Love is the life of the soul
It is the harmony of the Universe.
Dictionaries give half a column to the definition of love. In three words, the Bible gives us all its limitless meaning: "God is love."
God is infinite, therefore love is infinite, and includes in itself all God's attributes. Life without love is valueless.
By the common consent of mankind in all the ages, the most beautiful thing on this earth, that which every human being has ever craved most, is love. It is, as Henry Ward Beecher said, "the river of life in this world. Think not that ye know it who stand at the little tinkling rill, the first small fountain. Not until you have gone through the rocky gorges, and not lost the stream; not until you have gone through the meadow, and the stream has widened and deepened until fleets could ride on its bosom; not until beyond the meadow you have come to the unfathomable ocean, and poured your treasures into its depths - not until then can you know what love is."
Somewhere I have read the story of a sunbeam that had heard there were places on the earth so horrible, So dark, dismal and gloomy that it was impossible to describe them. The sunbeam resolved to find these places, and started on its journey with lightning speed. It visited the caverns of the earth. It glided into sunless homes, into dark alleys, into underground cellars; it wandered everywhere in its quest to see what the darkness was like, but the sunbeam never found the darkness because wherever it went it carried its own light with it. Every spot it visited, no matter how dark and dismal before its entry, was brightened and cheered by its presence.
The sun is a beautiful symbol of love. It sends its cheering, life-giving ray into the wretched hovel, into the prison cell, as impartially as into the palace; it gives itself as unstintingly, as joyously to the worst criminal, to the poorest wretch who crawls the earth in rags, as to the monarch on his throne. It is no respecter of persons. It shines upon the just and the unjust alike. It does not ask whose corn, whose potatoes, whose roses, whose homes it shall shine upon. It asks no question about earth's races, about our principles, our politics, our religious beliefs or convictions. It shines upon good and bad, upon believer and unbeliever, upon all nationalities, all races, the white, the black, the brown, the yellow. It has no hatred of, no prejudice toward, any human being. It simply floods every nook and corner of the earth it can get into. The most poisonous swamps, the most miasmatic bogs, the most filthy holes, the haunts of the vilest creatures, - it pours its light and beauty and joy unstintedly upon all.
Like the sun love irradiates and warms into life all that it touches. It is to the human heart what the sun is to the rose. It brings out all the fragrance and beauty, all the color and richness, all the possibilities infolded in it. Love brings out all that is best in us, because it appeals to the noblest sentiments, the loftiest ideals. True love elevates, purifies, and strengthens every heart it touches. It lifts us above ourselves because it sees only the best in us. It looks back of weakness, back of criminality, back of our deficient image of ourselves, back of our conviction of our weakness, of our inferiority, and sees the divine that is within us, waiting to be called out. It unlocks our nature and releases wonderful powers which had been buried so deep that we were unconscious of them.
Love sees God in the worst human ruin. It gives everybody a chance. No human being has ever yet forfeited the chance to try again. When nothing else is left, when life is full of bitterness and anguish, the thief, the murderer, the failure, the outcast, turns to love and finds a refuge, for "Love never faileth." It is to every human being what mother love is to the erring child. No son or daughter has ever fallen so low as to get beyond a mother's love. No man or woman can ever get beyond the redemptive power of love. It is the sovereign remedy for all ills.
The mother doesn't ask "Which is my best child?" and confer her favors upon that one above all the others. No, she loves them all. If there is any difference, she gives the most love to the one who needs it most, - the weak est, the most delicate, the one least favored by nature, the cripple, the deformed or defective. Love's delight is in helping the unfortunate and raising the fallen. When troubles come and fair weather friends have deserted you; when your business is ruined; when you have made fatal mistakes and society has closed its doors on you; when everybody else rejects and denounces you, when everything else has failed, then love comes and stands by you, pours oil on your wounds, and helps you get on your feet again.
Love judges no one, condemns no one. It always pleads for mercy for the man or the woman who has gone astray on the life path. It says, "don't condemn that poor wretch, there is a God in him somewhere"; and to the fallen woman, "Neither do I condemn thee: Go and sin no more." It follows the worst sinner and the most hardened criminal to the grave, and beyond.
Love has worked the greatest miracles in the world's history. We have all seen the transformation it has wrought in a coarse, ignorant, brutal life, when a youth on the very toboggan slide toward destruction has fallen in love with some sweet, beautiful girl, who returns his love. In a short time his life has cleared up; it has been lifted up by the regenerating power of love. One by one his vicious habits have been replaced by their opposites, and he has become a new man.
Where every other reformative agency fails, love succeeds, because it touches the higher springs of life, as nothing else can. It is intuitive because it is sympathetic, and has a way of reaching down to the heart of things impossible to the soul not guided by it. Again and again it transforms the most vicious natures, eliminates the brute, and calls out the finest and highest qualities in a man or woman. No power can resist the love force; nothing can destroy it. Poverty cannot stifle it, neglect cannot weaken it; disgrace cannot kill it. The drunken, brutal sot cannot blot it out of the heart of the devoted wife; ingratitude cannot quench its flame in the. mother's heart.
It is performing miracles in our prisons; and on the battlefield it is a ministering angel. Its representative, the Red Cross organization, is showing us the meaning of God's love, in binding up the wounds of friend and enemy alike. Right or wrong, no matter on which side they fight, love recognizes no nationality, sees only God's children in all the wounded and dying soldiers.
Love overcometh fear, because it is the antidote of fear. It is the only power that can conquer this, the greatest human curse, which has caused man more suffering than any other one thing. Love blesses where others curse; remembers where others forget; forgives where others condemn; gives where others withhold. "Love takes the sting from disappointments and sorrow; it breathes music into the voice, into the footsteps; it gives worth and beauty to the commonest office; it surrounds home with an atmosphere of moral health; it gives power to effort and wings to progress, it is omnipotent."
Love is the great mind opener, the great heart opener and life enricher, the great developer. It is what holds society together; it it the Christ spirit which is leavening the world. The only thing which is universally understood, which speaks all languages, all dialects, which is an open book to the most ignorant, those who do not know their letters, who cannot write their own names, is love. Even though they do not understand each other's native tongue, two people meeting anywhere on earth understand the language of love as spoken by each other. The only thing which makes life endurable, which takes the drudgery out of work, the suffering out of pain, the deprivation out of poverty, is love.
There is no other experience in our lives that ever gives the satisfaction, the joy that comes from loving and being loved in return. What greater happiness can there be than giving happiness to those who appreciate it, those who love us and are devoted to us? The human heart was made for love, - and every one can draw to himself as much as he sends out. Love's happiness lies in making others happy. Love was born a twin and cannot be happy alone. It must share everything it has with others. It is never selfish, never envious, never grasping or greedy. In business, love always takes account of the man at the other end of the bargain. It is always fair, and just. It never takes advantage of, or injures another. Love is always generous, helpful, kind.
In his incomparable little book, "The Greatest Thing in the World," Henry Drummond analyzes the love spectrum. "Love is a compound thing, Paul tells us," he writes. "As you have seen a man of science take a beam of light and pass it through a crystal prism, as you have seen it come out on the other side of the prism broken up into its component colors, red and blue and yellow and orange, and all the colors of the rainbow, so Paul passes love through the magnificent prism of his inspired intellect and it comes out on the other side broken up into its elements.
"The Spectrum or the analysis of Love. Will you observe what its elements are? Will you notice that they have common names; that they are things which can be practised by every man in every place in life; and how, by a multitude of small things and ordinary virtues, the supreme thing, the summum bonum, is made up? Patience; 'Love suffereth long.' Kindness; 'And is kind.' Generosity; 'Love envieth not.' Humility; 'Love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up.' Courtesy; 'Doth not behave itself unseemly.' Unselfishness; 'Seeketh not her own.' Good Temper; 'Is not easily provoked.' Guilelessness; 'Thinketh no evil.' Sincerity; 'Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth.' "
Drummond said that Paul's thirteenth chapter, First Corinthians, is the greatest love poem ever written. When he lectured to Evangelist Moody's students in Northfield, Massachusetts, he asked, "How many of you students will join me in reading this chapter once a week for the next three months? A man did that once and it changed his whole life. Will you do it? Will you?"
There are only thirteen short verses in this chapter on which Henry Drummond lays so much stress. It can be committed to memory in a very short time; and if any one will do this and repeat it understandingly every day, there is no doubt that it will revolutionize his life.