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a liar, and the truth is not in him.54 It becomes all who hear the gospel of Christ to pray that faith may be produced in them by hearing the word of God, and that their hearts may be purified by faith ; that they may be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving their ownselves ; that being not forgetful hearers, but doers of the word, they may be blessed in their deed.55
Thus pray for yourselves, brethren, that the word preached may profit you, being mixed with faith in your hearts; and that your profiting may appear unto all men, by your conversation or conduct being such as it becometh the gospel of Christ.56 And pray also for us who preach the gospel, that we may by Divine grace be preserved from bringing a disgrace upon that cause which we profess to maintain, that our conduct may be in all things consistent with our profession, and that we may not allow ourselves in any thing which is forbidden or condemned by the word of God; but may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and
perverse generation, shining as lights in the world, holding forth the word of life, that we may rejoice in the day of Christ, that we have not run in vain.56 Brethren, pray for us. The apostle frequently intreated the prayers of his hearers; and surely we who now minister in holy things, have greater
54 1 John ii. 4.
55 James i. 22, 25.
56 Phil. i. 27; ii. 15.
need than he had of persevering prayer being made on our behalf at the throne of grace. It becomes the ministers of the gospel of Christ to be most careful to show themselves approved unto God, as workmen that need not to be ashamed ,57 and so to serve Christ that they may be both acceptable to God and approved of men. 68
Let us now return to the consideration of the exhortation in the text, as one of universal application. So run that ye may obtain. Here is,
First, A duty commanded.
Secondly, A direction implied with regard to its fulfilment; and
Thirdly, The object to be kept in view. We learn,
First, That if we would obtain the heavenly prize, we must run the heavenly race. This is the duty commanded, Run. We must, as the apostle exhorts the Hebrews, run with patience the race that is set before us.59 We must set out on this race in earnest, with a full purpose of obtaining the prize of our high calling of God in Christ Jesus.59 This must be our primary object in life, if we would really go to heaven.
There are many persons who seem to think, that going to heaven is the natural termination of this life to all but a very few exceedingly wicked persons, who on account of the enormity of their crimes
57 2 Tim. ii. 15.
58 Rom. xiv. 18
59 Phil. iii. 14.
cannot be expected to go there. Such is not the representation of the word of God. It says, on the contrary, Wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, anıl many there be which
go in thereat; because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life; and few there be that find it. Unless we enter in at the strait gate, in order that we may run in the narrow way which leadeth unto life, we cannot be admitted into heaven hereafter. Running denotes activity in the pursuit of an object, and an earnest desire to obtain it. He who runs a race is anxious to arrive at the goal. The act of running shows a purpose of mind not to be turned aside by any allurements or temptations which may be in the way; and a resolution to overcome every impediment which may be met with. In order to its being effectual, there must be a singleness of purpose not to be distracted by surrounding circumstances. Without this, success is impossible. Running also intimates not only one effort at the commencement of the race, but a succession of efforts until it be completed. The Christian race is therefore to be run with patience, not only with activity or alacrity, but with perseverance.
We must not only run, but there is,
Secondly, A special direction given, so run ; a
60 Matthew vii. 13, 14.
certain course is marked out for us in which we must run, if we would obtain the prize. This direction is given at large by the apostle when writing to the Hebrews; he says, Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.6. Here we learn, that if we would run this race, we must lay aside every thing that would encumber us on our way; we must avoid all sin, we must turn from every evil way, we must forsake all evil practices, however pleasing to our natural inclination they may be, however alluring, however urgently they may press upon us for compliance with them; and our eye must be singly directed to our Lord Jesus Christ, the Author and Finisher of our faith. We must put our trust in Him alone for the salvation of our souls. Without this our course cannot be a Christian course. It must be entered on by faith in Christ and love to Him, and it must be continued by a life of obedience to His commandments, and of self-denial in every thing which God has forbidden, however gratifying to our fallen nature it would be to comply with
61 Hebrews xii. 1, 2.
the temptations of our spiritual enemies, or mortifying to resist them. We must renounce, not in profession only, but in reality, the world, the flesh, and the devil. As we are not able of ourselves to do this, we must seek earnestly the grace of the Holy Spirit to enable us to pursue our course so as to please God. And,
Thirdly, The object is to be kept in view continually, for which we have set out on our race. We are so to run, that we may obtain. We are to be anxious above all things to obtain the prize, which is set before the Christian racer, the crown of glory, that fadeth not away. To obtain this must be our most ardent desire, for the sake of which we must be willing to give up every other pursuit which would come in competition with it. The exhortation implies that a man may make a Christian profession, and yet not obtain the Christian prize. So run that ye may obtain an incorruptible crown of righteousness, of life, of glory.
Numbers, alas, are satisfied with bearing the name of Christians, who never become such in reality; who live without the love of Christ in their hearts, and die without a good hope of obtaining the salvation of their souls. If we would obtain the Christian prize, we must keep our object always in view, and act accordingly. It is not our baptism in infancy, that will secure to us this prize. It is not “the sign of the cross," made on our foreheads; but our