By Hugh Binning
“Love never fails.” This is the last note of commendation. Things have their excellency from their use and from their continuance; both are here. Nothing so useful, no such friend of human or Christian society as love, the benefits of it reaches all things. And then, it is most permanent and durable. When all will go, it will remain. When ordinances, and knowledge attained by means of ordinances, vanish, love will abide, and then receive its completion. Faith of things not evident and obscure will be drowned in the vision of seeing God’s face clearly. Hope of things to come will be exhausted in the possession and fruition of them. But love only remains in its own nature and notion, only it is perfected by the addition of so many degrees as may suit that blessed state.
Therefore I think it should be the study of all saints who believe immortality, and hope for eternal life, to put on that garment of charity, which is the clothing of all the inhabitants above. We might have heaven on earth as far as it is possible if we dwelt in love, and love dwelt in and possessed our hearts. What an unsuitable thing might a believer think it, to hate him in this world whom he must love eternally, and to contend and strive with these, even over small matters, with bitterness and rigidity, with whom he shall have an eternal, uninterrupted unity and fellowship? Should we not be testing here how that glorious garment suits us? And truly there is nothing that makes a man so heaven-like or God like as this, much love and charity.
Now there is one consideration that might persuade us more to it, that here we know but darkly in part, and therefore our knowledge, at best, is but obscure and not evident, often subject to many mistake and misunderstandings of truth, according as means of communication present them. And therefore there must be some latitude of love allowed one to another in this state of imperfection, else it is impossible to keep unity, and we must conflict often with our own shadows, and bite and devour one another for some deceiving appearances.
The imperfection and obscurity of knowledge should make all men suspicious of themselves, especially in matters of a doubtful nature, and not so clearly determined by scripture. Because our knowledge is weak, shall our love be so? No, rather let charity grow stronger, and aspire to perfection, because knowledge is imperfect. What is wanting in knowledge let us make up in affection, and let the gap of difference in judgment be swallowed up with the bowels of mercies and love, and humbleness of mind. And then we shall have hid our weakness of understanding as much as may be. Thus we may go hand in hand together to our Father’s house, where, at length, we must be together.
This common domain work has been modernized in few places.
This is the End of Christian Love, chapter 2.