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EPISTLE FOR SEPTUAGESIMA SUNDAY.
1 CORINTHIANS IX. 24–27.
24 KNOW ye not that they who run in a course all run,
but one receiveth the prize ? So run, that ye may obtain. 25 And every one who contends for a prize controls himself in
all things : they then, that they may receive a perishable 26 wreath ; but we, an imperishable. I therefore so run, as 27 not vaguely ; 80 combat, as not beating air: but I buffet
my body, and bring it into servitude ; lest by any means, after making proclamation to others, I myself should prove rejected.
VAGUE RUNNING AND INEFFECTIVE FIGHTING.
1 CORINTHIANS IX. 26.
I therefore so run, not as uncertainly : so fight I, not as one that
beateth the air.
The general subject of this chapter is St. Paul's Sermon voluntary cession of certain rights which belonged to him as an Apostle. He might have claimed an entire exemption from all labours for his own support. He might have urged in his own behalf the universal right of all teachers of the Gospel, to “live of the Gospel ;” to receive a maintenance from the congregations to which they minister. But he had not done so. He blames no one for accepting such a maintenance : but it was a sort of pride with him, what he calls a matter of “ glorying,” not to accept a maintenance himself. He hoped to make his Gospel more acceptable by removing out of its way the suspicion, however unfounded, however unreasonable, that it was either idleness or covetousness which prompted him to proclaim it. In short, in
SERMON this, as in all things, he kept his eye steadily fixed on an object; and that object was, to "gain" all I seek not
you, was the motto of his ministry. Gain, with him, was success in winning souls. And he thought no sacrifice too great, and no skill and ingenuity misplaced, in effecting this work. He sought to adapt himself to every variety of natural character and of religious circumstance, that he might succeed in bringing Christ home to each, and in rescuing and saving souls for Him.
2 Cor. xii. men.
O that this, my brethren, were still the one sole object of all who undertake, in our days, the like office! What trifles should we then esteem all the little ornaments and appendages of religion on which some of us, as it is, spend so much thought and argument! How dreadful should we then think it, to be putting stumbling-blocks in the way of our own ministry, by appearing to give importance to things at best indifferent, whether in the way of
ceremonial or of doctrine ! Verse 23. And this I do, he proceeds to say, for the Gospel's
sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you. This is the starting-point of the Epistle for this
day. I seek you, but I must not forget myself. It Luke x. 20. would be a poor thing for me to have seen spirits
subject to me, if at last it should be found that my own name was never written in heaven. It would be a heartless and a hollow service, if, while carrying