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1. It is set forth as a journey, which must be prosecuted with the utmost activity, patience, and perseverance. The road to heaven lies through the wilderness of this world, which presents a thousand difficulties to the Christian traveller, which grace only can enable him to surmount. Those who walk carelessly, and unconcernedly, perish in their iniquities. Wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat; because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” They, however, who, in reliance upon the assistance of God, strive to walk stedfastly in the path of righteousness which he has consecrated for them, will assuredly reach the happy place which they are seeking. “ He will guide them by his counsels, and afterward receive them to glory .
Still, it is incumbent on those pilgrims who have set out on the road to Zion, constantly to remember, that, although they have made some progress, yet much of the journey remains to be performed; " for they are not yet come to the rest and to the inheritance which the Lord their God giveth them." “They have need, therefore, of patience, and a continuance in well-doing, that after they have done the will of God, they might receive the promise".”.
Let not the pious soul, who is asking the way to Zion, be dispirited, as if the journey was too long, or too tedious to be performed. Though the road to celestial glory may sometimes be strewed with thorns, yet, here and there, roses are scattered, to refresh the eye, and cheer the soul of the heavenly traveller. And if he contemplate, but for an hour; the bright prospect placed before hiin, and the
* Matt. vii. 13, 14. h Psalm lxxii. 24. I Tim. ii. 1.4. · Deut. xii. 9.
ii Heb. x. 36-39..
eternal recompence which awaits him when he arrives at his blissful home, he may well “go on his way rejoicing, even in tribulation.”
Let not, then, the Christian pilgrim think of reposing on the enchanted ground of this world; but be marching forward, with firm and unwavering steps, towards heaven; in full persuasion of the fact, “ that here he has no continuing city, but should seek one to comek."
2. The Christian life is spoken of as a warfare ; and
every one who enters on its duties, is denominated a soldier kk.
Now such a course of warfare implies, that the followers of Jesus have enemies to resist, a battle to fight, and a victory to gain, which will afford them ample reward for their zeal and valour in his service.
The character, power, malice, and subtlety of the believer's fues are thus represented: “We wrestle not against flesh and blood (only), but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places!." This description of the number and potency and resources of our spiritualeneinies, shews us the necessity of possessing a wisdom, strength, and
courage; not our own; that we may be enabled to defeat their malignant attacks, and secure the crown of rejoicing provided for the faithful Christian.
Happily for us, we are not left to engage in the conflict alone. We have, in Christ, an omnipotent leader, who will animate every one of his faithful soldiers by his presence and gracious assistance, and conduct them both to a conquest and a crown.
Moreover, “ the weapons of our warfare are not * Heb. xiii. 14. tk 2 Tim. ii. 3, 4. Eph. vi. 12.
carnal, but mighty, through God, to the pulling down of strong-holds ; casting down imaginations, and every high thing which exalteth itself against the knowledge of God; and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christm.
Let not, then, the weakest Christian despair of victory, over all the enemies that are leagued against his soul; because they that be for him are more than they who are against him".
All, however, who will ensure success in the contest with the world, the flesh, and the Devil, “must strive lawfully," and use those weapons, offensive and defensive, which the wisdom of the Lord has provided for the protection of his servants in the day of battle. "Wherefore, take unto yourselves the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day; and having done all, to stand. Stand, therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness, and your feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace;
above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God; praying always, with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto, with all perseverance, and supplication for all saints
Furnished with such spiritual armour, multitudes, who are now enjoying in heaven the fruits of their triumphs, and many who are still on earth, have defied and vanquished every foe. And doubtless we,
ever defenceless in ourselves, may succeed by the same means; “ for the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor his ear heavy, that
• 2 Cor. x. 4, 5. "] John iv. 4. • Eph. vi. 13–19.
it cannot hear P.” He will, as he has promised, most assuredly assist, with his mighty grace, every one who is desirous “ to fight the good fight of faith, and lay hold on eternal life";" and, finally, he will bring them off more than conquerors,
conflict. “No weapon that is formed against thee shall
prosper ; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment, thon shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righten ousness. is of me, saith the Lord'.”
The rewards and honours annexed to victory, in the pious contest with sin and darkness, are of so glorious a nature, that they may well excite a desire in every heart to engage in it. Does the victor, in an earthly conflict, think himself fully recompensed for his toil and exposure of life, when he hears that his exploits have been applauded by his fellow-creatures; though, at no very distant period, his fame may be forgotten, or lie buried in the annals of time? But what bright and imperishable honours do they obtain, whose holy conduct God approves, and whose fidelity Christ compensates with a reward incalculably great! “ To him that overcometh, will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down in my Father's throne.”
3. The Christian calling is further likened to a race, in which a man can only succeed by making the most strenuous efforts.
In the Grecian games, to which such frequent allusion is made by St. Paul, the victors did not expect to be crowned, without extraordinary perseverance, agility, and skill. In running the heavenly race, we must initate their self-denial, patience, diligence, and deterrnination, if, indeed, we would bear off the
PIsa. lix, 1. 9] Tim, vi. 12. Isa. liv. 17. •Rev. iii. 21.
palm of victory. When we consider how many difficulties and impediments are thrown in the way, to hinder our progress ; how many try to supplant, or to frighten us from the course ; and how manifold are the evils to be surmounted, before we can reach the goal; we have need of Divine aid to secure "the prize of our high calling of God in Christ Jesus."
Suitable preparation must be made, before we enter on the course. As racers put
outside garments that would retard their progress, so Christians are directed “to lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset them, and to run with patience the race which is set before them, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of their 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."
And when we set out, the greatest watchfulness is requisite. We must take every prudent step to frustrate the designs of our spiritual enemies, lest they should allure us by flattering promises, or deter us by threatenings, from prosecuting our heavenly journey. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the Devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he
devour Further ; the greatest ardour and perseverance are necessary, for prosecuting the heavenly calling with success.
Racers exert every nerve to win the prize. Nor let us imagine that we can come off conquerors, unless we coinbine, with patience and persevering zeal, the most vigorous efforts. We are exhorted to imitate their activity, and to bring a measure of their spirit into our conduct: “So run, that ye may obtain."
Heb. xii. 1, 2. "1 Pet. v. 8, 9. "1 Cor. ix. 24.