1 Corinthians 9:24
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way as to take the prize.
Sermons
Earnest Counsels on the Race of LifeJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 9:24
How the Victor RunsAlexander Maclaren1 Corinthians 9:24
How to Win the CrownT. Puddicombe.1 Corinthians 9:24
Human RivalriesH. C. Potter, D. D.1 Corinthians 9:24
Jacob's Ladder, or the Way to HeavenH. Smith.1 Corinthians 9:24
Not All Who Run WinM. Dods, D. D.1 Corinthians 9:24
Parabolic Use of the Occupations of LifeU. R. Thomas.1 Corinthians 9:24
Running in the RaceHomiletic Monthly1 Corinthians 9:24
Running, the True Christian AttitudeThe Christian1 Corinthians 9:24
The Christian AthleteW. Stevens.1 Corinthians 9:24
The Christian Life a RaceW. E. Light, M. A.1 Corinthians 9:24
The Christian RaceW. S. Lewis, M. A.1 Corinthians 9:24
The Christian RaceCardinal Manning.1 Corinthians 9:24
The Christian RaceT. Sedger, M. A.1 Corinthians 9:24
The Christian RaceD. Moore, M. A.1 Corinthians 9:24
The Christian RaceJohn Ramsay, M. A., R. Walker.1 Corinthians 9:24
The Great RaceBishop Montagu Villiers.1 Corinthians 9:24
The Great RaceH. R. Harris.1 Corinthians 9:24
The Greek Athletic Festivals and Their LessonsProf. Beet.1 Corinthians 9:24
The Heavenly RaceJ. Vaughan, M. A.1 Corinthians 9:24
The Heavenly RaceC. H. Spurgeon.1 Corinthians 9:24
The Race of LifeD. M. Reeves, D. D.1 Corinthians 9:24
The Spiritual RacerT. Kelly.1 Corinthians 9:24
Try a RunJ. Carstairs.1 Corinthians 9:24
The Christian RaceJ.R. Thomson 1 Corinthians 9:24, 25
Running and FightingJ. Waite 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Self Denial Urged in View of the Heavenly CrownC. Lipscomb 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Spiritual AthleticsE. Hurndall 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
The Laws of the Christian RaceR. Tuck 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
The Race for the PrizeH. Bremner 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Power is no self guiding instinct in itself. To be true power, it must be directed by something higher than its own nature. A vast fund of power is laid up within us, and of it two things may be said, viz. the amount of power abstractly considered is far greater than we can use; and, again, our available power must be held under check. As to the former, capacity in every man exceeds ability, and much of our education consists in converting capacity into actual ability. And this latency of power serves another purpose, inasmuch as it is a reserved fund held for an emergency. At times, sudden calls are made on our energies, drafts at sight, which demand extraordinary effort. Feats of physical strength are then performed which are amazing. The same is true of the mind; we witness its faculties, under some tremendous pressure, yielding a wisdom, a patience, a persistency, that surpass all expectation. On the other hand, our available power that can be brought any moment into play must be restrained, or injury results. The harm is manifold. It is pernicious to others. Power antagonizes the power of our fellow men much oftener than it conciliates, and, acting as a repellent instead of an attractive force it destroys unity, which is the great end of all existence, Nor is it less hurtful to the man himself, for, in pushing his power to extremes, he exhausts the very ability concerned in using the power. An undue use of power, therefore, overtaxes others and ourselves. And, accordingly, St. Paul takes both these facts into consideration, advancing from self denial for the sake of others to self denial for his own good, and in this way perfecting the argument. Was he not a philosopher of profound insight in this method of mental procedure? Dismiss, for an instant, the view of him as a Christian apostle, and look at him as an ethical thinker. To induce men to practise the self denial of power, he marshals all the social and sympathetic virtues to its aid; brings pity and compassion as humane instincts to its service, enlists the imagination and its sensibilities as a higher form of emotional energy, and crowns the ascending series of influences by conscience and moral affection in behalf of our fellow men. This is the first training of self denial. Thence it proceeds to its other task. It gathers up its strength and resources, and turns them to its self culture. Was this the method of Stoicism? Was not the method of Stoicism the precise opposite of this? If Seneca had observed this law of culture, would not his exile have presented a very different spectacle? If Marcus Aurelius had trained himself to discern the image of humanity in others, instead of looking into the mirror of Stoicism to see his own image, could he have been guilty, a man of such beautiful and noble virtues, of persecuting Christianity? Return to St. Paul as a Christian apostle. The true philosopher is here, but not complacently studying his own image in the glass that Stoicism held up before its disciples. What he first sees is the Christ of humanity in others, who, in a religious sense, are bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh. And there is an expression of pain on the brow, and of the sorrow of the heart in his fixed eye, as he realizes that these men are not fully conscious of their relationship to Christ, and therefore very imperfect in their appreciation of others and themselves. But he comprehends them in Christ, and he can bear their infirmities since his love is no mere aesthetic sentiment. Now, then, he can show the extent of that self denial required to attain the reward of the gospel. Of course, this must be done by figurative language, images being the perfection of language and most necessary when spiritual things are to be made clear. Naturally enough, the Grecian games occurred to him; and as the pomp and splendour of these national shows passed before him, was it the gathered multitude, the high enthusiasm, the thrilling suspense, the heart of Achaia throbbing with pride and exultation, that enlisted his interest? What a sense it was to the senses, and even more than to the senses, as Greeks interpreted its meanings! The very landscape lent a charm to the contests, and conspired with the Corinthian citadel, the sloping hills, the marble seats, and the eager crowds, to perpetuate the historic memories of a vanished Greece. Even here, degenerate as the age was, moral elements were at work. A better past had not left itself without a witness in the present. Recollections of ancestry, traditions of virtue and heroism, honourable emulation, an energetic will, hard and continuous discipline for ten months, were associated with the occasion. But St. Paul's mind was engrossed by the symbolism of the Isthmian games. The metaphor of the racecourse attracts his attention. The preparatory training, the diet, the willing temperance and moderation, the regimen of the athlete, and the studious care to observe the conditions of success, furnish a forcible illustration of what was essential to those who would run the Christian race and win an immortal crown. Between the two there is a resemblance. Between the two there is a vast dissimilarity. "They do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible." Once more, St. Paul introduces himself; he is an earnest athlete bent on victory; all his energies are in training and have long been in training; and, changing the figure at this point, the boxer is mentioned: "So fight I, not as one that beateth the air" - not as one who wastes strength in random strokes, but one whose blows are delivered with skill and an achieving purpose. And now, just as one who has toiled up to some mountain summit brings back to the plain a finer light of beauty in his eye and a larger play of strength in the muscle of the heart, so St. Paul returns from the figurative to the literal with his thought enhanced in vigour. "I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection" - "buffet the body," "beat it," and "bring it into bondage." What! is the body a contestant against us? Is it an adversary to be bruised and beaten, made to know its place? So indeed St. Paul argues in respect to his own body, and the fact in his case is the fact in all cases. Ideally, the body is the soul's helper, furnishing the soul with very many true and lofty ideas, giving it much it could never have if disembodied or in an organization less sensuous, and securing it a grandeur of development not possible otherwise. Practically, the body is so sensitive to itself, so in love with its own enjoyments, so enslaved to its lusts and appetites, that it must be kept under and brought into subjection. The law is very plain. It has to be obeyed in some measure by. every one. If the epicure is nothing but an epicure and always an epicure, nature is soon in violent revolt. To be an epicure, he must have some prudence in his indulgence, and order times and seasons into the service of his pleasures. To be students, poets, artists, philosophers, ay, to be mechanics, tradesmen, farmers, we must put the body under by asserting, in a certain degree, the inherent superiority of the mind. For the most part, however, there are reactions, fearful in some, hazardous to all. Suppose, now, that the gross forms of sensuality or even the fascinating forms of sensuousness, are held under mastery. What then? Is the Divine ideal of the body realized? Nay; the body may be made a most efficient and admirable servant to the business man, to the student, to the artist, to the philosopher, and may answer all the earthly and social ends of the intellect and the natural affections, and yet be an undeveloped human body. Only in conforming to spiritual relations, only in sharing Christ's humanity, can it be developed. Faith, hope, love, Christian principles, Christian sentiments, Christian impulses, are just as requisite to form and shape the material body to the companionship of the redeemed spirit, as food, air, sleep, are necessary for its physical existence. The argument of St. Paul implies all this, nor could it imply less and be congruous with his purpose and aim. And, therefore, when he says, "I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection," he means to say," I am not making my body less a part of the universe, but more a part thereof, and I am lifting this lower nature towards the higher, and developing my body in the direction of the nature and functions of the resurrection body." - L.







They which run in a race, run all, hut one receiveth the prize.
1. Of these the most famous was that held every fifth year at Olympia in the west of Peloponnese. Very famous and ancient also was the Isthmian festival held every two years at the Isthmus, about eight miles from, and in full view of, the city of Corinth. Similar festivals were held at Nemea and Delphi. But in these the athletic element was less conspicuous. All these were instituted before the dawn of history. Other festivals, in imitation of them, were held in Paul's day in many cities of Asia, e.g., at Tarsus, and notably at Antioch in Syria.

2. All athletes, i.e., competitors for prizes, had ten months' training, under the direction of appointed teachers and under various restrictions of diet. At the beginning of the festival they were required to prove to the judges that they were of pure Greek blood, had not forfeited by misconduct the right of citizenship, and had undergone the necessary training. Then began the various contests, in an appointed order. Of these, the oldest and most famous was the footrace. Others were wrestling, boxing, chariot and horse racing. The prize was a wreath (or crown) of olive at Olympia, and of pine leaves (at one time of olive) at the Isthmus. The giving of the prizes was followed by processions and sacrifices, and by a public banquet to the conquerors. The whole festival at Olympia lasted five days.

3. The importance of these athletic festivals in the eyes of the ancient Greeks it is difficult to appreciate now. They were the great family gatherings of the nation, held under the auspices, and under the shadow of the temples, of their gods. The laws regulating them were held as binding by the various independent states of Greece. The month in which they were held was called the sacred month, and was solemnly announced. And all war between Greek states ceased, under pain of the displeasure of their gods, while the festival lasted. The festivals were attended by immense crowds from all the Greek states, and from even the most distant colonies. The various states sent embassies, and vied with each other in the splendour of them and of the gifts they brought. The greatest cities thought themselves honoured by the victory of a citizen. The victor was received home with a triumphal procession, entered the city by a new opening broken for him through the walls, was taken in a chariot to the temple of its guardian deity, and welcomed with songs. In some cases a reward in money was given, and release from taxation. In honour of the successful athlete poems were written; of which we have specimens in the poems of Pindar. A statue of the victor was permitted to be placed, and in many cases was placed, by townsmen or friends, in the sacred grove of the presiding deity. An avenue of these statues, shadowed by an avenue of pine-trees, leading up to the temple of Poseidon, which stood within two hundred yards of the racecourse at the Isthmus of Corinth, is mentioned by Pausanias (bk. 2:1, 7). Close by this temple with its avenue of statues Paul probably passed on his way from Athens to Corinth. The Olympic festival, which survived the longest, was abolished in A.D. 394, four years after the public suppression of paganism in the Roman Empire. The Greek athletic festivals must be carefully distinguished from the bloody Roman gladiatorial combats. That these athletic festivals permeated and moulded the thought both of classic writers and of the apostle to the Gentiles, we have abundant proof. Eternal life is to be obtained only by contest and victory (Philippians 3:14; 1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 2:5; 2 Timothy 4:7f; cf. Luke 13:24; Hebrews 12:1; James 1:12; 1 Peter 5:4; Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:11. The Christian life is both a preparation for conflict (ver. 25; 2 Timothy 2:5), a race (ver. 24; Philippians 3:12; Acts 20:24; 2 Timothy 4:7); a boxing (ver. 27); and a wrestling (Ephesians 6:12), Paul's converts will be his crown in the great day (1 Thessalonians 2:19; Philippians 4:1). And, just as the athlete, victorious but not yet crowned, lay down to rest on the evening after conflict, waiting for the glories of the morrow, so Paul (2 Timothy 4:7f). This metaphor —

I. PRESENTS A NEEDFUL COMPLEMENT OF PAUL'S DOCTRINE OF JUSTIFICATION BY GRACE AND THROUGH FAITH. Though eternal life is altogether a free gift of God, it is given only to those who strive for it with all their powers. Therefore we must ever ask, not only whether an action open to us is lawful, but whether it will increase or lessen our spiritual strength. Just so, an athlete would forego many things otherwise harmless, and some not even forbidden by the laws for athletes, simply because he was striving for a prize.

II. RECEIVES IN TURN ITS NEEDFUL COMPLEMENT IN THE DOCTRINE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. Had we to contend for life in our own strength, we might be doubtful of the result, as was many a resolute athlete on the morning of the contest. But in us is the might of God, crushing (Romans 16:20; 1 John 4:4) our adversary under our feet, and carrying us (1 Kings 18:46) forward to the goal. Therefore, day by day we go down into the arena, to fight with foes infinitely stronger than we, knowing that "we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us." Conclusion: That the crowded Isthmian festival was held each alternate year at the very gates of Corinth and almost under the shadow of its Acropolis, must have given to the metaphor of ver. 24 special force in the minds of the Corinthians. And, possibly, Paul was himself present at a festival during (Acts 18:11) his eighteen months' sojourn at Corinth, using perhaps the opportunity to summon the assembled strangers to a nobler contest.

(Prof. Beet.)

In a race generally there are multitudes to compete, but out of those multitudes bow few win! The same fact in the Christian race can be accounted for on two grounds: —

I. THE LACK OF EARNESTNESS. Consider this in —

1. Its sources.(1) Lack of knowledge, or confusion of thought. Because of such passages as Romans 6:23; Titus 3:5-7; John 3:16, &c., some do not see what there is for the believer to strive after. As though merely being a child were enough; as though it were not possible for a father to give his children special marks of his love. "How pleased father will be when he sees how much we have done." Are not children, when speaking in this way, really labouring for just the kind of prize held out here? the expressed approbation (Matthew 25:21) of the "righteous judge" (2 Timothy 4:8).(2) Lack of appreciation. All. who see the nature of this gracious reward do not also see its great value. Besides, how dim and distant! Like Esau's despised birthright, how intangible the whole promise!

2. In its results. Those who have never succeeded in grasping this prize with their hearts, naturally never do so with their hands. Such halfhearted competitors have lost the race even before they begin. Never starting, how are they to arrive? In such an undertaking as this, would it not be more than a miracle if they did?

II. LACK OF SUITABLE TRAINING. Consider —

1. What "training" Signifies. Living by rule. To be "temperate" (ver. 25) is to rule oneself. It is to "keep under" the body, &c. (ver. 27). It is to deny ourselves everything that would in any way impede us in running our race (Hebrews 12:1). Hence we see —

2. What the lack of it does. It secures failure.(1) On account of the greatness of the enterprise. What we are striving for is nothing less than the "mastery." In such an enterprise, if we do not rule our desires, our desires will rule us — and ruin us too. In such a work we not only need no self-inflicted hindrance, we need all the help we can get.(2) On account of the insufficiency of our strength. Even those who are strong, if "out of condition," are unequal to their task. Much more we, who are weak.Conclusion: To stir us up, consider in the case of failure —

1. How much is lost. How can we hope that we are true Christians if we do not even "study to show ourselves approved unto God"? There are those who have just enough religion to make them miserable.

2. How little is gained, viz., too little to be described. The man who misses the approbation of Christ obtains no other in its stead, not even his own. How many centuries have passed since the question of Matthew 16:26 was first asked? How much nearer are we, even now, to finding a reply?

(W. S. Lewis, M. A.)

I. HIS EXERCISES. The Christian life may be compared to —

1. A race.

2. A combat.

II. THE CONDITIONS OF SUCCESS IN THESE EXERCISES.

1. Personal mastery.

2. Moderation.

3. Distinctness of aim.

4. Concentration of purpose.

5. Activity.

6. Courage.

7. Perseverance.

III. THE REWARD OF SUCCESS.

1. Its intrinsic value.

2. Its permanence.Application: This reward should make us —

1. Burn with ambition.

2. Watchful

3. Enduring and contented.

(W. Stevens.)

I. THE RACE. Christian life is a race. It is no haphazard thing; it is marked off and measured; it has a starting-point and a goal.

1. The race begins at the Cross. The Christian, at his conversion, enters the racecourse, and his name is recorded and published.

2. The race ends at death. The most hopeful beginning may have a hopeless ending. A good start is of immense value; but it is not he that maketh a fine start, but "he that endureth unto the end, that shalt be saved." It does not take very long for the racer to lose all the advantage of a good start: and a life, though nobly run, if it fail in the home stretches, will be sure to miss the crown.

II. THE RACERS are all who have forsaken sin, accepted Christ, and publicly entered the path of obedience. The Bible does not speak of invisible racers, but of those who are "compassed about by a great cloud of witnesses." Those Grecian athletes were in training long before the day of conflict came. But the Christian's training begins with the race. He trains in the race, and thus gains agility and skill through the turmoil of the contest. The racers —

1. Strip for the race. "Lay aside every weight." Nothing that hinders must be left on.

2. Make progress. "Run." Think how ridiculous a lounger would have appeared, hanging around the ancient stadium, professing to be a racer, but never getting out of sight of the starting-point. Dash into the race, or leave the ground.

3. Persevere. "A race." Not a little jet of speed, because one feels like it, or down street for fun. Christianity demands not only prompt action, but continuity of effort. If religion were only a thing of frames and feelings, some would soon fly to the goal, especially if the feeling held out.

4. Concentrate effort. "Run a race." Christianity harmonises all man's powers, and, with a noble obliviousness to surrounding attractions, hurls the whole man into the race.

5. Are watchful. "So run that ye may obtain." Christian activity is not a blind, haphazard thing. We are to keep our eyes about us, lest we stumble.

III. THE REWARD. In the stadium, the prize, like all earthly honours, was perishable. But the Christian prize is an incorruptible crown. Proud moment, that, when the successful racer had the chaplet placed upon his brow, amid the applause of thousands. Grander moment for the Christian athlete, when amid the shouts of rejoicing myriads, the pierced hands of Jesus place upon his head the crown of glory, with the blessed words of approval: "Well done," &c.

(T. Kelly.)

I. THE DUTY ENJOINED — "running." The word implies — immediate attention — strong exertion. Not that easy, quiet religion which takes salvation as a matter of course, and regards condemnation as out of date. "The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence," &c.

II. THE MANNER OF DISCHARGING THIS DUTY.

1. Previous preparation.

(1)Moderation.

(2)The removal of every weight.

(3)Once more: we should take care in what manner.

(4)Being "shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace."

2. An actual exercise. Running implies —

(1)Going forward.

(2)In a direct line.

(3)Without halting.

(4)Without looking back.

(5)Lawfully (2 Timothy 2:5), i.e.,

(a)In dependence on Christ —

(b)With a view to the glory of Christ.

3. Patient endurance. Blessed are they which "endure to the end, for they shall be saved."

III. THE OBJECT AT WHICH WE ARE TO AIM. Everlasting life — to be "found in Christ" — to "know Christ," whom to know is everlasting life.

(Bishop Montagu Villiers.)

I. THE PRIZE COMPETED FOR. An object in life is necessary to every one. Without it our energies are like the shafts and wheels of a machine, when there is no steam in the boiler. Put before a man the prospect of a fortune, and how cheerfully will he devote himself to his business. An objectless man can only be indolent and wretched. How these conditions remain when we rise to the higher ranges of life. There is an object in religion. Nowhere is a higher incentive needed or furnished.

1. This is not happiness. There are many whose creed is — Be good that you may be happy. But the principle is wrong. It is not for that a good man runs. He knows that happiness is like a little bird which will sit on your shoulder and sing for you all day, if you do not turn to look at it. But the moment you begin to look at it, it takes its flight. Hugo says truly — "Being in possession of the false aim in life, happiness, we forget the true aim, duty!"

2. It is not heaven. That is, undoubtedly, a home of the soul. But Christ never urged men to believe in Him in order that they might get it. The assurance of it is a very different thing from making it the reason of a good life. If the only reason one has for serving God is that he may receive his pitiful denarius at the end of the day, he will find that he has been running a race for a corruptible, not an incorruptible end. His heaven will be no heaven, since his heart will still be full of that self-seeking in whose train follows a hell of discontent and misery. Out of the heart the love of Christ must thrust the selfishness which makes not only present self-good, but eternal self-good, the aim of religion.

3. The thing for which we run is a kingdom of heaven which is within us — a Christlike character. The good man runs the race that he may be "perfect and entire" in goodness, lacking nothing. Heaven will at last fall to his lot, but to get it is not his ambition. He aims at a life made holy by the pursuit of righteousness.

II. CERTAIN CONDITIONS ACCEPTED.

1. The back must resolutely be turned on wrongdoing. No one can lawfully enter on the contest for holiness with any love of sin in the heart. The merchant who conducts his business upon dishonest principles, cannot at the same time be a disciple. He is not running lawfully, and will never win the prize.

2. A strong faith in Christ who takes away the sin of which we have repented. Many hold that for a good life one has only to recognise the voice of conscience, and to follow its directions. But let us not be deceived. History can tell us something of the fruits of this so-called independent morality. The teaching of and wrought no radical reformation in Athenian morals. The precepts of Seneca could not save his pupil Nero from the depths of brutality and shame. The moral philosophy of Hume culminated in the French Revolution. It is impossible to rise above the low levels of a sinful self without a high faith in Him who is the power of God unto salvation. Argument is not needed to enforce this. It is prescribed by the eternal Judge.

3. Open confession of our fidelity to. Christ. We cannot, lawfully, run the race in secret. Here is the plain word of the Master. He requires us to enter into open fellowship with His cause on the earth.

4. Great and continued effort. It is not an easy thing to do right. In this contest, every energy of the soul is called into play. Amateur Christianity may do for show, but it tells for nothing in the great sum of life. This is the vice of our age. We are enthusiastic about everything but religion.

(H. R. Harris.)

1. The style of Paul is peculiar in its directness. We may hesitate to illustrate religious truth by sports as now conducted. The Greek games, however, were not of a mercenary character. No entrance fee was demanded, no betting, and no disreputable people were allowed.

2. Physical culture was more esteemed than now. We often have well-trained minds in thin, sapless bodies. Our schoolrooms rob vitality. In Greece the instruction was given outdoors. Manly struggles ennobled the physical nature.

3. Picture to yourselves the temple of Neptune, the stadium, and the circling seats where sat the beauty and the wealth of Greece, a "great cloud of witnesses" applauding the efforts of the racers. Here is the starting-post and there the goal, with a tripod holding a garland of pine. Now the judge is seated, and the herald cries out that no unclean, no criminal or foreigner, shall draw near. The signal is given and the race begins.

4. We are all runners. Life is earnest. It may be a triumph or a disastrous failure. What is required: —

I. TEMPERANCE. This word is belittled if referred to mere abstinence from drink. It means self-mastery. The whole nature must be under constraint and restraint, lest we slip and fall.

II. WATCHFULNESS. Temptations creep upon us stealthily. Wealth, pleasure, ambition, and cupidity have their golden apples. Unless we keep our eye on the goal we are lost.

III. THE LAYING ASIDE OF EVERY WEIGHT. The Pilgrim lost his load at the Cross. We must drop there everything which hinders. Men of this world make every sacrifice to gain money or power. Politicians run with zeal. They do it for a corruptible crown.

(D. M. Reeves, D. D.)

I.TRIFLE NOT — the business is earnest.

II.DELAY NOT — the opportunity is short.

III.ERR NOT — the path is narrow.

IV.DIVIDE NOT YOUR ATTENTION — the work is difficult.

V.RELAX NOT YOUR EFFORTS — he only that endureth shall be saved.

VI.FAINT NOT — the prize is glorious.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

You are called, every one of you, for the kingdom of God; but it depends upon yourself whether you will work this salvation out. Life is a race, in which many will run but will not gain a prize. What is the meaning of the simile?

I. RUN WITH ALL YOUR SPEED. There are some who labour from morning to night to win the treasures of this life, who are slothful in the work of saving their souls. And if they could gain the whole world and lose their own souls, what is the profit? Run with all your speed, for the way is long to the kingdom of God. The wise men from the East, when they saw the star, followed it through all the dangers and difficulties of a long journey. The attaining of eternal life, i.e., so to live that eternal life may be in us here, is the greatest work that we can do. The prodigal who departed from his father's house into a far country, has to go back step by step as far as he departed. Surely this work is not the work of a day but of a life; and life is short for so great a work, and life is fleeting and uncertain. We cannot promise ourselves to-morrow; tomorrow is God's, to-day is ours.

II. RUN WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH. If you see a man set about doing a task, you can see by the way he goes about it whether his heart is in it or not. Men who decide to get rich or to make a name will overcome every obstacle. But such men are often cowardly and slack in the work of their salvation. And yet we are warned that no man can serve two masters. There must be no half-heartedness in the work of our salvation, and there can be no neutrality. "He who is not for Me is against Me."

III. WITH SELF-DENIAL AND TEMPERANCE. Our Lord has said, "If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out," &c. The thing most necessary to you, you must cast off, if it cause you to sin. Remember that out of the seven deadly sins four are spiritual — pride, jealousy, anger, and strife. Such sins you must cast out. St. Paul says, "I keep under my body," &c. And if he had need to say that, how much need we? Venial sins are still important sins, and grow into great sins. And therefore, as St. Paul says here, "Every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things." Men who desire to exhibit great feats of endurance have to mortify and control themselves in everything; and we cannot live with a little hardness for our eternal reward.

IV. RUN WITH ALL YOUR HEARTS. There are two failures in this race — the one is to have too much hope in salvation. Some are as presumptuous as if they had received a revelation that they must be saved. The other is in not having confident hope. We must have confidence in God, and in experience. St. Paul says, "I know whom I have believed," &c. If a man is running for his life, as long as he has a hope of escape he will continue running; but the moment he despairs he slackens his efforts. A man who is swimming for his life will strike out strongly if he can hope, but the instant he despairs he sinks. So with those who lose their confidence in God, who are overcome by servile fear. Why are we to trust in God? Because —

1. God is Love.

2. You have His promises. He has promised you that if you believe in Him He will give you life eternal, What more do you need?Conclusion:

1. Take care you are in the right way. St. said, "You are making great strides, indeed, but you are out of the right way." If we are out of the way, every step we take we are going from the kingdom. Our Lord says, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life."

2. Having begun to run, do not let your heart do what Lot's wife did. Do not look back on the world which you have given up.

(Cardinal Manning.)

I. ITS NATURE — "So run." It implies —

1. Piety towards God. The love of God must be the all-constraining principle, the Spirit of God the Guide, and the Word of God the constant companion of every candidate.

2. Equity towards all their fellow-creatures. They will, by God's grace, endeavour to render to all their dues, and it will be their daily habit "to do unto others as they would others should do unto them."

3. Sobriety as to ourselves. It is not enough to abstain from drunkenness, &c., but the candidate's Christian course must be temperate in all things, even in lawful matters, keeping under his body, and bringing it into subjection. He is to use this world as not abusing it, and to let his "moderation be known unto all men," because "the Lord is at hand."

II. THE MANNER. "So run."

1. Lawfully.

2. With the understanding. We must, ere the resolution be formed, "sit down and count the cost."

3. Looking forward to "Jesus the Author and Finisher of faith."

4. Penitently — i.e., godly sorrow for and hatred to sin.

5. Prayerfully.

6. Cheerfully.

7. Believingly (Hebrews 11:1).

8. Continually. The Christian, unlike the Olympic race, which was celebrated but once in five years, is to be run every day of our lives.

9. Perseveringly. Nothing honourable and desirable is obtained, even in this world, without this.

III. THE RESIGN. "That ye may obtain."

(T. Sedger, M. A.)

I. THE CHRISTIAN LIFE IS COMPARED TO A RACE. There was a peculiar propriety in the selection of such an image when writing to a people who held the Isthmian games in such reverence, that no national calamity was ever known to hinder their performance. The city was sacked on one occasion, but the games went on. Public events were dated from the time of their celebration. The design of the apostle was to show that the advantage was always on the side of him who, instead of the pine leaves, was running for the crown of life.

1. There were points where the comparison held. The racer must keep to the rules of the course, and confine himself within the limits of the stadium. Speed will stand him in no stead without this: and though he may reach the goal, he will not receive the prize. And it is so with the Christian racer. He is not at liberty to choose his ground, to invent a short road, or to seek an easy road there; he must keep in the way of God's commandments. "The law of the Lord is perfect," and it is equally dishonoured, whether we multiply religious works and let these stand in lieu of the heart, or whether, under the plea of cultivating the heart, we neglect some plainly commanded duties. One man finds it easier to pray for an hour than to control his temper; another to cultivate a highly emotional religion than to part with his money. The gospel crown must be won in the gospel way.

2. There are points in which the parallel fails.(1) In an earthly race, however many may start, only one can win, whereas in the Christian race all may win. He who is faithful over a little shall be as certainly rewarded as he who is faithful over much; each shall receive a crown as large as he can wear.(2) In earthly competitions there must be jealousy and strife; the gain of one competitor is the loss of another, and each one feels it is his interest as far as he lawfully may, to keep all rivals back. But the Christian racer, instead of hindering a weak brother, would help him; he rejoices in the feeling that he has so many companions, and would carry all the world along with him if he could.

II. WHAT IS IMPLIED IN THE COMPARISON.

1. The necessity of vigour, singleness of heart, steadiness of purpose, and determination; the concentration on that work in which we are engaged, of all effort and all hope. Thus the text is a protest against all half-heartedness, all matter-of-course religions, all views of salvation which make it a thing to be done by and by. If you are losers in this race, you lose everything.

2. Deliberation; carefulness, frequent looking both to ourselves and to our way, to see that we are running right. Many have run well who have not run rightly. They took their eye off Christ, and all went wrong with them; they missed the prize through having missed the way.

3. Habitual self-denial (ver. 25). The restrictions are not meant to be unnatural, or such as to make life a burden, but mere restraints upon what would be a hurtful excess. We are to be temperate in all things — in our enjoyments, our griefs, our worldly ambitions, our most lawful and permitted affections.

4. The absolute necessity of holding on our way unwearied to the end. There is no prize for him who stops half way. If the disciple after taking up his cross grow weary in well doing; if he put his hand to the plough and look back, both labour and crown are lost. Vigour and alacrity in youth, noble self-sacrifice in manhood; the longest and the best running, all will be unavailing, if, like the Galatians, we suffer any influence to drive us back afterwards.

III. THE ENCOURAGEMENTS.

1. Remember all eyes are upon you. The eyes of God are upon you; the eyes of Christ are upon you, rejoicing at each onward and victorious step, and in sorrow rather than in auger turning to look upon you when the voice of the cock-crowing proclaims a shameful fall; the eyes of the holy angels are upon you, watching their opportunities to strengthen you with invisible aids; and the eyes of the malignant powers of darkness are upon you, marking your steps to make you fall; the eyes of glorified spirits are upon you (Hebrews 12:1).

2. Think of the priceless worth of the prize for which we run.

(D. Moore, M. A.)

I. THE CHRISTIAN LIFE IS A RACE. Rapidity, energy, &c., required (Luke 13:24; Colossians 1:29; 1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 4:7; see Gr., and cf. Luke 22:44). Running often used in illustration of Christian course (Galatians 2:2; Philippians 2:16; Philippians 3:3; Hebrews 12:1; and see Song of Solomon 1:4, and Psalm 119:32). Some are walking, crawling, loitering,' &c. (1 Corinthians 16:13). Is not heaven worth running for? (Matthew 11:12). Strive; for many will seek (only) and fail (Luke 13.).

II. THE GREAT DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE FIGURE AND REALITY. There one receives the prize; here all may, though some come much behind others. Happy those with a finished course, a crown won! Some are lame, halt, feeble, slow, &c. Nevertheless, if in Christ, who is the way, they will yet win, and many first will be last, and last first.

III. How? MARK HOW THESE GREEKS WERE TRAINED.

1. What care, pains, self-denial, self-restraint in all things, hours, food, rest, &c. (Romans 8:13). The Corinthians self-indulgent, which St. Paul rebukes (cf. 1 Peter 2:11; 1 Peter 5:8; and especially 2 Timothy 2:3-5).

2. They were to "strive lawfully." So we are "under the law to Christ" (v. 21).

IV. THE PRIZE. Great disparity between the reality and the figure. Astonishing what men will undergo to obtain — what? a little fame, gold, power, or authority. All the prizes of this world like those in Greece, which were wreaths, no sooner clutched than gone. But the Christian prize how glorious. A crown of righteousness (2 Timothy 4:8); of life (Revelation 2:10; James 1:12); of glory (1 Peter 5:4; cf. Revelation 4:4, 10; Revelation 5:10; Revelation 1:6; Revelation 7:9). "Hold fast that thou hast," &e. What hast thou? — hast thou Christ? Hold Him fast and run. Soon the race will be over (2 Timothy 4:7, 8). Conclusion: Revelation 3:21; Revelation 2:10.

(W. E. Light, M. A.)

1. There are few things upon record in which the exertion was so violent, and yet so short, as a Greek race. And therefore it stands at least four times in St. Paul's epistles, as the emblem of the brevity and the struggle of the Christian life.

2. We can conceive how the believer's career will look when he casts his eye back upon it from eternity. First there came a Divine influence — then a holy ambition — then an earnest determination — then all the happy self-discipline — then the race — severe even unto death: he rushed, passed by, and all is over — and then the rest, and the joy.

3. In that course all of you are occupying now your positions. Your stadium is the little span of your present existence — the spectators are the holy angels, the heralds are the ministers who call you to the contest, and animate you by the way — the umpire is the Lord Jesus, and the crown is life eternal.

4. Already some have run their course, and are not uninterested in those who are filling, after them, the same exciting scene. Others are just offering themselves; while many are midway. But alas I some have never set out, and others who did "run well" — but, bewitched with the world's sorcery, they have ceased to run. We shall only be fulfilling our duty, as the heralds, if we set before you —

I. SOME OF THE CONDITIONS OF THE COURSE upon which your admission and your subsequent victory must depend.

1. In those Isthmian games none could join who were not freemen of unspotted character. As soon as the combatants appeared, the crier, having commanded silence, laid his hand on the head of each in succession, demanding of all the assembly, "Is there any one here who can accuse this man of being a slave, or of being guilty of any moral wrongs of life?" If any stain was found upon his character, he was excluded; but if otherwise, then he was led to the altar of Jupiter, there to make solemn oath that he would conform to all the regulations, and so he proceeded to the brunt.

2. And now what if God should make proclamation that none should be candidates for the crown of life but those who, free from sin, are obedient to His laws? Could you pass the scrutiny? The very scrutiny of which St. Paul speaks in ver. 27, "castaway" meaning "not approved in the scrutiny." If there be any secret love of sin, men may reckon you in the number of candidates, but God does not!

II. But suppose that the examination has shown you one who, believing in Christ, is emancipated from sin, and obedient to God's law. Follow me to THE STRIPPING ROOM (Hebrews 12:1). There are some who are sadly "weighted" with many things, Hoarding money — personal vanity — worldly amusements — society where God is not — self-indulgence. What are these things but clogs? You cannot "run" with those things on. Will you cumber your energies when you need to stretch them to the uttermost? In the natural course, men are accurate to the ounce — and will you trifle with those fearful odds? You may set out; but if your heart is not in it, it will only be soon to creep, then to crawl, then to stop, then to lie down, then to go to sleep, and then to die! Go into the stripping room at once, undress yourself, else do not call yourself a runner.

III. But now, entered on the race, "PRESS TOWARD THE MARK FOR THE PRIZE."

1. "The mark" was a certain line drawn along the course, to show the runners exactly where they were to run — so that if you would run lawfully, take care not only that you are going to the right object, but that you are pursuing that object along the right line. The Christian's "mark," in general words, is the Scriptural method of salvation. This "mark" stretches itself out all along. "Press" to it. Every day consult your Bible to find your "mark."

2. At the time when St. Paul was writing there was a particular race in which every runner carried a torch; and he won the race who came in first, bringing with him his torch still alight. Some, running very fast, put out their torch; others, running slowly, kept their torch in, but arrived too late. Beware lest a false excitement put out the flame of love! and yet beware, equally, lest over-caution hinder too long! but let zeal and love, patience and speed, go hand in hand, with equal pace — for so heaven is won!

IV. And now I see you in the midst of your career. Every race quickens as it proceeds; and the competition grows greater. YOU MUST STRETCH TO THE POINT. The secret of every race, perhaps, is fixedness of eye. Therefore the apostle has given us two directions.

1. "Forget the things which are behind" — counting our own past attainment nothing.

2. "Look unto Jesus."

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)

I. WHAT ARE WE TO RUN FOR?

1. Some think they must be religious in order to be respectable. Verily, if this be what you seek after, you shall get it; for the Pharisees who sought the praise of men "had their reward." But is it worth the drudgery?

2. Others go a little farther and desire to be considered saints. We have a considerable admixture of persons in our churches who only come for the mere sake of obtaining a religious status. "They have their reward," and they shall never have any but what they obtain here.

3. Another set take up with religious life for what they can get by it. I have known tradespeople attend church for the mere sake of getting custom. Loaves and fishes drew some of Christ's followers, and they are very attracting baits, even to this day. They have their reward; but at what a price they buy it!

4. Another class take up with religion for the sake of quieting their conscience; and it is astonishing how little of religion will sometimes do that. I have known a man who was drunk in the week, and who got his money dishonestly, and yet he always had an easy conscience by going to church on Sunday.

5. If you run for anything else than salvation, should you win, what you have won is not worth the running for.

II. THE RULES OF THE RACE.

1. Some never will obtain the prize, because they are not even entered. These will tell you, "We make no profession." It is quite as well, perhaps, that you do not; because it is better to make no profession at all than to be hypocrites. Yet it is strange that men should be so ready to confess this. People are not so fast about telling their faults: and yet you hear people confess the greatest fault. God has made them, and yet they won't serve Him; Christ hath come into the world to save them, and yet they will not regard Him.

2. There is another class whose names are down, but they never started right. A bad start is a sad thing. There are some who on a sudden leap into religion. They get it quickly, and they keep it for a time, and at last they lose it because they did not get their religion the right way. They have heard that before a man can be saved, it is necessary to feel the weight of sin, make a confession of it, renounce all hope in his own works, and look to Jesus alone. But they look upon all these things as unpleasant preliminaries and therefore, before they have attended to repentance, &c., they make a profession of religion. This is just setting up in business without a stock-in-trade, and there must be a failure.

3. Some cannot win because they carry too much weight. "How hardly shall a rich man enter into the kingdom of heaven!" Carry the weight of this world's cares about you, and it will be as much as you can do to stand upright under them, but as to running a race with such burdens, it is just impossible.

4. We have known people who stopped on their way to kick their fellows. Such things sometimes occur in a race. The horse, instead of speeding onwards to the mark, is of an angry disposition, and sets about kicking those that are running beside him — there is not much probability of his coming in first. "Now they that run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize." There is one, however, who never gets it, and that is the man who always attends to his fellow-creatures instead of himself. It is a mysterious thing that I never yet saw a man with a hoe on his shoulder, going to hoe his neighbour's garden; but every day I meet with persons who are attending to other people's character. They have so few virtues of their own that they do not like anybody else to have any.

5. Those will not win the race who, although they seem to start very fair, very soon loiter. At the first starting they fly away as if they had wings to their heels; but a little further on it is with difficulty that with whip and spur they are to be kept going at all.

6. Another class start well too, and they run very fast at first, but at last they leap over the rails and go quite out of the course altogether. They are like the dog that returned to his vomit, and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. "The last end of that man shall be worse than the first."

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Homiletic Monthly.
I. THE NECESSITY OF SELF-DENIAL.

1. Difficulty of winning the crown. If he who makes every exertion is the only winner, what becomes of the sluggish, selfish soul? All roads downward are easy; all roads upward difficult.

2. Greatness of the loss of the crown. Some will be saved — so as by fire (chap. 1 Corinthians 3.). Scarcely saved, but the reward lost.

II. ITS NATURE.

1. All sin must be laid aside. Progress is impossible so long as one sin is deliberately indulged or one duty wilfully neglected.

2. All weights must be laid aside (Hebrews 12:1-3). What is lawful in itself may weigh us down. The true runner will sacrifice everything to progress.

III. ITS INDUCEMENT. Throughout the moral universe there runs a law of compensation. Self-denial is but a postponement of pleasure to the future.

1. Sacrifice is reward by self-mastery. To keep the body under implies the reason and conscience enthroned and regnant, and the Spirit of God ruling over all. That is the ideal estate of man.

2. Progress and coronation. To make advance is reward enough to a true disciple; but to get to the goal and get the prize too — that is heaven.Conclusion:

1. We must run lawfully, i.e., according to the Scripture rules of the race.

2. We must be temperate in all things.

3. We must run perseveringly; pursuing even when faint.

4. We must run hopefully.

5. We must run purposefully — not as a boxer who beats the air, not as one who runs uncertainly — a definite goal and the eye always on it.

(Homiletic Monthly.)

The Christian.
Cecil says that some adopt the Indian maxim, that it is better to walk than to run, and better to stand than to walk, and better to sit than to stand, and better to lie than to sit. Such is not the teaching of the gospel. It is a good thing to be walking in the ways of God, but it is better to be running — making real and visible progress, day by day advancing in experience and attainments. David likens the sun to a strong man rejoicing to run a race; not dreading it and shrinking back from it, but delighting in the opportunity of putting forth all his powers. Who so runs, runs well.

(The Christian.)

As victory in the games was the incentive which stimulated the youth of Greece to attain the perfection of physical strength and beauty, so there is laid before us an incentive which is sufficient to carry us forward to perfect moral attainment. The brightest jewel in the incorruptible crown is the joy of having become all God made us to be. But there are men who when opportunity is given them to win true glory turn away to salaries and profits, to meat, drink, and frivolity. The incorruptible crown is held over their head; but so intent are they on the muck-rake, they do not even see it. To those who would win it Paul gives these directions: —

I. BE TEMPERATE (ver. 25).

1. Contentedly and without a murmur the racer submits to the ten months' training without which he may as well not compete. The little indulgences of others he must forego. His chances are gone if in any point he relaxes the discipline. So if the Christian indulges in the pleasures of life as freely as other men, he proves that he has no higher aim than they and can of course win no higher prize.

2. Temperance is complete and continuous self-rule. No spasmodic efforts and partial abstinences will ever bring a man victorious to the goal. One day's debauch was enough to undo the result of weeks in the case of the athlete; and one lapse into worldliness undoes what years of self-restraint have won. One indiscretion on the part of the convalescent will undo what the care of months has slowly achieved. One fraud spoils the character for honesty which years of upright living have earned.

II. BE DECIDED. "I run," says Paul, "not as uncertainly," not as a man who does not know where he is going or has not made up his mind to go there. We have all some kind of idea about what God offers and calls us to. But this idea must be clear if we are to make for it straight. No man can run straight to a mere will-o'-the-wisp, or who first means to go to one station and then changes his mind. Paul had made up his mind not to pursue comfort, learning, money, &c., but the kingdom of God. He knew where he was going and to what all his efforts tended. What then do the traces of our past life show?

III. BE IN EARNEST. "So fight I, not as one that beateth the air," not as one amusing himself with idle flourishes, but as one who has a real enemy to encounter.

1. How much of mere parade and sham-fighting is there in the Christian army! We seem to be doing everything that a good soldier of Jesus Christ need do save the one thing: we slay no enemy. We are well trained: we could instruct others; we spend much time on exercises which are calculated to make an impression on sin; but where are our slain foes?

2. Even where there is some reality in the contest we may still be beating the air. Many persons who level blows at their sins do not after all strike them. Spiritual energy is put forth; but it is not brought into contact with the sin to be destroyed. Paul's language suggests that the reason may be that there remains in the heart some reluctance quite to kill and put an end to sin. We pray God, for example, to preserve us from the evils of praise or of success; and yet we continue to court them. Therefore our warfare against sin becomes unreal.

3. The result is detrimental. Sin is like something floating in the air or the water: the very effort we make to grasp and crush it displaces it, and it floats mockingly before us untouched. Or it is like an agile antagonist who springs back from our blow, so that the force we have expended merely racks and strains our own sinews and does him no injury. So when we spend much effort in conquering sin and find it as lively as ever, the spirit is strained and hurt. It is less able than before to resist sin, less believing, less hopeful, and scoffs at fresh resolves and endeavours. Finally, Paul tells us that the enemy against which he directed his well-planted blows was his own body. Every man's body is his enemy when, instead of being his servant, it becomes his master. When the body mutinies and refuses to obey the will, it becomes our most dangerous enemy. The word Paul uses is the word used of the most damaging blow one boxer could give another. It was probably by sheer strength of will and by the grace of Christ that Paul subdued his body. Many in all ages have striven to subdue it by fasting, &c., and of these practices we have no right to speak scornfully until we can say that by other means we have reduced the body to its proper position as the servant of the spirit. There is a fair and reasonable degree in which a marl may and ought to cherish his own flesh, but there is also needful a disregard to many of its claims and a hard-hearted obduracy to its complaints. In an age when Spartan simplicity of life is almost Unknown, it is very easy to sow to the flesh almost without knowing it until we find ourselves reaping corruption.

(M. Dods, D. D.)

I. MAKE UP YOUR MIND TO RUN. Decision: This must be settled once for all: "Put my name down, I will run." St. Paul says, "So have I; I therefore so run." Have you?

II. PUT YOURSELF IN TRAINING. Discipline: "For even Christ pleased not Himself."

III. STRAIN EVERY NERVE. Earnestness: See them, each one alert, waiting for the signal — then, away, each one with desperate eagerness seeking to cover the course. "So run that ye may obtain." Strenuous effort is needed. Look at rowers in a boat-race, or players in a football match. Are we to be put to shame by these?

IV. AIM AT THE WINNING-POST. Singleness of mind: Straight for the mark! No step can he afford to take outside the line which leads right to it.

V. HIT STRAIGHT AND HARD! Reality: It is no sham-fight. He cannot afford to hit wildly, as one beating the air. Our own besetting sin must be found out. We must learn, what the tempter knows so well, where our weak place is. There we must meet the enemy.

VI. NEVER GIVE IN. Persistence: Keep at it to the end.

(T. Puddicombe.)

I. HOW WE OUGHT TO CONDUCT OURSELVES IN THE CHRISTIAN LIFE, or, to preserve the metaphor, how we ought to run so as to obtain.

1. We ought to make ourselves well acquainted with the nature of the Christian life, with its duties and advantages, its difficulties and its dangers. This knowledge lies at the foundation of all spiritual improvement. The history of Christianity abounds with examples of the dangerous effects of partial and mistaken views of religion. To this source we may trace that system of corruption and superstition which, after the days of the apostles, gradually spread over a great part of the world. To the same source we may trace the overwhelming influence of the papal power, the thunders of excommunication, and the horrors of the Inquisition, the practice of retiring from the world to a life of monastic seclusion, together with many of those wars, persecutions, and massacres, which in the Middle Ages deluged with blood the nations of Europe. A plan of mercy has been devised and executed for the salvation of man. This plan, together with the means by which we become interested in it, has been fully unfolded in the gospel. But if we are ignorant of those means, we cannot possibly avail ourselves of them. Hence the necessity of being acquainted with the Scriptures. They contain a full revelation of the Divine will. In them the path of duty is clearly pointed out, and they unfold the mystery which had been hid for ages, but which was at last made known by Jesus Christ.

2. Having become acquainted with the nature of the Christian life, we ought also carefully to avoid everything that may obstruct or retard us in our spiritual course. Christians ought to guard against the beginnings of sin, and shun every appearance of evil. They ought to subdue every evil passion, and to mortify every unhallowed lust. Without doing this, it is in vain to think of making progress in religious attainments. Every commandment of the law is enjoined by the same authority, and therefore whoever habitually violates any one of them, may be justly reputed a transgressor of the whole.

3. But Christians ought not merely to abstain from sin, they ought to discharge the duties of the Christian life with patience, with ardour, and with perseverance.(1) They ought to discharge them with patience. "Let us run with patience the race that is set before us." Patience is opposed to a hasty, fretful, and discontented temper, and consists in a disposition to bear the severest trials without murmuring, and to fulfil the part assigned to us, notwithstanding all the difficulties with which we may have to struggle.(2) We ought to discharge the duties of the Christian life with ardour. This temper of mind is directly opposite to that lukewarmness, and difference about religion, which the Scriptures so much condemn. Why are men so ready to lay hold of every little excuse to justify their criminal attachment to the enjoyments of the present life, and their neglect of future blessings? It is because they want that ardour which penetrates the heart of the disciples of Christ, and' alone can raise them above the enjoyments of the world.(3) We ought to persevere in well-doing to the end of our days.

II. SOME MOTIVES TO ENCOURAGE YOU TO COMPLY WITH THE EXHORTATION IN THE TEXT.

1. Consider, first, that you have many spectators of your conduct. To be approved of by those whose approbation we esteem; to be respected by those among whom we live; to be extolled by the wise and the good, and to obtain a name among such as have distinguished themselves among men; this conveys to the mind a pleasure, to which no man can be insensible.

2. Consider, next, the example of those who have gone before us. The duties to which we are called have already been performed; the difficulties with which we have to struggle have already been surmounted; and the troubles which we feel have already been borne by many of our brethren.

3. Consider, again, that the discharge of our duty is itself attended with pleasure; that the service which God requires of us is the most conducive to our present peace, as well as to our future happiness.

4. Consider, also, that a crown of glory is reserved for the faithful disciple of Christ. It is not a garland made up of flowers and leaves, which soon wither and decay; it is a crown which will flourish, when the most precious gems on earth are dissolved, when the luminaries of heaven are extinguished, and the moon and the stars fade away in their orbs.

5. We have the promise of Divine aid in every difficulty and in every trial. God sendeth no man a warfare on his own charges. When He calls us to duty, He invariably promises to fit us for the discharge of it.

(John Ramsay, M. A.)

I. TO GIVE YOU A GENERAL ACCOUNT OF THE RACE WE HAVE TO RUN. In general, the race we have to run comprehends the whole of that duty we owe to God; namely, obedience to His laws, and submission to His providence; doing what He commands, and patiently enduring whatever He is pleased to appoint.

II. To illustrate the fitness and propriety of this similitude, and to show that the Christian life doth very much resemble a race in several important respects. There is a certain limited way in which the Christian must run, emphatically called the way of God's commandments. This we must keep with the utmost precision, "neither turning aside to the right hand, nor to the left." Mere activity will not avail us: we may be very keen and busy, but if we are not busy according to rule, we only lose our labour: God can never accept it as a service done to Him. Again, as running a race is a swift and constant progression, so ought the life of a Christian to be. There are several important respects in which the Christian race doth widely differ from all others.

1. In other races, though many may start, and hold out to the end, yet none but the foremost receiveth the prize: whereas it is quite otherwise in the Christian race. There may be a great disparity among the candidates, but every one who endureth to the end shall be saved.

2. They who run in the Christian race have no envy, no jealousy, among themselves; far less do they molest and hinder one another: on the contrary, the stronger help forward the weaker, and give them all the assistance in their power.

3. They who run in other races have nothing but labour till they obtain the prize; but in the Christian race, the exercise itself carries part of the reward in its bosom: "Wisdom's ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace."

4. A distinguishing property of the Christian race; namely, the certainty of gaining the prize at last.

III. LET ME NOW EXHORT YOU SO TO RUN THAT YOU MAY AT LENGTH OBTAIN. And for this end let us consider —

1. That many eyes are upon us.

2. That many have already run this race who are now in possession of the glorious prize.

3. The unspeakable worth of the prize to be obtained.

(R. Walker.)

I. NOTHING IS MORE UNDENIABLY TRUE THAN THAT RIVALRIES ARE AMONG THE MOST FRUITFUL SOURCES OF EVIL IN EVERY DEPARTMENT OF LIFE.

1. People are agitated by heated political contests which, for a time, absorb every other interest.

2. Commercial rivalries. The rivalries of the street, the shop, the drawing-room, when and where do we not hear their echoes?

II. HOW UNIVERSAL IS THE TRAINING THAT PRODUCES THESE RIVALRIES. It begins in childhood and runs all through life. How many people are there who covet a thing because it is intrinsically good, compared with those who covet it because it is better than somebody else's. The race of competitive display we see on every side. No place is so sacred as to be free from it.

III. YET COMPETITION, A STRIFE TO EXCEL, NAY, IF YOU CHOOSE, DOWNRIGHT RIVALRY, HAS A JUST AND RIGHTFUL PLACE IN THE PLAN OF HUMAN LIFE.

1. It is the equitable thing that the best man should win.

2. But the rivalries of our daily life must be exercised under manly and Christian sanctions.

3. But having said this, let us see to it that no eagerness for victory persuades us for one moment to forget that greater than any other triumph is the triumph of inflexible principle.

4. It is just here that we touch what may be called the heroic side of human rivalries.

5. In the eagerness of business competition, in the race for a prize, whether it he social, or commercial, or political, what a rare field for that magnanimity which will not take an undue advantage of another.

6. And even so, nay, still more, when there comes that harder strain upon the nobility of our nature which comes with our successes. How hard to bear meekly and generously the intoxication of success.

(H. C. Potter, D. D.)

On one occasion I had taken my boys with me to the top of a mountain 2,500 feet high. The youngest of them got very tired on the way back; I thought he would fairly give in, and that I would have to carry him. As we were crossing the valley we came within sight of home, a mile and a half off. I said, "Shall we run and see who will be home first?" He put his hand in mine, and we started off with this idea: "We will be home before the boys." On we went, leaping over streams, jumping over every boulder, on and on across the fields. Disheartened worker, if you get tired and weary in God's service, try a run, holding your Father's hand.

(J. Carstairs.)

Learn —

I. THAT THE LOWER OCCUPATIONS OF OUR LIFE SERVE AS A PARABLE OF THE HIGHEST. Probably, few parables of Christian life could have been more clearly understood and keenly appreciated than these national pastimes. Pastimes become parables of Christian life. Yes, and if pastimes, why not all the engagements of life? Assuredly Scripture warrants us letting commerce become such a parable. "Buy the truth," &c. Do not agriculture, travel, art, music, &c., stand out to thoughtful eyes as indications of the true merchandise, exploration, painting, harmony, of which all that concern merely the material are but shadows. "The things that are seen are temporal," &c.

II. THAT THE HIGHEST OCCUPATIONS OF LIFE CHALLENGE AND EMPLOY ALL THE BEST QUALITIES OF MANHOOD THAT ARE EMPLOYED IN THE LOWER. St. Paul clearly recognised certain moral elements of great worth in those ancient games. There was the perseverance of the runner, the self-mastery of the wrestler; arid such perseverance and self-mastery were to be imitated by men in the highest region of human experiences. So it is in the whole realm of occupation. The industry, persistence, frugality, heroism, &c., we may see in any course of human affairs are to be imitated by us in our concern for, and contact with, the sublimest spiritual realities. Why? This leads us to notice —

III. THAT THERE IS URGENT NEED FOR THE EXERCISE OF THESE QUALITIES, BECAUSE IN THE HIGHEST CONCERNS OF LIFE THE DIFFICULTIES ARE GREATER, THE REWARDS RICHER, AND THE FAILURE MORE TERRIBLE THAN IN THE LOWER.

1. The race to be run by the soul who would reach the true goal is longer, has more obstacles, requires more strength than that old race.

2. The rewards are higher for they are incorruptible, perfectly pure and unfading.

3. The failure is more deplorable. To miss the goal is nothing in comparison with becoming a moral castaway.

(U. R. Thomas.)

1. The apostle saith that you must run. It is not an easy nor a short journey, which a dreamer, a snail, or any careless man may perform and take his ease. A man must always run, from the first day he setteth forth till he come to his journey's end.

2. Christ saith, "I am the way," and therefore He bids us to follow Him. He began betime, for at twelve years of age He was about His Father's business (Luke 2:49). He made speed; for "He spake and did more good things" in three and thirty years, "than could be written!" (John 21:25). He kept the right way; for none could accuse Him of sin, though they watched Him for that purpose. He continued well; for He died like a lamb, and prayed to His Father, and forgave His enemies. Therefore do you —

I. BEGIN BETIME. God requiring the firstborn for His offering, and the first-fruits for His service, requireth the first labours of His servants, because the best season to seek God is to seek Him early. And therefore Wisdom saith, "They which seek me early shall find me"; but to them which defer, she saith, "Ye shall seek me, but ye shall not find me." Therefore the Holy Ghost crieth so often, "This is the acceptable time; this is the day of salvation; to-day hear His voice." Who is so young that has not received some talent or other? Therefore the fathers were charged to teach their children the same law which they had themselves (Deuteronomy 6:7), and Christ rebuked the disciples which forbade the little children to be brought to Him (Matthew 19:14), for, should children honour their father, and not honour God? Manna was gathered in the morning, because when the sun arose it did melt away; so virtue must be gathered betime, for if we stay till business and pleasures come upon us, they will melt it faster than we can gather it. Yea, doth not God require morning as well as evening sacrifice? It is an old saying, repentance is never too late; but it is a true saying, repentance is never too soon; for so soon as ever we sin, we had need to ask forgiveness. Therefore linger not with Lot; for if the angel had not snatched him away, he had perished with Sodom for his delay. They were but foolish virgins, which sought not for oil before the bridegroom came. Samuel began to serve God in his minority (1 Samuel 2:18). Timothy read the Scripture in his childhood (2 Timothy 3:15); John grew in spirit as he ripened in years (Luke 1:80).

II. KEEP THE WAY. As God taught Israel the way to Canaan, sending a fiery pillar before them, which they followed wheresoever it went; so when He ordained a heaven for men, He appointed a way to come unto it, which way he that misseth shall never come to the end. There be many wrong ways, as there be many errors; there is but one right way, as there is but one truth. And, therefore, Jacob did not see many, but one ladder, which reached to heaven. It is not enough to run, but we must know how we run. Therefore, if ye ask, like the scribe, how ye shall come to heaven, the right way to heaven is the Word, which came from heaven, and the way by which the Word doth set thee into heaven is, to do to others as thou wouldst have others do to thee; to exercise good works, and yet believe that Christ's works shall save thee; to pray without doubting, and yet be content that thy prayer be not granted; to keep within thy calling, and do nothing by contention; to bring thy will unto God's will, and suffer for Christ, because He hath suffered for thee; to apply all things to the glory of God, and of everything to make some use. Thus the Word goeth before us like the fiery pillar, and shows us when we are in, and when we are out.

III. MAKE HASTE. For this cause Paul saith, "Run," which is the swiftest pace of man; as though he should go faster to heaven than to any place else in the world. His meaning is this, that as a man doth watch, and run, and labour, to be rich quickly, so he should hear, and pray, and study, and use all means, to be wise quickly. Therefore St. James says, "Be swift to hear" (James 1:19). We must be swift to pray, to obey, to do good; for he is not cursed only which doeth not the Lord's business, but he which "doeth it negligently" (Jeremiah 48:10). The hound, which runs but for the hare, runs as fast as possibly he can; the hawk, which flieth but for the partridge, flieth as fast as possibly she can; and shall he which runs for heaven creep more slowly than the dial?

IV. PERSEVERE TO THE END. For if you begin betimes, and go aright, and make haste, and continue not to the end, your reward is with them of whom Peter saith, "Their end is worse than their beginning" (2 Peter 2:20). Therefore the Holy Ghost cries so often, "Be faithful even unto death," "Be not weary of well-doing," "Take heed lest ye fall." For when thou art weary of thy godliness, God doth not count thee good, but weary of goodness. Therefore Paul saith, "Pray continually," as though prayer were nothing without continuance. Some came into the vineyard in the morning, and some at noon; but none received any reward but they which stayed till night. To have the ark but a while doeth more hurt to the Philistines than benefit them; so to serve God but a while doth more damage us than help us. Let the dog turn to the vomit, and the swine to the wallow; but thou, like Abraham, hold on thy sacrifice until evening, even the evening of thy life, and a full measure shall be measured unto thee. When one told Socrates, that he would very fain go to Olympus, but he feared that he should not be able to endure the pains; Socrates answered him, "I know that thou usest to walk every day between thy meals, which walk continue forward in thy way to Olympus, and within five or six days thou shalt come thither." How easy was this, and yet he saw it not. So is the way to heaven. If men did bend themselves as much to do good as they beat their brains to do evil, they might go to heaven with less trouble than they go to hell.

(H. Smith.)

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