Sermon 198. The Heavenly Race
Delivered on Friday Afternoon, June 11, 1858, by the
REV. C.H. SPURGEON
on the Grand Stand, Epsom Race-Course.
"So run, that ye may obtain."-1 Corinthians 9:24.
WE ARE CONTINUALLY insisting upon it from day to day, that salvation is not of works, but of grace. We lay this down as oneof the very first doctrines of the gospel. "Not of works, lest any man should boast." "By grace are ye saved, through faith,and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God." But we find that it is equally necessary to preach the absolute necessityof a religious life for the attainment of heaven at last. Although we are sure that men are not savedfor the sake of their works, yet are we equally sure that no man will be saved without them; and that he who leads anunholy life, who neglects the great salvation, can never inherit that crown of life which fadeth not away. In one sense, truereligion is wholly the work of God; yet there are high and important senses in which we must ourselves "strive to enter inat the strait gate." We must run a race; we must wrestle even to agony; we must fight a battle, before we can inherit thecrown oflife. We have in our text the course of religion set down as a race; and inasmuch as there be many who enter upon a professionof religion with very false motives, the apostle warns us that although all run in a race, yet all do not obtain the prize:they run all, but only one is rewarded: and he gives us, therefore, the practical exhortation to run that we may obtain; forunless we are the winners we had better not have been runners at all; for he that is not a winner is a loser; he who makesa profession of religion, and does not at last obtain the crown of life, is a loser by his profession; for his professionwas hypocrisy or else formality, and he had better not have made a profession, than fall therein.
And now, in entering upon the text, I shall have to notice what it is we are to run for: "So run that ye may obtain;" secondly, the mode of running, to which we must attend-"So run that ye may obtain;" and then I shall give a few practical exhortations to stir those onward in the heavenly race who are flagging and negligent, in order that they may at last "obtain."
I. In the first place, then, WHAT IS IT THAT WE OUGHT TO SEEK TO OBTAIN?
Some people think they must be religious, in order to be respectable. There are a vast number of people in the world who go to church and to chapel, because everybody else does so. It is disreputableto waste your Sundays, not to be found going up to the house of God, therefore they take a pew and attend the services, andthey think they have done their duty: they have obtained all that they sought for, when they can hear their neighbors saying,"Such-and-such a manis a very respectable person; he is always very regular at his Church; he is a very reputable person, and exceedinglypraiseworthy." Verily, if this be what you seek after in your religion, you shall get it; for the Pharisees who sought thepraise of men "had their reward." But when you have gotten it, what a poor reward it is! Is it worth the drudgery? I do notbelieve that the drudgery to which people submit in order to be called respectable, is at an compensated by what they gain.I am sure,for my own part, I would not care a solitary rap what I was called, or what I was thought; nor would I perform anythingthat was irksome to myself for the sake of pleasing any man that ever walked beneath the stars, however great or mighty hemay be. It is the sign of a fawning, cringing spirit, when people are always seeking to do that which renders them respectable.The esteem of men is not worth the looking after, and sad it is, that this should be the only prize which some men put beforethem, in the poor religion which they undertake.
There are people who go a little farther: they are not content with being considered respectable, but they want somethingmore; they desire to be considered pre-eminently saints. These persons come to our places of worship, and after a little time they venture to come forward and ask whether they mayunite with our churches. We examine them, and so hidden is their hypocrisy that we cannot discover its rottenness: we receivethem into our churches; they sit at theLord's Supper; they come to our church-meetings: mayhap, they are even voted into the deacon's office; sometimes theyattain to the pulpit, though God has never called them, and preach what they have never felt in their hearts. Men may do allthis merely to enjoy the praise of men; and they will even undergo some persecution for the sake of it; because to be thoughta saint, to be reckoned by religious people to be everything that is right and proper, to have a name among the living inZion, isto some persons a thing exceedingly coveted. They would not like to be set down among the "chief of sinners," but if theymay have their names written among the chief of saints they will consider themselves exceedingly exalted. I am afraid we havea considerable admixture of persons of this sort in our churches who only come for the mere sake of keeping up their religiouspretensions and obtaining a religious status in the midst of the church of God. "Verily, I say unto you they havetheir reward," and they shall never have any but what they obtain here. They get their reward for a little time. for ashort time they are looked up to. but perhaps even in this life they make a trip, and down they go; the church discovers them,and they are sent out like the ass stripped of the lion's skin to browse once more among their native nettles, no longer tobe glorious in the midst of the church of the living God. Or mayhap, they may wear the cloak until the last day of their lives,and then death comes, and strips them of all their tinsel and gewgaw; And they who acted upon the stage of religion askings and princes, are sent behind the stage to be unrobed and to find themselves beggars to their shame, and naked to theireternal disgrace. It is not this which you and I would seek after in religion. Dearly beloved, if we do run the race, we wouldrun for a higher and more glorious prize than any of these things.
Another set of people take up with religious life for what they can get by it. I have known tradespeople attend church for the mere sake of getting the custom of those who went there. I have heard ofsuch things as people knowing which side their bread was buttered, and going to that particular denomination, where they thoughtthey could get the most by it. Loaves and fishes drew some of Christ's followers, and they are very attracting baits, evento this day. Menfind there is something to be gotten by religion. Among the poor it is, perhaps, some little charity to be obtained, andamong those that are in business, it is the custom which they think to get. "Verily I say unto you, they have their reward;"for the church is ever foolish and unsuspicious. We do not like to suspect our fellow creatures of following us from sordidmotives. The church does not like to think that a man would be base enough to pretend to religion for the mere sake of whathecan get, and, therefore, we let these people easily slip through, and they have their reward. But ah! at what a pricethey buy it! They have deceived the Lord's servants for gold, and they have entered into his church as base hypocrites forthe sake of a piece of bread; and they shall be thrust out at last with the anger of God behind them, like Adam driven outof Eden, with the flaming Cherubim with a sword turning every way to keep the tree of life; and they shall for ever look backupon thisas the most fearful crime they have committed-that they pretended to be God's people when they were not, and entered intothe midst of the fold when they were but wolves in sheeps' clothing.
There is yet another class, and when I have referred to them I will mention no more. These are the people who take up withreligion for the sake of quieting their conscience, and it is astonishing how little of religion will sometimes do that. Some people tell us that if in the time of storm menwould pour bottles of oil upon the waves, there would be a great calm at once. I have never tried it, and it is most probableI never shall, for my organ of credulity is notlarge enough to accept so extensive a statement. But there are some people who think that they can calm the storm of atroubled conscience by pouring a little of the oil of a profession about religion upon it; and it is amazing how wonderfulan effect this really has. I have known a man who was drunk many times in a week, and who got his money dishonestly, and yethe always had an easy conscience by going to his church or chapel regularly on the Sunday. We have heard of a man who could"devourwidows' houses"-a lawyer who could swallow up everything that came in his way, and yet he would never go to bed withoutsaying his prayers; and that stilled his conscience. We have heard of other persons, especially among the Romanists,. whowould not object to thieving, but who would regard eating anything but fish on a Friday as a most fearful sin, supposing thatby making a fast on the Friday, all the iniquities of all the days in the week would be put away. They want the outward formsofreligion to keep the conscience quiet; for Conscience is one of the worst lodgers to have in your house when he gets quarrelsome:there is no abiding with him; he is an ill bed-fellow; ill at lying down, and equally troublesome at rising up. A guilty conscienceis one of the curses of the world: it puts out the sun, and takes away the brightness from the moonbeam. A guilty consciencecasts a noxious exhalation through the air, removes the beauty from the landscape, the glory from the flowingriver, the majesty from the rolling floods. There is nothing beautiful to the man that has a guilty conscience. He needsno accusing; everything accuses him. Hence people take up with religion just to quiet them. They take the sacrament sometimes;they go to a place of worship; they sing a hymn now and then, they give a guinea to a charity; they intend to leave a portionin their will to build alms-houses, and in this way conscience is lulled asleep, and they rock him to and fro with religiousobservances, till there he sleeps while they sing over him the lullaby of hypocrisy, and he wakes not until he shall wakewith that rich man who was here clothed in purple, but in the next world did lift up his eyes in hell, being in torments,without a drop of water to cool his burning tongue.
What, then, is it, for which we ought to run in this race? Why heaven, eternal life, justification by faith, the pardon ofsin, acceptance in the Beloved, and glory everlasting. If you run for anything else than salvation, should you will, whatyou have won is not worth the running for. Oh! I beseech every one of you, make sure work for eternity, never be contentedwith anything less than a living faith in a living Saviour; rest not until you are certain that the HolySpirit is at work in your souls. Do not think that the outside of religion can be of use to you; it is just the inwardpart of religion that God loveth. Seek to have a repentance that needeth not to be repented of-a faith which looks alone toChrist, and which will stand by you when you come into the swellings of Jordan, Seek to have a love which is not like a transientflame, burning for a moment and then extinguished; but a flame which shall increase and increase, and still increase, tillyour heart shall be swallowed up therein, and Jesus Christ's one name shall be the sole object of your affection. We must,in running the heavenly race, set nothing less before us than that which Christ did set before him. He set the joy of salvationbefore himself, and then he did run, despising the cross and enduring the shame. So let us do; and may God give us good success,that by his good Spirit we may attain unto eternal life, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord!
II. Thus have I noticed what it is we are to run for. And now the Apostle says, "So run that ye may obtain." I shall noticesome people who never will obtain, and tell you the reason why, and in so doing, I shall be illustrating THE RULES OF THERACE.
There are some people who certainly never will obtain the prize, because they are not even entered. Their names are not down for the race, and therefore it is quite clear that they will not run, or if they do run, they willrun without having any warrant whatever for expecting to receive the prize. There are some such here this afternoon: who willtell you themselves, "We make no profession, sir-none whatever." It is quite as well, perhaps, that you do not;because if you did, you would be hypocrites, and it is better to make no profession at all than to be hypocrites. Still,recollect, your names are not down for the race, and therefore you cannot win. If a man tells you in business that he makesno profession of being honest, you know that he is a confirmed rogue. If a man makes no profession of being religious, youknow what he is-he is irreligious-he has no fear of God before his eyes, he has no love to Christ, he has no hope of heaven.Heconfesses it himself. Strange that men should be so ready to confess this. You don't find persons in the street willingto acknowledge that they are confirmed drunkards. Generally a man will repudiate it with scorn. You never find a man sayingto you, "I don't profess to be a chaste living man." You don't hear another say, "I don't profess to be anything but a covetouswretch." No; people are not so fast about telling their faults: and yet you hear people confess the greatest fault to whichmancan be addicted: they say, "I make no profession"-which means just this-that they do not give God his due. God has madethem, and yet they won't serve him; Christ hath come into the world to save sinners, and yet they will not regard him; thegospel is preached; and yet they will not hear it, they have the Bible in their houses, and yet they will not attend to itsadmonitions: they make no profession of doing so. It will be short work with them at the last great day. There will be noneedfor the books to be opened, no need for a long deliberation in the verdict. They do not profess to be pardoned; theirguilt is written upon their own foreheads, their brazen shamelessness shall be seen by the whole world, as a sentence of destructionwritten upon their very brows. You cannot expect to win heaven unless your names are entered for the race. If there be noattempts whatever made, even at so much as a profession of religion, then of course you may just sit down and say, "Heavenisnot for me; I have no part nor lot in the inheritance of Israel, I cannot say that my Redeemer liveth; and I may restquite assured that Tophet is prepared of old for me. I must feel its pains and know its miseries; for there are but two places to dwell in hereafter, and if I am not found onthe right hand of the Judge, there is but one alternative-namely, to be cast away for ever into the blackness of darkness."
Then there is another class whose names are down, but they never started right. A bad start is a sad thing. If in the ancient races of Greece or Rome a man who was about to run for the race had loitered,or if he had started before the time it would not matter how fast he ran, if he did not start in order. The flag must dropbefore the horse starts; otherwise, even if it reach the winning post first, it shall have no reward. There is something tobe noted, then, inthe starting of the race. I have known men run the race of religion with all their might, and yet they have lost it becausethey did not start right. You say, "Well, how is that?" Why, there are some people who on a sudden leap into religion. Theyget 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 that, by the teaching of the Holy Spirit, he should feel theweight of sin, that he should make a confession of it, that he should renounce all hope in his own works, and should lookto Jesus Christ alone. They look upon all these things as unpleasant preliminaries and therefore, before they have attendedto repentance, before the Holy Spirit has wrought a good work in them before they have been brought to give up everythingand trust to Christ, they make a profession of religion. This is just setting up in business without a stock in trade, andtheremust be a failure. If a man has no capital to begin with, he may make a fine show for a little time, but it shall be asthe crackling of thorns under a pot, a great deal of noise and much light for a little time, but it shall die out in darkness.How many there are who never think it necessary that there should be heart work within! Let us remember, however, that therenever was a true new birth without much spiritual suffering, that there never was a man who had a changed heart without hisfirst having a miserable heart. We must pass through that black tunnel of conviction before we can come out upon the highembankment of holy joy; we must first go through the Slough of Despond before we can run along the walls of Salvation. Theremust be ploughing before there is sowing; there must be many a frost, and many a sharp shower before there is any reaping.But we often act like little children who pluck flowers from the shrubs and plant them in their gardens without roots; thentheysay how fair and how pretty their little garden is; but wait a little while, and their flowers are withered, because theyhave no roots. This is an the effect of not having a right start, not having the "root of the matter." What is the good ofoutward religion, the flower and the leaf of it, unless we have the "root of the matter" in us-unless we have been diggedinto by that sharp iron spade of conviction, and have been ploughed with the plough of the Spirit, and then have been sownwiththe sacred seed of the gospel, in the hope of bringing forth an abundant harvest? There must be a good start; look wellto that, for there is no hope of running unless the start be right.
Again, there are some runners in the heavenly race who cannot win because they carry too much weight. A light weight, of course, has the advantage. There are come people who have an immensely heavy weight to carry. "How hardlyshall a rich man enter into the kingdom of heaven!" What is the reason? Because he carries so much weight; he has so muchof the cares and pleasures of this world; he has such a burden that he is not likely to win, unless God should please togive him a mighty mass of strength to enable him to bear it. We find many men willing to be saved, as they say; they receivethe word with great joy, but by-and-bye thorns spring up and choke the word. They have so much business to do; they say theymust live; they forget they must die. They have such a deal to attend to, they cannot think of living near to Christ. Theyfind they have little time for devotions; morning prayer must be cut short, because their business begins early; they canhaveno prayer at night, because business keeps them so late. How can they be expected to think of the things of God? Theyhave so much to do to answer this question-"What shall I eat? what shall I drink? and wherewithal shall I be clothed?" Itis true they read in the Bible that their Father who is in heaven will take care of them in these things if they will trusthim. But they say, "Not so." Those are enthusiasts according to their notions who rely upon providence. They say, the bestprovidencein all the world is hard work; and they say rightly, but they forget that into the bargain of their hard work "it is invain to rise up early and sit up late, and eat the bread of carefulness; for except the Lord build the house, they labor invain that build it." You see two men running a race. One of them, as he starts, lays aside every weight, he takes off hisgarment and away he runs. There goes the other poor fellow, he has a whole load of gold and silver upon his back. Then aroundhisloins he has many distrustful doubts about what shall become of him in the future, what will be his prospects when hegrows old, and a hundred other things. He does not know how to roll his burden upon the Lord. See how he flags, poor fellow,and how the other distances him, leaves him far behind, has gained the corner, and is coming to the winning post. It is wellfor us if we can cast everything away except that one thing needful, and say, "This is my business, to serve God on earth,knowingthat I shall enjoy him in heaven." For when we leave our business to God, we leave it in better hands than if we tookcare of it ourselves. They who carve for themselves generally cut their fingers; but they who leave God to carve for them,shall never have an empty plate. He who will walk after the cloud shall go aright, but he who will run before it shall soonfind that he has gone a fool's errand. "Blessed is the man who trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord.is." "The younglions dolack and suffer hunger, but they that wait upon the Lord shall not want any good thing." Our Saviour said, "Consider thelilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin, and yet I say unto you that even Solomon in all hisglory was not arrayed like one of these." Behold the fowls of the air, for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gatherinto barns, yet your heavenly Father feedeth them, are ye not much better than they?" "Trust in the Lord and do good, andverilythou shalt be fed." "His place of defense shall be the munitions of rocks; bread shall be given him; his waters shallbe sure." "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you." Carry theweight of this world's cares about you. and it will be as much as you can do to carry them and to stand upright under them,but as to running a race with such burdens, it is just impossible.
There is also another thing that will prevent man's running the race. 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, andsets about kicking those that are running beside him-there is not much probability of his coming in first. "Now they thatrun in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize." There is one however who nevergets it, and that is the man who always attends to his fellow-creatures instead of himself. It is a mysterious thing thatI never yet saw a man with a hoe on his shoulder, going to hoe his neighbour's garden, it is a rarity to see a farmer sendinghis team of horses to plough his neighbour's land; but it is a most singular thing that every day in the week I meet withpersons who are attending to other people's character. If they go to the house of God and hear a trite thing said, they sayatonce "How suitable that was for Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Brown?" The thought never enters their head, how suitable it was tothemselves. They lend their ears to everybody else, but they do not hear for themselves. When they get out of chapel, perhapsas they walk home, their first thought is, "Well, how can I find fault with my neighbors?" They think that putting other peopledown is going up themselves (there never was a greater mistake); that by picking holes in their neighbour's coat they mendtheir own They have so few virtues of their own that they do not like anybody else to have any therefore they do the bestthey can to despoil everything good in their neighbor; and it there be a little fault, they will look at it through a magnifyingglass, but they will turn the glass the other way when they look at their own sins. Their own faults become exceedingly smallwhile those of others become magnificently great. Now this is a fault not only among professing religious men, but amongthose who are not religious. We are all so prone to find fault with other people instead of attending to our own homeaffairs. We attend to the vineyards of others, but our own vineyard we have not kept. Ask a worldly man why he is not religious,and he tells you "Because so-and-so makes a profession of religion and is not consistent." Pray is that any business of yours?To your own Master you must stand or fall, and so must he; God is their judge, and not you. Suppose there are a great manyinconsistent Christians-and we are compelled to acknowledge that there are-so much the more reason why you should be agood one. Suppose there are a great many who deceive others; so much the more reason you should set the world an example ofwhat a genuine Christian is. "Ah! but," you say, "I am afraid there are very few." Then why don't you make one? But afterall, is that your business? Must not every man bear his own burden? You will not be judged for other men's sins, you willnot besaved by their faith, you will not be condemned for their unbelief. Every man must stand in his own proper flesh and bloodat the bar of God, to account for the works done in his own body, whether they have been good or whether they have been evil.It will be of little avail for you to say at the day of judgment, "O Lord, I wee looking at my neighbors; O Lord, I was findingfault with the people in the village; I was correcting their follies." But thus saith the Lord: "Did I ever commissionthee to be a judge or a divider over them? Why, if thou hadst so much time to spare, and so much critical judgment, didstthou not exercise it upon thyself? Why didst thou not examine thyself, so that thou mightest have been found ready and acceptablein the day of God?" These persons are not very likely to win the race, because they turn to kicking others.
Again, there is another class of persons who will not win the race-namely, those who, although they seem to start very fair,very soon loiter. They dart ahead at the first starting, and distance all the others. There they fly away as if they had wings to their heels;but a little further on in the race, it is with difficulty that with whip and spur they are to be kept going at all, and theyalmost come to a stand still. Alas! this race of persons are to bediscovered in all our churches. We get young people who come forward and make a profession of religion, and we talk withthem, and we think it is all well with them, and for a little while they do run well; there is nothing wanting in them; wecould hold them up as patterns for the imitation of others. Wait a couple of years. they drop off just by little and little.First, perhaps, there is the attendance on a week-day service neglected; then it is altogether discontinued; then one serviceonSabbath; then perhaps family prayer, then private prayer-one thing after another is given up, until at last the wholeedifice which stood upright and looked so fair, having been built upon the sand, gives way before the shock of time, and downit falls, and great is the ruin thereof. Recollect, it is not starting that wins the race; it is running all the way. He thatwould be saved, must hold on to the end: "He that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved." Stop and loiter in the racebefore you have come to the end thereof, and you have made one of the greatest mistakes that could possibly occur. On,on, on! while you live; still onward, onward, onward! for until you come to the grave, you have not come to your resting placeuntil you arrive at the tomb, you have not come to the spot where you may cry "Halt!" Ever onward if ye would win. If youare content to lose, if you would lose your own soul, you may say, "Stop," if you please; but if you would be saved evermore,beon, on, till you have gained the prize.
But there is another class of persons, who are worse than these. They start well too, and they run very fast at first, butat last they leap over the posts and rails, they go quite out of the course altogether, and you do not know where they are gone. Every now and then, we get such people as this. They go out from us,because they are not of us, for had they been of us, doubtless they would have continued with us. I might point out in mycongregation on theSabbath-day, a man whom I saw start myself. I saw him running so well I almost envied him the joy he seemed always ableto preserve, the faith which ever seemed to be so buoyant and full of jubilee. Alas! just when we thought he was speedingonwards to the prize, some temptation crossed his path, and he turned aside. Away he is scrambling far over the heath, outof the path of right, and men say, "Aha! aha! so would we have it; so would we have it." And they laugh and make merrimentover him,because, having once named the name of Jesus Christ, he hath afterwards gone back again, and his last end is worse thanthe first. Those whom God starts never do this, for they are preserved in Christ Jesus. Those who have been "entered" in thegreat roll of the Covenant before all eternity shall persevere, by the aid of the good Spirit. He that began the good workin them, shall carry it on even unto the end. But, alas! there are many who run on their own account and in their own strength;andthey are like the snail, which as it creeps, leaves its life as a trail upon its own path. They melt away; their naturedecayeth; they perish, and where are they? Not in the church, but lost to all hope. They are like the dog that returned tohis 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."
I do not think I shall now mention any other class of persons. I have brought before you the rules of the race, if you wouldwill; if you would "so run that you may obtain," you must first of all take care to start well; you must keep to the course;you must keep strait on; you must not stop on the road, or turn aside from it, but, urged on by Divine grace, you must everfly onwards, "like an arrow from the bow, shot by an archer strong." And never rest until the march isended, and you are made pillars in the house of your God, to go out no more for ever.
III. But now I am about to give you some few reasons to URGE YOU ONWARD IN THE HEAVENLY RACE-those of you who are alreadyrunning.
One of my reasons shall be this-"We are compassed about by so great a cloud of witnesses." When zealous racers on yonder heath are flying across the plain, seeking to obtain the reward, the whole heath is coveredwith multitudes of persons, who are eagerly gazing upon them, and no doubt the noise of those who cheer them onward, and thethousand eyes of those who look upon them, have a tendency to make them stretch every nerve, and press with vigor on. It wasso inthe games to which the apostle alludes. There the people sat on raised platforms, while the racers ran before them, andthey cried to them, and the friends of the racers urged them forward, and the kindly voice would ever be heard bidding themgo on. Now, Christian brethren, how many witnesses are looking down upon you. Down! do I say? It is even so. From the battlementsof heaven the angels look down upon you, and they seem to cry to-day to you with sweet, silvery voice, "Ye shall reap if yefaint not; ye shall be rewarded if ye continue stedfast in the work and faith of Christ." And the saints look down uponyou-Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; martyrs and confessors, and your own pious relatives who have ascended to heaven, look downupon you, and if I might so speak, methinks sometimes you might hear the clapping of their hands when you have resisted temptationand overcome the enemy; and you might see their suspense when you are lagging in the course, and you might hear theirfriendly word of caution as they bid you gird up the loins of your mind, and lay aside every weight, and still speed forward,never resting to take your breath, never staying for a moment's ease till you have attained the flowery beds of heaven. whereyou may rest forever. And recollect, these are not the only eyes that are looking upon you. The whole world looks upon a Christian:he is the observed of all observers. In a Christian every fault is seen. A worldly man may commit a thousandfaults, and nobody notices him; but let a Christian do so, and he will very soon have his faults published to the wideworld. Everywhere men are looking at Christians. and it is quite right that they should do so. I remember a young man, a memberof a Christian church, who went to a public-house hall of the lowest character; and he was no sooner mounting up the stairs,than one of them said, "Ah! here comes the Methodist; we will give it to him." As soon as they had him in the room, they firstof all lead him up and down to let everybody see the Methodist who had come among them, and then they kicked him downstairs. I sent them my respectful compliments for doing so, for it served him right; and I took care that he was kicked downstairs in another sense afterwards, and kicked out of the church. The world would not have him and the church would not havehim. The world then looks upon you, it never misses an opportunity of throwing your religion in your teeth. If you don't givesixteen ounces to the pound of morality, if you don't come up to the mark in everything, you will hear of it again. Don'tthink the world is ever asleep. We say, "as sound asleep as a church," and that is a very good proverb; but we cannot say,"as sound asleep as the world" for it never sleeps; it always has its eyes open, it is always watching us in all we do. Theeyes of the world are upon you. "We are compassed about with a great cloud of witnesses;" "let us run with patience the racethatis set before us." And there are darker and yet more malignant eyes that scowl upon us. There are spirits that peoplethis air, who are under the prince of the power of the air, who watch every day for our halting.
"Millions of spiritual creatures walk this earth,
Both when we wake and when we sleep."
And alas! those spiritual creatures are not all good. There be those that are not yet chained and reserved in darkness, butwho are permitted by God to wander through this world like roaring lions, seeking whom they may devour, ever ready to temptus. And there is one at the head of them called Satan, the enemy, and you know his employment. He has access to the throne of God, and he makes most horrid use of it, for he accuses us dayand night before the throne. Theaccuser of the brethren is not yet cast down-that is to be in the great day of the triumph of the Son of Man; but as Jesusstands our Advocate before the throne, so does old Satan first watch us and tempt us, and then stands as our accuser beforethe bar of God. O my dear brothers and sisters, if you have entered into this race, and have commenced it, let these manyeyes urge you forward.
"A cloud of witnesses around
Hold thee in full survey;
Forget the steps already trod,
And onward urge thy way."
And now a more urgent consideration still. Recollect, your race is win or lose-death or life, hell or heaven, eternal miseryor everlasting joy. What a stake that is for which you run. If I may so put it, you are running for your life; and if thatdoes not make a man run nothing will. Put a man there on yonder hill, and put another after him with a drawn sword seekinghis life, If there is any run in him you will soon see him run; there will be no need for us to shoutout to him, "Run, man, run" for he is quite certain that his life is at hazard, and he speeds with all his might-speedstill the veins stand like whipcords on his brow, and a hot sweat runs from every pore of his body-and still flees onward.Now, he looks behind, and sees the avenger of blood speeding after him; he does not stop; he spurns the ground, and on heflees till he reaches the city of refuge, where he is safe. Ah! if we had eyes to see, and if we knew who it is that is pursuingusevery afar of our lives, how we should run! for lo! O man, hell is behind thee, sin pursues thee, evil seeks to overtakethee; the City of Refuge has its gates wide open; I beseech thee, rest not till thou canst say with confidence, "I have enteredinto this rest, and now I am secure, I know that my Redeemer liveth." And rest not even then, for this is not the place forrest; rest not until thy six days work is done; and thy heavenly Sabbath is begun. Let this life be thy six days ofever-toiling faith. Obey thy Master's commandment; "labour therefore to enter into this rest," seeing that there are manywho shall not enter in, because through their want of faith they shall not be able. If that urge not a man to speed forward,what can?
But let me picture yet one more thing; and may that help you onward! Christian, run onward, for remember who it is that stands at the winning post. You are to run onward, always looking unto Jesus, then Jesus must be at the end. We are always to be looking forward, andnever backward; therefore Jesus must be there. Are you loitering? See him with his open wounds. Are you about to leave thecourse? See him with his bleeding hands; will not that constrain you todevote yourself to him? Will not that impel you to speed your course, and never loiter until you have obtained the crown?Your dying Master cries to you to-day, and he says. "By my agony and bloody sweat; by my cross and passion, onward! By mylife, which I gave for you; by the death which I endured for your sake, onward!" And see! He holds out his hand, laden witha crown sparkling with many a star, and he says, "By this crown, onward!" I beseech you, onward, my beloved; press forward,for "Iknow that there is laid up for me a crown of life which fadeth not away, and not for me only, but for all them that lovehis appearing."
I have thus addressed myself to all sorts of characters. Will you this afternoon take that home to yourself which is the mostapplicable to your case. Those of you who make no profession of religion, are living without God and without Christ, strangersto the commonwealth of Israel,-let me affectionately remind you that the day is coming when you will want religion. It isvery well now to be sailing over the smooth waters of life, but the rough billows of Jordan willmake you want a Saviour. It is hard work to die without a hope; to take that last leap in the dark is a frightful thingindeed. I have seen the old man die when he has declared he would not die. He has stood upon the brink of death, and he hassaid, "All dark, dark, dark! O God, I cannot die." And his agony has been fearful when the strong hand of the destroyer hasseemed to push him over the precipice. He lingered shivering on the brink, and feared to launch away." And frightful was themomentwhen the foot slipped and the solid earth was left, and the soul was sinking into the depths of eternal wrath. You willwant a Saviour then, when your pulse is faint and few; you will need an angel then to stand at your bedside: and when thespirit is departing, you will need a sacred convoy to pilot you through the dark clouds of death and guide you through theiron gate, and lead you to the blessed mansion in the land of the hereafter. Oh, "seek ye the Lord while he may be found,call ye uponhim while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto theLord and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts,neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than yourways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." O Lord, turn us and we shall be turned. Draw us and we will run after thee; andthineshall be the glory; for the crown of our race shall be cast at thy feet, and thou shalt have the glory forever and ever.