diminish the evils, and promote the happiness, of others." It will rise before the break of day, linger on the field of labour till midnight, toil amidst the sultry heat of summer, brave the northern blasts of winter, submit to derision, give the energies of body and the comfort of mind: all to do good.

Misconstruction is another thing that love endures. Some men's minds are ignorant, and cannot understand its schemes; others are contracted, and cannot comprehend them; others are selfish, and cannot approve them; others are envious, and cannot applaud them; and all these will unite, either to suspect or to condemn: but this virtue, "like the eagle, pursues its noble, lofty, heaven-bound course, regardless of the flock, of little pecking cavilling birds, which, unable to follow, amuse themselves by twittering their objections and ill will in the hedges below." Or, to borrow a scriptural allusion, love, like its great pattern, when he was upon the earth, goes about doing good, notwithstanding the malignant perversion of its motives and actions on the part of its enemies. "I must do good," she exclaims: "if you cannot understand my plans, I pity your ignorance; if you misconstrue my motives, I forgive your malignity; but the clouds that are exhaled from the earth, may as well attempt to arrest the career of the sun, as for your dulness or malevolence to stop my attempts to do good. I must go on, without your approbation, and against your opposition."

Envy often tries the patience of love, and is another of the ills which it bears, without being turned aside by it. There are men who would enjoy the praise of benevolence without enduring its labours; that is, they would wear the laurel of victory without exposing themselves to the peril of war: they are sure to envy the braver, nobler spirits, whose generous conquests, having been preceded by labour, are followed by praise. To be good, and to do good, are alike the objects of envy with many

« ForrigeFortsæt »