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every duty, meek, patient, honest, pure, inoffensive, and studious of every valuable quality, when the professors of such principles are found in fact to possess these qualities, when they are observed to retain them under severe trial with an unruffled and patient expectation of the result, without imprecations upon their tormentors, and without any overweening confidence in themselves, when further they are heard themselves to attribute, and that even in their dying moments, their fortitude, serenity, and peace to these principles, as their immediate cause, when they do this calmly, deliberately, with full self-possession and a careful calculation of consequences, when lastly this is done by a great cloud of witnesses, under different dispensations, in different countries, all agreeing in the same testimony, and exhibiting in the main the same general features of a holy and renewed character, he must be a hardy sceptic indeed, who can deny, that such consistency is an evidence of truth: for the confidence of these holy men was no sudden spark, struck out by the excitement of the occasion. It was a steady flame, long nurtured in secret, and found sufficient, when the occasion called it into use. There is not one of the persons, whose testimony we have just recorded, that started suddenly into a martyr upon the pressure of a great emergency. No. Their life was the martyrdom, of which their death was the seal. They had conformably to the direction of saint Paul in the text run with patience the race, that was set before them, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of their faith : and therefore Jesus looked unto them, nay, drew near to them in the presence of his spirit and in the power of his consolations, when their race was cut short in the midst.
We in this age, my brethren, have an advantage over those, who were before us, because their testimony increases our light, and their experience warrants our convictions : wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin, which 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!
The sin, which most easily besets us all, brethren, is the great, the crying, the condemning sin of unbelief. We do not place constantly before
these cternal realities. The sense and conviction of thein is not wrought, as it ought to be, into the texture of our minds. We do not sufficiently recollect, that we stand between two worlds, and must disengage ourselves from the one, if we would realize the other. The fear of the world, the love of the world, the habits of the world all hang, like weights, about us, and hinder us from looking up to our heavenly inheritance. But, brethren, it is not so with those, who wait upon the lord faithfully and patiently. They, (says Isaiah) shall ' renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings, as eagles. They shall run, and 'not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.'
The text describes fully the course of a christian. He has a race to run; and he is taught to run in it with patience (that is with steady perseverance) to the end. For this purpose he must first lay aside every weight,
On the witnesses to the truth of the gospel.
and the sin of unbelief, which doth so easily beset him, lest it retard his progress, and withhold him from the mark in view. But, since the removal of every impediment would not give him activity in the race, or courage for the contest, he is exhorted next to look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of his faith, who stands at the end of the course, ready to receive the victor, and holding in his hand the crown of righteousness, which he has promised to bestow on believers. It is in keeping this end of the course in view, and looking unto him, who presides over it, that the strength of a true christian essentially consists ; for there proceeds virtue from that saviour of sinners, which can change indolence into activity, convert weakness into strength, and raise death to life. When the christian turns aside from that glorious object to the flowers, which invite him on one side, or to the terrors, which appal him on the other, he falls ; his besetting sin returns upon him; and it is only, while he looks unto Jesus, who is the author of his faith, that he can expect to find him the finisher of his faith also.
Revelation xxii, 17.
The spirit and the bride say~ Come!'-: and let
him, that heareth, say— Come!'-! and let him, that is athirst, come ! and, whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely!
I HAVE now according to the humble measure of my ability brought the series of discourses, brethren, on which we entered together, to a termination. I have shewn you some of the proofs, which appear to me clearly to establish the fact, first, that we live under the government of an almighty, gracious, wise, and holy being, by whom we were created, and on whom we continually depend ; secondly, that we have violated his laws, and are for this reason exposed to the sentence of his just