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THE FIRST EPISTLE GENERAL OF PETER - Chapter 4 - Verse 8

Verse 8. And above all things. More than all things else.

Have fervent charity among yourselves. Warm, ardent love towards each other. On the nature of charity, See Barnes "1 Co 13:1".

The word rendered fervent, means properly extended; then intent, earnest, fervent.

For charity shall cover the multitude of sins. Love to another shall so cover or hide a great many imperfections in him, that you will not notice them. This passage is quoted from Pr 10:12: "Love covereth all sins." For the truth of it we have only to appeal to the experience of every one.

(a.) True love to another makes us kind to his imperfections, charitable towards his faults, and often blind even to the existence of faults. We would not see the imperfections of those whom we love; and our attachment for what we esteem their real excellencies, makes us insensible to their errors.

(b.) If we love them we are ready to cover over their faults, even those which we may see in them. Of love the Christian poet says—-

"Tis gentle, delicate, and kind.

To faults compassionate or blind."

The passage before us is not the same in signification as that in Jas 5:20, "He which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins." See Barnes "Jas 5:20".

That passage means, that by the conversion of another the sins of him who is converted shall be covered over, or not brought to judgment for condemnation; that is, they shall be covered over so far as God is concerned—-this passage means that, under the influence of love, the sins of another shall be covered over so far as we are concerned; that is, they shall be unobserved or forgiven. The language here used does not mean, as the Romanists maintain, that "charity shall procure us pardon for a multitude of sins;" for, besides that such a doctrine is contrary to the uniform teachings of the Scriptures elsewhere, it is a departure from the obvious meaning of the passage. The subject on which the apostle is treating is the advantage of love in our conduct towards others, and this he enforces by saying that it will make us kind to their imperfections, and lead us to overlook their faults. It is nowhere taught in the Scriptures that our "charity" to others will be an atonement or expiation for our own offences. If it could be so, the atonement made by Christ would have been unnecessary. Love, however, is of inestimable value in the treatment of others; and imperfect as we are, and liable to go astray, we all have occasion to cast ourselves on the charity of our brethren, and to avail ourselves much and often of that "love which covers over a multitude of sins."

{*} "charity" "love" {a} "charity" 1 Co 13:7 {1} "shall" "will"

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