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next world, they shall see him face to face. All his glorious perfections will appear in a way unknown to mortals; and the sight will prove an everlasting source of blessedness.
2. The sight of God is accompanied with an enjoyment of God. To see frequently signifies to enjoy. A bare discovery of his glorious works and perfections, inaccompanied with an enjoyment of him, would not make us blessed; but, the sight and enjoyment being connected, blessedness is great indeed! In whatever way we view God, we can claim him as
His wisdom directs our steps; his power protects us from danger, and helps us to do his will; his goodness supplies our wants; his mercy pardons our sins; his justice maintains our right; his purity is communicated to our hearts; and his glory is put upon us so as to make us glorious. What we now enjoy of God will be perfected hereafter. We shall enjoy him to all eternity. O blessed world! Let us hasten unto it! It is within our reach. The way to it is both plain and easy. The foulest sinner on earth may become a pure and holy saint; and every saint on earth, by steady perseverance, may become a saint in heaven. Amen.
Heb. xii. 1, 2. Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about
with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside cvery weight, and the sin which doth so easily besct us, and let us run with patience the race which is set before us. Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the sháme, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
THE words of our text are an inference from the preceding chapter, wherein the apostle gives many instances of triumphant faith amongst the worthies of former ages. Those worthies are brought to view for our encouragement and imitation. Wherefore, let us prepare for the christian race, and so run that we may obtain the prize. Each particular, in this passage, leads to that which immediately follows, and, therefore, we shall begin with the first, and proceed regularly to the last.
1. WE ARE COMPASSED ABOUT WITH A CLOUD OF WITNESSES.
Here is an undoubted reference to the Olympic Games, in which races were run for prizes of great value. Those games were attended by vast numbers of people from all Greece, from the extremities of Egypt, from Lybia, Sicily, and other countries, who were spectators of every combat, and of every race. Thus good men, who run for a prize of infinite value, are beheld by numerous spectators. The cloud of witnesses, here referred to, are the pious of former days, who are represented as looking on to see how we acquit ourselves. They are called a cloud, on account of their number; perhaps because a cloud contains a vast number of drops. Besides these, our conduct is witnessed by God, by men, and devils. All look on to see how we proceed in this important race.
II. THE SPECTATORS BEING ASSEMBLED; WE MUST PREPARE TO RUN.
1. Lay aside every weight : cast off every incumbrance: take nothing which will retard your progress.
Sin is properly called a weight. It not only binds us down to earth, but wearies and fatigues us in the discharge of duty., Lay aside every sin, however pleasing or profitable it may appear. Unbelief, covetousness, pride, lust,
and passion, are deadly weights. Give them all up at once, or you cannot run the christian race.
2. Even our besetting sin must be laid aside. That is our besetting sin to which we are most addicted, and by which we are the easiest overcome. Our besetting sin may be constitutional; or it may arise either from education, employment, or our particular situation in life. It may vary. That which beset us once may not beset us now; and that which besets us now may not always beset us. however, find it out, and for ever lay it aside. It may be like a right eye or a right hand; but pluck the one out, and cut the other off.
III. THUS PREPARED, WE MUST RUN WITH PATIENCE THE RACE SET BEFORE
1. The race is set before us. It is clearly marked out, so that we have not to run in an uncertain way. It is set before us in the scriptures;. by the ministers of Christ; and by the Spirit of God. The way is inward and outward holiness. No other way than this is set before us by the Lord; and we must be careful not to run in a way
of our own.
Running implies great exertion of bodily strength; and this
figure is used to teach us the necessity of calling forth all our strength, and exerting all our power in the discharge of christian duties. Run as Lot ran out of Sodom: as the manslayer to the city of refuge. Thy : life is at stake. Ruin is behind, and purşues thee fast. O run from danger! Safety, peace, and glory, are before thee. O run forward! Haste thee on the way! Thou hast no time to lose !
3. We must run with patience. Difficulties and dangers call for patience. Thy way will lead to both ; but let patience have its perfect work. The apparent length of the way will require patience. When we set out at first we think of being soon at the mark; but after running some time perhaps it may appear a great way off : but exercise patience a little longer, and thou shalt have the prize.
IV. WHILE WE RUN, WE MUST CONSTANTLY LOOK UNTO JESUS.
1. It is not one view of him that will answer our purpose. Looking is a continued act, and it will be necessary for us to look to him all the way. Our eye must be fixed upon him every step we take.
2. We must look to him as our great exampler. He has
He has gone before us. View his spotless life, his zeal for God, his benevolence to men, and his steady perseverance to the end.