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fome importunity, and all the arts, most SerM.
such occasions is very honorable. Yea not only for men thus to exert themselves in some special and extraordinarie occasions, as the Olympic combatants did in the time of their solemnity, and the preparatorie exercises, poffibly, of some few months, or years continuance : but to maintain and carry on this exercise of faith, a steady regard to the principles and rules of the gospel, throughout the whole life, in the various and trying occurrences of it, amidst allurements and discouragements. This is truly honorable, and commendable !
4. The exercise of faith is a good exercise, with regard to it's event, as it has a good re, ward annexed to it.
That reward is now distant, and out of fight. It is not bestowed here. But it is
And it is great and transcendent. In allusion to the custom of the Grecian games, the Apostle sometimes calls the reward of virtue a crown : but he gives it the
1 Pet. v.
Serm. preference, greatly, above the crowns or
ought to do the same: though we should
fome distinguished honours and privileges in Cor. ix. the cities, where they dwelt. Now they do
it, says he, to obtain a corruptible crown :
That is justly stiled a good exercise, which has a good reward annexed to it.
5. It is a good exercise, as all who perform
This is a fingular advantage, peculiar to
In those Olympic exercises, whether of SERM. race, or combat, one only in each received XIII. a prize, even the victor. Bat in the Chriftian race and combat every one is victory who performs well. Every one that denyes himself, and, notwithstanding the temptations of this world, is steady in the profession of truth, and the practise of virtue, is a conquerour, and shall receive a crown of righteournefse from the righteous judge.
6. Once more, the exercise of faith is a good exercise, on account of the supports and encouragements afforded to those who undertake it.
They are encouraged by the greatnesse of the reward proposed to them, by him, who is able to do more than we think or conceive. They are also animated by the example of many, who have overcome in this combat : and, especially by the victorie of the Lord Jesus Christ, who has been tried, as we now are: and who has power to grant to them Rev. ii. who overcome, to fit with bim in bis throne, 21. even as be also overcame, and is set down with bis Father in bis throne.
Moreover, all successe in this exercise, every act of self-denial, every instance of
SERM. steadinesse amidst temptations, and in oppoXIII. fition to the adversaries of our virtue, when
reflected on, cafts light and joy on the mind, chears and refreshes, and inspires with re
newed ardour, and strengthens for farther 2 Cor. iv. difficulties. As the Apostle says : For which 16. 18.
cause we faint not : but though the outward man perish, the inward man is renewed day by day:... whilst we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things seen are temporal : but the things not seen are eternal.
III. It remains only, that I conclude, as
at first proposed, with some inferences, by the way of a practical application,
They will be these two. i. We are here reminded, that a life of religion and virtue has, in this world, it's difficulties.
It is no very easie thing, to be steady in the profession of truth, and the practise of virtue. They who expect to find every thing smooth and easie in this way, and look for no opposition or discouragement, will be difappointed. For the life of a Christian, as we have seen, is compared in Scripture to a
warfare, a race, a combat. It is a conten. Serm. tion, an exercise, that requires a good deal of XIII. resolution, and will try all our strength and skill.
2. Nevertheless, there is encouragement to hold on therein.
For it is a good exercise. It is innocent, and honorable, and will have a great reward hereafter, and has at present it's joys and supports: which are not small, but very exhilerating and strengthening.
It is not a little pleasing, to hear it called a good exercise by those who have made trial of it. St. Paul, who was so great a master therein, who knew all it's difficulties, who had met with good report, and ill report, who had been in perils of every kind, who had been as laborious and diligent, as any in the service of the gospel: in a word, he who knew by experience, how much it might cost men, calls it a good exercise. He recommends it to others as such. And near the period of his life he says with exultation and triumph : I have exercised a good exercise: I 2 Tim. iv. have finished my race: I have kept the faith. 7. 8. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of