James Smith, 1861
"The love of Christ constrains us!" 2 Corinthians 5:14
Paul was a most extraordinary man, so full of energy, zeal and love. Always at work for his master. Ever seeking to save sinners. Everywhere preaching the gospel. He never appeared to rest — but urged on his way from place to place, seeking to save souls from Hell.
Just such men as Paul are needed now. Self-denying men. Men of one aim. Men whose whole hearts are set upon one object. What was it that made Paul so fervent, filled him so full of love, and inspired him with such energy? He tells us in one brief line, "The love of Christ constrains us!" He saw Christ living, dying, and interceding for sinners. He exercised faith in the Savior's love, and this fired his own heart with love to Christ, and love to souls.
The Powerful Motive.The love of Jesus. The love of Christ to sinners, producing love to him in return, and love to them for his sake. The love of Christ is astonishing. It is unparalleled. It surpasses knowledge.
It was the love of God. It was the love of man. It was the love of God and man combined. The love of God and man meeting in one person, blending in one heart, and flowing forth in one living and life-giving stream!
It is a love that pities sinners, sympathizes with sufferers, and delights in saints. This love . . .
dwells in the heart of Jesus,
looks out of the eye of Jesus,
works with the hand of Jesus,
speaks with the tongue of Jesus,
procures good things for us through the influence of Jesus,
and flows forth in the blood of Jesus.
The POWER of this love was wonderful, it led the Savior to consider . . .
no condition too low to stoop to,
no action too menial to perform,
no failing too flagrant to pass by,
no gift too great to bestow,
no sufferings too great to endure for his loved ones,
nothing in them too mean to prize, and
no distance too far to travel for their good.
The EXTENT of this love is above expression, or conception.
Its height is above Heaven,
its depth is lower than Hell,
it is wider than the earth,
and broader than the sea.
No creature can adequately conceive it;
no language can possibly describe it;
no sinner, or number of sinners, can exhaust it.
It surpasses knowledge. O to know it, to feel it, to be inspired by it, and always and everywhere to illustrate it!
Its Mighty Influence.It constrained Paul to part with everything for Christ, to consecrate everything to Christ, and to undertake anything at the bidding of Christ. And, if we believe this love, if we feel its power in our hearts, if we are influenced by this love — we shall also surrender ourselves with all that we are and have to Christ. We shall cheerfully and publicly profess Christ. We shall be ready to . . .
to do anything he bids us;
to give anything he requires of us; and
to suffer anything he appoints us.
We shall he prepared to . . .
publish his fame,
proclaim his excellencies, and
invite sinners all around to go with us to his feet.
We shall love him in return for his love to us, and so love him as to seek his glory above and beyond everything beside.
Reader, do you know the love of Christ? It is a wondrous subject, full of sweetness, and full of power. You know nothing worth knowing — until you know the love of Christ. This is a subject that will . . .
soothe your sorrows,
cheer your heart,
disperse your fears,
conquer your doubts, and
fill you with unutterable joy and peace.
Do you realize the love of Christ? It constrains powerfully — but sweetly. It lifts us out of self; raises us above the influence of the smiles, or frowns of man; and makes us bold and conquerors in God's cause. This power will enable you . . .
to face the fiercest foes,
to endure the greatest tribulations,
to engage in the most arduous undertaking,
and to brave the most cruel death for Christ.
Are you influenced by the love of Christ? So influenced, as to . . .
separate from the world,
unite with his people,
be active in his work,
zealous in his service, and
liberal to his cause?
Or, have you never . . .
seen its glory,
felt its power, or
acted under its influence?
If you are a stranger to the love of Jesus, you are a stranger to the best, the sweetest, the most profitable thing that a mortal can know. Better be a stranger to anything, to everything — than be a stranger to the love of Jesus. O Holy Spirit, shed your love abroad in our hearts, and may we be very zealous, self-denying and useful — because "the love of Christ constrains us."