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Greatest Thing In The World -by Henry Drummond
Greatest Thing In The World
one has asked himself the great question of antiquity as
of the modern world: What is the summum bonum--the
supreme good? You have life before you. Once only you can
live it. What is the noblest object of desire, the supreme
gift to covet?
We have been accustomed to
be told that the greatest thing in the religious world is
Faith. That great word has been the key-note for centuries
of the popular religion; and we have easily learned to look
upon it as the greatest thing in the world. Well, we are
wrong. If we have been told that, we may miss the mark.
I have taken you, in the chapter which I have just read,
to Christianity at its source; and there we have seen, "The
greatest of these is love." It is not an oversight.
Paul was speaking of faith just a moment before. He says,
"If I have all faith, so that I can remove mountains,
and have not love, I am nothing. "So far from forgetting,
he deliberately contrasts them, "Now abideth Faith,
Hope, Love," and without a moment's hesitation, the
decision falls, "The greatest of these is Love."
And it is not prejudice. A
man is apt to recommend to others his own strong point.
Love was not Paul's strong point. The observing student
can detect a beautiful tenderness growing and ripening all
through his character as Paul gets old; but the hand that
wrote, "The greatest of these is love," when we
meet it first, is stained with blood.
Nor is this letter to the
Corinthians peculiar in singling out love as the summum
bonum. The masterpieces of Christianity are agreed about
it. Peter says, "Above all things have fervent love
among yourselves." Above all things. And John
goes farther, "God is love." And you remember
the profound remark which Paul makes elsewhere, "Love
is the fulfilling of the law." Did you ever think what
he meant by that? In those days men were working their passage
to Heaven by keeping the Ten Commandments, and the hundred
and ten other commandments which they had manufactured out
of them. Christ said, I will show you a more simple way.
If you do one thing, you will do these hundred and ten things,
without ever thinking about them. If you love, you will
unconsciously fulfil the whole law. And you can readily
see for yourselves how that must be so. Take any of the
commandments. "Thou shalt have no other gods before
Me." If a man love God, you will not require to tell
him that. Love is the fulfilling of that law. "Take
not His name in vain." Would he ever dream of taking
His name in vain if he loved Him? "Remember the Sabbath
day to keep it holy." Would he not be too glad to have
one day in seven to dedicate more exclusively to the object
of his affection? Love would fulfil all these laws regarding
God. And so, if he loved Man, you would never think of telling
him to honour his father and mother. He could not do anything
else. It would be preposterous to tell him not to kill.
You could only insult him if you suggested that he should
not steal -.how could he steal from those he loved? It would
be superfluous to beg him not to bear false witness against
his neighbour. If he loved him it would be the last thing
he would do. And you would never dream of urging him not
to covet what his neighbours had. He would rather they possessed
it than himself. In this way "Love is the fulfilling
of the law." It is the rule for fulfilling all rules,
the new commandment for keeping all the old commandments,
Christ's one secret of the Christian life.
Now Paul had learned that;
and in this noble eulogy he has given us the most wonderful
and original account extant of the summum bonum.
We may divide it into three parts. In the beginning of the
short chapter, we have Love contrasted; in the heart
of it, we have Love analysed; towards the end we
have Love defended as the supreme gift.