« ForrigeFortsæt »
persons. "A man of great merit," said a French author, " is a kind of public enemy. By engrossing a multitude of applauses, which would serve to gratify a great many others, he cannot but be envied : men naturally hate what they highly esteem, yet cannot love." The feeling of the countryman at Athens, who, upon being asked why he gave his vote for the banishment of Aristides, replied, " Because he is everywhere called the just," is by no means uncommon. The Ephesians expelled the best of their citizens, with the public announcement of this reason," If any are determined to excel their neighbours, let them find another place to do it." Envy is that which love hates and proscribes, and, in revenge, envy hates and persecutes love in return; but the terror of envy does not intimidate love, nor its malignity disgust it: it can bear even the perversions, misrepresentations, and opposition, of this fiend-like passion, and pursues its course, simply saying, "Get thee behind me, Satan."
Ingratitude is often the hard usage which love has to sustain, and which it patiently endures. Into such a state of turpitude is man fallen, that he would bear any weight rather than that of obligation. Men will acknowledge small obligations, but often return malice for such as are extraordinary; and some will sooner forgive great injuries than great services. Many persons do not know their benefactors, many more will not acknowledge them, and others will not reward them, even with the cheap offering of thanks. These things are enough to make us sick of the world: yes; but ought not to make us weary of trying to mend it; for the more
ungrateful it is, the more it needs our benevolence. Here is the noble, the lofty, the godlike temper of charity it pursues its course like the providence of Jehovah, which continues to cause its sun to rise and its rain to descend, not only upon the irrational creatures, who have no capacity to know their benefactor, but upon the rational ones, many of whom have no disposition to acknowledge him.
Derision is often employed to oppose the efforts of love by all the artillery of scorn. Spiritual religion, and especially that view of it which this subject exhibits, has ever been an object of contempt to ungodly men. Banter and ridicule are brought to stop its progress; the greatest profaneness and buffoonery are sometimes employed to laugh it out of countenance ;-but it has learned to treat with indifference even the cruel mockings of irony, and to receive upon its shield-arm all the arrows of the most envenomed wit.
Opposition does not disgust, nor persevering obstinacy weary, it. It can endure to have its schemes examined and sifted by those who cannot understand them, cavilled at by those who cannot mend them, and resisted by those who have nothing to offer in their place. It does not throw all up in a fit of passion, nor suffer the tongue of petulance, nor the clamour of envy, to stop its efforts.
Want of success, that most discouraging consideration to activity, is not sufficient to drive it from the field; but in the expectation of the future harvest, it continues to plough and to sow in hope. Its object is too important to be relinquished for a few failures; and nothing but the demonstration of
absolute impossibility can induce it to give up its. benevolent purpose.
If instances of this view of Christian love be necessary to illustrate and enforce it by the power of example, many and striking ones are at hand. Few, very few, are worthy of being put in competition with that of Mr. CLARKSON, whose illustrious name, and that of his no less illustrious coadjutor, Mr. WILBERFORCE, will ever be pronounced with tears of gratitude by Africa, as the chief agents in the work of inducing the greatest commercial nation upon earth to abolish the infernal traffic in human beings; and ought to be recorded in letters of gold by their grateful countrymen, for having delivered the nation from the greatest crime which, in her modern history, she ever committed, and from the greatest curse which she could dread at the hands of retributive justice. Perhaps no uninspired book may be so fairly regarded as a beautiful comment on the expression, "Charity endureth all things," as Clarkson's "History of the Abolition of the Slave Trade." Twenty years of that good man's life were occupied in long and fatiguing journies, at all seasons of the year: in labours of an almost incredible extent, to trace reports to their source, to collect information, and to gather evidence; in braving opposition, bearing all kinds of ridicule, encountering savages, whose trade had made them reckless of crime, and thirsty for blood; in personal exposure, so great, that by nothing less than supernatural strength, granted for the occasion, would he have been rescued at one time from threatened and` intended death. Nor was this the full measure of
the endurance: disappointment the most bitter and discouraging often extinguished his brightest hopes; lukewarmness on the part of those from whom he had a right to expect the most zealous co-operation often saddened his heart, though it never paralysed. his zeal; and, to try his perseverance and put his benevolence to the severest test, his cause was of a nature which, by the sufferings it brought under review, was enough to sicken and turn from its purpose a compassion of less hardihood than his. What must that man have had to endure, who thus describes his feelings after the details of evidence furnished by only one of the thousands of days spent in familiarizing himself with the various scenes of the biggest outrage ever committed against the rights of humanity?" The different scenes of barbarity which these represented to me, greatly added to the affliction of my mind. My feelings became now almost insupportable. I was agonized to think that this trade should last another day: I was in a state of agitation from morning till night: I determined I would soon leave the place in which I saw nothing but misery. I had collected now, I believe, all the evidence it would afford; and to stay a day longer in it than was necessary, would be only an interruption to my happiness and health."
Who but a Christian philanthropist of the highest order could have pursued such a career, year after year, and not be so wearied by labour-so disheartened by opposition-so disgusted by cruelty,— as to abandon the object of his pursuit? Here was, indeed, a beautiful illustration of the "love that endureth all things,"
But a greater than Clarkson might be mentioned. Let the history of St. Paul be studied, and his suffering career be traced, and his declarations heard concerning his varied and heavy tribulations. "I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death; for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ's sake, but ye are wise in Christ: we are weak, but ye are strong: ye are honourable, but we are despised. Even unto this present hour, we both hunger and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling place; and labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless: being persecuted, we suffer it: being defamed, we entreat: we are made as the filth of the earth, and are the off-scouring of all things unto this day." "In labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods; once was I stoned; thrice I suffered shipwreck; a night and a day I have been in the deep< in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren: in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Besides those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches." Nor did these sufferings come upon him without his being previously apprized of them, for the Holy Ghost had witnessed