2 Corinthians 5:14
For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that One died for all, therefore all died.
A Perception of Christ's Love the Effectual Source of ObedienceG. T. Noel, M. A.2 Corinthians 5:14
Christian EnthusiasmS. Martin.2 Corinthians 5:14
Christ's Love ConstrainingE. Brown.2 Corinthians 5:14
Constraining LoveA. Maclaren, D. D.2 Corinthians 5:14
Constraining LoveA. M. Fairbairn, D. D.2 Corinthians 5:14
Love and Obedience to ChristD. Jennings.2 Corinthians 5:14
Sacred Enthusiasm, the Rationality of Christian ZealS. Curwen.2 Corinthians 5:14
The Christian's SecretLyman Abbott, D. D.2 Corinthians 5:14
The Constraining Influence of the Love of ChristC. Bradley, M. A.2 Corinthians 5:14
The Constraining Influence of the Love of ChristE. Hurndall 2 Corinthians 5:14
The Constraining Love of ChristE. L. Hull, B. A.2 Corinthians 5:14
The Constraining Power of the Loving PrincipleJ. Hamilton, D. D.2 Corinthians 5:14
The Constraint of Christ's LoveJ.R. Thomson 2 Corinthians 5:14
The Ethical Value of the AtonementJ. Thomas, M. A.2 Corinthians 5:14
The Fruit of Christ's DeathT. Manton, D. D.2 Corinthians 5:14
The Love of ChristJ. Rhodes.2 Corinthians 5:14
The Love of ChristJ.R. Thomson 2 Corinthians 5:14
The Love that ConstrainsAlexander Maclaren2 Corinthians 5:14
The Matchless Beauty of JesusJ. T. Parker, M. A.2 Corinthians 5:14
The Properties and Influence of the Love of ChristF. Frew.2 Corinthians 5:14
The Sacrifice of ChristFrederick W. Robertson2 Corinthians 5:14
Under ConstraintC. H. Spurgeon.2 Corinthians 5:14
Person and Ministry of the Apostle Further ConsideredC. Lipscomb 2 Corinthians 5:11-21
Missionary EnthusiasmW. Thorpe.2 Corinthians 5:12-17
Paul's Self-CommendationF. W. Robertson, M. A.2 Corinthians 5:12-17
Zeal in the Cause of ChristW. M. Punshon, LL. D.2 Corinthians 5:12-17
The Power of the Christian MotiveR. Tuck 2 Corinthians 5:14, 15
The Secret of DevotednessD. Fraser 2 Corinthians 5:14, 15

Every quality met in the Lord Jesus which could adapt him to accomplish the work which he undertook on behalf of our human race. But if one attribute must be selected as peculiarly and pre-eminently characteristic of him, if one word rather than another rises to our lips when we speak of him, that attribute, that word, is love.

I. THE OBJECTS OF CHRIST'S LOVE. Look at his earthly life and ministry, and the comprehensive range within which the love of Jesus operates becomes at once and gloriously obvious.

1. His friends. Of this fact - Christ's love to his friends - we have abundant proof: "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."

2. His enemies. This is more wonderful, yet the truth of what the apostle says is undeniable: "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." And we cannot forget his prayer offered for his enemies as they nailed him to the cross: "Father, forgive them."

3. All mankind. During his ministry the Lord Jesus was gracious to all with whom he came into contact. His aim was by the bands of love to draw all men unto himself, that they might rest and live in his Divine and mighty heart.

II. THE PROOFS OF CHRIST'S LOVE. The great facts of his ministry and mediation are evidences of his benevolence.

1. His advent. "Nothing brought him from above - Nothing but redeeming love."

2. His ministry. He went about doing good, animated by the mighty principle of love to man. Eyed sickness he healed, every demon he expelled, every sinner he pardoned, was a witness to the love of Christ.

3. His death. His was the love "stronger than death:" for not only could not death destroy it, death gave it a new life and power in the world and over men.

4. His prevailing intercession and brotherly care.


1. It is sympathizing and. tender, "passing the love of women."

2. It is thoughtful and wise, ever providing for the true welfare of those to whom it is revealed.

3. It is forbearing and patient, otherwise it might often have been checked and repressed.

4. It is self-sacrificing, counting nothing too great to be given up in order to secure its ends.

5. It is faithful "Having loved his own, he loveth them even unto the end."

6. It is unquenchable and everlasting: "Who can separate us from the love of Christ?" - T.

For the love of Christ constraineth us.
I. THE CHRISTIAN'S RULING MOTIVE — The love of Christ. "We love Him because He first loved us." This love leads to service. This principle is —

1. Reasonable.

2. Soul-satisfying.

3. Soul-ennobling.All true love is such in degree, but this supremely.

II. THE RESTRAINING POWER OF THE LOVE OF CHRIST — "That we should no more live unto ourselves." Paul delighted to call himself the "servant of Jesus Christ."


(J. Rhodes.)

I. THE CONSTRAINING MOTIVE — "The love of Christ." Consider it —

1. In its objects.(1) Our love is awakened by some excellency or worthiness which the object beloved has in our eyes. But wherein is this to be accounted of, that the Son of God should set His heart upon man? He is likened to a worm, to grass. His foundation is in the dust. How inconsiderable a being is man in comparison with these hosts of heaven.(2) Our love is called out by congeniality — where there is a oneness of mind, a similarity of feeling, a harmony of taste. But how opposite is the mind of Christ and of the sinner!(3) Love is attracted by beauty. But man's original beauty, as created in the image and reflecting the glory of God in righteousness, is wholly departed. And in place thereof, deformity only appears in him.(4) Love is drawn forth by love. Regard in one will produce it in another. But Christ's love found no originating cause in our love (John 15:16; 1 John 4:10).

2. In its properties.(1) It is a self-denying love.(2) It is a beneficial love. It enriches with righteousness, and peace, and grace, and liberty, and: service.(3) His is a cheering, gladdening love. Therefore the church says (Song of Solomon 1:4).(4) His is an intense, inextinguishable love (Song of Solomon 8:6, 7).(5) It is a boundless, incomprehensible love (Ephesians 3:18, 19).

3. In its effects.

II. THE SPECIAL MANIFESTATION OF THIS LOVE. "We thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead." This is the great instance wherein the Lord Jesus demonstrates His love.

III. WHERETO THIS LOVE CONSTRAINS. "He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for, them, and rose again." To live to ourselves, to seek our own, is the natural character of all. Self in some form is the predominant and guiding principle.

1. Let the subject humble us. The love of Christ is a powerful thing, being discerned, applied, and realised.

2. Let the subject also instruct us. Our obedience is not to be the result of feeling, but of judgment.

3. Let the subject stimulate us.

4. Let the subject comfort us.

5. Finally, let the subject admonish and persuade those. who are yet enemies to God, strangers to Christ and holiness.

(J. T. Parker, M. A.)

I. TO SAY SOMETHING ABOUT THE DYING LOVE OF CHRIST. Here I mean to consider the love of Christ in the four following forms.

1. Pure benevolence.

2. Strong affection.

3. Unsolicited mercy.

4. Marvellous liberality.


1. To receive Christ's ordinances.

2. To obey Christ's commands.

3. To submit to Christ's cross.

4. To promote His interest.


1. That the dying love of Christ applied and believed, powerfully impresses the human heart.

2. The dying love of Christ singularly guards against practical errors.

3. The dying love of Jesus constraineth us, as it constantly urgeth to holiness.

4. The dying love of Jesus speedily carrieth us on to perfection. Here I mean to convey three distinct ideas, all implied in the word constraineth.

(1)The love of Christ moves forward our whole person.

(2)The love of Jesus bears us up under our burdens.

(3)The love of Christ constraineth us to make swift progress towards perfect holiness. Let us believe the love of God towards us.

(E. Brown.)

We instantly feel that these words express the secret power by which the great deeds of Paul's life were done. But if We connect them with ver. 13 we see that his common acts and judgments were moulded by the same power. Note —


1. Paul meant Christ's love to him, not his love to Christ. Many Christian men endeavour to work from their own feelings of consecration to the Lord; hence their energy is fitful, and depends upon excitements. The word "constrain" expresses the contrary of this. It suggests not an emotion in a man, but a power, not his, acting on him — an atmosphere surrounding his spirit, and pressing on it on every side. A feeling we possess is ever feeble and liable to change; a feeling possessing us is strong and enduring. This love, surrounding and resting on a man, takes him out of himself, and becomes a permanent influence.

2. It was the love of the living Christ in the present. "Who died and rose again" — "not knowing Christ after the flesh." The love shown on the Cross was not a transient manifestation, but an eternal revelation of the Christ as He is.

3. How this Jove constrains. Compare with our text Galatians 2:20. Here are two elements —(1) Personal sympathy — "who loved me." This is one of the mightiest forces in the world. Through all laws a man may break, but let a criminal once realise that there is some one who feels for him, and you gain a power over him which he cannot resist. Rise now one step — to the consciousness of having the sympathy of a greater soul than ours. Rise yet one step higher — a mighty step — to the love of Christ. The first beam of that love reveals the deadness and coldness of the past; and when the thought enters the man's heart, that amid all his coldness Christ cared for him, then the constraining power begins.(2) The infinite sacrifice: "He died for all." Under the power of this belief, all that tempts us to live for ourselves is instantly swept away. We may hear voices telling us of glory, of gain, and power; but we know that for us He left His throne, and then we are content, for Him, to live unnoticed and unknown. We are allured by the fascinations of pleasure — but we remember that for us He bore pain, and those fascinations fall shattered to the ground. We shrink back instinctively from hardships — but we measure our sacrifice with His, and then we accept it with calm and holy joy.

II. HOW THIS CONSTRAINING POWER MANIFESTS ITSELF IN EARNESTNESS OF LIFE. There are three sources of the power that chains us in coldness and cramps our energy: — the monotony of our earthly labour; the depth of our spiritual infirmity; the feebleness of our vision into the everlasting. Now, this constraining love would remove them all.

1. It would consecrate our earthly work. No man can always be acting consciously under the power of Christ's love; but a memory of the Cross may unconsciously hallow our life. Is it not possible to accept life's daily tasks as God's discipline, and accept them patiently, because Christ loves us? Is it not possible to fulfil life's common duties right earnestly because Christ died for us?

2. It would strengthen our spiritual infirmity. Trifles exhaust our energy; great forces seem to deaden it; great fears perplex our trust. But if we heard the voice "I loved thee," would not that be like a clarion-call to summon us to heroic effort? Would it not clothe us in celestial power?

3. It would link us with the everlasting world. That love breaks down the barrier between the visible and the invisible worlds. Heaven is no idle dream of happiness, but a present fact; for the Christian's heaven is to be with and to be like the Saviour.


1. Prayerful meditation. In lonely hours, when the voice of the world is still, that love comes near. Pray on until it flashes across the horizon of your soul, and baptizes you in its glory.

2. Carry into action its first impulses. Avoid all that opposes them... It is dangerous to enter any path of action on which the Cross-light does not gleam.

(E. L. Hull, B. A.)

This text is a summary of Christian faith and practice.


1. Its peculiar wretchedness — "then were all dead." Our souls have lost their spiritual life, and are become incapable of spiritual employments and delights.

2. Its hopelessness. We are not like a tree which, though withered, may be brought into a situation where the sun may shine and the rain descend on it and revive it.


1. Who it is that is here said to have had compassion on man: the eternal Son of God.

2. How this Being interposed for man: "He died."

3. For whom this death was endured: all men. But the interposition of Christ on behalf of man was not confined to dying for him. He rose again to complete the work which He had begun.

III. THE PRINCIPLE OR MOTIVE FROM WHICH THE INTERPOSITION OF CHRIST ON OUR BEHALF PROCEEDED. It was not an act of justice: we had no claim on the compassion of Christ. Nor did it proceed from a regard to His own honour only. He was "glorious in holiness " and "fearful in praises" long before we were created. It was free and unmerited love alone. To this Divine attribute all the blessings of redemption must be traced. This is the attribute which shines with the brightest lustre in the gospel of Christ. Matchless wisdom devised the stupendous plan, and infinite power executed it; but it was love which called this wisdom and this power into exercise.

IV. THE END WHICH CHRIST HAD IN VIEW IN DYING AND RISING AGAIN FOR MAN (ver. 15). This implies that by nature we are all living to ourselves. The selfish and independent principle within us, is one of the sad fruits of our depravity. It is directly opposed to our happiness, and is in the highest degree hateful to God. It is an act of rebellion. Now the design of Christ was to root out this selfish principle. He has bought us with a price; He therefore deems us His own, and calls upon us to glorify Him "in our body and in our spirits which are His." Shall we, then, rob the blessed Jesus of the purchase of His blood?

V. THE INFLUENCE WHICH THIS INTERPOSITION OF CHRIST HAS ON HIS PEOPLE. It "constraineth" them. This signifies to bear away, to carry on with the force and rapidity with which a torrent hurries along whatever it meets with in its course. Christ's love —

1. Lays hold of the affections.

2. Influences the conduct. It changes the life as well as affects the heart.Conclusion: These truths suggest various inferences.

1. The conduct of a Christian is closely connected with his principles.

2. They are not Christians whom the love of Christ does not influence. They may call themselves after the name of the Saviour, but they are not living "unto Him which died for them." This devotedness to Christ is essential to the Christian character. Nothing can supply the place of it; no correct system of opinions, no zeal for doctrines, no lively feelings, no tears or prayers.

3. The superior excellence of the religion of Christ, not only as it saves the soul, but as it affords to man a new, a nobler, and a more powerful motive of obedience. This motive is love to a dying Lord; a motive unheard of in the world before the publication of the gospel, but one which appeals to the finest feelings of the soul, and whose efficacy is stronger than that of all other motives combined.

(C. Bradley, M. A.)

I. THE LOVE OF CHRIST TO BE THE EFFECTUAL SOURCE OF CHRISTIAN OBEDIENCE. Let us contrast this motive to moral virtue, with many others by which the majority of mankind are influenced.

1. Perhaps the most general inducement to religious and moral duty is habit. Religion is found to have a kindly influence upon human society. There is therefore in the world habit of religion. The son follows the steps of the father. The first, for instance, goes to church, because the latter has set him the example. He sometimes offers up a prayer, because the practice commenced in infancy. There is little of serious reflection in his conduct. He falls easily into the track or mould of custom. It induces a religion of form rather than of influence, a religion of the body rather than of the soul.

2. Scarcely superior to this principle is the desire of reputation. A certain kind of religion is favourable to reputation. To pass through life with honour is certainly the supreme object with many. Now this principle is not merely defective but hostile to religion. Its very aim is the gratification of self-esteem. It tends to exalt man, not God. It forgets the very first feeling of all religion, "God be merciful to me a sinner."

3. Let us examine the next motive to religion, the fear of punishment. There is a natural alarm respecting eternity in the human mind. But this fear of the future is a very inadequate motive to religion. Suppose it to exist to a high degree, and it degenerates into views entirely subversive of all the gracious invitations of the gospel. Suppose it to be weak and momentary, and it can effect little that is medicinal to the heart. In melancholy moments, in hours of sickness, it will produce remorse and misery, but with the departure of these moments, it will lose all its influence.

4. Similar to this principle as to its efficiency is the mere and indistinct desire for future happiness. It will cease to influence whenever self-interest or appetite shall solicit in any violent degree. The pleasure of the life that is, will ever be far more attractive than the dim visions of a joy yet to be.

5. It remains to refer to one other motive to religion, a partial reverence for the Creator. Let experience testify its feebleness and inconsistency as a principle of moral action. How frequently do the same lips which appeared to adore the name of God in the public sanctuary, wantonly desecrate it in private life!

6. Let us now contrast with these low and inadequate motives to religion, the motive contained in the text. "For the love of Christ constraineth us," etc. Is filial affection; is gratitude to a generous benefactor; is the tenderness of fondest friendship; are all these motives powerful to constrain to duty, and to urge to service? See all these motives more than united here!

II. THE ACTUAL EXTENT TO WHICH THE PERCEPTION OF THE LOVE OF CHRIST TO THE SOUL WILL OPERATE. The devotion which arises from every other principle is occasional and limited. It is insufficient to bring us through temptation, to animate the affections and sympathies of our nature. It is insufficient to produce any cordial and active disposition to piety. Such a devotion is not, in fact, of Divine origin; it is not the effect of Divine grace in the heart. It is rather the formal and stinted calculation of a worldly policy. On the contrary, love to Christ is the result of a holy and Divine influence upon the soul. Like the beams of day, it pervades, and warms, and fructifies every inner region, every nobler faculty of the mind. It excites to a religious practice, unlimited and progressive. It renovates the whole character.

(G. T. Noel, M. A.)

It was once a problem in mechanics to find a pendulum which should be equally long in all weathers; which should make the same number of vibrations in the summer's ticket and in the winter's cold. They have now found it out. By a process of compensation they make the rod lengthened one way as much as it contracts the other, so that the centre of motion is always the same; the pendulum swings the same number of beats in a day of January as in a day of June, and the index travels over the dial-plate with the same uniformity, whether the heat try to lengthen or the cold to shorten the regulating power. Now the moving power in some men's minds is easily susceptible of surrounding influences. It is not principle but feeling which forms their pendulum rod; and according as this very variable material is affected their index creeps or gallops, they are swift or slow in the work given them to do. But principle is like the compensation rod, which neither lengthens in the languid heat nor shortens in the brisker cold, but does the same work day by day, whether the ice-winds whistle or the simoom glow; and of all principles a high-principled affection to the Saviour is the strongest and most secure.

(J. Hamilton, D. D.)

I. WE SHALL FIRST ATTEND TO THE APOSTLE'S DESCRIPTION OF THE MORAL WORLD, He says of man that he is dead. This strong figure of language expresses the inertness as to spiritual duties — the inutility — the offensiveness of a soul alienated from the life of God. He intimates, by this allusion, that the nature of man is in that state which no more answers the designs of his creation than the tenant of a grave can promote the purposes and discharge the offices of social existence.

II. THE ASSURANCE THAT THE ASPECT OF THE ATONEMENT IS UNIVERSAL AS THE DOMINION OF HUMAN GUILT AND WRETCHEDNESS. This forms the second motive of the apostle's zeal. This sentiment is not more animating as a doctrine of faith than it has been found efficient as a principle of Christian activity. Its influence on the generous spirit of the apostle elicited an active benevolence so warm that it could not be agreeably employed in an enterprise less sublime than that of applying, in the widest possible sense, the remedy of the gospel to the universal infection.


1. The love of Christ may constrain as an example.

2. The love of Christ constrains likewise by the force of gratitude. What bonds of obligations are implied in these expressions, "We live!" "He died for us, and rose again!"Guided by this definition of the subject, we proceed now to illustrate it by the following observations: —

1. This love is a principle of self-consecration to the interests of Jesus Christ.

2. The love of Christ is accompanied by a principle of strong anticipation of His mediatorial glory in the world. The Church of Jesus Christ, breathing His Spirit, is naturally concerned in all that relates to His glory. The Sun of Righteousness is not for ever to be clouded: and it does gratify the love we cherish toward our glorious Saviour to be assured that a day is coming in which the whole world shall be the scene of His triumphant influence.

3. The love of Christ implies an habitual reliance on the agency of the Holy Spirit.

(S. Curwen.)

Note —

I. WHERE LIES THE POWER OF CHRIST UPON MEN. There is nothing parallel with the permanent influence which Christ exercises all through the centuries. Contrast it with the influence of all other great names. But here is a man, dead for nearly nineteen centuries, to whom millions of hearts still turn, owning His mystic influence and smile as more than sufficient guerdon for the miseries of life and the agonies of death. The phenomenon is so strange that one is led to ask where lies the secret of the power. Paul tells us "The love... constrains," and it does so because He died.

1. If we are to feel His constraining love, we must first of all believe that Christ loved us and loves us still. If He knew no more of the future generations, and had no more reference to the units that make up their crowds, than some benefactor or teacher of old may have had, who flung out his words or deeds as archers draw their bows, not knowing where the arrow would light, then the love He deserves from me is even more tepid than the love which, on the supposition, He gave to me. But if I can believe, as Paul believed, that he was in the mind and the heart of the Man of Nazareth when He died upon the Cross; and if we believe, as Paul believed, that, though that Lord had gone up on high, there were in His human-divine heart a love to His poor servant, struggling down here for His sake; then, and only then, can we say reasonably the love that Christ bore, and bears to me, "constraineth me."

2. If there is to be this warmth of love, there must be the recognition of His death as the great sacrifice and sign of His love to us. "Rule thou over us," said the ancient people to their king, "for thou hast delivered us out of the hand of our enemies." The centre of Christ's power over men's hearts is to be found in the fact that He died on the Cross for each of us. That teaching which denies the sacrifical death of Christ and has brought Him down to the level of a man, has failed to kindle any warmth of affection for Him. A Christ that did not die for me on the Cross is not a Christ who has either the right or the power to rule my life. The Cross, interpreted as Paul interpreted it, is the secret of all His power, and if once Christian teachers and churches fail to grasp it as Paul did, their strength is departed.


1. A life in which self is deposed and Christ is King. The natural life of man has self for its centre. That is the definition of sin, and it is the condition of us all; and nothing but Christ can radically eject it from the heart, and throne the unselfishly Beloved in the vacant place. Nature abhors a vacuum, and the only way to keep the devil out is to get Christ in. There is but one power which is strong enough to lift our lives from the pivot on which they turn, and to set them vibrating in a new direction, and that is the recognition of the infinite and so tender love of Jesus Christ for each of us. That love may constrain us, shutting out much that one used to like to expatiate in; but within these limits there is perfect freedom. There is no life so blessed and heroic, none in which suffering is so light, pain so easy, duty so delightful as the life that we live when, by Christ's grace, we have thrown off the dominion of self and held out willing wrists to be enfranchised by being fettered by the "bands of love." A comet — these vagrants of the skies — has liberty to roam, and what does it make of it? It plunges away out into depths of darkness and infernos of ice and told. But if it came within the attraction of some great blazing sun, and subsided into a planet, it would have lost nothing of its true liberty, and would move in music and light around the source of blessedness and life. And so we, as long as we make ourselves the "sinful centres of our rebel powers," so long do we subject ourselves to alterations of temperature almost too great to bear. Let us come back to the light, and mow round the Christ; satellites of that Sun, and therefore illumined by His light and warmed by His life-producing heat.

2. One that will often look like madness, Paul was evidently quoting some of the stinging-nettles of speech which had been cast at him by his antagonists. "He is mad," they said of him, as they said of his Master. But such enthusiasts are the salt of the earth; and the mad-men of to-day are the Solomons of to-morrow. Oh! would that there would come similar "fanatics" once more! They would lift all the level of this hollow Christianity in which so many of us are living. If we once had amongst us men after Paul's pattern — some of us who think ourselves very consistent Christians would begin to feel the red coming into our cheeks. The man who professes to live for Christ and never gets anybody to laugh at him as "enthusiastic," and "impracticable," and "Quixotic," has much need to ask himself whether he is as near the Master as he conceits himself to be.

3. One which, in all its enthusiasm, is ruled by the highest sobriety and clearest sanity, "Whether we be sober it is for your cause." There is more sober sense in being what the world calls fanatical, if the truths upon the pages of Scripture are truths, than in being cold and composed in their presence. The enthusiasts, who see visions and dream dreams about God and Christ and heaven and hell, and the duties that are consequent — these are the sober-minded men. There were many learned rabbis in Jerusalem, and many intimate friends in Tarsus, who, when the news came that Gamaliel's promising pupil had gone over to the enemy, and flung up the splendid prospects opening before him, said to themselves, "What a fool the young man is!" They kept their belief and he kept his. All the lives are over now. Which of them was the wise life?

III. WHAT IS YOUR ATTITUDE TO THAT CONSTRAINING LOVE? The outward manner of the apostle's life is not for us, but the principle which underlies is as absolutely and as imperatively and as all-comprehensively applicable in our case as it was in his. There was absolutely no reason for Paul's devotion which does not continue in full force for yours and mine.

1. Christian men and women, do you believe in that dying and living love for you? Do you repay it with devotion in any measure adequate to what you have received?

2. And for some of us who make no profession, and have no reality of Christian feeling, the question is, "Do ye thus requite the Lord, O foolish people and unwise?" Jesus has loved, and does love, thee; died for thee. He stretches out that grasping hand, with a nail-hole in it, to lay hold upon you, and you slip from His clasp, and oppose to His love a negligent and unaffected heart. Is there any madness in this mad world like that? Is there any sin like the sin of ingratitude to Jesus?

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

I. HOW A SINNER MAY COME TO KNOW THAT CHRIST LOVED HIM, FOR A VERY OBVIOUS REASON — THAT NO TRUTH NOR FACT CAN HAVE ANY INFLUENCE UPON OUR CONDUCT, UNLESS WE KNOW IT AND HAVE SOME INTEREST IN IT. We come to a knowledge of the love of God and of Christ by faith. "And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life; and this life is in His Son."


1. It is eternal love. "The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee."

2. The love of Christ is free love. For it is offered without conditions or qualifications. We are to buy Him without money and without price.

3. The love of Christ to sinners is sovereign love.

4. His love is constant and everlasting love. Like the sun, it may sometimes be obscured to the believer's view by unbelief, ingratitude, and remaining lusts and idols; but the obscurity is in the believer's darkened eye, not in God.


1. The love of Christ, when truly believed by the renewed soul, carries away the soul by its moral power both to will and to perform our duty earnestly and constantly. The soul when under the influence of this love, may be compared to a bark set down on the cataracts of the Nile: whether the seamen will or not, they are carried down the stream.

2. The love of Christ constrains us to give all diligence to make our calling and our election sure.

3. If we believe that God and Christ love us, it will constrain us sweetly and powerfully to love Him again, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

4. But the love of Christ received into the heart by faith in the record constrains, not only to holiness in general, but to every particular duty required in the holy law.

(F. Frew.)

1. "The love of Christ" — His to man, not man's to Him — yet His in its quickening activity, creating its own image in the breast. To constrain is so to shut in as to compel to a given end. Unconstrained, the river would spread out into a marsh, a dismal waste, fruitful only of pestilence and death. Shut in by its constraining banks, it flows a thing of life and beauty, watering garden and field, purifying and gladdening cities, and broadening into the bay on whose fair bosom ships float as they come and go on their beneficent mission of exchange and distribution. So man, constrained by the love of Christ, is so shut in as to be forbidden to wander and spread into a dismal and pestilent waste; is forced rather to move to a divine end, like a river of life flowing from God, hastening to God, in a channel made and moulded by His hand.

2. Now I wish to take Christian missions — the most manifest example of the constraining love of Christ — as a type of this great truth, that the service of God and of man are made one in the service of Christ. Note —

I. THE RELATION BETWEEN THE CHARACTER OF A MAN AND HIS SERVICE OF HIS KIND. A bad man can never be a minister of good. Eminent intellect without character is mischievous. A statesman with genius but without character is a calamity to the State. The creative genius may leave behind imperishable works in literature and art, but if he be mean and unclean he will leave a heritage of evil. It is inevitable that the service of man be the peculiar prerogative of the good. The man, therefore, that would serve men in the way of Christ must have the spirit of Christ. Mere decent, responsible, respectable, conventional formalism will not do. It is not enough to stand aloof from the man that does evil. It is necessary that we take the man's soul into our own and save him, if need be, by our very death.


1. The love of wealth, not of money — the greedy passion of the miser, but love of wealth which treats money as a means of distribution. Look at. the immense factory with its thousands of operatives, filling so many homes with comfort, so many mouths with bread. Look at the great ships as they bear from distant lands to this, or from this to distant lands, commodities enriching, gladdening life. There is wonderful power in wealth used as a means; but mark, to be good, it is necessary —(1) That it be in the hands of a good man. A bad man behind wealth uses it only to the deterioration of the world.(2) That it be distributed. Accumulated wealth is not accumulated weal. A few rich men do not make a rich or a contented people.

2. Love of power — the desire both to make and to be a law that men shall obey. A statesman, patriotic, makes laws that he may secure the greatest blessing to the individual and to the collective people. The statesman, ambitious, makes laws to serve his own ends, sacrifices what was meant for mankind to his own personal good. The merely ambitious soldier looks at the army he commands as an immense machine, only to be used that it may be hurled against a similar machine, so as to break it without itself being broken. The soldier patriotic thinks that every man in that vast army is a conscious spirit, a centre of influence, needing, if possible, to be saved. The one says with Napoleon, "Russian Campaign! what of it? It cost me only three thousand men," careless of the men, careful of himself. The other, like the hero of Sempach, will gather a sheaf of Austrian spears into his breast that the rank of the enemy may be broken and the land saved. Love of power blesses man only when in the presence of a great love it is glorified into patriotism, philanthropy.

3. The love of culture. Its great apostle tells us that its function is criticism of life. What that means we know. A man trained to enjoy the art and literature of past and present, made toward his meaner fellows finical, hypercritical, helping them only by sardonic sarcasm. In culture there may be the training of a character to a nobler, while self-conscious, enjoyment, but not to the large, devoted service that seeks the saving of men.

4. But may you not drill a man into service of his kind by terror? What makes a coward unmakes a man of him; what compels a man to a service which he does not love, makes him impotent for good. In fear there is no power to create the man that can regenerate the world.


1. Here are three men. Look at them before the love finds them. Peter is a bronzed, hard-handed, brawny fisherman. He knows Jerusalem, has heard of Rome and, perhaps, of Athens; but cannot tell what they mean. He is a man who owns, perhaps, his boat and his nets, and thinks himself happy indeed if he lands a draught of fishes. There he is — familiar figure. Here now is John — more favoured by nature, radiant of face, clear of brow. Still, he is but the fisherman's son, destined fisherman to be — to be a husband, a father; known to his sons and grandsons, then forgotten. And here is Paul, tent-maker, skilled in the law and history of his people. He, left as he is, would become a name with Gamaliel or Hillel.

2. Mark how the love of Christ comes to and acts on these men. It lays hold on that Peter. Suddenly he becomes a leader of men, who stands undismayed before the priests and rulers. And this John becomes a great interpreter, historian, thinker, and ages sit at his feet and dwell on his words. And Paul, converted, made missionary, in prisons oft, stripes many, stoned, afflicted, etc., still snatches moments amid his career to speak over the ages words that live as veritable spirit and power.

3. This love acts in each of the men in its own particular fashion. Peter it makes a legislator and leader of men, and people say, "How great is Peter!" But how different John! The Saviour says, "Son, behold Thy mother." While Peter had charge of the sheep and of the lambs, John had charge of the mother, and that seemed all. But this educated John till, through the mother's love for him and his love to the mother, he came to understand as no other man did the Saviour's love to the world, the Father's love to the Son. Then look at Paul. He, a trained Pharisee, comes and sees all history, all men, all time, in the light of Christ. Law and gospel, first and second man, grace and sin, faith and works, all, as it were, came through him into articulate expression; and he shows the love making the preacher, the missionary, the thinker, all in one.

4. Now these three men are typical men. The love that worked that change in them is a love working still. Other loves lose their presence and potency over men. This love, never. This age has seen no more wonderful discovery than that of the conservation and correlation of the physical forces, no atom ever destroyed, every atom ever in process of change. But think of this grand moral dynamic, one in essence, indestructible in being, infinite in the variety of its forms, which we call the love of Christ. It took shape in the apostles. Since then it has created saints and heroes, who have stood like against the world, or like Knox, who never feared the face of men, and thinkers like , Aquinas, and Calvin. It has entered into the spirit of reformers, and it has made men like Luther and Zwingle stand up to change the destiny of people and introduce a newer and grander day. It has created great preachers, like Howe and Bunyan and Wesley.


1. Mark. Love is an old thing. Christ did not make it, but found it the most universal and most potent force in the world. But ere He had come one thing love had never done. Lover to lover had been dear. But man as man had not been served through love. And yet without love men cannot be served. It needs not that we hate — it needs only that we be void of affection, to be unable to serve.

2. But look how hard it is to love. See nations, kin, speaking the same speech, under the same institutions, divided by a strip of silver sea, face to face, but disaffected towards each other. Why come wars and fightings? Nations do not love each other. Classes are divided. Here stands culture contemptuous to ignorance, and vice versa. Here is capital looking askance at labour. There is labour making wealth, jealous of the accumulated wealth it has seen made. And see how men, for moral reasons, are unable to love each other.

3. Now mark how Christ accomplished this grand impossibility of love. He came, and He made love to Him become love to all men. Love to persons means the desire to possess the person loved. Love to Christ means a passion to make men possess Him. There is no nation or class in Him. There is humanity. In loving Him you love the very worst as well as the best.

4. But so far we have been only stating fact. We have not yet got the why. Mark, the love that is in Christ is(1) God's love, made real, living love on earth for men. Some men think that they could learn God's love apart from Christ Could they? Did they ere He came? Can they now He has come? "This world is very lovely. O my God, I thank Thee that I live." And 'tis so lovely to stand on mountain peak at break of day, and see from out the east the glorious sunrise bringing light and health and beauty in his beams. But carry to the mountain summit a man who has just left the bed of death, where the dearest of earth to him doth lie. What would the man say? But place him in sight of the love of Christ and you place him in the very heart of God. The Man of Sorrows makes to the man in sorrow God come divinely near.(2) The very love that made and the very end that was purposed for the world. The love that made the world gave the Son. Is not the giver ever greater than the thing given? The love of God gave its dignity to the gift of God. Without the love how ever was the gift possible?(3) Love to God as a person. To God's Son as a person. There cannot be love to aught but persons. Devotion to a cause is not love to Christ, not even if the cause be named a church. The cause must be impersonated.(4) God's love sacrificial, painful, pitiful, redemptive. It lifts us into the nature of God and makes us see God, how He feels pity, suffers sacrifice.

(A. M. Fairbairn, D. D.)

I. UNDER CONSTRAINT. Here is a man who beyond all others enjoyed the greatest spiritual liberty, glorying that he is under constraint.

1. A great force held him under its power. "Constraineth."(1) Consider the various meanings of the word "constrain." "Restrain."

(a)The love of God "restrains" from self-seeking, and forbids the pursuit of any object but the highest.

(b)The believer is "coerced or pressed," and so impelled forward as one carried along by pressure.

(c)Christ's love "keeps us employed"; for we are carried forward to diligence by it.

(d)The Lord's servants are "kept together and held as a band" under a standard. "His banner over me was love."

(e)All their energies are "pressed into one channel, and made to move" by the love of Christ.(2) All great lives have been under the constraint of some mastering principle. A man who is everything by turns and nothing long is a nobody: but a man, even for mischief, becomes great when he becomes concentrated. What made Alexander but the absorption of his whole mind in the desire for conquest? Hence come your Caesars and your Napoleons — they are whole men in their ambition. When you carry this thought into a holier sphere the same fact is clear. Howard could never have been the great philanthropist if he had not been strangely under the witchery of love to prisoners. Whitfield and Wesley had but one thought, and that was to win souls for Christ.(3) Now, this kind of constraint implies no compulsion, and involves no bondage. It is the highest order of freedom; for when a man does exactly what he likes he expresses his delight generally in language similar to that of my text. Though he is perfectly free to leave it, he will commonly declare that he cannot leave it. When the love of Christ constrains us we have not ceased to be voluntary agents; we are never so free as when we are under bonds to Christ.

2. The constraining force was the love of Christ. That love, according to our text, is strongest when seen in His dying for men. Think of this love till you feel its constraining influence. It was love



(3)Most free and spontaneous;

(4)Most persevering;

(5)Infinite, inconceivable!It passeth the love of women and the love of martyrs. All other lights of love pale their ineffectual brightness before this blazing sun of love, whose warmth a man may feel, but upon whose utmost light no eye can gaze.

3. The love of Christ operates upon us by begetting in us love to Him. "We love Him because He first loved us."(1) His person is very dear to us: from His head to His feet He is altogether lovely. We are glad to be in the place of assembly when Jesus is within; for whether on Tabor with two or three, or in the congregation of the faithful, when Jesus is present it is good to be there.(2) Your endeavours to spread the gospel show that you love His cause.(3) As to His truth, a very great part of our love to Christ will show itself by attachment to the pure gospel, especially to that doctrine which is the corner-stone of all, namely, that Christ died in the stead of men.

4. This force acts proportionately in believers. We are all of us alive, but the vigour of life differs greatly in the consumptive and the athletic. You will feel the power of the love of Christ in your soul in proportion —(1) As you know it. Study, then, the love of Christ.(2) To your sense of it. Knowing is well, but enjoyment as the result of believing is better.(3) To the grace which dwells within you. You may measure your grace by the power which the love of Christ has over you.(4) To your Christ-likeness.

5. It will operate after its kind. Forces work according to their nature. He who feels Christ's love acts as Christ acted.(1) If thou dost really feel the love of Christ in making a sacrifice of Himself thou Wilt make a sacrifice of thyself.(2) If the love of Christ constrain you it will make you love others, specially those who have no apparent claim upon you, but who, on the contrary, deserve your censure. I do not know how else we could care for some, if it were not that Jesus teaches us to despise and despair of none.(3) The love of Jesus Christ was a practical love.

II. THIS CONSTRAINT WAS JUSTIFIED BY THE APOSTLE'S UNDERSTANDING. "The love of Christ constraineth, because we thus judge." When understanding is the basis of affection, then a man's heart is fixed and his conduct exemplary. Paul's judgment was as the brazen altar, cold and hard, but on it he)aid the coals of burning affection, vehement enough in their flame to consume everything. So it ought to be with us. Paul recognised —

1. Substitution. "One died for all." This is the very sinew of Christian effort. Did He die for me? Then His love hath mastered me, and henceforth it holds me as its willing captive.

2. Union to Christ. "If one died for all, then they all died."Conclusions:

1. How different is the inference of the apostle from that of many professors! They say, "If Christ died once for all, then I am saved, and may sit down in comfort and enjoy myself, for there is no need for effort or thought."

2. How much more ennobling is the apostle's than that of those who do give to the cause of God and serve Him after a fashion, but still the main thought of their life is not Christ nor His service, but the gaining of wealth or success in their profession! The chief aim of all of us should be nothing of self, but serving Christ.

3. Such a pursuit as this is much more peace-giving to the spirit. If you live for Christ, and for Christ alone, all the carpings of men or devils will never cast you down.

4. A life spent for Jesus only is far more worth looking back upon at the last than any other. If you call yourselves Christians how will you judge a life spent in money-making?

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Consider: —


1. That Christ died for us (John 15:13; Romans 5:6).

2. That He rose again. This was designed for our advantage (Romans 4:25). As His suffering and death were for the payment of our debt, so His resurrection was in order to our discharge. He arose and went to heaven, there to appear in the presence of God for us, and to prepare a place there for His followers.

3. That He died and rose again that we might live; that is, that we might be acquitted from our guilt, delivered from, condemnation, be renewed to a spiritual life of holiness, and be raised at last to heaven.

II. OUR LOVE TO CHRIST WHICH IS THE FRUIT OF HIS LOVE TO US. Christ will own none for His friends who love Him not (1 Corinthians 16:22; Luke 14:26; Matthew 10:37).

III. THE GENUINE AND POWERFUL EFFECT OF THIS LOVE. It will constrain us to live unto Him, which implies —

1. Obedience to His will (John 14:15, 21, 23). This obedience must be —(1) Willing and hearty obedience. Not like that of slaves to a tyrant, where the only motive to obey is fear of punishment. Of this sort is all the obedience which wicked men pay to Christ.(2) Sincere and universal to all Christ's commandments, without any exception. I do not mean that it will be perfect; but yet true love will not knowingly allow of any defect in obedience.(3) Like its principle, constant and persevering. We shall not obey Him by fits and starts. Obedience may possibly admit of some interruptions, but it will never be laid aside.

2. Zealous for His interest and honour. Here it will be proper to consider —(1) The nature of zeal for Christ. Zeal is the natural fervour of the mind when it is very earnest in any pursuit. Sometimes it is a very bad thing; but when it is under the influence of Divine grace, and directed to a right object, it is then exceeding good (Galatians 4:18). Christ Himself was a pattern to us of holy zeal (John 2:17). Let the same mind be in Us which was also in Jesus Christ — particularly(a) Grief and resentment at any injuries which are done to His honour. A warm love to Christ will make His honour and interest as dear to us as our own.(b) Courage in Christ's cause, as Christ's zeal for His Father's honour inspired Him with courage to drive out the profaners of the Temple. Such was the zeal of the apostles (Acts 4:19, 20; Acts 21:13).(c) Diligence in using all proper means to gain over subjects to Christ's kingdom and converts to His gospel.(d) Joy in the advancement of His kingdom and interest.(2) Motives and reasons for this zeal. Consider —(a) How zealous Christ has been and is for you and your interest. He died for you.(b) How little all you can do for Christ will amount unto, and what a mean and poor requital it will be for His love.(c) How zealous the devil and his agents are against Christ, and to hinder the advancement of His kingdom, and should not we be at least as zealous to promote it?(d) How Christ will nobly requite your zeal for Him another day (Matthew 10:32; Luke 12:8).

(D. Jennings.)

When we see a successful life we are always curious to know what is the secret of it. You see a man who is successful in business, and you wonder what are the qualities in him which make him the successful man he is. The motive power of life is love.

1. Some Christians make the secret of their life fear. What a horrible thing to live with nothing but that fear of death to keep a man away from the slough of animalism!

2. And the motive power of a Christian life is not conscience. A few years ago a young man who was going to enter the ministry as an apostle of ethical culture came to see me, and we talked his ministry over. He told me he was going down into one of the wards of New York City to work for the regeneration of men. He said: "I do not want merely to make them happier; I want to make them really better." I asked him: "What is the power on which you rely to make them better?" "I shall appeal to their sense of right; I shall not appeal to anything else, but I shall try to show them that they ought to be righteous because it is righteous, they ought to do right because it is right," He was going to build his religion on what? Love? No! On conscience. Judaism, Puritanism, and Ethical Culture are incarnate conscience. Christianity is incarnate love. A man may conform to law because it is righteous law; but he cannot love the law. You cannot love an abstraction.

3. Thus over against the life that is keyed to fear and the life that is keyed to conscience Paul puts the life that is keyed to love. "The love of Christ constraineth us." I want to trace the way in which that love grows up in a human soul. The child begins by loving her father or her mother. The child sees righteousness, truth, purity, patience, fidelity, love, in that father, that mother. And this child who sees in the father the Christly quality, but does not know it is Christly, and begins to love, is already loving Christ, though it is the Christ in fragment, the Christ in a hint. This child goes out into life, little by little, and learns that love is larger than she thought. She learns that father and mother do not incarnate all the phases of love. Love is not confined to the few. There are other husbands that love, other fathers that love, other mothers that love, other phases of love. No one soul can teach all the lessons of love. The length and breadth and height of love — how large it is, how multiplex it is .t Learning this, she learns to love also, bears burdens and learns the patience of love, finds the opportunity to do good and learns the service of love. For we learn love only by loving. Many stop there. They have learned the love which we call philanthropy. But they do not know that which lies beyond and is greater than all, because it is in all the love of God, the love of Christ. And so they walk always, it seems to me, in a certain sadness or possibility of sadness, I took my Greek Concordance the other day to see what this word "constrains" means; and, instead of looking up the classical Greek, I looked to see how it was used elsewhere in the New Testament. And at first I said, I am not getting much light from this investigation. I turned to one incident where it is said "the crowd thronged Jesus Christ," and I found the word "thronged" was the same as the word "constrained." And I turned to another passage where it was said that "the soldiers came and took Jesus Christ," and I found the word "took" was the same as the word in our text "constrained." And I came to another passage where it is said that "a woman was sick with a great fever," and I found the word "sick " was the same as the word here "constrained." This seemed at first strange. But pondering made it clear. Our text is an illustration of St. Paul's genius of talking in metaphor, for Paul was a poet and broke through the rules of rhetoric because his spirit was too strong to be caged by language. Paul is the poet, and it is the poet that speaks here of love. Love is a crowd. Love from father, from mother, from brother, from sister, from brethren, throngs all about Paul, and carries him, as it were, off his feet, as a man is taken by a great crowd and forced along the highway. Love is a soldier; it has come and laid violent hands upon Paul; and he is no longer his own master. Love is his master. Love has captured him, taken him prisoner; Love does with him what he will. Do not be troubled if you do not have the full experience of Paul at the beginning of your life. Have you money, and do you wonder what you shall do with it? Let love tell you. Have you a little time this week, and do you wish to know what you shall do with it? Let love tell you. Have you a friend who has done wrong to you, and you wonder what you ought to do? Let love tell you. Are you questioning what course in life you shall take? Let love tell you.

(Lyman Abbott, D. D.)

1. If enthusiasm be right in any case, it is more than justifiable in the Christian. In such a career as his, it is impious to be calm, if calmness be coldness.

2. Now Paul was an enthusiast. Young Saul, the pupil of Gamaliel, the Pharisee, the persecutor, was an enthusiast. And Paul, the convert, preacher, missionary, is an enthusiast still. With this difference, that the fire now burning on the altar of his heart is heaven-kindled, sustained, and attracted.

3. There were two classes who did not appreciate Paul's enthusiasm; men of no religion at all, like Festus, and false brethren. While Festus said, "Paul, thou art beside thyself," persons connected with the Church at Corinth said the same. Paul's defence was that whether sober or mad the love of Christ constrained him. Consider —

I. THE LOVE OF CHRIST, i.e., the love in Christ which begets love for Christ.

1. The love which is in Christ is the love of God united with the love of man. Like a stream which starts from inaccessible mountains, and on some distant plain joins itself to some small rivulet, in the love of Christ there is everlasting, self-existent, Almighty love; yet mingling with it is a love begotten and limited by the constitution of human nature. The love of Christ, as Divine, is like the sun, distant, vast, and commanding; yet like the fires that blaze on our hearths in winter, cheerful, accessible, and inviting, It is like a great mountain almost defying us to climb; and yet like green pastures at our feet, tempting us to lie down.

2. Oh, that we could comprehend this "love of Christ which passeth knowledge!" In one sense we do know it. We know what Christ did: "went about doing good." We know why Christ suffered: "to bring us to God." But how much is there, even connected with these things, which surpasseth knowledge; and what less can he who hears of Christ's love say, than, "Lord, Thou knowest all things, Thou knowest that I love Thee"? As fire spreads fire, if it come in contact with any inflammable material, so love begets love in the hearts which are susceptible of love.

3. Now love to Christ is awakened by the love of Christ. In the first instance our love is simple gratitude; but very soon it becomes delight, loyalty, friendship, complacency. And then it increases with our faith, and with its own manifestations.

II. THE EFFECT IT PRODUCES. What does Paul mean by constraineth? That it held him to one object of life, that one object being Christ, and it shut him up to one course of conduct. The love of Christ laid hold of the man's mind and kept his thinking faculty moving. It supplied him with motives. It quickened his conscience, commanded his will, lifted up and cast down emotions, formed his character, directed his conduct, and moulded his entire life.

1. Now no man need aspire to the apostleship in order to be a constant and devoted servant of Jesus. Martha and Mary were as much constrained by the love of our Saviour as was Paul. What we need is not a change of sphere, but a change of influence upon us. And the great influence to move you in your sphere, is the love of Christ.

2. How does the love of Christ constrain you? And are you sometimes misunderstood because of this? Do you please the men who are trying to make a compromise between ungodly and Christian principle? Are you at rest in their society, and are they at ease in yours? If this be the case you are not what Paul was when he penned these words. Your career is not like that of a planet commanded and controlled by the sun; but that of the iceberg — always ice — only sometimes ice thawing and melting upon the surface. And shall this sort of being put himself forward as a Christian? Shall this man ever be misinterpreted? What is there to perplex one? A man with no religious excitement cannot be a Christian. What is this gospel but feeling, passion, from beginning to end? It comes gushing out of the very heart of God. "God is love," and God so loved the world, etc. Can I believe this without feeling? I may make it part of my creed without feeling. But can I live upon it without feeling? The coldest piece of humanity must be warmed by the gospel if it be believed. Conclusion: — Use this subject for personal examination. Do ask, what have I in this heart of mine? Have I fire, or have I ice? Apply the remedy. Believe the good news now.

(S. Martin.)

One died for all
I. But first of all I would have you consider the ethical value of the FACT of the atonement. What I mean by that is, the ethical significance of the atonement itself considered apart from our apprehension of it and belief in it. What was there of ethical life and force essentially involved in the atonement? Is it a merely legal and technical fact, external to all life — something that men can brush aside and say, We can do without it? Or is it a manifestation of the ethical life of God, creation's fundamental ethical fact, replete with ethical forces?

1. Observe, first, that the act of atonement is deep-set in the ethical life of God. It is the expression, and of course the natural expression, of infinite love. It is simply the ethical life of the Infinite acting out its own inner fulness under the special conditions of a fallen world. The self-sacrificing love of Christ is actually the self-sacrificing love of God. God proves that He can really love by revealing the power of self-sacrifice. The underlying source of all ethical life is the rich self-sacrificing life of God as revealed in Christ. To deny that God is capable of sacrifice is to deny that He is an ethical Being. If God is love, then it must be possible for Him to resort to sacrifice, if necessary, to save the world.

2. The atonement was accomplished through the medium of ethical forces. I want you to notice these fourteenth and fifteenth verses very carefully, in order that you may bear in mind what I mean. So you perceive that the atonement was not merely a legal act; it was God's life coming into our life. Not God sending His Son to stand outside of our life, and then pouring wrath down upon Him straight from heaven. There is no life, no power in that conception. That is not true atonement. There is yet another step along the path of ethical force. According to the Scriptures there have come into the human race new and infinite ethical forces through the Atonement. After sin had come into the world, man was rendered incapable in himself of ethical life. Sin brought in death and complete moral impotency. Then Christ name and linked Himself to the universal life of humanity. When He came He stood against the surging tide of human sin, He bore the terrible onset of it in His own life, standing as "the Son of Man" in the centre of the terrible tumult. Then with infinite power He sent the tide back, and brought humanity into the possibility of life again. Herein lies the ethical reality of the atonement — of the great sacrifice in which the Son of God suffered for the sins of the world. Through that expiation, and only through that, has spiritual life and power become possible for man.

II. So much for the fact of the atonement, the ethical significance that appertains to it, and the ethical force that pervades the whole of it. If this is true, if the fact of the Atonement is in very deed the basis of all ethical possibility, THEN IT IS NATURAL TO EXPECT THAT BELIEF IN THE ATONEMENT WILL BE A POWERFUL INSPIRATION AND INCENTIVE TO ETHICAL LIFE. And we shall find that it is so.

1. First of all, the consciousness of sin produced by the idea of the atonement is a mighty impulse and incentive to ethical life. Which do you think of two men is likely to struggle with intensity of purpose against temptations to sin — the man that thinks sin means death, the man that believes it was arrested on its path, that it is pardoned, only through the sacrifice of the Son of God, or the man that thinks it is only a little imperfection or immaturity that will gradually whittle itself away? Which do you think of the two is likely to be the stronger morally and spiritually?

2. Then, again, the idea of forgiveness through expiation is a mighty inspiration to ethical and spiritual life. God forgives me at great cost to Himself — that is love indeed! There are people who talk of the love of God that do not know what they mean by it. A love that costs nothing! A love that is utterly incapable of proving its own existence! For these people tell us that the Infinite is incapable of the sacrifices of love. He can be complacent, kind, benevolent; He can let your sin pass away, just because He can do it without trouble or cost to Himself. Is that the inspiration that will send the warm life-throb of gratitude and love to God leaping in our life, that will fire us with enthusiasm to follow after holiness?

3. Then, again, the idea of the proprietary right of Jesus Christ over us is one of the grandest incentives to ethical life and service. Paul has presented it to us very fully here — "If one died, then all died," and "He died for all, that they which live shall not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them and rose again." If Christ's death was an atonement, an expiation, then you and I died in that death. We have no life to call our own any more; we died on His Cross. What, then, is our present condition? Why, we are Christ's own. The only life we have is the life He has given us. What right have you to serve yourself? Some one may say that we have the conception of God's proprietorship over us apart from the atonement. But we know from experience that in a fallen world like this the conception of God as Creator is of little ethical value until it is set in that of God, the atoning Saviour. There are those that even make their creation into such a world as this a ground of complaint against God. But, taken apart, there is no comparison between their several ethical values. Our obligation to the God that created us is vague and unimportant compared with our obligation to the God that redeemed us through sacrifice. The life we received from the hands of the Creator cost Him but little compared with that we have received from the sacrifice of the atoning God, so the constraining love is vastly greater in the latter case than in the former.

4. Further, the conception of the ever-present living Christ is full of inspiration. But, says some one, even apart from the atonement and apart from the God manifest in Christ, we may feel that we have the presence of God with us. What do you know about the ethical relations of the Almighty except what you know in Jesus Christ? Suppose God had not revealed Himself in His Son, then the vague conception of a Divine presence which would have been left to us would have afforded little inspiration and stimulus to live a holy life.

III. Now, in order to make our examination quite complete, it is only fair to see what inspiration we can count upon — WHAT ETHICAL FORCES REMAIN TO US WERE WE TO LEAVE OUT OF ACCOUNT THE INCARNATION OF GOD AND THE EXPIATORY ATONEMENT OF CHRIST. There are left to us the following conceptions —

1. We have remaining, first of all, the belief in sin as an imperfection or immaturity — the belief that this sin is not even in itself an unmitigated evil if an evil at all — is only the reverse side of good that it is as necessary in the economy of God's world as goodness — and we have only to wait a little while and it will pass away. How much inspiration for effort is there in that conception — how much inspiration to struggle against sin?

2. Further, if we leave the atonement of Jesus Christ out of account, we have Jesus Christ left as a pattern for us. I do not undervalue the fact that the life of Christ is an ideal copy, But compare that with the belief that that ideal life is also a living, infinite force within you.

3. Further, we have remaining the belief in God as the Father of spirits. I really cannot say how much that would mean if we knew nothing about Jesus Christ as God incarnate. It meant very little to the highest thought of man in the Greek world before Christ came. People who reject the atonement of Christ have no right to call God Father. It is only in Christ that we know Him to be Father. Now, you can compare the two sets of ideas as an incentive to ethical life — the atonement of Christ and the ideas that circle around it, and the ideas that are left after we have excluded the atonement. I am sure that you will all agree that there is no comparison whatever between the two. It is the atonement of Christ and faith in that atonement that is alone capable of building up the noblest ethical life of man. It is not for me to determine how far ethical life may co-exist with mutilated notions of sin and atonement, with a superficial and inadequate faith in God. It is not for me to make delicate estimates of all the springs and currents of human life. But it is for me to proclaim this, that no life can ever be ethically perfected and glorified except through the power of the atonement.

(J. Thomas, M. A.)

Then were all dead
When Christ died all believers were dead in Him to sin and to the world.

I. THIS TRUTH IS ASSERTED IN SCRIPTURE (Romans 6:6; 1 Peter 4:1; Galatians 2:20; Colossians 3:3-5).


1. Christ sustained the relation of our Head. It was not in His own name that He appeared before God's tribunal, but in ours, not as a private, but as a public person, so that when He was crucified all believers were crucified in Him, for the act of a common person is the act of every particular person represented by him, as a member of parliament serveth for his whole borough or county. Now that Christ was such a common person appeareth plainly by this, that Christ was to us in grace what Adam was to us in nature or sin (Romans 5:14; 1 Corinthians 15:21, 45).

2. Christ was on the Cross not only as a common person, but as a surety. In His death there was not only a satisfaction for sin, but an obligation to destroy it (Romans 6:6).(1) On God's part Christ undertook to destroy the body of sin by the power of His Spirit (Titus 3:5; Romans 8:13).(2) On our part He undertook that we should no longer serve sin, but use all godly endeavours for the subduing it. Christ's act being the act of a surety, He did oblige all the parties interested.

3. Our consent to this engagement is —(1) Actually given when we are converted (Romans 6:13). Till the merit of Christ's death be applied by faith to the hearts of sinners, they are alive to sin, but dead to righteousness; but then they are dead to sin, and alive to righteousness, and as alive yield up themselves to serve God in all things.(2) Solemnly implied in baptism (Romans 6:3-5).


1. By consenting to Christ's engagement they have bound themselves to die unto sin (Romans 6:2; Colossians 3:3-5).

2. When the work is begun, corruption is wounded to the very heart (Romans 6:14).

3. The work is carried on by degrees, and the strength of sin is weakened by the power of grace, though not totally subdued (Galatians 5:17).

4. Christ hath undertaken to subdue it wholly, and at length the soul shall be without spot, blemish, or wrinkle (Ephesians 5:27; Philippians 1:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:23, 24).


1. This was Christ's end. He died not only to expiate the guilt of sin, but also to take away its strength and power (1 John 3:8; Galatians 2:17). Now shall we make void the end of Christ's death, which was to oppose and resist sin? Shall we cherish that which He came to destroy? God forbid. Paul gloried in the Cross, as by it crucified to the world (Galatians 6:14).

2. By way of representation, the death and agonies of Christ do set forth the hatefulness of sin.

3. It worketh on love. It should make sin hateful to consider what it did to Christ, our dearest Lord and Redeemer.

4. By way of merit. Christ shed His blood not only to redeem us from the displeasure of God and the rigour of the law, but from all iniquity (Titus 2:14; 1 Peter 1:18; Galatians 1:4). Our dying to sin is a part of Christ's purchase as well as pardon.

5. By way of pattern. Christ hath taught us how to die to sin by the example of His own death, that is, He denied Himself for us that we might deny ourselves for Him.

(T. Manton, D. D.)

Corinthians, Paul
Achaia, Corinth
Arrived, Christ, Compels, Concluded, Conclusion, Constrain, Constraineth, Constrains, Controls, Convinced, Dead, Death, Died, Judge, Judged, Love, Moving, Opinion, Overmasters, Thus, Undergone
1. That in his assured hope of immortal glory,
9. and in expectation of it, he labors to keep a good conscience;
12. not that he may boast of himself,
14. but as one that, having received life from Christ,
17. endeavors to live as a new creature to Christ only,
18. and by his ministry of reconciliation, to reconcile others also in Christ to God.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
2 Corinthians 5:14

     6632   conviction
     7740   missionaries, call
     8107   assurance, and life of faith
     8203   character
     8301   love, and enemies

2 Corinthians 5:6-14

     5109   Paul, apostle

2 Corinthians 5:14-15

     2048   Christ, love of
     2414   cross, centrality
     2530   Christ, death of
     6752   substitution
     7712   convincing
     8218   consecration
     8356   unselfishness
     8426   evangelism, motivation

2 Corinthians 5:14-20

     6690   mercy, response to God's

August 1. "For we must all Appear Before the Judgment Seat of Christ; that Every one May Receive the Things done in his Body, According to that He Hath Done" (ii Cor. v. 10).
"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done" (II Cor. v. 10). It will not always be the day of toil and trial. Some day, we shall hear our names announced before the universe, and the record read of things that we had long forgotten. How our hearts will thrill, and our heads will bow, as we shall hear our own names called, and then the Master shall recount the triumph and the services which we had
Rev. A. B. Simpson—Days of Heaven Upon Earth

The Work and Armour of the Children of the Day
'Let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for a helmet the hope of salvation.'--1 THESS. v. 8. This letter to the Thessalonians is the oldest book of the New Testament. It was probably written within something like twenty years of the Crucifixion; long, therefore, before any of the Gospels were in existence. It is, therefore, exceedingly interesting and instructive to notice how this whole context is saturated with allusions to our Lord's teaching,
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Great Reconciliation
"God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself." 2 COR. V. 19. Such considerations as we have had before us, are of far more than theoretical interest. They are of all questions the most practical. Sin is not a curious object which we examine from an aloof and external standpoint. However we regard it, to whatever view of its nature we are led, it is, alas, a fact within and not merely outside our experience. And so we are at length brought to this most personal and most urgent inquiry,
J. H. Beibitz—Gloria Crucis

Tent and Building
For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle be dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.'--2 COR. v. 1. Knowledge and ignorance, doubt and certitude, are remarkably blended in these words. The Apostle knows what many men are not certain of; the Apostle doubts as to what all men now are certain of. 'If our earthly house of this tabernacle be dissolved'--there is surely no if about that. But we must remember that the first Christians,
Alexander Maclaren—Romans, Corinthians (To II Corinthians, Chap. V)

The Love that Constrains
'The love of Christ constraineth us.'--2 COR. v. 14. It is a dangerous thing to be unlike other people. It is still more dangerous to be better than other people. The world has a little heap of depreciatory terms which it flings, age after age, at all men who have a higher standard and nobler aims than their fellows. A favourite term is 'mad.' So, long ago they said, 'The prophet is a fool; the spiritual man is mad,' and, in His turn, Jesus was said to be 'beside Himself,' and Festus shouted from
Alexander Maclaren—Romans, Corinthians (To II Corinthians, Chap. V)

Pleasing Christ
'We labour that whether present or absent we may be accepted of Him.'--2 COR. v. 2. We do not usually care very much for, or very much trust, a man's own statement of the motives of his life, especially if in the statement he takes credit for lofty and noble ones. And it would be rather a dangerous experiment for the ordinary run of so-called Christian people to stand up and say what Paul says here, that the supreme design and aim towards which all their lives are directed is to please Jesus Christ.
Alexander Maclaren—Romans, Corinthians (To II Corinthians, Chap. V)

The Entreaties of God
'Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech ... by us: we pray ... in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.'--2 COR. v. 20. These are wonderful and bold words, not so much because of what they claim for the servants as because of what they reveal of the Lord. That thought, 'as though God did beseech,' seems to me to be the one deserving of our attention now, far rather than any inferences which may be drawn from the words as to the relation of preachers of the Gospel to
Alexander Maclaren—Romans, Corinthians (To II Corinthians, Chap. V)

The Patient Workman
'Now He that hath wrought us for the self-same thing is God.'--2 COR. v. 5. These words penetrate deep into the secrets of God. They assume to have read the riddle of life. To Paul everything which we experience, outwardly or inwardly, is from the divine working. Life is to him no mere blind whirl, or unintelligent play of accidental forces, nor is it the unguided result of our own or of others' wills, but is the slow operation of the great Workman. Paul assumes to know the meaning of this protracted
Alexander Maclaren—Romans, Corinthians (To II Corinthians, Chap. V)

The Old House and the New
'We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.'--2 COR. v. 8. There lie in the words of my text simply these two things; the Christian view of what death is, and the Christian temper in which to anticipate it. I. First, the Christian view of what death is. Now it is to be observed that, properly speaking, the Apostle is not here referring to the state of the dead, but to the act of dying. The language would more literally and accurately
Alexander Maclaren—Romans, Corinthians (To II Corinthians, Chap. V)

The Sacrifice of Christ.
Preached June 23, 1850. THE SACRIFICE OF CHRIST. "For the love of Christ constraineth us; because 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."--2 Corinthians v. 14, 15. It may be, that in reading these verses some of us have understood them in a sense foreign to that of the apostle. It may have seemed that the arguments ran thus--Because Christ
Frederick W. Robertson—Sermons Preached at Brighton

The Believer a New Creature
We have two great truths here, which would serve us for the subject of meditation for many a day: the believer's position--he is "in Christ;" and the believer's character--he is a "new creature." Upon both of these we shall speak but briefly this morning, but may God grant that we may find instruction therein. I. First, then, let us consider THE CHRISTIAN'S POSITION--he is said to be "in Christ." There are three stages of the human soul in connection with Christ: the first is without Christ, this
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 15: 1869

The Great Assize
Beside that direct testimony, it should be remembered there is a convincing argument that so it must needs be, from the very fact that God is just as the Ruler over men. In all human governments there must he an assize held. Government cannot be conducted without its days of session and of trial, and, inasmuch as there is evidently sin and evil in this world, it might fairly be anticipated that there would be a time when God will go on circuit, and when he will call the prisoners before him, and
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 18: 1872

Note the doctrine; the use of it; the enjoyment of it. I. First, THE DOCTRINE. There are three persons mentioned here. "He (that is God) hath made him (that is Christ) who knew no sin, to be sin for us (sinners) that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." Before we can understand the plan of salvation, it is necessary for us to know something about the three persons, and, certainly, unless we understand them in some measure, salvation is to us impossible. 1. Here is first, GOD. Let every
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 3: 1857

Christ --Our Substitute
Little however, did I think I should live to see this kind of stuff taught in pulpits; I had no idea that there would come out a divinity, which would bring down God's moral government from he solemn aspect in which Scripture reveals it, to a namby-pamby sentimentalism, which adores a Deity destitute of every masculline virtue. But we never know to-day what may occur to-morrow. We have lived to see a certain sort of men--thank God they are not Baptists--though I am sorry to say there are a great
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 6: 1860

A Solemn Embassy
"Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God."--2 Corinthians 5:20. THERE has long been war between man and his Maker. Our federal head, Adam, threw down the gauntlet in the garden of Eden. The trumpet was heard to ring through the glades of Paradise, the trumpet which broke the silence of peace and disturbed the song of praise. From that day forward until now there has been no truce, no treaty between God and
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 62: 1916

"But if the Spirit of Him that Raised up Jesus from the Dead Dwell in You, He that Raised up Christ from the Dead Shall Also
Rom. viii. 11.--"But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you." It is true the soul is incomparably better than the body, and he is only worthy the name of a man and of a Christian who prefers this more excellent part, and employs his study and time about it, and regards his body only for the noble guest that lodges within it, and therefore it is one of the
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning

The Life of Mr. Hugh Binning.
There being a great demand for the several books that are printed under Mr. Binning's name, it was judged proper to undertake a new and correct impression of them in one volume. This being done, the publishers were much concerned to have the life of such an useful and eminent minister of Christ written, in justice to his memory, and his great services in the work of the gospel, that it might go along with this impression. We living now at so great distance from the time wherein he made a figure in
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning

Of Meditating on the Future Life.
The three divisions of this chapter,--I. The principal use of the cross is, that it in various ways accustoms us to despise the present, and excites us to aspire to the future life, sec. 1, 2. II. In withdrawing from the present life we must neither shun it nor feel hatred for it; but desiring the future life, gladly quit the present at the command of our sovereign Master, see. 3, 4. III. Our infirmity in dreading death described. The correction and safe remedy, sec. 6. 1. WHATEVER be the kind of
Archpriest John Iliytch Sergieff—On the Christian Life

Death and Judgement.
TO THE AUTHOR OF THE GUARDIAN. Sir, THE inclosed is a faithful translation from an old author, which if it deserves your notice, let the reader guess whether he was a Heathen or a Christian. I am, Your most humble Servant. "I cannot, my friends, forbear letting you know what I think of death; for, methinks, I view and understand it much better, the nearer I approach to it. 1 am convinced that your fathers, those illustrious persons whom 1 so much loved and honoured, do not cease to live, though they
Joseph Addison—The Evidences of the Christian Religion, with Additional Discourses

The Inwardness of Prayer
The Inwardness of Prayer It is difficult and even formidable thing to write on prayer, and one fears to touch the Ark. Perhaps no one ought to undertake it unless he has spent more toil in the practice of prayer than on its principle. But perhaps also the effort to look into its principle may be graciously regarded by Him who ever liveth to make intercession as itself a prayer to know better how to pray. All progress in prayer is an answer to prayer--our own or another's. And all true prayer
P. T. Forsyth—The Soul of Prayer

The Work of Regeneration.
"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold all things are become new."--2 Cor. v. 17. In our former article we contended that regeneration is a real act of God in which man is absolutely passive and unable, according to the ancient confession of the Church. Let us now reverently examine this matter more closely; not to penetrate into things too high for us, but to cut off error and to clear the consciousness. Regeneration is not sacramentally effected
Abraham Kuyper—The Work of the Holy Spirit

But this Being the Case, How to this Opinion that Should not be Contrary...
2. But this being the case, how to this opinion that should not be contrary which the Apostle says, "For we shall all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ, that each may receive according to the things he hath done by the body, [2710] whether good or bad;" [2711] this, thou signifiest, thou dost not well see. For this apostolic sentence doth before death admonish to be done, that which may profit after death; not then, first, when there is to be now a receiving of that which a person shall have
St. Augustine—On Care to Be Had for the Dead.

In the Work of the Redemption of Man, not Only the Mercy, but Also the Justice, of God is Displayed.
In the work of the Redemption of man, not only the mercy, but also the justice, of God is displayed. 15. Man therefore was lawfully delivered up, but mercifully set free. Yet mercy was shown in such a way that a kind of justice was not lacking even in his liberation, since, as was most fitting for man's recovery, it was part of the mercy of the liberator to employ justice rather than power against man's enemy. For what could man, the slave of sin, fast bound by the devil, do of himself to recover
Saint Bernard of Clairvaux—Some Letters of Saint Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux

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