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exaltation, upon which no thought of man or angel has ever yet entered. And if we run our imaginations out into eternity, forward, and forward in the contemplation of heavenly improvement and glory until the soul aches, and the mind falters in the stupendous effort; at any point of intellectual and moral advancement in the far remote ages of eternity, this text will still be in their lips, “it doth not yet appear what we shall be !" But be what they may, Moses shall be illustrious among them forever and ever. A destiny awaits him, which archangels themselves, towering in awful majesty before the seat of Divinity, might well envy. In comparison with this, what are all “the treasures in Egypt?” A momentary speck upon a little and transient world! And what are all “ the pleasures of sin?” A sound that just trembles on the sense and is gone forever! I then appeal to you, whether it was not wise in Moses to act as he did? Was it not a prudent and a glorious choice? I do not believe there is a man who will not give me right when I say, it was.
Learn hence, the impious folly of the impenitent. None of us in this christian land of liberty are so situated as to be required to relinquish a sceptre and the honors of a court, or to condescend to the lowly condition of a suffering slave in order to obtain the recompense of the reward. Eternal life is proffered to every one upon the easy condition of turning the heart from earth to heavenfrom sin to God. There is no real happiness and no worldly preferments which we may not enjoy in connection with our religion. “Godliness is profitable for all things, having the promise of the life which now is, and also of that which is to come.” The only requisition is, that we make our religion the great and predominating influence over our hearts and conduct. And if it was wise in Moses to refuse a crown and a kingdom, and to become a slave for the sake of religion, how consummately foolish is it for any of us to cling to the pitiable pleasures which sin affords, when the rich and enduring consolations of christianity may be so easily obtained? Why would any one thus spend his strength for naught while imperishable treasures are already furnished to his hand! The Lord help us to imitate the example of Moses. Amen.
THE CHRISTIAN RACE.
Heb. xii. 1–4. Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud
of witnesses, 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. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.
In these words we have an application of what was said in the previous chapter. The apostle had just given a most brilliant illustration of the nature and power of faith, and here he urges upon his brethren the same steady confidence in God. To this end he likens their situation to that of the athletæ of ancient Greece. Nor can the student of the New Testament fail to be struck with the particular fondness manifested by its writers for drawing comparisons of this sort. The most striking and vigorous passages in the Epistles seem to have been suggested to the sacred penmen by the heroic exhibitions of these heathen games. ' Pointing us first to the Olympic racers pufling for the prize, or to the athletic warrior amid the clash of arms and the tumults of battle rushing on to victory, they then urge the injunctions, “ So run that ye may obtain"
—“ So fight the good fight of faith, laying hold on eternal life.” And in the Apocalypse, he who is described as walking amid the blazing furniture of the sanctuary, and holding in his hand the seven stars, is represented as addressing his spiritual combatants, " He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed with white raiment; and I will not blot out his name from the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels."
In the text the apostle speaks of the christian life as a race. “Seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race set before us." And that it really is a life of contest is everywhere taught in the Scriptures. It is frequently called a “ivrestle”-a “sace”—A
.” Christians are spoken of as “soldiers;" Christ their leader is called a “captain ;” and an effectual perseverance in a course of piety is denominated a “ victory.” All these expressions involve the idea of contest. I will in the first place, present a few remarks concerning the nature of this contest; and secondly, direct attention to some particulars which should encourage and help us in
1st. It is a contest between inclination and duty. By inclination I mean that natural bias to evil-doing--that constitutional tendency to run contrary to the precepts of Revelation and right reason, so often spoken of under the idea of natural depravity.” That such an inclination to sin exists, and that it will lead every man into transgression if not counteracted by a Divine influence is capable of abundant proof. All human experience testifies it. From Adam till now-from infancy to hoary hairs it is sensibly felt. The very first developments of the child exhibit passion, opposition to · restraint, and love of vice. These grow with its growth, and strengthen with its strength, and finally assume the government of the entire man. Every one is conscious of a proneness to do evil. He feels it in every action-in every thought--and can trace it in his whole history. I have no doubt but that you can each refer to outgoings of heart after things condemned by all your sensibilities of right and virtue, and probably to instances the most marked in your lives, in which both reason and conscience were led captive : by passion and lust. A predisposition to wrong is conceded in all systems of moral philosophy. Legislators of all grades have labored to correct it. And all systems of government, from the first rude efforts in patriarchal times down to these glorious days of triumph for the principles of republican liberty, are only so many evidences of its existence. The Bible most explicitly and authoritatively asserts it. Before the flood already it was Divinely said that even the imaginations of the thoughts of man's heart were evil, only evil, and that continually.” The rigid manner in which the doctrines of repentance and regeneration are all the time insisted on, shows the truth of the statement. And all the provisions of the Gospel presuppose and recognize the fact, that men are prone to do evil even as the sparks are to fly upward.”
To this bias to evil, all the principles of right and duty stand opposed. In order to be truly happy, reason, experience, and reve
lation teach, that we must “ deny ourselves” and “crucify the flesh with the lusts thereof." Here are two rival powers. The heart becomes the seat of contest, with conscience-reason--and religion marshaled on the one hand, and lust-passion—and strong inclination to evil on the other. This is one feature of the contest.
2nd. But it is also a contest between sense and faith. We are all disposed to be more influenced by the things which immediately surround us, than by those which are more remote. Present associations, with what we hear-see-feel-taste—and smell for ourselves, are exceedingly prone to absorb the whole attention to the exclusion of what is presented to us through the testimony of others. Not that sense affects us more powerfully than faith, but because it excludes the proper exercise of faith. The present with its fleeting gratifications we are generally so taken with, as not to extend our calculations to the future and the invisible. Christianity, however, seeks to reverse this order of things. It seeks to influence men most by objects comparatively remote, and which cannot be realized by sense. It seeks by faith to awaken the soul into action, and thence diminish the power of external and sensible things. It tries to draw our thoughts to the contemplation of those awful and imposing realities which lie on the other side of death, and to hold our visions on them until this world is driven back from its prominence in the picture, and dwindled down to its proper insignificance. Here again are rival influences. Sense says, “here is happiness.” Faith says, “touch it not, it will perish in your grasp.” Sense says, “ eat, drink, and be merry.” Faith says, "seek no joys in sensual indulgences, deny yourself, and live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present evil world.” Sense says, “ Soul, take thine ease, thou hast much goods laid up for many years.” Faith says, “Death is near, watch, for you know not what moment you shall be called to the judgment seat.” Sense says, “lay up for yourself riches, fame, and honor, and delight yourself to the full.” Faith says, “ set not your affections on things on the earth, but lay up for yourself treasures in heaven.” Here is a real competition. And such is another feature of the christian contest.
3rd. It is also a contest between corrupt passion and holy principle. This is very strikingly expressed in the seventh of Romans. “For we know that the law is spiritual; but I am carnal, sold un
der sin. For that which I do, I allow not: for what I would, that I do not; but what I hate that I do.” “I find then a law, that when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God, after the inward man; but I see another law in my members warring against the law of my mind.” This passage describes a class of feelings which are not peculiar to any one period of christian experience. They exist in greater or less vividness all along, from the first impressions which truth makes upon the conscience until the soul is released from its present polluted prison. It certainly is not the experience of the unawakened sinner which is here set forth. Such an one does not “ will to do good,” nor does he “delight in the law of God.” The Bible declares, “The carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to his law, neither indeed can be." It must then be christian feeling which the apostle is representing. It is feeling experienced in the chris
It comiftences with the first movement of Divine grace on the heart, and continues through the different stages of repentance, conversion, and sanctification. It is the contest between the holy principles begotten in the soul by the word of God, and the corrupt passions of fallen humanity.
4th. And this is a contest exceedingly close and hard. It calls for all the preparation, diligence, and vigor which can be employed. And even at our best, the event often seems to be doubtful. Sometimes the race seems to be on the one side, then on the other. In order to win, we must “lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us.” Like the racers in the games threw aside every encumbrance of their clothing, and avoided whatever might tend to hinder their progress; so we must let go everything in our affections—employments-associations which might impede our efforts or obstruct our course. We must “run with patience the race that is set before us." Such is the nature of the contest, that our strongest energies must have free and full play, or we shall fail of victory. We must start relieved of any cumbrous impediment, run in a straight course and with a vigorous pace, and continue running till we get the goal.
5th. And we must not fail to observe that this contest is most momentous in its issues. Infinite and eternal interests are suspended on it. Life and death, in the widest and most awful import of these terms, are involved in it. It is inevitable that every one of