Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers all transgressions.
I. IT CARRIES THE WEIGHT OF MANY SHORTCOMINGS.
1. On the one band, many proprieties will not atone for the absence of love. We are wholly unsatisfied if one who sustains to us a very near relationship (husband, wife, son, daughter, etc.) is scrupulously correct in behaviour if love be wanting from the heart. Nothing can compensate for that. The kindness that is not prompted by affection is of a very poor order, and it does not satisfy the soul.
2. On the other hand, the presence of pure and strong affection makes many things tolerable which in themselves are hard to bear. Not that any one has a right to excuse himself for transgressions of law, of whatever kind they may be, on the ground of his tenderness of heart. It is a complete and dangerous misreading of our Lord's word (Luke 7:47) to suppose that he meant that sins are forgiven because of the presence of much love; it is the presence of much love that is the proof, not the ground, of forgiveness (see homily in loc.). But it is a patent and common fact of human life that we can not only bear with one another, but can love and honour one another when love dwells in the heart and shines in the countenance and breathes and burns in the words and actions, even though there may be much faultiness and many infirmities that have to be forgiven.
II. IT IS PREPARED WITH GENEROUS INTERPRETATIONS of much misbehaviour. Where a hard, cast-iron severity sees nothing but transgression, love sees much extenuation or even complete excuse; or it goes beyond that, and sees, or believes that it sees, a worthy and not an unworthy motive. It magnifies or invents a reason which puts conduct in another light, and makes it appear pardonable, if not creditable. It has quite a different account to give of the transaction; it is that which only generous love could see and could supply.
III. IT HAS A LARGE FORGIVENESS FOR EVEN GREAT OFFENCES. The Divine love "abundantly pardons." It blots out the worst misdeeds and pardons the negligence and impiety of whole periods of a sinful life. The human love that is likest to the Divine can overlook very dark misdoings, and take back to its embrace those who have gone away and astray into a very "far country" of sin.
IV. IT REDEEMS AND RESTORES. When law does not avail, love will succeed in winning the erring to wiser and better ways. It can lay its hand upon the sinner with a touch that will tell and will triumph. It has a power to break the obduracy of guilt for which violence is utterly inadequate. It alone can lead the rebellious spirit into the gate of penitence and faith, and make its future life a life of obedience and wisdom. Thus in the best way, winning the noblest of all victories, it "covers sin" by conquering it, by leading the heart to the love of righteousness and the practice of purity. Where the rough winds of penalty will fail, the soft, sweet sunshine of love will succeed most excellently. - C.
Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.
(J. Parker, D.D.)
(James Neil, M.A.)
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