Page images

of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigb, and that cry, for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof. And to the others he said, in my hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite : let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women; but come not near any man upon whom is the mark.”' (Ezek. ix. 4.)— Therefore, “ O Earth! Earth! Earth! hear the word of the Lord.”

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]



ISA LAH xl. 31.

They shall run and not be weary.

COURAGE! my fellow-travellers. Did I not tell you, that the way of the Lord was strength to the upright? and now you find it so.

The further you advance, the better it is : difficulties vanish, or you no longer mind them. The last Sabbath


knew not how to be thankful enough to the only wise God our Saviour, who had directed and enabled you to choose the way of truth, and who had engaged to keep you from falling; and you thought, that if the Lord would but be pleased to do that, if he would only support you, so that you might be able to walk on steadily and securely, though it were never so slowly, you should have nothing more to ask. But here, as in a thousand other instances, he prevents you with the blessings of his goodness : you only prayed for strength to walk, and here he promises that you shall run without tiring.

In our way through the wilderness we are often called to endure t ials, that require the utmost exertion-and all lit tle enough. We feel ourselves feeble and faint; and, with a peevishness bordering

upon despair, cry, 66 Who is sufficient for these things ?"-Sometimes the Lord calls us to services which we think ourselves very unfit for ; and we make as many objections as Moses did to his undertaking the deliverance of the Israelites out of Egypt; but there is no evading them : qualified or unqualified, undertake them we must : and if we have faith enough to follow the Lord fully, we never have cause to complain.---Sometimes the Lord calls us to sufferings, which we think we did not deserve; or, at least, which we did not need. Deep calleth unto deep, and all his waves and his billows seem ready to go over us: he writes' vanity' or * death' upon our possessions and enjoyments : some are taken away, others are threatened, and all are embittered. In these cases, if we know the grace of God in truth, we would fain prove ourselves good soldiers of Jesus Christ, by enduring hardness, by our steadiness and stability in the way of God.

We wish to imitate our divine Master in activity and submission ; but, alas ! are sailly defective in both : we can neither do nor bear as we ought: every little difficulty stops us, and every little trouble overwhelms us.---But again I siy, Courage, my fellow-travellers : God hath given us many exceeding great and precious promises, and this is one of them, “ They shall run and not be weary."

You may remember, that some years ago we employed our meditations on the former part of this verse" But they that wait upon the Lord shall jepow their strength"-and our meditation on it

as sweet, I need not to repeat any thing of

[ocr errors]

what was then said: there is enough for our present entertainment in the clause I have read". They shall run and not be weary.”

To run, in a spiritual or religious acceptation, is, to engage with great liveliness and zeal in the duties which God hath appointed, and to persist in them, with all our powers.

And those who thus run, under the influences of divine grace, shall not grow weary: the way shall not prove tedious and irksome to them ; nor shall they be under a prevailing temptation to desist, or turn back. Bodily labour soon exhausts the spirits, and nature cannot bear up long, when it is in its greatest vigour, without fresh and frequent recruitings—“ Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men

shall utterly fall:---But, they that wait upon the · Lord shall renew their strength ... they shall run

and not be weary, and they shall walk and not faint.” (Isai. xl. 30, 31.) No ardency of affection, no vivacity in action, with regard to religion, can ever hurt the “new creature.”—But all this will be further explained, under the following general heads : · I. What is mcant by running ?

II. How far they who run may expect to be supported ? III. What reason they have to expect support?

We will consider then,
I, What is implied in running ?

Two things are included-Forwardness and Perseverance. · 1. Forwardness-in opposition to culpable delays, and the framiny or catching at excuses for guilty neglects. When a good work is proposed to some;

when they are called out, by the word or by the providence of God, to any particular service; Sloth cries, · Master, spare thyself: yet a little more sleep, a little more slumber: it is too soon to rise yet; some time hence will be carly enough.' Or if they do set about it, it is with so much reluctance and indolence, that what little is done is of little worth. They pray as if they prayed not; they hear as if they heard not; they strive against sin as if they strove not: so that, if they do get forward at all, it is so slowly, that their progress is hardly discernible. On the other hand, the active, lively, Christian, let God call him when he will, presently sets a running : his mind is always ready to [every good work, and eager to discharge whatever appears to be his duty. Like the Psalmist, “ I made haste, and delayed not, to keep thy commandments.” (Psalm cxix. 60.) The angels are represented as standing round about the throne of God, hearkening to the voice of his word; 'as it were, watching every motion of his lips : and the instant they perceive the least intimation of his pleasure, they fly to execute it.

Thus the forwardness of the Gentiles to embrace and obey the Gospel is called running : “ Behold, thou shalt call a nation that thou knowest not; and nations that knew not thee shall run unto thee, because of the Lord thy God, and for the Holy One of Israel ; for he hath glorified thee.” (Isai. lv. 5.) The nations flocked to Christ with wonderful rapidity: this was eminently fulfilled under the preaching of the apostles: for “ since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.” (Luke xvi. 16.) And it is so still,

« PreviousContinue »