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connected with a firm expectation of that eternal life, with which the promises of God are fraught ?
Lay hold of eternal life in the promise : your Father's legacy, Christians, secures it for you ; read with pleasure your title to it, and look upon yourselves as " no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God.” Rejoice in the security of your claim to eternal life, dwell upon it with pleasure, and this thought will cheer the rugged path of life, and reconcile you to your present condition.
“ Seize the kind promise while it waits,
And march to Zion's heavenly gates;
4. Lay hold on eternal life, by pressing toward the full enjoyment of it.
This appears to be the principal idea of the text; for in the expression there is an allusion to the active exertions of racers to gain the prize. are not to count ourselves to have apprehended ; but this one thing we are to do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, we press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." You are not laying hold on eterpal life if you rest satisfied with present attainments, and are inactive in religion. You should daily become more and more animated in your pursuit of the prize, by faith's view of its glory. If the famous Carthaginian general, Hannibal, could inspire his troops with so much courage, by a prospect of the fertile plains of Italy, from the barren Alps, over which they were passing, how much more courageous should Christians become,
by a prospect of that glory which Christ exhibits to their view, and promises in his word !
You can have no better proof of sincerity than that which will be afforded by constant exertion ; you are only safe in this way. O that the Holy Spirit may enable you to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset you : and to run with patience the race set before you, looking onto Jesus" as your example, who, in obtaining our redemption, persevered through difficulties, even to the end.
To excite you to such conduct as I have been recommending, I might mention the two motives subjoined in the verse whence our text is taken: to lay hold on eternal life, namely,-as the end of your calling, -and the language of your own profession. This is the end of your calling : “ Lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called.” We are called, brethren, to glory and honor; but as preparatory to our possession of it, we are called to warfare and unwearied exertion in the Divine life. This is the language of your own profession : "Lay hold on eternal life, whereof ihou hast professed a good profession before many witnesses." When you entered on the cause of Christ, you engaged yourself by a solemn pledge to war a good warfare." The vows of God are upon you ; 0, then, lay hold on eternal life ; if you do not, you belie your own profession, and give those of us who behold you, reason to suspect that you have no part or lot in the matter.
By way of inference, I would remark,
1. Of how many things may a man lay hold, and yet come short of eternal life. You may amass riches, till they take to themselves wings and fly away: you may pursue your own gratification, and
prove yourself "
a lover of pleasure more than a lover of God," till your delights are exchanged for insufferable torments : you may have a large share of honor, till that puff of noisy breath gives place to indelible infamy, and everlasting confusion of face : you may fill a conspicuous station in the church of Christ, till the Master of assemblies declares you to be one of those whom he never knew. All these things, and many more, may be possessed by you on earth, and yet you may “ fail of the grace of God," and see eternal life, as Balaam said he should see Christ, afar off. O, then, be concerned to let your treasure be in heaven, that your heart may be there also. Again,
2. How essentially necessary is the influence of God's Spirit, and grace, to enable us to possess so vast a treasure and hold so invaluable a possession.
Heaven," may one say, “is too great a prize for me to seize :" so it is, if you are possessed of mere mortal power ; but, “ I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me,” is language which becomes the most weak and humble Christian. True it is, that unless are “ strengthened with all might by his Spirit in the inner man,” the hand of faith will become palsied so that we shall not be able to lay hold on eternal life; but if the same glorious Being who says, “Stretch forth thy hand,” at the same time gives us power to apprehend the blessing, we may rejoice that heaven, and all its glory properly and inalienably belong to us.
Men and brethren, suffer the word of exhortation : those of you who have yet never heard the heavenly voice of wisdom, nor entered the society of believers, let me faithfully tell you, that you are daily making the wrath of God, which is the
second death, more and more certain; you are advancing rapidly to hell, the mouth of which is open to receive you. Ah! you may wish to lay hold on eternal life, when it will for ever shrink from your
touch. Oh, let those of us who have a good hope through grace, endure unto the end, so shall we be saved : let us persevere, in hope of understanding more of the heights, and depths, and breadths, and lengths of this subject in the kingdom of glory.
To all of you, sinners or saints, professors or profane, young or old, I would say, The voice of God's ministers, of dying friends, of opening graves, of the Holy Scriptures, and of Jehovah himself, is “ LAY HOLD ON ETERNAL LIFE.”
THE RAINBOW OF THE NEW COVENANT.
PREACHED MARCH 19, 1809.
And there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.”
REVELATION IV. 3.
Amidst the chequered scenes of life, the insignificance of the pursuits in which mankind, in general, are engaged, and the prospects of mortality and death, which must sometimes strike our minds, it is the privilege and happiness of the real Christian to look beyond the grave ; to summon all the powers of his mind to contemplate the glo. ries of a future world ; to bid farewell to earth; and inspect, yea, anticipate for himself, the happiness of the glorified in heaven. The vanity of the creature is made use of as an impulse to drive him elsewhere to seek for solid joy; and finding that beneath the skies there is no proper satisfaction for the vast desires of an immortal soul, he looks beyond ; above them he soars within the veil ; beholds his ever-loving Saviour scattering the best of blessings on all the happy tribes; hears them recounting the wonders of his grace; and feels that animation in his mind which the sight of the joys of heaven evermore inspires.
O, my brethren, let us aim to do this: the things of time and sense have engaged by far too much of our attention through the week; on