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Mornings In The College Chapel by Francis Greenwood Peabody


1 Corinthians xii.31.

The wonderful chapter which follows this verse becomes still more interesting when one considers its connection with the preceding passage. Paul has been looking over the life of his Christian brethren, and he sees in it a great variety of callings. Some of his friends are preachers, -- apostles and prophets, as he calls them. Some are teachers, some are doctors, with gifts of healing; some are politicians, with gifts of government. The apostle speaks to them as though he were advising young men as to the choice of their profession, and he says: |Among all these professional opportunities covet the best; take that which most fills out and satisfies your life.| But then he turns from these professional capacities and adds: |Be sure that these gifts do not crowd out of your life the higher capacity for sympathy. For you may understand all knowledge and speak with all tongues, and if you have lost thereby {179} the personal, human, sympathetic relation with people which we call love you are not really to be counted as a man. You are nothing more than an instrument of sound, a wind instrument like a trumpet, or a clanging instrument like a cymbal.| That is the apostolic warning to the successful professional man, -- the warning against the narrowing, self-contented result which sometimes taints even great attainments and professional distinction. Covet the best. Be satisfied with nothing less than the highest professional work of doctor, politician, or teacher. But beware of the imprisoning effect which sometimes comes of this very success in professional life, the atrophy of sensibility, the increasing incapacity for sympathy, for public spirit, for charity, -- an incapacity which makes some men of the highest endowments among the least serviceable, least loving, and least loved of a community. |If,| says the apostle, |in the gain of professional success you lose the higher gift of love, you are no longer a great man; you are not even to be described as a small man. You are 'nothing.'|

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