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Mornings In The College Chapel by Francis Greenwood Peabody

XXXIV THE COMFORT OF THE TRUTH

John xiv.14, 16.

Jesus says that he will send a Comforter, and that it will be the spirit of the truth. Many people say just the opposite of this. If you want comfort, they think that you must not have truth. Is not the truth often an uncomforting and uncomfortable thing? Too much truth seems dangerous. The spirit of the truth is a hard, cold spirit. Should not a comforter shade and soften the truth? But Jesus answers there is nothing so permanently comforting as the truth. Why, for instance, is it that we judge people so severely? It is not as a rule that we know the whole truth about them, but that we know only a fragment of the truth. The more we know, the gentler grow our judgments. Would it not be so if people who judge you should know all your secret hopes and conflicts and dreams? Why is it again that people are so despondent about their own times, their community, the tendency of things? It is because {86} they have not entered deeply enough into the truth of the times. The more they know, the more they hope. And why is it that God is all-merciful? It is because He is also all-wise. He knows all about us, our desires and our repentances, and so in the midst of our wrong-doing He continues merciful. His Holy Spirit bears in one hand comfort and in the other truth. How does a student get peace of mind? He finds it when he gets hold of some stable truth. It may not be a large truth, but it is a real truth, and therefore it is a comfort. How does a man in his moral struggles get comfort? He gets it not by swerving, or dodging, or compromising, but by being true. The only permanent comfort is in the sense of fidelity. You are like a sailor in the storm; it is dark about you, the wind howls, the stars vanish. What gives you comfort? It is the knowledge that one thing is true. Thank God, you have your compass, and the tremulous little needle can be trusted. You bend over it with your lantern in the dark and know where you are going, and that renews your courage. You have the spirit of the truth, and it is your comforter.

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