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1 CORINTHIANS, ix. 26, 27.

I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air. But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection; lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a cast-away.


THAT was a fine eulogium, which was made on one of the most famous generals of antiquity. It was said of him, that he thought there was 'nothing done, while there remained any thing to do. To embrace such a system of war and politics, was to open a wide field of painful labour: but Cesar aspired to be a hero, and there was no way of obtaining his end, except that which he chose. Whoever arrives at worldly heroism, arrives at it in this way. By this marvellous secret, the Roman eagles flew to the uttermost parts of Asia, rendered Gaul tributary, swelled the Rhine with German blood, subjugated Britain, pursued the shattered remains of Pompey's army into the deserts of Africa, and caused all the rivers that fell into the Adriatic sea, to roll along the sound of their victories. My brethren, success is not necessarily connected with heroism; the hero Cesar was a common misfortune, all his heroism public robbery, fatal to the public, and more so to Cesar himself. But, in order to be saved, it is necessary to succeed; and there is no other way of obtaining salvation, except that laid down by this great general, *thinking nothing done, while there is any thing to do.' Behold, in the words of our text, behold a man, who perfectly knew the way to heaven, a man most sincerely aspiring to salvation. What does he to succeed? What we have said; he counted all he had done nothing, while there remained any thing more to do. After he had carried virtue to its highest pitch, after he had made the most rapid progress, and obtained the most splendid triumphs in the road of salvation, still he ran, still he fought, he undertook new mortifications, always fearing lest lukewarmness and indolence should frustrate his aim of obtaining the prize which had always been an object of his hope; 'I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air. But keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a cast-away.'

St. Paul lives no more. This valiant champion has already conquered. But you, you Christians, are yet alive; like him, the race is open before you, and to you now, as well as to him formerly, a voice from heaven cries,

To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne,' Rev. iii. 21. Happy, if animated by his example, you share

with him a prize, which loses nothing of its excellence, by the number of those who partake of it! Happy, if you be able one day to say with him, I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord the righteous Judge shall give me at that day, and not to me only, but unto all them that love his appearing,' 2 Tim. iv. 7, 8.

Let us first make a general remark on the expressions of the text; they are a manifest allusion to the games which were celebrated among the heathens. Fable, or history, tells us, that Pelops invented them, that Hercules and Atreus brought them to perfection, that Iphitus restored them; all which signify very little to us. What is certain is, that these games were celebrated with great pomp. They were so solemn among the Greeks, that they made use of them to mark memorable events and public eras, that of consuls at Rome, of archons at Athens, of priestesses as Argos. They passed from Greece to Italy, and were so much in vogue at Rome, that an ancient author said, two things were necessary to the Roman people -bread and public shows. It is needless to repeat here what learned men have collected on this subject, we will remark only what may serve to elucidate our text, all the ideas of which are borrowed from these exercises.

1. In these games the most remarkable objects was the course. The ground, on which the games were celebrated, was marked out with great exactness. In some places lines were drawn, and the place of combat railed, and when he who ran went beyond the line, he ran to no purpose. It was dangerous to ramble, especially in some places, as in Greece, where the space was bounded on one side by the river Alpheus, and on the other by a sort of chevaux de frise, as at Rome; where before the construction of the circus, which was afterward built on purpose for spectacles of this sort, an area was chosen, on one side of which was a chevaux de frise, and on the other the Tiber, so that the combatant could not pass the bounds prescribed to him without exposing himself to the danger either of being wounded by the spikes, or drowned in the waves. This is the first emblem, which our apostle uses here; 'I run,' alluding to the course in general; 'I do not run

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2. Among other games were those of wrestling and boxing. Address in these combats consisted in not aiming any blow which did not strike the adversary. He who had not this address, was said to beat the air;' and hence came the proverb to beat the air,' to signify labouring in vain.* This is the second allusion of St. Paul, 'I fight, not as one that beateth the air.'

3. The combatants observed a particular regimen, to render themselves more active and vigorous. The time, the quantity, and the nature of their aliments were prescribed, and they punctually complied with the rules. They laid aside every thing likely to enervate them. 'Would you obtain a prize in the Olympic games?" said a pagan philosopher, ⚫a noble design! But consider the preparations and consequences. You must live by rule, you must eat when you are not hungry, you must abstain from agreeable foods, you must habituate yourself to suffer heat and cold; in one word, you must give yourself up entirely to a physician.'t By these means the combatants acquired such health and strength, that they could bend with the great est ease such bows as horses could hardly bend; hence the health of a champion' was a common proverb to express a strong hale state. As this regimen was exact, it was painful and trying. It was necessary not only to surmount irregular desires, but all those exercises must be positively practised which were essential to victorious combatants : it was not sufficient to observe them a little while, they, must be wrought by long preparation into habits, without which the agility and vigour acquired by repeated labours would be lost; witness that famous champion, who, after he had often and gloriously succeeded, was shamefully conquered, because he had neglected the regimen for six months, during which time a domestic affair had obliged him to reside at Athens. This is the third allusion which our apostle makes in the text, 'I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection.'

Let us observe, by the way, that these expressions of our apostle have been abused to absurd though devotional purposes; and, to omit others, it was an abuse of these expressions which produced the extravagant sect of the Flagellants. All Italy in the thirteenth century was seized with a panic, which ended in the birth of this sect. The next century, the Germans being afflicted with a plague, it filled all Germany, and the folly of Henry III. king

of France, joined to that mean complaisance
which induces courtiers to go into all the capri-
ces of their masters, introduced it into that
kingdom, and into that kingdom it went with so
much fury, that Charles, cardinal of Lorraine,
actually killed himself by adhering too closely
to its maxims during a rigorous winter.*

What a wide field opens here to our medi-
tation, were it necessary to show the absurdity
of such devotions!

We might show, that they owe their origin to Paganism. Plutarch says, that in the city of Lacedæmon, they were sometimes pursued even to death in honour of Diana.† Herodotus speaks to the same purpose concerning the festival of the great goddess in Egypt. In like manner Philostratus speaks of the devotions performed in honour of the Scythian Diana.) Thus also Apuleius concerning the priests of the goddess of Syria ;|| and thus authors more credible, I mean the writers of the Book of Kings, concerning the priests of Baal.

We might show the weakness of the arguments on which such practices are founded; as fabulous miracles, and, among many others, a letter brought by an angel from heaven to Jerusalem, which declared, that the blessed virgin having implored pardon for the guilty, God had replied, that their pardon should be granted on condition they whipped themselves in this manner. T

We might produce the weighty reasons which many of the Roman communion, and among others Gerson and De Thou. urged against such practices, and the testimonies of our Scriptures, which expressly forbid them; but we will content ourselves with observing, that the words of our text have nothing that can serve even for a plausible pretence for these superstitions. We said St. Paul alluded to the regimen observed by combatants; combatants observed that kind of life, which was most proper to fit them for their profession; in like manner, St. Paul observed what fitted him for his. Were it possible to prove that mortifications and macerations were necessary to this purpose, we should not then have a right to determine that the apostle had his eye on such services here. For our parts, we think, he intended all acts of repentance prescribed in Scripture, and exemplified by the saints; as silence, retirement, fasting, abstinence from criminal pleasures, and so on.

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4. Further, there were persons who presided over the pagan games. They were called heralds. The name given them in the Greek language is precisely the same which in our language is rendered preacher. Their office was expressed by a word which signifies to preach. It consisted in proclaiming the game, directing the combatants, encouraging the weak, animating the valiant, exposing the prize to public view, and giving it to the vic

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tor. This is the fourth allusion of our apostle, lest when I have preached to others.' The original word which we have translated preached, is the very word which is used to describe the office of such as presided at the games; and St. Paul, by using this term, gives us a beautiful idea of the apostleship, and, in general of the gospel ministry. What is the office of a minister of the gospel? We publish the race, we describe the good works, which God hath before ordained, that we should walk in them;' we animate you by often saying, 'run with patience the race that is set before you:' we lift up to public view the prize, and in the name of God we cry, so run that you may obtain.' Happy if you all attend to this voice, and if, while a few are eagerly and constantly running the race set before them, others do not run more eagerly across the space, like those unhappy people just now mentioned, who were wounded with iron spikes, or drowned in the waves.

5. In fine, The last remark we make on pagan games regards the different destiny of the combatants. The conquered derived no advantages from their pains; but the victors were covered with honours and advantages; they were distinguished in all public assemblies; they were called by the high sounding name of Olympian; they were crowned with great ceremony; statues were erected to their honour, and breaches were made in the walls of cities to admit them with the greater pomp. This is the fifth allusion which the apostle here makes to the games, lest I should be a cast-away.' A cast-away; the heathens applied this word to such combatants as entered the lists but did not obtain the prize.

ers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God," Rom. viii. 38, 39. But I keep under my body; and the rest means, whatever progress I have made in a career of virtue, all my past efforts would be useless, should I spend the rest of my life in idleness and indifference, and I could not expect, even by the assistance of grace, to arrive at glory.

Let us now justify this disposition of our apostle, and let us prove this general truth, that there is no point fixed, at which a Christian may stop; that each portion of life has its task; that to what degree soever we have carried our sanctification, unless we carry it further, go on and persevere, we should act contrary to the spirit and temper of the gospel. This is the principal design of this discourse.

Such were the games celebrated through all Greece, and in particular at the city of Philippi, where St. Paul wrote this epistle, and in that of Corinth to which it is addressed. The believer is a stranger on earth, he sees there a thousand delights of which he does not partake. The eyes of Paul at Philippi, more properly his ears (for St. Paul hardly attended public amusements), were struck with the fame and magnificence of these games. The Corinthians were in the same condition. How hard is it to live in a country and to be excluded from the pleasures of the inhabitants! St. Paul strengthens the Corinthians and himself against these temptations; he rises from sensual to spiritual pleasures, and says, he has also an area, a race, a crown, a triumph. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air. But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection, lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a cast-away.'

We have explained the terms and allusions of the apostle. His meaning is sufficiently clear. I keep under my body,' and so on, does not mean, as some interpreters have it, I halt between hope of salvation, and fear of destruction; an interpretation directly opposite to that assurance which St. Paul expresses in many parts of his epistles, and particularly in this famous passage which we have elsewhere explained, I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor pow

1. Let us first examine the example of St. Paul. St. Paul did not think that if he lived hereafter in indolence without endeavouring to make new advances, he had any right to expect the benefits of the gospel : no Christian, therefore, living in indolence, and making no new advances, ought to flatter himself that he is entitled to the blessings of the gospel. In order to perceive this consequence, form a just notion of the virtue of our apostle, and consider Paul as a zealot, Paul as a proselyte, Paul as an apostle, and Paul as a martyr, and you will allow he was a great character, a Christian of the highest order; and that if, with all his eminent virtues, he thought himself obliged to acquire yet more eminent virtue, every Christian ought to form the same idea of his own duty.

Consider Paul as a zealot. Perhaps you may be surprised at our passing an encomium on this part of his life. Certainly we shall not undertake to make an apology for that cruel and barbarous zeal which made use of fire and blood, and which put racks for arguments, and gibbets for demonstrations. But the purest life has its blots; and the most generous heart its frailties. In that fatal necessity of imperfection which is imposed on all mankind, there are some defiled streams, so to speak, which flow from pure springs, some people, and the apostle was one, who si from an excess of virtue. What idea then must we form of this man, and what shall we say of his virtues, since his vices were effects of such an excellent cause? This odious part of his life, which he wished to bury in oblivion, that barbarity and madness, that industry to inflame the synagogue, and to stir up all the world, all this, strictly speaking, and properly explained, was worthy of praise. He maintained error. Why? Because he thought it was truth, and respected it accordingly. He persecuted, because he loved; he was mad, because he was zealous; zeal, as I said just now, misguided, but zeal, however; a criminal indiscretion indeed, but an indiscretion, which in a moral abstraction, may be considered as a virtue.

Consider Paul as a proselyte. A man educated in opinions opposite to Christianity, infatuated with popular errors, prejudiced with ideas of a temporal Messiah, accustomed to consider Jesus Christ as an impostor, and his reli

gion as a plot concerted by knaves, this man as a nurse cherisheth her children. You know changes his ideas, and his whole system of re- how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged ligion, and worships the crucified Jesus, who every one of you, as a father doth his chilwas to the Jew a stumbling block, and to the dren, that ye would walk worthy of God,' Greek foolishness,' 1 Cor. i. 23. The first les-chap. ii. 7. 11, 12. Is it prudence? Unto the

son from heaven persuades him, the first knock at the door of his heart opens it, his conversion is effected in a moment. I went not up to Jerusalem,' said he; I conferred not with flesh and blood,' Gal. i. 16, 17. What a fund of virtue instantly had this man in his heart! Of all characters in life there are few so respectable as that of a real proselyte. A man who changes his religion on pure principles, has a greatness of soul above common men. I venture to advance this general maxim, that a man who changes his religion, must be consummate either in virtue or vice. If he be insincere, he is a wretch; if he be not a wretch, he is a hero. He is a hero if his virtue be sincere, if he makes generous efforts to correct errors imbibed in his earliest youth, if he can see without trembling that path of tribulation which is generally opened to such as forsake their religion, and if he can bear all the suppositions which are generally made against them who renounce the profession of their ancestors; if, I say, he can do all this, he is a hero. On the contrary, none but a wretch can embark in such an undertaking, if he be destitute of the dispositions necessary to success. When such a man forsakes his former profession of religion, there is reason to suppose that human motives have done what love of truth could not do; and that he embraces his new religion, not because it appears to him more worthy of his attention and respect, but because it is more suitable to his interest. Now to embrace a religion for worldly interest is almost the highest pitch of wickedness. Our maxim admits of very few exceptions, and most proselytes are either men of eminent virtue or abandoned wretches; and as we are happy to acknowledge there are several of the first kind in this age, so with sorrow we are obliged to allow, that there are a great number of the latter. Let St. Paul be judged by the utmost rigour of this maxim. He was a hero in Christianity. The principle that engaged him to embrace the gospel, diffused itself through all his life, and every one of his actions verified the sincerity of his conversion.

St. Paul was born for great things; he it was whom God chose for an apostle to the Gentiles. He did not stop in the porch of the Lord's house, he quickly passed into the holy place; he was only a very short time a catechumen in the school of Christ; he soon became a master, a minister, an apostle; and in all these eminent offices he carried virtue to a higher pitch than it had ever been carried before him, and perhaps beyond what it will ever be practised after him. In effect, what qualities ought a minister of the gospel to possess which St. Paul did not possess in the highest degree? Is it assiduity? Ye remember, brethren,' said he, our labour and travel, for labouring night and day we preached unto you the gospel of God, 1 Thess. ii. 9. Is it gentleness? We were gentle among you, even


Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are without law as without law, that I might gain them that are without law. I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some,' 2 Cor. ix. 20. 22. Is it charity? I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren,' Rom. ix. 3. I will very gladly spend and be spent for you,' 2 Cor. xii. 15. Is it courage? He resisted St. Peter, and withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed,' Gal. ii. 11. He reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, before Felix and Drusilla,' Acts xxiv. 25. Is it disinterestedness in regard to the world? • We sought not glory of men, neither of you, nor yet of others. We speak the gospel not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts,' 1 Thess. ii. 6. 4. Is it zeal? His spirit was stirred in him at Athens, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry,' Acts xvii. 16. Then, like the prophet of old, he became very jealous for the Lord of hosts,' 1 Kings xix. 10. Is it to support the honour of his ministry? Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ,' 1 Cor. iv. 1. We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us,' 2 Cor. v. 20. It were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void,' 1 Cor. ix. 15. Jesus Christ was the model, by which St. Paul formed himself: be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ,' chap. xi. 1. When students turn their attention to the Christian ministry, models of such as have distinguished themselves in this office are proposed to their imitation. The imagination of one, the judgment of another, the gravity of a third, and the learning of a fourth are set before them, and from good originals very often we receive bad copies. St. Paul chose his pattern. His master, his model, his original, his all, was Jesus Christ; and he copied every stroke of his original, be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.'



But, though it is always commendable to discharge this holy office well, yet it is particularly so in some circumstances; and our apostle was in such, for he officiated when the whole world was enraged against Christians. Consider him then on the stage of martyrdom. What would now be our glory was then his disgrace; assiduity, gentleness, zeal, and all the other virtues just now mentioned, drew upon him the most envenomed jealousy, accusations the most atrocious, and persecutions the most cruel. It was in this light, God set the ministry before him at first, I will show him how great things he must suffer for my name sake," Acts ix. 16. Show him how great things he must suffer for my name sake! What a motive to engage a man to undertake an office! Now-a-days, in order to give a great idea of a church, it is said, it has such and such advantages, so much in cash, so much in small

tithes, and so much in great tithes. St. Paul saw the ministry only as a path full of thorns and briars, and he experienced, through all the course of his life, the truth of that idea which was given him of his office. Hear the catalogue of his sufferings. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck; a night and a day have I been in the deep. In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness,' 2 Cor. xi. 24-27. Good God! What a salary for a minister; hunger, thirst, fastings, nakedness, peril, persecution, death! In our case, we can die but once, and virtue considers the proximity of the crown of righteousness, which being suspended immediately over the head of the martyr, supports him under the pains of martyrdom; but the ministry of St. Paul was a perpetual martyrdom; his life was a continual death. I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death. For we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men,' 1 Cor. iv. 9.

taken literally, it is the language of humility, and resembles what St. Paul says in another place, I am the chief of sinners;' agreeably to his own direction, that each Christian 'should esteem another better than himself,' and which he calls, very justly, 'lowliness of mind.' No such thing, my brethren, you will be convinced of the contrary by the following reflections.

Here we finish the eulogium of our apostle, and, by uniting the parts of this slight sketch, we obtain a just portrait of the man. Do you know a greater than St. Paul? Can you conceive virtue in a more eminent degree? Behold a man fired with zeal, making what he thought the cause of God his own cause, God's enemies his enemies, the interest of God the interest of himself. Behold a man, who turns his attention to truth, and, the moment he discovers it, embraces, and openly avows it. Behold a man who, not content to be an ordinary Christian, and to save himself alone, aspiring at the glory of carrying through the whole world for public advantage, that light which had illuminated himself. Behold a man preaching, writing; what am I saying? Behold a man suffering, dying, and sealing with his own blood the truths he taught. An ardent zealot, a sincere convert, an accomplished minister, a bleeding martyr, learned in his errors, and, ifI may be allowed to speak so, regular in his mistakes, and virtuous even in his crimes. Show me in the modern or primitive church a greater character than St. Paul. Let any man produce a Christian who had more reason to be satisfied with himself, and who had more right to pretend that he had discharged all his duties. Yet this very man, this Paul, forgat those things which were behind!' This very Paul was pressing forward!' This is the man who feared he should be a cast-away! And you, smoking flax,' you bruised reed,' you, who have hardly taken root in the Christian soil, you, who have hardly a spark of love to God, do you think your piety sufficient! Are you the man to leave off endeavouring to make new advances! Perhaps you may say, the text is not to be


2. We ground the necessity of progressive religion on the great end of Christianity. Form, if it be possible, a just notion of Christianity. I say if it be possible; for we have an unaccountable reluctance to understand our own religion. We have all a strange propensity to disguise the character of a true Christian, and to keep ourselves ignorant of it. We have the holy Scriptures, and in them the gospel plan of redemption before our eyes every day; and every day we throw over them a variety of prejudices, which suppress the truth, and prevent us from seeing its beauty. One forms of Christianity an idea of indolence and relaxation, and, under pretence that the gospel speaks of mercy and grace, persuades himself that he may give a loose to all his natural evil dispositions. Another imagines the gospel a body of discipline, the principal design of which was to regulate society; so that provided we be pretty good parents, tolerable magistrates, and as good subjects as other people, we ought all to be content with ourselves. A third thinks, to be a Christian is to defend with constant heat certain points which he elevates into capital doctrines, essential to holiness here, and to salvation hereafter. A fourth, more unjust than all the rest, supposes the first duty of a Christian is to be sure of his own salvation. Each wanders after his own fancy.

It should seem, however, that the more we consult the gospel, the more fully shall we be convinced, that its design is to engage us to aspire at perfection, to transform man, to render him as perfect as he was when he came out of the hands of his Creator, to renew him after the image of him that created him,' to make him approach the nature of glorified saints, and, to say all in one word, to transform him into the divine nature. This is Christianity. This it is to be a Christian; and consequently a Christian is a man called to be 'perfect as his Father which is in heaven is perfect;' to be one with God, as Jesus Christ is one with God.

This definition of a Christian and of Christianity, is justified by all we see in the gospel. For why does it every where propose perfection for our end, heaven to our hope, God for our model? Why does it teach us to consider the good things of the world as evils, and the evils of the world as benefits, human virtues as vices, and what men call vice as virtue? Why all this? All beside the matter, unless the gospel proposes to renew man, to transform him, and to make him approach the perfect Being.

From these principles we conclude this.Since the gospel requires us to endeavour to 'be perfect as our Father which is in heaven is perfect,' we ought never to cease endeavouring till we are as perfect as our Father which is in heaven is perfect.' Since the gospel requires us to

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