1 Corinthians 13:8-10
Charity never fails: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease…
I. THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST IS GIVEN TO HIS PEOPLE EVERLASTINGLY, TO INFLUENCE AND DWELL IN THEM (John 14:16, 17).
II. THERE ARE OTHER FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT BESIDES THAT WHICH SUMMARILY CONSISTS IN LOVE, WHEREIN THE SPIRIT OF GOD IS COMMUNICATED TO HIS CHURCH.
1. Extraordinary gifts, miracles, inspiration, etc.
2. Ordinary gifts. These, in all ages, have more or less been bestowed on many unconverted men, in common convictions of sin, common illuminations, and religious affections.
III. ALL THESE OTHER FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT ARE BUT FOR A SEASON, AND EITHER HAVE ALREADY CEASED, OR AT SOME TIME WILL CEASE. As to the miraculous gifts, they are but of a temporary use, and cannot be continued in heaven. And as to the common fruits of the Spirit, with respect to the persons that have them, they will cease when they come to die; and with respect to the Church, they wil1 cease after the day of judgment.
IV. LOVE IS THAT GREAT FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT THAT NEVER FAILS. Consider the Church —
1. With respect to its members, as —
(1) It never fails in this world (Romans 8:38, 39).
(2) And it ceases not when the saints come to die. When the apostles went to heaven, they left all their miraculous gifts behind. But they carried love with them to heaven, where it was perfected.
2. As a body. Though other fruits of the Spirit fail in it, this shall never fail. Of old, when there were interruptions of the miraculous gifts of the Spirit there never was any interruption of this. And at the end of the world when the Church shall be settled in its eternal state, and all common and miraculous gifts shall be at an end, love shall be brought to its most glorious perfection in every individual member of the ransomed Church above.
V. THIS REASON FOR THE TRUTH OF THE DOCTRINE WHICH HAS THUS BEEN PRESENTED, viz., that love is the great end of all the other fruits and gifts of the Spirit. It is the end to which all the miraculous gifts that ever were in the world, are but the means. They were only means of grace, but love is grace itself; and not only so, but the sum of all grace. Application:
1. There seems to be no reason to think that the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit are to be restored to the Church in the times of her latter-day prosperity and blessedness. Prophecy and miracles argue the imperfection of the state of the Church, rather than its perfection. For they are designed as a support, or as a leading-string, to the Church in its infancy, rather than as means adapted to it in its full growth. And then again that state will not be more glorious than the heavenly state; and yet the apostle teaches, that in the heavenly state all these gifts shall be at an end, and the influence of the Spirit in producing Divine love only shall remain.
2. The subject should make persons exceedingly cautious how they give heed to anything that may look like a new revelation, or that may claim to be any extraordinary gift of the Spirit.
3. The subject teaches how greatly we should value those influences and fruits of the Spirit which are evidences of true grace in the soul, and which are all summarily included in love.
Parallel VersesKJV: Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.