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ly, as to design and endeavor. We cannot in this life attain to perfection in holiness, yet this is what we are to endeavor all the days of our lives; 2 Cor. vii, 1, “Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God."
2. We ought actually to lay it aside in such a measure and degree, as that it may not be a prevalent hinderance to us, in any of the duties of Christian obedience; for it may have various degrees of power and efficacy according as it is neglected or continually mortified; and it oftentimes takes advantage by a conjunction with outward temptations to our unspeakable prejudice. And if the mortification of it be neglected in
any one branch, or any of its exertions, if any one sin be indulged, it will ruin all strength and resolution for sufferings on account of the gospel.
The way whereby it principally manifests itself, is, by the clogs and hinderances, which it puts upon us in the constant course of our obedience. Hence many think, that—whereas it is said “easily to beset us” to our binderance—an allusion is taken from a long garment, which if a man wear in the running of a race, it will hinder and entangle him, and sometimes cast him to the ground; so that, unless he cast it away, he can have no success in his race.
$10. The last thing expressed, is the duty itself directed and exhorted to; "Let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” What is the duty in
general intended hath been sufficiently declared; but whereas the terms wherein it is expressed, all but that word "with patience,” are metaphorical, they must be opened.
That with respect whereto we are exhorted, is (Tov aywa, certamen) a strife or conflict. It is used for any thing, work, or exercise, about which there is a
striving or contending to the utmost of men's abilities. Such as were used when men contended for mastery and victory in the Olympic games; and so it is applied to all earnest spiritual endeavors in any kind, Phil. i, 30; Col. ii, 1; 1 Thes. ii, 2; 1 Tim. vi, 12; 2 Tim. iv, 7. Here the sense of the word is restrained to the particular instance of a race, because we are enjoined to run it. But it is such a race as is for a victory, for our lives and souls, wherein the utmost of our strength and diligence is to be put forth. It is not merely cursus, but certamen.
1. It is a matter of great difficulty whereto the utmost exercise of our spiritual strength is required; contending with all our might must be in it; without which all expectation of success in a race for mastery is vain and foolish. Hence the apostle prescribes, as a means of it, that we be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might," Eph. vi, 10; giving us his own example in a most eminent manner, 1 Cor. ix, 24_27.
2. It is such a race, as wherein there is the judge or (Bpeßevins) the rewarder of them who overcome, even Christ himself; and there is the reward proposed, which, as the apostle tells us, is an incorruptible crown of glory, and there are encouraging spectators, even all the holy angels above, and the church below.
It being a race, it is of no advantage for any one to begin or make an entrance into it. Every one knows that all is lost in a race where a man doth not hold out to the end.
$11. This race is said to be "set before us." It is not what we fall into by chance, it is not of our own choice or project; and he that sets it before us is Christ himself, who calls us to faith and obedience. He hath determined what shall be the way of obedience, limiting the bounds of it, and ordering the whole course with all the duties belonging to it. It is by him proposed to us, it is set before us in the gospel; therein he declares its whole nature, and all the circumstances that belong to it. He gives us a full prospect of all the duties required in it, and all the difficulties we shall meet with. He hides nothing from us, especially that of bearing the cross, that our own entrance into it may be an act of our own choice and judgment. Whatever, therefore, we meet with in it, we have no cause of tergivisaţion or complaint. This is what believers both reproce and refresh themselves with, when at any time they fall into tribulation for the gospel. Why do I faint? Why do I recoil? Hath he deceived me, who calls me to follow him in obedience? Did he hide any thing from me? Did he not set these tribulations be. fore me, as part of the race that I was to run? So they argue themselves into an holy acquiescency in his wisdom and will. Hence the apostle affirms, that he did not fight uncertainly, as men beating the air, because he had an assured path and course set before him. “This is that which Christ hath appointed for me; this is that which at my first call he proposed to me, and set before me," are soul quieting considerations.
$12. Our whole evangelical obedience being compared to a race, our performance of it is expressed by "running,” for which there are two things required strength and speed. And the things required to our Christian race are—strength in grace, and diligence with exercise. The due performance of gospel odedience, especially in the times of trial and temptation, is not a thing of course, is not to be attended in an ordinary manner; spiritual strength put forth in our utmost diligence is required.
Seeing, therefore, that we are called to this exercise we should greatly consider the things which may enable us for it, that we may so run as to obtain. But our weakness through our want of improving the principles of spiritual life, and our sloth in the exercise of grace, for the most part, cannot be sufficiently bewailed; and I am sure they are inconsistent with this
$13. “With patience.”. Patience is either a quiet submissive suffering of evil things, or a quiet waiting for good things future with perseverance and continuance, to the conquest of the one, or the enjoyment of the other. He who suffereth quietly, submissively, with content and satisfaction, what he is called to suffer for the profession of the gospel, doth also quietly wait for the accomplishment of the promises made to them who so suffer, which are great and many. The race is long, and of more than ordinary continuance. We shall be sure to meet with difficulties, oppositions, and temptations in this race; these things will solicit us to desist, and give over our race. With respect to them, all patience is prescribed to us; which when it hath its perfect work, will secure us in them all. See on chap, vi, 12–15.
$14. And as to our own instruction we may hence observe,
1. We are diligently to consider our own concernment in all scripture examples, and what we are instructed by them. This inference the apostle makes from the collection he had before made to them, “Even we also.”
2. God hath not only made provision, but a plentiful provision in the scripture for the strengthening of our faith, and our encouragement to duty. “A cloud of witnesses."
3. It is an honor that God puts on his saints departed, especially such as suffered and died for the truth, that even after their death they shall be witnesses to faith and obedience in all generations. They still continue, in a sense, to be martyrs, bearing a noble testimony.
4. To faint in our profession, whilst we are encompassed with such a cloud of witnesses, is a great aggravation of our sin.
$15. And we may observe farther;
1. That the universal mortification of sin is the best preparative, preservative, and security, for a steady profession in a time of trial. Whatever
Whatever may be our purposes, resolutions, and contrivances, if unmortified sin in any prevalent degree, (as love of the world, fear of men, sensual inclinations to make provision for the flesh) abide in us, we shall never be able to hold out in our race to the end. : 2. Whereas the nature of this sin at such seasons is to work by unbelief towards a departure from the living God, or the relinquishment of the gospel, we ought to be continually on our watch against it; and no small part of our spiritual wisdom consists in the discovery of its deceitful working, which the apostle gives us severe caution about, chap. iii.
3. The reward proposed to be obtained at the end of this race, is every way worthy of all our pains, diligence, and patience.
VERSE 2. Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, who, for
the joy that was set before him, endured the cro88, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
1. The design and connexion. $2. Looking' to Jesus, 'what, $3. The author :
and finisher of faith. $4. The joy, what; and how set before him $5. His enduring the cross and despising the shame. $6. The consequent thereof. $7. Observations,