Leonardo da Vinci was one of the outstanding intellects of all history, for he was great as a draftsman, an engineer, and a thinker. Just before he commenced work on his "Last Supper" he had a violent quarrel with a fellow painter. So enraged and bitter was Leonardo that he determined to paint the face of his enemy, the other artist, into the face of Judas, and thus take his revenge and vent his spleen by handing the man down in infamy and scorn to succeeding generations. The face of Judas was one of the first that he finished, and everyone could easily recognize it as the face of the painter with whom he had quarreled. But when he came to paint the face of Christ, he could make no progress. Something seemed to be baffling him, holding him back, frustrating his best efforts. At length he came to the conclusion that the thing which was checking and frustrating him was the fact that he had painted his enemy into the face of Judas. He therefore painted out the face of Judas and commenced anew on the face of Jesus, and this time with the success which the ages have acclaimed.
That is a profound parable of the Christian life. You cannot at one and the same time be painting the features of Christ into your own life, and painting another face with the colors of enmity and hatred.
Aaron Burr is an instance of a gifted and able man who permitted hatred to get the best of him. When he and Jefferson were deadlocked in the House of Representatives for the presidency, it was the influence of Alexander Hamilton, who likened Burr to Cataline, that led to Burr's defeat for the presidency. Again, in 1804, it was the influence of Hamilton, who wrote letters disparaging the character of Burr, that played a prominent part in Burr's defeat for the governorship of New York. After these two overthrows Burr was possessed of hatred toward
Hamilton, and he eventually killed him in the fatal duel on the tragic shores of Weehawken. But the pistol shot which took the life of Hamilton also took the political life and the national reputation of Aaron Burr. Long afterward, he confessed that it would have been wiser for him had he taken the sensible view that the world was big enough for both Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton.
There are two ways of dealing with your enemies—the wrong way, the way that Haman took toward Mordecai; and the right way, the way that Joseph took toward his brethren who had sold him into slavery. Let us consider the wrong way, or how not to get the best of our enemies.
Haman built a gallows fifty cubits high on which to hang his enemy, Mordecai. In the early morning light, passersby in the city of Shushan saw a body dangling from a gallows fifty cubits high, and the vultures already circling around it. But it was not the body of Mordecai, for whom Haman had built the gallows, but the body of Haman himself. He was a victim of hate and revenge—not another's, but his own. A dismal and terrible sight, that body dangling there with the vultures wheeling around it. Yet it is not without profit that you pause to look upon this sight; for since every soul can hate, every man has in him the making of a Haman.
Among the particular sins which quench the fire of God's Holy Spirit are envy, jealousy, anger, hatred. A well-known public woman in her autobiography says of a woman who, she thought, had wronged her, "I hate her now; I hated her then. I have often hoped the feeling would leave me. It never has."
What a terrible confession! Hannah More once well said, "If I wished to punish my enemy, I should make him hate someone." What a punishment it is for a man to hate another! And the worst kind of punishment is the risk of the withdrawal of the Holy Spirit.
Human hate is a deadly blight that does worse damage to the
hater than to the hated. Its cure is found in the love of Christ. When that love comes in hate goes out. They cannot keep house together.—Southern Churchman