Love: the Sum of All Virtue
1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.…

I. THE NATURE OF A TRULY CHRISTIAN LOVE. All true Christian love is one and the same in its principle, whatever the objects toward which it may flow.

1. It is all from the same Spirit influencing the heart. The Spirit of God is a Spirit of love, and when He enters the soul love also enters (Romans 15:30; Colossians 1:8; Philippians 2:1; Romans 5:5; 1 John 3:23, 24. 4:12, 13). 2, It is from the same motives. Both are loved for God's sake.


1. From what reason teaches of the nature of love.

(1) Love will dispose to all proper acts of respect to both God and man.

(a)  Love to God will dispose a man to honour, worship, obey, put confidence in, submit to, and walk humbly with Him.

(b)  Love to man disposes men to all duties towards their neighbours (Romans 13:10).

(2) Whatever performances or seeming virtues there are without love are unsound and hypocritical. If there be no love in what men do, then there is no true respect to God or men in their conduct; and if so, then certainly there is no sincerity.

2. From what the Scriptures teach us.

(1) Of the law and word of God in general (Romans 13:8; 1 Timothy 1:5; Matthew 22:40).

(2) Of each table of the law in particular (Matthew 22:38; Romans 13:9; Galatians 5:14; James 2:8).

3. From what the apostle teaches us viz., that "faith works by love" (Galatians 5:6). By this it is evident —

(1) That true love is an ingredient in true and living faith, and is what is most essential and distinguishing in it. A practical or saving faith is light and heat together, while that which is only a speculative faith is light only.

(2) That all Christian exercises of the heart and works of the life are from love; for we are abundantly taught in the New Testament that all Christian holiness begins with faith in Jesus Christ.Conclusion: We may use this subject in the way of —

1. Self-examination. From love to God springs love to man (1 John 5:1). Have we this love to the children of God? This love leads those who possess it to desire and endeavour to do good to their fellow-men (1 John 3:16-19). Is this spirit, which dwelt in Jesus Christ, in our hearts and lives?

2. Instruction. This doctrine shows us —

(1) What is the right Christian spirit (Luke 9:55). This may, by way of eminence, be called the Christian spirit; for it is much more insisted on in the New Testament than anything else.

(2) What is real Christian experience? Love is the sum and substance of it. When persons experience true comfort and spiritual joy, their joy is the joy of faith and love.

(3) The amiableness of a Christian spirit.

(4) The pleasantness of a Christian life (Proverbs 3:13-17).

(5) The reason why contention tends so much to the ruin of religion (James 3:16).

(6) What a watch and guard should Christians keep against envy and bitterness of spirit! For these things are the very reverse of the real essence of Christianity.

(7) Hence it is no wonder that Christianity so strongly requires us to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44).

3. Exhortation. To seek a spirit of love; to grow in it more and more; and very much to abound in the works of love.

(Jonathan Edwards)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

WEB: If I speak with the languages of men and of angels, but don't have love, I have become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal.

Love: the Life of the Soul
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