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vice and profligacy of every kind, and became good in defiance of habit, of education and vicious example, I should say that he had reached to a far higher degree of moral perfection than one equally good who had encountered no such moral impediments. It is clear then that a man's spiritual state might, under some circumstances, be approved of God, which, under others, would be perfectly hopeless, though in both cases the persons might appear to be upon an equality in moral behaviour. The Almighty Arbiter of events judges of a man “according to that he hath, and not according to that he hath not.” He expects us to do good in proportion to our means and opportunities, and whilst moral fitness, as it is called, is a relative acquisition, we are to leave the judgment of it to God, and love all his creatures for the sake of him who died to redeem them from the awful penalty of transgression.
Permit me to ask, if we had been ever so criminal, should we hate ourselves ? Never! you may detest the crime you commit; you may writhe under the scourgings of remorse; you may shrink with dismay from your enormities; you may even rush into the jaws of death-a sad delusion! to wipe out with your blood the stains of a life polluted with guilt; but self-love is at the bottom of all. It is not because you hate yourself, but because you dread the consequences that may accrue from your enormities, that you cry out with the suffering Patriarch, “ wherefore is light given to him that is in misery, or life unto the bitter in soul," and rush into the presence of an outraged God, in order to escape the lashings of conscience which are too acute to be endured. Do not imagine that there ever existed an instance in which a man hated himself, however criminal ; he has therefore no right to hate another, be his moral degradation what it may. The law of nature which sanctions self-love, justifies the law of religion, which commands a love of our kind. They are inseparable and coordinate. I
say then that we have no right to hate the greatest criminal alive.
This may seem a strange doctrine to some stern casuists; it is nevertheless the law of the gospel, and a very little consideration will show us that it is a most wise law. For it will be evident, as a matter of abstract justice, that if abhorrence were a law of religion under any circumstances, all who are equally criminal should be equally abhorred; but as we cannot abhor ourselves, however deep the die of our own guilt, it is manifest that we cannot justly abhor our neighbour, and what we cannot do without injustice must be a violation of moral right. “ Who art thou that judgest another ? to his own master he standeth or falleth ;” and therefore as we cannot know whether that master will
condemn him or not, we cannot be justified in hating ony one who has the least hope or chance of salvation.
Suppose for a moment you had a child in the lowest degree abandoned : your hatred would not be excited; nay, you would not perhaps love him less, however you might detest his crime. The feelings of nature would prevail over those of principle, and you would most probably extenuate his vices only because he was your son, whilst you would as probably justify the public execution of a much less depraved criminal. You will thus perceive how possible it is to love the most unworthy objects in ourselves and in our children. Nor is this love at all sinful, unless we turn the good to evil by directing it to the encouragement of vice, which does not at all necessarily follow from our loving a vicious object. Love then, or Christian benevolence, is the right of all mankind. The social condition of man demands it, we consequently rob our fellow-creatures of their right whenever we. withhold it.
You may perhaps ask me, am I to love a murderer? I answer, Yes! As the Lord loved his murderers when he prayed for them upon the
Entertain towards him that godly love which would induce you, if you had the opportunity and means, to save him from eternal, though you could not from temporal condemnation. You may detest the crime, but God forbids you to detest the criminal.
The crime you detest for its own sake; you forbear to detest the criminal for the love of God who died for his salvation. And remember, though no murderer, you yourself may be in the same condemnation. Nay, who shall say that he may not be saved while thou art condemned, for “the Lord seeth not as man seeth: for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart;" and you cannot forget Christ's declaration to the Chief Priests and elders of the Jews; “ verily I say unto you, that the Publicans and Harlots go into the Kingdom of Heaven before you."
Before you condemn, look at the sinner's situation in society. He may have been reared among the vilest outcasts ; his
preceptors may have been the most profligate of men; he may have been taught to consider murder as only a less sanguinary mode of establishing what he may conceive to be the natural law of equality, or equal rights, in which an individual only is slaughtered instead of thousands. He may never have had one virtuous principle instilled into his tender mind, and may therefore have grown up hardened, and ferocious only because he happened to be cast among those who warped the energies of his soul to evil, when under more favourable influences, those energies
might have inclined to good. Who among you shall say that, had you been similarly situated, you would not have been similarly guilty ? Surely the punishment which the murderer suffers from the compunctious visitings of his own thoughts, and at contemplating the final issue of his guilt, in that public expiation upon the drop which he invariably makes for having violated the laws, at once of his God and of his country, is sufciently awful, added to those terrible judgments to which he may be consigned in an eternal world where, if he is condemned, it will be to everlasting horrors. Assuredly this is enough, without any human hate to aggravate the miseries of his condition. He is in truth more entitled to our pity than our hate, and as pity is one of the modifications under which the love of our kind is exhibited, it is that which we ought to extend the most readily, to those who have unhappily incurred the punishment of human guilt in this world, and the chance of a more enduring punishment in the next.
Can any one imagine that persons are happy in proportion as they are guilty ? Is it not invariably the reverse ? “Knowest thou not this of old, that the triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment? though his excellency mount up to the heavens, and his head reach unto the clouds, yet shall he perish for ever, and they which have seen him