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best earthly happiness. Is it not then evident to our experience, that the truth shines forth in the judgment which the Apostle pronounces of faith, hope, and charity, that “the greatest of these is charity”?
Upon this point, however, it will be necessary to carry in our minds this consideration: that when St. Paul speaks in praise of charity, he means that holy and gracious principle which warms the inmost soul, and through the influence of the Holy Ghost, the giver of all charity, guides and qualifies our thoughts, our words, our actions, towards God and man; and that in his highest praises of charity, as greater than the other Christian
he neither lessens the weight due to them, nor proposes any thing like a relaxed observance of the high duties which they ever impose
Though charity be the bond which, in the love of Christ towards man, links us to a reconciled God, and joins us in mutual and forbearing love, one towards another, yet is not “faith" diminished in its first and eternal foundation, nor “hope” lessened in the scale of Christian graces. Charity is pronounced to be greater than faith and hope, because it is more connected with the happiness of others, as well as with our own. Faith and hope belong more immediately to the spiritual state of ourown souls; but charity, which is the love of God and of our fellow-creatures for His sakė, extends to all. While faith and hope are to increase through prayer and holy diligence in the secret recesses of our own hearts, Charity, like our Lord Jesus Christ, goeth about doing good everywhere; it guides ús, through the sacred influence of the Spirit of God, to seek after the temporal and eternal well-doing of our fellow-creatures, in reference to the will of God, and in the pros- . pect of never-ending manifestation of a holier charity in the realms above. For “charity never faileth.” Charity will be found where it ever has been, and from whence alone it issues forth-in the Heaven of Heavens; it will glow with its own celestial ardour more and more, when faith shall be done away by the reality of things before not seen, and when hope shall become the very possession of things hoped for in Christ Jesus Himself, the Hope of Glory.
upon us all.
The conclusion of the whole matter is simply this: that without “charity,” “ faith” is vain, and "hope" will never come; and hence we may be brought to see, that charity unapplied is one great cause of so much sin and evil around us; how charity, thus understood, takes its full share in the cure of human ills, and why charity, thus described, is greater than faith and hope.
The holy Apostle's short and memorable summary of the genuine fruits of the Gospel,
faith, hope, charity,—these three,” has now occupied our mutual consideration in three separate discourses. Whether what has been said hereupon shall be spiritually profitable to any of us, depends not on human means; it depends singly and entirely upon
“ God who giveth the increase.”, But inasmuch as it has been shewn, that were these holy Christian graces, “ faith, hope, charity,” better understood, better sought after in fervent prayer, and more consistently followed up in daily life, vice and misery would less abound among
let us at least examine what has been urged upon us, and compare it with the Word of God, and our own experience and observation. If we find the principle true in Scripture, and in our own observation of the past, then, through the promised help of God in all our wants and weaknesses, let us apply it to our own soul, and prove it there. When we have been leading a life of positive and known sin; or when, through unkind temper, selfishness, or pride, we have given needless pain to any of our fellow-pilgrims in this short journey to our last home, let us see whether we were not at that time manifestly in error with respect to a right understanding or an honest application of one or other of the great Chris,
tian graces of "faith, hope, charity.” Let us examine into the then state and condition of our heart, and see whether our faith were any thing more than a word upon our lips; our hope as unstable as the "house built
the sand;" our charity any thing better than a name, “sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.” Thus tracing our own evil and the evils which we may have inflicted, or which we still inflict, upon the peace and happiness of others, to their proper source, let us be humbled under that knowledge, and henceforth know ourselves. Let prayer, in deep self-humiliation, accompany us to the Throne of Mercy. Let us have faith in God-hope in Christ-charity towards all men. Let these, through God's preventing and accompanying grace, be suffered to grow more and more in our souls, and then will they perform their “perfect work.” Our faith will then be fruitful in good works, and we shall have “joy and peace
in believing” Our hope, like “an anchor of the soul,” will be “sure and stedfast;" and in our Redeemer, our hope will entirely rest. Our charity will render our own selves and those who go with us in the same road to eternity, mutually blessed ; and in this life, and in the life to come, we shall realize all the glorious issues of the Apostle's surnmary of the Christian calling : "faith, hope, charity,these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”
1 sT. PETER, CHAPTER 3, VERSES 3, 4.
“ Whose adorning-let it be the hidden man of the heart,
in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is, in the sight of God, of great price."
This text of Holy Scripture is nothing less than a regular following up of the whole spirit of Christianity, as seen in the first instance through the obscurer display thereof in the Old Testament, and the fuller assurances of the New Testament. Meekness, gentleness, and patient submission under injury, are greatly insisted upon by the inspired king of Israel, the wisest among the sons of men, as the lessons which he had himself learnt and recommended under his full knowledge and understanding of what the Mosaic law really was.
Nothing in that law overthrows this inference: for though, in that infant state of revived religion, it was permitted in some instances to seek redress in what might seem to be the spirit of retaliation, “an eye for an eye, a tooth