“Charity never faileth.”

1 Corinthians 13

Let us for our instruction read Paul’s description of holy love, which is so excellent a grace as to be absolutely essential to the Christian character.

1 Corinthian 13:1

Eloquence of the most lofty kind is mere sound, unless there be love in the speaker’s heart to give weight to his words. Better to have a loving heart than to speak twenty languages.

1 Corinthian 13:2

Gifts may be plentiful, and those of the highest order, and yet we may perish; grace in the heart is the only sure evidence of salvation. A man may prophesy and be a Balaam, he may understand mysteries and be a Simon Magus, he may have all knowledge and perish like Ahithophel, and he may have a mountain-moving faith, and be a son of perdition like Judas. Love to God and man there must be, or we have nothing good in us.

1 Corinthian 13:3

Men may endow the poor with all their substance out of mere ostentation, or die as martyrs out of sheer obstinacy, but if they have no love to God they have suffered in vain. Love is an essential grace, it is the soul of godliness, and without it religion is but a dead carcase.

1 Corinthian 13:4

It is glad of another’s good.

1 Corinthian 13:4

It never glorifies itself.

1 Corinthian 13:4

It hates flattery.

1 Corinthian 13:5

Christian love conducts itself properly. Love to others will not allow us to act in a manner unbecoming our position and the decencies of society.

1 Corinthian 13:4

Is not suspicious and captious.

1 Corinthian 13:6, 7

Covers many things with its mantle, and as Old Master Trapp says, “swallows down whole many pills which would be very bitter in her mouth if she were so foolish as to chew them.”

That is to say, all things which are for a neighbours credit; trying to put a good construction upon everything, even where it needs great faith to be able to do so.

1 Corinthian 13:8, 9

It is an unwithering flower.

1 Corinthian 13:8, 9

Our greatest knowledge is to know that we know nothing. We are but scholars in the lower forms of Christ’s College.

1 Corinthian 13:10-12

He shews that our best intellectual attainments here below, even in heavenly things, must be necessarily temporary, and thus he leads us to prize those choice graces of the heart which will outlast time, and be perfected in eternity.

1 Corinthian 13:13

It is not true that faith and hope will cease any more than love. The three divine sisters are each immortal. We shall trust the Lord all the more when we meet him face to face, and we shall hope all the more ardently for the continued enjoyment of his glory when we enter into it. Still love bears the palm, may we be made perfect in it.

 

Had I the tongues of Greeks and Jews,

And nobler speech than angels use.

If love be absent, I am found

Like tinkling brass, an empty sound.

 

Should I distribute all my store,

To feed the bowels of the poor,

Or give my body to the flame,

To gain a martyr’s glorious name:

 

If love to God and love to men

Be absent, all my hopes are vain;

Nor tongues, nor gifts, nor fiery zeal,

The work of love can e’er fulfil.

 

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