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the heart of the sinner ; perhaps, because of the familiarity of most minds educated in Christian lands with this awful subject ; or, in some cases, because it attacks that disdain of cowardice, which, in a few souls, lofty, bold and heroic amid all the dangers of this life, would shrink from the suspicion of fearing even that dread Being, who can, with a word, sink them to their original nothing, or consign them to irremediable woe.
But, my hearers, if such be your choice, lay aside for a moment, I beseech you, this sad insensibility, —this presumptuous daring. . Be alive to your own true interest-mock not the information of your real danger. Look forward a little through the successive changes of your future life. Like the present, they will, perhaps, continue to rouse some of you to the ardour and bustle of business ; some to the fascinations of pleasure ; and others to the chase of fame. Day after day will roll by, furnishing, each in its turn, a sad memento to your weary minds, that all below is 6 vanity and vexation of spirit.” Think not the world will ever afford you more happiness than at present. The hour of your departure will at length arrive, of your final adieu to this world, of your entrance upon that future state of being, in which God has declared, that he that enters unholy, shall be unholy still ; and if unholy, then miserable, and miserable for ever.
0! tremble, then, at the sentence which awaits the finally' impenitent. Our Saviour will himself pronounce,“ Depart, ye cursed, into everlasing fire,
prepared for the devil and his angels.” Shudder at the thought of entering that dismal abode of woe, " where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.” Fear him who thus holds the awful sceptre of a dominion most just and holy. His justice is arrayed in dreadful majesty, and well may strike his enemies with terror. His mercy is clothed with condescension and pity: it breathes pardon to all the truly penitent: it points to Jesus Christ, who is able to save to the uttermost all who come unto God by him : it addresses us, this day, in the language of our text, “Repent ye, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out."
HEBREWS xii. 2.
Looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our
In the chapter preceding that from which the words of the text are taken, the Apostle traces, in a brief outline, the history of the faithful. From Abel to the prophets, he describes the lineage of the children of God, and by a succession of illustrious examples, shews how the same spirit of faith confirmed and cheered the hopes of all the saints of old, under their severest trials and sufferings. God was the object of their firm and unshaken confidence. Leaning on the arm of Omnipotence, and looking for their final reward beyond all that lies on this side the grave, they trusted every promise and obeyed every call of Jehovah, through whatever path of difficulty and danger it might lead them. The proof of their faith, though severe, was short. The pilgrimage was soon ended, and its wanderings, though often sad and weary, conducted them, one after the other, to the Canaan of eternal rest. " Wherefore,” says the Apostle, animated by the
bright vision of the long train of worthies which had just passed before his eye, and giving vent to all the fervour of his bold and ardent spirit-"Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin that doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that 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 shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” In this beautiful and cogent exhortation, the Apostle alludes to certain public games which were common at that time in the pagan world. At these games were various exhibitions of strength and agility, among which not the least conspicuous was running on foot for some prize of victory. The competitors in such races were well prepared for the contest. They took care beforehand, by a proper regimen and discipline, to give their bodies all the strength and vigour of which they were susceptible; they divested themselves at the race of every useless incumbrance; they caught the spirit of emulation from the gaze of the surrounding spectators, among whom were many who had previously taken a part in the same games, and were wearing the laurels of their triumph; they fixed a steady eye on the goal which was before them, and, rushing impetuously forward, sought a fading crown of glory from the hand of the director and arbiter of the contest.
To such a scene did Paul allude, when he exhorted the Hebrew Christians to run with patience the race that was set before them. He urges them to be animated by the example of the many worthies of whom he had been speaking, and whom he describes, by a bold figure of rhetoric, as looking down from their seats of bliss on the theatre of this lower world, to witness the struggles which the followers of Christ were making to procure an incorruptible
He directs them to cast away every weight of sin which might impede their course, and, above all, he calls them to look unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of his and their faith, the great Superintendant of the holy contest in which they were engaged, the final Arbiter of their destiny, and from whom they would receive the glorious reward of all their toils and sufferings.
My brethren, it is our duty to run the same race of Christian perseverance, and, if we are faithful unto the death, it will be our happiness also to receive that crown of glory which fadeth not away. We, too, have all the motives of encouragement and consolation which Paul addressed to the Hebrew Christians; but waving all the rest, let us confine our attention to this single consideration, that Jesus is both the Author and Finisher of our faith. Let us endeavour to understand this truth in its proper extent and importance, and then make such a practical use of it, as will tend, under the blessing of God, to confirm and advance us in our Christian course. For this purpose I propose to