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35. Because He is good in this manner, He requires us to be good in the same manner. “He maketh his sun to rise on the evil, and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just, and on the unjust.” Matt. v. 45. Jesus rebuked men, who felt merely a partial love. The morality of such, in his sight, was low; it conformed to the meanest standards. “ If ye love them that love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same?” He desired to elevate them above a charity so selfish and partial. He bade them love all men; and to encourage them in so doing, he referred to the impartial love of God, and urged them to be “perfect, as their Father in Heaven is perfect.” The same sublime morality, inculcated by Moses and Jesus, was enforced by all the prophets and apostles: “Be ye followers of God, as dear children,” said Paul, “ and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us.” Eph. v. 1, 2. Although we allow the vast importance of faith and hope, yet of how much greater importance is charity! It is only by filling human hearts with charity, that God can be made to dwell with men on the earth. In this
He becomes their God, and they become His people.
How true is it, then, that charity is the greatest gift which God can bestow on man: “And now, (in this imperfect state) abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”
Third. Charity is more important than faith, or hope, in the same sense in which the fruit is more important than the tree upon which it grows. The man who plants an orchard, has a purpose in view; he desires a harvest of fruit. It is not mere trees that he desires to raise. A tree, in the orchard, that bears no fruit, is nothing worth. The orchardist will use his best power to encourage the tree to be fruitful; but if his efforts are in vain, he applies the axe to the root, and puts a tree in its place, that will not disappoint his hope. “A certain man had a fig-tree, planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought frụit thereon, and found none. Thus, he said unto the dresser of the vineyard, Behold these three years I came seeking fruit on this fig-tree, and find none; cut it down, why cumbereth it the ground ?” Luke xiii. 6, 7. This parable of our Lord was founded on common sense,
If a tree, of which fruit is expected, will not bear
fruit, it should be destroyed, and another should be put in its place.
Now, faith is like a tree. True faith is a living principle that bears fruit. It is like a grain of mustard-seed; it has a principle of growth. (Matt. xvii. 20.) It produces good fruit, if it be a proper faith. It works by love. Gal. v. 6. It produces
love, purity, sanctification, salvation, in the human heart. Paul was sent to the Gentiles, that they might“ receive an inheritance among them which are sanctified through faith that is in Christ.” Acts xxvi. 18. By the power of faith Christ lives in us. “ I am crucified with Christ," said Paul, “ nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Gal. ii. 20. Again, “By grace are we saved, through faith ; and that not of ourselves, it is the gift of God." Eph. ii. 8 Paul wished to have, not a mere dull, cold morality, but “a righteousness, which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.” Phil. iii. 9. Through faith, the Scriptures will make us wise unto salvation. (2 Tim. iii. 15.) Th
true end of our faith is the salvation of our souls," 1 Peter i. 9; and hence we are to “ add to faith, virtue, and to virtue, knowledge, and to knowledge, temperance, and to temperance, patience, and to patience, godliness, and to godliness, brotherly-kindness, and to brotherly-kindness, charity. For if these things be in you and abound, they make you, that ye shall be neither barren nor unfruitful, in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter i. 5-8. We see, then, that the sacred writers keep up the idea of faith as a living principle, that, if nourished, will increase more and more, in the human soul, and bear fruit. There are a class of Christians, who hear the word, and understand and receive it, and in them “it beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundred fold, some sixty, some thirty.” Matt. xiii. 22. Charity, or love, is the fruit of faith. “We are (said Paul) bound to thank God always, for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth.” 2 Thess. i. 3.
True faith, then, is the living principle, and
charity is the fruit. Is not the fruit of more importance than the mere tree? Faith, if it hathi not works, is dead, being alone.” James ii. 17. If a tree bear no fruit, it is worthless, it is as dead. The fruit which true faith will bear in our hearts, is well described by the Apostle: “ The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; against such there is no law.” Gal. v. 22, 23. This is the fruit; and what kind of a faith must we have to bear this fruit? What kind of seed shall we plant to bring forth the fruit of love? It must be the seed of love. Every seed produces its own kind. “Men do not gather grapes of thorns, nor figs of thistles.” If love is needful to abound in the human heart, it must be produced by shedding abroad the love of God there. Some preach wrath and vengeance as existing in God, and hope, by sowing such a kind of seed, to reap a harvest of love. But " whatsoever a man soweth, that, also, shall he reap.” Those who sow wrath shall reap wrath. An aged"minister, who had long preached Calvinism, said, on a certain occasion, to his people, that he