1 Corinthians 13:13
And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love; but the greatest of these is love.
Charity Suggestive of Important LessonsJ. Cross, D.D.1 Corinthians 13:13
Christian LoveC. S. Robinson, D.D.1 Corinthians 13:13
Crowning LoveH. W. Beecher.1 Corinthians 13:13
Faith, Hope, and CharityJ. J. S. Bird, B.A.1 Corinthians 13:13
Faith, Hope, and CharityT. Alexander.1 Corinthians 13:13
Faith, Hope, and CharityJ. Burder, M.A.1 Corinthians 13:13
Faith, Hope, CharityA. Gray.1 Corinthians 13:13
Faith, Hope, CharityR. Davies, M.A.1 Corinthians 13:13
Faith, Hope, LoveW.Arnot, D.D.1 Corinthians 13:13
Faith, Hope, LoveJ. Monro Gibson, D.D.1 Corinthians 13:13
HopeDean Church.1 Corinthians 13:13
HopeR. Collyer, D.D.1 Corinthians 13:13
LoveR. Collyer, D.D.1 Corinthians 13:13
LoveE. B. Pusey, D.D.1 Corinthians 13:13
Love the Greatest Power in MindD. Thomas, D.D.1 Corinthians 13:13
Other Graces not to be DisparagedR. Tuck, B.A.1 Corinthians 13:13
The Christian's Abiding GracesJ. Brewster.1 Corinthians 13:13
The Crowning GraceJ. Summerfield, A.M.1 Corinthians 13:13
The Greatest GraceA. J. Morris.1 Corinthians 13:13
The Greatest of TheseJ.R. Thomson 1 Corinthians 13:13
The Greatness of CharityH. Bacon.1 Corinthians 13:13
The Greatness of Charity in the Width and Extent of its SphereR. Tuck, B.A.1 Corinthians 13:13
The Greatness of Faith and HopeC. Vince.1 Corinthians 13:13
The Immortality of All GracesR. Tuck 1 Corinthians 13:13
The Pre-Eminence of CharityC. Vince.1 Corinthians 13:13
The Supremacy of LoveW. G. Thrall.1 Corinthians 13:13
The Supremacy of LoveH. W. Beecher.1 Corinthians 13:13
The Supremacy of LoveE. M. Young, M.A.1 Corinthians 13:13
The Three Divine SistersT. Adams.1 Corinthians 13:13
The Three GracesClerical World1 Corinthians 13:13
The Three GracesAnon1 Corinthians 13:13
The Three GracesE. Hurndall 1 Corinthians 13:13
The Three SistersR. Tuck, B. A.1 Corinthians 13:13
The Three StagesWeekly Pulpit1 Corinthians 13:13
The Triple GracesT. Hughes.1 Corinthians 13:13
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

Paul has often been called the apostle of faith, in distinction from John, the apostle of love. This declaration, therefore, coming from Paul is the more valuable. No doubt what he saw of the Corinthian Christians, who disputed much concerning gifts, natural and supernatural, made the apostle specially sensible of the supreme necessity of charity. What men are - their character - is of more importance than what they have - their abilities. Paul was not the man to disparage faith, which holds so high a place in his writings, nor hope, which was so prominent a feature of his character. But the higher the estimation in which he held these virtues, the loftier was the position to which he raised the grace of love when he pronounced it the greatest and the most enduring of all virtues.

I. BECAUSE OF ITS NATIVE SOURCE AND ORIGIN. God cannot exercise faith or cherish hope; but he not only has love, he is love. Our virtues are largely creature virtues; this is the great attribute of the Creator himself.

II. BECAUSE OF ITS SUPREME MANIFESTATION TO MANKIND IN THE PERSON AND WORK OF CHRIST. The Lord Jesus brought down the love of the Father to this world of ignorance, error, and sin. He revealed Divine love, which was indeed the motive of his advent, but which was also the prevailing and undeniable characteristic of his ministry, and the secret explanation of his willing and sacrificial death.

III. BECAUSE IT IS THE SPECIAL LAW OF THE LORD JESUS. His "new commandment" was this: "Love one another." And he made obedience to this commandment the great test of discipleship: "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." What takes so pre-eminent a place in the mind of the Monarch, what stands so obviously supreme among his laws, must necessarily be regarded by his loyal subjects with an especial reverence.

IV. BECAUSE IT IS THE END TO WHICH THE OTHER VIRTUES ARE MEANS. Faith is not an end; it is faith in a Divine Deliverer and in his promise of salvation; it is the means towards life eternal. Hope is not an end; it is hope of final and eternal fellowship with God; it is the means to steadfastness and to heaven. But love is an end in itself. Charity is the bond of perfectness; beyond this even Christianity cannot carry us. As the grace of faith and the grace of hope realize their purpose when they produce the grace of Christian love, it is obvious that the virtue which is their final purpose is greater than they. And this conviction is confirmed when we consider that, of all virtues, love is usually the most difficult and the last to be acquired. There have been confessors and martyrs Whose faith was firm and whose hope was bright, who yet did not arrive at the acme of perfect love. This is the test and the crown of spiritual maturity.

V. BECAUSE OF ITS SUPREME UTILITY. Society needs above all things to be penetrated with the spirit of charity, sympathy, and brotherly kindness. This is the radical cure for all its ills - this, and only this. What gravitation is in the physical realm, that is love in the moral Without it, all is disorder and chaos; with it, all is regularity and beauty. It represses hatred, malice, envy, and uncharitableness; it cultivates considerateness, pity, gentleness, self denial, and generous help.

VI. BECAUSE IT IS THE PECULIAR ELEMENT OF HEAVENLY BLESSEDNESS. Disputes have arisen as to whether or not faith and hope are found in heaven. But there is no difference of opinion as to the prevalence and eternity of the grace of love. For -

"Love is heaven, and heaven is love!" T.

And now abideth faith, hope, charity.
I. FAITH, the fundamental principle of Christianity. It is not mere belief, but trust. It is faith that gives to Christianity its whole name, character, and nature. And faith gives a man a new relationship to God. It makes him son of God and joint-heir with Christ. Therefore, the man who has faith in Christ will be a good living man, showing his faith by his works.

II. HOPE, the consequence of faith. If a man believes in the Son of God, he shall not perish, but have everlasting life. If we firmly believe this promise it will give us hope of its fulfilment. Hope is the anchor that sustains the Christian in all the storms of time, the chain that connects him with the future amid all its difficulties. What would life be without it, even in a worldly sense? The anticipation of something better bears us up amid many of the world's trials. But even the best of our worldly hopes is of a transitory and uncertain character, but the heavenly hope is sure and steadfast. Hope is not only a privilege and a blessing; it is part of a Christian's duty. A man who sits down and desponds loses the very anchor of his ship.

III. CHARITY. First, faith the root and trunk, then hope the branches, then charity the fruit, the highest development of the Christian character, the practical part of Christianity. Faith is the inward union of the soul with Christ; hope is the support which gives us strength to battle with the present; charity the outward manifestation of what we feel within. Only realise that the gospel is love, and then you realise its beauty and realise its glory.

(J. J. S. Bird, B.A.)


1. Faith. Now faith means belief; and evangelical and saving faith is believing the gospel. The gospel contains an account of man's ruin by sin, and of his redemption by Christ, and these things, when believed, produce an important effect upon our state and character.

2. Hope is the desire, combined with the expectation, of some future good; and Christian hope is the desire and the expectation of all the good which is promised to believers in the Word of God.(1) Its objects include all the blessings belonging to the kingdom of grace and of glory. As Christians we have much in possession, but more in prospect.(2) Its foundation is the gospel of Christ. The reason which we have for the hope that is in us is derived from the exceeding great and precious promises which God has given to us in His Word, the fulfilment of which is secured to us by the blood of Christ, by the oath of God, and by the faithfulness of the Divine character. We hope therefore because we believe.(3) Its influence. It encourages our prayers; for the hope of receiving inspires confidence in asking. It promotes our holiness; "for every man that hath this hope in Him, purifieth himself, even as He is pare." And it is a source of peace and consolation and joy.

3. Charity or love.(1) Love to God includes in it gratitude to Him for His goodness; approbation of His character; cheerful obedience to His commands; desire for the enjoyment of His favour, and for increasing conformity to His image.(2) Love to our fellow-creatures in general is "goodwill to men."(3) Love to the brethren is love to Christians as such. It includes approbation of their characters as well as benevolence to their persons.


1. In their source. Diversified as they are in their nature and operations, they have each their source in God. The heart of man, which is naturally "deceitful above all things," etc., cannot be the fountain of streams, so pure and hallowed as these three. Faith, we are told, is "the fruit of the Spirit" and "the gift of God." Hope has the same Divine origin, for it is "the God of hope, who fills you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost." And love is equally of God, for "God is love," and it is His love which is shed abroad in our hearts. And as "these three" are thus united in God, their source and giver, it is from God alone that you are to seek them, by earnest and by persevering prayer.

2. In their residence — the heart. The body, the soul, and the spirit are not more necessary to compose a living and a perfect man than are faith and hope and love to constitute a living and a perfect Christian; for were any one of these three wanting, there would be a fatal deficiency in the character. He therefore, by whom that character is formed, begins it by the gift of faith, but completes and perfects it by the addition of hope and love. There is not one of them with which a Christian can part. You cannot, e.g., part with faith; for we are saved by faith, and without faith it would be impossible to please God. You cannot part with hope; for without hope we should be of all men the most miserable. And you cannot part with love; for that would be to lose the very image of God; for "he that loveth not knoweth not God." As therefore in an arch you cannot part either with the foundation-stones or with the key-stone in the centre, without ruin to the whole fabric, so you cannot part with any one of these three graces without becoming absolutely "nothing."

3. In their influence.(1) To purify the heart, for our hearts are "purified by faith"; "every man that hath this hope in Him, purifieth himself, even as He is pure"; no man can love God without becoming "a partaker of His holiness."(2) In prosperity, in supplying the Christian with sweeter pleasures than earthly things can yield, and in keeping him unspotted from the world. His faith beholds an inheritance, "incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away"; his hope seeks fruition in "joy unspeakable and full of glory"; and his love leads him to choose God as his invaluable portion, and to declare, "whom have I in heaven but Thee?" etc.(3) In adversity, in bringing strength and consolation to the soul.

III. THE SUPERIORITY OF CHARITY TO BOTH FAITH AND HOPE, "The greatest of these is charity." The epithet of "great" belongs, to each, and they are far superior to natural talents and even to miraculous endowments. Love is the greatest of the three, because —

1. It is the only grace which is exercised by God Himself.

2. It is the grace for the sake of which faith and hope are produced and exercised. Love is the sacred temple which faith and hope are employed in building, and needful as their presence and exertions are now, whilst the temple is rising, yet when the topstone is brought forth, and when the cloud of glory has filled the holy place, their assistance will no longer be required, and they may rest from their labours.

3. It is capable of putting forth greater energies, and of performing greater achievements.

4. It is eminently and almost entirely a social grace. Faith and hope are in a great measure personal graces.

5. It alone is eternal in its duration. Faith, like the venerable lawgiver, ascends Mount Pisgah, views the promised land, and dies. Hope, bright and cheering as the morning star, grows dim, and fades, amidst the splendours of the rising and meridian sun. But Charity, immortal in her existence as the soul she inspires, and as the God from whom she came, ascends, like Elijah, in a charier, of fire, and is translated to the realms of life and joy.

(T. Alexander.)

Let us then inquire —


1. Faith has respect to things either unseen or future.

2. Hope is desire and expectation of good.

3. Charity is love to God and love to man. There may be in our text a special reference to love to man, including the love of complacency towards the good, and a love of compassion towards even the vilest of the vile.


1. Faith is excellent contemplated —(1) Intellectually. The power of realising existing objects and past and future events is a power of incalculable value, without which man would not be man. Most of our knowledge is obtained through the medium of books and oral instruction, which we have read and heard and have believed. Even common conversation owes much of its interest to the faith which we have in one another. In commerce the importance of a promise to pay and of believing that promise is most apparent. Trial by jury, on which the question of life or death often depends, would be useless were faith in civil society impossible.(2) Morally.(a) A man "whose word is as good as his bond" is universally and deservedly esteemed. He is a man who can be believed.(b) But the moral excellence of faith is most of all apparent in its reference to God. Faithfulness as clearly belongs to God as either justice or mercy; and when we trust in Him without fear, we "give to Him the glory due to His name."(c) Faith exerts a beneficial interest on the entire character of man as exposed to temptation. For his conflict the moral soldier is furnished with "the shield of faith". "This is the victory that over-cometh the world," etc.(d) It is essential to our salvation. It is to a Christian what grasping the hand of a friend would be to a drowning man.

2. Hope is excellent, because —(1) It is the next best thing to actual possession (Romans 8:24). It is the earnest of heaven.(2) It neutralises if not annihilates the misery which great affliction might otherwise create; "these light afflictions, which are but for a moment," etc.


1. It is more disinterested than either faith or hope.

2. It is the perfection of man.

3. It is eternal.

4. Although charity is before faith and hope in point of excellence, faith is first in order of time.

(J. Burder, M.A.)

1. It is proof of the importance of this Divine trio that they are universally necessary. Excellent and wonderful are the gifts of healing, etc.; precious and indispensable are those more ordinary gifts through which the edification of Christ's body is provided for; but they are not gifts of which it can be said that a man must possess them in order to be saved.

2. The practical value of these three gifts is enhanced by the fact that they are universally attainable. Miraculous gifts might, even in the age of miracles, be sought without success; and they were withdrawn long ago. But of the gifts of faith, hope, and love, we can say that "every one that seeketh findeth," and it is a man's own fault if he has them not.

3. There is a remarkable pairing and grouping of these graces in the Scripture (1 the 1:14: Ephesians 6:23; Galatians 5:6). Observe also the coupling of faith and hope (1 Peter 1:21; Colossians 1:23). We also find them grouped all together (Colossians 1:3-5; 1 Thessalonians 1:3).

4. The admirable nature of these graces is proclaimed by the functions assigned to them as part of the Christian's heavenly armour (Ephesians 6:16). Consider them —


1. Love has the first place in point of time. There was a time when there was, and could be, no faith and no hope; but the gospel tells us of an everlasting love. What is declared of the Word is true of love (John 1:1).

2. While love can, and does, dwell wherever faith and hope find a home, it makes its chief abode in a quarter to which they have no access. But love takes a higher flight. God neither believes nor hopes; but God loves.

3. All three are springs of human action. But love is more; it is a spring of action on the part of God. Faith and hope beget great deeds; but they are only the deeds of men after all. Love awakens to action the powers of omnipotence, and God arises at its summons.

II. AS GRACES WHICH ARE FOUND IN EVERY REAL CHRISTIAN'S HEART. When thus considered, love is the greatest of them all.

1. It excels in respect of its success and range. The Christian's love is the companion of his faith and hope in all their exercises, and goes forth upon the object on which they lay hold: but it is also the companion and follower of God's love, and makes for the objects of Divine regard.

2. It carries off the palm among the graces, because it imparts a likeness to God. God is love. "In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil."

3. The disinterestedness of love gives it pre-eminence. Love's office is to give. Faith and hope are exercised in the reception and anticipation of benefits. Love "seeketh not her own."

4. The greatness of love may be estimated by its relation to holiness. Faith, indeed, is a holy principle, and holiness is the result of its influence and operation. So hope also is a holy principle, purging away the defilement of sin. Every man that hath it in him, purifieth himself, as Christ is pure. But love is holiness itself — the end for which these means and instruments are employed.

5. Love is greatest in respect of the ultimate importance of the part it has to act.(1) There are various respects in which faith and hope are greater than love. Take the case of a man convinced of his guilt, and longing for pardon and acceptance with God. Love can do nothing there. When the jailer cried, "What must I do to be saved?" it was faith that was summoned to the rescue. Take the ordinary case of God's people on earth, exposed to danger from the world. Love would be borne down and put to death, did not faith cover love with the buckler of its protection. Or take the case of one who is visited with protracted trials and afflictions. Is it love that will keep him from despair? No. That is the office of hope.(2) But then the offices of faith and hope now glanced at do not last for ever. The time is coming when there will be no such work as we have spoken of for faith and hope to do. We do not say that faith and hope will then disappear. For the redeemed will always trust in God, and look to Jesus; and in viewing the eternity that stretches out before them, they shall be animated by a hope on which there will never be a cloud. But faith and hope will not continue in the front of the scene. They will then confess themselves to be but the handmaids of love, and will make way for love by withdrawing into the shade: Having nursed and defended love in her infancy, and watched over her ripening years, and having, at last, conducted her to the steps of her destined throne, their work is comparatively finished. Then will be the glorious reign of love.

(A. Gray.)


1. Faith. As to its origin, it is the gift of God; as to its operation, it is the work of the Spirit; as to its object, it fastens on Christ; as to its exercise, it is the disciple's own act. the Scriptures make much of faith — "Precious faith"; "Thy faith hath saved thee"; "Without faith it is impossible to please God." Faith is the first stone of the building, but it is not the, foundation. Our help is laid on One that is mighty. But beware how you come to Christ. Any work of yours, by way of recommending you, will be a non-conductor through which the light of life from the Saviour cannot run (Galatians 5:2).

2. Hope is adapted to a transitory, imperfect state. Its office is to diminish the sorrows of the present by drawing on the stores of future joy. It is the tenant, not of a heart that was never broken, but of a heart that has been broken and healed again. A pure, bright star fixed in heaven, it reaches with its rays the uplifted eye of the weary pilgrim. But stars shine not in the day; the darkness brings them out. So grief summons hope to the aid of the sufferer. When the ransomed rise from the sleep of the grave, this gentle star, which had often soothed them in the night of their pilgrimage, will nowhere be found in all the upper firmament; for in presence of the Sun of Righteousness hope, no longer needed, no more appears.

3. Love. Some fragments of this heavenly thing survive the fall and flourish in our nature. It is beautiful even in ruins. We shall learn more about its nature when we are called to consider its magnitude.

II. THE MUTUAL RELATIONS OF ALL. Hitherto we have spoken of them as three rings lying beside each other; now we speak of them as three links within each other, so as to constitute a chain.

1. The relation between faith and hope. Faith leans on Christ, and hope hangs by faith. There is, indeed, a species of hope which has no connection with faith. If in a place of danger you saw a chain whose uppermost link was surely fixed in the living rock, and whose lowest link — a goodly, iron ring — was vibrating invitingly near, you might be induced to venture your body's weight upon its seeming strength. If that lowest link were not within the one above it, but only attached externally by some brittle twig, you would exchange the slippery place of danger for the plunge into inevitable death. It is like the fall of sinner who has risked his soul for the great day on a hope not linked to faith.

2. The relation between hope and love. Hope leans on faith, and love on hope. Love will languish unless blessed hope be underneath. Love's manifold efforts, stretching out in every direction and leaving no space unoccupied, are like the branches of a fruit tree. A single stem supports and supplies them all, while itself in turn is supported and supplied by the root. So hope, itself sustained by faith, sustains love in its turn. Hope in the heart of the Man of Sorrows bore Him through His labours of love (Hebrews 12:2). Hope is the mainspring of labouring love — hope in the Lord, first for yourself, and then for your neighbour.


1. In its work on earth. It is the only one of the three that reaches other men and directly acts upon them for their good.(1) "Thy faith hath saved thee," but what can it do for thy brother? It operates by sustaining and stimulating other graces — "Faith worketh by love."(2) Hope in like manner begins and ends in the heart of a disciple. The less that your hope, as such, protrudes itself on the notice of mankind, the better for its own health; but the more it swells within your breast, the more of love will it send forth to bless the world.(3) On the contrary, it is the nature of love to come out. Unless it act on others it cannot be. Love teaches the ignorant, clothes the naked, feeds the hungry, and is the fulfilling of that law which came latest from the Lord's own lips: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel unto every creature."

2. In its performance in heaven.

(W.Arnot, D.D.)

1. What a happy grouping, so familiar now that nothing seems more commonplace; but what an inspiration it was when it first flamed out of the soul of the great apostle!

2. We cannot forget that he had the advantage of Greek culture, so it is natural to suppose that he was led to the conception by the three graces. But what a contrast between the Greek and the Christian graces! The one represented chiefly the charms of outward beauty, winsomeness, gleefulness; the other were not mere embellishments of life, but its central forces, the deep springs of all that was true and beautiful and noble in character. Was not that a most significant change? The word "grace" retains its Greek as well as its Christian meaning in our language. We often use it in the old sense, e.g., "grace in every movement of the body," or "done with a very good grace"; but just think in what a different region of thought and life we are when we speak of grace in its profound Christian sense. There are those who have real grace in the heart, whose manners do but scant justice to that which is within them; and there are those who have succeeded in cultivating outward graces of manner, but are utterly devoid of grace within. Give us both the outward and the inward, if it be possible; but if it must be only one, let it be that which is real and deep and true.

3. But we must look at the triad of Christian graces. The apostle says that they abide while other good things pass away.

4. The contrast in regard to abiding is not between the graces among themselves, but between gifts and graces (ver. 8). This contrast between knowledge, as transitory, is especially interesting now that there is a disposition to speak of faith, etc., as the shadowy things which are rapidly vanishing away, while knowledge is the substantial thing which is sure to hold its ground. Is not faith giving way to agnosticism? Is not hope fading before pessimism? And is not the old idea that love is creation's final law giving way to the new philosophy which resolves everything into matter and force?

5. Is there any way of testing which is right? If only we could project ourselves forward, say, for 2,000 years, how very satisfactorily we could settle the matter! Would a learned man of the nineteenth century pass for a learned man of the thirty-ninth? Or would he be only as a child? But will not faith, etc., be as powerful and healthful factors in life as they are now? But we must not prophesy. But what if we look 2,000 years back? Where would the wise man of the apostle's time be alongside of our mighty men of science to-day? Imagine a conversation between Pliny, the elder, and Professor Huxley on biology. The great naturalist of the first century would have to go to school for twenty years before he was ready to begin. Would the apostle Paul have to go to school for twenty years before he could begin to talk with an advanced Christian of the nineteenth century on faith and hope and love? The learning of the time was not at all to be despised. Nor did the apostle at all despise it; only he recognises the fact that it is partial — that in course of time it will be obsolete. We may be sure that this would by no means please the gnostics of the day, as they called themselves. These learned men believed they had reached the ultimate truth. The apostle did not undertake to pronounce on the truth or falsehood of what they taught; only he plainly indicated that it would by and by be out of date, whereas the heavenly faith and hope and love which it was his high calling to set before men would last. Where are the gnostics now? I don't suppose there is one left in all the world. But faith, etc., inspire as many men now as they did then, and thousands of thousands more!

6. And many other knowledges have passed away besides that of St. Paul's day in the course of these nineteen centuries. A very striking illustration of this is to be found in the "Paradiso" of Dante. The science of his time is so completely out of date that, without a special study of it, it is impossible to understand what he means at all when he is trying to expound it; and after you do find what he means it is not of the slightest use or permanent value. Ah, but when he soars on the wings of faith and hope and love, we soar with him yet. And they were the same as the apostle's, only they were not entangled with the errors of the times. A most signal token this of an inspiration far transcending that of Dante. And here we can go back far more than eighteen centuries. Look at Genesis. There is the very oldest book in all the world. Is it obsolete? Compare it with the work of Dante in this respect, and what a contrast! People talk of the conflict between science and faith. There is no such conflict. It is only the conflict between old science and new. All our troubles with scientific opinions have come from our leaving the lofty regions of faith, etc., and descending into the troubled area of shifting scientific knowledge. the holy men of old who spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, kept quite clear of all these questions. You don't find them pronouncing opinions on scientific subjects. They kept themselves to their own faith and hope and love.

7. The knowledge that many of us are ambitious, and rightly ambitious, to acquire will no doubt be of great service for many years to come; but faith, hope, and love are just as needful and serviceable for these years; and then their value by no means ends with these years, but lasts on and on for ever. They are the coin current in eternity. Without them we shall be paupers for eternity, however wise and learned and well-equipped for time.

(J. Monro Gibson, D.D.)

These three graces form the essential elements of the Christian character. They are principles implanted in the heart of every true Christian by the Holy Spirit, and always exemplified in his outward walk and conversation.


1. Faith, in its general signification, is credit given to testimony. It is a principle upon which we are continually acting in the ordinary concerns of life. Now the faith spoken of in the text is precisely the same principle, only having a different object and resting upon higher testimony. We cannot penetrate the recesses of the Divine counsels. Faith is a cordial assent to the truth of all the declarations of God's Word. "Entering into the daily habits and experience of the Christian, this principle is the spring of his most holy tempers, exertions, attainments, and consolations. He lives — he walks — he stands — he perseveres — he fights — he conquers and triumphs, by faith."

2. Hope is a lively expectation of obtaining those things which we desire; and when we are led by faith to a knowledge of our real condition, we shall obviously desire nothing so much as deliverance from that condition. The principal object of hope will, therefore, be the attainment of eternal salvation through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Hope differs from presumption. When thus grounded upon the everlasting covenant which has been confirmed by the oath of Jehovah, it does afford strong consolation to the true Christian.

3. Charity, like faith and hope, is a stranger to the natural heart. And oh! what a splendid character does it present to us! "How glorious is it as an emanation of Divine goodness when compared with the usual habits of men; when viewed in contrast with the habitually selfish doings of many men, who even profess and call themselves Christians!" It is, at the same time, a character so elevated, that it needs a certain measure of Christian grace to perceive and to love its excellencies.


1. It is more excellent in its nature. Perfect excellency can be found only in God Himself. It is by this grace, then, that the restoration of the Divine image takes place in our hearts.

2. It is more advanced in order. That is, it ranks higher in the scale of attainment. We must possess faith and hope before we can be actuated by the principle of love. They are the means; this is the end. It is the prize itself of which faith and hope must gradually put us in possession. A magnificent edifice cannot be erected without scaffolding; yet the building is greater than the scaffolding, being the sole end for which that is necessary: and when it is finished the scaffolding is removed as an useless encumbrance.

3. It is more expansive in its exercise. There is a degree of selfishness in faith and hope. They benefit him only who possesses them.But love, like the sun in the firmament, diffuses its blessings far and wide, and sheds a kindly influence all around.

1. Let us, in conclusion, first, use these graces as a test of our state.

2. Let us seek to abound more in them.

(R. Davies, M.A.)

1. Why should hope be placed on a level with faith and charity? We can understand why faith should be so singled out; it is the foundation of religion, the bond between the creature and God. Still more can we understand it of charity, for charity is the likeness of God. But hope is thought of at first sight as a self-regarding quality, and something delusive and treacherous.

2. But it is not really strange that St. Paul should raise hope to a Christian temper of the first order. St. Paul was a student of Scripture, and what is on the very surface of the Bible is the way in which, from first to last, it is one unbroken, persistent call to hope. Hope, never destroyed however overthrown; hope, never obscured amidst the storm and dust of ruin, is the paramount characteristic of the Old Testament, all leads back to hope; if ever it dies, it revives again larger and more confident than before.

I. HOPE ELEVATES AND STRENGTHENS AND INSPIRES. This is why it is one of the greatest elements of the religious temper. There may be a faith almost without hope, a faith which believes though it can see nothing in God's truth and goodness; "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him." But hope is the energy of vigorous faith, the strong self-awakening from discouragement and despair. What gives its moral value to hope, is that, in its higher form, it is a real act and striving of the will and moral nature. Like the highest forms of courage, it is a refusal to be borne down and cowed by evil, a refusal to dwell on the dark side of things. It is thus that hope plays so great a part in the spiritual life, that it fights with such power on the side of God; for it not only receives, welcomes, trusts in God's promises, but it throws into them life and reality.

II. HOPE IS A GREAT INSTRUMENT OF SPIRITUAL AND MORAL DISCIPLINE. We are saved by hope. Long waiting is God's appointed order for the generations of men. All kinds of fortunes befall the Church, befall us all who are going through our trial time, and we often are tempted to be tired, and oppressed, and out of heart. There must often be much to distress and alarm us, evils which seem without remedy, defeats which seem final. To hope seems to us then like deluding ourselves. And yet how often has it happened in the upshot of things that, if in the very darkest times of history any one had been bold enough to hope, he would have been amply justified! We need not blind ourselves to facts; we have our part to do, and we must deal with it as we may, and as we ought. But the God of hope calls to us out of the darkness, and we are unfaithful to Him if in our wilfulness we shut our ears to His voice and dwell despondingly on the future which is in His hands.


1. We may dare to look forward to be sinless. Think of what you know of your own conscience, of your own temptations, of your own fall, of your own struggles for forgiveness and restoration, and then think what it will be to have left all that behind.

2. Then, whatever the function and employment of that perfect state may be, whatever work God may have for us to do, we shall have the will and the power to do it as the angels do. The divided service, the broken purpose, the double mind, the treacheries of the will, the blindness of sell-deceit, the laggard indolence, all that now mars and cripples our sincerest obedience, will then have been purged away, and in all the fulness of truth we shall know how to serve Him with our whole heart.

3. There, in infinite measure, will be all that calls for human affection, and there human affections will he raised to new powers and strength, transfigured, purified, glorified; and there, in ways we cannot dream of now, we shall be brought near to Christ, and be like unto Him, for we shall see Him as He is.

(Dean Church.)

1. The root of the word in Anglo-Saxon means, to open the eyes wide and watch for what is to come, as we have seen children do when they expect to see some wonder or receive some gift. Indeed, there is another word closely akin — the word expect, watching for what is to come, the obverse of inspect, looking at what has come.

2. These meanings are the delicate dividing line between Faith and Hope. While Hope expects, Faith inspects; while Hope is like Mary, looking up-ward, Faith is like Martha, looking at-ward; while the light in the eyes of Hope is high, the light in the eyes of Faith is strong; while Hope trembles in expectation, Faith is quiet in possession. Hope leaps out toward what will be, Faith holds on to what is; Hope idealises, Faith realises; Faith sees, Hope foresees.

3. And so it comes that in religion faith is conservative, while hope is progressive. Passing on the Rhine through the fog and mist of Holland as through a stagnant sea, you stretch upward league after league; and as you go the country gradually changes, the air grows clearer, the prospect finer. But the higher you go, the harder is your going. So at last you come into Switzerland, where all about you is a vaster vision, and within you an intenser inspiration than can ever be felt on the foggy flats below. It is the difference between faith alone and faith and hope together.

4. Consider hope, however, as a positive matter. Why, you say, hope is the most intangible thing a man can entertain. "Hope," says Owen Feltham, "is the bladder a man will take wherewith to learn to swim; then he goes beyond return, and is lost." But what says Paul? He makes our life a battle, and every man a soldier, and it is not enough that the heart be protected by the shield of faith, the head must be guarded also by the helmet of hope: the one is as indispensable as the other. And a brief glance at the life about us will soon convince you that the man is right, that as Dr. Johnson said, our powers owe very much of their energy to our hope; and whatever enlarges hope exalts courage; and, where there is no hope, there is no endeavour. Here is Cyrus Field conceiving the idea of binding the Atlantic with a cord. In carrying out his idea, the man has two servants to help him — the faith that it can be done, and the hope that he shall do it. With these aids he goes to work. Faith steadies him; hope inspires him. Faith works; hope flies. Faith deliberates; hope anticipates. Faith lets the cable go, and it breaks, and is lost. "Nay, not lost," cries hope, and fishes it up again. Here is Garibaldi conceiving the idea of a new Italy. He has faith and hope. Austria, Naples, and Rome are against him. But no man knows, or can know, what faith and hope together can do in a man of the pattern of Garibaldi. What they have done for Italy will go ringing down the ages. Very curiously, if you will again, you can see the power of faith without hope illustrated in China. When our ancestors were savages they had advanced about where they are now. But who shall say that China, with the noble qualities no doubt she has, might not have had a peerless place in the world, had she held herself hopeful and expectant, continually, toward every new idea and discovery?

5. And this fact of hope and its influence has some important applications.(1) To religion. It is entirely essential "to remember that, when this man tells his friends to take for a helmet the hope of salvation, he meant the hope he himself was rushing through the world to proclaim. In the England of John Wesley numbers of men were his peers in faith. But Wesley had more hopefulness in his little finger than any other man of them had in his whole body. And so wherever Wesley went men caught the contagion of his great hope, and then ran tirelessly as long as they lived, kindling over all the world.(2) To life generally. Young men and women, with this life mainly before you, get this hope. Make sure that there is not a day but brings you nearer to some Divine surprise of blessing, some great unfolding of God's wry glory. Men and women in middle life, with the bloom gone from some things that seemed very beautiful as they lay glistening in the dew of the morning, whatever you do, never let a painful inspection rob you of a great expectation. If, as you live, you try to live faithfully, then, as the Lord liveth, try to live hopefully, or you will miss the better half of your living.

(R. Collyer, D.D.)

1. In the text the word is translated charity. In Wickliffes time, however, love and charity were as nearly related as charity and benevolence are now. This can be understood if we will remember that charity and dear, in the sense of precious, belong to the one root. They spring from what was common enough when they were born — dearth or scarcity. Food was then precious, much esteemed, much loved. Then good bread was dear, not as it is now to us in money value merely, but in this primitive value of something to love, a small piece being given to the children sometimes on a Sunday, as a very precious thing.

2. What, then, is this love? It is a word traceable to many different roots. That could not be otherwise. Love would naturally be one of the very first things the most abject savages must find a name for, after getting a word to express each of the bare needs of life. The first time the man of the forest tried to win a maiden in some higher way than by carrying her off by force, he would need the word. The first time the mother had to tell of the mysterious glow in her heart toward her babe in its helplessness, she would need the word. And so love, in one root, is longing; in another, goodness; in another, preference; but, to me, the right rests at last in the Teutonic word leben — life. "This is life," these children of nature said, when they first began to be conscious of this glowing wonder in their hearts. "You are my life," the man said when he went to win the maiden; and the mother, when she caught her nursling to her heart. Love is to live; and not to love is not to live. And it was exactly the definition of John, when he wanted to tell of the nearest and dearest of all the relations the soul can hold to God.

3. And so, while faith is inreaching, and hope outlooking, love is inbeing. By faith I stand; by hope I soar, by love I am. Faith assures me, hope inspires me; love is me, at my best.

4. And it is only as we keep, close to this idea and fact that we can prevent love being confounded with other and baser things, that, getting mixed up with it in our own language, act like the baser metals mixed up in the coinage of a country, giving the real gold and silver a lower relative value, and debasing the whole fair standard of commonwealth. Love, for example, is not lust. Because love, for whatever may in itself be good, adds just so much as there is in what I love to life; while lust for that very thing exhausts life. When the young man, living in a room, eating in a restaurant, and troubled about more things than ever Martha was, feels at last how contracted and poor such a life is at the best, and says in his heart, "This is not living: I must get me a wife," whatever may be his idea of the wife he wants, the word he uses to describe his condition reaches away into the truth. It is not living: it is just half living, and probably not that. His heart is crying out for the rest of his life. But there is that calling itself love which is lust — something that seeks not a life, but an appanage to life, and reaps for its sowing a harvest of gray ashes. Love informs life; lust exhausts it. Love is the shining sun, lust is the wandering star.

5. But, beside such special applications, there is no direction in which we can turn but this spirit meets us with its sweet, solemn face. Consider the lesson we have learned in our war. When we plunged into that red sea, the gentlemen of England were looking on. The few said we should hold our own; the multitude said we had gone under. What made this difference? The few loved us, so that Faith stood square, and Hope plumed her wings, and they became the glad ministers of their leader and guide. The many did not love us. They had no faith in us and no hope for us, because they had no love. When a man really loves, it piles great stores of love into his heart; so that he may even come to some dreadful pass where faith and hope fail him, and yet love shall carry him through. When the father wants to put his son on the way to success, if he is a wise man, he most anxiously tries to find out where the lad's love lies; for there, he knows, he will have faith and hope, because the love will be a perpetual inspiration; while, to put him to what he can never love, will only exhaust and disgust him, until at last it is given up in despair.

(R. Collyer, D.D.)

When those three goddesses, say the poets, strove for the golden ball, Paris adjudged it to the queen of Love. Here are three celestial graces striving for the chiefdom; and our apostle gives it to love. Not that other daughters are black, but that Charity excels in beauty (Proverbs 31:29). All stars are bright, though "one star may differ from another in glory." These are three strings often touched: faith, whereby we believe all God's promises to be true, and ours; hope, whereby we wait for them with patience; charity, whereby we testify what we believe and hope. He that hath fallen cannot distrust; he that hath hope cannot be put from anchor; he that hath charity will not lead a licentious life, for "love keeps the commandments." Let us treat them —


1. Faith is that grace which makes Christ ours, and all His benefits. God gives it (1 Corinthians 12:9); by the Word preached (Romans 10:17); for Christ's sake (Philippians 1:29). This virtue is no sooner given of God, but it gives God (Romans 8:32). "Without this it is impossible to please God " (Hebrews 11:6). Let us not otherwise dare to come into His presence.

2. Hope is the sweetest friend that ever kept a distressed soul company; it beguiles the tediousness of the way, all the miseries of our pilgrimage.(1) It holds the head whilst it aches, and gives invisible drink to the thirsty conscience. It is a liberty to them that are in prison, and the sweetest physic to the sick. St. Paul calls it an anchor (Hebrews 6:19). Let the winds blow, and the storms beat, and the waves swell, yet the anchor stays the ship. It breaks through all difficulties, and makes way for the soul to follow it. It teacheth Abraham to expect fruit from a withered stock; and Joseph in a dungeon to look for the sun and stars' obeisance. Though misery be present, comfort absent, though thou canst spy no deliverance, yet such is the nature of hope, that it speaks of future things as if they were present (Romans 8:24).(2) These are the comforts of hope. Now, that you may not be deceived, there is a thing like hope, which is not it. There is a bold and presumptuous hope, an ignorant security and ungrounded persuasion, the very illusion of the devil, that how wickedly soever a man shall live himself, yet still he hopes to be saved by the mercy of God. Against this hope we shut up the bosom of consolation.

3. Charity is an excellent virtue, and therefore rare. The proper and immediate object of our love is God. This is the great commandment, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God," etc. The subordinate object is man, and his love is the effect of the former cause, and an actual demonstration of the other inward affection. Love is the abridgment of the law, the new precept of the gospel. Luther calls it the shortest and the longest divinity: short, for the form of words; long, yea, everlasting, for the use and practice; for "charity shall never cease."


1. The distinction between faith and hope is nice. I will reduce the differences into three respects.(1) Of order: Paul gives faith the precedency (Hebrews 11.). Hope may in some sort be said to be the daughter of faith. For it is as impossible for a man to hope for that which he believes not, as for a painter to draw a picture in the air. Indeed, more is believed than is hoped for; but nothing is hoped for which is not believed.(2) Of office: faith is the Christian's logic; hope his rhetoric. Faith perceives what is to be done, hope gives alacrity to the doing it. The difference between faith and hope is that between wisdom and valour. Valour without wisdom is rashness, wisdom without valour is cowardice. Faith without hope is knowledge without valour to resist Satan; hope without faith is rash presumption and an indiscreet daring.(3) Of object: faith's object is the absolute word and infallible promise of God: hope's object is the thing promised. Faith looks to the word of the thing, hope to the thing of the word. So that faith hath for its object the truth of God; hope, the goodness of God. Faith is of things both good and bad, hope of good things only. A man believes there is a hell as truly as he believes there is a heaven; but he fears the one, and hopes only for the other. In some sense hope excels faith. For there is a faith in the devils. Hope, a confident expectation of the mercy of God; this they can never have. This is the life of Christians, and the want makes devils (1 Corinthians 15:19).

2. Charity differs from them both. These three Divine graces are a created trinity; and as there the Son is begotten of the Father, and the Holy Ghost proceeds from them both; so a true faith begets a constant hope, and from them proceeds charity. "Thus is God's temple built in our hearts," saith : the foundation whereof is faith; hope the erection of the walls; charity the perfection of the roof. In the godly all these three are united. We believe in God's mercy, we hope for His mercy, and we love Him for His mercy. Faith says, there are good things prepared: hope says, they are prepared for me: charity says, I endeavour to walk worthy of them.

III. SUPERLATIVELY. "The greatest of these is charity."

1. Objections.(1) The principal promises are made to believers. So no less a promise is made to lovers (Romans 8:28). "God," saith the Psalmist, "is near to those that call upon Him," but He is within those that love Him (1 John 4:17).(2) If charity be greater than faith, then is not man justified by faith only. Inconsequentillation! St. Paul commends not love for the virtue of justification. A prince doth excel a peasant: shall any man therefore infer that he can plough better, or have more skill in tillage? A philosopher doth excel a mechanic, though he cannot grind so well as a miller, or limn so cunningly as a painter. Faith is able to justify of itself, not to work of itself (Galatians 5:6). The hand alone can receive an alms, but cannot cut a piece of wood without an axe or some instrument. Faith is in the Christian's hand: add love to it, and it worketh by love. So that the one is our justification before God, and the other our testification before men.

2. Wherein consisteth this high transcendency of charity?(1) For latitude, love is the greatest. Faith and hope are restrained within the limits of our particular persons. "The just man lives by his own faith," and hopes good to himself; but love is like the vine (Psalm 80:8), or the sun in the sky, that throws his comfortable beams upon all, and forbears not to warm even that earth that beareth weeds.(2) For perpetuity. Faith lays hold on God's gracious promise for everlasting salvation; hope expects this with patience; but when God shall fulfil His word, and us with joy, then faith shall be at an end, hope at an end, but love shall remain between God and us an everlasting bond.(3) For the honour and likeness it hath unto God. Faith and hope make not a man like God, but charity doth.(4) In respect of its titles, charity excelleth. It is the new commandment: faith was never called so. It is the bond of perfection: faith is not so termed. It is the fulfilling of the law: where hath failed such a title?(5) Charity is more noble, for it is a better thing to give than to receive. Faith and hope are all of the taking hand.(6) For manifestation. Faith and hope are things unseen, and may be dissembled, but charity cannot be without visible fruits; therefore the only trial of faith and hope is by charity. Conclusion: Why speaks Paul of no more than three? St. Peter mentions eight (2 Peter 1:6), and St. Paul in another place nine (Galatians 5:22). Why are all these left out here? Because they are comprehended under these three: as to the trade of a stationer, some are required to print, some to correct, some to fold, others to bind, and others to garnish; yet all belongs to one trade There be many rays, and but one sun.

2. As these three fair sisters came down from heaven, so the devil sends up three foul fiends from hell: against faith, infidelity; against hope, desperation; against charity, malice. He that entertains the elder sister "is already condemned" (John 3:18). He that embraceth the second, bars up against himself the possibility of all comfort, because he offends the mercy of God, and tramples under foot that blood which is held out to his unaccepting hand. He that welcomes malice, welcomes the devil himself.

(T. Adams.)

If I were to sketch a picture of these three sisters, I should not make — as is often done — three graceful figures, beautiful in countenance and expressive in form and attitude, twining their arms together. That may be very artistic and imaginative; it is not very practical. I should rather paint them as in one room together. Faith, bending over a book — the Book of God — her face all glowing with hallowed emotion, yet full of the deep calm of Divine, inward peace, as she reads the "exceeding great and precious promises." Hope, sitting in the window-seat, and gazing, with earnest, dreaming eyes, and face serenely bright, upon the setting sun; watching intently, as the amber clouds open their gates, and, in fancy, admit her into the city of everlasting light. Love, turning her tender looks now on the one sister, and now on the other, and smiling a smile caught from Christ, as she thinks of the widow and the fatherless, cheered and comforted by the garments at which her hands are working.

(R. Tuck, B. A.)

Clerical World.

1. Faith. It unites to Christ. It secures our justification. It is the great power in our present life: "The just shall live by faith."

2. Hope. It brightens the present by brightening the future.

3. Love. What a wilderness the world would be without love!

II. THEIR CONTINUANCE. It is better to have lost the extraordinary gifts than these graces.

III. THEIR RELATIVE VALUE. Love the greatest.

1. It has longer continuance.

2. It is more useful to others.

3. It makes men like God in character.

(Clerical World.)

Things and beings appear, in many cases, by some law of universal power and faithfulness, in groups and clusters — stars, e.g., and flowers, animals, etc. The same law gives existence to villages and towns. It is a rare thing when people like to live far away from others. The same element runs through all in religion. People of the same views, motives, and feelings collect together for sympathy and assistance. The same law governs politics, science, commerce. You will find virtues and graces in groups. Consider —

I. THESE TRIPLE GRACES IN THEMSELVES, AND SOME THINGS WHEREIN THEY DIFFER. They are in the mind; apart from the mind they can have no existence. In themselves they are abstractions, which can have no existence but as parts or actions of some other fit subjects.

1. Faith is the confiding attitude of the mind, relying on stone object or resource believed by itself, by evidence or experience sufficient to sustain or meet its wants and wishes. It is the power of uniting weakness with strength, need with plenty, misery with happiness, man's sinfulness and despair with Divine grace and merciful provision.

2. Hope is the soul turning its face to the good and happiness of the future. It is the vanguard of the soul, on its travel forward in the wilderness of life.

3. Charity is the attitude of the soul embracing the lovely and the pure. It is the cultivated state of the soil of the soul, like a well-weeded, pulverised garden, bearing rich and fragrant flowers. The soul in this state morally is both strong and happy; but to make it safe and broad it needs the light and evidence of faith, and the prophetic eye and encouragement of hope.

4. Though these graces belong to one system, they differ —(1) In the way they view their objects. Faith seeks its object through the light of evidence, hope through the good and the happy, and charity through the beautiful and lovely.(2) In the conscious sentiments they produce in the soul. Faith makes the soul strong and confident, hope sanguine and anxious, and charity satisfied and happy.(3) In the soil they grow in, and the elements which feed and mature them. Faith grows in the soil of intelligence, and is fed by reason, evidence, and experience; hope grows in sympathy with the future, and a desire to know and possess its goodness, and is fed by its own intuitive faith and possession of the good and the happy; charity grows in tenderness, beneficence, and the social feeling of the soul for communion with the beautiful and lovely, and is fed by manifestation of love, faith, and hope.(4) In their action, and the way they express themselves. Faith acts boldly, and expresses itself fearlessly; hope acts more timidly, and expresses itself with patience and submission; charity acts calmly, expressing itself with chastened sweetness and joyful exaltation.(5) In the service they render to the soul. Faith educates its intelligence, and would perserve it from dull blindness and superstitious ignorance; hope sustains and encourages it in the dark day and weary night of its earthly abode; and charity educates it, in all its sentiments, into refinement and beauty, so as to make it a happy companion to itself and others.


1. They are united,(1) In their source. Every good gift finally must be traced to one common fountain of Divine goodness.(2) In common sympathy and attachment. They are made for one another; they could not live apart.(3) In their work and end. What one cannot do the other does; and what they cannot do separately they complete unitedly.(4) In the means of their strength and advancement — the Spirit of God, through the provision of the economy of grace.

2. Their necessity in the system of Christian life. They are needful —(1) As means by which the soul of man can apprehend the different sides in the economy of truth and Divine provision.(2) To develop and perfect the soul in its various sides and powers.(3) From the demands made upon man.

(a)For daily duty.

(b)For warfare and defence.

III. THE PRE-EMINENCE OF CHARITY. It is the greatest —

1. In the quality of its nature. It has a refinement and purity which is not to be found in the same manner and degree in the others. "God is love." Love is the Divine nature in man.

2. In the sway of its power. Faith is power, and has done mighty works; so is hope, and has long and far walked over arid and thorny lands to its Canaan of good; but when faith falters and hope faints, love supports and comforts still.

3. As a source of comfort and happiness to the soul. The company of love is always sweet.

4. As it approaches the nearest to God. God is in the hand of faith, He is in the eye of hope, but He is in the heart of love.

5. In useful results.

6. As the greatest advancing power. No one can advance in anything much unless he loves it.

7. In attraction and motive. Love drives no one away; it draws to itself even those who are void of any impelling motive in themselves.

IV. THE ABIDING CHARACTER OF THESE GRACES. There is a prevalent belief that faith and hope are only transient. But what is the evidence of such a belief? It is said that faith and hope will be done away with, because all will be seen in heaven. But surely I need it as a power of confiding trust, when I see the object as well as when I do not see it. Is hope also not requisite relative to the continued safety and duration of the good we possess, as much as the possession of the unseen? But we cannot accept of the assertion that all will be seen and possessed at once in heaven. Can all the future be packed into one moment? Can all its objects and visions be contracted into one small point? It is again said, but all will be safe. But do I not want faith to comfort me as well as to defend me, to unite me with God, as well as to put me under His shield? Do I not also want hope in the enjoyment of the good, as well as in the search after it? Nothing good we have will be taken from us, but perfected. In order to sustain this view, note —

1. These powers are essentially united together, so as to make one system of power in the mind.

2. They are alike powers of the soul. Christianity has not created them; it has only directed them to higher objects, purified their quality, and given them new direction and impetus. If one of them were to be done away with, the soul would be incomplete, and would be unfit to do its work and enjoy its blessings. If the triangle were deprived of one of its sides, it would no longer be a triangle; so if one of these triangular sides of the soul were done away with, it would no longer be the rational and responsible identical soul which man has in this world; he would not only be a different being, but a smaller and a less perfect one than now he is.

3. Faith and hope are essential to dependent and limited beings. We cannot think it possible for finite beings to exist without them, for the source of their being, and the comprehension of their good, are all outside themselves.

4. The continuance of faith and hope is needful for the perpetuation of love. Could you love a person or an object in whom or in which you have no faith? And is not your hope for the good and the beautiful a part of your love towards them?

5. It is difficult to think that happiness is possible in the absence of faith and hope.

6. They are among the noblest of the gifts of God, and such things are not given to be recalled or destroyed.

(T. Hughes.)

Whatever may be the path of our future experience we shall need as much as ever, perhaps more, the "abiding" sense of the presence and help of this holy and beautiful sisterhood of Christian virtues.

I. FAITH. Faith has wings; but unlike the wings that Solomon gives to riches, faith is busy in gathering instead of scattering her treasures. Faith has wings because she is "a stranger and sojourner" on the earth. But although without a home here she has a home, and mounting up with the wings of eagles, she lives in a congenial clime, "seeing him who is invisible." Matthew Henry says, "We cannot expect too little from man, nor too much from God." But in God we can have faith. His wisdom is without the admixture of error; His heart infinitely kind; His power without restraint.

II. HOPE. Faith has wings, and like the wings of the cherubim in Ezekiel's vision, they are "full of eyes"; and these eyes are full of sparkling hope. By a strange paradox, the castles built by sense are vapoury visions, while the buildings of faith are substantial and enduring. Hope builds on faith, and faith builds on God, "that our faith and hope may be in God." Faith is the child in the house, who knows his filial relationship though the parent is absent. Hope is the child at the window, expecting the parent's return. A prisoner, detained in his cell for some supposable reason, after he had received his pardon, would be saved both by faith and hope; faith, in the word that announced his pardon would assure him of salvation; the prospect of release from his prison cell would be his bright hope; at the hour of his departure he would "receive the end of his faith" — full deliverance.


1. Love is "greatest" by reason of its dignity. Both faith and hope are receptive in their character; but love is communicative, therefore is it "greatest," for "it is more blessed to give than to receive"!

2. Love is "greatest" by reason of age — it is the eldest. Love can say — before faith and hope were "I am." It was the flower of Eden, but its first growth was not there, for it was transplanted from the garden of heaven, and blossomed in the bosom of God "from everlasting."

3. Love is "greatest" by reason of its strength. "Love is strong as death." How firm a hold does death take of its captives! This aspect of love has several relations.(1) There is God's love to us. When we see this we are taken captive by love at its will. It is a power magnetic. We love because first loved.(2) There is our love to God. How weak, alas! the measure of it; but how potent its quality! No motive for service can be compared with it; nor anything in service sustain like it.(3) Hence our power with men. As God "commendeth His love to us" by His love, and we by love commend our service to God, so must we commend ourselves to men. Love makes us kingly, and hearts are ever ready to do homage to all who rule with love's sceptre.



1. Faith means a belief, on the testimony of God, of things which we do not perceive by our senses, and which we could not find out in any other way. It is directly opposed to sight, and signifies our looking to things invisible. It is the looking-out of the immortal spirit from its corporeal prisonhouse, to catch a glimpse of some nobler and happier form of existence. It is the commencement of spiritual life in the soul. It may be at first like the springing of seed sown, or like the movements of life in the newly breathing infant. But that, once commenced, is a momentous event; the birth of a principle which will continue to operate; the beginning of a life which will go on without end. Faith brings all the great truths and motives of the gospel so vividly before the mind, and keeps them so habitually present to the thoughts, as to prove a most powerful, practical, and purifying principle, carrying the views beyond things seen to things unseen, giving the soul a superiority over the power of this world, and so influencing effectually the whole conduct and course of life.

2. Hope means an expectation of those promised blessings as our eternal portion. Faith respects our belief of these blessings, as provided for all believers; hope respects our expectation of these blessings, as being ourselves believers. Faith gives our souls a connection with the Saviour, which secures our salvation, though our hope should be but low. Hope imparts to our souls a peace and support amidst the trials and duties of life, which, though not essential in any particular degree to our salvation, yet is requisite so far, as preventing despondency of mind under spiritual trials, as proving a source of the highest enjoyment to the heart of man in this world, and as supplying the strongest encouragement to steadfastness and diligence in God's service. It is not a mere confident expectation of safety and happiness, which might be a mere delusion, and which is too often strongest where the grounds are weakest; but it is closely connected with a humble acceptance of Christs salvation, and a cordial obedience to His commandments.

3. Charity is the sovereign principle from which every active service to God or man must flow.

II. THE PECULIAR EXCELLENCE OF CHARITY OR LOVE, AS THE GREATEST OF ALL THESE CHRISTIAN GRACES. Here, however, we must beware of separating one part of the Christian character from another; and while we exalt one grace, must not overlook or undervalue the rest. Observe then distinctly, that all these three must exist together, otherwise none of them can be genuine, "now abideth faith, hope, charity; these three." They must all be present, "these three"; all abide or dwell in company in our hearts, as heavenly principles, implanted there, and necessary to be there for our salvation. They are thus not only equally alike the work of Christ's Spirit; but they derive much of their respective excellences and uses from one another, and from operating along with one another. As well might you think of taking any part of the body out of its place, and speaking of its beauty and use, when thus separated from the rest of that living frame, as to take any of these graces by itself, and then speak of its use or excellence without the others. When it is said, therefore, that "the greatest of them is charity," it is, first of all, to be kept in mind that charity is nothing without the rest, and that from them it derives even much of its greatness. Charity is not the greatest, as if it could stand in the place of faith and hope. It is not great at all without them, and it cannot do their part; no more than the hand could do the office of the eye or the ear. It is nevertheless the greatest of all, as here declared.

1. Because it is the evidence of the rest, and the earnest of that salvation being begun in our souls, which they call us to seek and look for, as our portion.

2. Because it is the end, of which faith and hope are only the means. Faith and hope are the heavenly remedies, the health-giving streams, from which we must draw the reviving energy of Divine grace; but love is the spiritual soundness, that very state of health in the soul which is the end of these streams having been opened to us, and of our being invited to take freely their living waters. It is the celestial fruit, for the sake of which the root of faith is planted, and the blossoms of hope are cherished: it is "the fruit of the Spirit of all grace."

3. Because it is more particularly the Spirit of God Himself, the peculiar excellence which we are called to imitate in Him as our Father.

4. Because it is the most permanent of all these graces, and forms the principal occupation and enjoyment of the heavenly state.(1) Inquire how far these three are abiding in your hearts, or how far at least you are desiring to have them there.(2) Follow after charity, as the fruit, the evidence, the ornament of them all.

(J. Brewster.)

Here are three great and good things — man's untroubled confidence in the wisdom, power, and lovingkindness of his Father in heaven; man's happy and confident expectation of all that which the Divine Word does describe and promise; and man's living likeness to the pity, patience, long-suffering, and graciousness of his God — faith, hope, and charity. These three great and good things have one attribute in common — they all abide. In many respects faith is unlike hope, and both of them essentially differ from charity. But in the permanence of their power and glory they are alike great. They are not transient things speedily rendering a little service, and then passing away for ever; they are not things which may be of value to-day, but will be of no use to-morrow. In this respect the apostle contrasts them with other things of worth and power mentioned in the preceding verses of the chapter, but which were designed only for special circumstances and for temporary service. Those which did not abide were the miraculous gifts possessed by the first preachers of the Cross and their immediate successors. In forcible contrast to those things which were only transient and which belonged only to the age of the Church's infancy and feebleness, there are these three which abide — faith, hope, and charity. Their beauty is immortal, they are unfailing sources of power, and must be found in the Church militant as long as time shall last and the earth shall preserve its place amidst the circling worlds. Yes, prophets may fail, and miracles may cease, but the world will always need men who calmly trust in God, and steadfastly look for brighter days and better things, and whose hearts are being restored to the lost image of their Creator. Amidst all changes, and let perish what will perish, there must abide these three — faith, hope, charity. You are aware that it is not my purpose now to speak of the greatest of these essential and abiding graces. I am to speak only of the greatness of the first and second — faith and hope. The mistake is to disparage faith in order to extol charity; the mistake of thinking that because charity is supreme in its greatness and blessedness, faith must be a little matter and of little moment. It is a folly on our part to suppose we can magnify one virtue by depreciating another. If a man were to come to me and say, "I do not think much of this belief, this faith, this trust, about which you speak so much, charity is the greatest thing," the reply is very obvious: "Yes, charity is greater than faith, but if faith be the trifling thing you represent it, charity may be greater and yet not be a giant." He who dwarfs faith dwarfs charity also; he who magnifies faith and hope, does also magnify that charity which is greater than they. If I can show you how great faith in God is; how much it has to do with the peace of a man's conscience, with the joy of a man's heart, with the vigour of his spiritual life — how it arms and nerves a man for conflict with evil; how it shields him in temptation and sustains him in affliction; if I can show you how great a thing hope is, how it has power to make a dark present bright with a light borrowed from a far-off future; how it strengthens men for work, and puts courage into the fainting spirit, I shall have helped you to form a juster judgment of the greatness of the love which surpasses both these graces. It is not often that charity and hope, are spoken of as rivals. Men do not often slight hope in order to extol charity. Faith suffers most from this rivalry, and I shall now leave hope and confine my remarks entirely to faith, contenting myself with what I have said of the greatness of hope. In pursuing my task, I shall not attempt any metaphysical analysis or elaborate description of faith. The inspired apostle, with all his peerless gifts, did not adopt that difficult method of treating the subject. In the immortal chapter in the letter to the Hebrews, there is only one brief definition, and there is no description or analysis. Like a practical man of God as he was, the apostle showed faith at work, and left men to learn its worth and power from its labour and its results. I shall try to show you faith in action; and as we see what it can do, and what it enables men to do, we shall surely be persuaded that, though it is not so great as love, it is still very great, and blessed. I shall venture to take my first illustration from that tender and touching story told by our Lord, which never loses its freshness or force. A younger son was eager for freedom, and greedy of pleasure. In every scheme that he formed for his future felicity the central idea was that he should be free from all restraint — have nothing to do and everything to enjoy, acknowledge no law but his own devices, obey no lord but his own dominant passions. He demanded his patrimony, gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, where he wasted his substance in riotous living. One excess followed another till everything was gone, and revelry and luxury had to be exchanged for wretchedness and want. When his delusive dreams were ended, he awoke to seriousness and sadness. The madness of passion passed away and he came to himself. At once his thoughts reverted to the home he had forsaken, to the father against whom he had sinned. He determined to retrace his wandering steps, and revisit the bright and happy spot where he knew, by personal experience, that love ruled and plenty prevailed. But there was something deeper in the prodigal's heart than his sense of shame, and something stronger than his consciousness of guilt; it was his confidence in his father's lovingkindness. He doubted not, he did not mistrust. He was covered with shame and ignominy, in which his kinsfolk must participate. His hope was created and sustained by his faith in his father's compassion. By his faith be was saved. If he had been destitute of that, he could not have begun the journey, or, beginning it, he could not have persevered in it. Doubtless, conscience and memory were busy, and sometimes they would suggest the question, "Will you be accepted, will not the door be shut against you, will they acknowledge you for a kinsman, a brother, a son?" And then would faith rise and subdue these fears, and would say, "Take courage, poor fainting heart! — push on in thy homeward way, love waits for thee; there, love longs for thy coming, and will give thee pardon, peace, and dignity again." Was not his faith a great thing to the returning prodigal? Did not it render to him service which charity could not have rendered? Men and brethren, my companions in transgression, there are times when our most urgent want is, not charity to each other, but a living faith in a gracious God. Our own hearts condemn us, and we remember that God is greater than our hearts, and knoweth all things. In such seasons, the great thing to give us peace and hope is an unfaltering trust in the compassionate love of Him who has made provision for our pardon in the death of His own Son. Having seen the worth of faith in the heart of a penitent sinner, let us next glance at its importance to the great sufferer. The experience of St. Paul will furnish us with an illustration. There are some people who are so complaining, and who so parade their troubles that when first we know them we think them the most afflicted of mankind. There are others so bright and cheerful that their woes are much hidden from us. When we do realise the multitude and magnitude of his troubles, we are amazed that his contentment and joy could live through them all. The secret is found in his unfailing faith that God was supreme, and would ordain nothing which was not good, and would permit nothing which he could not overrule for good. Faith goes to the home where for years they have been' vainly striving to cast out poverty; to the home where affliction has long had power, and where sorrow in some ghastly form has made its dwelling-place; she goes where the chamber is darkened, the hearth desolated, and the heart broken by the presence of death, and she is questioned as to the final outcome of all these labouring evils. What are they, and what are they doing? She answers in most emphatic tones, "They are God's workpeople. They are helping to weave robes of light for the glorified to wear, and to construct crowns for the redeemed to cast at the Redeemer's feet, and to make joy-cups from which the dwellers in heaven shall drink!" Reason responds, "I cannot see that they are God's servants, much less can I see that they are working for such ends as you affirm." Again faith replies, "I know you are too dim-sighted to see this, but I am not too feeble to believe it." The faith which can contemplate the sorrows of life in this spirit may not be the greatest of the graces, and yet be able to serve as efficiently under circumstances in which charity could not meet our greatest necessity. It is of little direct use to preach long homilies about charity when troubles are many, and calamities are crushing. If we be wise we shall then urge the sufferer to cherish simple faith in the God of love. We shall say, "Believe that He who gives is also He who takes away! He changes His methods of action sometimes; but He never changes His wisdom for folly, His love for unkindness." The faith in God by which temptation was defeated and the tempter was silenced, and by which the Son of Man came off more than a conqueror in that dread conflict, on whose issues the destinies of our race seemed to hang, cannot be a little thing! Thousands of Christ's disciples have used the same shield with like happy issues. They have been in difficulty and poverty, and have been tempted to make their escape by sinful methods. By their trust in God they have triumphed. The faith in God and the Saviour which enables a man to look into the face of the King of Terrors must not be slighted or scorned. Blessed be the well-grounded Christian confidence which can meet death with this greeting: " Thou art God's faithful messenger to me. Thou canst not destroy me. I am sure that through darkness is the way to everlasting light, and through the anguish of mortality is the way to the glories of immortality. Thou art only come to make me begin to live." In the Word of God the origin and fruitfulness of religion are always associated with faith. Is religion called "a life"? The life we live is by faith in the Son of God, who loved us and gave Himself for us. Is religion called a pilgrimage? We walk by faith. Is the religious man assaulted? By faith we stand. Is he a warrior? He is told "above all" to take the shield of faith. Does he set his heart on complete triumph? This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.

(C. Vince.)

Weekly Pulpit.
I. THE THREEFOLD DEVELOPMENT OF RELIGION IN THE SOUL. Faith, hope, and charity are not absolutely distinct principles. In each there is a fusion of the other two. In dealing with the bold characteristics of religious advancement, we must seek, not differences, but stages.

1. Faith is the apprehension of the truth as the means of our salvation.

2. Hope is the apprehension of salvation by the truth.

3. Charity is the outflow of salvation from the heart. The stages are evident — faith finds the Saviour, hope delights in Him, but love desires to exhibit Him to others for their acceptance. We are justified by faith, delighted by hope, consecrated by love.


1. Charity assimilates the heart to the life of Christ. Faith brings us to the Saviour, but love makes us like Him.

2. Love makes the Church a power for good. The generous heart is the power which brings the love of God to bear on men's stubborn hearts. There is no cross too heavy, and no sacrifice too great for love.

3. The influence of love is more abiding. Faith will be turned into sight, and hope into possession, but love will continue the ruling passion of the world.

(Weekly Pulpit.)

Charity is —

I. INTRINSICALLY EXCELLENT. Faith and hope, however good and useful, derive their value from the limitation of our nature.

1. Faith is necessary because we have not personal knowledge of objects. What is beyond the range of our bodily organs and intuitive feelings is alone an object of faith.

2. And so there is implied in hope something more or better than we have; only those that are imperfectly blessed can hope. Faith implies something without, hope something beyond, us.

3. God cannot believe, for "He fills immensity"; He cannot hope, for "He inhabits eternity." But He can love; and the more we have of this gracious disposition, the more we are assimilated to that glorious Being who "giveth all things" and "needeth not anything," who has no necessity but that of doing good.

II. THE MOST INDEPENDENT GRACE. Faith and hope, however rich and strong, are recipients, to a great extent. But it is the glorious distinction of charity that, instead of recognising a good that exists, it forms a plan of originating one that is not. This is its description: "Charity suffereth long, and is kind; seeketh not her own." While faith and hope are the ample vessels of grace, charity is its free fountain; while they are its reverent worshippers, it is its self-denying missionary. They accept, but it dispenses; they regard self, it looks not on its own things, but on the things of others.

III. THE END OF WHICH FAITH AND HOPE ARE MEANS. Whatever is imparted to us, in the form of present truth and prospective good, is with a view to some result. God can have no lower or other design than the sanctification of our entire nature: and what is that but the shedding of His love abroad in it by the Holy Ghost, constraining us to all good works? "Love is the fulfilling of the law," and of the gospel. Faith is the nourishment of love, hope is its luxurious entertainment. Faith is the soil in which it grows, hope is the bright sunshine that quickens and beautifies it. Love cannot be intelligent unless it be taught of God, and cannot be free and cheerful unless He smile upon it.

IV. PERMANENT. In a sense doubtless we shall believe and hope in a future state; but in that state there will be the realised enjoyment of the main objects of present belief and pursuit. In that state will be fulfilled, not comparatively as here, but to a glorious extent of accomplishment, the strong representations of our context. We shall "see face to face," we shall "know even as we are known." But love will undergo no change of this sort: its change will be of another kind. The perfection that lessens the need and intensity of other graces will increase the power and enlarge the sphere of love. Conclusion:

1. If charity is the greatest, so manifestly let us beware of losing sight of its pre-eminent excellence. Many put faith before it. Forgetting the real nature and office of faith, they dishonour the charity that dwells in others, and suppress instead of cherishing it in themselves. No spectacle of Christian error is more painful than that of a man taking his stand on faith and violating charity. If we must err at all, let it be on the side of the "greatest" thing; and, erring or not, let us never forget that whatever is accurate in belief, and pleasant in hope, is far exceeded by love, and has its use and worth only in its promotion.

2. Ponder the emphatic words of vers. 1-3. What a thought, for a man to be nothing! nothing, and yet gifted with spiritual faculties; speaking angelic tongues; though impoverishing himself to relieve his brethren; though yielding up His life in defence of faith! Oh, receive the love of God into your hearts, and that shall be in you a fountain of all charity; you shall love like God as well as rejoice in His love: and be something for ever!

(A. J. Morris.)

Do not mistake Paul, as though he derogated from faith and hope. He says they are great, though love is the greatest.

I. IN POINT OF RANK. Faith and hope are of the operation of God, but love is from His heart: by love we are let into God. We are called to be strong in faith, to abound in hope, but to be perfect in love! We are to put on the shield of faith, the helmet of hope, but, above all, put on charity.

1. It decides the genuineness of faith and hope. Faith cannot work without love — it is the animation of faith. And hope maketh not ashamed, "because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts." Faith some. times has doubts, hope has fears, charity always hopes; yea, when faith and hope both stop, charity believeth, hopeth, does their work.

2. It is the end, of which faith and hope are but the means; the labour of love raises the top stone. Faith is the root, hope the buds, love is the fruit of the Christian's tree.

3. Faith and hope are essential to man as a sinner, but love was his religion before he was a sinner, and it is now by love that he rises above his fall and forms alliance with heaven. Love is the religion of heaven 1 Wonder not, then, that love is the foremost fruit of the Spirit, the end of the commandment, the fulfilling of the law — the royal law — that it sits on the throne — the queen of graces.

II. IN POINT OF UTILITY. Faith and hope are selfish graces — private props. Charity is to others like the sun in the firmament — goes about doing good. Personally, she visits the sick, feeds the hungry, clothes the naked; has a wise head, and attentive ear, a quick eye, a heart! makes others' woes, etc.; has an eloquent tongue, an open hand: "When the ear heard me, then it blessed me, and when the eye saw me, it gave witness to me." Thus she pursues her way; if contradicted, is not easily provoked; whatever is said of her, she thinketh no evil; she overlooks not the temporal interests of man, but chiefly regards the spiritual, and such as take in the good of the world.

III. IN POINT OF DURATION — abideth for ever. Faith and hope are Moses. Love is Joshua. Faith and hope supply here the place of vision: "We see through a glass darkly," etc. In an evangelical sense, faith and hope are not in heaven; we are to hope to the end; but no end in heaven. Learn —

1. Wherein real Christianity consists. In creeds? professions? No! but in Divine principles, holy tempers, benevolent actions. Orthodox opinions, etc., unaccompanied with faith, hope, and charity, are fruitless.

2. The excellency of real Christianity. It brings faith, it inspires hope, it fills with the love of God; and when this principle is universal in the world!

3. Is this religion ours? A man is better known by what he loves than by his faith and hope. Who loves strong drink, we know who he is. So, if man love God, we know who he is! Now we look for the effects of this love in his life and conversation. Does your faith work by love?

(J. Summerfield, A.M.)

Crown pride, and cause it to walk through the chambers of the soul, and there are many faculties which hide themselves and say, "I will not bow down to Pride, if it be king over me." Crown vanity, and there will be many parts of the soul that will not yield to this newly-crowned king, but will say, "Nay, I am higher than thou, and I will never bow down to King Vanity." Crown the reason, and there are many feelings that will say, "We will no more rise up before crowned Reason, and own it our king, than the flowers will rise up before an iceberg and call it summer." Crown beauty, and there will be commotion in all the soul; but there is not in all the soul one single faculty that, under stress of temptation, under provocation, or under trial, will call out, "O King Beauty, save me!" Crown the conscience, and although more of the faculties of the soul will follow that than any other of the leaders I have assumed, yet what will ensue? Crown conscience — its crown is of iron; its sceptre is relentless. If conscience be king, the soul has a despot on the throne; and often and often there be many members of a man's nature that reluct, and resist, and refuse to obey. Bring into the ascendancy love, and crown it, and there is not one part of reason that doth not before love say, "It is my master." There is nothing in all the imagination that is not willing to twine round about love and say, "Love rules; and it truly inspires." Pride and vanity, and all the ambitious forces of the soul, will bow down in the train of love; and if that stand king in the soul, all the fortuities can find their place, and harmoniously move round about the well-adjusted centre. It is the only feeling around which you can reconstruct the human character.

(H. W. Beecher.)

Love is supreme because —

I. IT WAS THE EXERCISE OF THIS VIRTUE THAT MADE POSSIBLE OUR DELIVERANCE FROM SIN. "God so loved the world," etc. It was Christ's love that constrained Him to do and suffer so much that the sinner might be restored. Of all the Divine attributes it is love that stands out in grandest outline.

II. THERE IS NO OTHER VIRTUE LIKE IT TO INSPIRE SACRIFICE. Love for God and for man inspired Grace Darling to imperil her life to rescue wrecked mariners from a watery grave. It moved an Elizabeth Fry to abandon home to find the criminal in his cell, and lead him to a higher life. It induces the minister of the Cross to endanger life, that he may save his heathen brother.

III. THERE IS NO OTHER SO EFFECTIVE FOR WINNING AND MAINTAINING THE GOOD-WILL OF OUR FELLOW-MEN. The man of eminence, intelligence, or affluence is envied if not hated at times by those less fortunate; but a loving man unites all classes to him, and even conquers our enemies and compels their love in return. "Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and myself," says Napoleon, "founded great empires; but upon what did the creations of our genius depend? Upon force. Jesus alone founded His empire upon love, and to this very day millions are ready to die for Him." William Penn, who lived for many years in the midst of six warring Indian tribes in harmony and peace, assured his dusky brethren of the forest, "The great God of heaven has written His law of love upon our hearts, by which we are taught and commanded to love, to help, and to do good to each other; and to-day we meet you in the broad pathway of love and good-will, hoping no advantage may be taken on either side." While other colonists were building forts and displaying their arms, and hence involved in trouble and war, the flowers of prosperity and peace blossomed in the footprints of William Penn.

IV. THERE IS NO OTHER VIRTUE THAT SO GLADDENS THE HEART AND ENRICHES THE LIFE. Love is to the heart what summer is to the year, maturing all the noblest and grandest fruits. The man in whose heart the spirit of love abides has a sort of music within to which he may march all the day long without exhaustion. His work, whether spiritual or manual, on Sunday or Monday, is no servitude, for duty becomes a delight. Love "oils" the complex machinery of his whole being, and thus prevents the daily friction that is such an enemy to human life. Where there is love for one's work there will be no reluctance or hanging back, for love is an impelling motive.

(W. G. Thrall.)

Higher than morality, higher than philanthropy, higher than worship, comes love. That is the chiefest thing. When we have that, we reach the very thing for which the New Testament scheme was administered. Love! it is that which brings forth out of obscurity the hidden God which we seek. Send forth all the powers of the soul to search for God, and there is not one of them which, making inquisition according to its own nature, can find Him out and reveal Him, except this Divine Spirit of love! Put wings of imagination on Conscience, and let it fly forth. Say to it, "Go, and find thy God!" Flying through night and through day; above and beneath; among clouds and thunder; through darkness and through light; it would return at length, wing-tired, only to say, "I have found marks of God, in law, in pain, and penalty; I have seen the traces of thunder, and the path of lightning, and the foundations of eternal power; but nowhere have I found the full God." Give the wings of faith to Reason, and send it, in turn, forth from east to west, around the earth, and through the heavens, to see if by searching it can find out God; and it shall say, "I have seen the curious work of His hand, and have marked the treasures that He hath heaped up. The whole earth is full of His glory, and the heavens are unsearchable by us. What God hath done I have felt, but God Himself is hidden from my sight." Let Fear, equipped with faith, pursue the same errand. It would not even know which way to fly, and, turning downward, groping or flying directly amidst infernal things, it would rehearse a catalogue of terrors, of gloomy fears, or brooding superstitions; but the bright sun-clad God it could not see. Let Reverence go forth. But what there is in reverence can never interpret what there is in God. This feeling can touch the Divine orb but in a single point. And the Heavens would say to Reverence, "Such an one as you seek is not in me"; and Hell would say, "He is not in me"; and Earth and Time would repeat, "He is not in us!" It is only Love that can find out God without searching. Upon its eyes God dawns. Wherever it looks, and whatever it sees — that is God; for God is love. Love is that regent quality which was meant to reveal the Divine to us. It carries its own light, and, by its own secret nature, is drawn instantly toward God, and reflects the knowledge of Him back upon us.

(H. W. Beecher.)


1. It is implied by the apostle that they are all great. He speaks of "the greatest." Faith is a great thing. It implies reason, truth, and the investigation of evidence; it is a great thing in business, in science, in society, as well as religion; it is a power that removes mountains. See a record of its brilliant achievements in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews. Hope is a great thing too. It implies the recognition of good, a desire for good, and an expectation of good; it bears as an angel into the brightness of the future; it makes the greatest trials of the present bearable by bringing into the spirit the blessedness of the future.

2. It is implied by the apostle that they are all permanent. There "abideth."

II. THE SUPERIORITY OF ONE OF THE THREE. The greatest of these three is charity. Why is it the greatest?

1. It is a virtue in itself. There is no moral virtue in faith or hope. They are under certain conditions necessary states of mind; but love, disinterested, godly love, is in itself a virtue. It is in truth the substratum of all virtuous states.

2. It is that quality which alone gives virtue to all other states of mind. Where this love is not, faith and hope are morally worthless. They are trees without one leaf of virtue on their branches.

3. It is that state of mind by which the soul subordinates the universe to itself. The loving soul can alone interpret the universe. The loving soul alone appropriates the universe. "All things work together for good to them that love God," etc.

4. It is that state of mind which links the spirit to all holy intelligences. Love is the attractive power that binds the holy universe together. Faith and hope are not so.

5. It is that state of mind which includes the highest faith and hope. Love implies the both.

6. It is that state of mind which is in itself happiness. Love is happiness. We cannot say so either of faith or hope.

7. Love is the most Godlike state of the soul.

(D. Thomas, D.D.)

Charity has a greatness whether considered as a principle, a motive power, or a perfecting grace of character. And first of all, what is to be understood by charity? It is not that sentimental thing that often goes by its name, that has no appreciation for principles, sees no importance in doctrines, and imagines the world can be saved as well by error as by truth. I have four reasons why charity is the greatest of great things.

1. Its endurance. Prophecies fail when the thing prophesied takes place. Love has a continuous life. If there is anything destined to immortality that thing is love.

2. Hence the next reason for esteeming charity as the greatest of great things, and that is, the nothingness of all things without it. Prophetical insight, the profuse distribution of wealth, and the bravery of martyrdom its If, all — all are hollow where charity is not. So true it is that charity is the greatest of great things. It gives a Divine substance to human graces, and at its bidding that which otherwise were but perishing beauty starts, like Jairus's daughter, from its shroud, and moves to beautify the home and give happiness there as only the true daughter can.

3. But again, charity is the greatest of great things, because it sways the will. Duties that we love not are clogs. He that clings to the world rather than to Christ must look the solemn fact in the face — that he loved the world more than Christ, and that love sways his will. It is not inability — it is not natural or moral infirmity of the will that keeps us from becoming more godly. It is our loves — our affections that are more fed and strengthened by sinful desires than by angels' food.

4. And this suggests the fourth reason why charity is to be esteemed the greatest of great things, and that is, it is the fulfilment of the law. He that wishes to do something as God does all things has only this to do — exercise a pure love — an enduring, an edifying, a will-swaying love. He who performs one act of disinterested benevolence, acts so far on the high plane of the Deity.

(H. Bacon.)

Before proceeding to examine some of the proofs of the :pre-eminence of charity let us for a few moments glance at the thing itself, for the more clearly we discern what this charity is, the more clearly we see its fulness and perfection, the more rightly we shall believe in its pre-eminence, the more ready we shall be to say, "Faith does well, hope does well, the other graces of the Christian character do well, but this charity excels them all." Look at some of the proofs of the pre-eminence of charity. Faith must be immortal, because man can never dispense with his confidence in God. Heaven will not destroy the need for that, but will perfect the child-like trust. Hope can never die out, for a noble, blessed being, a child of the Infinite must always be aspiring to greater :perfection, and reaching to the days which are before.

1. Charity, to my view, is the greatest of the three graces, because it is the most God-like. Faith believes the Bible, hope rests upon it, charity enlarges the Bible. There is more light to break forth over God's Word, and the loving heart will be the first to catch it. This helps to give charity the pre-eminence.

2. Charity is pre-eminent, inasmuch as it is the greatest stimulant to labour. The world is so fashioned, man is so placed that there is always a great and urgent need for work. It is work that turns the wilderness into a paradise, which levels mountains and fills up valleys. Hope is a great aid to diligence. The ploughman would not plough, by reason of the cold, if he were not encouraged by hope, and shown in anticipation the verdure of the next spring, the blossoms of the next summer, and the harvest of the next autumn. But ofttimes there is work to be done when faith is feeble and hope is ready to die, and then love alone can strengthen the labourer for the task. In the sick chamber there must be weary watchfulness and diligence, hope cannot sustain, nor can faith; but the care is as tender and the diligence is as great as ever, because love is present in the heart of the watcher and the worker, and love sustains when every other support has failed. We want men who will love the world, and who will work for its enlightenment, for its emancipation and its redemption, when difficulties are great, when progress is almost invisible, and when faith and hope are ready to die.

3. The way to obtain this charity is to live close to Him in whom this charity was perfectly exemplified. I must remind you of an old story concerning the tomb of Orpheus, who was so skilled in melody. It was said that the nightingale which built her nest nearest to the tomb had always the sweetest song. Here is a man, a Divine man; Divine pity was expressed in human tears, Divine love worked through human hands, Divine charity was exemplified in human love. He who lives nearest to Jesus will become the most perfect in this charity, and will win the brightest crown within his grasp.

(C. Vince.)

1. The first thing that must strike every mind, apart from the exceeding beauty of the description, is the many-sidedness of the quality portrayed. It is not one virtue, such as that to which in common speech we have limited the name of charity, but all virtues in one that the apostle is here describing.

2. But the many-sidedness of love is not the only ground of its supremacy. St. Paul next draws attention to its permanence. "Love never faileth," and in this respect he again contrasts it with those spiritual gifts which first occasioned the mention of it.

3. And this brings us to the last of the contrasts suggested in this marvellous chapter. Love is not only above all gifts, it is many-sided while they are single; it is permanent while they are fleeting; but it is chief also among the graces which abide, because while they are in their very nature incomplete, it is already stamped with the mark of perfection. Truth may change, or rather the opinions which passed for truth, but the blessed three, faith, hope, and love, shall abide; faith the evidence, hope the earnest, love the very foretaste of heaven. There is no putting of these away as childhood passes into manhood. They were born with our birth, they will follow us to the grave. They are, whether we will or no, the links which bind us to the invisible. And of these love is the greatest, greater than faith, which is trust in God; greater than hope, which is desire after Him. It is the source of them both. It is God's own likeness already revealed in our hearts. Doubtless in this our present state, love is very far from perfect — God knows how weak it is, how partial, how selfish — but in so far as it is love, I say, it has upon it the stamp of perfection. It is the grace which brought Christ down to earth. It is the grace, the only grace that raises man to heaven. Is your life and mine in any sense an endeavour to follow after the pre-eminent grace of love? To decide the question, let us take St. Paul's description, and honestly try ourselves thereby.

(E. M. Young, M.A.)

I. IN THIS SINGLE WORD CHRISTIANITY SUMS UP ALL SOCIAL MORALITY. There is no analogy to this in any other religion or philosophy. Did Greece or Rome, Egypt or Assyria, ever rear an altar to such a goddess? And who looks for any acknowledgment of her from heathenism now? And the vaunted philanthropy of socialistic philosophy, with all other modern substitutes for the gospel, is but a caricature of the Christian principle.

II. HOW STRONGLY DOES THIS STANDARD OF CHARACTER CONTRAST WITH THAT OF THE WORLD! Who is the man that the age delighteth to honour? Is it the gentle, loving disciple of Jesus? Nay, is it not the proud, selfish, and ambitious?

III. HIS ACCOUNT OF CHARITY SHEDS A REPROVING LIGHT UPON NATIONAL ANTIPATHIES AND WAR. Why should the geographical and political divisions of the globe sever the bonds of human brotherhood and limit the sphere of Christian benevolence? Can Christ's followers be murderers? and what is war but wholesale murder?

IV. HOW SEVERELY DOES CHARITY CONDEMN THE BIGOTRY OF SECTARIAN PREJUDICE AND THE BITTERNESS OF RELIGIOUS CONTROVERSY! Why should some difference of opinion in matters not fundamental alienate from one another hearts that were else one in Christ? If we differ in many things, do we not agree in more? and are not those in which we agree much more important than those in which we differ?

V. IN THE LIGHT OF OUR EXPOSITION, HOW ARE WE TO ESTIMATE THE GUILT OF THOSE WHO CAUSE RUINOUS DIVISIONS IN THE HOUSEHOLD OF FAITH? If it is so good and pleasant a thing for brethren to dwell together in unity, who shall measure the mischief done by breaking up the family? If charity is the bond of perfectness, the test of Christian character, the best recommendation of the gospel, and the condemnation of a discordant world, what words shall suffice to express the repugnance of every true disciple to that wicked schismatical spirit which often wounds it so recklessly or murders it outright?

(J. Cross, D.D.)

I. CHARITY IS THE LOVE OF GOD FOR HIMSELF ABOVE ALL THINGS, AND OF MAN FOR GOD AND IN GOD. It shows itself in outward acts of love to man, or labour for God. Acts of love strengthen the inward fire of love; and love, which puts itself not forth in deeds of love, would go out, as fire without fuel; but they do not first light it. In God, Love is Himself, and God who is Love, giveth His Spirit who is Love, to pour abroad love into our hearts. Love then is the source and end of all good. Without it, nothing avails; with it, thou hast all things. "Love," says St. Laurence, "is the beginning of all good, because it is from God, and moves to Him. Love is the means of all good, for it is according to God, and fashioneth our deeds aright. Love is also the end of all good; for it is for the sake of God, and directeth our works, and bringeth them to the right end. It is the end of sins, because it destroyeth them; the end of the commandments, because it perfecteth them; it is the end of all our toils, the end of all ends to us, for our rest is in life everlasting, but God is the end in whom we rest."

II. WHENCE HATH LOVE ITS BIRTH? In the infinite love of God, charity is greater than faith and hope and any other grace, because it has its source in that which God is. Hence then it is love which gives the value to all deeds of faith, or devotion, or toil, or love, or martyrdom; because love is of God, and refers all to God. Noble self-denying deeds may be for man's praise or in self-complacency; chastity may be proud; alms-giving, vain-glorious. Active service may be its own reward; death itself may be undergone amid obstinacy. Love hath no end but God, seeketh nothing but Himself for Himself. All virtues are but forms of love, for she is the soul of all. "Temperance," says , "is love, keeping itself pure and undefiled for God. Fortitude is love, readily enduring all things for the sake of God. Justice is love which serveth God alone, and so hath command over all things subject to man. Prudence is love, distinguishing what helpeth it towards God, from what hindereth it"; or, "Love, kindled with entire holiness towards God, when it coveteth nothing out of God, is called temperance; when it willingly parteth with all, is called fortitude." The worldly, careless, covetous, hard-hearted, the lovers of pleasure, cannot love God, but neither do they desire to love Him.


1. The first state of fallen man is, alas! to "love himself for himself." In this state, he rather fears God than loves Him.

2. Yet man needs God; and so he begins by faith to seek after and love God, because he needs Him. And so he is brought to a second stage of love, to love God for man's own sake. Much as a man might value the sun, because it warms him and ripens his corn, so man makes himself his centre, and loves God because he needs Him. Yet God so humbleth Himself, that He willeth even thus to be loved. Nay, He has therefore surrounded us with the blessings of nature, that all things around us may teach us to love God, because He made them "very good." Yet in some such way might a heathen love. It is a Christian form of this love of God for man's own sake, if a man loves Him, because He has redeemed him, because, without Him, he cannot be saved, and he hopes to be saved by Him.

3. Next God becomes known to the soul, and consequently sweet to it; and so, having "tasted that the Lord is good," he passes to the third degree, and loves God for His own sake. Yet even in beginning to love God for His own sake, there is a snare lest men should love God for sensible sweetnesses and the consolations which, when He sees good, He gives in prayer or the Holy Sacrament; and so He often withdraws these comforts, and leaves the soul in darkness, after showing her His light, and in dryness, after having bathed her in His sweetness, that He may prove the soul that she follows Him, not for the loaves and fishes, but for love of Himself alone. This is a pure chaste love, which loves God not for any gifts of His, not even for everlasting bliss as His gift. Pure love would not be contented with all the glories and brightness and beauty of heaven itself: it stops short of nothing, it could be satisfied with nothing, but the love of God Himself. It loves God "because He is good "; and so it loves the will of God, and becomes conformed to it, and wills, or wills not, not for its own pleasure, but for the will of God.

4. And so the soul is formed towards that last stage of love, of which, blessed are they who have for a moment some faint glimpse in this life, but which is life eternal, that man should love himself only for the sake of God. In this the soul, borne out of itself with Divine love, losing itself in a manner, as though it were not, emptied of itself, "goeth forth wholly into God, and cleaving to God, becometh one spirit with Him, so that it may say, 'My flesh and my heart faileth, but Thou art the God of my heart and God my portion for ever.'" For since God is the centre of all things, so the soul, when perfected, must will to be nothing but what God wills; to be, only that He may live in it; to be dissolved, as it were, and wholly transfused into the will of God. Of these stages of love, the love of God only for one's own sake, is blessed as a step towards that which is better; yet there is much danger lest, if God gives a man not what he wills, or what he wills not, he should lose what love he seemed to have. Thus people have become embittered or impatient through misfortunes, as though God had dealt hardly with them, and have thrown off the love of God.

IV. HOW, THEN, ARE WE TO KNOW WHETHER WE HAVE LOVE; HOW GAIN IT? The tests whereby we may know whether we have this love of God for Himself are also the means of gaining it, or of increasing it. How is it with those whom you dearly love on earth? Be this the proof of your love of God.

1. You gladly think of them, when absent. You are glad to turn from converse with others, to speak with them. One word or look of theirs is sweeter than all which is not they.

2. You are glad to hear of those you love; you are glad when others speak good of them.

3. You love anything which belongs to them

4. You gladly suffer for them.

5. You have no other will than theirs.

6. You are jealous for their honour.

7. For their sake you value not any outward things which others prize.

8. You do all things for their sake and count nothing too little, nothing too great to do for them. Conclusion: Faint not, any who would love Jesus, if ye find yourselves yet far short of what He Himself who is love saith of the love of Him. Perfect love is heaven. When ye are perfected in love, your work on earth is done. There is no short road to heaven or to love.Do what in thee lies by the grace of God, and He will lead thee from strength to strength, and grace to grace, and love to love.

1. Be diligent by His grace to do no wilful sin; for sin, wilfully done, kills the soul, and casts out of it the love of God.

2. Seek to love nothing out of God. God re-makes a broken heart and fills it with love. He cannot fill a divided heart.

3. Think often of God. For how canst thou know or love God if thou fillest thy mind with thoughts of all things under the sun, and thy thoughts wander to the ends of the earth, and thou gatherest them not unto God?

4. Bring all things, as thou mayest, nigh to God; let not them hurry thee away from Him.

5. Be not held back by any thought of unworthiness or by failures from the childlike love of God.

6. Be diligent, after thy power, to do deeds of love. Think nothing too little, nothing too low, to do lovingly for the sake of God. Bear with infirmities, ungentle tempers, contradictions; visit the sick, relieve the poor, etc.

7. Where, above all, shouldest thou seek for His love but in the feast of His love? Without it, ye cannot have any true love.

(E. B. Pusey, D.D.)

I. IS THE ESSENTIAL PRINCIPLE OF ALL GENUINE RELIGION. We love God because He first loved us. This affection is in every case called forth into its strength by the manifested affection of the Redeemer. Here, then, is a test for universal use in self-examination. It is love that makes the Christian. It is not talent (ver 1). It is not gifts (ver. 2). It is not merit (ver. 3).

II. IS THE PRINCIPLE OF ALL GENUINE SOCIAL LIFE. "If God so loves us, we ought also to love one another." Christians —

1. Are the children of one Father's household, and hence must love each other as kindred.

2. Are under equal exposures. The world drives up against them on the outside; they should therefore organise for mutual defence.

3. Have all the same work; and it is time we comforted each other with a comparison of tasks and of patience under them.


1. There is no comfort in work where there is not love as the motive of it. God loved the world; Christ loved the souls He died to redeem; Christians are moved by love for those around them; or else the work is drudgery, and can never claim blessing.

2. What will not love do and dare? With only an earthly object Love swam the Hellespont, and gave a name to every hero who holds out a torch. With no more than filial strength, it sent Coriolanus back from treason at the gates, and delivered Rome from downfall.

3. But then, how gentle this love is also! This is the only natural force that works by tenderness. It made Paul weep, it filled the eyes of Jesus with tears. Yet there is no effeminacy in it. John, who spoke most about it, was a "son of thunder."

4. Such love is effective when everything else would fail. "I came to break your head," once said a rough man to Whitefield, with a big stone in hand; "but by the grace of God you have broken my heart."

IV. IS THE PRINCIPLE OF HEAVENLY ENJOYMENT. This wonderful charity issues in a completeness at the limit of life, that the life itself which it tenanted never knew nor even suspected: "For we know in part, and we prophesy in part," etc.

(C. S. Robinson, D.D.)

Greatest of these is charity
When the apostle speaks so highly of charity, he does not mean to disparage the other graces. They also are altogether beautiful, considered apart from charity; only charity has such a sun-like excellence, that in its presence all star-like beauty, and even all moon-like beauty, seem to grow dim and fade, as stars and moon do when the light of day comes to fill our sky. Compare the diamond with a common wayside stone, and we may not be greatly impressed by its beauty and superiority, for the contrast is too great. But set that diamond in a royal crown, encircle it with pearls, let it compare with other jewels, with ruby, and garnet, and emerald, then the depths of its crystal purity are so impressive, and the flashing of its light is so exquisite. Put charity alongside humbleness, bowels of mercies, long-suffering, or forgiving, and then it seems to gather up into itself their charms, and throw over them its charms, and shine forth in the wry midst of them the "bond of perfectness."

(R. Tuck, B.A.)

Other graces have particular things with which they are more intimately connected and concerned — special parts of our lives on which they throw the light of their charms, special times in which they actively operate. They are like the winds that blow sometimes, or the rain that falls sometimes, or the snow that covers the earth sometimes, or the lightning that purifies sometimes. But charity is like the Divine sunlight, that shines on always, works always, tempers the winds, and warms the rains, and dissipates the mists, and melts the snow. Sometimes seen and felt, sometimes unseen, but never ceasing its influence, and recognising no earth-limits to its sphere. Charity covers the whole life and relationships of the Christian — his inner thoughts, his uttered feelings, his conduct and intercourse, the associations of the family and society, and also his relations with the dependent, the poor, and the suffering.

(R. Tuck, B.A.).

Corinthians, Paul
Abide, Abideth, Charity, Faith, Greater, Greatest, Hope, Love, Remain-these
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 13:13

     1652   numbers, 3-5
     8296   love, nature of
     8441   goals
     8463   priority, of faith, hope and love
     9613   hope, as confidence

1 Corinthians 13:1-13

     3209   Holy Spirit, and love
     5765   attitudes, to people

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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