FRIENDS AND NEIGHBOURS.
GOOD IN ALL.
There is good in all. Yes! we all believe it: not a man in the depth of his vanity but will yield assent. But do you not all, in practice, daily, hourly deny it? A beggar passes you in the street: dirty, ragged, importunate. “Ah! he has a bad look,” and your pocket is safe. He starves—and he steals. “I thought he was bad.” You educate him in the State Prison. He does not improve even in this excellent school. “He is,” says the gaoler, “thoroughly bad.” He continues his course of crime. All that is bad in him having by this time been made apparent to himself, his friends, and the world, he has only to confirm the decision, and at length we hear when he has reached his last step. “Ah! no wonder—there was never any Good in him. Hang him!”
Now much, if not all this, may be checked by a word.
If you believe in Good, always appeal to it. Be sure whatever there is of Good—is of God. There is never an utter want of resemblance to the common Father. “God made man in His own image.” “What! yon reeling, blaspheming creature; yon heartless cynic; yon crafty trader; yon false statesman?” Yes! All. In every nature there is a germ of eternal happiness, of undying Good. In the drunkard’s heart there is a memory of something better—slight, dim: but flickering still; why should you not by the warmth of your charity, give growth to the Good that is in him? The cynic, the miser, is not all self. There is a note in that sullen instrument to make all harmony yet; but it wants a patient and gentle master to touch the strings.
You point to the words “There is none good.” The truths do not oppose each other. “There is none good—save one.” And He breathes in all. In our earthliness, our fleshly will, our moral grasp, we are helpless, mean, vile. But there is a lamp ever burning in the heart: a guide to the source of Light, or an instrument of torture. We can make it either. If it burn in an atmosphere of purity, it will warm, guide, cheer us. If in the midst of selfishness, or under the pressure of pride, its flame will be unsteady, and we shall soon have good reason to trim our light, and find new oil for it.
There is Good in All—the impress of the Deity. He who believes not in the image of God in man, is an infidel to himself and his race. There is no difficulty about discovering it. You have only to appeal to it. Seek in every one the best features: mark, encourage, educate them. There is no man to whom some circumstance will not be an argument.