[signed]D. L. Moody.
Love the Greatest Thing in the World . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
Lessons from the Angelus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
Pax Vobiscum . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44
First! An Address to Boys . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70
The Changed Life the Greatest Need of the World . . . . . . . 82
Dealing with Doubt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 113
Love: The Greatest Thing in the World
Every 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. In the
13th chapter of I Corinthians Paul takes us to
Christianity at its source;
and there we see "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
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
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 the passage to Heaven
by keeping the Ten Commandments and the hundred and ten other
commandments which they had manufactured out of them. Christ came
and 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 fulfill the whole
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 fulfill all these laws regarding God.
And so if he loved man you would never think of telling him
to honor 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 neighbor. 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 neighbors had. He would rather
they possess 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 has 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 ANALYZED; toward the end we have Love DEFENDED as the
I. The Contrast.
Paul begins by contrasting Love with other things that men in those
days thought much of. I shall not attempt to go over these things
in detail. Their inferiority is already obvious.
He contrasts it with ELOQUENCE. And what a noble gift it is
the power of playing upon the souls and wills of men and rousing
them to lofty purpose and holy deeds! Paul says If I speak with
the tongues of men and of angels and have not love I am become
sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal." We all know why. We have
all felt the brazenness of words without emotion the hollowness
the unaccountable unpersuasiveness of eloquence behind which lies
He contrasts it with PROPHECY. He contrasts it with MYSTERIES.
He contrasts it with FAITH. He contrasts it with CHARITY. Why
is Love greater than faith? Because the end is greater than the
means. And why is it greater than charity? Because the whole is
greater than the part.
Love is greater than FAITH because the end is greater than the
means. What is the use of having faith? It is to connect the
soul with God. And what is the object of connecting man with God?
That he may become like God. But God is Love. Hence Faith the
means is in order to Love the end. Love therefore obviously
is greater than faith. "If I have all faith so as to remove
mountains but have not love I am nothing."
It is greater than CHARITY again because the whole is greater
than a part. Charity is only a little bit of Love one of the
innumerable avenues of Love and there may even be and there is
a great deal of charity without Love. It is a very easy thing
to toss a copper to a beggar on the street; it is generally an
easier thing than not to do it. Yet Love is just as often in the
withholding. We purchase relief from the sympathetic feelings
roused by the spectacle of misery at the copper's cost. It is too
cheap--too cheap for us and often too dear for the beggar. If we
really loved him we would either do more for him or less. Hence
"If I bestow all my goods to feed the poor but have not love it
profiteth me nothing."
Then Paul contrasts it with SACRIFICE and martyrdom: "If I give
my body to be burned but have not love it profiteth me nothing."
Missionaries can take nothing greater to the heathen world than the
impress and reflection of the Love of God upon their own character.
That is the universal language. It will take them years to speak
in Chinese or in the dialects of India. From the day they land
that language of Love understood by all will be pouring forth
its unconscious eloquence.
It is the man who is the missionary it is not his words. His
character is his message. In the heart of Africa among the great
Lakes I have come across black men and women who remembered the
only white man they ever saw before--David Livingstone; and as you
cross his footsteps in that dark continent
Men's faces light up