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scribes to you : but I am afraid, I know you too well to promise myself that you will acquit yourselves with that holy resolution and courage, which the nature of the duties necessarily demands.
May God work in you, and in me, more than I can ask or think ! God grant us intelligent minds that we may act like intelligent souls ! May that God, who hath set before us life and death, heaven and hell, boundless felicity and endless misery, may he so direct our steps, that we may arrive at that happiness, which is the object of our wishes, and which ought to be the object of all our care! God grant us this grace! To him be honor and glory for eyer. Amen.
THE NECESSITY OF PROGRESSIVE RELIGION.
i Cor. ix. 26, 27.
I therefore so run, not as uncertainly : so fight I, not as one that beat
eth the air. But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection : lest that by any means when I have preached to others, I myself should be a cast-away.
to do. a to open be a hero, that, wh
THAT was a fine eulogium, which was made I on one of the most famous generals of antiquity. It was said of him, that he thought there was nothing done, while there remained any thing to do. To embrace such a system of war and politics was to open a wide field of painful labor: but Caesar aspired to be a hero, and there was no way of obtaining his end except that, which he chose. Whoeverarrives at worldly heroism arrives at it in this way. By this marvellous secret the Roman eagles flew to the uttermost parts of Asia, rendered Gaul tributary, swelling the Rhine with German blood, subjugated Britain, pursued the shattered remains of Pompey's army into the deserts of Africa, and caused all the rivers, that fell into the Adriatic sea, to roll along the sound of their victories.
My brethren, success is not necessarily connected with heroism ; the hero Cæsar was a common misfortune, all his heroism public robbery, fatal to the republic, and more so to Cæsar himself. But, in order to be saved, it is necessary to succeed, and there is no other way of obtaining salvation, except that laid down by this great general, think nothing done, while there is any thing to do. Behold, in the words of our text, behold a man, who perfectly knew the way to heaven, a man most sincerely aspiring to salvation. What doth he to succeed? What we have said; he accounted all he had done nothing, while there remained any thing more to do. After he had carried virtue to its highest pitch, after he had made the most rapid progress, and obtained the most splendid triumphs in the road of salvation, still he ran, still he fought, he undertook new mortifications, always fearing lest lukewarmness and indolence should frustrate his aim of obtaining the prize, which had always been an object of his hope; I therefore so run, not as uncertainly ; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air. But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means when I have preached to others, I myself should be a cast away.
St. Paul lives no more. This valiant champion hath already conquered. But you, you christians are yet alive; like him the race is open before you, and to you now, as well as to him formerly, a voice from heaven crieth, To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, Rev. iii. 21. Happy, if animated by his example, you share with him a prize, which loses nothing of its excellence by the number of those, who partake of it! Happy, if you be able one day to say with him, 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 righteousness, which the Lord the righteous judge shall give me at that
day: and not to me only, but unto all them that love his appearing ! 2 Tim. iv. 7, 8.
Let us first make one general remark on the expressions of the text; they are a manifest allusion to the games, which were celebrated among the heathens. Fable, or history, tells us that Pelops invented i hem, that Hercules and Atreus brought them to perfection, that Iphitus restored them : all which signify very little to us. What is certain is, that these games are celebrated with great pomp. They were so solemn among the Greeks, that they made use of them to mark memorable events, and public eras, that of consuls at Rome, of archons at Athens, of priestesses at Argos. They passed from Greece to Italy, and were so much in vogue at Rome, that an ancient author said, two things were necessary to the Roman people, bread and public shews. It is needless to repeat here what learned men have collected on this subject, we will remark only what may serve to elucidate our text, all the ideas of which are borrowed from these exercises.
l. In these games the most remarkable object was the course. The ground, on which the games were celebrated, was marked out with great exactness. In some places lines were drawn, and the place of combat railed, and when he who ran went beyond the line, he ran to no purpose It was dangerous to ramble, especially in some places, as in Greece, where the space was bounded on one side by the river Alpheus, and on the other by a sort of chevaux de frise : as at Rome, where before the construction of the circus, which was afterwards built on purpose for spectacles of this sort, an area was chosen, on one side of which was a chevaux de frise, and on the other the Tiber, so that the combatant could not pass the bounds. VOL. IV.