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Paul still alludes to miraculous endowments. Prophecy, in the Scripture use of the term, is not limited to the foretelling of future events, but means, to speak by inspiration of God; and its exercise, in this instance, refers to the power of explaining, without premeditation or mistake, the typical and predictive parts of the Old Testament dispensation, together with the facts and doctrines of the Christian economy. "The faith that could remove mountains," is an allusion to an expression of our Lord's, which occurs in the Gospel history. "Verily
say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove.' This faith is of a distinct nature altogether from that by which men are justified, and become the children of God. It has been called the faith of miracles, and seems to have consisted in a firm persuasion of the power or ability of God to do any miraculous thing for the support of the Gospel. It operated two ways: the first was a belief on the part of the person who wrought the miracle, that he was the subject of a divine impulse, and called at that time to perform such an act; and the other was a belief on the part of the person on whom a miracle was about to be performed, that such an effect would be really produced. Now the Apostle declared, that although
man had been gifted with prophecy, so as to explain the deepest mysteries of the Jewish or the Christian systems, and, in addition, possessed that miraculous faith by which the most difficult and
*Matthew xvii. 20.
astonishing changes would have been effected,-he was nothing, and less than nothing, without love.
"And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not CHARITY, it profiteth me nothing.”—Verse 3.
This representation of the indispensable necessity of love is most striking; it supposes it possible that a man may distribute all his substance in acts of apparent beneficence, and yet, after all, be without true religion. Actions derive their moral character from the motives under the influence of which they are performed; and many which are beneficial to man, may still be sinful in the sight of God, because they are not done from a right inducement. The most diffusive liberality, if prompted by pride, vanity, or self-righteousness, is of no value in the eyes of the omniscient Jehovah; on the contrary, it is very sinful. And is it not too evident to be questioned, that many of the alms-deeds of which we are the witnesses, are done from any motives but the right ones? We can readily imagine that multitudes are lavish in their pecuniary contributions, who are at the same time totally destitute of love to God and love to man; and if destitute of these sacred virtues, they are, as it respects real religion, less than nothing, although they should spend every farthing of their property in relieving the wants of the poor. If our munificence, however great or self-denying, be the operation of mere selfish regard to ourselves, to our own reputation, or to our own safety, and not of pure love, it may do good to others, but will do none to ourselves. "And though I give my body to be burned," i. e. as a
martyr for religion, " and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing." Whether such a case as this ever existed, we know not; it is not impossible, nor improbable but if it did, not the tortures of an agonizing death, nor the courage that endured them, nor the seeming zeal for religion which led to them, would be accepted in lieu of love to man. Such an instance of self-devotedness must have been the result either of that self-righteousness which substitutes its own sufferings for those of Christ, or of that love of fame which scruples not to seek it even in the fires of martyrdom ;-in either case it partakes not of the nature, nor will receive the reward, of true religion. It will help to convince us, not only of the necessity, but of the importance, of this temper of mind, if we bring into a narrow compass the many and various representations of it which are to be found in the New Testament.
1. It is the object of the Divine decree in predestination. According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love."Ephes. i. 4.
2. It is the end and purpose of the moral law. "The end of the commandment is charity (love)." "Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto itThou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets."-Matt. xxii. 37-40. "Love is the fulfilling of the law."
3. It is the evidence of regeneration. "Love is of God, and every one that loveth is born of God."-1 John iv. 7.
4. It is the necessary operation and effect of saving faith. "For in Christ Jesus neither cir cumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love."
5. It is that grace by which both personal and mutual edification is promoted. " Knowledge puffeth up, but charity (love) edifieth."-1 Cor. viii. 1. "Maketh increase of the body to the edifying of itself in love."-Eph. iv. 16.
6. It is the proof of a mutual inhabitation between God and his people. "If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him."-1 John iv. 12-16.
7. It is declared to be the greatest of all the Christian virtues. "The greatest of these is charity (love)."
8. It is represented as the perfection of religion. "Above all these things, put on charity (love), which is the bond of perfectness."-Col. iii. 4.
What encomiums are these! what striking proofs of the supreme importance of the disposition now under consideration! Who has not been guilty of some neglect of it? Who has not had his attention drawn too much from it? Who can read these passages of Holy Writ, and not feel convinced
that not only mankind in general, but the professors of spiritual religion also, have too much mistaken the nature of true piety? What are clear and orthodox views-what are strong feelings-what is our faith-what our enjoyment-what our freedom from gross immorality,-without this spirit of pure and universal benevolence?
Whether an instance, we again repeat, ever existed of an individual whose circumstances answered to the supposition of the Apostle, we cannot determine; the statement certainly suggests to us a most alarming idea of our liability to self-deception in reference to our personal religion. Delusion on this subject prevails to an extent truly appalling. Millions are in error as to the real condition of their souls, and are travelling to perdition, while, according to their own idea, they are journeying to the celestial Canaan. Oh fearful mistake! Oh fatal imposture! What terrible disappointment awaits them! What horror, and anguish, and despair, will take eternal possession of their souls, in that moment of revelation, when, instead of awaking from the sleep of death amidst the glories of the heavenly city, they shall lift up their eyes, "being in torment." No pen can describe the overwhelming anguish of such a disappointment, and the imagination shrinks with amazement and torture from the contemplation of her own faint sketch of the insupportable scene.
To be led on by the power of delusion, so far as to commit an error of consequence to our temporal interests; to have impaired our health, our reputation, or our property;-is sufficiently painful, especially where there is no prospect, or but a faint one,