THE HOUSE OF HEART
LORDS OF THE HEART: I. LOVE
THE WAYS OF LOVE
The Lords of the House.—As Mansoul comes into the world with Rulers in his House of Mind, which are also powers of delight, so does he come with Rulers in his House of Heart, whose office is to bring him happiness; and, as no one was ever happy by himself, to cause him to bring happiness to others. The two great Lords and high officials of the House of Heart are Love and Justice.
Love.—Love, like a king, has his Lords in Waiting—Pity, Benevolence, Sympathy, Kindness, Generosity, Gratitude, Courage, Loyalty, Humility, Gladness. Have you ever thrown a stone into the water and watched the circles about it spread? As a matter of fact, they spread to the very shores of the pond or lake or sea into which you have thrown the stone; more, they affect the land on the further side. But those distant circles become so faint that they are imperceptible, while those nearest to point where you have thrown in the stone are clearly marked. So it is with our Love. It is as if, in the first place,
our home were the stone thrown in to move our being; and from that central point the circle of our love widens until it embraces all men. No one, excepting our Lord Jesus Christ, ever knew how much he could love, or how much he could do for Love’s sake; but the soldier who goes into the thick of the fight to rescue his comrade, at the risk of his own life; the mother who watches her sick child, and would give her life many times over to save it from suffering; the nurse who spends herself, body and soul, in ministering to the sick,—these know just a little of how much love there is in the human heart.
Counterfeit Loves—Self-Love.—There are many counterfeit loves going about ready to take possession of the House of our Heart and to expel the lawful lord. We know what it is to be exacting, selfish, jealous, with those dearest to us, even with our own mothers, and we call it love. So it is; but it is Self-love, the poorest and lowest form of Love; but a Love which is lawful and necessary, or we should not take care of our own lives, property, or interests at all. We cannot do without Self-love, or we should become a burden and trouble to other people; but the person who loves himself only, looks only, or chiefly, after his own interests, pleasures and profits, is branded by the world as a selfish person. His mind is so full of his own feelings and affairs that he has little time to think about those of other persons. He gives little love, and he deserves to get as little; but the sad thing is, that perhaps he has a mother or sister, a wife or a friend, who pours great love out upon him and suffers at his hands. It is a comfort that the one who loves, in such a case, and not he who takes the
love and makes no return, is really the happier; for it is they who love, rather than they who are beloved, who live every day in the kingdom of God. There is a kind of selfishness not so easily found out as that of the person who is always looking after his own interests and pleasures, that is, the selfishness of the person who is continually making claims on those who love him. He wants their time, their thoughts, all their attention, their company; and is irritable, offended, jealous if he does not get the attention and affection he demands. He thinks it is because he loves this or that friend so dearly, but it is, in truth, because he loves himself that neither mother nor friend can give him all the love and consideration he seems to himself to deserve.
Philandering.—There is another counterfeit of Love whose satisfaction lies in kissing, caressing, touching, being always with the person beloved at the moment. I say, at the moment, because, though these expressions may belong, in their right measure and at their right time, to true Love, they do not in themselves constitute Love or necessarily belong to it, and some people go through life philandering, now with one person, now with another, in the indulgence of this spurious, rather animal affection, which is not sustained by any of the signs of true Love.
Love is a pearl of price which every heart holds; but, as many people pass counterfeits upon themselves and upon their friends, it is well that we should know how to recognise the jewel when we see it, and above all when we feel, or think we feel it.
Love delights in the Goodness of Another.—Love delights in the person who is beloved. Now it is natural to us to delight in that which is good; the
hearts of the most savage and degraded have many times been conquered in this way. They have seen loves of goodness, unselfishness, and beauty lived before them from day to day; they have watched such lives with delight because ‘’tis their nature to,’ and at last they have given their heart’s love and reverence to the person whose goodness has been their joy. It is not merely that that person has been good to them; perhaps they have never had a word or look all to themselves, but they have watched, pondered, and loved. Some day, perhaps, we shall know the history of the soldier heroes, the missionary heroes, the saints, who have done good just because they were good. Now, we know only a few here and there,—St Francis of Assisi, Elizabeth Fry, General Gordon; but, whenever we learn that people have been raised out of degradation, in countries savage or civilised, we may be sure that it is because someone has lived a blessed life before their eyes. Therefore, I say that Love delights before all things in the goodness of the person beloved, and would not, for any price, make his friend less loving to all, less dutiful, less serviceable. To influence his friend towards unworthy ways would seem to Love like burning his own house about his head.
Seeks the Happiness of his Friend.—Again, Love seeks the happiness of the beloved, and shrinks from causing uneasiness to his friend by fretful or sullen tempers, jealousy or mistrust.
Seeks to be Worthy.—Love seeks to be worthy of his friend; and as the goodness of his friend is his delight, so he will himself grow in goodness for the pleasure of his friend.
Desires to Serve.—Once more, Love desires to
give and serve; the gifts and the service vary with the age and standing of the friends; the child will bring the gift of obedience, the parent may have to offer the service of rebuke, but the thought of service is always present to Love. “Love not in word, neither in tongue,” says the Apostle, “but in deed and in truth”; that is, perhaps, “Do not rest content with the mere expression of love, whether in word or caress, but show your love in service and in confidence”; for the love that does not trust is either misplaced or unworthy. Love has other signs, no doubt, but these are true of all true love, whether between parent and child, friend and friend, married lovers, or between those who labour for the degraded and distressed and those for whom they labour. Let us notice the word degradation: it is literally to step from, to step down, and it is really a word of hope, for if it is possible to step down, it is also possible to step up again. All the great possibilities of Love are in every human heart, and to touch the spring, one must give Love.
Aversion.—But in every Mansoul, our own and all others, there are the opposed possibilities, what we have called the dæmons of the qualities. We are all capable of warmth, liking, friendliness, love; and we are all capable of coldness, dislike, aversion, hatred. Punch’s old joke, “’E’s a stranger; les’s ’eave ’arf a brick at ’im,” gives us the key to a great deal of our coldness and aversion. It is commonly because we do not know people that we dislike them; and the way to get over such dislike is to think about the person disliked, to try to realise him from his own point of view; thus we shall find much in him that awakens friendly feelings. Hatred is an unusual feeling, and
generally arises from the resentment of injuries. Let us remember that the one petition in the Lord’s Prayer to which a condition is attached is, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us.” We have it not in us in our own strength to forgive. It is only in the Love and the presence of God that we can forgive injuries, and when we forgive, we love.
Before we think of the particular manifestations of Love, we will consider the blessed presences whom we have called his Lords in Waiting.