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Text Sermons : J.C. Ryle : Love

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"Now these three remain: faith, hope and love.
But the greatest of these is love" (1 Corinthians 13:13).


LOVE is rightly called "the Queen of Christian graces." "The goal of this
command," says Paul, "is love" (1 Timothy 1:5). It is a grace which all
people profess to admire. It seems a plain practical thing which everybody
can understand. It is none of "those troublesome doctrinal points" about
which Christians disagree. Thousands, I suspect, would not be ashamed to
tell you that they know nothing about justification, or regeneration, or
about the work of Christ, or of the Holy Spirit. But nobody, I believe,
would like to say that he knows nothing about love! If men possess nothing
else in religion, they always flatter themselves that they possess "love."

A few plain thoughts about love will be very useful. There are false notions
about love which need to be dispelled. There are mistakes about it which
require to be rectified. In my admiration of love I yield to none. But I am
bold to say that in many minds the whole subject seems completely
misunderstood.

I. First, Let me show, "the place the Bible gives to love."

II. Secondly, let me show, "what the love of the Bible really is."

III. Thirdly, let me show, "where true love comes from."

IV. Lastly, let me show, "why love is `the greatest' of the graces."

I ask for the sincere attention of my readers to the subject. My heart's
desire and prayer to God is that the growth of love may be promoted in this
sin-burdened world. In nothing does the fallen condition of man show itself
so strongly as in the scarcity of Christian love. There is little faith on
earth, little hope, little knowledge of Divine things. But nothing,
after all, is as scarce as real love.

I. Let me show "the place which the Bible gives to love."

I begin with this point in order to establish the immense practical
importance of my subject. I do not forget that there are many Christians in
this present day who almost refuse to look at anything practical in
Christianity. They can talk of nothing but two or three favorite doctrines.
Now I want to remind my readers that the Bible contains much about practice
as well as about doctrine, and that one thing to which it attaches great
weight is "love."

I turn to the New Testament, and ask men to observe what it says about love.
In all religious inquiries there is nothing like letting the Scripture speak
for itself. There is no surer way of finding out truth than the old way of
turning to simple Bible texts. Texts were our Lord's weapons, both in
answering Satan, and in arguing with the Jews. Texts are the guides we must
never be ashamed to refer to in the present day--What does the Scripture
say? What is written? How do you read it?

Let us hear what Paul says to the Corinthians: "If I speak in the tongues of
men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a
clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries
and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have
not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my
body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing" (1 Corinthians 13:1-
3).

Let us hear what Paul says to the Colossians: "And over all these virtues put
on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity" (Colossians 3:14).

Let us hear what Paul says to Timothy: "The goal of this command is love,
which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith" (1
Timothy 1:5).

Let us hear what Peter says: "Above all, love each other deeply, because love
covers over a multitude of sins" (1 Peter 4:8).

Let us hear what our Lord Jesus Christ Himself says about that love, "A new
command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love
one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you
love one another" (John 13:34-35). Above all, let us read our Lord's account
of the last judgment, and mark that the lack of love will condemn millions,
"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed,
into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was
hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing
to drink" (Matthew 25:41-42).

Let us hear what Paul says to the Romans: "Let no debt remain outstanding,
except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellow
man has fulfilled the law" (Romans 13:8).

Let us hear what Paul says to the Ephesians: "Live a life of love, just as
Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and
sacrifice to God" (Ephesians 5:2).

Let us hear what John says: "Dear friends, let us love one another, for love
comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love" (1 John 5:7-8).

I shall make no comment upon these texts. I think it better to place them
before my readers in their naked simplicity, and to let them speak for
themselves. If any one is disposed to think the subject of this paper a
matter of insignificance, I will only ask him to look at these texts, and to
think again. He that would take down "love" from the high and holy place it
occupies in the Bible, and treat it as a matter of secondary importance,
must settle his account with God's Word. I certainly shall not waste time in
arguing with him.

To my own mind the evidence of these texts appears clear, plain, and
incontrovertible. They show the immense importance of love as one of the
"things that accompany salvation." They prove that it has a right to demand
the serious attention of all who call themselves Christians, and that those
who despise the subject are only exposing their own ignorance of Scripture.

II. Let me show secondly, "what the love of the Bible really is."

I think it of great importance to have clear views on this point. It is
precisely here that mistakes about love begin. Thousands delude themselves
with the idea that they have "love," when they don't due from a downright
ignorance of Scripture. Their love is not the love described in the Bible.

(a) The love of the Bible does not consist in giving to the poor. It is a
common delusion to suppose that it does. Yet Paul tells us plainly that a
man may "give all he possesses to the poor" (1 Corinthians 13:3), and not
have love. That a loving man will "remember the poor," there can be no
question. (Galatians 6:10) That he will do all he can to assist them,
relieve them, and lighten their burdens, I don't for a moment deny. All I
say is that this does not make up "love." It is easy to spend a fortune
in giving away money, and soup, and bread, and blankets, and clothing, and
yet to be utterly destitute of Bible love.

(b) The love of the Bible does not consist in never disapproving anybody's
conduct. Here is another very common delusion! Thousands pride themselves
on never condemning others, or saying they are wrong, whatever they may do.
They convert the precept of our Lord, "Do not judge," into an excuse for
having no unfavorable opinion at all of anybody. They pervert His
prohibition of rash and censorious judgments into a prohibition of all
judgment whatsoever. Your neighbor may be a drunkard, a liar, a violent man.
Never mind! "It is not love," they tell you, "to pronounce him, wrong." You
are to believe that he has a good heart at the bottom! This idea of love is,
unhappily, a very common one. It is full of mischief. To throw a veil over
sin, and to refuse to call things by their right names--to talk of "hearts"
being good, when "lives" are flatly wrong--to shut our eyes against
wickedness, and excuse their immorality--this is not Scriptural love.

(c) The love of the Bible does not consist in never disapproving anybody's
religious opinions. Here is another most serious and growing delusion.
There are many who pride themselves on never pronouncing others mistaken,
whatever views they may hold. Your neighbor, for example, may be a Roman
Catholic, or a Mormon. But the "love" of many says that you have no right to
think him wrong! If he is sincere, it is "unloving" to think unfavorably
of his spiritual condition! From such love may I ever be delivered! At this
rate the Apostles were wrong in going out to preach to the Gentiles! At this
rate there is no use in missions! At this rate we had better close our
Bibles, and shut up our churches! Everybody is right, and nobody is wrong!
Everybody is going to heaven, and nobody is going to hell!

Such love is a monstrous caricature. To say that all are equally right in
their opinions, though their opinions flatly contradict one another--to say
that all are equally on their way to heaven, though their doctrinal
sentiments are as opposite as black and right--this is not Scriptural love.
Love like this pours contempt on the Bible, and talks as if God had not given
it as a written test of truth. Love like this confuses all our notions
of heaven and would fill it with a discordant inharmonious rabble. True love
does not think everybody is right in their doctrines. True love cries--"Do
not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from
God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world."--"If anyone
comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into
your house or welcome him" (2 John 1:10).

I leave the negative side of the question here. I have dwelt upon it at some
length because of the days in which we live and the strange notions which
abound. Let me now turn to the positive side. Having shown what love is
not, let me now show what it is.

Love is that "love," which Paul places first among those fruits brought forth
in the heart of a believer. "The fruit of the Spirit is love" (Galatians
5:22). Love to God, such as Adam had before the fall, is its first feature.
He that has love, desires to love God with heart, and soul and mind, and
strength. Love to man is its second feature. He that has love, desires to
love his neighbor as himself. This is indeed that view in which the word
"love" in Scripture is more especially regarded. When I speak of a believer
having "love" in his heart, I mean that he has love to both God and man.
When I speak of a believer having "love" I mean more particularly that be has
love to man.

The love of the Bible will show itself in a believer's actions. It will make
him ready to do kind acts to everyone within his reach--both to their bodies
and souls. It will not let him be content with soft words and kind wishes.
It will make him diligent in doing all that lies in his power to lessen the
sorrow and increase the happiness of others. Like his Master, he will
care more for ministering than for being ministered to, and will look for
nothing in return. Like his Master's great apostle he will very willingly
"spend and be spent" for others, even though they repay him with hatred, and
not with love. True love does not want rewards. Its work is its reward.

The love of the Bible will show itself in a believer's "readiness to bear"
evil as well as to do good. It will make him patient under provocation,
forgiving when injured, meek when unjustly attacked, quiet when slandered.
It will make him bear much, put up with much and look over much, submit often
and deny himself often, all for the sake of peace. It will make him control
his temper, and check his tongue. True love is not always asking,
"What are my rights? Am I treated as I deserve?" but, "How can I best
promote peace? How can I do that which is most edifying to others?"

The love of the Bible will show itself in the "general spirit and demeanor"
of a believer. It will make him kind, unselfish, good-natured, good-
tempered, and considerate of others. It make him gentle, friendly, and
courteous, in all the daily relations of private life, thoughtful for others'
comfort, tender for others' feelings, and more anxious to give pleasure than
to receive. True love never envies others when they prosper, nor rejoices in
the calamities of others when they are in trouble. At all times it will
believe, and hope, and try to put to good use the actions of others. And
even at the worst, it will be full of pity, mercy, and compassion.

Would we like to know where the true Pattern of love like this can be found?
We have only to look at the life of our Lord Jesus Christ, as described in
the Gospels, and we will see it perfectly exemplified. Love radiated forth
in everything He did. His daily life was an incessant "going about" doing
good.--Love radiated forth in all His manner. He was continually hated,
persecuted, slandered, misrepresented. But He patiently endured it all. No
angry word ever fell from His lips. No ill-temper ever appeared in His
demeanor. "When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when
He suffered, He made no threats" (1 Peter 2:23). Love radiated forth in all
His spirit and deportment. The law of kindness was ever on His lips. Among
weak and ignorant disciples, among sick and sorrowful petitioners for help
and relief, among tax-gathers and sinners, among Pharisees and Sadducees, He
was always one and the same--kind and patient to all.

And yet, let it be remembered, our blessed Master never flattered sinners, or
connived at sin. He never shrunk from exposing wickedness in its true
colors, or from rebuking those who would cleave to it. He never hesitated to
denounce false doctrine by whomsoever it might be held, or to exhibit false
practice in its true colors and the certain end to which it tends. He called
things by their right names. He spoke as freely of hell and the fire that is
not quenched, as of heaven and the kingdom of glory. He has left on record
an everlasting proof that perfect love does not require us to approve
everybody's life or opinions, and that it is quite possible to condemn false
doctrine and wicked practice, and yet to be full of love at the same time.

I have now set before my readers the true nature of Scriptural love. I have
given a slight and very brief account of what it is not, and what it is. I
cannot pass on without suggesting two practical thoughts, which press home on
my mind with weighty force, and I hope may press home on others.

You have heard of love. Think, for a moment, how deplorably little love
there is upon earth! How conspicuous is the absence of true love among
Christians! I do not speak of the heathen, I now speak of Christians. What
angry tempers, what passions, what selfishness, what bitter tongues, are to
be found in private families! What strifes, what quarrels, what
spitefulness, what malice, what revenge, what envy between neighbors and
fellow Church members! What jealousies and contentions between those of
varying doctrines! "Where is love?" we may well ask,--"Where is love? Where
is the mind of Christ?" when we look at the spirit which reigns in the world.
No wonder that Christ's cause stands still, and sin abounds, when men's
hearts know so little of love! Surely, we can say "When the Son of Man
comes, will he find love on the earth?"

Think, for another thing, what a happy world this would be if there was more
love. It is the lack of love which causes half the misery there is upon
earth. Sickness, and death, and poverty will not account for more than half
the sorrows. The rest come from ill-temper, ill-nature, strifes, quarrels,
lawsuits, malice, envy, revenge, frauds, violence, wars, and the like. It
would be one great step towards doubling the happiness of mankind, and
halving their sorrows, if all men and women were full of Scriptural love.

III. Let me show, thirdly, "where the love of the Bible comes."

Love, such as I have described, is certainly not natural to man. Naturally,
we are all more or less selfish, envious, ill-tempered, spiteful, ill-
natured, and unkind. We have only to observe children, when left to
themselves, to see the proof of this. Let boys and girls grow up without
proper training and education, and you will not see one of them possessing
Christian love. Mark how some of them think first of themselves, and their
own comfort and advantage! Mark how others are full of pride, passion, and
evil tempers! How can we account for it? There is but one reply. The
natural heart knows nothing of true love.

The love of the Bible will never be found except in a heart prepared by the
Holy Spirit. It is a tender plant, and will never grow except in one soil.
You may as well expect grapes on thorns, or figs on thistles, as look for
love when the heart is not right.

The heart in which love grows is a heart changed, renewed, and transformed by
the Holy Spirit. The image and likeness of God, which Adam lost at the fall,
has been restored to it, however feeble and imperfect the restoration may
appear. It is to "participate in the Divine nature" by union with Christ and
Sonship to God; and one of the first features of that nature is love.
(2 Peter 1:4)

Such a heart is deeply convinced of sin, hates it, flees from it, and fights
with it from day to day. And one of the prime elements of sin which it daily
labors to overcome, is selfishness and lack of love.

Such a heart is deeply aware of its mighty debt to our Lord Jesus Christ. It
feels continually that it owes to Him who died for us on the cross, all its
present comfort, hope, and peace. How can it show forth its gratitude? What
can it render to its Redeemer? If it can do nothing else, it strives to be
like Him, to walk in His footsteps, and, like Him, to be full of love. The
fact that, "God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit"
is the surest fountain of Christian love. Love will produce love.

I ask my readers special attention to this point. It is one of great
importance in the present day. There are many who profess to admire love,
while they care nothing about vital Christianity. They like some of the
fruits and results of the Gospel, but not the root from which these fruits
alone can grow, or the doctrines with which they are inseparably connected.

Hundreds will praise love who hate to be told of man's corruption, of the
blood of Christ, and of the inward work of the Holy Spirit. Many a parent
would like his children to grow up unselfish and good tempered, who would not
be very pleased if someone pressed upon their children the need for
conversion, and repentance, and faith.

Now I desire to protest against this notion, that you can have the fruits of
Christianity without the roots--that you can produce Christian dispositions
without teaching Christian doctrines--that you can have love that will wear
and endure without grace in the heart.

I grant, most freely, that every now and then one sees a person who seems
very loving and amiable, without any distinctive doctrinal religion. But
such cases are so rare and remarkable, that, like exceptions, they only prove
the truth of the general rule. And often, too often, it may be feared in
such cases the apparent love is only external, an in private completely
fails. I firmly believe, as a general rule, you will not find such love as
the Bible describes, except in the soil of a heart thoroughly endowed with
Bible religion. Holy practice will not flourish without sound doctrine.
What God has joined together it is useless to expect to have separate and
asunder.

The delusion which I am trying to combat is helped forward to a most
mischievous decree by the vast majority of novels, romances, and tales of
fiction. Who does not know that the heroes and heroines of these works are
constantly described as patterns of perfection? They are always doing the
right thing, saying the right thing, and showing the right disposition! They
are always kind, and amiable, and unselfish, and forgiving! And yet you
never hear a word about their religion! In short, to judge by the generality
of works of fiction, it is possible to have excellent practical religion
without doctrine, the fruits of the Spirit without the grace of the Spirit,
and the mind of Christ without union with Christ!

Here, in short, is the great danger of reading most novels, romances and
works of fiction. The greater of them give a false or incorrect view of
human nature. They paint their model men and women as they ought to be, and
not as they really are. The readers of such writings get their minds filled
with wrong conceptions of what the world is. Their notions of mankind become
visionary and unreal. They are constantly looking for men and women such as
they never meet, and expecting what they never find.

Let me entreat my readers, once for all, to draw their ideas of human nature
from the Bible, and not from novels. Settle it down in your mind, that there
cannot be true love without a heart renewed by grace. A certain degree of
kindness, courtesy, amiability, good nature, may undoubtedly be seen in many
who have no vital religion. But the glorious plant of Bible love, in all
its fullness and perfection, will never be found without union with Christ
and the work of the Holy Spirit. Teach this to your children, if you have
any. Hold it up in schools, if you are connected with any. Lift up love.
Make much of love. Give place to none in exalting the grace of kindness,
love, good nature, unselfishness, good temper. But never, never forget that
there is but one school in which these things can be thoroughly learned, and
that is the school of Christ. Real love comes down from above. True love is
the fruit of the Spirit. He that would have it must sit at Christ's feet and
learn of Him.

IV. Let me show, lastly, "why love is called the `greatest' of the graces."

The words of Paul, on this subject, are distinct and unmistakable. He winds
up his wonderful chapter on love in the following manner: "Now these three
remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love" (1
Corinthians 13:13).

This expression is very remarkable. Of all the writers in the New Testament,
none, certainly, exalts "faith" as highly as Paul. The Epistles to the
Romans and Galatians abound in sentences showing its vast importance. By it
the sinner lays hold of Christ and is saved. Through it we are justified,
and have peace with God. Yet here the same Paul speaks of something which is
even greater than faith. He puts before us the three leading Christian
graces, and pronounces the following judgment on them,--"The greatest is
love." Such a sentence from such a writer demands special attention. What
are we to understand when we hear of love being greater than faith and hope?

We are not to suppose for a moment, that love can atone for our sins, or make
our peace with God. Nothing can do that for us but the blood of Christ, and
nothing can give us an interest in Christ's blood but faith. It is
unscriptural ignorance not to know this. The office of justifying and
joining the soul to Christ belongs to faith alone. Our love, and all our
other graces, are all more or less imperfect, and could not stand the
severity of God's judgment. When we have done all, we are "unworthy
servants" (Like 17:10).

We are not to suppose that love can exist independently of faith. Paul did
not intend to set up one grace in rivalry to the other. He did not mean that
one man might have faith, another hope, and another love, and that the best
of these was the man who had love. The three graces are inseparably joined
together. Where there is faith, there will always be love; and where there
is love, there will be faith. Sun and light, fire and heat, ice and
cold, are not more intimately united than faith and love.

The reasons why love is called the greatest of the three graces, appear to me
plain and simple. Let me show what they are.

(a) Love is called the greatest of graces because it is the one in which
there is "some likeness between the believer and his God." God has no need
of faith. He is dependent on no one. There is none superior to Him in whom
He must trust.--God has no need of hope. To Him all things are certain,
whether past, present, or to come.--But "God is love:" and the more love His
people have, the more like they are to their Father in heaven.

(b) Love, for another thing, is called the greatest of the graces because
"it is most useful to others." Faith and hope, beyond doubt, however
precious, have special reference to a believer's own private individual
benefit. Faith unites the soul to Christ, brings peace with God, and opens
the way to heaven. Hope fills the soul with cheerful expectation of things
to come, and, amid the many discouragements of things seen, comforts with
visions of the things unseen. But love is preeminently the grace which makes
a man useful. It is the spring of good works and kindnesses. It is the root
of missions, schools, and hospitals. Love made apostles spend and be spent
for souls. Love raises up workers for Christ and keeps them working. Love
smooths quarrels, and stops strife, and in this sense "covers over a
multitude of sins" (1 Peter 4:8). Love adorns Christianity and recommends it
to the world. A man may have real faith, and feel it, and yet his faith may
be invisible to others. But a man's love cannot be hidden.

(c) Love, in the last place, is the greatest of the graces because it is the
one which "endures the longest." In fact, it will never die. Faith will one
day be swallowed up in sight, and hope in certainty. Their office will be
useless in the morning of the resurrection, and like old almanacs, they
will be laid aside. But love will live on through the endless ages of
eternity. Heaven will be the home of love. The inhabitants of heaven will
be full of love. One common feeling will be in all their hearts, and that
will be love.

I leave this part of my subject here and pass on to a conclusion. On each of
the three points of comparison I have just named, between love and the other
graces, it would be easy to enlarge. But time and space both forbid me to do
so. If I have said enough to guard men against mistakes about the right
meaning of the "greatness" of love, I am content. Love, be it ever
remembered, cannot justify and put away our sins. It is neither Christ, nor
faith. But love makes us somewhat like God. Love is of mighty use to the
world. Love will live and flourish when faith's work is done. Surely, in
these points of view, love well deserves the crown.

(1) And now let me ask every one into whose hands this paper may come a
simple question. Let me press home on your conscience the whole subject of
this paper. Do you know anything of the grace of which I have been speaking?
Have you love?

The strong language of the Apostle Paul must surely convince you that the
inquiry is not one that ought to be lightly put aside. The grace without
which that holy man could say, "I am nothing," the grace which the Lord Jesus
says expressly is the great mark of being His disciple,--such a grace as this
demands the serious consideration of every one who is in earnest about the
salvation of his soul. It should set him thinking,--"How does this affect
me? Do I have love?"

You have some knowledge, it may be, of religion. You know the difference
between true and false doctrine. You can, perhaps, even quote texts and
defend the opinions you hold. But, remember the knowledge which is barren of
practical results in life and temperament is a useless possession. The words
of the Apostle are very plain "If I fathom all mysteries and all knowledge,
but have not love, I am nothing" (1 Corinthians 13:3).

You think you have faith, perhaps. You trust you are one of God's elect, and
rest in that. But surely you should remember that there is a faith of
devils, which is utterly unprofitable, and that the faith of God's elect is a
"faith expressing itself through love." It was when Paul remembered the
"love" of the Thessalonians, as well as their faith and hope, that he said
"We know, that He has chosen you" (1 Thessalonians 1:4).

Look at your own daily life, both at home and away, and consider what place
the love of Scripture has in it. What is your temperament? What are your
ways of behaving toward all around you in your own family? What is your
manner of speaking, especially in seasons of irritation and provocation?
Where is your good-nature, your courtesy, your patience, your meekness,
your gentleness, your toleration? Where are your practical actions of love
in your dealing with others? What do you know of the mind of Him who "went
around doing good"--who loved everyone, though especially His disciples,--who
returned good for evil, and kindness for hatred, and had a heart wide enough
to feel for everyone?

What would you do in heaven, I wonder, if you got there without love? What
comfort could you have in a home where love was the law, and selfishness and
ill-nature completely shut out? Yes! I fear that heaven would be no place
for an unloving and ill-tempered man!--Note what a little boy said one day?"
If grandfather goes to heaven, I hope that I and my brother will not go
there." "Why do you say that?" he was asked. He replied, "If he sees us
there, I am sure he will say, as he does now,--"What are these boys doing
here? Let them get out of the way." He does not like to see us on earth,
and I suppose he would not like to see us in heaven."

Give yourself no rest till you know something by experience of real Christian
love. Go and learn of Him who is meek and lowly of heart, and ask Him to
teach you how to love. Ask the Lord Jesus to put His Spirit within you, to
take away the old heart, to give you a new nature, to make you know something
of His mind. Cry to Him night and day for grace, and give Him no rest until
you feel something of what I have been describing in this paper. Happy
indeed will your life be when you really understand "walking in love."

(2) But I do not forget that I am writing to some who are not ignorant of
the love of Scripture, and who long to feel more of it every year. I will
give you two simple words of exhortation. They are these,--"Practice and
teach the grace of love."

Practice love diligently. It is one of those graces, above all, which grow
by constant exercise. Strive more and more to carry it into every little
detail of daily life. Watch over your own tongue and temper throughout every
hour of the day,--and especially in your dealing with children and near
relatives. Remember the character of the excellent woman: "She speaks with
wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue" (Proverbs 31:26).
Remember the words of Paul: "Do everything in love" (1 Corinthians 16:14).
Love should be seen in little things as well as in great ones. Remember, not
least, the words of Peter: "Love each other deeply;" not a love which just
barely is a flame, but a burning, shining fire, which everyone around us can
see. (1 Peter 4:8) It may cost pains and trouble to keep these things in
mind. There may be little encouragement from the example of others. But
persevere. Love like this brings its own reward.

Finally, teach love to others. Press it above all on children, if you have
any. Remind them constantly that kindness, good nature, and good disposition
are among the first evidences which Christ requires in children. If they
cannot know much, or explain doctrines, they can understand love. A child's
religion is worth very little if it only consists in repeating texts and
hymns. Useful as they are, they are often learned without thought,
remembered without feeling, said over without consideration of their meaning,
and forgotten when childhood is gone. By all means let children be taught
texts and hymns; but let not such teaching be made everything in their
religion. Teach them to keep their tempers, to be kind to one another, to be
unselfish, good-natured, obliging, patient, gentle, forgiving. Tell them
never to forget to their dying day, if they live as long as Methuselah, that
without love the Holy Spirit says, "we are nothing." Tell them "over all
virtues to put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity"
(Colossians 3:14).






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