POEM: Love Constraining to Obedience


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From the Spring 2019 issue of Knowing & Doing:

Love Constraining to Obedience

by William Cowper


No strength of nature can suffice
    To serve the Lord aright:
And what she has she misapplies,
    For want of clearer light.

How long beneath the Law I lay
    In bondage and distress;
I toiled the precept to obey,
    But toiled without success.

Then, to abstain from outward sin
    Was more than I could do;
Now, if I feel its power within,
    I feel I hate it too.

Then all my servile works were done
    A righteousness to raise;
Now, freely chosen in the Son,
    I freely choose His ways.

‘What shall I do,’ was then the word,
    ‘That I may worthier grow?’
‘What shall I render to the Lord?’
    Is my inquiry now.

To see the law by Christ fulfilled
    And hear His pardoning voice,
Changes a slave into a child,
    And duty into choice.

Davie Donald, The New Oxford Book of Christian Verse (Oxford University Press, 1981), p. 195-196.

William Cowper wrote poems and hymns in England. His earlier poems pointed to everyday life and country scenery. After many struggles with doubt and emotional upheaval, he wrote poetry about his faith in Christ. A friend of John Newton, Cowper’s lyrics have brought encouragement to many who look to the gospel for truth and strength.


COPYRIGHT NOTICE:  Knowing & Doing is published by C.S. Lewis Institute; 8001 Braddock Road, Suite 301; Springfield, VA 22151. Portions of the publication may be reproduced for noncommercial, local church or ministry use without prior permission. Electronic copies of the PDF files may be duplicated and transmitted via e-mail for personal and church use. Articles may not be modified without prior written permission of the Institute. For questions, contact the Institute: 703.914.5602 or email us.


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