The Hymn of Love
1 Corinthians 12:31
The thirteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians-Paul's great hymn on love-is, like the Twenty-third Psalm, one of those passages of Scripture which the preacher hesitates to touch lest by clumsy handling he should impair its beauty. And yet-again like the Twenty-third Psalm-while it daunts the preacher it also fascinates him and challenges him. For while something of its exquisite beauty reveals itself to us at the very first reading or hearing, there are glories and little intimate delicacies in it which only reveal themselves as we allow our minds to brood and ponder over it. To it that word from the Old Testament may be truly applied, "the stones thereof are the place of sapphires, and it has dust of gold." Every preacher who has discovered some of the wealth of this chapter naturally wants to share it with his people, and so throughout the thirty-five years of my ministry I have cherished the intention of preaching a short series of sermons upon this familiar chapter. Up to now, however, I have never passed beyond the "intending" stage. But now, at length, I am going to be bold enough to ask you to explore with me the wealthy content of this exquisite hymn.
There is a further difficulty which the preacher has to face who intends to make this chapter his theme, which does not confront him even when he preaches on the Twenty-third Psalm. Not only are the verses themselves among the most familiar and beautiful in the whole of Sacred Writ, but they have been made the subject of one of the most popular booklets ever written. Professor Henry Drummond was a great religious influence in his day and he published more than one book that had an immense vogue. His Natural Law in the Spiritual World and his Ascent of Man were books that greatly affected the preaching of thirty years ago.
But not even those famous books attained the popularity of the booklet he published entitled The Greatest Thing in the World. That is not ...
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