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or, as it might be rendered, although a man strive * although he wrestle, and fight, and run, weary himself, and excel others; yet, after all, he loses the prize, he is not crowned, unless he strive lawfully, unless he strictly conforms to the prescribed regulations : he will be judged unqualified, though in other respects skilful and diligent, unless he runs in the limits marked out, fights with the usual weapons, and observes in all points the discipline of the place. We are bound in duty, at the same time that we proclaim the race, and point out the prize to your yiew, to tell you, that without faith and holiness f there can be no acceptance.

And we cannot but be grieved to see how little these cautions are regarded by multitudes. Some are labouring, as it were, in the fire, to establish a righteousness by their own works, and refuse to believe in Christ for salvation. Others, who profess indeed to believe in him, call themselves his people, and affect to speak highly of his Gospel, yet eventually deny him by their works and conversation. But unless you can alter the sure determinations of the word of God, there must be an alteration in yourselves, or else when

you

think tained, and shall confidently demand the prize, you will hear him say,

“ I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity $."

There is a circumstance in this resemblance which I would not pass over, because it is peculiar to the Christian race. The ministers or heralds are not only to invite others, but are likewise to run themselves. To this the apostle alludes, when he says, “ when I have preached to others, I should be myself a

you have at

« Lest,

* 2 Tim. ii. 5.

+ Mark, xvi. 16.; Heb. xii. 14. Luke, xiii. 27.

cast-away *;" or be disapproved of the judge for breaking those regulations himself which he had been authorized to propound to all. We have need to preach to ourselves no less than to you, and to entreat your prayers for us, that we may stand perfect and complete in the whole will of God. And the caution may be proportionally extended to every one that is intrusted with any measure of gifts for the edification of the people of God. Keep close to his word; pray for his Spirit; be diligent and temperate in all things; and maintain a watchful jealousy over your own hearts : these are the means by which the Lord keeps his people from falling. But trust not to any outward talent, calling, or usefulness; for it is possible for a man to be instrumental to the good of others in families and societies, and yet to come short of the kingdom himself at last.

III. I have observed, that a great concourse of spectators attended at the ancient

The Christian, in his race and warfare, has likewise innumerable eyes upon him, a great cloud of witnesses. We are exhibited a spectacle to the world, to the whole universe, both to angels and to ment. Though he may be placed in an obscure situation, yet his neighbours at least will observe him, to see how his profession and practice agree. Invisible beings attend him in every step; the good angels [ rejoice over the returning sinner; and it is probable, by God's appointment, support and refresh him in ways which are beyond our apprehension. The powers of darkness watch him with subtilty and envy, and go

games.

to the utmost bounds of their commission, in their endeavours, either to divert him from his course, or to make it uncomfortable to him. How should this

'?

* 1 Cor. ix, 27.

+1 Cor. iv. 9.

Luke, xv. 10.

thought both animate and humble every sincere soul? Be not discouraged, because to appearance you are almost left to serve God alone. If the vail of flesh and blood could be drawn aside, you would see you are not alone; all the host of heaven are on your side; the glorious company that are before the throne of God, day without night, rejoicing, are engaged in your cause, and drink of the same fountain from which you are supplied. The spirits of just men made perfect, who are now all eye, all ear, all love, were once as you are, partakers of the same infirmities, sorrows, and cares; and you ere long shall be as they are, clothed with light, and freed from every burden. And Jesus, the Lord of angels, the King of saints, beholds your toil and conflict with complacence, and says,

“ Hold that fast which “ thou hast, that no man take thy crown He is always near to succour, strengthen, and to save. Rejoice, therefore, that you run not as unnoticed, but rejoice with trembling. Be ashamed to think how disproportionate your efforts are to the company that behold you, and to the prize that awaits you. Remember likewise other eyes are upon you; Satan envies your privileges, and scorns your profession : he is every minute waiting permission to sift you as wheatt: he is incessantly spreading snares for your feet, and preparing his arrows against you; therefore be not highminded, but fear, and give all diligence so to run that

* "

you may obtain.

IV. The judge who presides at the end of the race is Jesus, the judge of all. He holds forth the prize full in view to the eye of faith, and shall shortly crown the conqueror with his on hand. How sweetly does the

* Rev. iji. 11.

+ Luke, xxii, 31.

1

apostle spiritualize upon this circumstance! “ I have “ fought a good fight, I have finished my course; I “ have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for

me a crown of life, which the Lord, the righteous judge” (who does not decide by appearances, nor can be influenced by partiality, as is too frequent amongst men), “ shall give me at that day; and not to me only, “ but to all who love his appearing *.” Be of good cheer, believer; your case may be misrepresented, or misunderstood by men ; but the Lord, the righteous and unerring judge, will vindicate, approve, and reward in the great day, when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and admired in all them that believe.

Thus much concerning the resemblance of the Christian life to a race, to which the apostle alludes. I shall briefly take notice of some particulars in which the resemblance fails; and a very interesting and important difference may be observed.

1. In the reward. The bodily exercise † (employed in the games, for to these the apostle' refers) profited little : a crown of oak or laurel, or some such bauble, was their highest aim, and this the most of the competitors came short of; for though all ran,

but one received the prize. Of little inore value, and equal uncertainty, is the prize that has engaged the time and thoughts of many. But godliness (the whole course and conflict in which the believer is engaged) is profitable for all things, or in every view, having promises to support the life that now is, and to crown that which is to

“ He that overcometh, saith the Lord, shall “ inherit all things. I will be his Father, and he shall be my

I will give him to eat of the tree of life,

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son.

* 2 Tim. iv, 7, 8.

+ 1 Tim. iv. 8,

“ which is in the midst of the paradise of God. I will “ make him a pillar in the temple of my God, and he “shall go no more out; yea, I will grant him to sit rdown with me in

my

throne *.? The Lord will give grace here, and will withhold no good thing from those who walk uprightly; and hereafter he will crown grace with glory, and place his servants out of the reach of every trouble and enemy, in the kingdom which his love has prepared for them from before the foundation of the world. Having therefore these promises, dearly be“ loved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of “ the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of 6 the Lord t."

2. In races, though many run, one only can receive the prize. But thanks be to God, it is not so in the Christian race. All who run as the Lord has appointed, shall be sure to win. No opposition can prevail against them, nor will the number of the candidates be any diminution to the happiness of each individual. The inheritance of the saints in light, like the light of the sun, is not diminished by being shared amongst many;

each one possesses the whole, in the same perfection as he could do, if there was none to enjoy it but himself.

3. In the races the apostle alludes to, none were compelled to run. The proclamation was general ; but those who did not choose to engage, suffered no disadvantage. But it is not so in the race to which you are invited by the Gospel. The Lord is greatly offended with those who slight the message, and refuse to enter the lists. If you only give his ministers a hearing, and return to your † farms and merchandise,

* Rev. ii. 7.; iii. 12-21.; xxii. 7.; Psal. lxxxiv. 11. + 2 Cor. vii. 1.

Matth. xxii, 5.

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