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far as conscientiously he could) for the benefit of immortal souls.
Such is the way in which we are to run. But 0, how many professors of religion have been retarded (yea, and have cast stumbling-blocks also in the way of others) by a rigorous exaction of their dues, or by an unwillingness to sacrifice their worldly interests! How many also have been kept from making a progress themselves, and from helping forward their fellow-sinners, by an unyielding zeal for Christian liberty, or a bigoted attachment to human forms! Happy would it be for every individual in the church of Christ, if a desire of advancement in the divine life disposed them to “look, not on their own things only, but also on the things of others;” and “to seek the welfare of others in conjunction with, and (to a certain degree) in preference to, their own.”mn] 3. Determined, if possible, to win the prize
[They who proposed to contend in the race, maintained, for a long time before, the strictest temperance," and habituated themselves to the most laborious exertions. In reference to them, St. Paul tells us how careful he was to keep under his body, and to bring it into subjection in order that he might be the fitter to run the Christian race.' Thus must we be trained both in body and mind, in order that we may run well and “ endure unto the end.” We must accustom ourselves to labour and self-denial, mortifying every corrupt affection, and “giving all diligence to make our calling and election sure"
Let us next turn our attention to
The apostle's expression is concise: but there is much implied in it.
i. We cannot win the race without running in this manner
[However persons strove for the mastery in the games they were not crowned, unless they strove according to the laws prescribed them. Thus, however earnest we may be in running for heaven, we never can gain the prize, unless we conform to the rules that have been laid down. This is the course that we are to run over. It abounds indeed with rough places, and steep ascents: but we must not deviate from it. We may easily find a smoother path; but we must run in that which is marked out for us, and abide in it to the end
i Phil. ji. 4. o Ver. 27.
m 1 Cor. x. 24.
n Ver. 25,
Let us then enquire, whether we be treading in the apostle's steps_And let the fear of coming short at last, stimulatę us to unsemitting exertions"---] 2. We are sure of winning, if we run in this manner
[Of those who contended in the race, one only could win the prize: but it is not so in the race that we run: every one that enters the lists, and exerts himself according to the directions given him, must succeed. None have any reason to despond on account of their own weakness; on the contrary, those who are the weakest in their own apprehension, are most certain of success~-~Only let us not be satisfied with “ running well for a season;" but let us, “hold on our way," till we reach the goal. Then we need not fear but that we shall “finish our course with joy, and obtain a crown of righteousness from the hands of our righteous judge”--
3. The prize, when obtained, will amply compensate for all our labour
[Poor and worthless as the prize was to him that won the race, the hope of obtaining it stimulated many to run for it. How much more then should the prize held forth to us, together with the certainty of obtaining it, call forth our exertions! Compare our prize with their's in respect of honour, value, and duration; how infinitely superior is it in every view! Their's was but the breath of man's applause; our's is honour coming from God himself. Their's was a green chaplet, that withered in an hour; our's is an incorruptible, undefiled, and never-fading inheritance in heaven
Let every one that is engaged in the race, survey the prize. Let him at the same time contemplate the consequence of çoming short; (not a transient disappointment, or loss of some desirable object, but everlasting misery in hell) and the labour neceşşary to attain it will appear as nothing. None that have succeeded, now regret the pains they took to accomplish that great object: though thousands that have refused to run, now curse their folly with fruitless remorse --Let not any then relax their speed; but all attend to the directions given, and ' so run that they may obtain the prize.”]
" See note ®.
• Ver. 24. ! Col. iii. 23, 24. and 2 Tim. iv. 7, 8.
i Phil, iii. 13, 14.
See note n.
CCCCXLIX. THE GLORY OF CHRIST.*
Heb. xiii. 8. Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to-day, and .
for ever. IN this present state, wherein the affairs both of indi. viduals and of nations are liable to continual fluctuation, the mind needs some principle capable of supporting it under every adverse circumstance that may occur. Phi. losophy, proffers its aid in vain: the light of unassisted reason is unable to impart any effectual relief: but revelation points to God; to God, as reconciled to us in the Son of his love: it directs our views to him who“changeth not;" and who, under all the troubles of life invites us to rely on his paternal care. Every page of the inspired writings instructs us to say with David, “ When I am in trouble I will think upon God.” Are we alarmed with tidings of a projected invasion, and apprehensive of national calamities? God speaks to us as to his people of old, “Say ye not, a confederacy, to all to whom this people shall say, a confederacy, neither fear
their fear, nor be afraid; but sanctify the Lord of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread; and he shall be to you for a sanctuary.” Are we agitated by a sense of personal danger? that same almighty Friend expose tulates with us, “ Who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man that shall be as grass, and forgettest the Lord thy Maker?”' Are we, as in the present instance, afflicted for the church of God? has God taken away the pastor, who“ fed you with knowledge and understanding?” and is there reason to fear, that now, your“ Shepherd being removed, the sheep may be scattered,” that“ grievous wolves may enter in among you, not sparing the fock; yea, that even of your own selves some may arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them?” Behold! such was the state of the Hebrews, when this Epistle was written to them: and the apostle, studious to fortify them against the impending danger, exhorts them to remember their deceased pastors, following their faith, and consider. ing the blessed way in which they had terminated their career. Moreover, as the most effectual means of pre. serving them from being “ carried about with any strange doctrines” different from what had been delivered to them, he suggests to them this thought, That Jesus Christ, who had been ever preached among them, and who was the one foundation of all their hopes, was still the same; the same infinitely gracious, almighty, and ever-blessed Saviour. “Remember,” says he," them which have had the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation, Jesus Christ the saine yesterday, and to-day, and for ever."
* This was preached on occasion of the death of the Hon. and Rev. William Broiley Codogon, late Vicar of St. Giles', Reading, on Jan. 29, 1797.
a Isai viii. 12-14. bsai. li. 12, 13. Acts xx. 29, 30.
These last words were chosen by your late worthy mi. nister, as his subject on the first day of this year, and, as I am informed, were particularly recommended to you as your motto for the year ninety-seven. On this, as well as other accounts, they seem to claim peculiar attention from us: and, O that the good Spirit of God may accom. pany them with his blessing, while we endeavour to im. prove them, and to offer from them such considerations as may appear suited to you, under your present most afflictive circumstances!
Your late faithful, loving, and much beloved pastor is no more: he that was, not in profession merely, but in truth,“ a guide of thel blind, a light of them which were in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, and a teacher of babes;" he has for so many years spent all his time, and found all his delight, in imparting the knowledge of sal. vation both to old and young, he, I say, is taken from you; and your loss is unspeakably severe.
But is all gone? No. He that formed him by his grace, raised him up to be a witness, and sent him to preach the gospel to you for a season, remains the same; he has still " the residue of the Spirit," and can send forth ten thousand such labourers into his vineyard, whensoever it shall please him. Though the creature, on whose lips you have so often hung with profit and delight, is now no more, yet the Creator, the Redeemer, the Saviour of the world is
still the same; Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and for ever: he is the same in the dignity of his person—the extent of his power—the virtue of his sacri, fice—the tenderness of his compassion-and in fidelity to his promises.
1. In the dignity of his person. The terms "yesterday, to-day, and for ever, are expressive of a true and proper eternity: they do not import merely a long duration, but an existence that never had a beginning, nor shall ever have an end. In this view they are frequently applied to Jehovah, to distinguish him from any creature, how exalted svever he might be. When God revealed his name to Moses, that name, whereby he was to be made known to the Israelites, he called himself I AM:“say to them, I AM hath sent me unto you:” and St. John expressly distinguishing the Father both from Jesus Christ, and from the Holy Spirit, calls him the person " who is, and was, and is to come.” Now this august title is given repeatedly to Jesus Christ, both in the Old , and New Testament. The very words of our text evidently refer to the 1020 Psalm, where the Psalmist, indisputably speaking of Jehovah, says, “ Thou art the same , and thy years shall have no end.” And lest there should be the smallest doubt to whom this character be. longs, the author of this epistle quotes the words in the very first chapter, insists upon them as immediately applicable to the Messiah, and adduces them in proof, that Christ was infinitely superior to any created being, even, "God blessed for evermore,” Our Lord himself on vai rious occasions asserted his claim to this title: to the car. nal Jews, who thought him a mere creature like them. selves, he said, “Before Abraham was, I AM." And when he appeared to John in a vision, he said, “ I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty. Behold then the dignity of our Lord and Saviour! “ His goings forth have been from everlasting:"he was set up “from everlasting; from the beginning, or ever the
& Heb. i. 12.
- Rev. i. 8.
f Micah v. 2.