“Now, dear friends, look at love—gaze upon its lovely form, its beautiful countenance, and its graceful actings; and observe its seraphic glow, its divine temper, until you are all enamored with its charms. But look at it not only as something to be admired—but to be possessed and practiced. Unless this be your temper, you are no Christians. I do not say you cannot be Christians unless you have it in perfection—but you must have the principle, and must be living in its exercise; and you are Christians no further than you live under its influence.
Hear what the apostle says, “Now the end of the commandment is love out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith sincere,” 1 Tim. 1:5. No matter what knowledge you may have of the doctrines of the gospel; what seeming faith you may possess; what zeal you may manifest; what liberality you may exercise; what constancy, regularity, and punctuality in attendance upon the means of grace, you may maintain—if love be lacking, all are but a body without a soul; all are but the galvanic motions of a corpse, without a principle of vitality to originate, direct, or sustain them.
In the beginning of the chapter, the apostle tells us that eloquence of the most sublime kind, employed in advocating the cause of the gospel; that the faith of miracles carried to the greatest extent; that a fortune spent in alms deeds; and all this closed and crowned with martyrdom, is of no avail, without love. Nothing can be a substitute for love. This, this is Christianity; not a slavish attendance on ceremonies; not receiving the sacraments; not zeal for orthodoxy; not a form of church government; not belonging to any particular church; not receiving the benefit of an episcopal or a presbyterian ministry; not being a churchman, dissenter, or Methodist. These, according as they are scriptural, are important as auxiliaries—but not as principals; as means—but not ends; as aids—but not substitutes.”1
- John Angell James. Christian Love (sermon). ↩