« AnteriorContinua »
do nothing. Remember his agony and bloody sweat, his cross and passion; and that he is now exalted a Prince and a Saviour, on the behalf of those who are ready to perish. Let this be your plea and encouragement to draw near to a throne of grace. Pray for his Spirit to reveal his righteousness, power, and love to your soul; and as your knowledge of him increases, your repentance will be more spiritual, evangelical, and effectual. Entreat him to enable you to forsake your former evils, to set a guard upon the door of your lips, and to inspire you with an awful veneration of that holy name wbich you have hitherto profaned. He can teach your polluted lips to show forth his praise.
And let the redeemed of the Lord, whom he has delivered from the guilt and power of this iniquity, adore the grace and mercy that has saved them. Look back upon your past lives, and rejoice with trembling. How often have you defied his vengeance and power, and perhaps madly uttered horrid imprecations against yourselves? Why have others been cut off in these sins, and you spared ? Yes ; " such were some of
you: but ye are washed, ye are sanctified, ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the
Spirit of our God *.” And now your tongues, which once uttered blasphemies almost with every breath, or, under a form of godliness, pronounced a language foreign to your hearts, delight in extolling the name of Jesus, and celebrating the wonders of redeeming love. Now, when you speak of the great God, your hearts are awed with an apprehension of his majesty, yet comforted with the thought, that this God is your almighty friend, your everlasting portion. Now you feel the influence of the Spirit of adoption, where
by you cry, “Abba, Father.” Little did you think, in the days of your ignorance, that the God whom you was presumptuously offending, had, in the counsels of his everlasting love, chosen you to salvation by Jesus Christ *. But he was found of you when you sought him not.
He passed by you when you was lying in
your blood, and bid you live. This was the secret reason why you could not destroy yourselves. And at length his time of love came, the hour which he had
appointed to open your eyes, to show you mercy, to deliver you from the power of darkness, and to translate you into the kingdom of his dear Son. Do not your hearts glow with a sense of your obligations to him who hath loved you, and washed you from your sins in his own blood ? Will you not live to him who has saved
from so great a death? Yea, doubtless, you will count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus the Lord. You will use all your influence to diffuse the savour of his precious name. You will take shame to yourselves, and ascribe glory to him. You will be zealous for his cause, and have a tender compassion for poor sinners, who know not what they do, remembering, from your past experience, the misery and gall of an unconverted state. Let as many of us as have received mercy be thus minded; let it be our great study to show forth the praises of him who has called us out of darkness into his marvellous light, till the welcome hour shall arrive, when he will say to all who fear and love him, and long for his appearance, “Come, ye blessed of my “ Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from " the foundation of the worldt.”
* Ephes. i. 4.; Isa. Ixv. 1.; Ezek. xvi. 6-8.; Col. i. 13. † Matth. xxv. 34.
THE CHRISTIAN LIFE COMPARED TO À RACE.
1 Cor. ix. 24.
-So run that ye may obtain. The Scripture teaches us to derive profitable lessons from common occurrences; and since we cannot avoid seeing and hearing the vanities of those who know not God, unless we would go wholly out of the world, we may learn some instruction from them at a distance. The country of Greece, and especially the neighbourhood of Corinth, was famous for trials of skill in a variety of exercises, such as racing, wrestling, fighting, and the like. And because the children of the world are very wise in their generation, and spare no pains to accomplish the point they have in view, the apostle would stir up believers to diligence from their example; and therefore in several places, compares the Christian life to one or other of the contests which were managed in the public games, and here particularly to a race. In those ancient races much solemnity was observed. The ground or course was exactly marked out; those who were to run went through a strict regimen and exercise beforehand; a vast concourse of people were assembled as spectators ; authorized judges were appointed to award the prize, which was a crown of laurel or oak leaves, to the winner : and before they began, a herald publicly proclaimed the rules to be obser ved by the competitors; which, unless strictlve
plied with, all their pains and endeavours issued only in disappointment and shame. To each of these particulars the apostle alludes in different parts of his writings.
Let us then briefly consider wherein the allusion holds, and take notice of some things in which there is a remarkable difference.
I. That the Christian life is compared to a race, may intimate to us,
1. That it is a laborious and strenuous service, and. incompatible with an indolent and careless frame of spirit. Not that we can do any thing of ourselves: in this sense," it is not of him that willeth, or of him that "runneth*." But when a believer is animated by a view of Jesus, and the prize of the high calling, to run the race set before him, he finds that it demands his utmost strength, courage, and patience. A spectator may divert himself with the prospect, or the company; he may make observations upon what passes around him, and ride as softly as he pleases: but then he has no pretensions to the prize. But those who are actually candidates for it, may be easily distinguished without being pointed out: they have no leisure for amusement; their eyes are fixed, and their thoughts wholly engaged, upon what they have in hand; and they exert all their powers, and strain every nerve, to reach the goal. How inconsistent is the conduct of many professors? They enter the lists, they inform themselves of the rules, they even presume to expect the prize, though they while away their whole lives, without once attempting to run in good earnest. Not so those who are taught and called of God: a sense of the worth of their
souls, of the love of Christ, of the glory that shall be revealed, of their own weakness, and of the many obstacles that withstand their progress, stirs them up to watchfulness, diligence, and prayer, and excites a holy jealousy, “ lest, a promise being made of entering into “his rest; any of them should come short of it *.”
2. That we should still press forward, and not rest in what we have received. If a man sets out in a race with the greatest speed, and seems to outstrip all his antagonists; yet if he does not persevere to the end, he will be sure to lose. The apostle alludes to a race in another place, where he says, forgetting the things " that are behind, and reaching forth to those that are “ before t, I stretch forward.”—The Greek word beautifully expresses the earnestness and energy of those who run, and are determined to be first: they make no account of the ground already passed over but exert themselves to the utmost, labour with their hands and feet, and strain every joint to the utmost, as though the whole success depended upon each single step. We see too many instances of
persons wlio begin warmly, and seem to run well for a season; but they are hindered in their progress, slacken their pace first, and then stop short. Take notice of the exhortation in my text,“ So
run that you may obtain :" for it will be a dreadful disappointment if you should be set aside disapproved, when others receive the prize.
II. The heralds or criers in the Christian race are the ministers of the Gospel; and their proper name of office is expressed by the same word. They have it in charge to invite all to run, and to declare the prescribed rules : and these must be carefully attended to; for if,
* Heb. iv. 1.
+ Phil. jii. 13, 14.