Overcoming Ingratitude

Ingratitude is a product of the mortal mind that is unillumined by Truth. It is always a glaring vice when exhibited by others. When we ourselves exhibit ingratitude,—and we are all thus guilty more or less frequently and flagrantly until we learn the unreality of error,—our egotism seeks to escape the eye of conscience. In this it would imitate the foolish ostrich when it buries its head in the sand and imagines that its entire body is concealed. We forget that while such petty concealments may, perhaps, deceive ourselves, they are absurdly transparent in the light of omniscience. And it is often the case when we succeed in our sophistries with our own consciences, seeming to hide our sins from ourselves, that our evasions are but transient and ineffectual; and, later on, our punishments whip us all the more severely because they are delayed. Soon or late the uttermost sands are sure to run in the glass of justice.

It seems to have been the generous hearts which have suffered most frequently and most keenly from the hemlock-cup of ingratitude. Socrates was not alone in finding his contemporaries ready "to heap ingratitude on worthiest deeds." Praxiteles was not the last to find his most beautiful statue destroyed by the malice of one he had benefited. Timon merely suffered a world-wide experience when he learned from the desertion of the parasites who had shared in his glittering munificence that sentiment which Dryden has expressed in his line, "Want gives to know the flatterer from the friend." Poor old King Lear was neither the first nor the last who has fled even into the tempest and lightningtorn darkness to find peace for a heart sorely pierced by the poisoned arrows of ingratitude. Too often, our highest motives and purest deeds are misunderstood and maligned by their beneficiaries. Too often, when we have consented to act as disinterested ladders for others to climb by, we find ourselves ignored when we are supposed to be no longer useful. Indeed, the teeth of monstrous ingratitude seem to be found nearly everywhere in the abode of mortal mind, inflicting many a wound upon the sensibilities of the generous.

The True Ground of Assurance
February 27, 1904

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