"She looked thoughtfully out of the window for a few minutes, then said, slowly:
“I know the sin is great, mamma, but is it so great that it should never be forgiven? Isn't the world very unjust in remembering it against her forever?”
As she spoke an old woman passed the house. There was a deep scar down the side of her face, which had been left from a burn in her childhood. Gladys turned to me like a flash.
“I see it, mamma; I understand. That poor marred face has explained it to me. Sin is like a dreadful burn – it hurts very much at the time, and then it leaves us not so beautiful as we were before. And the worst the sin the longer it will take the sore spot to heal, and the deeper will be the scar. We can scarcely see Mrs. Able without remembering that she once had a burn, for the scar is there to tell us about it.”
“Yes, dear, that is pretty nearly correct,” I replied; “yet your first idea about the world's injustice is correct too. Our minds are so constituted that a whole life-time of incidents will remain clearly written on them. We may look back over the years of our life and see month after month, week after week, little trifling things we thought and said and did. We can't forget them; they are indelibly pictured on our memory; and any important incident, anything which has greatly pleased or shocked or grieved us stands out more clearly than all the rest. But to merely remember a fact, to remember that a person made a great mistake, and to remember it against that person are very different things. When people take a wrong step, no matter how great, and they come to realize that it was not right, become sorry for it, and turn entirely from it, God forgives them, and says He will 'remember it against them no more forever.' He washes that blot off their souls, and they are just as free from it as you or I. And although the mere fact that the error was made cannot pass entirely from our mind, yet to remember it to their disadvantage, to place it in the balance against them, is just as wrong as to blame one for that misdeed who never did it at all. For that wrong is not theirs now; God says He put it from them 'as far as the east is from the west.'
“Can you then think of anything more unjust or cruel than to treat with scorn or contempt, or even pity, one who is now living a right life. When my little girl grows older she will learn many things about the world which she doesn't now know and doesn't need to know. And one sad thing she will learn is that woman are far more severe with women who have erred ever so little, than with men who have done great wrongs. But if she herself will take only the privilege which Jesus has given us in condemning an erring one, which is, 'He that is without sin among you let him first cast a stone at her,' I know she will not be unjust in her judgment of others. No one can ever be certain that he himself would not have fallen had he had the same temptation. Not every one can cross over a slippery plank and not fall into the stream."