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king the field of faith, wherewith ye shall be SERM. able to quench all the firie darts of the wicked XIII. And take the helmet of falvation, and the fword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Nevertheless it appears from the original * words, that the Apostle alludes not here to the life of a foldier, engaged in wars: but rather to the games, at that time very famous among the Greeks, and in fome parts of Afia, which had learned the Greek customs: and, indeed, almost all over the Roman Empire. In which games there were contentions in the way of racing, on foot and in chariots, and in the way of combat. And the present text is rather to be explained by that in the ninth chapter of the first to the Corinthians, than by that before cited from the epiftle to the Ephefians. The paffage is to this purpose: Know ye not, that they which run in a 1 Cor ix. race, run all, but one receiveth the prize. So 24. 26. run, that ye may obtain. And every man that Striveth for the mafterie, is temperate in all things. Now they do it, to obtain a corrup= tible crown: but we, an incorruptible. I I therefore fo run, not as uncertainly: fo fight I not
* Αγωνίζε τὸν καλὸν ἀγῶνα τῆς πίσεως
SERM. I, not as one that beateth the air. Where XIII. the Apostle alludes to two of the exercises of those games, running, and boxing.
Such is the figurative expreffion in the text. And perhaps the allufion might be made more manifeft, and the ambiguity in fome measure avoided, if the original were rendred: Exercife the good exercife of faith. The word, here rendred fight, is the fame with that which is rendred ftriving for the mafterie in the paffage juft quoted from the first to the Corinthians. Everyone that friveth for the mafterie, or every one that ftriveth in the games, is temperate in all things. And we have the fame expreffion again in another place, where St. Paul fays: 1‡ have fought a good fight: or, I have exercised a good exercise. He had himself done what he here exhorts Timothie to do.
2 Tim. iv. 7.
It is not unufual with the Apostle, to compare, and very elegantly, the Christian course, that is, the life of private Christians, or of those who are in fome office in the church,
† Πᾶς δὲ ὁ ἀγωνιζόμενος.
† Τὸν ἀγῶνα τὸν καλὸν ἠγώνισμαι.
church, to a warfare, and to a contention in SERM. the public and celebrated games, then in ufe XIII. among the people most renowned for politeneffe in which games fome of the most distinguished citizens of thofe places entered themselves. And these two allufions are joyned together by him in a text, in part quoted already. Thou therefore endure hard- 2 Tim. ii. neffe, as a good foldier of Jefus Chrift. No man that wars, entangles himself in the affairs of this life; that he may please him, who has chofen him to be a foldier. And || if a man ftrive for the mafterie, he is not crowned, unless he ftrive lawfully.
The general defign of the exhortation is: "Exercise the good exercife of faith, so as "to obtain the prize of eternal life, to which ແ thou art called in the gofpel: and for ob"taining which, thou haft engaged to exert thy-felf, by that good profeffion, which "thou haft already made in the presence of
many witneffes, or spectators."
In farther difcourfing on these words I fhall obferve this method.
I. I shall
Η Εὰν δὲ καὶ ἀθλῇ τις, κα τεφανῆται, ἐὰν μὴ νομίμως αθ λήσῃ
I. I fhall fhew what is meant by exercifing the exercife of faith.
II. Why it is called a good fight or ex
III. And then conclude with a practical application.
I. I would confider, what is meant by exercifing the exercife of faith.
Some have hereby understood contending for the truth of the gofpel, maintaining, and propagating it in the world. But that, I think, is but one part of the exercise, or contention, here fpoken of. For Timothie appears to me to be here as much, or rather more exhorted as a Chriftian, than as an Evangelift.
By the fight of faith I fuppofe to be intended the fight of the gospel: or that fight, and exercife, which the gospel requires: or which Jefus Chrift teaches and recommends in the gospel.
And by the fight, or exercife of faith, I would understand the practise of all virtue, a course of holy obedience to the dictates of reafon, and the commands of God. The
connexion affures us of this. St. Paul had SERM. argued against the selfish designs of fome, XIII. and fhewn the evil of covetoufneffe. Whereupon he adds: But thou, o man of God, flee Ver. 11. thefe things: and follow after righteousneffe, godlineffe, faith, love, patience, meeknesse. Fight the good fight of faith. Or, exercise the good exercise of the gofpel. Which is also agreeable to another exhortation in 2 Tim. ii. the fecond epiftle to this fame perfon.
This exhortation is fitly addreffed to private Chriftians, as well as to a Minifter of the gofpel: whilft at the fame time different stations and circumftances will infer, in fome refpects, different duties and obligations.
"The fight of faith, as * one expref"feth it, includes an open profeffion, and " ftrenuous defending the doctrine of faith, "and making it good by a life fuitable to "the rule of faith."
This open profeffion, and zealous defense of truth, accompanied with a fuitable practise of virtue, may be fitly compared to the exercifes in the Olympic games, because of the difficulty of the performance. There is a necef