1 Corinthians 13* The necessity and advantage of the grace of love. (1-3) Itsexcellency represented by its properties and effects; (4-7) andby its abiding, and its superiority. (8-13)1-3 The excellent way had in view in the close of the formerchapter, is not what is meant by charity in our common use ofthe word, almsgiving, but love in its fullest meaning; true loveto God and man. Without this, the most glorious gifts are of noaccount to us, of no esteem in the sight of God. A clear headand a deep understanding, are of no value without a benevolentand charitable heart. There may be an open and lavish hand,where there is not a liberal and charitable heart. Doing good toothers will do none to us, if it be not done from love to God,and good-will to men. If we give away all we have, while wewithhold the heart from God, it will not profit. Nor even themost painful sufferings. How are those deluded who look foracceptance and reward for their good works, which are as scantyand defective as they are corrupt and selfish! 4-7 Some of the effects of charity are stated, that we may knowwhether we have this grace; and that if we have not, we may notrest till we have it. This love is a clear proof ofregeneration, and is a touchstone of our professed faith inChrist. In this beautiful description of the nature and effectsof love, it is meant to show the Corinthians that their conducthad, in many respects, been a contrast to it. Charity is anutter enemy to selfishness; it does not desire or seek its ownpraise, or honour, or profit, or pleasure. Not that charitydestroys all regard to ourselves, or that the charitable manshould neglect himself and all his interests. But charity neverseeks its own to the hurt of others, or to neglect others. Itever prefers the welfare of others to its private advantage. Howgood-natured and amiable is Christian charity! How excellentwould Christianity appear to the world, if those who profess itwere more under this Divine principle, and paid due regard tothe command on which its blessed Author laid the chief stress!Let us ask whether this Divine love dwells in our hearts. Hasthis principle guided us into becoming behaviour to all men? Arewe willing to lay aside selfish objects and aims? Here is a callto watchfulness, diligence, and prayer. 8-13 Charity is much to be preferred to the gifts on which theCorinthians prided themselves. From its longer continuance. Itis a grace, lasting as eternity. The present state is a state ofchildhood, the future that of manhood. Such is the differencebetween earth and heaven. What narrow views, what confusednotions of things, have children when compared with grown men!Thus shall we think of our most valued gifts of this world, whenwe come to heaven. All things are dark and confused now,compared with what they will be hereafter. They can only be seenas by the reflection in a mirror, or in the description of ariddle; but hereafter our knowledge will be free from allobscurity and error. It is the light of heaven only, that willremove all clouds and darkness that hide the face of God fromus. To sum up the excellences of charity, it is preferred notonly to gifts, but to other graces, to faith and hope. Faithfixes on the Divine revelation, and assents thereto, relying onthe Divine Redeemer. Hope fastens on future happiness, and waitsfor that; but in heaven, faith will be swallowed up in actualsight, and hope in enjoyment. There is no room to believe andhope, when we see and enjoy. But there, love will be madeperfect. There we shall perfectly love God. And there we shallperfectly love one another. Blessed state! how much surpassingthe best below! God is love, #1Jo 4:8,16|. Where God is to beseen as he is, and face to face, there charity is in itsgreatest height; there only will it be perfected.
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