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perils of the deep and in perils among all men ;

always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus,” the faint imitation of the cross by which he had been redeemed; counting life too short, and himself too worthless, as an offering to his Master's service. At the last, he laid down his life also for His name's sake. Of all this supernatural change he here gives us the true interpretation : “ The love of Christ constraineth us ; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead,” – that is, all died with

Him, -"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.”

What, then, is this love of Christ of which St. Paul is speaking ?

He does not here intend our love to Christ, but Christ's love to us.

We love Him, indeed, because He first loved

Our love is the reflection of the original light,—the heavenly ray bent back again towards its source; and where this love towards Him

; exists, it becomes a motive of perpetual service. But this is not St. Paul's intention : he is here speaking of the motive of that motive. What is it that awakens our love to Him, but His love first to us? Love is the principle

Love is the principle of obedience,


1 2 Cor. v. 14, 15.

but the principle of love is love. And of this the Apostle speaks, — the love which descends from Him to us. Let us begin at this source of all.

God is love, and love is the law of His kingdom. There is a hierarchy of love, having its beginning in the Eternal Three, descending from the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost to all orders of created spirits, angelic and ministering, and to all creatures in earth and heaven, binding all in one. Love is the stooping of the higher to the lower, the Creator to the creature, the parent to the child, the stronger to the weaker, the sinless to the sinful, — God stooping down to man. The penetrating, exalting consciousness that we are objects of the love of God-this love, which has its fountains in eternity, has made apostles, martyrs, saints, and penitents. And this consciousness is awakened in us by a sense of the love of Christ. The love that constrains us is the love of God manifest in the flesh,—of the Eternal Word incarnate. What was it but His everlasting love as God that constrained Him to make Himself of no reputation, and take upon Him our manhood? What constrained Him to give Himself, as God and man, to suffer a life of sorrow and a death of His love, perfect both in His Godhead and in His manhood ? This free, spontaneous, ineffable thirst for our salvation was the power which drew Him

agony, but from His throne to the cross. The zeal which devoured Him was the fire of His eternal love to sinners; and this love, consciously realised, felt, and, if I may so speak, tasted by a consciousness of His sympathy and friendship towards us, one by one, was the motive which constrained St. Paul to a life of martyrdom.

See next how this motive works in us : what is the operation and effect of this love of Christ ?

It “constrains ;" that is, it lays a force upon us, as a strong hand draws us whithersoever it will. There are in creation powers of attraction which control whole orders of nature; as the loadstone, which draws its subjects to itself, and the sun, to which all nature answers. These are the constraining forces of the natural worlda parable of the attractions of the spirit. know this by familiar experience in our lower life. What awakens love like love? What constrains us to the presence of another but a consciousness of their love to us ? What draws us from among a multitude, and binds us to one among all others, but the wakened sense of his affection ? We know how the eye has power to attract. Countenance and tone of voice are in themselves nothing, except as they are channels of this attractive force. So is it with the love of Christ. It is the most powerful constraint, draw


ing our whole spiritual nature to itself.

We all know how a sense of the Divine Presence works upon us; it awes, chastens, and supports us : but the consciousness of the love of Christ is something more than a sense of His presence. It adds this further perception, that He is watching us in love ; that He is inviting our love to Himself; that He is ordering all our outward state for our perfect sanctification, and all our inward life for the perception of His personal love to us. And the sense of His love is the mightiest of all constraining motives. It embraces our whole spiritual na. ture, touches it in all its springs, moves it in all its affections, stirs it in all its energies. It is the one only universal motive. Hope will make men strive, and fear will make men tremble ; but love alone will waken love. The bliss of heaven will kindle our desire, the anguish of hell will make us thrill with alarm ; but the love of Christ alone will soften, humble, and subdue. It has a response in the whole sphere of our spiritual life, in all its higher and lower affections. It kindles love, and love kindles all beside. And as it is universal in its effect, so it is uniform in its working. Other motives rise and fall in their power to constrain ; they depend much on outward circumstances; they come and go ; they are fainter or stronger, as if fitful and capricious. Who does not know the truth of this ? Who does not know how hope and fear, shame and sorrow, joy and thankfulness, devotion and resolution, better intentions and perseverance, vary with our actual state, sometimes, when specially awakened, making deep impression, sometimes almost vanishing away? But love never faileth.

And still more, a consciousness of the love of Christ is, of all, the most uniform and changeless principle of life. As, in our lower friendships, the consciousness of being loved stays by us at all times, through long years, under all trials, even without sensible memorials or renewed expressions to assure us; it embraces, moulds, determines our whole heart, and constrains us to the person who loves us, making his will our will, his wish our law : so with the love of Christ. There are spiritual miracles which it alone can work. The soul in man was so created, that no other power could satisfy or sway it altogether; no other can touch its life to the very quick, and awaken all its affections. The love of Christ felt in the heart is the only principle of perfect conversion to God. It is very easy to be almost a Christian ; to be religious in habits and forms, in sensations and emotions, in intellect and intention; to be half, or almost altogether converted. And it is still easier there to linger, deceiving our own hearts.

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