1 Corinthians 13:12
Now we see but a dim reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
Christian MysteriesS. Summers.1 Corinthians 13:12
Face to FaceJ.R. Thomson 1 Corinthians 13:12
Heaven a State of Perfection in KnowledgeH. Kollock, D.D.1 Corinthians 13:12
Imperfect KnowledgeT. Ainger, M.A.1 Corinthians 13:12
Individual Recognition in EternityJ. B. Owen, M.A.1 Corinthians 13:12
Now - ThenE. Hurndall 1 Corinthians 13:12
Now and ThenT. Kelly.1 Corinthians 13:12
Now and ThenC. H. Spurgeon.1 Corinthians 13:12
Now and ThenClerical World1 Corinthians 13:12
Now, and ThenJ.R. Thomson 1 Corinthians 13:12
Of a Future StateH. Blair, D.D.1 Corinthians 13:12
Partial KnowledgeStems and Twigs.1 Corinthians 13:12
Present Knowledge and FutureDean Vaughan.1 Corinthians 13:12
Present Knowledge Imperfect But SufficientBp. Fowler.1 Corinthians 13:12
Present Knowledge Partial But SuffcientJ. Cross, D.D.1 Corinthians 13:12
Recognition in HeavenR. W. Hamilton, D.D.1 Corinthians 13:12
Recognition of Friends in HeavenJ. Trapp.1 Corinthians 13:12
Seeing DarklyE. H. Chapin, D.D.1 Corinthians 13:12
The Body, the Dark Medium of Spiritual VisionD. Thomas, D.D.1 Corinthians 13:12
The Enigma of LifeProf. E. Johnson.1 Corinthians 13:12
The Future State a Self-Conscious StateT. W. Shedd, D.D.1 Corinthians 13:12
The Future State a Self-Conscious StateWilliam G.T. Shedd1 Corinthians 13:12
The Imperfection of Our Present KnowledgeJ. Mason, A.M.1 Corinthians 13:12
The Joy of RevelationR. W. Randall, M.A.1 Corinthians 13:12
The Knowledge of GodBp. Phillips Brooks.1 Corinthians 13:12
The Nature of the Future KnowledgeR. Tuck 1 Corinthians 13:12
The Now and Then of LifeT. Hughes.1 Corinthians 13:12
The Perfection of Our Future KnowledgeJ. Mason, M.A.1 Corinthians 13:12
CharityF. W. Robertson, M.A.1 Corinthians 13:1-13
CharityA. F. Barfield.1 Corinthians 13:1-13
CharityJ. Garbett, M.A.1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Charity Difficult of AttainmentDr. Duff.1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Charity, Emblem Of1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Charity, Regard ForJ. Thomson.1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Charity, Want Of, not Confined to Theological CirclesJ. Parker1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Charity, Worthlessness of Gifts WithoutJ. B. Wilkinson, M.A.1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Christian CharityJ. Parsons.1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Christian Charity1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Christian LoveD. C. Hughes, A.M.1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Christian LoveW. M. Blackburn, D.D.1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Eloquence Without CharityD. Thomas, D.D.1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Far, But not Far EnoughBp. Ryle.1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Love is God-LikeE. H. Bradby, M. A.1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Love, Charm OfW. Jay.1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Love, Comprehensiveness OfJ. Cross, D.D.1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Love, the Essence of Christianity1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Love, the Essence of ReligionJohn Wesley.1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Love: Extent OfBaldwin Brown, B.A.1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Love: from God the SourceJ. Cross, D.D.1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Love: Gifts Compared WithJ. Lyth, D.D.1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Love: Growth and Power OfH. W. Beecher.1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Love: Importance OfJ. Lyth, D.D.1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Love: Indispensableness OfU. R. Thomas.1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Love: no Gift Like ItM. Dods, D.D.1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Love: Power and Office OfPrincipal Edwards.1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Love: the Gauge of True ManhoodH. W. Beecher.1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Love: the Importance OfTryon Edwards, D.D.1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Love: the Life of the SoulR. South, D.D.1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Love: the Sum of All VirtueJonathan Edwards1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Love: the Test of ReligionJ. Lyth, D.D.1 Corinthians 13:1-13
The Apostolic Doctrine of LoveDean Stanley.1 Corinthians 13:1-13
The Importance of CharityR. Watson.1 Corinthians 13:1-13
The Unreality of Religion Without LoveF. St. John Corbett.1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Permanence of LoveC. Lipscomb 1 Corinthians 13:8-13

He who looked into and, as it seemed, through the brazen disc saw a dim reflection of his own or his brother's features, or a misty representation or the landscape. But he who sees face to face sees, as by an immediate intuition, with nothing to hinder a perfect knowledge of perception. The comparison opens up to us a wonderful and most inspiring view of the perfection of the future, the heavenly state.

I. TRUE OF OUR KNOWLEDGE GENERALLY. The apostle speaks without any words limiting the application of his statement to religious realities. Man's pride of knowledge, notwithstanding his intellectual powers are limited in their range and in their efficacy. Some of the causes of this limitation we can see, and we can well believe that in another and higher state they may be removed. The senses or other avenues of perception may be multiplied in number and intensified in power. It may be that words - which are the medium of much of our knowledge - may be replaced by symbols more definite and instructive. Our feebleness of attention and application may be replaced by a vigour not possible in this body. Many things now known by inference may then be known by intuition. And whilst there may be a change in our own natural capacities and faculties, there may be also an enlargement of the material presented to our minds. And the search after truth may be more pure and disinterested as well as more vigorous. We are all aware that purity of heart is a condition of apprehending moral and spiritual truth; this condition will in heaven be perfected, and corresponding results may be expected.


1. Of religious truth. This we now know sufficiently for all practical purposes; but we are often conscious that we see but glimpses and hear but whispers of the great truths upon which our higher life and deathless hopes depend. The progress made by the child as he advances to spiritual maturity is probably as nothing compared with the advance to be made by the Christian when the veil of sense and time falls off. The mysteries by which the mind has often been perplexed shall be revealed; the harmony of truths we could not reconcile shall be apparent; the reasons of regulations we could not understand shall become plain. The world, ourselves, society, life, all are now full of enigmas. Eternity shall provide the solution.

2. Of our knowledge of God in Christ. We do know Christ, and, notwithstanding the objections of philosophers, we have a real though very partial and inadequate knowledge of God himself; for Christ said, "He who hath seen me hath seen the Father also." There have been special revelations of God to specially favoured members of the human family; but hereafter, the vision shall be open, it shall be for all the purified and glorified. "We shall see him as he is." "We shall know [God] even as we are known." Well is this called "the beatific vision:" to behold and know him who is infinite in nature, eternal in existence, perfect in all moral attributes.

III. TRUE ALSO OF OUR KNOWLEDGE OF OUR SPIRITUAL KINDRED AND BRETHREN. There are many circumstances which hinder us from enjoying more than a superficial acquaintance with some of our nearest kinsmen and our daily associates. But in heaven there shall be no disguise, no restraint, no separation. Misunderstandings shall vanish; we shall see "face to face." Imagination pictures, upon the suggestion of this principle, the fellowship of pure delight to be enjoyed with all "saints," in "the assembly and Church of the Firstborn, whose names are written in heaven." - T.

For now we see through a glass darkly.

1. There is a literal significance in these words. With our physical organs of vision we do not see essential realities. This is an elementary law of optics; our sensuous vision is only a mirror upon which realities cast shadows.

2. We see our fellow-men with double veils between ourselves and them — they hidden from us in a drapery of flesh, and we looking through the glazed windows of our own organism. How much do we really know of them? The lesson here is that we should think more charitably of our fellow-men. Under the hardest concealment there is some goodness that shrinks from exposing itself, and the most careless and frivolous have their moments of thought and devotion. If ever one man is truly revealed to another, it is only by the agency of love and sympathy. The lightnings of the satirist do not rend open the door of the deepest heart.

3. So it is with the forms and objects of the actual world, the chemist, the botanist, the physiologist, after all how much below the rind have they pierced? How soon they are balked? The moment they get below forms and positions, and certain relations of things, everything becomes as impalpable as the shapes that pass over the surface of the mirror. Science, with all it has achieved, is merely a catalogue of appearances; its terminology is merely a set of equivalents, words masking the deep facts which we do not know. The chemist boasts that he can almost reconstruct the original tissues of the human frame. But what then? He cannot give life; nay, he cannot even tell what it is.

4. Astronomy is the oldest and most complete of all the sciences. Yet the questions in Job are just as applicable to our day as to his. It is a singular fact that objects which are the most remote from us fall within the arrangements of this most complete science. The nearer we get to our personality, the more deep the problems become. Astronomy is so satisfactory only because we are not near enough to it to touch the real problems which it presents. The most familiar objects — how the grass grows, how the fingers move — become to us unexplainable. And if, then it is thus with the more familiar objects, how is it with unknown realities or those which are known only by intermediate revelations?

5. Now if the creations of God which are most intimate are confessedly but as shadows of shapes upon a mirror, how must it be with the infinite God Himself? We behold Him only through His works, and there as in a glass darkly. And so in regard to His providential dealings with us. We cannot take in the vastness of God's plan, surely, if we cannot take in the essence of His works! We behold only processes, parts of things. As the child that might come into the laboratory of his father, the chemist, could not begin to comprehend from the transaction in which the father was engaged the great work at which he aimed, so we, children all of us, in a thousand years see but one of God's processes, and yet we talk and act as though we saw the whole, and challenge the Almighty because everything is not made clearly consistent with our idea of His goodness. God's most beneficent agencies appear to us only in shadow at the best. And thus it is that even the most beneficent providences of God sometimes appear like the ministers of wrath. We see but the transient aspects of death; it is but a shadow on the mirror, and this is a lesson for our faith in all the workings of God.


1. It is not a mere reflection, it is a reality behind the reflection. There are shadows, but there never is a shadow without something to cast a shadow. And remember also it is we who see darkly, not that the things themselves are dark. Faith, therefore, is the only legitimate conclusion from the capacity of seeing at all.(1) What do you make of these instincts of something higher and something better that have prevailed in all ages of the world and in all souls? are all these the images of nothingness? How can we have the shadows without the substance, or have the forms of things mirrored before us that do not exist in reality?(2) And then the affections, the great working of man's love, there is the thing that Paul fell back upon in this chapter. Man's love assures us that in this depth of nature in which God has planted within us there must be something higher and better.

2. There is great grandeur in the fact that Christianity has not made a full revelation of the things to come. There is a reason for that in the discipline we need. Gradual growth must develop us and make us all that we should be; Christianity should not reveal everything to us. But at the same time, as a religion of benevolence, Christianity would have informed us if these great primary instincts played us false. Jesus Christ would have told us if these affections of Our nature prophesied untruly. Yes, we see darkly, but we do see. And in that fact there is proof that we shall see better face to face.

3. Even with this dim, imperfect mirror there are degrees of seeing. We all see darkly enough — the clearest-sighted of us — but sometimes there is a film upon the eye of the observer as well as upon the mirror.(1) Sometimes men have their eyes darkened all over with the scales of appetite, so that all that they see is distorted, is made abominable.(2) And sometimes then see nothing on the mirror of this life but a gigantic image of self. Like the giant of the Hartz Mountains, they see projected upon life merely an enlarged idea of their own wants and of their own greatness.(3) But there are men who apprehend the reality of things which come darkly, and feel that there is a substance back of those shadows.

4. It is a momentous period in our being when a man awakes to a sense of realities. That is conversion to come to a sense that there are spiritual realities beyond our present vision, to come to a sense that our souls, God, Christ, eternity are real.

(E. H. Chapin, D.D.)

It needs no illustration to show that our vision of spiritual things is very dim. The cause of this is our subject: the medium is dark, that medium is the body. Through the five senses we gather all the lights that flash on our consciousness and form within us ideas. But why is it dark? The body tends —


II. TO SWAY THE DECISIONS OF THE MIND. "The desires of the flesh " often move and master the soul.

III. TO CLOG THE OPERATIONS OF THE MIND. Business, sleep, refreshment, exercise, disease, all these interrupt the soul. Our visions of spiritual things being so dim. Conclusion:

1. None should pride themselves in their knowledge.

2. None should arrogate infallibility of judgment.

3. We should anticipate brighter and fuller visions, when the medium is removed, and we "see face to face."

(D. Thomas, D.D.)

The idea seems to be that just as when a man looks into a metal mirror, such as the ancients used, sees only a dim and ghost-like reflection of himself; so we, gazing ever upon the world of the known, see at best but a shadow of the truth. And just as a man puzzling over a riddle which is insoluble, sees a half, or some less or greater portion, of the meaning wrapped up in it, so it is with reference to all our knowledge. It does but amount to a guess more or less near or wide of the truth. Truth is wrapped in a riddle, life is a great and unexplained parable, but what urges us on is the feeling that by and by we shall stand face to face with the reality, and shall no more have to content ourselves with its mere representation.

I. THE ENIGMA OF LIFE. An enigma is a form of thought and speech which half reveals and half conceals the soul of truth. If you take any of those proverbs which form the current thought-coin of the world, you will find it to be only a hint of the truth to which it points. Hence almost every such saying may be capped by others which express the exact opposite. There are proverbs which tell us that to live for the day is the best wisdom, others which tell us to "consider the end;" some which emphasise the value of money, others which warn that loss is more profitable than gain. For we are many-sided creatures, and truth, to seem like truth at all, must be chameleon-like in its aspect. Our Saviour deliberately taught the multitude in riddles, which are but transcripts of that immense parable of nature and human life on which we are ever gazing.

1. Nature is full of oracles which never say quite clearly what is meant. God addresses us in an oblique, not in a direct manner. There are times of anxiety when we wish it would please God to speak to us no more in these riddles. But if the wish were granted it would be unbearable, and your prayer would soon be that this excess of knowledge might be again hidden from your soul.

2. What an enigma is human nature! Few of us know anything but the surface. The great masters in poetry go a little below, but not far. What is human nature? Good or evil? Or, neither good nor evil, but a mixture or conflict, a result determined by education and circumstance? None but the ignorant will undertake to answer such questions oft-hand. You or I know as much about it as Calvin or as Shakespeare, which is not much. The soul is the enigma of enigmas. It is the meeting-point of heaven and hell. It is the scene of contention of good and evil spirits. The angel and the demon, the saint and the sinner, are in each heart. We look from day to day into the mirror of conscience, and see an image fainter or clearer of self. We note changes in that self, yet find that self the same. Sometimes that image frightens us, and again, under the spell of music or of prayer, a celestial glory falls upon that image.


1. Evidently a lowly habit, the very opposite of all conceit and dogmatism about the great problems of existence. Things mean much more than they seem to any one of us. Humility, the sense that our opinions are very partial, begets slowly a truer judgment of the relative value of things. We learn to appraise the contents of the world, and gradually to give them their right place in the scale of spiritual value. And we may learn, above all, better to know our own place and value, somewhere between the highest and the lowest point.

2. And thus, through lowliness, we may reach patience and leisure of mind; for we must not be hasty or impatient if we would live with God. Our eagerness to come to conclusions and to set the world to rights may imply a forgetfulness that the world is in God's charge, not ours. Our anxiety to get to a terminus seems to ignore that we have all eternity before us. Every great subject requires to be re-examined, every great book to be re-studied and revised. The forms of our religion must undergo incessant change; its essence abides, for the spirit of Jesus is the essence of Christianity. This is rooted not in any particular sort of intellectual acquirement, but simply in love. Love alone abideth.

III. LOVE IS THE LAST SOLUTION OF THE ENIGMA OF LIFE. As a principle in our own minds, love, says St. Paul, is greater than either faith or hope. The moment the spring of love dries in the heart, that moment we cease to believe and to hope. If we are true to love in the little world we govern, it cannot well be doubtful that He is true to love in the vast world He governs. The cause of any serious infidelity that exists lies here; men doubt whether God is as loving as themselves. But whence came your own love? You did not create it, and will you deny the Giver in the very strength of His gift? We cannot explain the problem of existence, but we can feel that that is already explained in the mind of God. In proportion as we live in God's love, shall we find the faith, and the hope, and the courage to face the facts of life, so long as those qualities are needed.

(Prof. E. Johnson.)

Why God has mingled with the revelation of His will to man so much that is confessedly obscure. Note —

I. THAT THE OBSCURITY IS NOTHING MORE THAN IS TO BE EXPECTED FROM ANALOGY. It is remarkable that mysteries sensibly multiply as knowledge increases. In every direction we soon reach the limits of human knowledge. How little does the educated man know of the mysteries connected with our bodily frame; but let the physiologist speak, and he will tell you that every separate member and vessel and nerve of the human frame is full of mystery. The peasant that turns up the ground, and casts in the seed, perceives no mystery in its growth; but the philosopher, who understands the wonderful process of vegetation, is conscious of difficulties which he cannot solve in its several stages towards maturity. Since, then, there is so much that is mysterious in the natural world, revelation is the production of the same Being, and bears the same characteristic feature of its great Original.

II. THE MYSTERIOUS PART OF CHRISTIANITY ARISES FROM THE VERY NATURE OF THE CHRISTIAN REVELATION. The truths which it announces transcend the comprehension of the human mind. "Who can by searching find out God, who can find out the Almighty to perfection?"

1. The doctrine of three persons in one God is an instance of this. The mystery does not consist in any ambiguity of language, but in the nature of the subject; not in the teacher, but in the small ability of the scholar.

2. The facts of revelation are accompanied with a similar difficulty. They do not come under human observation. Redemption through Christ is a series of operations which stands alone, belongs to a class of its own, and is not to be judged of by the measuring line of human policy. As well might a man, ignorant of the rules of art, pass his judgment on its most finished production. As well might the babe of yesterday exercise his faculties on the higher problems of nature, as men attempt to estimate the wisdom, love, and mercy that shine in the gospel of Jesus Christ. "His ways are not as our ways, nor His thoughts as our thoughts," etc.

3. The regeneration of the soul transcends the common observation. It is a fact taught; us by revelation, and experienced by the subject of it; but is only to be studied and known by others through the medium of its results.

4. The resurrection from the dead is not in accordance with our experience. We have no means of ascertaining the account of this truth. There is clearly no impossibility in it. The same power that formed our bodies may obviously reconstruct them. It is a field of Divine operation into which we cannot enter, and the mode in which the work will be accomplished is among the secrets of the Deity.


1. It tends to humble us before God, which is the great end of the gospel. God is worthy of universal adoration, and the elements of this exercise of the mind are awe and reverential feeling. But this state of mind can never be produced by anything that we fully understand. Familiarity breeds contempt. The more distinctly we realise the limits of our knowledge the deeper will be our impression of the grandeur of the Divine mind. The wisdom of God, in His restorative system of mercy, abases man in the very faculty which caused our fall. He humbles us at the very root of the tree of knowledge, teaching us to submit our understandings to the guidance of His Word.

2. It tends to excite our diligence in examining Divine truth. The obscurity that conceals it is a reason for continuing our researches. God has made His revelation of a kind to try our best faculties. Were all that is to be known easy of apprehension it would be a departure from the usual mode of Divine procedure. In nature the most valuable is not found upon the surface. Gold is dug from the bowels of the earth, and pearls are gathered from the depths of the ocean.

3. It is necessary to make us more desirous of heaven, where we shall enjoy perfect knowledge. The attainment of the loftiest intellect on earth is but the alphabet of knowledge, compared with what we shall know hereafter.

4. It lies at the foundation of the Christian's hope. It must be mysterious that God should so love a ruined world.

(S. Summers.)

Paul had just been speaking of the "child" and the "man," and no doubt that but dimly represents the difference between the "Now" in this world and the "Then" in the world to come.

I. Now.

1. Our present organs of vision implied in "we see." These are our mental and spiritual powers of apprehension and knowledge. Through these we learn all we know of God. But these organs are weak and defective by reason —

(1)Of sin.

(2)Want of proper activity and culture.

2. Our present medium of seeing — "through a glass darkly." Spiritual and Divine things are seen only by reflection, and that which reflects is incapable of giving a full representation, because of —

(1)Its own defectiveness.

(2)Our defective vision.

(3)The magnitude of that which is to be revealed.The "glass" through which we see consists of three things —



(c)Providence.These three represent God in His works, His words, and His ways. But that there is mystery and darkness about them who is vain enough to deny? That God is seen in these we all admit; but when, with our weak vision, we peer into these reflectors, what more can we say than that "we see through a glass darkly."


1. Our future organs of vision will be very much the same as "now"; but how greatly developed and improved no mortal may know. The comprehensive knowledge, the strength and sweep of vision enjoyed by the redeemed may defy the powers of the most daring imagination to conceive.

2. Our future medium of seeing — "face to face." No glass any more, but blessed contact — actual presence.

(1)The enormity of sin.

(2)The love of God in the gift of His Son.

(3)The righteousness of God's moral government.

(T. Kelly.)

There is all the difference between viewing an object through an obscure medium and closely inspecting it with the naked eye. "Now we see through a glass darkly" in a riddle! So weak are our perceptions that plain truths often puzzle us. It is a matter of congratulation that we do see, though we have much cause for diffidence, because we do but "see through a glass darkly." Thank God we do know; but let it check our conceit, we know only in part. Note —


1. Ourselves. To see ourselves is one of the first steps in true religion. The mass of men have never seen themselves. They have only seen the flattering image of themselves.(1) We have been taught to see our ruin in the fall and our actual sinfulness. But in heaven we shall see, as we have not yet seen, how desperate a mischief was the fall, and the blackness of sin as we have never seen it here.(2) We know to-day that we are saved; but that robe of righteousness which covers us now, as it shall cover us then, will be better seen by us.(3) Here we know that we are adopted; but there we shall know better what it is to be the sons of God, for here it doth not yet appear what we shall be, there shall we not only see the estates that belong to us, but actually enjoy them.

2. The Church.(1) We know there is a Church of God, but there we shall know something more of the numbers of the chosen than we do now, it may be to our intense surprise. There we shall find some amongst the company of God's elect whom we in our bitterness of spirit had condemned, and there we shall miss some who, in our charity, we have conceived to be perfectly secure.(2) We shall understand then what the history of the Church has been in all the past, and why it has been so strange a history of conflict and conquest.

3. The providence of God.(1) We believe all things work together for good to them that love God; but still it is rather a matter of faith than a matter of sight with us. Then some of us will say, "I have fretted and troubled myself over what was, after all, the richest mercy the Lord ever sent."(2) We shall there, perhaps, discover that wars, pestilences, and earthquakes are, after all, necessary cogs in the great wheel of the Divine machinery; and He who sits upon the throne at this moment will then make it manifest to us that His government was right.

4. The doctrines of the gospel and the mysteries of the faith. How much more of authentic truth shall we discern when the mists and shadows have dissolved; and how much more shall we understand when raised to that higher sphere and endowed with brighter faculties none of us can tell.

5. Jesus. We have seen enough of Him to know that "He is altogether lovely"; we can say of Him, He "is all my salvation and all my desire." Yet when we once get to the court of the Great King we shall declare that the half has not been told us. The streets of gold will have small attraction to us, and the harps of angels will but slightly enchant us, compared with the King in the midst of the throne. We shall see Jesus.

6. The pure in heart shall see God. God is seen now in His works and in His Word. Little indeed could these eyes bear of the beatific vision, yet we have reason to expect that, as far as creatures can bear the sight of the infinite Creator, we shall be permitted to see God.


1. No doubt many of these things will be more clearly revealed. Here we are in the dim twilight; there we shall be in the blaze of noon. God has declared something of Himself by His prophets and apostles. He has, through His Son, spoken more plainly. These are the first steps to knowledge. But there the only-wise God shall unveil to us the mysteries, and exhibit to us the glories of His everlasting kingdom. The revelation we now have suits us as me, clad in our poor mortal bodies; the revelation then will suit us as immortal spirits.

2. Here we are at a distance from many of the things we long to know something of, but there we shall be nearer to them.

3. We shall be better qualified to see them than we are now. It would be an inconvenience for us to know here as much as we shall know in heaven. But up there we shall have our minds and our systems strengthened to receive more, without the damage that would come to us here from overleaping the boundaries of order, Divinely appointed.

4. Besides, the atmosphere of heaven is so much clearer than this. Here there is the smoke of daily care, the constant dust of toil, the mist of trouble perpetually rising.


1. Gratitude. Let us be very thankful for all we do see. Those who do not see now even "through a glass darkly," shall never see face to face.

2. Hopefulness. You shall see better by and by.

3. Forbearance. Our disputes are often childish. Two persons in the dark have differed about a colour. If we brought candles in they would not show what it was; but if we look at it to-morrow morning we shall be able to tell. How many difficulties in the Word of God are like this! Not yet can they be justly discriminated; till the day dawn the apocalyptic symbols will not be all transparent to our own understanding. Besides, we have no time to waste while there is so much work to do.

4. Aspiration. It is natural for us to want to know, but we shall not know as we are known till we are present with the Lord. We are at school now; we shall go soon to the great university of heaven, and take our degree there.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Clerical World.
I. Now WE SEE ALL THINGS IN THE "MIRROR" OF OUR OWN EXPERIENCE. It is impossible for either child or man to travel beyond the stage of knowledge, or experience, to which he has reached in his ideas and judgment of things. The uncivilised barbarian of the wilds cannot be made to realise, by description, the wonders of a great modern city. Thus through an imperfect mirror of knowledge and feeling we now see —

1. God.

2. The Saviour.

3. Heaven.


1. The glory of God.

2. The love of the Saviour.

3. The wonders of heaven.So shall "we know even as we are known." The child becomes a man. Imperfection of knowledge and experience give way to the perfection of both. Then, like the queen of Sheba, we shall find that "not the half has been told us."

(Clerical World.)

The present life, in and by itself, is imperfect. Its completeness consists alone in viewing it as a part of a more complete whole. The present life is but a side, necessitating, to its completeness, another side. Viewed as a part of an entire whole, its discrepancies are corrected, its mysteries partially solved, and its significance and importance immeasurably enhanced. Note —

I. THE EXTREMES OF LIFE, AS VIEWED RELATIVE TO TIME: — "now" and "then." These extremes are parts of the same piece, only different in place, and perhaps also in circumstances and relations. The "now" and "then" of life —

1. Are dependent upon each other. The "then" of life is dependent upon the "now" of it as to its fact and character. There must be some antecedent "now" before there can be an anticipative "then." The "now" would be worth but little without the "then," any more than to-day could be highly prized without a hope of tomorrow. The "then" inspires us in our present discouragements, or depresses us in its anticipation. The "then"of life influences our minds as we view it applicable to our state and character. The guilty receives it with fear, the innocent with joy.

2. Are extremes only possible in conscious reality to superior beings. "Now" belongs to all existences alike; but only a rational being can conceive in thought of the future, and he, as a moral being, can anticipate it through his hope or fear.

3. Have in them all provided and possible for us. All the past crowds the present, and will follow us, in some form or other, to the future. All that is needed to fill the present hour and fit us for the future is given us in the "now," and all the blessings and privileges of the.heaven of the future will be included in the "then." Whatever you need is within the compass of the "now": whatever you hope and wish is comprehended in the "then."

4. Present themselves very differently to our conviction and faith. The present is a matter of direct consciousness, the future is a matter of inference. Our experience is all in the "now." We look at the "then" through promises and hope. The religion of the present would not only be absurd without the future, but groundless and impossible.

5. Are comprehensive only of one order. The moral order of truth and rectitude which obtains "now" will be the same "then." The authority which demands certain things "now" will be in force and unchanged "then"; nor will the essential powers of man be different "then" to what they are "now."

6. May be extremely different, and in no case will they be identical. "Now" we maybe happy and successful, but there may a "then" when these will not be our portion any more. Let the "now" be true and right, and the "then" will have its hope and brightness.


1. The mode of perception. In this state we behold spiritual objects through a glass. All the means and things in our earthly state are but glasses to show something unseen and spiritual above sense and our present imperfect perceptions. What is the universe but one glorious glass to show us the more glorious Maker? And what is the Bible but a glass of the Divine and spiritual in man and the universe? Christianity, in all its means and ordinances, is a glass to us of the real and spiritual above and beyond themselves. But with all the assistance of our glass media our perception is feeble of things invisible and eternal. And why? Is it in our glasses or our way of using them, or in a deficiency in our spiritual perception? Partly in all these. But in our future state it will be face to face. There will be no veil over the face of things, and many things we use are things for rude childish condition: the condition of manhood will dispense with them as unfit and useless. In the "then" condition of our being, the distance will be reduced into nearness, the attitude will be advantageous, the expression will be clear and in sight, and the powers of the soul will be strengthened and matured.

2. Clearness. In this state of things we see nothing perfectly clear. But in our future state not only win our perceptions be more acute and perfect, we shall not be subject to delusions and illusions, which so much confuse and mar our perceptions in this world.

3. The degree of knowledge. We in part know something about most things, but in the light of another day we shall probably learn that our profoundest knowledge is but a small part. The present condition of things does not allow us to know except in part. The imperfections of our senses, the weakness and afflictions of our minds and bodies, the cares and anxieties of life, the want of means, the shortness of life, and other obstructions, are things which prevent our knowledge being anything but very partial. But such imperfection is not to be always our lot. "Then we shall know as now we are known." We shall know holy intelligences as they shall know us. As they and we are but part of the same family, and they the most perfect, their knowledge of us appears to be a natural conclusion. As they know us in our lower home, so shall we know them in their higher one. As they know us in our trials, so shall we know them in their joys. Though our knowledge of God will be infinitely less perfect of Him than His is of us, yet He will be known to us as real, as a fact, as we are to Him.

III. THE ADVANCEMENT OF LIFE AS VIEWED BETWEEN THE PRESENT AND THE FUTURE, Advancement, in some form or other, is seen everywhere. Life is a school for it, and everywhere there are suitable means and agents. This law runs through Christian life, and never is suspended, either in time or eternity.

1. It is a personal advancement. The few cannot procure it for the many, or the many for the few.

2. It is the advancement of the good and true in life — from the childhood of weakness to the manhood of strength.

3. It is a thing of consciousness to its subjects. The advancement which is outside our conscious knowledge must be outside our will, faith, and activity, for the thing that is written there we have in common with them. Such an advancement is the one of a plant or a brute, and not of a rational man.

4. It is an advancement which is comprehensive of all requisite life. It is complete both in quality and degree.

5. It is an advancement above the power of common and natural means to produce.

(T. Hughes.)

I. THE IMPERFECTION OF OUR PRESENT KNOWLEDGE OF DIVINE THINGS. It is said to be twofold, an imperfection of kind and an imperfection of degree.

1. The first is illustrated by two comparisons.(1) We see by means of a mirror; that is to say, it is a reflection of truth we have at present, not the very truth itself. The copy is both defective and misleading. How often is the face of the mirror occupied with other images! How often is the vision distorted by passion or guilty remembrance!(2) We see darkly, in a riddle, enigma, or dark saying. Our knowledge comes to us through words, the source of so much misunderstanding and confusion. We apply a human language to measure Divine things. What is infinity, eternity? Each a riddle.

2. But our present knowledge is also imperfect in degree. "I know in part." Our great difficulty in religion is to know how to combine. We have several portions of Divine truth communicated to us, but in many cases without the connecting link — God's justice and mercy: His hatred of sin, and permission of the existence of evil; man's free will and God's free grace. But we know that God sees them in one. And "what I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter."


1. "But then face to face." Our knowledge of truth will be direct; not by reflection, but by intuition. And it will be personal. Face to face implies a person: "The glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."

2. "Even as I was known." Therefore our knowledge will be thorough; through and through. God is a heart-searching God. And it will be comprehensive. God's insight is large as well as minute. Notwithstanding a fault, He sees a servant; notwithstanding a good quality, He sees an enemy. Seeing minutest qualities, He judges of the character as a whole. We also shall see God's truth in its reconciling harmony and perfect unity. The imperfection of our present knowledge of Divine things must make no one idle in the pursuit of it. In this also, "Whosoever hath, to him shall be given." Finally, though many of our theologies may be contradicted, nothing that we have known of the living Saviour Himself will be contradicted, nothing that we have learned of Him by experience, or seen of Him in prayer.

(Dean Vaughan.)

What Paul prophesies for man, Christ already possesses. Paul says, "Some day I shall know God as God knows me." Jesus says, "As God knows me, even so I do now know God." This is man's highest hope. It has been realised already in the man Christ Jesus. Thus we know that our hope is not a vain hope.

1. "God knows me," says St. Paul. That was his fundamental conviction. But that conviction involved another. If the Father knew the child, it must be in the child's power to know the Father. Paul was no agnostic. Known perfectly, he knew but in part; but the time would come when he should know as he was known. And this certainty of a future knowledge was itself a present knowledge.

2. This future knowledge means perfect obedience in the future; perfect harmony between the child's action and the Father's will. When Jesus said, "The Father knoweth Me," He meant, "God has a will for every act of Mine" And when He said, "I know the Father," He meant, "In every act of Mine, I do the Father's will." So with us. With perfect freedom answering to every will of God. There alone is peace and power.

(Bp. Phillips Brooks.)

Perhaps you are inclined to ask, Why are there mysteries at all in the revelations vouchsafed by God to man? Why should not the truths which it is of importance for us to know, be declared in language level to our capacities, and involving in them nothing to stagger our belief, or perplex our reason? I would meet this question with another, Why are there mysteries in the works of God? Why is this material universe filled with "wonders which we cannot explain? and why are the design and objects for which an immeasurable portion of it was created, altogether concealed from us? There are persons of such sluggish and unthinking habits that thy live constantly in the midst of marvels without ever bestowing a thought upon them; and yet these very men who take all for granted, and never even appear to be aware of these everyday miracles, are apt, all at once, to grow scrupulous and over-cautious, and to demand proofs such as cannot be supplied, when they are called to give their assent to the mysteries of inspiration. Others there are who make the human mind their study; and surely there cannot be a subject more open to constant observation and intimate search than this. And yet, to teach us, as it would almost seem, how very limited our knowledge is, and how much there is to be believed which cannot be understood, these very inquiries into our own mental actions and endowments, appear to be, of all others, the least attended with any conclusive or satisfactory results. Others, again, there are who, building upon the unchangeable foundation of abstract truths, have investigated the laws which govern the heavenly bodies, and traced the handiwork of God in the glories of the firmament. But this very pursuit, which of all others most magnifies the capacities of the human mind, and seems to elevate our race to rank but a little lower than the angels, what does it open to us but fresh mysteries, and fresh demands upon our faith and humility? That there are mysteries both in nature and revelation, affords therefore some presumption that, since in this respect at least the systems are not opposed to each other, both may have the same author. But this presumption is strengthened when we trace the analogy further, and consider the rules which seem to hold alike in the mysteries of nature and in those of revelation. In the first place, they are matters which we are not qualified to understand; and in the second, they would not profit us at all, in our present state of existence, even if we could understand them. The mode of our present existence and the arrangements needful for its support, are familiar, and to a certain extent intelligible to us; but what conception could by any means be conveyed to us of existences and qualities unlike our own? The utmost stretch of human language could only express to us what they were not; and so far therefore from having any information communicated to us, we certainly might be more perplexed, but not wiser, than we were before. If this be true respecting the inhabitant of some other planet, must it not be equally true respecting the nature of the unseen world of spirits, and of the supreme and eternal God who reigns there? And, again, if we could understand them, what advantage would it be to us? Should we be better able to control our passions, by being informed about those who had no such passions to control? Should we be directed to a better use of our own faculties, by hearing of a race who had no pursuits or qualities in common with ourselves? God permits, and science enables us to learn, just so much with regard to the heavenly bodies, their orbits, and variations, as may in any way conduce to the enlargement of our understanding, or our general well-being. To allow more than this, to pamper an unseemly and useless curiosity, would not be in agreement with the unfathomable wisdom of Him who does nothing in vain. The application of the same limit to the revelations contained in His Word is sufficiently obvious. But there is a still further analogy in the practical results which follow from the existence of these mysteries, and which they were doubtless intended to effect. What can so forcibly inculcate humility as the experimental proof of our own ignorance and infirmity? And if such be the salutary lesson which nature's mysteries impress upon a thinking and a well-ordered mind, do not the mysteries of revelation enforce the same upon the student of God's will and Word? But further than this, they also indirectly serve to promote the acquirement of most important truths. The philosopher, in his attempts to investigate that which is inexplicable by human powers, has often been led incidentally to the discovery of much real knowledge; and he, whose curiosity may have led him to open the Bible with the view of displaying his own sagacity in unravelling its marvels, may, in the end, have not only had his vanity chastened and, corrected, but his soul enriched with some treasure of Divine wisdom, revealing juster views of himself, and better hopes and desires than he had entertained before. Surely, then, the analogy between the mysteries of the material universe and the revealed Word of God; the rules which appear to hold respecting both; and the practical results to which both are calculated to lead, would teach us to ascribe them to one gracious and incomprehensible Author, and to acquiesce in them, without one shadow of misgiving or inquisitive discontent. But besides this, there is another reason why mysteries must form a necessary part of a revelation proceeding from heaven, and at, other practical consequence of their existence to be deduced from the text. If the Word of God contained only just what we could understand, might we not with some show of reason doubt whether it could be God's Word at all? Might we not say, "The Supreme Being would surely never have interfered to instruct His people, where their own natural powers might have proved a sufficient guide. That which man can understand so clearly in all its bearings, it is hardly too much to say that man might have discovered; and the absence of everything which calls for submissive faith is no weak argument against its Divine original"? Mysteries then may, in some sort, be called the very credentials of a revelation. But again; I said that there is a practical consequence of the existence of mysteries in the gospel of our salvation, to be deduced from the expressions of St. Paul in the text. We are anxious to understand all mysteries and all knowledge. He tells us where this yearning shall be satisfied to the uttermost. It shall be in that kingdom of glory where we shall no longer see through a glass darkly, but face to face; where we shall not know in part, but know even as we are known. He that would reach to such intellectual sublimities must have had his soul purified to a meetness for the society of angels, and for approaching the more immediate presence of the Eternal. And further yet, the illustration taken by the apostle may aptly represent the posture of mind which befits the aspirant after heavenly wisdom. "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child." What are the characteristics of a good and intelligent child? His curiosity; his simplicity; his ready acquiescence in such explanations as he may receive upon the subjects of his inquiries: his cheerful confidence in his instructors, and his willing obedience to their injunctions.

(T. Ainger, M.A.)


1. This may refer to the extent or objects of our knowledge.(1) It is partial. Compare the views of a worm or any minuter insect with those of a man who has the largest and most comprehensive sight of the works of nature, and you have a faint image of the unknown difference there is between our present and future sphere of knowledge.(2) We know but in part even those few things that do fall within the compass of our present knowledge. There is not the least particle of matter we see, or the least dust of earth we tread on, but what puzzles the most penetrating and philosophic minds. We see only the outside of things, their external properties, their dimensions, form, figure, and colour; but as to their essence or internal substance, the cohesion of their constituent parts, and the laws of that cohesion, we can give no account at all of them. And if we know so little of material, how much less do we know of spiritual substances, which we have much fewer helps and opportunities of being acquainted with! And if we examine our knowledge of abstracted truths, or points of speculation and reason, how very defective does it appear!

2. Our knowledge is not only partial, but very indistinct. We see through a glass. This glass is twofold — reason and faith; by which we realise and represent to the mind future, distant, and invisible things. And happy is it for us that we have these excellent glasses to assist the eye of the mind, whose sight without the help of both would be very short and very defective. But the unhappiness of it is that these glasses, though very excellent in themselves, are often obscured and spoiled by the mists of errors, passions, and prejudices which hang upon them, and make them unable to penetrate through the darkness which lies between them and the distant objects they are intended to descry, which render our sight of those objects very obscure and indistinct. Not to say that imagination, as a false medium, often comes between, which enormously magnifies some objects and diminishes others as much.

3. Our present knowledge is not only very confined and indistinct, but very uncertain also. Our best knowledge is often but mere conjecture, and that conjecture may depend only on mere fancy, arising from a particular state or motion of the animal spirits, and resting more on mechanical than rational supports. For we not only see through a glass, but darkly. Future things are as yet concealed from us, wrapped up in allegory, riddle, or dark enigma, which gives us only a few indirect hints or a mystical representation of the thing intended, by which we are left to guess it out. And hence it is that multitudes form no notion at all concerning the objects of abstract science, whilst some are very dubious in the right, and others very confident in the wrong. And not only matters of abstruse speculation, but the plainest things in religion are by many but uncertainly understood. Not that the things themselves are uncertain, but it is uncertain whether the persons that boast the greater knowledge of them do form a conception of them that is certainly right, especially considering the medium they look through — that is, the lusts, passions, and prejudices with which they are beset.

4. The last view which the apostle gives us of the deficiency of human knowledge in the present state is by comparing it with that of children or infants. We are as yet in our non-age, and but children in understanding. Children, you know, through the immaturity of their faculties, the liveliness of their fancy, the strength of their passions, and inexperience of their age, are very liable to be mistaken; to take up with the first notions that are instilled without examination, to retain the first impressions that are made, whether right or wrong, to be fond of the little knowledge they have, to be confident in it, and to despise others for the want of it; whilst persons of greater sense, experience, and understanding, see that all their confidence is owing to their ignorance, and look upon them with pity. But not with half so much pity as we shall look upon ourselves hereafter when, emerged out of this obscurity in which we dwell, we look back from that region of light upon this land of darkness, and consider all our former ignorance, errors, false judgment, confidence, and prejudices, when we were but children in knowledge; when we saw through a glass darkly, and knew but in part, and spake and reasoned and thought as mere infants in understanding.


1. How partial, indistinct, uncertain, and low is our knowledge of the ever-blessed God! We diminish His Divine dignities in all our thoughts; we depreciate His excellencies in our most elevated conceptions: when we put our mind to the utmost stretch to form the sublimest ideas of His eternal glories, how soon do we find it overwhelmed with the weight of so astonishing a subject! For ah! how can immensity be confined in a hand's breadth? Here all finite faculties are entirely swallowed up, like a drop in the ocean, and we are lost in astonishment at the poverty of our powers.

2. It is but very little we know of ourselves. We know not the wonders either of our external or internal frame; the faculties of our nature; our capacities for service and happiness; the motives and springs of our conduct; the passions that govern us; the conduct and improvement of our superior powers; the influences to which they are liable; the purposes to which they are to be directed, and the manner in which they are to be employed in order to our happiness and usefulness, for which ends we received them. And which is worse, we do not so much as know either our ignorance or knowledge; we shut our eyes upon the former and wonderfully admire the latter, though it be, perhaps, but little better.

3. Our knowledge of Divine and religious things in general is exceedingly defective. It is sad to see what amazing ignorance there is amougst a multitude even of Christians about the great things of religion; and that not only in the deep and disputable mysteries of it, but in some of its most plain and important principles; nay, about the essential nature and most substantial truths of it, and even the plainest parts of practical religion; and this not only amongst the lowest order of men who have had no advantages of education, but among persons of a more elevated rank, who have had sufficient opportunities of being better instructed; but having no heart to improve the prize put into their hands, are apt to despise it as a very unnecessary part of learning, and neither value others the more for having it, nor themselves the less for wanting it.

4. How inscrutable are the ways of Providence! If we turn but our eyes to the government of this lower world, we are soon lost in the mazes of infinite wisdom, and can never in the least conceive how good can arise from so much visible evil, order out of so much confusion, and beauty out of so much deformity. And yet that ,all things under the government of God are well and wisely managed we cannot doubt. But if we turn our thoughts to other worlds and other species of created beings (of which, without doubt, there are innumerable), all under the wise care and government of the same Almighty and Universal Monarch who is the daily object of our adoration, how do we blush and mourn under our present ignorance, and look upon ourselves and all our knowledge comparatively as nothing, and less than nothing, and vanity!


1. Our mental powers themselves are at present but very feeble and defective.

2. The powers of the human mind at present are not only weak, but miserably confined and cramped in their operations by the union of the soul with a crazy and corruptible body.

3. Our sphere of knowledge is here very much contracted. Alas! what knowledge of the world or men can be expected from one who hath lived all his life in a dungeon?

4. Under all these disadvantages, the time that is here allowed us for attaining knowledge is very short.

5. How often are we diverted from this pursuit! How many avocations do we meet with from the world and the affairs of it, which necessarily claim a good part of our attention and care, and rob us of that time which might have been more usefully employed in augmenting the furniture of the mind!

6. How often are we perplexed, entangled, and bewildered by our own prejudices and those of others, whereby we are often turned aside from the right path of wisdom, and put upon a wrong scent. So that instead of making a progress in the right way of knowledge, we have enough to do to recover our wanderings from it. And it is sometimes the main business of the latter part of life to retract the errors of the former. "To what end, now," perhaps you will be apt to say, "have you given us this very diminutive view of human knowledge?"I answer —

1. To excite our most ardent desires after that world of light and liberty where, disencumbered from our present embarrassments, we shall enjoy the pleasures of pure and perfect science.

2. To show how very little reason the most understanding man on earth has to be vain of his knowledge.

3. That holy, humble, upright souls, who have had but few means and opportunities of attaining knowledge, may not be too much discouraged under a consciousness of their present ignorance.

(J. Mason, A.M.)


1. It will be distinct and clear; no longer confused and obscure as it now is while we look through a glass.

2. It will be certain and satisfying; no longer conjectural and enigmatical as it now is while we look through a glass darkly.

3. It will be perfect and complete in its kind; and no longer defective as it now is whilst we know but in part, for we shall then know even as we are known.


1. The most glorious and felicitating object of our thus improved and enlightened understanding will be the ever-blessed God Himself. It is true the great and blessed God, as a pure and perfect Spirit, can never be seen with bodily eyes. But we must not think that the soul is capable of no distinct and clear perceptions but what it receives by means of bodily organs. It has even now a power of realising and ascertaining, of contemplating and enjoying things that are not seen. And when our mental powers shall be unconfined, enlarged, and improved, as we are sure they will be in heaven (and we know not but there may be new faculties superadded, suitable to the new objects of contemplation), we shall then as distinctly and clearly discern and contemplate spiritual and invisible objects, as we now do material ones by an eye of sense.

2. Then shall we begin to know ourselves. For whatever it may be thought, man is as yet one of the greatest mysteries to himself; that is a subject about which he knows as little as almost anything which falls within the compass of his understanding. Then he will begin to think as an immortal creature ought to do, which he very rarely does now, whilst his mind is sensualised, his understanding cramped, his sentiments debased, and his heart captivated by low and earthly things. Then will he look up to his original with perpetual adoration and joy, and live up to the dignity of an intelligent and immortal being, made for the honour of his great Creator, in whose praise and service all his powers will be for ever delightfully employed.

3. Our sense of religious and Divine things will then be strong, comprehensive, and clear. Then only shall we begin to be infallible, and perhaps be ashamed of our former ignorance when we thought ourselves most so. Then shall we discern the wrong paths in which we trod, as plainly as a benighted traveller at the rising of the morning sun, and be able, it may be, to trace our errors up to their original, the first wrong impression we received which insensibly turned us aside from the path of truth, which we were never able afterwards to recover, whilst at the same time we shall adore the guard and guidance of Divine grace which preserved our feeble and fickle minds from imbibing errors of a more dangerous and pernicious tendency.

4. Glorious and surprising then will be the new discoveries we shall make in the works of God. The hidden mysteries of nature which now lie too deep for our ken, and baffle all our most exquisite and laborious research, will then lie open to our view, and we shall have an intuitive knowledge of what it now costs us the study of an age to attain an imperfect notice of.

5. What a sweet and sublime entertainment will the enlarged mind enjoy in contemplating the wise and wondrous ways of Providence!


1. Because we are sure that in heaven there will be nothing wanting to perfect the happiness of a glorified spirit.

2. Its powers, capacities, and desires will be then inconceivably enlarged and opened, and consequently the objects and extent of its knowledge must be proportionably increased.Conclusion:

1. Let us remember that all the natural powers and faculties of the mind will then be in their full strength and maturity.

2. Our sphere of knowledge will then be vastly enlarged.

3. The enlarged powers of our mind will then be free from all their present encumbrances.

4. We shall have no wrong prejudices and prepossessions to overcome or guard against, by which our free progress in true knowledge is now so much obstructed.

5. We shall then meet with no more avocations to divert us from the pursuit of knowledge.

6. This speedy progress in knowledge we shall make, not only a few years, but to all eternity.

(J. Mason, M.A.)

Now we see in a mirror darkly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then shall I know fully, even as also I am known fully. What joy, what exultation, what ardour, what longing there is in these words! They carry us far on and far away — far on beyond this present time of this passing world, far away from the scenes of this present life. "Then" — when time and change and varying seasons are past — then, when the alternations of cloud and sunshine are over — when doubt, and difficulty, and perplexity have been left behind — then I shall know fully. Then, in a sense more complete than the words have ever yet borne, I shall be able to say, "The darkness is past, and the true light now shineth." His vision has reached the innermost shrine. Like another St. John, a "door has been opened to him in heaven." A voice has said to him, "Come up hither and I will show thee things which must be hereafter." But for what was the apostle's heart yearning? He was yearning for the full knowledge of God (ἐπιγνῶσις). Yes, but what made him yearn for that knowledge? Because he had known the joy of knowledge. "Now I know in part, but then shall I know fully." But is, then, knowledge a joy? All things round us witness to the fact that knowledge is believed to be a source of happiness. And does not every advance in knowledge make us eager for a further advance still, as mountain climbers find fresh peaks still luring them on to the delight of further efforts? Are we not ready to cry out ,gain and again with the apostle, "We know only in part"? And if this be so with all forms of mere earthly knowledge, must it not be far more so with heavenly knowledge? These strange powers which we possess of thought, of reflection, of consideration, of meditation, of insight, of memory, of intuition, of investigation, were not given us that they might be spent only on what one of our poets calls so well "these earth-born idols of this lower air." Man was not made only that he might know the records of history, the niceties of language, the wonders of physical science, the conclusions of mathematics. We were created with all our powers of mind that we might know God. Not in vain has theology been called "Scientiarum Scientia." The science of all sciences is the knowledge of God. Aye, and it was the joy of this knowledge which was filling the apostle's heart when he wrote these words, "Then shall I know fully, even as also I am known fully." Already he knows God in the tenderness of His Fatherhood, in the fulness of His pardoning love, in the atonement wrought out by the Son of God, in the might of the indwelling Spirit, in the richness of the gifts poured out on, poured into the Church. That knowledge has grown upon him more and more since the day when the pleading voice of his Lord broke in upon him with the question, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?" Every past revelation has brought to him an increase of faith, of hope, of love, of peace, of happiness, and joy, and has taught him to realise more fully what will be the exceeding bliss of the complete revelation of God to those who are brought to see Him face to face. So rejoicing, so hoping, so expecting, so yearning, lie cries out, "Then shall I know fully, even as also I am fully known." All bars all hindrances, all veils will be withdrawn. And now let us see how the joy of this knowledge came so to grow in the mind of St. Paul. First, clearly, because he set himself with intense earnestness to receive in all its vividness and distinctness the revelation that came from God. He felt deeply the tenderness of God in making known the truth. He felt as strongly the responsibility of man for receiving into his mind the fulness of truth in all its purity, in preserving it from all error that might dim or disturb it. No doubt ever crossed his mind that God could be known. Still less did he question the power of God to reveal Himself. How should not the best of all Fathers teach His children? Then quick upon the thought of this love of God came the feeling that if God is so loving as to tell to His children the secrets of their own nature — their sin, their fall, the way of their recovery, and of their union with Himself, nay, if God goes further still and tells them even the secrets of the mystery of His own being, then the children in very gratitude must be ready to learn in its fulness the lessons that the Heavenly Father has given them. So see how jealously St. Paul ever guards the truth. Not an angel from heaven is to persuade us to receive any other gospel than that which we have received. Yes, indeed, the knowledge of God grew upon his soul because he set himself to use in their fulness and exactness all the Divine utterances of truth. He was the unswerving disciple of a Master that spoke with authority, and he taught men to observe all things which that Master had commanded. Is not this the secret of the growth of knowledge of God — the getting clearly before the soul the things that He has taught? To us, as to him, it will bring a higher joy than any other kind of knowledge can bring. In us, as in him, it will waken up a thirst for a fuller, a more complete knowledge. To us, as to him, the knowledge which we have already as a gift from God, will be a pledge that it is the will of God to carry to their highest perfection the revelations which even here have been so full of joy. "Now I know in part, but then shall I know fully, even as also I am fully known." "Even as also I am fully known." As we hear these words a new thought comes breathing out through them. It was not only because he had been so careful to receive the revelation that comes from God that the knowledge of God had grown in the soul of the apostle. No, he had known God personally, something as one friend knows another; nay, in a manner more intimate. There had been between him and God the close communion of the creature with the Creator, of the redeemed with the Redeemer, of the spirit of man with the indwelling and sanctifying Spirit. There is no knowledge which so grows, which so blesses, as the knowledge which the soul gains by living in close communion with God. Oh! live, move, act, speak, think as in His sacred, loving, penetrating presence. "Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts." Live with souls kept consciously ever open to His influences. In the power of the Holy Ghost press into an ever closer union with the living Christ till He lives more wholly in you and you more wholly in Him. Then, then indeed, the joy of knowing God will grow more and more upon you. The sacred doctrine of the Trinity, the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost will be no mere abstract truth to you. It will be a revelation of a love personal to yourself in the light of which you will live.

(R. W. Randall, M.A.)

A moment's reflection will convince any one that the article and fact of death must of itself make a vast accession to the amount of a man's knowledge, because death introduces him into an entirely new state of existence. Foreign travel adds much to our stock of ideas, because we go into regions of the earth of which we had known only by the hearing of the ear. But the great and last journey that man takes carries him over into a province of which no book, not even the Bible itself, gives him any distinct cognition, as to the style of its scenery or the texture of its objects. But death carries man over into the new and entirely different mode of existence, so that he knows by direct observation and immediate intuition. A flood of new information pours in upon the disembodied spirit, such as he can,or by any possibility acquire upon earth, and yet such as he cannot by any possibility escape from in his new residence. But not only does the exchange of worlds make a vast addition to our stores of information respecting the nature of the invisible realm, and the mode of existence there, it also makes a vast addition to the kind and degree of our knowledge respecting ourselves, and our personal relationships to God. This is by far the most important part of the new acquisition which we gain by the passage from time to eternity, and it is to this that the apostle directs attention in the text. The latter clause of the text specifies the general characteristic of existence in the future world. It is a mode of existence in which the rational mind "knows even as it is known." It is a world of knowledge — of conscious knowledge. In thus unequivocally asserting that our existence beyond the tomb is one of distinct consciousness, revelation has taught us what we most desire and need to know. The future, then, is a mode of existence in which the soul "knows even as it is known." But this involves a perception in which there is no error, and no intermission. For the human spirit in eternity "is known" by the omniscient God. If, then, it knows in the style and manner that God knows, there can be no misconception or cessation in its cognition. Here, then, we have a glimpse into the nature of our eternal existence. It is a state of distinct and unceasing knowledge of moral truth and moral objects. The cognition is a fixed quantity. Given the soul, and the knowledge is given. If it be holy, it is always conscious of the fact. If it be sinful, it cannot for an instant lose the distressing consciousness of sin. In neither instance will it be necessary, as it generally is in this life, to make a special effort and a particular examination, in order to know the personal character. Knowledge of God and His law, in the future life, is spontaneous and inevitable; no creature can escape it. If the most thoughtless person that now walks the globe could only have a clear perception of that kind of knowledge which is awaiting him upon the other side of the tomb, he would become the most thoughtful and the most anxious of men. It would sober him like death itself. It is only because a man is unthinking, or because he imagines that the future world will be like the present one, only longer in duration, that he is so indifferent regarding it.

(T. W. Shedd, D.D.)

Was such an obscure and imperfect discovery of another life worthy to proceed from God? Does it not afford some ground, either to tax His goodness or to suspect the evidence of its coming from Him? It plainly appears to be the plan of the Deity, in all His dispensations, to mix light with darkness, evidence with uncertainty. Whatever the reasons of this procedure be, the fact is undeniable. If, then, the future state of man be not placed in so full and clear a light as we desire, this is no more than what the analogy of all religion, both natural and revealed, gave us reason to expect. But such a solution of the difficulty will be thought imperfect. It may, perhaps, not give much satisfaction to show that all religion abounds with difficulties of a like nature. Let us call upon the sceptic, and desire him to say what measure of information would afford him entire satisfaction. This, he will tell us, requires not any long or deep deliberation. He desires only to have his view enlarged beyond the limits of this corporeal state. Instead of resting upon evidence which requires discussion, he demands the everlasting mansions to be so displayed, if in truth such mansions there be, as to place faith on a level with the evidence of sense. What noble and happy effects, he exclaims, would instantly follow, if man thus beheld his present and his future existence at once before him! But let us pause and suspend our admiration, till we coolly examine the consequences that would follow from this supposed reformation of the universe. Consider the nature and circumstances of man. Introduced into the world in an indigent condition, he is supported at first by the care of others: and, as soon as he begins to act for himself, finds labour and industry to be necessary for sustaining his life and supplying his wants. Mutual defence and interest give rise to society; and society, when formed, requires distinctions of property, diversity of conditions, subordinations of ranks, and a multiplicity of occupations, in order to advance the general good. In a word, by the destination of his Creator and the necessities of his nature, man commences at once an active, not merely a contemplative being. Religion assumes him as such. Suppose, now, that veil to be withdrawn which conceals another world from our view. Let all obscurity vanish; let us no longer "see darkly, as through a glass"; but let every man enjoy that intuitive perception of Divine and eternal objects which the sceptic was supposed to desire. The immediate effect of such a discovery would be to annihilate in our eye all human objects, and to produce a total stagnation in the affairs of the world. All the studies and pursuits, the arts and labours, which now employ the activity of man, which support the order, or promote the happiness of society, would lie neglected and abandoned. Those desires and fears, those hopes and interests, by which we are at present stimulated, would cease to operate. Human life would present no objects sufficient to rouse the mind, to kindle the spirit of enterprise, or to urge the hand of industry. Whatever is now attractive in society would appear insipid. In a word, he would be no longer a fit inhabitant of this world, nor be qualified for those exertions which are allotted to him in his present sphere of being. But all his faculties being sublimated above the measure of humanity, he would be in the condition of a being of superior order, who, obliged to reside among men, would regard their pursuits with scorn, as dreams, trifles, and puerile amusements of a day. But to this reasoning it may perhaps be replied, that such consequences as I have now stated, supposing them to follow, deserve not much regard. Would not such a change prove the highest blessing to man? Is not his attachment to worldly objects the great source both of his misery and his guilt? How far the change would contribute to his welfare comes to be considered. If there be any principle fully ascertained by religion, it is that this life was intended for a state of trial and improvement to man. His preparation for a better world required a gradual purification carried on by steps of progressive discipline. The situation, therefore, here assigned him was such as to answer this design by calling forth all his active powers, by giving full scope to his moral dispositions, and bringing to light his whole character. Hence it became proper that difficulty and temptation should arise in the course of his duty. Such is the plan of Divine wisdom for man's improvement. But put the case that the plans devised by human wisdom were to take place, and that the rewards of the just were to be more fully displayed to view, the exercise of all those graces which I have mentioned would be entirely superseded. Their very names would be unknown. The obscurity which at present hangs over eternal objects preserves the competition. Remove that obscurity, and you remove human virtue from its place. You overthrow that whole system of discipline by which imperfect creatures are, in this life, gradually trained up for a more perfect state. From what has been said, it now appears that no reasonable objection to the belief of a future state arises from the imperfect discoveries of it which we enjoy; from the difficulties that are mingled with its evidence; from our seeing as through a glass, darkly; and being left to walk by faith, and not by sight. It cannot be otherwise, it ought not to be otherwise in our present state. The evidence which is afforded is sufficient for the conviction of a candid mind, though not so striking as to withdraw our attention from the present world, or altogether to overcome the impression of sensible objects. In such evidence it becomes us to acquiesce, without indulging either doubts or complaints. For, upon the supposition of immortality, this life is no other than the childhood of existence; and the measures of our knowledge must be proportioned to such a state. In a word, the whole course of things is so ordered that we neither, by an irregular and precipitate education, become men too soon, nor, by a fond and trifling indulgence, be suffered to continue children for ever. Let these reflections not only remove the doubts which may arise from our obscure knowledge of immortality, but likewise produce the highest admiration of the wisdom of our Creator. The structure of the natural world affords innumerable instances of profound design, which no attentive spectator can survey without wonder. In the moral world, where the workmanship is of much finer and more delicate contexture, subjects of still greater admiration open to view. We have now seen that the darkness of man's condition is no less essential to his well-being than the light which he enjoys. His internal powers and his external situation appear to be exactly fitted to each other. In order to do justice to the subject, I must observe that the same reasoning which has been now employed with respect to our knowledge of immortality is equally applicable to many other branches of intellectual knowledge. Thus, why we are permitted to know so little of the nature of that Eternal Being who rules the universe; why the manner in which He operates on the natural and moral world is wholly concealed. To all these, and several other inquiries of the same kind which often employ the solicitous researches of speculative men, the answer is the degree of knowledge desired would prove incompatible with the design and with the proper business of this life. It is therefore reserved for a more advanced period of our nature. One instance, in particular, of Divine wisdom is so illustrious, and corresponds so remarkably with our present subject, that I cannot pass it over without notice; that is the concealment under which Providence has placed the future events of our life on earth. "How cruel is Providence!" we are apt to exclaim, "in denying to man the power of foresight, and in limiting him to the knowledge of the present moment!" But while fancy indulges such vain desires and criminal complaints, this coveted foreknowledge must clearly appear to the eye of reason to be the most fatal gift which the Almighty could bestow. If, in this present mixed state, all the successive scenes of distress through which we are to pass, were laid before us in one view, perpetual sadness would overcast our life. Hardly would any transient gleams of intervening joy be able to force their way through the cloud. Precisely in the same manner, as by the mixture of evidence and obscurity which remains on the prospect of a future state, a proper balance is preserved betwixt our love of this life and our desire of a better. The longer that our thoughts dwell on this subject the more we must be convinced that in nothing the Divine wisdom is more admirable than in proportioning knowledge to the necessities of man. Instead of lamenting our condition, that we are permitted only to see as through a glass, darkly, we have reason to bless our Creator, no less for what He hath concealed than for what He hath allowed us to know. From the whole view which we have taken of the subject, this important instruction arises, that the great design of all the knowledge, and in particular of the religious knowledge which God hath afforded us, is to fit us for discharging the duties of life. No useless discoveries are made to us in religion. Let us, then, second the kind intentions of Providence, and act upon the plan which it hath pointed out. Checking our inquisitive solicitude about what the Almighty hath concealed, let us diligently improve what He hath made known. Before I conclude, it may be proper to observe that the reasonings in this discourse give no ground to apprehend any danger of our being too much influenced by the belief of a future state. The bias of our nature leans so much towards sense that from this side the peril is to he dreaded, and on this side the defence is to be provided. Let us, then, walk by faith, Let us strengthen this principle of action to the utmost of our power.

(H. Blair, D.D.)

I. WE SEE DARKLY — very darkly.

1. We are in a world full of mystery. Every step we take, the great, deep problems strike us which we are unable to solve.(1) Day fades away into night, the night blossoms out into day; the stars walk up and down the vault of night. We cannot but wonder why. Say that it is because the earth revolves on its axis, and moves round in its orbit, but where is the force that drives it along its path? Astronomy only magnifies the mystery. I see other worlds flying in every conceivable direction and at all possible velocities; and yet the power, the thing I want, does not come out to me. I push the mystery perhaps one step, and taking that step, I plunge again into the darkness, to ride on as my fathers have been riding through all the past, unsoothed by definitions, and formulas.(2) But somebody says, "Why, it is gravity that holds the world in its path." And so I dig down to the earth for this giant whose arms are so long and whose grip is so almighty, but I do not find him; and after my weary search I sit back in despair, muttering "Gravity!" and I know no more than I did before. Nature, like the man who gave the empty casket to the highwayman and kept the jewels, has given us names and kept the secret — the power.(3) Oh I but you say, chemistry settles that. She has gone into the world and parcelled it out, saying, "This is oxygen, that is nitrogen, and that is carbon," etc. So I walk along quietly after her, and say, What is oxygen, what is carbon? I'll call this carbon every time I see it in the future. I used to call it coal: and yet my soul is fed no more by carbon than it was by coal. The term does not change the fact. My poor heart cries out for the power behind this. Where did it come from? Who stored the fires in its dark bosom? Who gathered the sunbeams of so many centuries and stored them into coal? That is the power I want, and not the name.(4) But chemistry has taken up the microscope, and says, "Now we have it; we have got things in the very act of beginning to be; we have seen them actually wriggling up into life." Yes, wriggle before they existed. I am sure I see very darkly here.(5) Suppose we go into the domain of my thoughts. This is something that you may call psychology — what can that do after all? Why, it takes up what I call my thought — gives its outer history, tells somewhat of its worth; but that is all it does. There is something behind the thought; here is the mystery it cannot touch at all.

2. Now, we are in this one universe, and should it be strange if, when we come to the things concerning eternal verities, there should be some darkness; if nature has cast a shadow over all things here, need we stumble, or be alarmed, if concerning spiritual and eternal things we see through a glass darkly? What if I cannot understand the mysteries of the incarnation, the Trinity, regeneration and resurrection — what of all that? Is it not rather the demonstration that we are under the administration of one God. May I not bring as many difficulties and arguments against the facts of your personal experience in every-day life as you can bring against the experience and facts of this spiritual and eternal life?

II. BUT WE DO SEE SOMETHING. Though we cannot define it. Look at two or three mountain-peaks that indicate to us the inner line that possibly we cannot pass, and even surveying may not definitely define.

1. One mountain-peak is the fact of revelation itself. I do not mean the arguments by which we sustain that this book is from God, but rather the fact of the communication of God to us. There it stands. Here we are in the universe; somebody brought us here; we did not make ourselves; we cannot trace our pedigree back through the ages. Yet we are here, and so circumstanced that we must do somebody's will in order to have peace; and to do it, we must know it. We cannot reach it with our reason. We have not instinct. The animals monopolise that. Will He not come out to me? Will he take such wonderful care of His meanest creatures, and leave His best to die in the darkness? I do not see very clearly, but I see something.

2. Here is another peak — the Book itself, said to be from God. A wonderful document! — too much in it for us to comprehend; full of mysteries, yet so simple and plain in most of its parts, that it has been the food of the common people for all the centuries. It is so compact and self-sustaining, that it has defied the sharpest criticism of eighteen centuries. There it is; fifteen hundred years in the shop being made, written by forty different men, separated, as far as possible, both in station and in culture. Yet somehow these forty men tell one story, and so telling it, that as we read it we feel that it is true, because they got one inspiration. They tell the history of the race into sin, and through sin up into redemption; and where one lets go, another takes hold, so that it is one story. I do not know how it was inspired; but there is the fact. It may be dark about the depths of the book, but it is infinitely darker outside of it. Outside we have nothing; here we do have something. I do see One said to be the Son of God, the Lamb of. God who taketh away the sin of the world, giving to me the fact of peace. I cannot fathom it. Indeed, I do not know why I am cold or why I am warm; but I know when I am cold and when I am warm. I am not able to understand exactly how it is that this that I see lifted on Calvary lifts me up into a better life, but it does.

3. Here is the Church opposed by every possible power, with no human instrumentality to commend it, and yet here it is. Yesterday it was a weakling, with only a dozen followers; to-day it masters all the peoples of the earth and brings them toward itself.

(Bp. Fowler.)

I. A CALAMITY, when it is traceable to —

1. Early training in prejudice.

2. False teaching.

3. Inability to learn.

II. A CRIME, when owing to —

1. Prayerlessness.

2. Wilfulness.

3. Lethargy.

4. Inattention.

5. Forgetfulness.

III. A BLESSING, when it causes —

1. Faith to be exercised.

2. Inquiry to be evoked.

3. Filial fear to be displayed.


1. Humility.

2. Praise.

3. Hope.

4. Alarm.

(Stems and Twigs.)

In this imperfect and preparatory stage of our existence we have just light sufficient to command our belief in matters essential to our salvation, to direct us in the discharge of our duties to God and to one another, and conduct us to a home where we shall see clearly and know perfectly the sublime truths which have so often baffled and perplexed our reason. This is all we need, and all that God hath given. He would have us walk by faith, which is opposed alike to open vision and to perfect knowledge. The Bible stands like a waymark, pointing the pilgrim to the celestial city, but furnishing him no needless information concerning either the country of his sojourn or the scenery of his destination. The full disclosure of that which is unseen and eternal, at present, we could bear no better than the infant of an hour could bear the unsoftened splendours of the noontide sun; nor could we possibly grasp the ample sphere of truth any more than the arms of a child could embrace the moon it so much admires, or than the ken of a cricket could sweep the solar system and comprehend the stellar universe. Truth is infinite, and its study is to occupy the redeemed intellect for ever, and its discovery or development is to constitute one of the chief elements of our endless felicity; but what must be the vastness and variety of that knowledge which is constantly to afford fresh interest to the employments of eternity! and how can we hope to attain unto it in this brief infancy of our being?

(J. Cross, D.D.)


1. All causes of ignorance and error will then be entirely removed. Here below, not only the body of flesh, but still more the body of sin, darkens our understandings. But in heaven, sin will no longer becloud our minds; prejudices will be eradicated, the passions, refined, purified, and directed to their proper object, will only aid us in the pursuit of truth; and the cares and pleasures of the world can no longer affect us.

2. Our intellectual faculties will be greatly strengthened. Our faculties shall ever be in vigorous exercise, never requiring to be relaxed, always penetrating and active; our imaginations ever unclouded; our memories never losing the knowledge we have acquired.

3. Much of our improvement depends upon the society with which we associate. "He that walketh with wise men shall be wise." We shall be companions of the redeemed in the world of felicity.

4. There the redeemed shall be instructed by the all-wise God (Revelation 21:22).

5. The knowledge of the saved will be increasing throughout eternity.

II. WHAT SHALL BE THE OBJECTS OF OUR KNOWLEDGE? The glorified saints shall know God —

1. In His nature.

2. His attributes.

3. His works of creation.

4. His works of Providence.

5. Redemption through the blood of Jesus.

6. The Word of God.

III. WHAT WILL BE ITS CHIEF PROPERTIES. Our knowledge shall be —

1. Immediate and intuitive. Instead of the labour, cares, processes of reasoning, that are here necessary, we shall have only to open our souls for the reception of that celestial light which will flow into them from God, the source of light.

2. Full and adequate, both in variety and degree, and certain and infallible.

3. Transforming.

4. Beatifying.

5. Unfading and eternal.Conclusion: This subject —

1. Is calculated to animate Christians and comfort them. You now lament that you know so little of God and the Redeemer; wait till the light of eternity shall burst upon your view, and then you "shall know even as you are known."

2. Leads us to lament the doom of men of unsanctified genius and learning.

3. Should give us consolation on the death of pious friends. You may again meet them, advanced in knowledge and perfect in bliss.

(H. Kollock, D.D.)

1. There is something very solemn in this anticipation of my future being; "Then shall I know even as also I am known"; that there will be a clearness and certainty around me, no prejudice, no distorting medium, no unsettling estimate, no tremulous light; and that this same clearness and certainty will not only shine around, but through me, so that as little possible as it is for me to mistake anything will it be for others to mistake me; I can no longer wear a mask; I can no longer practise an imposition; I intuitively know, and as intuitively am known.

2. It is a relief, in considering that universal perception which we shall take of others, and others shall take of us, to institute the inquiry, Will Christian friends then meet — will they recognise each other? We cannot withstand a thought of the past. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain. In casting my eye over the present assembly, I am only struck with bereavement and loss; I know not whither to turn to find some friend of my youth. But is there an absolute privation? We must think of heaven as aa existing reality. We speak of it as if forgetting that it is only future to us. But our brethren, sainted and glorified in heaven, have their present beatitudes, splendours, and songs. Let us think of them, therefore, as only separated from us by a veil, which will soon be torn aside. Will there be those who shall be ready to welcome us? Shall there be those whom we ourselves remember? This is not a barren speculation; it is that which surely has engaged every thinking mind and every susceptible heart. "Oh, renowned day," exclaimed the Roman orator, "when I shall have reached the Divine assemblage of those minds with which I have congenial predilections, and shall escape this untoward and uncongenial throng!" "We but depart," said the lyrist of the same nation, "to meet our AEneas, and our Tully, and our Ancus."

I. THE CONTRARY CONCLUSION IMPLIES A DESTRUCTION WHICH IS QUITE OPPOSITE TO THE DEALINGS OF GOD WITH OUR NATURE. If I do not know in heaven those whom I have known here, there must have taken place an imperfection in my mind. We must suppose that God blots out some of the exercises of the recollection. But this seems quite opposite to His ordinary dealings with us; and therefore, unless there was the strongest proof that we should not, know each other, we should argue that it was contrary to all that we might infer. Now, heaven is the consummation of our present happiness. And what makes us happier upon earth than mutual acquaintance? "I have no greater joy," said the beloved disciple, "than to hear that my children walk in truth": and was that joy entirely torn from his spirit when he passed from this world of distraction and discord to that region where all was love? Besides, it is impossible to think that all will be without a history and without a name; some, we know, will be preeminent; we shall sit down with Abraham, and with Isaac, and with Jacob, in the kingdom of God. And will all other spirits flit before us unstoried and nameless?


1. When David thought of his dying child, he agonised in fasting and in prayer; when that child was taken away he found encouragement. "I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me." That his head should recline on the same clod? Nay; here is an intimation of immortality and of the communings of two spirits in that immortality. And the same remark may be made when the pious are said to be "buried with their fathers." It is chilling and repulsive to think that the cemetery only is referred to, and that there is no mingling of the departed except in the dust of the sepulchre.

2. There are other phrases in the latter portion of the Christian Scriptures which we think are absolutely decisive. "Knowing," says the apostle, "that He who raised up the Lord Jesus Christ, shall also raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you." And again, he adjures those to whom he writes, " by our gathering together unto Jesus Christ." Now there seems to be a banishment of all point and of all spirit, unless you suppose that they will know each other. To prove how disinterested was the spirit and purpose of the first Christian teachers, they always rested their labours upon a reward, which consisted in the glory of those spirits whom they had saved. "For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? For ye are our glory and our joy." "That I may rejoice in the day of the Lord that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain." "Look to yourselves, that ye receive a full reward." " That we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus." Now this cannot, for a moment, be separated from the recognition of those who were the fruits of their ministry (see particularly 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17).

3. When standing near the grave of Bethany, our Lord says, "Thy brother shall rise again"; was it that that brother was to be absorbed and lost in the myriads of spirits; so that the sisters who had lately laid him in the grave should see him and know him no more?

4. The process of judgment seems to include this recognition of each other. A cup of cold water given to a disciple in the name of Jesus shall not be without its reward. The Saviour, specifying those who are before Him, shall say, "I was an hungered, and ye gave Me meat," etc. Now, this is reflected in the persons of those who are in the crowd: "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me."

5. Then, when we go further, and consider the Christian doctrine upon she destruction and overthrow of death. "O grave, where is thy victory?" Now, this implies that all that death has done of evil and of pain shall be compensated. But what has been a more bitter consequence of death than bereavement? How, if that is never repaired, can it be said that death has no sting, that the grave has no victory?

6. But think of the happiness of the heavenly world. Will all remembrance of that world which we have left be suspended? Shall we not think of the means of our conversion — what we have done for others — what others have done for us? Hear the new language: "Thou hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation." Is not this a rush of the past upon the soul? Is not this like living again? Conclusion: We are not at all, however, unconscious that objections may be raised against this doctrine. If we recognise our beloved friends, must we not deplore the absence of those who, whatever was their guilt, were dear to our bosoms, and were twined around our hearts? But remember that you are perfect in heaven. You cannot conceive of that which is perfect in heaven without the most entire acquiescence, in what God has arranged, or what God has suffered.

(R. W. Hamilton, D.D.)

I. SUBORDINATE ARGUMENTS. Testimony in its favour might be drawn —

1. From the constitutional sociality of our nature, that renders such an expectation as our mutual recognition hereafter conducive to our happiness, heaven being the scene where all the innocent sources that contribute to felicity would be probably accumulated.

2. From our enlarged capacities of knowledge and enjoyment in a future state.

3. From the common assent of mankind in all ages.

4. From the incidental inference drawn from the like general belief of mankind in the appearances of the dead, and their being recognised by the parties to whom they appeared, as was undoubtedly the case in the instances of Moses and Elias on the Mount of Transfiguration, and of "the bodies of the saints" that arose after our Lord's resurrection.

5. From the analogy of sleep, the Scriptural type of death, the persons of individuals, both dead and living, being clearly identified in the dreams of the night, and therefore leading to the inference that such persons would be equally identified after they and we shall have "fallen asleep in Jesus."


1. Old Testament (1. Samuel 28:11, etc.). If a parted spirit and a living man could be mutually recognised, then it is even more probable if both individuals had departed they could equally recognise each other. David, indeed, proposes an express comfort to himself from such an expectation, when bereaved of his child (2 Samuel 12:29, etc.). Where would be the special consolation in the father's being lost to the child, as the child had been lost to the father, if death were the final extinction of the power of recognition and recovery each of the other?

2. New Testament. In the parable of Dives and Lazarus not only does the rich man recognise Lazarus, but converses with him, and Lazarus is represented "in Abraham's bosom," i.e., in terms of close intimacy with Abraham. The reply of our Lord to the Sadducees, in Matthew 22, implies that if men in the resurrection are to resemble the angels, men will enjoy the like privilege of "knowing each other, even as they are known." This view may be further confirmed from 1 Corinthians 15:54. The angels sing this: the angels, then, must recognise in the redeemed spirits who had died, or how could they triumph over their escape from and defeat of death? But not only angels triumph in the victory of their brethren from the flesh; St. John (Revelation 7:13) tells us of "one of the elders," i.e., an Old Testament saint, who was perfectly acquainted with the persons and the antecedent trials of some triumphant souls. Moreover, death was the effect and penalty of sin. If man had not sinned, the union of earthly attachments and relationships, for aught we now, had been immortal. If in Christ all the effects of sin shall be abolished, man will be reinstated, though with much superadded glory, in all the privileges which he originally enjoyed, and therefore with a capacity of renewing and perpetuating his communion with them, over whom "death shall have no more dominion." Again, in Luke 13:28, it is stated as one of the peculiar aggravations of the anguish of lost souls that they should recognise in the realms of glory those who had not been so highly favoured as themselves.

3. Again, there is a moral necessity for individual remembrance at least in the scene of judgment. "We must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, to give an account of the deeds done in the body" (Matthew 25:34, etc.; 1 Thessalonians 2:19; Hebrews 13:17). Thus the penitent thief makes the fact of his recognition the burthen of his dying prayer, "Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom!" and had there been any error or mere fanaticism in the hope, Jesus would have corrected it; but, on the contrary, He sanctioned and established it in the tender answer — "To-day thou shalt be with Me in paradise." "The Lord knoweth them that are His" here; "His name shall be in their foreheads" there; and thus each shall recognise another, and all their common Lord. Conclusion: But if we shall rejoice to recognise our friends in heaven, must we not be grieved at the absence of others, in hell? The consequence is not necessary. The Lord may give His risen people large capacities for joy without a single capacity for sorrow. Angels are said to "joy over the penitent sinner," but they are never said to be grieved for the reprobate sinner. May not the enlarged views of Divine perfections into which the glorified saints will be admitted serve to swallow up every inferior impression? "Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Thy sight!"

(J. B. Owen, M.A.)

Luther, the night before he died, was reasonably well, and sat with his friends at table. The matter of their discourse was whether we shall know one another in heaven or not. Luther held it affirmatively, and this was one reason he gave: Adam, as soon as he saw Eve, knew what she was, not by discourse, but by Divine revelation; so shall we in the life to come.

(J. Trapp.)

Corinthians, Paul
Complete, Darkly, Dim, Dimly, Face, Fully, Gain, Glass, God's, Imperfect, Mirror, Obscurely, Partially, Present, Puzzled, Reflection, Understand, Understood, Window
1. All gifts,
3. however excellent, are of no worth without love.
4. The praises thereof,
13. as love is greatest before hope and faith.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
1 Corinthians 13:12

     1145   God, transcendent
     1255   face of God
     1445   revelation, responses
     1466   vision
     4942   fulness
     5027   knowledge, God's of humanity
     5149   eyes
     5150   face
     5411   mirror
     5935   riddles
     6200   imperfection, influence
     8355   understanding
     8474   seeing God
     9022   death, believers

1 Corinthians 13:1-13

     3209   Holy Spirit, and love
     5765   attitudes, to people

1 Corinthians 13:8-12

     1444   revelation, NT

1 Corinthians 13:9-12

     2063   Christ, perfection

What Lasts
'Whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 13. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three....'--1 COR. xiii. 8, 13. We discern the run of the Apostle's thought best by thus omitting the intervening verses and connecting these two. The part omitted is but a buttress of what has been stated in the former of our two verses; and when we thus unite them there is disclosed plainly the Apostle's intention
Alexander Maclaren—Romans, Corinthians (To II Corinthians, Chap. V)

The Great Duty of Charity Recommended
1 Corinthians 13:8, "Charity never faileth." Nothing is more valuable and commendable, and yet, not one duty is less practiced, than that of charity. We often pretend concern and pity for the misery and distress of our fellow-creatures, but yet we seldom commiserate their condition so much as to relieve them according to our abilities; but unless we assist them with what they may stand in need of, for the body, as well as for the soul, all our wishes are no more than words of no value or regard,
George Whitefield—Selected Sermons of George Whitefield

The Future State a Self-Conscious State.
1 Cor. xiii. 12.--"Now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." The apostle Paul made this remark with reference to the blessedness of the Christian in eternity. Such assertions are frequent in the Scriptures. This same apostle, whose soul was so constantly dilated with the expectation of the beatific vision, assures the Corinthians, in another passage in this epistle, that "eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath
William G.T. Shedd—Sermons to the Natural Man

Now, and Then
There are some things which we count very precious now, which will soon be of no value to us whatever. There are some things that we know or think we know, and we pride ourselves a good deal upon our knowledge; but when we shall become men we shall set no more value upon that knowledge than a child does upon his toys when he grows up to be a man. Our spiritual manhood in heaven will discard many things which we now count precious, as a full grown man discards the treasures of his childhood. And there
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 17: 1871

Love's Labours
What does this teach us at the outset, but that a salvation which leads to this must be of God, and must be wrought in us by his power? Such a comely grace can never grow out of our fallen nature. Shall such a clean thing as this be brought out of an unclean? This glorious salvation unto pure love must be grasped by faith, and wrought in us by the operation of the Spirit of God. If we consider salvation to be a little thing, we bring it, as it were, within the sphere of human possibility, but if
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 27: 1881

1 Corinthians xiii. 11
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. Taking the Apostle's words literally, it might appear that no words in the whole range of Scripture were less applicable to the circumstances of this particular congregation: for they speak of childhood and of manhood; and as all of us have passed the one, so a very large proportion of us have not yet arrived at the other. But when we consider the passage
Thomas Arnold—The Christian Life

The Greatest Thing in the World And Other Addresses
THE GREATEST THING IN THE WORLD AND OTHER ADDRESSES BY HENRY DRUMMOND (LONDON - HODDER & STOUGHTON LTD) Undated Edition c1920, 390,000 prior copies. First Published c1880. THE GREATEST THING IN THE WORLD THOUGH I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as a sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not LOVE
Henry Drummond—The Greatest Thing in the World And Other Addresses

Drummond -- the Greatest Thing in the World
Henry Drummond, author and evangelist, was born at Stirling, Scotland, in 1851. His book, "Natural Law in the Spiritual World," caused much discussion and is still widely read. His "Ascent of Man" is regarded by many as his greatest work. The address reprinted here has appeared in hundreds of editions, and has been an inspiration to thousands of peoples all over the world. There is an interesting biography of Drummond by Professor George Adam Smith, his close friend and colaborer. He died in 1897.
Various—The World's Great Sermons, Volume 10

And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.--1 COR. xiii. 13. It must be a precious thing to be greater than faith, and greater than hope--it must, indeed, be precious!--and, just in proportion as things are valuable and precious amongst men, so much trouble and risk will human speculators take to counterfeit them. I suppose that in no department of roguery in this roguish world, has there been more time and ingenuity expended, than in making counterfeit
Catherine Booth—Godliness

Charity and Rebuke.
And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.--1 COR. xiii. 13. The second main point of difference between a true and a false Charity, we want to remark, is, Divine Charity is not only consistent with, but it very often necessitates, reproof and rebuke by its possessor. It renders it incumbent on those who possess it to reprove and rebuke whatever is evil--whatever does not tend to the highest interests of its object. This Charity conforms in this, as
Catherine Booth—Godliness

Charity and Conflict.
And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.--1 COR. xiii. 13. Another characteristic of this Divine Charity is, that it OFTEN INVOLVES CONFLICT. It was so with our Lord. He was the very personification of it. He was love itself, and grace and truth poured from His lips incessantly. His blessed feet went about doing good, and His hands ministering to the necessities and happiness of His creatures, yet His whole course through this degenerate world was one
Catherine Booth—Godliness

Charity and Loneliness.
And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.-I COR. xiii. 13. The possession of this Divine Charity often necessitates walking in a lonely path. Not merely in opposition and persecution, but alone in it, and here, again, Jesus, who was the personification of Divine lore, stands out as our great example. He was emphatically alone, and of the people there was none with Him. Even the disciples whom He had drawn nearest to Him, and to whom He had tried
Catherine Booth—Godliness

Revival in the Home
Thousands of years ago, in the most beautiful Garden the world has ever known, lived a man and a woman. Formed in the likeness of their Creator, they lived solely to reveal Him to His creation and to each other and thus to glorify Him every moment of the day. Humbly they accepted the position of a creature with the Creator--that of complete submission and yieldedness to His will. Because they always submitted their wills to His, because they lived for Him and not for themselves, they were also completely
Roy Hession and Revel Hession—The Calvary Road

A Word to Workers
Some time ago I read this expression in an old author: --"The first duty of a clergyman is humbly to ask of God that all that he wants done in his hearers should first be truly and fully done in himself." These words have stuck to me ever since. What a solemn application this is to the subject that occupied our attention in previous chapters--the living and working under the fullness of the Holy Spirit! And yet, if we understand our calling aright, every one of us will have to say, That is the one
Andrew Murray—The Deeper Christian Life

The Greatest of These is Love.
"The greatest of these is Love."-- 1 Cor. xiii. 13. That the shedding abroad of Love and the glowing of its fire through the heart is the eternal work of the Holy Spirit, is stated by no one so pithily as by St. Paul in the closing verse of his hymn of Love. Faith, Hope, and Love are God's most precious gifts; but Love far surpasses the others in preciousness. Compared with all heavenly gifts, Faith, Hope, and Love stand highest, but of these three Love is the greatest. All spiritual gifts are precious,
Abraham Kuyper—The Work of the Holy Spirit

Christ or Satan.
"But the greatest of these is Love." --1 Cor. xiii. 13. However fearful the Scripture's revelation of the hardening of heart, yet it is the only price at which the Almighty offers man the blessed promise of Love's infinite wealth. Light without shadow is inconceivable; and the purer and the more brilliant the light, the darker and the more distinctly delineated the shadows must be. In like manner, faith is inconceivable without the opposite of doubt; hope without the distressful tension of despair;
Abraham Kuyper—The Work of the Holy Spirit

Whence the Greatness of this Service, unto the Undertaking of which we have According...
31. Whence the greatness of this service, [2101] unto the undertaking of which we have according to our strength exhorted, the more excellent and divine it is, the more doth it warn our anxiety, to say something not only concerning most glorious chastity, but also concerning safest humility. When then such as make profession of perpetual chastity, comparing themselves with married persons, shall have discovered, that, according to the Scriptures, the others are below both in work and wages, both
St. Augustine—Of Holy Virginity.

The Climax of Ecclesiastes' Exercises Seems to have Been Reached in the Previous Chapter. ...
The climax of Ecclesiastes' exercises seems to have been reached in the previous chapter. The passionate storm is over, and now his thoughts ripple quietly along in proverb and wise saying. It is as if he said "I was altogether beyond my depth. Now I will confine myself only to the present life, without touching on the things unseen, and here I can pronounce with assurance the conclusion of wisdom, and sum up both its advantages and yet inadequacy." The proverbs that follow are apparently disjointed,
F. C. Jennings—Old Groans and New Songs

But if Moreover any not Having Charity, which Pertaineth to the Unity of Spirit...
23. But if moreover any not having charity, which pertaineth to the unity of spirit and the bond of peace whereby the Catholic Church is gathered and knit together, being involved in any schism, doth, that he may not deny Christ, suffer tribulations, straits, hunger, nakedness, persecution, perils, prisons, bonds, torments, swords, or flames, or wild beasts, or the very cross, through fear of hell and everlasting fire; in nowise is all this to be blamed, nay rather this also is a patience meet to
St. Augustine—On Patience

Wherefore it Now Remains to Consider, in what Manner we Ought not to Follow...
25. Wherefore it now remains to consider, in what manner we ought not to follow these, who profess that they will lead by reason. For how we may without fault follow those who bid us to believe, hath been already said: but unto these who make promises of reason certain think that they come, not only without blame, but also with some praise: but it is not so. For there are two (classes of) persons, praiseworthy in religion; one of those who have already found, whom also we must needs judge most blessed;
St. Augustine—On the Profit of Believing.

The Christian Graces. --1 Cor. xiii. 13
The Christian Graces.--1 Cor. xiii. 13. Faith, Hope, and Charity,--these three, Yet is the greatest Charity! Father of lights, those gifts impart To mine and every human heart:-- Faith, that in prayer can never fail, Hope, that o'er doubting must prevail, And Charity, whose name above Is God's own name, for "God is love." The morning star is lost in light, Faith vanishes at perfect sight; The rainbow passes with the storm, And Hope with sorrow's fading form:-- But Charity, serene, sublime, Beyond
James Montgomery—Sacred Poems and Hymns

Could I Command with Voice or Pen
Gifts.--I Cor. xiii. Could I command with voice or pen The tongues of Angels and of men, A tinkling cymbal, sounding brass My speech and preaching would surpass; Vain were such eloquence to me Without the grace of Charity. Could I the martyr's flame endure, Give all my goods to feed the poor; Had I the faith from Alpine steep To hurl the mountain to the deep, What were such zeal, such power to me Without the grace of Charity? Could I behold with prescient eye Things future as the things gone by;
James Montgomery—Sacred Poems and Hymns

Obedience Entire.
The government of God accepts nothing as virtue but obedience to the law of God. But it may be asked, Why state this proposition? Was this truth ever called in question? I answer, that the truth of this proposition, though apparently so self-evident that to raise the question may reasonably excite astonishment, is generally denied. Indeed, probably nine-tenths of the nominal church deny it. They tenaciously hold sentiments that are entirely contrary to it, and amount to a direct denial of it. They
Charles Grandison Finney—Systematic Theology

Introductory Notice
By the Editor. St. Augustin speaks of this book in his Retractations, l. ii. c. 63, as follows: "I also wrote a book on Faith, Hope, and Charity, at the request of the person to whom I addressed it, that he might have a work of mine which should never be out of his hands, such as the Greeks call an Enchiridion (Hand-Book). There I think I have pretty carefully treated of the manner in which God is to be worshipped, which knowledge divine Scripture defines to be the true wisdom of man. The book begins:
St. Augustine—The Enchiridion

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