STRING OF PEARLS.
Now abideth faith, hope, and charity.-- 1 Cor. 13:13.
Behold this string of pearls, the coronet of diamonds. Each pearl sparkles with the luster of its own individuality. Of the three it is written, "Now abideth faith, hope, love." Of love it is declared, "But the greatest of these is charity." Love the most brilliant of the group; more exalted than her companions: yet Faith, Hope, Love, all essential to vital godliness. There can be no religious experience without these. One cannot be substituted for the other. Like a railroad permit, or passport, they are not transferable. These three graces have their places in the experience of every child of God.
Notice the order. Faith is foundational. Hope and Love resultant. This is the Divine arrangement, this God's order. A man is according to his Faith. It is the root of this tree of experience; the vehicle God uses to reveal himself by his Spirit to man's interior nature. "According to your Faith be it unto you." "Without Faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him."
Simple as Faith is in the abstract, yet God has been pleased to honor it with results which are glorious. A little girl was asked once the question, "What is Faith?" to which she replied, "Trusting God and asking no questions." That simple, brief answer gives a correct idea of the simplicity of Faith, and, when exercised, brings results. A Scripture or two: "Therefore, being justified by Faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ; by whom, also, we have access by Faith unto this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also, knowing that tribulation worketh patience: and patience experience, and experience hope, and hope maketh not ashamed because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." (Rom. 5:1,5). The apostle Paul prayed for a certain church that their faith fail not. He knew if their Faith was gone, all would be gone. The apostle Peter regarded Faith as the basis of character, and the unit in spiritual addition, and besides this, giving all diligence, "add to your faith virtue, and to virtue (courage) knowledge, and to knowledge temperance, and to temperance patience, and to patience godliness, and to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 1:5-8). How needed the injunction of holy writ, "Have faith in God." Hope springs from faith, and waits for the accomplishment of faith's object. "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Hope comes by experience. A man without hope is like a world without the sun. Hope flings a bow upon the stormiest cloud, kindles a fire in the coldest bosom, and blooms in every soil. While I breathe I hope--is the motto of the race. To expect, when circumstances are at their worst, that they will become better--aye, and better at their best--is as natural as to breathe. The object of the hope referred to in this wonderful group is the appearing of Christ to receive his bride, and transform them into his likeness. "Looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." (Titus 2:13-14).
"O what a blessed hope is ours,
While here on earth we stay,
We more than taste the heavenly powers,
And ante-date that day,
We feel the resurrection near,
Our life in Christ concealed,
And with his glorious presence here,
Our earthen vessels filled."
--Words of Faith.