1 Corinthians 13:6
Rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;
There is a bold double personification — Charity is one person; Truth is another. Truth is rejoicing, and charity, or Christian love, rejoices with her. Truth is by definition reality, or the thing that is; and for St. Paul the sum of all reality, the embodiment of all that is, the revelation of God in Christ. Moral truth, intellectual truth, all meet and harmonise in truth revealed. There is nothing in nature, there is nothing in thought, there is nothing in virtue outside and apart from Him who calls Himself in so many words " the Way, the Truth, and the Life." "Charity rejoiceth not at iniquity, but rejoiceth with the truth." It is not needful to dwell at any length on the negative statement, "Charity rejoiceth not at iniquity." It can be no charity to take pleasure in unrighteousness. St. Paul makes it the very climax of wickedness to do so. But there are, at least, two cautions on this subject which ought never to be left unspoken. Records of crime solemnly judged, and terribly punished, if in any sense capable of corrupting us, carry with them their formidable lessons of consequence and of retribution. Even these, in all journals fit for circulation, are records not of offensive particulars, but of reserved and reticent generalities. What shall we say, then, of fictitious narratives of vice, vulgar or fashionable, of tales of which the very point of interest lies in their immorality, of novels presupposing and taking for granted a state of opinion in which profligacy is the rule, and virtue is the exception, in which modesty is made silly and ridiculous, and vice interesting, heroic, and charitable? Can any reprobation be too strong for the writers of such fiction, or any prohibition be too positive of its tolerance in Christian homes? The second caution needs to be spoken. Take heed how ye hear, and how ye read, in what spirit you look upon the crimes and vices of the sinful, what mind and heart you bring to the contemplation, whether it be the "considering thyself lest thou also be tempted," or the proud feeling which thanks God that he (the beholder) is not as other men are; whether it be the wicked sympathy which gloats over the sin, or the Christian which bewails and weeps over the sinner. "Charity rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth with the truth." Other texts tell, as we have seen, of the struggles and hardships here below, of the truth which is the gospel. This one passage, perhaps almost alone tells of its joys. Then truth sometimes rejoices. It is a delightful thought. Let us give it room. Have we seen no triumphs of the gospel? By the nature of the ease they will come, on different evidence than that by which the victories of earthly conquerors are decided. There will be no assaults, no bombardments, no smoking ruins, and no blood-stained battle-fields to show where the gospel has taken an onward step towards that universal reign which is not the dream nor the vision, but the sure word of prophecy for the Christian. And yet the gospel triumphs have not been few. Traceable directly to the influence, slow, but sure, of Christian principles — of principles which had no place and no existence until Christ died — there have been such results as these: the elevation of women; the emancipation of the slave; the higher conception of the sanctity of life, whether shown in the diminution and greater mercifulness of war, or shown in the mitigation of a Draconic statute-book; the amelioration of the lot of the pauper, the lunatic, the prisoner, and the captive; the institution of hospitals for every form of disease, and associations for every enterprise of benevolence; the advance, let none gainsay it, of public opinion in its estimate of honour, humanity, and virtue; the improvement of habits, domestic and national; and the gracious and generous sacrifices by which education has become the enthusiasm of senate and people — its promotion recognised as a primary duty; its condition made a very test of a standing or falling State. Surely all these things, and a thousand others not included in that enumeration, show that the truth has rejoiced, and charity has rejoiced with her. But it is, no doubt, in her more through and more secret workings that the words of the text are more strikingly justified. It is but a tentative and distant approach that we can make to St. Paul's feeling, while we speak only of the triumphs of the gospel in a wide field and on a large scale. It is in the individual life that truth exercises the most salutary and saving of her influences. It is there that the light is kindled that is to shine before men to the Father's glory. Oh! it is not by magnificent attempts of a feeble or shallow conviction, aiming at great things in proportion to its neglect of the smaller, that the real cause of the real gospel is promoted, and made honourable.
Parallel VersesKJV: Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;