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herit the promises.” The way to heaven was not then an untrodden path; a great cloud of witnesses had passed that road before the Apostle began to write: and we may reasonably conclude, that vast multitudes have been following them during the seventeen hundred years which have elapsed since that time. And shall not their example encourage us to go and do likewise? We see plainly from their success, that there are no unsurmountable obstacles in the way. The saints now in heaven were once in the same condition with ourselves; they were men of like passions, and exposed to the same temptations. The grace that saved them is equally sufficient to save us; and (glory to God) it is as ready to be dispensed to us, if we ask and seek, and knock for it, as they did.
Where are all those illustrious persons recorded in Scripture? Where are the patriarchs, the prophets, and the Apostles of our Lord ? Where are those heroic spirits, of whom we read in the 11th chapter of the epistle to the Hebrews, “ who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, and turned to flight the armies of the aliens?” Where are those faithful martyrs, o who had trial of cruel mockings, and scourgings, yea moreover of bonds and imprisonment; who were stoned, who were sawn asunder, who were tempted, who were slain with the sword; who wandered about in sheepskins and goat-skins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented; of whom the world was not worthy?" Where are those holy souls, with whom we ourselves were personally acquainted, and whom we dearly loved, but who are now separated from our society, and have left us be
hind them in this vale of misery and tears? They are surrounding the throne of God most high, singing the song of Moses and of the Lamb ; ascribing glory to him who washed them from their sins in his own blood, and made them kings and priests unto God, even his Father, Look above you, O Christians! to this glorious company; and the desire of being one day joined to them will reconcile you to all the hardships of the Christian course, and make you run with patience the race set be.
Consider, in the 3d place, Who are your fellow-travellers. You are not only going to a glorious and triumphant society, but you go in company with persons of the greatest dignity and worth, “even the saints, those excellent ones in the earth,” whom God bath chosen and set apart for himself. And this, my brethren, is an encouraging circumstance. We find, that even an Elias, when he supposed himself alone by the way, both wished and prayed for death, saying, “It is enough, now, O Lord God; take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.” And therefore God was pleased, in great condescension, to rectify the mistake of his ser. vant, by assuring him, that there were many thousands unknown to him who had not bowed the knee to Baal; and that the road to the celestial country, even in that corrupt and degenerate age, was not so unfrequented and solitary as he imagined. The saints are not only hid from the world, but frequently mistaken by one another; which tempts many of them to think, that the kingdom of Christ is of a very narrow extent, and the number of bis subjects exceeding small; but were our eyes opened, and the scales of pride and prejudice removed, we should see a far more goodly company than we expected. And ought not this to animate us in our VOL. I.
Christian race? Have we all the saints on earth for our companions? are we going to saints and angels in heaven? and shall not this fire us with an heroic ardour to run so as we may at length obtain? Especially if we consider, in the
4th place, The nature of those duties which our Lord hath required of us; or if you please (to keep by the allusion) the goodness of that road in which we are to run for the heavenly prize.“ The law is holy,” saith the apostle Paul, “the commandment is holy, just, and good ;" not only infinitely reasonable in itself, but infinitely kind and obliging to us, inasmuch as it enjoins nothing but what tends to purify and perfect our natures, and to qualify us for the enjoyment of a neverending felicity. In the frame of the moral law, God appears rather like a father than a sovereign, exacting nothing as a test of our subjection to his authority, but what is so necessarily connected with our own true happiness, that a liberty to act otherwise would in reality be a license to destroy ourselves.
5thly. We have a kind sympathizing and unerring Guide, who came from heaven to earth to teach us the way from earth to heaven; yea, he hath not only pointed out the road to us, but hath actually gone before us, and now calls upon us to follow his steps. “ Behold," saith God by the Prophet Isaiah, "I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people.” This is the peculiar office of our Lord Jesus Christ; and his mildness and condescension in the discharge of this office are beautifully described by the same prophet! " He shall feed his flock like a shepherd; he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.” He doth not despise the weakness of bis
people; for he knoweth their frame, and “is touched with a feeling of their infirmities, having been in all points tempted like as they are." Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth those that fear him. 66 He doth not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax;" on the contrary, “ he giveth power to the faint, and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.” He will not suffer them to be tempted above what they are able; but in the emphatical language of holy writ, “ he debates with them in measure, and stays his rough wind in the day of his east wind.” When they pass through the fire, and through the water, he is with them; and though, for wise and boly reasons, their eyes may be holden that they cannot perceive bim; yet with a powerful, though invisible hand, he supports and guides their weary steps; according to that gracious promise, “I will bring the blind by a way that they know not, and lead them in paths which they have not known; I will make darkness light before them, and crooked ways straight. These things will I do for them, and not forsake them.” O what a joyful consideration is this! that the great Captain of salvation is our Guide, who can cover our head, and heal our wounds; raise us up when we fall, and perfect strength in our weak
« Fear not,” says he, 5 for I am with thee; be not dismayed, for I am thy God; I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee, yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”
My 6th and last motive shall be taken from the unspeakable worth of the prize to be obtained. This is no other than “heaven itself;" 5 eternal life;" “ an exeeeding and eternal weight of glory;" “ an incorrupti. ble crown;" “ an undefiled inheritance ;" “ a glory which eye hath not seen, nor ear beard, neither can the
heart of man conceive.” “ It doth not yet appear," saith the apostle Jobp, “ what we shall be; but we know, that when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” Then shall we be thoroughly changed into the image of our Lord. We shall love him with out measure, and praise him without end; we shall serve him without weariness, and those manifold imperfections which stain our most holy duties while on earth. Nay, our bodies being raised by the power and spirit of our Redeemer, who is the plague of death, and the destruction of the grave,” shall be fasbioned like unto his own glorious body; whose presence we sball for ever enjoy, and whose matchless love, that passeth knowledge, we shall eternally celebrate with the church of the first-born.
This, my brethren, is the glorious prize for which we are called to contend. And can any thing fire our ambition if this do not? What bustle do men make for an earthly crown, when, lo! death is at hand to pluck it off their heads, and to throw it in the dust? and shall not we contend for a heavenly crown, a regal dignity and power, which, when once obtained, shall bever be taken from us? “ Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end, for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Let us henceforth “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." To him let our waiting eyes be continually directed; and whilst we run in obedience to his command, let us humbly and fervently address him