By Hugh Binning
“Charity covers a multitude of sins,” (1st Peter 4:8) and therefore “above all things have fervent charity among yourselves,” he says. What is above prayer and watching to the end, above carefulness? Indeed, in reference to fellowship with God, these are above all; but in relation to comfortable fellowship one with another in this world, this is above all, and the crown or cream of other graces. He whose sins are covered by God’s free love, cannot think it a hard thing to spread the garment of his love over his brother’s sins. Hatred stirs up strife, all uncharitable affections, such as envy, and wrath. It stirs up contentions, and makes a spreading fire of men’s infirmities. But “love covers all sins,” conceals them from all to whom the knowledge of them does not belong, (Proverbs 10:12)
Love in a way does not attempt to know the bad it knows, or at least to remember it much. It will sometimes hoodwink itself to a favorable esteeming of others. It will pass by an infirmity and flaw, but many stand still and commune with the infirmity and flaws of others. But the one who covers a transgression seeks love to bury offences in. Silence is a notable way to preserve agreement and harmony, and bring forth true warmth and friendship. The keeping of faults long above ground unburied, makes them cast forth an evil smell that will away separate friends. Therefore, the wise man says, “He who covers a transgression seeks love: but he who repeats a matter separates close friends,” (Proverbs 17) Covering faults in a Christian way, will make a stranger a friend; but repeating and spreading of them will make a friend not only a stranger, but also an enemy.
Yet this is not to the say that we have no Christian duty of reproving and admonishing one another, “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” (Ephesians 5:11) Love commands us to reprove in the “spirit of meekness,” (Galatians 6:1) as a man would restore an arm out of joint. Therefore you “You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him. ” (Leviticus 19:17) And he who reproves his brother in this manner out of love, and in meekness and wisdom, “will afterwards find more favor from him than the one who flatters with his tongue,” (Proverbs 28:23).
To cover and hide grudges and jealousies in our hearts, is to nourish a flame in our hearts, which only waits to vent, and will at one time or another burst out. But to look too narrowly to every step, and to write up a registry of men’s petty faults, especially so as to make them known to the world; this is inconsistent with the rule of love. And truly, it is a token of one “destitute of wisdom to hate his neighbor; but a man of understanding will hold his peace.” He who has most defects himself, will find the most in others, and strive to vilify them one way or another; but a wise man can pass by frailties, yes, even offences done to him, and be silent, (Proverbs 11:12).
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