I am sure you will admit, with me, that as the Lord’s saving visit to Zacchaeus prompted him at once to assail his besetting sin of covetousness, exclaiming, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor, and if I have taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold”; so in like manner if any untoward feeling has been harboured to this or that person, the moment a drop of divine love falls upon the heart, or a sweet smile from Jesus bedews the soul, there is at once an outgoing of sympathy, tenderness, forgiveness, to this or that one who had done the wrong.
It may be a hint to my readers, as well as a reminder to my own forgetful heart, if I mention a case which proved of immense service to me throughout my ministerial and parochial course.
In my parish in Ireland there lived an elderly man. He was a native of Cornwall, and he told me on one occasion, that when there was a much-talked-of revival there, a certain notorious character was said to be converted. He, in common with others, called upon him, and heard the thrice-told tale of his conversion, but he was not satisfied. Something caused him to doubt the genuineness of the change, and so he thought of the following test. Aware that the assumed convert had previously cherished a marked ill-feeling against a certain man, he ventured to introduce his name. No sooner did he do so than, in spite of his profession of a change of heart, the old venom at once re-presented itself. “Yours is no true conversion,” said my informant, “if it were, a very different feeling would possess you.” And he was right.
A short time before I was appointed to that same parish, a Roman Catholic gentleman sent a message from his sick-bed to a neighbour with whom he had quarrelled about some land, intimating that he could not die until a reconciliation had taken place. I thought it a notable example.
A dispute or difference had sprung up between the incumbent of the adjoining parish and one of his parishioners. The latter presented himself at the Lord’s table. Before handing him the elements, however, the clergyman tendered his hand, that thus a reconciliation might precede the partaking of the bread and wine.
While officiating at the table of the Lord on one occasion, two of the parishioners whom I knew to be at enmity with each
other, happened to kneel side by side. Before presenting the bread, I whispered “Shake hands!” Instead of complying with my request, however, one instantly rose and withdrew. I never was so pained whilst thus ministering as upon that occasion.