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Written by R.W.Cothern   

The Banner of Love--1964

Several weeks ago, after having a few requests to write to other papers, I decided to comply, and set about writing a nice stow around the thought expressed by Paul in 1st Corinthians "and now abideth faith, hope, and charity." I enumerated the many things accomplished by faith, gave a correct definition of just what faith is. It is, of course, a "fruit of the spirit," and without the, "spirit" there IS no faith. "If any man have not the spirit of Christ he is none of his," so he must "have the spirit" and be "one of his" before he can have faith. Then we have faith abiding.... We hope it is "abiding" and so we turn to hope. Of course one couldn't hope without faith. Then comes the third step--charity, which is "the greatest of these." Charity is that moving, acting, love of God in the hearts of His children that comes by reason of their divine nature in the new birth. It is a principle, an attribute, that grows, when cultivated and not hindered, but can be temporarily subdued, smothered, covered up, like the old Indian's spring that was covered with drift wood and trash, "water still good, but take heap much digging." Hence the apostle's advice, "let brotherly love

continue" i.e. keep the trash out of the way. Dig and dig until you can "drink deep from the wells of salvation." Charity is something that seems to "bear us up on its wings" the higher up, the safer and more wonderful is the flight. Pure love will find a way to peace and success. If our poor confused and bewildered people had risen on the voice of love for the past 35 years, there would have been a great difference in how things are for us today.

                                ---O---

I read what I had just written over to myself and it sounded pretty good -- and it WAS good. Yes, I said to myself--"R. W. you are a pretty good writer, you are." So I carried the beautiful metaphor even further, and told about the time wife and I started home from Seattle last summer. It was a cold foggy, misty morning and when we boarded that big United Airlines plane, we could not see half way across the airport and just to be right honest, I felt a sense of fear. The gloom seemed to thicken and the cold mist hid the world, but when the giant ship circled high and turned towards Los Angeles, eleven hundred miles away, it rose to twenty-two thousand feet, and the sun was shining as bright as if there was never a cloud in all the sky! The damp dripping clouds beneath us, glistened in the sun and were as white as a field of rippled snow! I told myself "this is something I'll always remember--it is a great lesson, if I can only put it in words." And how true it is, that life, the Christian life--can be glorious, if we fly high enough, rise above our troubles--"Now abideth faith, hope, and charity. And by faith and hope, we ride on the wings of charity far above the dangers of the cloud-veiled mountain peaks--we will not crash, and shame our lives, on the tree tops of vanity hidden in uncertainty by the mists and rain!

Well, I read the article over and began to think it all out. It was good --you know a writer or preacher can tell great truths, mix them up beautifully--draw beautiful pictures. But got to asking myself some questions about this time. "R. W., do you always 'fly so high'? Just what gets wrong with you when you get your head down and can't oven LOOK up much less FLY up high, on the comforting wings of love?" I asked myself "what about that article you wrote some years ago called "Broken Pinions" in which you quoted that old poetic line "the bird with the broken pinion, never flies as high again?" What about the story of the Wild Geese, in perfect formation, that flew over so high, and the one far behind that had a crippled wing. He could not keep up, the struggle was too much, he just had to have some help!

I sat there with my chin in my hands and my elbows on the desk looking far out the window at the towering Oregon Mountains with tears in my eyes seemed to make the sharp peaks swim in the distance. As I gazed at them, said in my heart: "Oh, Lord, I understand now that these things can't be put into words--written on paper. I confess I don't know how to write about the deep mysteries of God. Sometimes my DESIRES fly high up over the clouds, but like old Paul "how to perform that that is good I find not." Oh wretched man that I am, also "And they shall be afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the Lord." Oh, when my poverty seems great I long so much to put all my trust in Him. When I try to tell you how you ought to do, I immediately find that I can't even half as well as you are doing. Yes, I'm a great fellow--I don't see how you ever got along without me before I came on the scene. But if I can have blessed Jesus with me all the time, He can make up the difference to you, who are so far superior to me.

--R. W. Cothern.

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The Primitive or Old School Baptists cling to the doctrines and practices held by Baptist Churches throughout America at the close of the Revolutionary War. This site is dedicated to providing access to our rich heritage, with both historic and contemporary writings.