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often been used by God's people to fix and bind up with the sanctity of a religious obligation, the desires of the heart, so prone. to inconstancy and fluctuation. “I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart,” Psal. cxix. 32.
These purposes, and those promises unto God, are no proofs of our power to perform, nor in any way meant by us as conditions proposed to God for grace; but are merely testimonies of our sincerity, and expressions of what we would, and will do, if the grace we seek be given. We do not run for grace, but having obtained grace, we run. And, surely, when the praying believer is heard thus resolving, promising, and engaging himself to most heedful and holy obedience, it ought not to be said that his
prayer is hypocritical, or that he loves prayer more than performance.
But we may even regard the words “we will run after thee,”—as an expression of hope; and this still more proves how the believer's heart is set on holy progress. “ We will run after thee,” seems the language of joyful assurance, that having sought grace, it will be given, and when it is given in the full measure, then shall we advance with a more sensible progress; the
of the way.
joy of the Lord shall be our strength, and we will run. Believers, solacing themselves in the anticipation of greater freedom and greater fitness in religious duties, rejoice in the expectation of coming grace. A little matter, they say, now impedes us; it is a day of small things; our movements are slow; and we seem hardly to gain any perceptible advance. We go about duties heavily and with pain, easily hindered, and soon discouraged. We are like lame men, undertaking a long journey, with means which are felt unequal to the difficulties and length
But we shall obtain more grace; and when the Lord puts forth a drawing influenće in the day of his power, we shall be willing: then shall we run! And the very prospect of such advancement cheers us. Weak and feeble as we feel in ourselves, we will not forego the hope that faith in drawing grace inspires.
Whether, however, we consider the words before us as a resolution of the mind, a promise to the Lord, or an expression of hope, the same result is obtained with respect to the believer's views of the importance and desirableness of making progress in religion. Progress in religion is the aim of all whom the Lord draws. The slothful, the formal
ist, the insincere, stand still; but our language is, “ We will run.” We must be in motion, and moving in advance from duty to duty, from attainment to attainment, from strength to strength, from grace to grace, from grace to glory.
The whole world is in motion, every man pursuing his own way. The believer's way is strait and narrow, but leads to heaven. It is a great thing to get there at last! The time, however, is short. We have only a day of life allotted us for the journey. Perhaps much of the morning was neglected ; noon has been little improved the strength of manhood was not faithfully put forth the ways of God; and, now, the shadows of the evening begin to show a warning aspect. We are yet, perhaps, far from having attained, and much ground of experience and of duty must be travelled over, ere we die in peace. Convinced of these things, what ought to be done? The counsel is short and sure: Go to the throne of grace; pray to be drawn; and faithfully act up to light, opportunity, and influence. If we pray for drawing grace, and if we receive it, what is our object but to run? We do not rest in the petition, we do not rest in the manifestation; here is not our rest.
thing we do,-forgetting the things which are behind, and reaching forth to those things which are before us, and not yet attained, we press towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Alas! where is this engrossing interest of eternity exhibited ? where are men seen working out salvation with such an unity and conflict of exertion ? Who runs? Some hardly walk; many stand still, or lie down in pacsive security, wrapt in a cloak of poor profession, to slumber till the things of their peace shall be hid from their eyes! If we turn our eyes from the company of professed travellers to eternity, to mark another portion of human existence—the world; what activity is there! what compassing of sea and land to gain wealth, or human glory! There we see toil, and hurry, and dispatch, and ceaseless pursuit of objects that, to an enlightened eye, appear more worthy to be shunned than sought. What draws them? Their own lusts, and Satan's misleading influence, for he “works in the children of disobedience.” See how sincerely they pursue their ways, and travel with all their might, yea, are running to destruction! Their progress-alas ! it is a progress in evil
is manifest. That course of worldliness -that carreer of sin, so rapid and persevering, will soon bring them to the end of their journey ; and they shall lie down in sorrow, far from heaven, and far from the rest that remaineth for the people of God! O that they would turn, and pursue with equal sincerity the way to glory!
But if they will not, let us as earnestly flee from the wrath to come, as these urge their way towards it. Let us be as intent in our high calling, as these are diligent to be undone; and having such a glorious prize in view, let that progress in religion, which is the aim of all the saints, be also ours; and with a few remarks on this point, we shall close the present address.
1. Remember, that to make progress in religion, is to run after Christ ;-it is not to run after Paul or Apollos; it is not to place our regards on human leaders, however distinguished, that profits us; but the setting the Lord always before us, as our motive and our end; he is all in all; with him we commence, and him we follow after. To him the Father draws us at first, (John vi. 44.); and having come to him, he draws us after himself, and in no other direction. If the bent and pursuit of men's lives, then,