By Hugh Binning
Now to complete the account of the eminence of this grace, take the remarkable chapter of Paul’s, 1st Corinthians 13., where he uses the comparison between it and other graces, and in the end pronounces on its behalf, “the greatest of these is love.” I wonder how we please ourselves, as if we had already attained already, when we do not even labor to be acquainted with this, in which the life of Christianity consists, without which faith is dead, our profession vain, our other duties and endeavors for the truth unacceptable to God and men. “Yet I show you a more excellent way,” says he in the end of the previous chapter. And this is the more excellent way, charity and love, more excellent than gifts, speaking with tongues, prophesying, and so on. And is it not more excellent than the knowledge and acknowledgment of some present questionable matters, about governments, treaties, and such like, and far more important than every minor detail of them?
But he goes higher. Suppose a man could spend everything he has upon the maintaining of such an opinion, and give his life for the defense of it, though this in itself is commendable, yet if he lack charity and love to his brothers, if he overstretch that point of conscience to the breach of Christian affection, and duties flowing from it, it profits him nothing. Then certainly charity must rule over external actions, and have the predominant hand in the use of all gifts, in the expressing of all opinions. Whatever knowledge and ability a man has, love must employ it, and use it. Without this, duties and graces make a noise, but they are shallow and empty within.
Excerpt from The Works of Rev. Hugh Binning, Kindle Edition, Loc. 16448 [Language modernized in few places by this site]