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THE CONSTRAINING INFLUENCE OF
2 CORINTHIANS v. 14–17.
For the love of Christ constraineth us, be
cause we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: and that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them and rose again. Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh : yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away ; behold, all things are become new.
FESTUS, the Roman governor, when Paul defended himself against the charges of his enemies, said unto him“ with a loud voice, “ Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learn
ing doth make thee mad.” In reply “ he
said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but “ speak forth the words of truth and sober“ ness”.” The great apostle of the Gentiles spake what he knew, and testified what he had seen.
Because he was not deceived himself, he could not deceive others. His testimony, however, though it could not be disproved, was rejected. The Roman governor descended to the use of invectiveof calumny-of ridicule. Similar views and feelings influenced certain persons in the Corinthian Church, to exhibit Paul as a weak zealot. His spotless integrity, his disinterested activity, repelled the suspicion of fraud. They therefore charged him with being “ beside himself.” He acted so con
b Acts xxvi. 24, 25.
trary to the principles of worldly wisdom, that there appeared some plausibility in the charge. But the moment he speaks and unfolds the motives of his conduct, that plausibility vanishes. We look for it, and wonder what it was, that for a moment made it in the least credible amongst professors of Je
“ The love of Christ,” saith he meekly, in answer to the malice of his foes, “ con“ straineth us, because we thus judge, that if
died for all, then were all dead : and " that he died for all, that they which live 66 should not henceforth live unto them“ selves, but unto him which died for them “ and rose again. Wherefore henceforth “ know we no man after the flesh: yea,
though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him
no more. Therefore if any man be in “ Christ, he is a new creature : old things
are passed away ; behold, all things are be
come new.” Thus, by manifestation of the truth, he commended himself, not only to the understanding, but to the conscience of every man in the sight of God. The appeal which he makes is irresistible, for the reason which he offers is irrefutable.
The love of Christ was the spring which set in motion all his affections, and gave rise to those astonishing displays which he exhibited of almost
virtue. This spring operated in the hearts of the other apostles, and still operates in the heart of every
sincere minister. The love of Christ is the burden of his exhortations, as well as the principal motive which he offers for holy living. Every Christian feels this motive; it destroys selfishness; it produces holiness.
. It is the grand principle of a new life; of a life of religion, and of the purest morals.
The Gospel ministry which dwells much on this love, is not unfrequently blamed, as tending to loosen our obligations to morality. So far is this from the fact, that, on the contrary, a Gospel ministry, which loses sight of this love, or does not enlarge on it, and often bring it into view, really injures the interests of morality. The love of Christ is the great and truly constraining motive to the exercise of all those virtues which, whilst they meliorate the state of man, adorn and dignify his character. In this view, as completely justifying the importance attached to it by a Gospel ministry, it will at this time, be illustrated and enforced. To do this aright, your attention is solicited to the following topics of discourse :
1. To the motive itself;
II. The manner in which this motive operates upon the heart ; and,
III. The effects which it produces on the life and conversation.
I. The motive itself is the love of Christ.
This is either the love of Christ for believers, or their love for him. The first always produces the last. “We love him," saith the apostle, “ because he first loved us." He
himself for us, a sacrifice unto death. He is the great Shepherd who laid down his life for the sheep. Greater love than this has never been displayed. Influenced by this, he left his Father's bosom, abandoned the glories and honours of heaven for a season, became an infant of days, made himself of no reputation, took upon him the form of a servant, was numbered among transgressors, and finally died the accursed death of the cross. How strong this love! how noble! how disinterested!
01 John iv. 19,