1 Corinthians 8:1


The discussions contained in this chapter relate to "things offered unto idols." Bear in mind that idolatry was not then simply a religious system, but a system immensely extended and covering a corresponding surface of political, social, and business interests. At all points it touched individuals and families, and was connected with feasts, entertainments, and etiquette. "Most public entertainments and many private meals were more or less remotely the accompaniments of sacrifice" (Stanley). How far might knowledge assert itself and put on independency? What was the true use of expediency? And what the offices of conscience? And to what extent must the strong be tender and considerate towards the weak? Two parties existed on this subject in Corinth: the one that rested on Christian liberty, and, believing that "an idol is nothing in the world," demonstrated its adhesion to this belief by buying and eating meats sacrificed to idols, and even went to the excess of attending the feasts "in the idol's temple;" the other party looked upon such conduct with abhorrence. If, now, Christianity had been a mere scheme of human thought, an elaborate philosophy, a poetic inspiration, it is obvious that no such earnest dispute could have arisen. If, again, St. Paul had contemplated the subject on the ground only of abstract and theoretical principles, following out the logic that "an idol is nothing," and claiming the full freedom guaranteed by the assumption, a very different chapter from this would have been written. But see how he approaches the matter. His first step is to check the liberalists, and he does it efficaciously, for he convicts them of pride and recklessness on the side of intellect. Intellect he does not condemn, but its wrong use. His condemnation is founded on the fact that the intellect arrogantly claims to be the mind, to be the equivalent of the man himself, and, consequently, shuts off the recognition of anything except knowledge. St. Paul's position at the outset is, "Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth." It is vigorously stated and is accompanied by evident impulse. The "knowledge" referred to is knowledge isolated from its rightful and essential associations, the knowledge of a truth, and yet without its checks and balances - an engine lacking safety valve and governor. No matter how valuable the knowledge may be in itself; call it insight, call it what you please; if it abuse itself in its use, it loses its worth. Selfishness vitiates its excellence, and makes it doubly harmful, pernicious to the possessor, and obstructive of benefit to him on whom it acts objectively. Men are prone to exaggerate knowledge as knowledge. They say, "Knowledge is power." So it is, but whether the power be for good or evil depends on the man behind the knowledge. Think of the intimate connection between the intellect and the body, and how much more it is affected thereby than other portions of the mind; think how tangled it often is in the nerves, and imprisoned in the cells of the brain, - and can you wonder at the distrust that wise men have of its functions, unless controlled, and that sternly, by principle and sentiment? What subtle poisons creep into the blood and thence into thought! A slight imprudence in eating, a bad dream last night, a household worry or a business vexation, disturbed breathing or accelerated heart action, and the intellect is warped and enfeebled. Do what we may to curtail the evils, infirmities cling to all its activities. Yet much may be done, and it is done in no other way than that suggested by the apostle. "Charity [love] edifieth [buildeth up]." By this he means that the heart must he under the influence of grace, and thus inspire the intellect so that it may be delivered from its selfishness and especially its self conceit. And so fully has Christianity indoctrinated all our best thinkers with this idea, that they have come to believe that wisdom is the conjoint product of right thought and true feeling. "If any man love God, the same is known of him," and the knowledge here predicated of God has a reflex agency on the man's knowledge. Instead of being "puffed up," instead of an inmoderate and unjustifiable use of his Christian freedom, instead of a vaunting display of his superiority to prejudice and ignorance, he is regardful of the scruples of others, and, while aware of the difference between them and himself, turns the difference to the account of humility and forbearance. The idol is nothing, but its nothingness is no reason for insensibility to the claims of weak brethren on his manly sympathies. For the great doctrine of "one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him," is so profoundly realized, that human brotherhood is its complement in his character and conduct. "One Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him," the Mediator of the natural universe, in whose sovereignty all laws and institutions and objects have their reason and end; the Mediator of the Spiritual universe, who has consummated the manifestation of humanity in the person and work of the Holy Ghost; - this Jesus of Nazareth, who is the Christ of God and Lord over all, has so embodied the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of humanity in his own incarnation and office, that henceforth the grandeur of the one is the strength and joy and glory of the other. St. Paul loses no opportunity to enforce this supreme truth. Does he argue in behalf of Christian liberty? Here is his basis. Does he plead for expediency? Here is his warrant. Does he harmonize them as coexisting and cooperating sentiments? They are mutually supporting because their possessor has the knowledge which comes from God in Christ. From this sublime height he is never long absent. Thitherward is he always tending, nor will he decide any question, whatever its bearings, with a judgment detached from the great truth Christ taught: "I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one." All, however, have not this knowledge. The insight of some is partial and confused, "whose Christian faith is not yet so emancipated from the religious convictions of their old heathen state, and who are still in the bonds of their former conscience, moulded by heathen ideas" (Dr. Kling). Having this "conscience of the idol," looking upon the idol as a reality, and forbidden by his conscience to eat the flesh offered to an idol, the "weak brother" is offended. The meat itself is a matter of indifference, nor are you the "better" or the "worse" for the mere act of eating. A grave question, however, lies at the back of the action. It concerns "this liberty of yours," and the spirit actuating your mind in doing this thing. "Take heed;" this liberty may degenerate into a haughty self valuation, may become a "stumbling block," and may induce the "weak brother" to imitate your example, and thus sacrifice his conscience under your influence. Though the conscience be weak, it is conscience; it is his; its authority over him is sacred; obey it he must. Worse than all, your conduct, taking effect upon him, may imperil the salvation of a man, "for whom Christ died." Enlighten his conscience all you can; hell) to make it truthful as well as sincere; hut, meantime, "take heed" lest sympathy and conventionality embolden him to err. "Weak" now, you will only weaken him the mere if your liberty mislead him. The only element in him out of which strength can grow is the conscience. Use your freedom so as to liberate, not to enslave, this highest authority in our nature. Use your knowledge to illuminate, not to darken, this divinest of all the organs personal to the soul, through which truth reaches the man. Use your Church relation to build up and not pull down your brother, that you may be a coworker with God and with his conscience in making him a "temple of the Holy Ghost." Then comes the utterance of great heartedness - the declaration that he will eat no such meat forever if it make his brother to offend. This was no sudden effervescence of sentimentality. It was genuine sentiment. It was organic to the man's nature. Impulse was strong because conscience was stronger. The current of feeling was no cataract leaping from a rocky bed into rocky depths, and dashing itself into foam, but a mighty river that could not become too full for its banks. - L.







How as touching things offered to idols.
1. The question about meats necessarily arose in a society partly heathen and partly Christian. Every meal was dedicated to the household gods by laying some portion of it on the family altar. On a birthday, a marriage, or a safe return from sea, &c., it was customary to sacrifice in some public temple. And after the legs of the victim, enclosed in fat, and the entrails had been burnt on the altar, the worshipper received the remainder, and invited iris friends to partake of it either in the temple itself, or in the surrounding grove, or at home. A convert might therefore naturally ask himself whether he was justified in conforming to this custom. Thus personal friendships and the harmony of family life were threatened; and on public occasions the Christian was in danger of branding himself as no good citizen, or by compliance of seeming unfaithful to Christ.

2. Apparently a good deal of ill-feeling had been engendered by the different views taken, as is always the case with morally indifferent matters. They do little harm if each holds his own opinion genially and endeavours to influence others in a friendly way. But in most instances it happens as in Corinth: those who saw that they could eat without contamination scorned those who had scruples; while the scrupulous judged the eaters to be worldly time-servers.

3. As a first step towards the settlement of this matter, Paul makes the largest concession to the party of liberty. Their clear perception that an idol was nothing in the world was sound and commendable. "But do not," says the apostle, "think that you have settled the question by reiterating that you are better instructed than your brethren. You must add love, consideration of your neighbour, to your knowledge." Men of ready insight into truth are prone to despise less enlightened spirits; but however such vaunt themselves as the men of progress and the hope of the Church, it is not by knowledge alone the Church can ever solidly grow. Knowledge does produce a puffing-up, an unhealthy, morbid, mushroom growth; but that which builds up the Church stone by stone, a strong, enduring edifice, is love. It is a good thing to have clear views of Christian liberty; but exercise it without love, and you become a poor inflated creature, puffed up with a noxious gas destructive of all higher life in yourself and in others.

4. It is easy to imagine how all this would be exemplified at a Corinthian table. Three Christians are invited to a party in the house of a heathen friend. One is weakly scrupulous, the others are men of ampler view and more enlightened conscience. As the meal goes on the weak brother discerns some mark Which identifies the meat as sacrificial, or, fearing it may be so, he inquires of the servant, and finds it has been offered in the temple, and at once says to his friends, "This has been offered to idols." One of them, knowing that heathen eyes are watching, and wishing to show how superior to all such scruples the enlightened Christian is, and how genial and free the religion of Christ is, smiles at his friend's scruples, and accepts the meat. The other, more generous and truly courageous, declines the dish, lest by leaving the scrupulous man without support he should tempt him to follow their example, contrary to his own conviction, and so lead him into sin. It need not be said which of these men conies nearest to the Christian principle of Paul.

5. In our own society similar cases necessarily arise. I, as a Christian man, and knowing that the earth and its fulness are the Lord's, may feel at perfect liberty to drink wine. But I must consider the effect my conduct will have on others. There may be some among my friends whose temptation lies that way, and whose conscience bids them refrain. If by my example such persons are encouraged to silence their conscience, then I incur the guilt of helping to destroy a brother for whom Christ died. Or again, a lad brought up in a Puritanic household has been taught, e.g., that the influence of the theatre is demoralising; but on entering the life of a great city he is soon brought in contact with some genuine Christians who visit the theatre without the slightest twinge of conscience. Now either of two things will probably happen. The young man's ideas of Christian liberty may become clearer; or being daunted by overpowering example and chafing under the raillery of his companions, may do as others do, though still uneasy in his own conscience. What is to he observed is that the emboldening of conscience is one thing, its enlightenment quite another. Constantly it happens that men who once shrank from certain practices now freely engage in them, and they will tell you that at first they felt as if they were stealing the indulgence, and that they had to drown the voice of conscience by the louder voice of example. The results of this are disastrous. Conscience is dethroned. The ship no longer obeys her helm, and lies in the trough of the sea swept by every wave and driven by every wind. It may indeed be said, What harm can come of persons less enlightened being emboldened to do as we do if what we do is right? The harm is this, that if the weak brother does a right thing while his conscience tells him it is wrong, to him it is wrong. "Whatsoever is not of faith is sin." Note two permanent lessons —

I. THE SACREDNESS OR SUPREMACY OF CONSCIENCE. "Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind." A man may possibly do a wrong thing when he obeys conscience; he is certainly wrong when he acts contrary to conscience. He may be helped to a decision by the advice of others, but it is his own decision by which he must abide. His conscience may not be as enlightened as it ought to be. Still his duty is to enlighten, not to violate, it. It is the guide God has given us, and we must not choose another.

II. THAT WE MUST EVER USE OUR CHRISTIAN LIBERTY WITH CHRISTIAN CONSIDERATION OF OTHERS. Love must mingle with all we do. There are many things which are lawful for Christian, but which are not compulsory or obligatory, and which he may refrain from doing on cause shown. Duties he must, of course, discharge, regardless of the effect his conduct may have on others. But where conscience says, not "You must," but only "You may," then we must consider the effect our using our liberty will have on others. We must forego our liberty to do this or that if by doing it we should shock a weak brother or encourage him to overstep his conscience. As the Arctic voyager who has been frozen up all winter does not seize the first opportunity to escape, but waits till his weaker companions gain strength enough to accompany him, so must the Christian accommodate himself to the weaknesses of others, lest by using his liberty he should injure him for whom Christ died.

(M. Dods, D. D.)

Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.
I. A PRIDE GENERATING KNOWLEDGE. "Knowledge puffeth up." One that is —

1. Merely intellectual. A stock of mental conceptions, concerning objects material or spiritual, referring to the creature or to the Creator. Now such knowledge tends to self-conceit.

2. Essentially superficial. The more superficial mere intellectual knowledge the stronger its tendency. The men who go farthest into the essence of things, take the widest view of the domain of knowledge, will be the least disposed to self-elation.

II. A MAN-EDIFYING KNOWLEDGE.

1. "Charity," or love to God, is the true knowledge. Love is the life and soul of all true science. Love is the root of the universe, and you must have love rightly to interpret love.

2. This true knowledge builds up the soul; not as a house is built up, by putting dead stones and timber together, but as the oak is built up, by the appropriating force of its own life, compelling nature to deepen its roots, extend its bulk, multiply its branches, and push it higher towards the heavens.

3. This true knowledge insures the approval of God (ver. 3). In the last day, Christ will say to those who have not this love, "I never knew" — i.e., approved of — "you." This love for God in the heart converts the tree of intellectual knowledge into the tree of life.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

A great controversy is going on in the matter of education. One partly extols the value of instruction, the other insists that secular education without religion is worse than useless: Paul spoke of both as secular and worthless without love. That knowledge which he treated so slightingly was —

I. KNOWLEDGE WITHOUT HUMILITY. It is not so much what is known as the spirit in which it is acquired which makes the difference between secular and Christian knowledge (ver. 2). The greatest of modern philosophers and historians, Humboldt and Niebuhr, were both eminently humble men. So, too, you will find that real talent among mechanics is generally united to great humility. Whereas those puffed up by knowledge are those who have a few religious maxims and shallow doctrines. There are two ways therefore of knowing. One is that of the man who loves to calculate how far he is advanced beyond others; the other, that of the man who feels how infinite knowledge is, and how little he knows.

II. LIBERTY WITHOUT REVERENCE. The men whom the apostle rebukes were free from many superstitions. An idol, they said, was nothing in the world. But it is not merely freedom from superstition which is worship of God, but loving dependence on Him; the surrender of self. "If any man love God, the same is known of Him," i.e., God acknowledges the likeness of spirit. There is much of the spirit of these Corinthians now. Men throw off what they call the trammels of superstitions, and then call themselves free: they think it grand thing to reverence nothing. This is not high knowledge. It is a great thing to be free from mental slavery, but suppose you are still a slave to your passions? From bonds of the spirit Christianity has freed us, but it has bound us to God (vers. 5, 6). The true freedom from superstition is free service to religion: the real emancipation from false gods is reverence for the true God. And not merely is this the only real knowledge, but no other knowledge "buildeth up" the soul. "He that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow." Separate from love, the more we know, the profounder the mystery of life, and the more dreary existence becomes. I can conceive no dying hour more awful than that of one who has aspired to know instead of to love, and finds himself at last amidst a world of barren facts and lifeless theories.

III. COMPREHENSION WITHOUT LOVE TO MAN. These Corinthians had got a most clear conception of what Christianity was (vers. 4-6). "Well," said the apostle, "and what signifies your profession of that, if you look down with supreme contempt on your ignorant brothers, who cannot reach to these sublime contemplations?" Knowledge such as this is not advance, but retrogression. How immeasurably superior in the sight of God is some benighted Romanist who has gone about doing good, or some ignorant, narrow religionist who has sacrificed time and property to Christ, to the most correct theologian in whose heart there is no love for his fellow-men. Breadth of view is not breadth of heart; the substance of Christianity is love to God and man. Hence it is a precious fact that St. Paul, the apostle of liberty, whose burning intellect expounded the whole philosophy of Christianity, should have been the one to say that knowledge is nothing compared to charity, nay, worse than nothing without it: should have been the one to declare that "knowledge shall vanish away, but love never faileth."

(F. W. Robertson, M. A.)

No person ever entertained a higher idea of true wisdom than St. Paul, but he saw that learning makes not the man of God perfect, and that the complete scholar may fall short at last of the kingdom of heaven. He saw that spiritual, like bodily wealth, unless used for the benefit of others, would prove no blessing to its owner. And therefore, that the wise man might not glory in his wisdom, the apostle determines that, not only human learning, but the knowledge of all prophecies and mysteries, will profit nothing if charity be not superadded.

I. KNOWLEDGE WITHOUT CHARITY ENDETH IN PRIDE.

1. It produces an inflation in the mind, which, like a tumour in the body, carries the appearance of solidity, but has in reality nothing within, and only indicates a distempered habit. And, indeed, knowledge, as well as faith, if it be alone, is vain — it is dead. For all knowledge is given as a means to some end. The means, abstracted from their end, cease to be means, and answer no purpose whatsoever. The end of knowledge is action (John 13:17). Every article of the creed involves in it a correspondent duty, and it is practice alone that gives life to faith and realises knowledge. "The manifestation of the Spirit (as that Spirit Himself testifies) is given to every man to profit withal." Otherwise it is of no effect, and the man becomes "a cloud without water"; raised aloft it sails before the wind, proudly swelling in the sufficiency of its own emptiness, instead of dropping plenty on the lands over which it passes.

2. Consider the instances of this truth.(1) Ascend into heaven and there view the glories that once encircled Lucifer (cf. Ezekiel 28:12). He saw, he knew; but he loved not, and through pride he fell. A proof, to the learned of all ages, that knowledge without charity will turn a good angel into an evil one.(2) Yet this has all along been the fatal mistake, and the tree of knowledge still proved the occasion of a fall. Knowledge wrought destruction by pride. "The serpent," says Eve, "beguiled me"; lit., elated, puffed me up. All the fruits of error and vice have sprung from the same root of bitterness.(3) Take the case of the Gentiles (Romans 1:21). Lack of knowledge was not their original fault; "they knew God." But knowledge in the understanding for want of charity in the heart did not operate to a holy obedience. "When they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful."(4) Turn to the Jew. "Having the form of knowledge, and of the truth in the law." Yet knowledge puffed him up; his privileges became an occasion of boasting himself against his brethren, and envy ate out his charity. "Going about to establish his own righteousness" upon the strength of his own wisdom, he rejected the Lord his righteousness, and nailed Him, who is the source of wisdom, to the Cross.(5) When the distinction of Jew and Gentile ceased, and one Church comprehended all believers, knowledge puffed men up into heretics and schismatics. Pride made them rather choose to see themselves exalted at the head of a faction, than the Church edified by their labours in an inferior station. This was the case in the Church of Corinth, and has been the cause of every heresy and schism since.

II. CHARITY DIRECTETH KNOWLEDGE TO ITS RIGHT END — the edification of the Church. This will be seen in some instances the reverse of the foregoing.

1. If we ascend a second time into heaven, we shall find that the principle which triumphed over the proud knowledge of Lucifer was the wisdom of God actuated by love. In our redemption, wisdom contrived, power executed, but love set all to work, and perfected and crowned the whole.

2. To reverse the sad effects of a vain thirst after knowledge in our first parent, Divine love became incarnate. All that He did and suffered was because He loved us. Because man, by the temptation of knowledge, was seduced to infidelity and disobedience, He encountered and overcame the tempter by the Word of God, and by love keeping the commandments. The treasures of wisdom and knowledge in Him were not suffered to rust and canker, locked up from the public by a supercilious reservedness, but out of them He continually dispersed abroad, and gave to the poor in spirit. On the Cross love regained what pride had lost, and the wound made in our nature by the fruit of the tree of knowledge was healed by the leaves of the tree of life.

3. To combat the vain wisdom of the Greek, and the self-justifying arrogance of the Jew, the apostles were sent forth. The strongholds of false knowledge could not stand before the gospel. Blasted by the lightning of inspired eloquence, the arm of false philosophy withered and lost all its holds on the minds of men. "The Roman empire wondered to see itself Christian; to see the Cross exalted in triumph over the globe, and the kingdoms of this world become the kingdom of our Lord and His Christ. But what was it that gained this victory over the pride of earth and hell? What, but the same all-suffering, and, therefore, all-subduing charity which taught the disciples of a crucified Jesus, after His example, to endure all things for the salvation of their brethren?

4. If we view the unity of a primitive church, as opposed to the sad divisions and distractions since produced by heresy and schism, it will appear that charity built up that solid and durable edifice. As at its formation, the Spirit descended upon the disciples, when "they were all with one accord in one place," so, in like manner, after more were added to them, it is remarked that "the multitude of the believers were of one heart and one mind." The spirit of unity knit all the members together, insomuch that if one member suffered the rest sympathised with it, And thus they "grew up into Him in all things, even Christ... made increase of the body to the edifying itself in love."

(Bp. Horne.)

I. KNOWLEDGE PUFFETH UP.

1. This applies to all knowledge, whether human or Divine, when unaccompanied with love to God.

2. Its effect is —(1) To inflate men's notions of the powers of human reason and the importance of human knowledge.(2) To encourage self-confidence and conceit.

3. The reason —(1) Knowledge without faith acts upon the intellect, but leaves the heart untouched.

II. LOVE EDIFIETH.

1. Love —

(1)Depends on faith.

(2)Implies confidence, submission, obedience, sacrifice.

2. Its effect. It edifies —

(1)By strengthening the understanding and the will.

(2)By building up the moral character.

(3)By elevating the spirit.

(4)By bringing man into direct communion with God.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

This knowledge is not secular as distinguished from Divine and theological, but knowledge of Divine things without love — knowledge by itself as distinguished from the knowledge of Divine things with love. The same contrast is drawn out more at length in chap. 1 Corinthians 13.; but as there he is led to speak of it chiefly by insisting on the superiority of active usefulness to spiritual ecstasies, so here he is led to speak of it by insisting on the superiority of that love which shows a regard for the consciences of others, over that knowledge which rests satisfied in its own enlightened insight into the folly of human superstition. Knowledge such as this may indeed expand the mind, but it is a mere inflation, as of a bubble, which bursts and vanishes away. Love alone succeeds in building up an edifice tier above tier, solid alike in superstructure and in basis, so as to last for ever.

(Dean Stanley.)

I. THEY ARE BOTH EXCELLENT.

1. The pupil of Gamaliel would have been the last to speak slightingly of real knowledge. How much has knowledge accomplished in the world! Ignorance is a fool's paradise; knowledge is power.

2. And how excellent is love. How dull and sad and more prolific in crime the world would be without it! One's only regret is that there is so little of it. Herein heaven and earth contrast. The triumphs of knowledge are great, but greater are the victories of love.

II. THEY ARE COMPLEMENTARY.

1. Knowledge without love leads to —

(1)Pride.

(2)Intolerance.

(3)Selfishness.

(4)Injury to others.

(5)Many blunders in thought, feeling, and action.

2. Love without knowledge leads to moral catastrophe. Knowledge is necessary to determine within what limits we may rightly act; love determines what within the limits of the" lawful "we should choose.

3. Knowledge and love united lead to that more perfect, penetrating, true practical knowledge, the opposite of that described in ver. 2. E.g., a man may know God as God — have some conception of the Divine attributes, &c., but when he loves God his knowledge makes incalculable strides.

(W. E. Hurndall, M. A.)

These beautiful words are introduced into a discussion which has long ceased to have any practical interest. In pagan Corinth the banquet and the sacrifice were part of the same proceeding. The animal was slain and offered to the gods. Then the priest claimed his part, and the rest was taken home and used in providing a feast. To these feasts the pagans invited their friends, and some of these friends might be Christians. The question was, Could they conscientiously go? Some, the most simple, honest, earnest souls, said, No. It was recognising idolatry, it was disloyalty to Christ; or, to say the best of it that could be said, it was going into evil associations and temptation. Others who prided themselves on their superior knowledge laughed at these scruples. We know, they said, that there are no gods except One. The offering of the sacrifice to them is an empty farce. The meat has not been polluted at all. We have discernment enough to share in the feast without recognising the occasion of it. We can rejoice with these pagans, and at the same time smile at their superstitions. It is only weak, ignorant natures that will hold aloof from these harmless enjoyments through the fear of being drawn into sin. The pride of knowledge and its accompanying disdain and want of consideration towards their less-instructed brethren were their distinguishing features. Knowledge puffeth up, charity edifieth. Knowledge passeth away, charity abides for ever. Knowledge sees through coloured glass darkly, love sees face to face. Knowledge may be greatest in devils, love makes angels and saints. Knowledge is temporal and earthly, ever changing with the fashions of earth; love is God-like, heavenly, immortal, enduring like the mercy of the Lord for ever. Now, if any other of the apostles had written in this way about knowledge, men would have been found ready to quote against him the old fable of AEsop about the grapes. Untutored peasants and fishermen lifting up their voices in disparagement of knowledge would have furnished the intellectual scorner with a convenient sarcasm. Ah, yes, these men were ignorant! Knowledge was beyond their reach, and therefore they depreciated it. Singularly enough, however, it is St. Paul, the one learned man in the apostolic band, who talks in this way. Never once did those unlearned fishermen, Peter, James, and John, write slightingly of knowledge. That was left to Paul, the scholarly man. Had not his own learning made him a hard, haughty, cruel Pharisee, shutting out the vision of God, hiding from him the beauty of Jesus Christ, filling him with violent prejudice and hatred against all men save those of his own class? With all his knowledge, he had been blind to whatsoever things were lovely, and just, and reverent, and Divine. He had reason, indeed, to write, Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth. Knowledge puffeth up. Yes, from the raw schoolgirl to the man of greatest literary attainments, this is the effect of knowledge when it is found without the warm and generous and tender emotions of the heart. There is the young man with his smattering of literary attainments, with little more than an outward daub of culture. He has little reason to be proud; not a bit of that knowledge of which he makes his boast has been his own discovering. It has been drilled into him by patient, painstaking teachers. There is no more reason to be proud of knowledge received from another person than there is for a beggar to be proud of receiving alms. How wise he thinks himself in dealing with religious things, in measuring the preacher, in criticising the Bible, in disposing of questions of faith, in setting down the old-fashioned people who in their simple ignorance have been content to believe all that has been taught them! You see it in literary circles, and in the utterances of the scientist. How conspicuous by its absence is the grace of humility! Because they know something more about letters, and words, and cells, and germs, and rocks, and chemical elements than other people, they write and talk as if their judgments on all subjects were to be received ex cathedra as authoritative and unquestionable. Their word on all the great subjects of morality, faith, inspiration, the Bible, God, is to be deemed final and conclusive. They write as if all men were fools who dare to dispute their conclusions. Yet there is more genius, insight, and real vision in one of David's psalms than there is in all the books they have written. An artist or a poet who has none of their knowledge will see more of beauty and glory and reality in a moment than they would see in a thousand years. We are always boasting that knowledge is power, that knowledge has enriched the world, that knowledge has done wonderful things for humanity. It is the idlest of delusions. Knowledge by itself has done very little. Even the greatest material inventions have come through men who had rather the swift insight of genius than the lore of the schools. They were not knowing men who gave us the railway, the steam-engine, the telegraph. Still less were they knowing men who enriched the world with the sweetest poems, with the noblest pictures, with the most charming stories. Titian, and Raphael, and Shakespeare, and Bunyan, and Burns, and Thomas a Kempis, not to speak of Homer, and David, and Isaiah, and the evangelists, and the fishermen, Peter and John — from these men, who had less knowledge on most things than any undergraduate of the present day, we have inherited the wisdom and the immortal thoughts and words which are beyond all wealth. They were men with great hearts, seeing things with the keen, clear eyes of love, rather than men whose heads had gathered a large stock of culture. Heart rather than head has given to humanity its noble inheritance; love rather than knowledge. Think of the martyrs, the reformers, the defenders of liberty, the philanthropists, the missionaries. And who are doing the best work in the world now? — its purifying, saving, uplifting work? Not the men who call themselves the cultured class. No; knowledge for the most part sits in judgment on the work of others, criticises, and sneers; while love goes on its way, its loins girded for service with quenchless faith in God, and hope which nothing can discourage. It is love, not knowledge, that carries light and sweetness and health into the dark, foul places of city life; it is love, not knowledge, that generates all the power of sweet activities. In the highest kind of knowledge what the world calls knowledge breaks down utterly. What can mere intellect know about God ? His greatness infinitely transcends the grasp of the most cultured mind. Before His wisdom the profoundest reaches of the human intellect are folly. Yes, it is to the pure, gentle, tender heart that God tells His secrets. You can hardly prove the simple fact of God's existence, still less the supremely good, loving, and tender character of God, except to those whose hearts by their very likeness to Him beget their own witness of Him. His own love helps him to grasp the love Divine. So with immortality. All the knowledge of Butler and Plato could not prove it. Men who are only wise in the things of nature never find it there. But when the heart of man has found by experience the measureless power of its own love, found out what a human soul is capable of in long-suffering, patience, self-forgetfulness — how great, how even infinite the soul is in the power of loving — then the proof comes. God could not have made the soul thus and not made it immortal. And the loving heart, too, understands the mystery of sorrow and pain as the head does not and never can. The heart which loves God, and feels His love, knows that beyond all the sorrows and the darkness there is brightness and joy. So give me love and not know. ledge, for knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.

(J. G. Greenhough, M. A.)

Think of love —

I. AS THE ESSENTIAL SPIRIT OF ALL OTHER GRACES. It is the life, beauty, strength, very soul of them all. Consider its position in the circle of the Divine attributes. Truth, justice, purity, &c., are perfections of the Divine character; but "God is love." A similar position does love occupy in the ideal character of His true children.

II. AS THE BOND OF CHRISTIAN UNITY. Keenness of spiritual insight, zeal for truth, fidelity to conscience, may of themselves have a separating effect; but love draws and cements men together in a real fellowship. Differences in opinion, &c., become of comparatively small account.

III. AS AN INCENTIVE TO CHRISTIAN ACTIVITY. "Love is the fulfilling of the law," the end of the commandment. Get your soul filled with love, and you will never want for an effectual motive to all noble living. As the materials of the building arrange themselves and rise into their finished form in obedience to the thought and will of the architect; as the notes fall, as if by an instinct of their own, into their due place according to the inspiration of the musician; as the words flow in rhythmic cadence in answer to the mood of the poet's genius; as the grass, flowers, and corn grow by the spontaneous energy of the creative and formative mind that animates them all — so will you rear for yourself the structure of a beautiful and useful Christian life, if your heart is filled with love.

IV. AS THE MIGHTIEST OF ALL INSTRUMENTS OF BLESSING TO OTHERS. By the sweet constraint of His love Christ wins the heart of those for whom He died. By the almightiness of His love He will ultimately conquer the world and build up that glorious temple to His praise — a redeemed humanity. Let His love be the inspiration of our life, and we wield a moral force akin to His and share His triumph.

(J. Waits, B. A.)

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