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and secondly, knowledge of reality, or outward truth. Both kinds of truth are essential to goodness and happiness. They make the difference between right and wrong, good and evil, going forward and going backward.
But, beside truth, there is another and an opposite virtue, which is love. These two make up the whole of goodness. Truth is one element, and love the other. They are different and opposite qualities, but necessary to each other. Neither will suffice alone.
Some men have truth but have not love. Their truth is hard, cold, overbearing, dogmatical. They do not speak it in love. They drive men, they do not lead them. There is nothing attractive, magnetic, about them. They scold and rail at those who differ from them. We cannot but feel a certain respect for them, but we do not like them. What they say may be the truth, but we are not attracted by it. Truth without love does not seem beautiful.
So there are other men who have love but not truth. They are full of good-will, overflowing with sympathy, but do not help us, because they have no stamina, no strength of their own. They are disposed to give to others, but they have nothing to give. They sympathize with us whether we are right or wrong, good or bad. They are a “mush of concession.” Their love, being without truth, does not do us good.
If you try to carry out truth or love to its
ultimate separately, you spoil both. Take for example the case of a man who is in love with truth. “I will tell the truth always," he says, " regardless of consequences.” What, will you tell a madman the truth ? Will you tell a child the whole truth? Will you always tell all the truth to every one ?. Will you have no reserve ? By such a course society would be dissolved. The early Quakers tried this plan. They tried to be perfectly truthful; to have their yea, yea, and their nay, nay. They said thee instead of you, because to use the plural number when speaking to one man seemed to thien false. One Quaker refused to wear clothes which had been dyed, because it involved deception. But what was the result ? Avoiding forms and wishing to follow the immediate impulse of the Spirit, they present the curious anomaly of an outcome of the most rigid formalism. Truth in the letter at last seemed to harden and freeze, and to destroy truth in the spirit. This is the inevitable result of a one-sided development.
Every good character is composed of truth and love. Think of the person you have loved best in the world. It was some one who had a character of his own, rooted in the love of truth and right, who would not give way, but stood firm according to his conscience; but who, while thus strong in himself, was tender and generous toward others. He could forgive others, and be more tolerant toward them than toward himself.
It is this union of sincerity and good-will which constitutes the nobleness of man. The man who is strong in some rooted convictions, who stands firm on his sense of right, and yet whose generosity flows steadily in a current of helpfulness to those around him, is the pillar of society. Such men are the pivots around which progress and improvement turn, They give beauty and dignity to a community.
This twofold element of truth and love must go into every action to make it good. Every good deed must partake of both qualities. If I do a kind act simply from good nature; if I give money merely because I am asked to give it, without stopping to think whether it is right to do it and if it will do real good, then my good nature is the merest weakness; it has no substance in it. It is only the selfish desire to escape trouble. On the other hand, if I am honest, just, and truthful in anything merely for my own sake, and do not care how
my honesty or truth helps or hurts others; if I blurt out unnecessarily and harshly whatever I think to be truth, then my truth ceases to be truth, and becomes only self-will and obstinacy. You cannot find a single good action which has not involved in it this twofold element, and in proportion as they are well balanced, goodness grows into beauty, and conduct is not only right; but also lovely.
One of the peculiarities of Jesus was that in him the love of truth and the love of man were in coinplete harmony. His truth was never hard, his kindness never weak. His justice was not cold law; his tenderness no effeminate good nature. His love had an edge to it; it was no rose-water philanthropy. He was the most earnest reformer who ever appeared in the world; and yet we do not think of him as such, because his severity was so filled with warmth, and with that actinic ray which makes all seeds swell, all buds open into blossom. Yet look at it. He came to take up many things by the roots, this most uncompromising of radicals. He seemed to the Jews to overthrow all that was most venerable in their religion. Jerusalem was no sacred city to him. Man may worship God everywhere. The Sabbath is no holy day in itself, but only good as it serves man; the Temple must pass away, with its awful and holy ceremonies. He instituted a religion without priest, temple, altar, book, or day. In the destructive analysis of his criticism all forms and creeds were dissolved, and nothing remained but love to God and man.
And yet all this destruction was so constantly for the sake of something positive, that he could say truly, “I came not to destroy, but to fulfil.” The Jewish Sabbath went, but it was fulfilled in the profound peace of hearts resting from all anxiety in the grace of God. The Temple passed, but worship remained, the worship of a little child clinging to his father's hand. The law of Moses came to an end, but that also was fulfilled in a joy which was its own security, in love which was an unerring light. Jesus in his word and in his life was truth spoken in love. His love went out further than human love had ever gone, so that it reached those furthest out and furthest away. His perfect holiness and purity led him to condemn all sin, but his perfect humanity led him to save every sinner. Thus in him mercy and truth met together, righteousness and peace kissed each other. Since he, so pure and holy, could yet love the sinner and give his life for him, we see how God can love us, even when we are most sinful and evil.
All conflicts of duty resolve themselves at last k into this antagonism of truth and love. If you
ever feel a real difficulty as to what your duty is, you will find, on looking into it, that truth seems to be pulling you one way and love the other. A man comes to you with a tale of woe. Love says, “ Help him.” Truth says, “No. Perhaps he is an impostor. In that case, your helping him will do harm, not good.” You hear things said and done in society which seem to you false and evil. Truth says, “ Protest against them. Denounce them. Expose them.” Love replies, "No. What right have you to stab, cut, wound people who may be right after all? And what good will it do? It will only displease and offend them." You see many customs and habits which appear false and evil. Truth says, “Come out and be separate from them. Do