Love Covering Sin

[1 Pet. 4:8]---' Love covereth a multitude of sins.'

The source where these words are taken is Prov. 10:12, 'Hatred stirreth up strifes, but love covereth all transgressions.' The expression 'cover a multitude of sins' occurs again as the closing words of the Epistle of James [v. 20] : 'He which converteth a sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall cover a mutitude of sins.' The form in which St. Peter and St. James present the saying differs slightly from the original Hebrew.

We should interpret these passages of the New Testament, especially the text from St Peter, in the light of what we know about the operation of love, God's cosmic moral force, which works with most intence power in the Church of Christ, which God now uses to check the growth of sin, and which will finally eliminate evil altogether from the universe. It is always best to take large views, to look at things in relation to the whole of which they are a part ; and it is allowable, as it is certainly practically helpful, to think of the 'multitude of sins,' of which the Apostles James and Peter speak, not as the sins of any particular person or persons, but as the volume or mass of sin in general, 'the sin of the world' which 'the Lamb of God taketh away.'

But we must, of course, take note in the first place of the working of the force of love in detail. 'Love,' says the Apostle Paul [1 Cor.13:5], 'taketh not account of evil.' That is to say, a man who puts himself under the control of the love God acts, when a private personal injury has been done to him, as though nothing had occurred. In this way, by simply ignoring the unkind act or the insulting word, he does not merely conceal from view something that is there all the time, as we put a screen or curtain to hide what we do not wish seen, but he brings the evil thing to an end ; it dies and leaves no seed. 'Hatred,' as the Wise Man says, 'stirreth up strifes'; because hatred is like one of those germs familiar to pathologists, which, in a favorable environment, propagate themselves a millionfold in an incredibly short space of time. 'Love covereth transgressions,' not so much by the act of ignoring them as by the result of ignoring them, the consequent cutting away from the transgression all that would nourish it, and enable it to live, and be fruitful and multiply ; love makes an end of transgression much in the same way as sunshine destroys the germs of disease. Thus evil is overcome by love is peculiarly of the self-propagated kind.

We can now see that St. James, in the closing words in his Epistle, holds out as an incentive to efforts for the conversion of a sinner, that the man who succeeds in effecting this not only saves alive the soul of another, but also helps forward the accompishment of the great cosmic purpose of God, by diminishing, ever so little, the sum total of evil. No, the experience of the Christian centuries assures us that the conversion of sinner transmutes, by a Divine alchemy, that which is evil, and a source of evil into a source of good. The context in St. Peter is even more plainly favorable to this large, almost cosmic, reference of the saying. The Apostle is urging upon the Christian society the duty of self-preperation --- the preperation of the Church--- for the Second Coming of Christ.

The love here spoken of, like the exercise of hospitality and the general use of spiritual gifts, affect the common life of the Church, her self-education, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, for the fuller life in Christ which will be hers. And so, 'the common salvation,' as St Jude terms it, is worked out not merely by the salvation of souls one by one, but by each Christian taking his part, co-operating with Christ in His age-long purpose of 'presenting the church to himself a glorious chruch, not having a spot or wrinkle or any such thing ; but...holy and without blemish.'

Love is willing to forget as well as to forgive! Love does not keep hinting at past failures and past revolts. Love is willing to hide them in a nameless grave. When a man whose life has been stained and blackened by ' a multitude of sins ' turns over a new leaf, love will never hint at the old leaf, but will rather seek to cover it in deep and healing oblivion. Love is so busy unveiling the promises and allurements of the morrow, that she has little time, and still less desire, to stir up the choking dust on the blasted and desolate fields of yesterday. 'Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners.' There's a ' cover ' for you! ' And behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew . . . stood at his feet behind him weeping!' There is a cover for you! We do not wonder that the great evangelical prophet of the Old Testament, in heralding the advent of the Savior, should proclaim Him as ' a hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.' ' Love covereth all things.'

In Christ, timothy. Maranatha