Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.…
There is always truth enough in the world, but it is merciless truth. Men are quick enough to see the faults and sins of their neighbours. If truth is merely fault-finding, then there is plenty of it everywhere. No man ever commits a sin but some one sees it and points it out. But cold, hard truth never convinces; it only provokes; It hardens instead of converting. It seems like injustice, cruelty, wrong. Truth without love has, therefore, virtually the effect of falsehood. It is often said that men are seldom converted by argument or controversy. This is because controversy is so apt to be carried on in a spirit of coldness and hatred, rather than love. There is also enough love in the world, if love means only kind feelings, weak good-will, which is too full of sympathy to see the faults of others and point them out, which will concede or suppress truth for the sake of peace. No. Love which has no truth in it is not love, but real enmity. To treat a bad man as if he were not bad, is a cruel kindness. It puts darkness for light, and light for darkness; bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter. It confounds moral distinctions. It encourages the man who might be cured by vigorous remedies to go on from bad to worse till he is incurable. It is not easy to unite these great forces, for they are polar forces and antagonist. A truthful man tends always to be too hard; a loving man tends to be too soft and yielding. This conflict between truth and love is sometimes presented to us as a problem in ethics. If a robber asks me which way his victim has gone, shall I tell a lie and deceive him or not? Shall I tell a lie to an insane person or a sick person for his good? Is it right ever to deceive? These questions, when put in abstract form, cannot always be answered. But the practical answer comes to us if we have learned to live in truth and love. When these are united in our character, they will not be divided in our speech or our action. We shall not tell any lies from good nature, but we shall be taught in the hour of exigency what to do and say. The promise of Jesus will be fulfilled: "Take no thought what ye shall say, for it will be given you in that hour what ye ought to say." If we live in the whole a united life, we shall not act partially or in a one-sided way. The Lord will help us in each exigency to say and do the right thing, not sacrificing truth to love or love to truth. Life often teaches us that way which logic fails to find. The only live work, too, is that which has both truth and love in it. We must love our work, to do it well; We must also believe in it, to do it well. The lowest drudgery becomes a fine art when we put our mind and heart into it: a fine art becomes mere drudgery when we practise it only to make money or get reputation out of it. Work is very hard when we do it only because we must; it is very easy when we have faith in it and love it.
(J. F. Clarke.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.