Hebrews 12:1
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off every encumbrance and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with endurance the race set out for us.
The Appointed StruggleD. Young Hebrews 12:1
The Cloud of WitnessesD. Young Hebrews 12:1
A Besetting Sin Dulls Spiritual PerceptionHebrews 12:1-2
A Life-MottoJ. H. Wilson, D. D.Hebrews 12:1-2
Advantages Obtained by Looking unto JesusG. Barrier.Hebrews 12:1-2
Besetting SinsT. L. Cuyler, D. D.Hebrews 12:1-2
Causes of Propensity to Peculiar VicesG. Carr, B.A.Hebrews 12:1-2
Christ's Joy in LivingH. W. Beecher.Hebrews 12:1-2
Christ's Joy Varied as the Relationship He Sustains to MeC. Clemance. D. D.Hebrews 12:1-2
Christ's Prospective JoyC. Clemance. D. D.Hebrews 12:1-2
Deliverance by Looking to JesusT. Guthrie.Hebrews 12:1-2
Despise the ShameA. Maclaren, D. D.Hebrews 12:1-2
Good Men in Both WorldsHomilistHebrews 12:1-2
Great MenBp. Temple.Hebrews 12:1-2
ImmortalityR. S. Storrs, D. D.Hebrews 12:1-2
Jesus and FaithHebrews 12:1-2
Jesus EnthronedS. Martin.Hebrews 12:1-2
Jesus the Author and Finisher of the Christian's FaithH. J. Stevenson, M. A.Hebrews 12:1-2
Jesus the Only Sight for the DyingHebrews 12:1-2
Joy TriumphingJohn Kempthorne, M. A.Hebrews 12:1-2
Look to Christ Rather that to ExperiencesT. E. Marsh.Hebrews 12:1-2
Looking to JesusThe Weekly PulpitHebrews 12:1-2
Looking to JesusHebrews 12:1-2
Looking to Jesus, the Secret of Running Well Our Christian RaceC. M. Merry, B. A.Hebrews 12:1-2
Looking unto JesusU. R. Thomas.Hebrews 12:1-2
Looking unto JesusH. Boner, D. D.Hebrews 12:1-2
Looking unto JesusG. Calthrop, M. A.Hebrews 12:1-2
Looking unto JesusS. Martin.Hebrews 12:1-2
Looking unto JesusL. D. Bevan.Hebrews 12:1-2
Looking unto JesusBishop Ryle.Hebrews 12:1-2
Looking unto JesusC. W. Bibb.Hebrews 12:1-2
One Sin the Soul's RuinC. H. Spurgeon.Hebrews 12:1-2
Patient RunningJ. F. Ewing, M.A.Hebrews 12:1-2
Spiritual WeightsJohn Smith, M. A.Hebrews 12:1-2
Stripping for the RaceF. B. Meyer, B. A.Hebrews 12:1-2
The Besetting SinE. B. Pusey, D. D.Hebrews 12:1-2
The Besetting SinThe Preachers' MonthlyHebrews 12:1-2
The Christian RaceW. Jones Hebrews 12:1, 2
The Christian RaceJ. Summerfield, M. A.Hebrews 12:1-2
The Christian Runner in Relation to His SpectatorsHomilistHebrews 12:1-2
The Cloud of WitnessesW. G. Pascoe.Hebrews 12:1-2
The Commander of the FaithfulA. Maclaren, D. D.Hebrews 12:1-2
The Commander's Conflict and TriumphA. Maclaren, D. D.Hebrews 12:1-2
The Cross Carried, and the Shame Despised by JesusS. Martin.Hebrews 12:1-2
The Danger of ImpedimentsLady Brassey.Hebrews 12:1-2
The Deadly Character of Secret SinC. W. Bibb.Hebrews 12:1-2
The Injury of a Besetting SinC. H. Spurgeon.Hebrews 12:1-2
The Inspiration of a Good LeaderH. O. Mackey.Hebrews 12:1-2
The Joy of JesusS. Martin.Hebrews 12:1-2
The Moral Influence of Departed SaintsW. L. Watkinson.Hebrews 12:1-2
The Necessity of Looking to ChristE. Payson.Hebrews 12:1-2
The RaceE. Lewis, B. A.Hebrews 12:1-2
The Race Set Before UsHebrews 12:1-2
The Race to HeavenThe Evangelical PreacherHebrews 12:1-2
The Rule of the RaceC. H. Spurgeon.Hebrews 12:1-2
The Saviour's Endurance and JoyJ. H. MorganHebrews 12:1-2
The Shameful SuffererC. H. Surgeon.Hebrews 12:1-2
The Wiliness to the Sustaining PrincipleCanon Knox Little.Hebrews 12:1-2
WeightsJ. H. Wilson, D. D.Hebrews 12:1-2
Weights and SinsA. Maclaren, D. D.Hebrews 12:1-2

Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so, etc. The "wherefore" shows the connection of our text with the preceding chapter. There the writer has exhibited the power of faith in a host of illustrious examples. To the exercise of a like faith in the prosecution of the Christian race he now summons the Hebrew Christians.

I. THE CHRISTIAN LIFE IS HERE COMPARED TO A RACE. The Christian is represented as a runner competing for the prize; and the writer would arouse him to activity and perseverance by the example of those who have already triumphed, and are now hearing silent but eloquent testimony to the power of faith. The comparison of the Christian life to a race is appropriate and suggestive.

1. A race has its limitations, so has the Christian life. The racer may not run anywhere, but must pursue the course marked out for him. Beginning at the starting-point, he must pursue the definite course until he reach the goal. And in the Christian life "the race is set before us;" it is marked out by the Word of God, by the examples of the faithful who have finished their course, and we may ascertain it with unerring accuracy by marking the footprints of Jesus the great Leader and Perfecter of faith.

2. A race is characterized by intense activities, so is the Christian life. There is no room for sloth or indifference. The Divine life can be maintained only by constant diligence and strenuous effort; and it can be perfected only through conflict and suffering. Our progress in the Christian course is opposed by strong and subtle adversaries, and frequent and formidable difficulties. We have to battle with our foes and grapple with our difficulties, even while running the race that is set before us.

3. A race is characterized by brevity, so is the Christian life upon earth. The race we are running requires intense effort, but only for a short season; the goal will very soon be reached. The whole of our earthly life is but of short duration; and the time of this earnest race is still shorter. What is our life here to eternity? What is the period of effort on the course to the age of rest and reward?


1. We must "lay aside every weight - cast off everything that encumbers. The reference here is to things which in themselves are not positively sinful, customs and associations which in themselves are innocent, but which may wrap themselves tightly round our heart and impede our progress. Intercourse and friendship," says Ebrard, "with old Jewish acquaintances, the relations formed by trade and merchandise, might be hindrances of this kind for the readers, and in such a case it was right, and is still right, to break entirely away from such relations, and to get rid of the fetters which they impose as soon as they threaten to become a snare, even though in themselves they should be innocent." Everything that would hinder us in running this race, every weight of cares, of interests, of attachments to the things pertaining only to this life, of relationships which are not favorable to advancement in the race, must be given up, abandoned.

2. We must "lay aside the sin which doth so easily beset us," or, "the sin which subtly encircles us. With every one of us there is some sin to which we are especially prone; let us each take heed that we are not hindered in the race by reason of it. There is some weak point in the moral defenses of our nature where the tempter most easily obtains access; to this point, wherever it may be, special attention must be directed. With some it is an ungovernable temper; with others, a strong propensity to avarice; with others, etc. Let every man, by faithful self-examination and by prayer, ascertain his own besetting sin, and seek to be quite free from it.

3. We must run our race with patience. Not simply with patient endurance of the trials which may befall the runner, but with perseverance until the goal is reached. The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong," but "he that endureth to the end the same shall be saved." "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." It is only "by patient continuance in well-doing" that "glory and honor and immortality" are won.

III. IN THE PROSECUTION OF THIS RACE WE ARE SURROUNDED BY A GREAT HOST OF WITNESSES, OR TESTIFIERS. "We are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses." Those who have preceded us in the life of faith in immense numbers surround us as witnesses to the power of faith, as testifiers by their example to the might of that principle by which we are called to run our course successfully, and war our warfare nobly, and do our life work faithfully. The writer would teach us to think often of this great cloud of witnesses, to meditate upon the noble lives and glorious deeds of the true men who have gone before us, that by the remembrance of their trials and triumphs we may arouse ourselves to greater diligence in running the race that is set before us. In them we see what trials can be borne, what victories won, what work accomplished, what characters built up, by faith. If by faith they overcame every difficulty, why should we be discouraged by the difficulties of our course? If by faith they conquered their many and mighty enemies, why should we dread to encounter our foes? If by faith, despite outward opposition and inner weakness, they came off victors in the fight and winners in the race, why should we despond and shrink from the contest? "Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses," etc.

IV. IN THE PROSECUTION OF THIS RACE WE ARE SUSTAINED AND ANIMATED BY THE HIGHEST EXAMPLE - THE PERFECT EXAMPLE. "Looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith," etc. The idea of the writer is not that Jesus Christ is the Producer of faith in us and the Completer of the faith which he has organized. If we translate, "Looking unto the Leader and Perfecter of the faith, even Jesus," we shall perhaps the more readily apprehend the meaning of the text. In the long procession of heroes celebrated for their faith our Lord stands at the head; he is the Leader, and in him faith appears in full and perfected glory. And the text exhorts us to look to him as our great Exemplar, and to draw from him support and encouragement. The example of our Savior is especially sustaining and cheering, for the course he had to run was one of extreme difficulty and danger and suffering; yet he overcame, and finished his course with joy, and gained the highest honors. "Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross," etc. (cf. Hebrews 1:3; Hebrews 2:9, 10). In time of suffering, then, pursue your course "looking unto Jesus," the perfect Example of patience; and in the presence of Gethsemane and Calvary your sufferings will appear slight, and the calm face of the supreme Sufferer will impart patience and power unto you. In seasons of despondency, when faith is weak and your spirit sinks within you, look unto Jesus, and the trust which he exercised and the destiny he attained, and let the bright example brace your heart with courage. In times of exhaustion and weariness, when you faint because of the duties and difficulties of the way, look up to Jesus, and his example will raise and strengthen your powerless hands, and nerve your whole frame with new energy. And in seasons of temptation look unto him who" resisted unto blood, striving against sin," and yield not in the conflict, give no place to the tempter. Let this be our attitude, "looking unto Jesus." Let the eye of the soul be fixed upon him as our Pattern and Helper; so shall we finish our course with joy, and "receive the crown of glory that fadeth not away." - W.J.

Compassed about with so great a cloud.
The witnesses that God has set before the eyes of men are twofold, the witness of greatness and the witness of goodness, the witness of the hero and the witness of the saint. To name these two together is at once to put the one far above the other. Without any argument we feel at once that the hero and the saint belong to different spheres, the hero to nature, the saint to religion; the hero to the earth, the saint to heaven. if we examine what sort of a man we call great, we shall always find that it is one who leads his fellow-men. We do not call a man great simply for cleverness, nor for worldly success, the fruit of cleverness. Nor, again, do we call a man great for exceeding goodness, if he have nothing in him which makes that goodness a guide, and not merely a reverenced wonder to his fellows. A great man is he who stands out from others, not for some accidental difference, but for something which makes others follow his lead, acknowledge his power, accept his teachings, admire his course. Such a man will be sure to be marked with these characteristics; he will have a large mind, a strong conviction, and a firm will.

1. He must have a large mind to take in, and feel in full force the truths or the impulses which are dimly and dumbly moving in the minds of his fellow-men. This is the necessary condition of his being able to take the lead. In the great man all that is narrow and confined to himself is overpowered by what is large, what is shared and felt by thousands beside. He has room in his heart for many interests, for many impulses, for many aims; and he has that within him that shall comprehend and reconcile them all into one great purpose.

2. To this large soul he must add deep convictions. For he will be sure to meet with such obstacles as none but leaders ever meet. He will be aiming at that which is to last for centuries; but he will find straight in his path the passing passions of the day, roused to fiercer enmity by their own shallowness. Even when he is following the deep current, which none but himself is deep enough to feel, he will be stemming all the shallower currents which bear on their surface those that are living in his day. Hence it often happens that as long as he lives he sees no signs of success. He works his work; he sows his seed; but he never sees the harvest. What shall carry a man through all this? Nothing but faith. Be the great man a good man or a bad; be he like Elijah, a prophet and a faithful servant; or be he like Balaam, a prophet and a traitor, nothing can carry him through what he must often encounter but a deep conviction of the truth by which he lives; that truth, whatever it may be, of which he is the messenger.

3. The great man will need, besides a large heart and a deep conviction, a strong will. This is so indispensable a condition of greatness that we frequently fancy that strength of will is almost the whole of greatness, and are prone to admire that beyond all else that we see in a great man. And, indeed, if not the highest element in a great man's nature, it is yet the one which saves the others from downright degradation. What spectacle is more contemptible than clear knowledge combined with weakness? What character is more universally despised than that of a coward? So absolutely necessary is courage to all true service that we have been made by God with a natural admiration even of wicked courage, in order, no doubt, that we should learn early to put on a piece of armour which we cannot do without, and that even nature should assist us in the first element of our spiritual lesson. What is the crown that must be added to all these qualities to make the great man true to his own greatness? It is loyalty to his true Master.

(Bp. Temple.)

I. THE WITNESSES. And what are the truths they bear witness to?

1. They bear witness to the fact that their confidence in God was not misplaced. A man may fail, but God never.

2. They bear witness to the sufficiency of Divine grace. They had no more natural goodness than we; but they overcame it all, and it was in the strength of the Lord they did so.

3. They bear witness to the faithfulness of God to His promises.


1. We are to "lay aside every weight." I need scarce name particular things. In some it is vanity, in others worldliness, in others unlawful pleasure, in others a violent temper, others unholy attachments. It is, in fact, whatever deadens thy soul, and holds thee back when thou shouldest be pressing forward to the skies.

2. We are to renounce "the sin that doth so easily beset us." To "beset," means "to surround," and the sin that so easily besets us is that to which we are most liable. Very often, indeed mostly, it is that sin to which we were most given before our conversion: as when a breach is made in a wall, it is easier to effect another breach in that place, although it may be built up again, than where stone has never been dislodged. With different constitutions, and with different ages, there are different easily besetting sins. With youth it is often passion — evil desire. With age it is often fretfulness — peevishness. With the rich it is often pride and grasping of power; with the poor it is often repinings against providence. With the healthy it is often forgetfulness of God, and of their latter end; with the sick it is often rebellion against Him who lays on the rod.

3. We are also to " run with patience the race set before us." If a thing take us a long time in doing, we are inclined to be impatient about it. Or, if the word may be more properly translated," perseverance." Then, if a journey is long, we are generally inclined to grow weary and loiter by the way. But if the road is long and dusty, we are to be patient. If the trial is severe, we are to be patient, and not allow our souls to be agitated. Sometimes the blessing we expect may be delayed, but we are to be patient in waiting for it. Sometimes our persecutions may be fierce indeed, but we are to be patient whilst we endure them. This grace is like the rivet that binds all the machinery together.

III. WE HAVE A GLORIOUS EXAMPLE SET BEFORE US. "Looking unto Jesus." Christ endured the Cross, and He endured it patiently.

(W. G. Pascoe.)


1. They live.

2. They live in vast number's. "Cloud."

3. They live as spectators of their surviving brethren on earth. "Witnesses." Though with the politics, commerce, and crafts of the world they have nothing to do, they are intensely alive to its spiritual interests and activities.


1. Their life is like a racecourse. They both have their limitation, rules, intense activity, speedy termination.

2. Their life, to realise its end, requires great attention.

(1)There must be a divestment of all encumbrances.

(2)There must be a freeing oneself from besetting sin.

(3)There must be the exercise of great patience of soul in our efforts,

3. Their life should be salutarily influenced by the good who have departed. "Wherefore, seeing," etc.

III. THE GLORIOUS REDEEMER OF THE GOOD IN BOTH WORLDS. "Looking unto Jesus," dec. Christ is the chief example of human goodness.

1. He was pre-eminent as an example in the spirit that inspired Him. Self-oblivion.

2. Preeminent in the grandeur of soul with which He met unparalleled sufferings.

3. Pre-eminent in the exaltation which He ultimately met.


I. To any thoughtful and aspiring person, sensitive to fine influences, desirous of mental and moral advancement, eager for opportunities for culture or for usefulness, THERE IS ALWAYS A SENSE OF EXHILARATION IN FEELING HIMSELF CONNECTED WITH A VARIOUS, SPLENDID, WIDELY-EXTENDED, SOCIAL SYSTEM. It impels naturally to larger effort, gives expansiveness to the whole plan of life, furnishes incentives to nobler personal aspiration and hope. It dignifies, instead of dwarfing, the individual personality. It widens the whole horizon of thought and expectation, and makes one more sensible of both the responsibility and the privilege of life.

II. It is the privilege of the Christian to feel and know that he is associated NOT ONLY WITH SUCH SOCIETIES ON EARTH, BUT WITH VAST AND GLORIOUS AND PURE REALMS OF LIFE WHICH EYE HATH NOT YET SEEN, and of which there comes no whisper to us through the silent blue, yet with which our relations are already intimate, into which we are to pass at death, and in which we are to dwell thenceforth immortally. It cannot be said that there is a prophecy of this in human nature; but there is an instinct in human nature which prepares us for the reception of it when announced to us in the gospel. We can conceive of ourselves in any relation to others, imaginable — in any place on earth, in any position- but we cannot conceive of ourselves as non-existent.


1. For one thing they lessen the attraction of the world upon our minds and hearts. In our times this world seems to draw the spirit to itself, almost as the power of gravitation holds the body to the planet. Some months ago we had an ice storm. The gently descending rain froze as it fell, until it covered every tree and shrub with a raiment of brilliancy, as if it had been plaited in diamond and hung with diamond drops. It was superb to look upon, almost an apocalypse of natural beauty. Yet the very splendour broke the tree. The brilliant garniture overwhelmed that which was tender and vital in the shrub which it adorned. So it is with the great and splendid accumulations of wealth and the ornaments of pleasure that are so feverishly and anxiously sought. They destroy in us, often, by their very attainment, that which is finest and grandest in our spiritual nature. How shall we resist this encompassing influence? We cannot resist it by force of will; we might as well try to jump from the planet. We cannot extricate ourselves from the constant social influences which are around us, leading us to these results. We must somehow or other rise above it all. As long as we contemplate that into which we are to enter by and by, we are comparatively careless of that which is beneath. It ceases to make that masterful impression on our spirits which otherwise it had made, and which otherwise it must always make.

2. The contemplation of this superior life inspires, too, the noblest culture of character. As the sunshine of the morning lifts the mists, and reveal the landscape, and clothes it with a mantle of beauty, making the very rock burst into life and surround itself with verdure, so this influence from above, from the celestial realms which we have not reached, but toward which we are tending, and the gates of which Christ opens to us, disperses from the spirit what is malefic or obscure, and prints a new and vital beauty on it all.

3. This thought is also a vast incentive to the culture of power in us, of personal, moral, and intellectual power, for which there must be range in those circles of life which we are to join, if we are the disciples of the Divine Lord.

IV. Here, then, you see at once THE MISCHIEVOUS TENDENCY OF SCEPTICAL THOUGHT, WHICH TENDS TO OBSCURE THIS VISION OF THE WORLD TO COME, and to make it signify a mere fancy, a mere dream of the world's youth, which, as the race goes on, will more and more be dissipated, as the tinted clouds of morning disappear when the sun rides higher and higher to the meridian.

V. HERE IS THE GLORY OF THE GOSPEL. I do not find the most striking prophecies of the future life in any mere words of Scripture. I find them in the fact that He who had the power of miracle in His hands surrendered Himself to death, that afterward He might open the kingdom of heaven to all believers. There is the supreme glory of the celestial realms manifested to me by the agony of that death! The gospel is not simply a philosophy of religion, or a law of living. It is an apocalypse showing the heavens to us, and bringing thus its Divine benediction on every life. Here is the Divine mission of preaching; here is the beauty of every sacrament; here the glory of every Church. Here is the hidden meaning and blessedness which the thought of heaven brings in the events which seem most painful. So when our beloved friends pass from us; so when misfortunes come upon us; this thought of the higher life comes to cheer and comfort.

(R. S. Storrs, D. D.)


1. The position of the spectators. They surround the Christian runner.

2. Their number. Vast.


1. He should divest himself of every encumbrance. Ceremonialism, religious errors, business perplexities, fear of man, inveterate prejudices, sinful propensities.

2. He should avoid the sin to which he is most peculiarly prone. Pride, covetousness, intemperance, evil-speaking, anger.

3. He should maintain great self-possession. "Run with patience."


1. The work of Jesus.

2. The history of Jesus.

3. The exaltation of Jesus.


The North American Indians believed that when the flowers faded in the forest and prairie their beauty passed into the rainbow: thus our kindred and companions, the joy and pride of our homes and churches, fade away; but, lifting our eyes, we see our lost ones blossom forth again in the holier beauty of the rainbow about the throne. The text reminds us that these exalted ones exercise towards us a morally helpful influence. We are not to think of our exalted brethren as forming in the midst of heaven a brilliant cloud, admirable in the eye of imagination, yet exercising no real practical influence over the earth; but as a cloud full of mystic rain and dew, imparting life and beauty to those who dwell on the earth. Our beatified friends become our moral helpers.

I. BY DIVERTING OUR ATTENTION FROM THIS TO THE ETERNAL WORLD. As the dove sent from the ark, returning no more, reminded Noah that a new world was blooming for him; so these departed ones who return no more, daily and powerfully remind us that another and brighter world is blooming for us beyond death's cold flood, and in earnest we prepare to leave this storm-tossed ark. The "cloud of witnesses" cause us to look above the dust; gazing after their departing forms we find ourselves standing face to face with eternity, and thus acquire the seriousness, spirituality, and strength of the Christian character.

II. BY ENHANCING THE CHARM OF THE CELESTIAL WORLD. The departed saints humanise heaven, interpret it, render it more fascinating. It is true that the grand charm of the skies is the vision and fellowship of the glorious God, yet it is not less true that every saint who passes into paradise invests it with a fresh and powerful influence. Each crowned friend makes us understand heaven better, makes us prize it the more, makes us strive more ardently to reach its bright and wealthy plains.

III. BY INCREASING OUR SENSE OF SELF-RESPECT. Our departed ones are no longer before us in weariness and humiliation, but crowned with inconceivable and unfading splendours; and as we gaze upon them a new conception of our spiritual capacity takes possession of us — we feel that we belong to a race of conquerors and kings. It is said that the Kohei-noor diamond is only half its original size, the other half being in a distant country, where it was found in the possession of some one who used it as a common flint. Thus our churches, our families, are broken into two parts; one portion being exulted to the palace of the skies, the other fragment remaining in this lower realm, and used to ends apparently most commonplace and servile; yet we cannot contemplate the broken jewel, shining in the palace of the King, without thinking more highly of this other portion below, and watching it with intenser care lest its beauty should be dimmed, or its preciousness impaired, or its safety imperilled. Our celestial kinsmen minister to us, for they exalt our conception of the nature we possess, of the inheritance to which we are destined.

IV. BY GIVING US THE SENSE OF AN ABIDING SACRED PRESENCE. The Jewish legend relates that Joseph was saved by the spirit of his mother, when he was tempted to sin in the ]and of Egypt. This legend is founded in the truth that the powerful and blessed memory of our dead is a preservative against sin, a strengthening to virtue. And this is the precise idea of Paul in our text. "We are surrounded," says he to his Hebrew brethren, "by a great cloud of heroes; let us, under the eyes of these pure, noble, valiant spirits, act a worthy part; let us labour to be as pure, noble, valiant as they were." Thus again are the glorified ones our helpers; these beatified spectators put upon us a sweet constraint to walk as they also walked, so that we may triumph as they also triumphed.

V. BY THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF THEIR SYMPATHY. Altered in many respects, the glorified saints have still the same hearts, and profoundly sympathise with us in all our upward struggles. The " cloud " about us is composed not of cold and curious spectators, but of warm and interested friends. Is not this fact a blessed help to us? The transfigured ones beckon us onward! upward! and the knowledge of this sympathy is to us in the day of tribulation a fountain of strength.

VI. BY STIMULATING OUR HOPE AND COURAGE. Again and again Satan almost paralyses us with his lofty vaunts of the might and majesty of evil. Sin rises before us so strong, so subtle, so mysterious and awful, that we are almost ready to surrender at discretion. The evil of our nature, the evil of the universe, seems well-nigh omnipotent. How fatal is this idea to our spiritual life! Nothing shatters this destructive imagination more than the triumphant death and exaltation of the saints. To see our brother on the crystal walls I our sister crowned with amaranth! our friends with the palm and diadem! how this reassures us! We feel that Satan is not omnipotent, that sin is not invincible, that suffering is not unconquerable.

(W. L. Watkinson.)

Lay aside every weight.
There is a regular series of thoughts in this clause, and in the one or two which follow it. If we would run well, we must run light; if we would run light, we must look to Christ. The central injunction is, "Let us run with patience"; the only way of doing that is the "laying aside all weights and sins"; and the only way of laying aside the weights and sins is, "looking unto Jesus." Of course, the apostle does not mean some one special kind of transgression when he says, "the sin which doth so easily beset us." He is speaking about sin generically — all manner of transgression. It is not, as we sometimes hear the words misquoted, "that sin which doth most easily beset us." All sin is according to this passage a besetting sin.

I. THERE ARE HINDRANCES WHICH ARE NOT SINS. Sin is that which, by its very nature, in all circumstances, by whomsoever done, without regard to consequences, is a transgression of God's law. A "weight" is that which, allowable in itself, perhaps a blessing, the exercise of a power which God has given us — is, for some reason, a hindrance in our running the heavenly race. The one word describes the action or habit by its inmost essence, the other describes it by its accidental consequences. Then, what are these weights? The first step in the answer to that question is to be taken by remembering that, according to the image of this text, we carry them about with us, and we are to put them away from ourselves. It is fair to say, then, that the whole class of weights are not so much external circumstances which may be turned to evil, as the feelings and habits of mind by which we abuse God's great gifts and mercies, and turn that which was ordained to be for life into death. The renunciation that is spoken about is not so much the putting away from ourselves of certain things lying round about us that may become temptations, as the putting away of the dispositions within us which make these things temptations. It is an awful and mysterious power that which we all possess, of perverting the highest endowments, whether of soul or of circumstances, which God has given us, into the occasions for falling back in the Divine life. Just as men, by devilish ingenuity, can distil poison out of God's fairest flowers, so we can do with everything that we have.

II. And now, if this be the explanation of what the apostle means by " weights" — legitimate things that hinder us in our course towards God — there comes this second consideration, IF WE WOULD RUN, WE MOST LAY THESE ASIDE. There are two ways by which this injunction of my text may be obeyed. The one is, by getting so strong that the thing shall not be a weight, though we carry it; and the other is, that feeling ourselves to be weak, we take the prudent course of putting it utterly aside.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

I. THE "WEIGHTS" — what are they?

1. The " weight" of unforgiven sin. How that hinders many. You have offended a father or teacher or friend — you have been guilty of disobedience or untruthfulness or dishonesty. How heavy it is! What a weight it is! If it has not been found out it lies like lead on your heart. How it hinders you in everything you put your hands to! Or the fault has been discovered, and you are in disgrace. Your dearest friends are displeased. You feel as if there were a great gulf between you and them. You are unhappy. You cannot get on with anything. You are just like one weighed down under a heavy burden. Whether it is work or play, company or solitude, there is a weight dragging you down in all. Now if it is so with sin as committed against man, what shall we say of sin as committed against God! How different your life would be if your sin were all forgiven; how different your worship would be; how different your work would be!

2. The "weight " of unsubdued sin. 1 shall try to explain what I mean by this. I shall suppose we are setting out on a long voyage. We have storms and contrary winds to contend with, and sometimes icebergs and dangerous rocks and opposing currents. But we have what is even worse than these. Some of the ship's crew are mutinous. They will not obey orders. They try to set the other sailors up against the captain. They damage the ship's machinery. They reverse the engines. They put out the fires. They do everything they can to provoke and hinder. And the consequence is, the ship's progress is seriously interfered with. Sometimes she comes to a stand altogether. In any case the voyage is slow and uncomfortable, as compared with what it should have been. At times it seems as if all on board must go to the bottom. Now what is wanted is, that the mutineers should be subdued — changed into obedient and right-hearted seamen, or put in irons and kept from doing harm. So long as they are unsubdued they are a "weight" that seriously hinders. Now, is there no "weight," no hindrance of this kind with you? Is there no stubborn will that disobeys, and must needs be broken if things are to get on at all? What of your temper that bursts into passion on the slightest provocation, and in words or looks or actions gets outlet to itself, in a way that may well alarm? What of your pride and vanity? What of your selfishness, that disregards others and is always seeking your own gratification and pleasure? What of secret sins which you try to conceal, but which are always growing stronger, and if unsubdued will go on as they are doing, burning like a fire within, and eating out your very heart and soul? So long as these have the power which they have now, every now and then getting the better of you, your life can neither be happy nor good.

3. The "weight" of evil habits. I do not refer so much here to single acts that are out and out bad and sinful. I refer more to things that may seem so far harmless at the beginning, but are apt to be repeated and to grow upon one, till they become habits, and rule him and hold him in chains. There is, for instance, the habit of procrastination — of putting off, instead of doing a thing at once. That grows terribly upon one, and becomes a hindrance of a very serious kind. There is the habit of drinking. There is the habit of idle and unprofitable reading, not to speak of what is positively bad. It consumes precious time, it takes away relish for prayer and for the Bible and all solid reading, it excites without doing any good, it takes away the heart from God. There is the habit of keeping company with unprofitable companions.

4. The last "weight" I shall mention is that of care. Perhaps this may seem not very much in your way, and more for your fathers and mothers. And yet I know even young hearts have their care — about lessons, and work otherwise, often not knowing what to do — with sorrows which are sometimes heavy and bitter enough. I am sure there are none of you who do not know something about these "weights," and could tell how they hinder you in what is good. They will have much to do in making you the men and women that you shall be. And hence the great importance of looking at the matter, and that at once.

II. WHAT IS TO BE DONE WITH THE WEIGHTS? Our text says they are to be "laid aside" — put off — cast away. Now the question is, how is this to be done? and to this question I have various answers to give.

1. By coming to Christ. The first "weight" to be got quit of is that of unforgiven sin, and like "Christian's" burden, that can only be got rid of at the Cross.

2. By drawing power from Christ. It is just like a man with all the resources of the bank at his call. He can have no fear of wanting anything. Christ has all that any of us can need, and He has it for us. Faith is just leaning upon Christ — looking to Christ — drawing upon Christ for everything.

3. By prayer. When we feel our own weakness, what can we do but cry to the Strong for strength?

4. By effort. We have the battle to fight, not in our own strength, but in the strength which Jesus gives. Now I wish to call special attention before closing to this — that we are to lay aside every weight. There is to be no sparing. Everything that hinders must go.

(J. H. Wilson, D. D.)

Spiritual weights are of many descriptions. They may originate in the very senses. Life in the world, in the enjoyment of good things, in the pursuit of wealth and position, may grow to such unwieldy proportions that the Christian conscience has enough to do to vitalise the mass, and cannot energise it to a race. Then the play of the ordinary human affections and social human instincts is allowed such preponderance, that the man becomes gregarious, has so absorbed the opinions and prejudices and criticisms of his circle, that swift, decisive, forward motion is impossible. He lies, like a great hulk in the wash of worldly opinion, without helm or sail. Big, human-hearted he may be, but power of initiative or incentive has he none. But some will add to their faith, tradition. They must keep on with usages which had been put away — aye, and add mere ordinances of men. And now, clogged in every organ of the soul, they are ready to give up in despair. The superinduced mass of ceremonial, imparting no strength, is closing round the vitals of living faith and hindering its every movement. But in addition to habits of mind and life hindering men from spiritual progress, there are weights imposed by men on themselves, which hinder advance and enfeeble the soul. They have their money in so many ventures, they are pursuing at one time so many schemes, or they are so engrossed in the one or two to which they have given themselves up, that they have little or no time for serious thought. Yea, they cannot shift their thoughts out of the worldly rut when they have time. They must have distraction, pleasure, society, travel, to relieve the jaded mind. And it is not merely in business that men put on weights. Some live in a whirl of social engagements, others to exalt their sense of self-importance, or from nobler motives heap on public engagements; yea, not a few in this our time are crowding on the back of every day so many spiritual or religious engagements that the life of God in them is weighted in its advance. They are dwindling under the pressure, or, at all events, they are not growing in life and thought and will as they might grow. What are we to do? Throw all our engagements away? By no means. Steam would be a useless thing if it were not generated within an engine. It is by working on through the engine's means that it becomes a power. And so the life of grace needs an environment of work and service through which to reveal its power. It must be embodied in deeds, and there is no lawful sphere in which grace may not shine. What I say is, that you may overload your engine and that you may overweight your grace. What is holding you down and keeping you back? Are you doing futile and unnecessary things — that is, things which, though innocent, are merely for self, apart from Christ? You cannot be wrong in putting them away. Are you doing too many things, so that you are distracted, and thus retarded? Remember that you are running the race of perfection, seeking entire likeness to Christ, and your very work will come to suffer if this religious dissipation go on. Rearrange, economise, lay aside every weight.

(John Smith, M. A.)

The sin which cloth so easily beset us.
1. We have to strive against the whole body of sin, everything which is against the holy will of God, "every evil inclination, all iniquity and profaneness, neglect and haughtiness, strife and wrath, passion and corruption, indolence and fraud, every evil motion, every impure thought, every base desire, every unseemly thought."

2. We have all, probably, some one besetting fault, which is our own special hindrance. Both of these we must learn by looking into ourselves. They vary in all. No two persons have exactly the same temptations, as no two minds are exactly alike. And so we ought not to judge of others, nor can we judge of ourselves by them. We must look into ourselves. We have, then, these two searches into ourselves to make: one into every part of ourselves; the other into that part of ourselves which is the weakest, and through which we most often fall. Of these, holy men recommend that we should begin with our besetting fault. For this there are many reasons. It lies, most likely, at the root of many other faults. It burrows under ground, as it were, and comes up at a distance, where we look not for it. It branches out into other faults; it twines round and kills some grace; it hides itself behind other faults or virtues; it puts itself forth in the midst of them. It colours every other fault; it interferes with, or overshadows or overlays every grace. But the more this one fault spreads, the more, if you uproot it, you will clear of the field of your conscience, the more will your heart become the good ground, which, freed from thorns, shall bear fruit, thirty, sixty, a hundredfold, to life everlasting.Thou hast, then, great reason to be most watchful to uproot thy besetting sin, because —

1. It is the root of other sins, gives occasion to them, makes them as bad as they are, makes acts which would have no sin to be sinful, because they have this sin in them. And so, while thy besetting sin reigns in thy soul, it is the parent of many other sins; when it is destroyed many others die with it.

2. It is the sin which has most hold of thy mind, and so it is the cause why thou most often offendest God. It comes to thee oftenest, tempts thee most strongly, and where thou art the weakest and yieldest the most readily. It is called the besetting sin, because it continually besets thee — that is, it is always about thee, always on the watch for thee. It entangles thee at every step. More of a man's sins are done through his besetting sin than through all besides. It becomes his companion. He becomes so inured to it that he does not think of it as sin, or justifies it, or, at least, pleads to himself that his nature is weak and that he cannot help it. Nature is weak; but grace is strong, yea, almighty.

3. Then, too, it is the occasion of a man's worst sins, because a man yields his mind most to it, goes along with it, does it with pleasure. All sin is, to choose something else rather than God. But to choose a thing eagerly, with zest, taking delight in it against the wise love of God, this is the deadliest form of sin.

4. Then it will most likely be that, when not tempted in act, a man will be tempted to the thought of his besetting sin, both before and after. And so he acts his sin over again in thought, when he cannot in deed. Thus he may multiply his sin beyond all power of thought. Such, then, are grounds from the nature of the besetting sin itself, why thou shouldest earnestly and specially strive against it. It is thy deadliest enemy; that which most keeps thee from God, if unhappily thou art separated from Him; if not, still it is that which most offends Him, which hinders His love from flowing to thee and filling thee, which hinders thee from loving Him with thy whole heart. But then for thyself, too, it is thus that thou wilt have most courage to fight. It has been, no doubt, discouraging at some time to most of us that we could not become good all at once. Our garden, which we were to make clean, seemed full of weeds. They seemed to spring up fresh every day; how could we clean it? And so the weeds of our sins grew, as they would, left to themselves, with more luxuriant, foul rankness. It is said that one who thought thus, dreamed that He who had given him his garden to cleanse, came to him and asked him what he was doing. He said, "I lost all hope of cleaning my garden, so I laid down to sleep." His Good Father said to him, "Clean every day as much as thou coverest, where thou art lying, and all will be in time cleaned." So God speaks to us. "Set about some one thing for Me; set thyself to get rid of some one sin for love of Me, to become in one thing more pleasing to Me, and I will be with thee; I will give thee victory in this; I will lead thee on from victory to victory, from strength to strength; thou shalt 'run and not be weary; thou shalt walk, and not be faint.'" By the same strength by which thou prevailest over thy first enemy, thou shalt prevail over the rest. IN human warfare, those who fight are tired even by their victory; in Divine warfare, they are strengthened. For they fight not in human weakness, but in Divine strength; and " My strength," He says, "is made perfect in weakness." There is another good in fighting against thy besetting sin. Thou art gathered upon one point. Thou art striving with thy whole heart to please God in that point; thou wilt be asking for and using God's grace for this. But therewith, secretly, thou wilt be transformed thyself. In learning to subdue one sin, thou wilt have been learning how, in time, to subdue all. Thou wilt have learnt the wiles of the enemy, the weakness of thy own heart, the force of outward temptations, the need to avoid, if thou canst, the outward occasion, but, in any case, the necessity of resisting in the first moment of assault. Thou wilt know, for thyself, the might which God gives thee when thou so resistest, the power of instant prayer. Thou wilt have felt the peril of tampering with sin, the value of watchfulness, the danger of security after thou hast conquered. Thou wilt have tasted the blessedness of gathering up thy whole mind to serve God, and giving thyself to Him. morning by morning, to please Him in this, and not to displease Him. Thou wilt have known, in thine own soul, the value of obeying at once any suggestions which, by His Holy Spirit or in thy conscience, He giveth thee to avoid this or do that.

(E. B. Pusey, D. D.)


1. A propensity to particular sins may be complexional, derived from constitutional frame and temperament. Men are born with different propensities to pleasure, avarice, ambition, resentment, malice, envy, or the like. They may, indeed, by various methods be cultivated, and acquire vigour; but the seeds of them seem to be natural to the soil, and, in proportion to our neglect of them become still more difficult to be extirpated.

2. Another occasion of propensity to particular vices is, the power of custom or habit; which is commonly reputed a second nature, a kind of new nature ingrafted upon the former; and is often, in its influence and effects, not much inferior to it. It is to this principle, e.g., not to nature, that we may ascribe the vice of intemperance. Nature approves moderation; is disgusted and oppressed by excess. But custom leads men beyond the temperate limits marked out by nature into the extremes of intemperance; where, though nature denies them permanent pleasures, they form to themselves some that are fantastic, and subsist only in imagination. Another sin into which men are led by mere custom, and by nothing else, is the common practice of profaning the name of God.

3. Another occasion of a bias or inclination to some particular vice, may arise from our situation and condition of life. Every situation is exposed to some peculiar inconvenience; every condition of life to its own trials. Thus, affluence and poverty have each their respective inducements. And the same observation might be extended to the different periods of life, and to different professions and employments.

II. THE OBLIGATION INCUMBENT ON US, OF ENDEAVOURING TO CORRECT OR LAY IT ASIDE. The greater the propensity we feel in ourselves towards any culpable passion or failing, with the more care should we guard against it. It is in our power to maintain the authority of reason, to oppose the corruptions of our nature and the dominion of evil habits; to resist seducements from objects without, and temptations from passions within us. This is the proper work and business of religion: this the duty which God requires at our hands; and has therefore, undoubtedly, given us ability to perform. One great obstacle, indeed, to the correcting or guarding against the sin that most easily besets us, is the difficulty we often find in discovering and detecting it. Such likewise is the prepossession in our own favour, so flattering the glass that self-love holds before us, that this also prevents us from seeing our deformities, and marking the true features and complexion of the mind. Quick-sighted as we all are to the faults or foibles of others, we do not, or will not, with the same facility discern our own. Our passions are our apologists; they plead for our vices, and mislead our judg. ment. This may be a monition to us, to scrutinise with the strictest caution our own heart, to look well if there be any culpable inclination or passion lurking in it, that we may not be deceived by any flattering reports of our character made by self-partiality. To assist us in forming a Tight judgment of our conduct, and seeing it in a true light, the best method perhaps would be, to put ourselves as much as may be out of the question; to divest ourselves of all concern in it; and to suppose that we are passing judgment, not on ourselves, but on another person.

(G. Carr, B.A.)

The Preachers' Monthly.
I. THE BESETTING SIN IS A REALITY IN CHRISTIAN EXPERIENCE. Every character has its weak points, just as every fort and every line of battle.

II. THE BESETTING SIN HAS VARIOUS OUTWARD FORMS. Just as some diseases in the human system manifest themselves at one place in one person, and at another place in another person, so sinfulness in the moral system comes to the surface at different points in different people. To one person the besetting sin may be uncleanness of imagination; to another, irritability of temper. It not infrequently happens that several forms of the besetting sin afflict the same person. In some form or another we all have a besetting sin; and it greatly interferes with both our happiness and our usefulness.


1. Learn what our weak points are.

2. Pray every day for special help at the weak points.

3. Guard these points with special care.

4. Cultivate holiness in general.

5. There is great hope for those who are struggling for the mastery over besetting sins.

(The Preachers' Monthly.)

David Rittenhouse, of Pennsylvania, was a great astronomer. He was skilful in measuring the sizes of planets and determining the position of the stars. But he found that, such was the distance of the stars, a silk thread stretched across the glass of his telescope would entirely cover a star; and thus a silk fibre appeared to be larger in diameter than a star. Our sun is said to be 886,000 miles in diameter, and yet, seen from a distant star, could be covered, hidden behind a thread when that thread was stretched across the telescope. Just so we have seen some who never could behold the heavenly world. They always complained of dulness of vision when they looked in the heavenly direction. You might direct their eyes to the Star of Bethlehem through the telescope of faith and holy confidence; but, alas! there is a secret thread, a silken fibre, which, holding them in subserviency to the world, in some way obscures the light; and Jesus, the Star of Hope, is eclipsed, and their hope darkened. A very small sin, a very little self-gratification, may hide the light. To some, Jesus, as Saviour, appears very far off. He shall be seen where the heart lets nothing intervene.

At Sidler Tchiflik three men sprang on to the train just as it was starting, and clung to the carriage-doors. The guard saw them, but dared not push them off for fear of killing them, yet could not venture to stop the train on account of the delay this would have caused. He therefore beckoned to the men to creep slowly along the side of the carriages after him. It was a terrible walk, and made my blood run cold to see it. The poor men were wet, benumbed, and awkward. Each had a bundle on his shoulder — one on a stick, one on a gun, one on a sword. As they crept slowly along, hanging on for their lives, first one bundle, then another, dropped off, till at last, after an agony of suspense, they were safely landed in a cattle-truck, having lost the very little all that they possessed.

(Lady Brassey.)

The old proverb hath it, "Here's talk of the Turk and the Pope, but 'tis my next neighbour that does me the most harm." It is neither popery nor infidelity that we have half so much cause to dread as our own besetting sins. We want more Protestants against sin, more Dissenters from carnal maxims, and more Nonconformists to the world.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

A man's besetting sin is the one that jumps with his inclinations. Does he love mirthfulness? Then he must be careful lest he runs into excessive levity and play the harlequin. He will be tempted to make jests of sacred things. A minister ought not to be a monk; but neither should he be a social comedian. Does a man love ease? Then he always interprets those providences in his own favour which allow him to shirk hard work and swing in his hammock. Does he love flattery and eclat? Then he is tempted to seek applause, and to imagine that he is serving God when he is only burning incense on the altar of self-worship. The worst enemy is the one which wears an honest disguise, Look out for selfishness. It is the "old Adam" lurking behind every hedge. It will always keep place with you if you give it the upper baud. Keep no league with it; for Christ will never abide in the same heart with that subtle and greedy tyrant. A Christian is never safe, never strong, never true to Christ, unless he is constantly "collaring" ever sinful and selfish passion, and forcing it into unconditional surrender.

(T. L. Cuyler, D. D.)

Canon Wilberforce said that one day, while walking in the Isle of Skye, he saw a magnificent specimen of the golden eagle, soaring upward. He halted, and watched its flight. Soon he observed by its movements that something was wrong. Presently it began to fall, and soon lay dead at his feet. Eager to know the reason of its death, he hastily examined it, and found no trace of gunshot wound; but he found that it held in its talons a small weasel, which, in its flight, was drawn near its body, and had sucked the life blood from the eagle's breast. The same end befalls him who clings to some secret sin; sooner or later it will sap his life blood, and he falls.

(C. W. Bibb.)

There was but one crack in the lantern, and the wind has found it out and blown out the candle. How great a mischief one unguarded point of character may cause us!

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

The race that is set before us.
The Evangelical Preacher.

1. It is not any race, but a particular one. "The race set before us."

2. The introduction to this race is by regeneration (John 3:2, 7).

3. We must lay aside every hindrance that would impede our progress.


1. We must keep the course.

2. We must keep on in the way.

3. We must go on patiently under all difficulties.

4. We must keep the prize in view.

5. We must persevere to the end.


1. The certainty of having the prize.

2. The prize will be a glorious and enduring one.

3. The prize will be a just one. "Crown of righteousness."

4. The honour connected with the bestowment of this crown.

(The Evangelical Preacher.)


1. Those who have departed from us are existing. Death is not annihilation.

2. The dead are in a state of conscious activity. These men are not asleep, but observe.

3. They are not far from us, for we "are compassed about" by them.

4. They observe our line of life — are witnesses.


1. Religion requires self-denial.

2. Religion requires the conquest of sin.

3. Religion required personal effort.

4. Religion requires patience.

5. Religion requires thought and attention.


1. Our model is regarded as the inspirer of Christian life — "the author and finisher of our faith," — the originator in us of the life of God, which life can never be brought into maturity unless He becomes, by His gracious presence in the heart, its finisher.

2. Paul then refers to the Saviour's object in His life of toil — the object of His model life, "who for the joy," etc.

3. Finally, the apostle refers to the many sufferings, mental and physical, connected with His model life.

(E. Lewis, B. A.)

I. THE RACE is one of —

1. Christian knowledge.

2. Christian experience.

3. Christian duties.

4. Christian sufferings. The phrase implies




II. THE DUTIES connected with it. Lay aside every weight — sin of every kind — but particularly —

1. Attachment to the company with which formerly connected.

2. Love of the world, and inordinate attachment even to our lawful calling.

3. Improper fear of man; accommodation and compromise of the fear of God. And the besetting sin!


1. The cloud of witnesses. These are testifiers as well as spectators.

2. Jesus Himself. And He as an example also, "who for the ,joy," &c. Can we be tempted or suffer as He did? And remember, we, too, shall sit down on His throne.

(J. Summerfield, M. A.)

I. THE SPEED OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE. "Let us run." We must not sit still to be carried by the stream. We must not loiter and linger as children returning from a summer's ramble. We must not even walk as men with measured step. The idea of a race is generally competition; here it is only concentration of purpose, singleness of aim, intensity. How earnest men are around us! Newton poring over his problems till the midnight wind sweeps over his pages the ashes of his long extinguished fire. Reynolds sitting, brush in hand, before his canvas for thirty-six hours together, summoning into life forms of beauty that seemed glad to come. Dryden composing in a single fortnight his ode for St. Cecilia's Day. Buffon dragged from his beloved slumbers to his more beloved studies. And the beloved biographer, who records these traits, himself rising with the dawn to prepare for the demands of his charge. In a world like this, and with a theme like ours, we ought not to be languid, but devoted, eager, consumed with a holy love to God, and with a passion for the souls of men. Then should we make progress in the knowledge of the Word of God, and enter into the words of one of the greatest spiritual athletes that ever lived (Philippians 3:14).

II. WE MUST RUN FREE OF WEIGHTS. There would be little difficulty in maintaining an ardent spirit if we were more faithful in dealing with the habits and indulgencies which cling around us and impede our steps. Thousands of Christians are like water-logged vessels. They cannot sink, but they are so saturated with inconsistencies, and worldliness, and permitted evil, that they can only be towed with difficulty into the celestial port. There is an old Dutch picture of a little child dropping a cherished toy from its bands; and, at first sight, its action seems unintelligible, until, at the corner of the picture, the eye is attracted to a white dove winging its flight towards the emptied outstretched hands. Similarly we are prepared to forego a good deal, when once we catch sight of the spiritual acquisitions which beckon to us. And this is the true way to reach consecration and surrender. Do not ever dwell on the giving-up side, but on the receiving side. Keep in mind the meaning of the old Hebrew word for consecration, to fill the hand. There will not be much trouble in getting men to empty their hands of wood, hay, and stubble, if they see that there is a chance of filling them with the treasures, which gleam from the faces or lives of others, or which call to them from the page of Scripture. The world pities us, because it sees only what we give up; but it would hold its sympathy if it could also see how much we receive — "good measure, pressed down, and running over given into our bosoms."

III. WE MUST LAY ASIDE BESETTING SIN. "Let us lay aside the sin which doth so closely cling to us" (R.V.). We often refer to these words; but do we not misquote them in divorcing them from their context? We should read them as part of the great argument running through the previous chapter. That argument has been devoted to the theme of faith. And surely it is most natural to hold that the sin which so closely clings to us is nothing else than the sin of unbelief, which is the opposite pole to the faith so highly eulogised. If that be a correct exegesis, it sheds new light on unbelief. It is no longer an infirmity; it is a sin. Men sometimes carry about their doubts, as beggars a deformed or sickly child, to excite the sympathy of the benevolent. But surely there is a kind of unbelief which should not meet with sympathy, but rebuke. It is sin which needs to be repented, to be resisted, and to receive as sin the cleansing of Christ.

1. Let us remember that the course is set before us by our heavenly Father, who therefore knows all its roughnesses and straitnesses, and will make all grace abound toward us, sufficient for our need. To do His will is rest and heaven.

2. Let us look off unto Jesus. Away from past failure and success; away from human applause and blame; away from the gold pieces scattered on the path, and the flowers that line either side. Do not look now and again, but acquire the habit of looking always; so that it shall become natural to look up from every piece of daily work, from every room, however small, from every street, however crowded, to His calm face; just as the sojourner on the northern shores of Geneva's lake is constantly prone to look up from any book or work on which the attention may have been engaged, to behold the splendour and glory of the noble range of snowcapped summits on the further shores. And if it seems hard to acquire this habitual attitude, trust the Holy Spirit to form it in your soul. Above all, remember that where you tread there your Lord trod once, combating your difficulties and sorrows, though without sin; and ere long you shall be where He is now.

(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)

"Go ahead" was only half of David Crockett's motto — and not the most important half. "Be sure you are right" precedes. The faster the ship goes ahead, the greater the danger, if there is not a good watch on the bow and a strong hand on the wheel. To run well is of importance; to start right is of prime importance. "Let us run with patience the race that is set before us," says the sacred writer. A great many men lose the prize by dropping out of the text altogether the clause which we have put in italics. Every man must find his own race before he begins to run. God has a work for every man that no other man can do quite as well; and he succeeds best who quickest finds what that work is, and sets himself to do it. Many a good writer has been spoiled to make an insolvent merchant; not a few good housekeepers to make execrable poets; now and then an execrable mechanic to make a poor preacher. A race has been set before me; and it is my duty to find out what that race is, and run it, and not waste life in regrets that I cannot run a different one, or life's energies in unsuccessful attempts to do so.

I remember once climbing a great Alpine peak. I was fagged and out of sorts, and the strain was considerable. I was not enjoying it, but I knew I should enjoy it at the top. I had not any spare energy to talk or look about, so I kept looking for a couple of hours at the heels of the guide, who was in front and above me. That is going with patience. It is the holding out till the next glimpse of light comes from above. It is the determination of the runner, when the afternoon sun is blinding his eyes, and the afternoon languor weighing upon him, that he wilt run on.

(J. F. Ewing, M.A.)

Looking unto Jesus.
I. "The author and finisher of faith" must be looked to as THE ONLY TEACHER OF RELIGIOUS DOCTRINES.

II. "The author and finisher of faith" must be looked to as THE PREACHER AND EXEMPLAR OF CHRISTIAN MORALITY.

III. "The author and finisher of faith" must be looked to as THE ALONE PROCURER OF SALVATION.

(H. J. Stevenson, M. A.)

I. THE PERSON" SET FORTH HERE IS JESUS; He, whose name is the light and glory of Scripture; whose coming and work formed the subject of ancient type, and symbol, and prophecy.

1. We are led to consider Him in His Divine nature and character.

2. The person set forth in the text is to be considered in His most gracious undertaking on behalf of men.

II. THE HABIT COMMENDED — "Looking unto Jesus." This word expresses the mental posture, which the apostle would have all Christians maintain in relation to Jesus, their Saviour-God. It is not a single, unrepeated act that he wishes here to enforce, but a holy habit of soul. As the gaze of the mariner, steering his vessel through perilous seas, is perpetually fixed upon the compass, so we, voyaging to eternity through the treacherous waters of time, must have eye and heart centred on Christ, as the sole director of our progress. The word expresses a continuous and sustained action of the inner man. But it does more. It not only means " looking," as the translation gives it, but looking off, or away. We are taught to look away from all else to "Jesus only?' Let the counter attraction be what it may, its power is to be resisted: its spell is to be broken, and the full gaze of the soul is to concentrate itself on Immanuel alone, Now, in the direction of the apostle, as thus expounded, I think we are called to note particularly three suggested thoughts.

1. The entire sufficiency of Christ to meet all human requirements.

2. It is the sad tendency of man, notwithstanding, to turn to other dependencies.

3. This tendency must be corrected, in order to Christ's becoming all that He would be to any.

III. THE END CONTEMPLATED — that we may run well our Christian race; run it free from entanglement; run it with purity; run it with patience; run it with perseverance. Oh! is there anything that can compare with these objects in the estimation of a believer? We may well ask, then, how the " looking unto Jesus" will enable us to compass these objects; in other words, how it will secure that we shall run well our Christian race? And here the answer is threefold.

1. "Looking to Jesus" supplies the strongest motive to run well our Christian race; that is, love towards Himself. You know that fire and force are the effect of a supreme affection; how it makes light of difficulties, and changes leaden feet into feet of angel swiftness. Love lightens toil, and makes even waiting more than endurable.

2. "Looking to Jesus" furnishes all needful strength for running well our Christian race. This is the act on our part that appropriates it for our various occasions and exigencies; just as plants, by opening out their leaves, to them the organs of assimilation, imbibe the light and dew, and distribute sustenance through their entire structure, so we, by " looking to Jesus," receive those communications of a spiritual kind, upon which the life of our souls and the vigour of our Christian walk depend.

3. "Looking to Jesus " brings before us the highest example of a successful runner in the Christian race. When you are in doubt, ask, "What, in such a case, would my Master have done?"

(C. M. Merry, B. A.)


1. The best beings in the universe encourage it.


(2)Redeemed in heaven.

(3)Holiest on earth.

2. Our own needs demand it. We want a Mediator, Example, Friend, such as He is.

3. The great God enjoins it.

II. How?

1. By the study of His biography.

2. By communion with Christly souls.

3. By friendship with Himself.


1. At the beginning of the Christian life.

2. In all the encouragements and discouragements of life.

3. At death.

(U. R. Thomas.)

I. First, then, we are to look to Jesus as THE AUTHOR OF FAITH. The apostle would have us view the Lord Jesus as the starter of the race. When a foot-race began, the men were drawn up in a line, and they had to wait for a signal. Those who were in the race had to look to the starter; for the runner who should get first by a false start would not win, because he did not run according to the rules of the race. No man is crowned unless he strives lawfully. The starter was in his place, and the men stood all waiting and looking. Our word at starting in the Christian life is, "Look unto Jesus."

1. We have to look to Jesus, first, by trusting in that which He has wrought for us. It is described in these words: "Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the Cross, despising the shame."

2. We also begin looking unto Jesus because of what He has wrought in us.

II. But now we must look to Jesus as THE FINISHER OF FAITH. As Jesus is at the commencement of the course, starting the runners, so He is at the end of the course, the rewarder of those who endure to the end. Those who would win in the great race must keep their eyes upon Him all along the course, even till they reach the winning-post.

1. You will be helped to look to Him when you remember that He is the finisher of your faith by what He has wrought for you; for the text saith, "He endured the Cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." You also shall have heaven, for He has it; you shall sit upon the throne, for He sits there.

2. We are helped to run to the end, not only by what Jesus has done for us, but by what Jesus is doing in us.(1) You that are in the middle of the race, remember that Jesus sustains you. Every atom of your strength for running comes from your Lord. Look to Him for it.(2) We are not only sustained by looking unto Jesus, but we are inspirited thereby. A sight of the exalted Leader fires the zeal of each believer, and makes him run like a roe or a young hart.(3) Looking unto Jesus, you will get many a direction; for, as He sits at the winning-post, His very presence indicates the way.(4) Look to Jesus, for by that look He draws you. The great magnet up yonder is drawing us towards itself. Christ's cords of love give us speed.

III. Let us next consider our Lord Jesus as THE PATTERN OF OUR FAITH. Run, as Jesus ran, and look to Him as you run, that you may run like Him. How did our Lord pursue His course?

1. You will see this if you first note His motive: "Who for the joy that was set before Him." The chief end of man is to glorify God; let it be my chief end, even as it was my Lord's. Oh, that I might glorify Thee, my Creator, my Preserver, my Redeemer! To this end was I born, and for this end would I live in every action of my life. We cannot run the race set before us unless we feel thus.

2. Wherein are we to imitate Jesus?(1) First, we are to copy His endurance. He " endured the Cross." Ours is a trifling cross compared with that which pressed Him down; but He endured it. He took it up willingly, and carried it patiently.(2) Imitate your Lord in His magnanimity. He endured the Cross, "despising the shame." Shame is a cruel thing to many hearts. Our Lord shows us how to treat it. See, He puts His shoulder under the Cross; but He sets His foot upon the shame. He endures the one, but He despises the other.(3) Our Saviour is to be imitated in His perseverance. For the joy that was set before Him, He endured the Cross, despising the shame, and "is set down." He never stopped running till He could sit down at the right hand of the throne of God; and that is the only place where you may sit down.

IV. Lastly, our text sets before us Jesus as THE GOAL OF FAITH We are to run "looking unto Jesus" as the end that we should aim at. True faith neither goes away from Christ Jesus, nor takes a roundabout road to Jesus, nor so much as dreams of going beyond Jesus. Now, we are to run towards Him, looking unto Him. Looking to Jesus and running to Jesus will look well and run well together. The eyes outstrip the feet; but this also is well, for the feet will thus be made to move the faster. Look you that you may see more of Jesus. Let us run towards Jesus, that we may grow more like Him. It is one of the virtues of Jesus that He transforms into His own image those who look at Him. He photographs Himself upon all sensitive hearts. Run, that you may come nearer to Jesus. Seek after more near and dear fellowship with Him.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

The word denotes the unfixing of the eye from other objects, and the fixing it upon Him; the turning away of your vision from other attractions, either without or within, and turning them to Jesus only. This is the true position for the soul; and according as we occupy this position, will be the growth of our peace, of our holiness, of our strength and zeal.

1. The eye thus fixed upon Him must, however, be no divided eye, partly fixed on others, partly on Him. Nothing above or beneath must divide your eye, or withdraw Him from your gaze.

2. Again, it must be no wandering eye, as if it might roam over every object in the universe, provided only He were among the number. He must be the great central fascination, on which the eye fixes itself, and to which it ever reverts if for a moment it is withdrawn. There is no other object worthy of our gaze, no other fitted to fill our souls.

3. Again, it must be no careless or unwilling eye. A forced gaze there cannot be; a careless gaze on an object so Divinely glorious, so infinitely attractive, seems altogether incredible when you consider to whom you are looking. On Him all heaven is gazing, and can you turn away? On Him the Father is looking and saying, "Let thine eye rest where Mine is resting," and can you turn away, as if not satisfied with that which satisfies the Infinite Father?

I. IN LOOKING, WHAT DO WE SEE? We see one who is the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of His person, the everlasting Son of the Father, yet, at the same time, bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh — our kinsman, our brother. We see in Him God — God over all, yet an infant of days: God, yet a sorrowing man: God, yet a crucified criminal: God, yet a dying, buried man. The perfection of Godhead is in Him, yet the reality of manhood too. The infinite heart of God, yet the finite heart of man. Divine love, yet also human love. Condescending love as God, sympathising love as man. Paternal love as God, fraternal love as man. All excellency, all glory, all beauty, all perfection to be found in Him — unsearchable riches — for in Him "it hath p]eased the Father that all fulness should dwell." But look a little deeper and what do you see? You see in this God-man, the Sin-bearer, "the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world." You see in Him one clothed and furnished thus, as I have described Him, but clothed and furnished for the very purpose of being a fitting and sufficient sacrifice; the propitiation for our sins. We see in Him one who can take our very place, one who can stand where we should have stood before God, one who can bear what we should have borne, one who can endure what we should have endured.

II. IN LOOKING, HOW ARE WE AFFECTED? These things are not fitted merely to call up wonder; they go down into the very depths of our spiritual being, producing there the mightiest results, and effecting the most wondrous revelations and transformations.

1. In looking, the first thing that strikes us is the difference and contrast between our character and His. The first glimpse we get of Him makes us feel the extent of our sinfulness, our unlikeness to Him; and there is nothing so effectual for giving a sense of sin, or for deepening a sense of sin as this looking to the Holy One.

2. But then, in looking, a second thing that startles us is the full provision that is made in Him for meeting and for removing all these imperfections in us; so that the more that, in looking, we are troubled at the sight of our own hideous sinfulness, the more are our consciences pacified by the view which we get of His sin-bearing work as the " Lamb without blemish and without spot" — "the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world."

III. IN LOOKING, WHAT DO WE LEARN? We see in Jesus a model, and we begin to imitate Him. We see in Him the doer of the Father's will, and we learn to do that will as He did it. We see in Him a willing sufferer for others, and we learn willingly to suffer. We see in Him a man that pleased not Himself, and we learn not to please ourselves. We see in Him a pattern of all meekness, and submissiveness, and gentleness, and kindness, and we learn from Him to be meek, and lowly, and gentle, and submissive, and kind, and humble — and thus it is that in looking to Him we are changed into His image from "glory to glory even as by the Spirit of the Lord." Thus it is that in looking away from other objects we are prevented from imbibing the evil influences to which they have too long subjected us; and in looking to Him we are brought under the efficacious power of higher, purer, nobler, diviner influences. But the great feature in which the apostle presents Christ to us is His faith. He showed us how to believe, and believe even on this earth where there is everything to tempt our faith and to cherish unbelief. He showed us how to live by faith upon the Father, even in a world like this, that has cast off the Father. Let us look to Him then and learn of Him, let us look to His footsteps and walk in them, following where He has led the way, and planting our feet where we find that His have been planted before us.

(H. Boner, D. D.)

Here is a young man carrying something through a crowded Eastern market-place, or bazaar. It is a vessel with water in it. Observe how earnest and intent his face is, and how he never allows his eye to wander for a moment to what is going on round him I His teacher has told him to carry the vessel full of water — full to the very brim, through the bazaar, and to bring it back without having spilled a drop. And now you see the young man returning, pleased and triumphant, because he has succeeded in obeying the command. Not a single drop has been lost. The old teacher praises him, and then asks him what he saw as he was passing through the bazaar. "Saw! " cries the young man, "why, I saw nothing." "How can that be?" replies the teacher, "for I know that the very time when you were in the bazaar the Sultan with some of his chief attendants went by." "Well, that may be," said the young man; "but how could I see anything, or anybody, when I had my eyes fixed upon the water the whole time, and could think of nothing but how to carry it without spilling, as you told me to do?" "Ah!" said the teacher, "now you can understand how we may be so entirely occupied with some work that God has given us to do, as to be quite unconscious of the sinful pleasures of the world, which strive to attract our attention as we are passing through them."

I. We regard the Lord Jesus AS OUR ONLY HOPE OF SALVATION. If we were standing on a wreck as it was settling down in the ocean, and a lifeboat were to come up alongside, what should we do? We should leave the wreck altogether — leave it behind us, "look away" from it, and jump into the lifeboat. Jesus Christ, then, is our only hope of salvation.

II. HE IS OUR ONLY EXAMPLE TO IMITATE. I have read somewhere of a traveller, who with his guide was crossing a high mountain in Switzerland. After journeying many miles, they came at last to a very dangerous pass, where just a little shelf of rock, and that partly worn away in places by the rain, ran round the face of a precipitous cliff, and was the only pathway by which they could possibly ascend to the top. Try to imagine their situation! Above them rose a steep rock, up the face of which no human being could climb, and below them was a precipice which went down straight, without a break, for nearly a thousand feet. And the traveller's heart — though he was a courageous man — began to beat fast, and his head began to swim, until he was in danger of falling over and being killed. The guide seeing this, called out (I should tell you that the guide was walking in front), "Do not look up or down, or you are a lost man. Look away from everything at me. Keep your eyes fixed on me, and where I set my foot, there do you place yours." The traveller obeyed this command; the dizziness and the fear went away; and both the men crossed safely over the terrible pass. This story has always reminded me of " looking away" unto Jesus, and of His leaving us an example that we should follow His steps.

III. HE IS THE ONLY BESTOWER OF ALL THE BLESSINGS WHICH WE ENJOY. Every good gift, and every perfect gift comes to us through Him. He is the channel which connects us with God. If we think a good thought, or do a good deed, it is owing to Christ. Shall we run negligently, as if we did not care much about it? No; we will run earnestly. Shall we give up when we have run part of the way? No; for it is " he that endureth to the end that shall be saved," and it were better never to have begun at all, than to begin and then leave off. Shall we say, "How hard, how tiresome it is to run this Christian race?" No; for the Lord Jesus Christ is with us all the time, strengthening, encouraging, upholding us.

(G. Calthrop, M. A.)


1. "Looking unto Jesus," in recognition of the relation of Jesus to us. As redeemed men this Jesus is all in all to us. He is called by various names: the last Adam, the Amen, the Alpha, the Omega, the Advocate, the Angel, our Apostle, Bread of Life, our Captain, our Chief Shepherd, the Chief Corner Stone, the Counsellor, the Day Spring, the Witness, the Great High Priest, the Head, the King, the Lamb, our Leader, our Life, our Light, the Star, the Morning Star, the Rock, the True Vine, the Way, the Word of God.

2. "Looking unto Jesus," for direction from Jesus. He is our Master, and He appoints our services. He is our Teacher, He gives us our lessons. He is our Lord, He confers upon us all true honour and all real reward. He is our elder Brother; and acting the part of a Father. He provides for us, and He has charge of us.

3. "Looking unto Jesus" for the varied and constant help which He affords. Every name by which He is called represents some service which He is prepared to render to us, or is actually rendering us, or some particular aspect of some service. In truth, Christ is to you what you require Him to be, if you will only let Him be what you need Him to be.

4. "Looking unto Jesus," in confident expectation of the fulfilment of all His promises. Looking, therefore, as an expectant of blessings. Well, this involves knowledge of His power and trust in it. Knowledge, too, of His veracity, and of His fidelity, and a corresponding confidence.

5. "Looking unto Jesus" for recognition and for sanction. Why is it that so many Christians are so miserable, so out of temper, so weak? You find the reason here: they are always looking for recognition and sanction from men, from the Church of God, from their fellow disciples, and sometimes where they never ought to look for it, from the men of this world. Do you see how this is forbidden by the text? You are not to live looking to the disciples, you are not to live looking to the Church for recognition and for sanction, but turning your eyes upwards you are to be in a position to say with Peter, "Lord, Thou knowest all things, Thou knowest that I love Thee." The mere professor does not think of thus "looking unto Jesus"; he keeps looking entirely at himself. The hypocrite, too, dare not look unto Jesus — he dare not. He has impudence enough, but he dare not look unto Jesus. He keeps his eye away from the eye of the Master. The backslider, too, he temporarily has ceased to look upon Jesus.

6. "Looking unto Jesus," moreover, as an object of love. "Whom having not seen, ye love."

II. THE REASON FOR IT. "Jesus is the author and finisher of faith." Every wise man has a reason for his conduct, and every good man a good reason. A Christian should be the most intelligent, and rational of his class. If he be "looking unto Jesus," he ought to know the reason why. Why look unto Jesus? Why not to himself? Why not to the cloud of witnesses? Why not to his fellows in the race? Why look unto Jesus? The apostle gives the answer. "Jesus is the author and finisher of faith."

1. In the first place Jesus occupies a singular position as it respects faith. He is "the author, or prince of faith," being Himself the highest example of faith. Does it occur to you that when Christ bids you believe, He bids you do what He did? He was a believer. His human nature had in it the strongest possible faith, and on this account you may call Jesus " the prince of faith." But He is "the prince of faith" in another sense.

2. We speak now of Christ as a man (not ignoring, however, His Divine nature), and we say of Him, that He is "the author or prince of faith," because He is the first man who on this earth has maintained faith. The first Adam lost faith in God; and no man could set Adam the first up as a prince; but the second Adam maintained faith even in the severest trials, and, therefore, you may call Jesus " the prince of faith."

3. Again, He is "the prince of faith" as leading us into faith. He goes before us in the path of faith, and as leading us into faith, and as guiding us into this path, He is "the author," or the "prince of faith." Then, as Himself continuing in faith to the end, He is "the finisher." And as maintaining and consummating our faith He is also "the finisher." Is our race faith? God commands that faith to Himself. He says, believe on Me. Is our race faith? God draws that faith more and more strongly to Himself. He can keep it, and He alone can maintain it. Therefore in running this race of faith, it is our manifest duty to run, "looking unto Jesus" "the prince," mark, in all these respects, "of faith."

(S. Martin.)


1. Because He is the supremest object of human interest. When we remember everything that goes to make up what we may call "the things of Christ," the preparation for His coming, and all that centred in Him, the various movements of the preceding generations, the symptomatic changes alike in the political and religious condition of men; then His own history, when He went about living His life, speaking His words, doing His work; and then what He has since been, the place He has taken in human regard, the influence He has exercised upon human life — what a wondrous series of interesting objects we meet with!

2. Because we find in Him the answer to the deepest needs of our souls.

3. Because He is the dearest object of human love.


1. Look at Him in the scenes of His earthly career.

2. Look at Him in the place of His atoning death.

3. Look at Him on the throne of His triumphant mediation.


1. In the time of your temptation.

2. In the moment of penitence. By thy side He stands with an arm extended, and will take thee back to His bosom and His love.

3. In the hour of need. That is every hour, for every hour am I needy, and always do I require that Saviour to be near.

(L. D. Bevan.)

The expression before us is one of the pithy golden sayings which stand out here and there on the face of the New Testament, and demand special attention. It is like "to me to live is Christ," "Christ is all and in all," "Christ who is our life," "He is our peace," "I live by the faith of the Son of God." To each and all of these sayings one common remark applies. They contain far more than a careless eye can see on the surface. But the grand question which rises out of the text is this: What is that we are to look at in Jesus?

I. First and foremost, if we would look rightly to Jesus, we must look daily at His DEATH, as the only source of inward peace. We all need peace. Now there is only one source of peace revealed in Scripture, and that is the sacrifice of the death of Christ, and the atonement which He has made for sin by that vicarious death on the Cross. To obtain a portion in that great peace, we have only to look by faith to Jesus, as our substitute and Redeemer.

II. In the second place, if we would look rightly to Jesus, we must look daily to His LIFE OF INTERCESSION, in heaven, as our principal provision of strength and help. While we are fighting Amalek in the valley below, one greater than Moses is holding up His hands for us in heaven, and through His intercession we shall prevail.

III. In the third place, if we would look rightly to Jesus, we must look at His EXAMPLE as our chief standard of holy living. We must all feel, I suspect, and often feel, how hard it is to regulate our daily lives by mere rules and regulations. But surely it would cut many a knot and solve many a problem if we could cultivate the habit of studying the daily behaviour of our Lord as recorded in the four Gospels, and striving to shape our own behaviour by its pattern. We may well be humbled when we think how unlike the best of us are to our example, and what poor blurred copies of His character we show to mankind. Like careless children at school we are content to copy those around us with all their faults, and do not look constantly at the only faultless copy, the One perfect man in whom even Satan could find nothing. But one thing at any rate we must all admit. If Christians during the last eighteen centuries had been more like Christ, the Church would certainly have been far more beautiful, and probably have done far more good to the world.

IV. Fourthly, and lastly, if we would look to Jesus rightly, we must look forward to His SECOND ADVENT, AS THE TRUEST FOUNTAIN OF HOPE AND CONSOLATION. That the early Christians were always looking forward to a second coming of their risen Master, is a fact beyond all controversy. In all their trials and persecutions, under Roman Emperors and heathen rulers, they cheered one another with the thought that their own King would soon come again, and plead their cause. It ought to be the consolation of Christians in these latter days as much as it was in primitive times.

(Bishop Ryle.)

The great object on which we are to fix our gaze, all through life is — Jesus. It is with Him, above all else, that we must have to do.

1. "Looking unto Jesus," we are to trust Him as our Saviour. The first thing we want is a Saviour. I once saw a ship at sea, off the east coast of Scotland, in a storm. Her sails were torn to tatters, her masts were broken, her anchor was dragging. It needed no signal of distress, for it was within sight of the shore. We could hardly keep our feet out of doors. The wind blew a hurricane and the rain pelted. Those of us who could, got into the shelter of the pier, and, glass in hand, watched the movements of the hard-pressed sloop. The lifeboat was launched and pushed through the surf, and after being carried past the vessel once and again, at length got alongside of those who so much needed help. That lifeboat came to them as a saviour. And how were they saved? By trusting it. But perhaps some of you say, "What has all this to do with 'looking unto Jesus'? The text is about 'looking,' not trusting." Well, but "looking" means trusting. A poor but respectable widow once called on me in great distress. She had fallen behind with her rent, and her landlord had threatened to sell every article of furniture she had, and to turn her and her children to the street. I told her I would see to the matter, and that she might look to me for her rent. She went joyfully home, and I can suppose her children to have said to her, "Mother, how are you looking so happy? Have you got the money?" "No," she answers, "but it is all right. The minister said I might look to him for the rent, and I know it is as sure as if I had the money in my hand." That just means — she trusted me for it. The looking and the trusting were one and the same thing. Now, the Lord Jesus bids you look to Him — away from all else — away from your own doing or deserving- away from the godliest and best friends you have. He says, "None of them can save you." He says, "Look unto Me and be saved: for I am God."

2. "Looking unto Jesus" — we are to copy Him as our pattern. Now in the chapter before that from which our text is taken (chap. 11.), you have a wonderful list of worthies. It is just like a portrait-gallery, containing the likenesses of some of the best men the world ever saw. And as you read the descriptions you might ask, "May we take these as our pattern?" Well, so far, and yet only so far. They were not perfect patterns, and so are not safe to be followed in everything. And so the writer points away from them all, and as it were, says, "Do not stop at these. Do not be content to copy these. I can give you better than any of them all — a higher, safer, surer guide." You cannot keep too close to Him. You cannot copy Him too exactly. In the smallest things as in the greatest, seek to be what He was, to do what He did, to follow in His footsteps.

3. "Looking unto Jesus "-we are to lean upon Him as our strength. Perhaps you say, "It must be very difficult to be what Christ was — to do what Christ did. He was so good and I am so evil: He was so strong and I am so weak: He was so bold and I am so cowardly. Indeed, it seems impossible. I do not see how it could ever be." But if He were to give you His strength, it would not be so difficult, would it? Sometimes when I have been coming home late at night, after a long day's work, I have felt very tired, and the uphill parts of the road seemed very long and very steep. But a friend came alongside, and when I put my arm into his, and had his support and his company, the tiredness left me, and I could have walked half a dozen of miles, and sometimes did walk backwards and forwards for a good half hour. His arm and his company were strength to me. That is what Jesus does. He says, "Lean on Me! Lean hard!" He, as it were, lets you put your arm into His. He lets you draw upon His strength.

(J. H. Wilson, D. D.)

The Weekly Pulpit.

1. Saviour.

2. Master.

3. Example.


1. Common duty.

2. Times of temptation.

3. Difficulties.

4. Means of grace.


1. Trustful.

2. Obedient.

3. Loving.

(The Weekly Pulpit.)

1. The first of these is peace; peace with God, and peace in the conscience. True peace comes from God the Father, through the blood of Jesus; and can only be enjoyed by looking unto Him.

2. Humiliation is another advantage derived from looking to Jesus. The heart of man is naturally proud; and will never be effectually humbled, but by a believing contemplation of the greatest example of humility that ever appeared in the world. That humiliation, especially, which becomes us as rebellious creatures, will be best promoted by looking at a suffering Saviour, bending under the load of our guilt in the garden and on the Cross. Who can make a mock at sin, that beholds the awful severity of God in punishing it in the person of His innocent Son, our Surety? Who can be proud, when he sees the Lord of all, destitute of a place where to lay His head, and enduring poverty and shame for our sakes?

3. This also affords the best lesson of patience; and for this purpose particularly, we are exhorted, in the text, to look to Jesus; for, it is added, He "endured the Cross, despising the shame." If we would be Christians indeed, we must "arm ourselves with the same mind" (1 Peter 4:1); and, according to His direction, deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him (Matthew 16:24).

4. Love is the fulfilling of the law, and the most powerful principle of gospel holiness. But how shall this be obtained? We answer, By looking unto Jesus. "We love Him, because He first loved us" (1 John 4:19). The love of our brother is closely connected with the love of God; the former can never exist without the latter, and always accompanies it. Looking to Jesus, the Friend of sinners, who came to seek and to save the lost, who went about doing good, is the most effectual means of curing the selfishness of our hearts, of softening the asperity of our tempers, and of exciting compassion and benevolence in our souls, towards all our fellow-men.

5. Looking to Jesus is the best expedient to destroy our inordinate regard to this present world. Christ was dead to it, and separate from it; and He says to His followers, "Ye are not of the world, even as I am not of the world" (John 17:16). A glance of His glory, and a sense of interest in His favour, will make us indifferent alike to its smiles and its frowns; and all the glittering objects that men pursue with such avidity, will appear as unworthy of our affections as the painted toys of children.

6. There is one more advantage to be expected from looking to Jesus; an advantage of such magnitude, that we may challenge the universe to equal it, and that is, ability to meet death with calmness and joy. Here is a triumph peculiar to the gospel; a triumph far superior to those of kings and conquerors; a triumph over the king of terrors. Looking to Jesus, who has borne the whole of the punishment due to our sins, we are no longer to consider it as penal; this is the sting of death, which He has extracted (2 Timothy 1:10).

(G. Barrier.)

The reason why the men of the world think so little of Christ is, they do not look at Him. Their backs being turned to the sun, they can see only their own shadows, and are, therefore, wholly taken up with themselves. While the true disciple, looking only upward, sees nothing but his Saviour, and learns to forget himself.

(E. Payson.)

News had come from the left that Winter's Brigade near the river was giving way. Stonewall Jackson rode down to see what it meant. As he passed on the brink of the ravine his eye caught the scene, and reining up in a moment, be said, "Colonel, you seem to have trouble down there." Then he dashed on. He found that his old brigade had yielded slightly to overwhelming pressure. Galloping up, he was received with a cheer, and calling out at the top of his voice, "The Stonewall Brigade never retreats: follow me! "led them back to their original line.

(H. O. Mackey.)

"Is your faith strong?" a Christian man was asked a few days before his death. "No, but my Jesus is," was his reply.

A lady had a dream, in which she fancied herself at the bottom of a deep pit. She looked round to see if there were any way of getting out; but in vain. Presently, looking upward, she saw in that part of the heavens immediately above the mouth of the pit a beautiful bright star. Steadily gazing at it, she felt herself to be gradually lifted upward. She looked down to ascertain how it was, and immediately found herself at the bottom of the pit. Again her eye caught sight of the star, and again she felt herself ascending. She had reached a considerable height. Still desirous of an explanation of so strange a phenomenon, she turned her eye downward, and fell to the bottom with fearful violence. On recovering from the effect of the shock, she bethought herself as to the meaning of it all, and once again turned her eye to the star, still shining so brightly above, and yet once again felt herself borne upward. Steadily did she keep her eye upon its light, till, at length, she found herself out of the horrible pit, and her feet safely planted on the solid ground above. It taught her the lesson, that, in the hour of danger and trouble, deliverance is to be found, and found only, by looking unto Jesus.

(T. Guthrie.)

"Have you got it?" is a question often asked now. I remember being asked this, and I could not help replying, "I have got Him, and with Him all the its." God does not give us Christ piecemeal, but wholly. We have a whole Christ, or no Christ. Now, while God does not give us a single blessing apart from Christ, yet in and with Him we have all spiritual blessings. As a matter of fact that is true to every believer, but as matter of experience it is not always so. "I have lost my peace," groaned a saint one day. We replied, "Have you lost your Saviour?" "Oh, no!" "Well, then, He is our peace." "I forgot that." Just so, lose sight of Christ, and away go your feelings; and the way not to get your feelings back is to look for them, the way to get them is not to look for them, but to look to Him. Remember there is in Christ for you a fulness of acceptance, therefore do not doubt Him; there is fulness of peace, therefore trust Him; there is fulness of life, therefore abide in Him; there is fulness of blessing, therefore delight in Him; there is fulness of power, therefore wait upon Him; there is ful-ness of grace, therefore receive from Him; there is fulness of love, therefore be taken up with Him; there is fulness of teaching, therefore learn of Him; there is fulness of joy, therefore rejoice in Him; there is fulness of fulness in Him, therefore be full in Him; there is fulness of riches, therefore count upon Him; there is fulness of strength, therefore lean upon Him; there is fulness of light, therefore walk with Him; and there is fulness of energy, therefore be subject to Him.

(T. E. Marsh.)

The painter who undertakes to copy some masterpiece of art, sits down before it, sketches the outline upon his own canvas, reproduces the colouring of the model, adds item by item to his picture, constantly looking upon the original, noting its qualities and the deficiencies of his work, till, by scrupulous care and untiring endeavour, he has produced a facsimile of the original. The Christian's work is kindred. He has a better model, even Christ; but a harder task, for his canvas is treacherous and his work is life long.

Two boys were playing in the snow one day, when one said to the other, "Let us see who can make the straightest path in the snow." His companion readily accepted the proposition, and they started. One boy fixed his eyes on a tree, and walked along without taking them off the object selected. The other boy set his eyes on the tree also, and, when he had gone a short distance, he turned, and looked back to see how true his course was. He went a little distance farther, and again turned to look over his steps. When they arrived at their stopping place, each halted and looked back. One path was true as an arrow, while the other ran in a zigzag course. "How did you get your path so true?" asked the boy who had made the crooked steps. "Why," said the other boy, "I just set my eyes on the tree, and kept them there until I got to the end; while you stopped and looked back, and wandered out of your course." Just so is the Christian life. If we fix the eyes of our hope, our trust, and our faith upon Jesus Christ, and keep them continually fastened thereon, we will at last land at the desired haven, with flowers of immortal victory at our feet.

(C. W. Bibb.)

The scene opens in a dark and silent chamber. Doctor Franklin is lying on his deathbed. For weeks and weeks he has been prostrate with disease. That active mind, which so long had been occupied with things of earth, was busied now with higher and nobler contemplations. He bids the nurse go down and bring a picture which he named, and fasten it on the wall opposite his bed, that he might look upon it when he pleased. And what think you that picture was? Some ancient historic heirloom, which he dearly prized? Some scene of stirring interest, in which he, the great philosopher of his age, had borne a conspicuous part? No! It was a picture of our blessed Saviour on the Cross; and Doctor Franklin, whom many, in these evil days, have desired to make an infidel outright, died while gazing upon it with wistful eyes, his whole countenance lighted up with a sweet and placid smile. Poor and pitiable are the hopes of the moralist or the philosopher who does not look to Christ Jesus as his Redeemer.

The Author and Finisher of our faith.
Consider the remarkable aspects and relationships in reference to our faith in which Christ is here set forth.

I. FIRST WE HAVE HIM AS LEADER AND COMMANDER OF THE GREAT ARMY OF THE FAITHFUL, JESUS, THE AUTHOR OF "OUR FAITH." Christ is here represented, not so much as one who begins faith in men's hearts, but as the Leader of all the long procession of those who live by faith. True, the heroes whose names are enrolled in the glorious catalogue of the preceding chapter were before Him in time. But the commander may march in the centre, as well as in the van, and even in order of time; He is the Beginner or Leader, inasmuch as He is the first who ever lived a perfect life of faith. We do not give sufficient prominence in our thoughts of Christ's earthly life, to this aspect of it — that it was one of faith. He is our pattern in this as in all that belongs to humanity. His life was a life of faith, whose breath was prayer. For faith is dependence upon God, and surely never did human being so utterly hang upon the Father, nor submit himself so absolutely to be moulded and determined by Him, nor yield his will up so completely to that will. Faith is communion, and surely never did a spirit dwell so unbrokenly, in such deep and constant realisation of a Divine presence and a Divine sustaining, as did that Christ who could say "the Father hath not left Me alone, for I do always the things that please Him." Faith is the vivid realisation of the unseen; and surely never was there a life lived amidst the shows and illusions of time which so manifestly and transparently was all passed in the vivid consciousness of that unseen world, as was the life of that Son of Man, who, in the midst of all earth's engagements, could call Himself " the Son of Man which is in heaven." Faith is a life of assured confidence of an unseen hope, and surely never was there a life which was so entirely dominated by that unseen hope as His life, who, "For the joy that was set," &c.

II. THERE IS ADDED A VERY SIGNIFICANT EXPRESSION, WHICH LEADS US TO CONSIDER CHRIST NEXT AS BEING SET FORTH HERE AS THE "FINISHER," OR PERFECTER, "OF FAITH." It would be a very poor affair if all we had to say to men was: "There is a beautiful example; follow it! " Copybooks are all very well, but you want something more than copybooks, A so-called Christianity that has nothing more to say about Jesus Christ than that He is the perfect example of all human excellences, and of faith too, is not the one for a poor man that has found out the plague of his own heart, and the weakness of his own will. He wants something that will come a great deal closer to him than that. And so my text tells us that Jesus is not only "the Leader of faith," but the "Perfecter" of it too. He will set you the pattern, and then, if you will let Him, He will come into your hearts, and make you able to copy the pattern. He will perfect faith by the implanting in your hearts of His own spirit and His own life. He will lead our faith to sovereign power in our lives, if we will only let Him do it, by another way, too — by the path of discipline and of sorrow; drawing away our hearts from earthly things and fixing them upon Himself; making the world dark that the sky above may be brighter, and revealing Himself to our loneliness as the all-sufficient companion. So He perfects our faith. And He will do it in another way too, by the rewards and blessings which He will give to the imperfect and tentative exercise of our confidence, over-answering our petitions, and flooding us with more than we expected when we tremulously tried to trust on Him; and so inducing us to be bolder in our confidence, and to venture further afield. Thus, He draws us further out into the great sea of His love. And not only so, but in another aspect that dear Lord is the Perfecter of our faith, inasmuch as He gives to our faith at the last that which is its aim and end. A thing is perfected when it either reaches its highest degree, or when it attains its object. And so Christ is the Perfecter of our faith, not only in the sense that He raises and educates it up to its loftiest form, but also that He bestows upon it at the last that which is, as Peter says, its "end," or perfecting, even the salvation of our souls. And in this aspect we may almost take the word "Perfecter" here to be equivalent to that of the other idea of rewarder. Our faith is perfected when the unseen things are unveiled, when the communion with God is complete, when we shall see Christ as He is, and clasp Him in the close embrace of heaven, and when the crown of life is bestowed which He has promised to them that love Him.

III. THAT LEADS ME TO SAY ONE LAST WORD ABOUT THAT "LOOKING TO JESUS" WHICH IS THE INDISPENSABLE CONDITION OF "RUNNING THE RACE THAT IS SET BEFORE US." It must be a believing look. It must be a loving look. The occupation of heart and mind with Jesus Christ is the secret of practical Christianity. It is an education to love Him and live with Him. Transformation comes by beholding. The eye that looks upon the light has an image of the light formed upon its ball, and the man that looks to Christ gets like Christ, and "beauty born of" that gaze "shall pass into his face." Look to Him as the sustainer of your faith. In your feebleness, when life is low, when hope is almost dead, when temptations are tyrannous and strong, think of Him, and think in trust. Look to Him as your rewarder, and be of good cheer, and let the prospect of that great crown stimulate and sustain and lift you above the ills and the sorrows of life. And last of all, there is an untranslated preposition in one of the words of my text to which, perhaps, it is not straining too much to give emphasis. The full rendering of the expression "looking" is looking away. That points to the need of looking off from something else, that we may look up to Him. It always takes a resolute effort fixedly to contemplate, and to bring heart and mind really into contact with unseen things and unseen persons. And it takes a very strenuous effort to bring the unseen Christ before the mind habitually, and so as to produce effects in the life. You cannot see the stars when you are walking down a town street, and the gas-lamps are lit. All those violet depths and calm abysses and blazing worlds are concealed from you by the glare at your side — sulphurous and stinking. So, my brother, if you want to see into the depths and the heights, to see the great white throne and the Christ on it who helps you to fight, you have to go out unto Him beyond the camp, and leave all its dazzling lights behind you.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

For the joy that was set before Him.
: — I want to speak to you of the joyfulness of Christ Jesus, and of the genius of Christianity as resulting from this fact; and I speak, being conscious of the great misconception which has flowed, for at least a thousand years, down through the Church, and which has clouded the public sentiment of the Christian community to this hour — namely, that Christ was a sufferer through life, and that sorrow is the distinguishing characteristic of the Saviour's experience; and that although there are gleams of joy in the Christian life, all who enter upon it must enter upon it with a distinct understanding that its characteristic element is sorrowfulness, or cross-bearing. Now, I aver that it happens to no individual in his lifetime to experience so much joy as was compressed into the life of Jesus Christ; and a very slight examination of His history would make it incontrovertible. You will bear in mind that He was born a Hebrew peasant, but that He was of a lineage very noble. In His veins ran the best blood of the Jewish nation. He was a favourite from the beginning; for blood told then in the estimation of men as much as it has ever done. You will observe that Christ had the ordinary experience which men have, of being a child, and of being loved by His father and mother and His brothers and sisters. He went through all the experiences of babyhood, of early boyhood, of youth, and came into full-orbed manhood without any moral disturbance of which we are aware — without any convulsion that threw Him out of the ordinary experience of a pleasant household, and entered upon His public ministration when He was about twenty-seven years old, dying at about thirty. Now, you will observe that when Christ entered upon His ministry the first step He took in it was toward social joy; for after the temptation in the wilderness He went north and joined His parents, and in Cana of Galilee attended a wedding. The first miracle that He ever performed was to help carry on a three-days' social entertainment. That does not look much like His being a Man of Sorrows. John, His cousin, came neither eating nor drinking. He disdained amenities. He threw himself like a judgment-bolt into the face of rulers. He cut right and left, without mercy, saying "Peace to the perfect, and woe to the imperfect." That was his career. Christ began immediately after him. Instead of dwelling in the wilderness, He went into populous cities. Instead of going away from all social intercourse, He participated in the highest festivity known to the ordinary life of a Jew — namely, a wedding service; and afterwards He lived in such social habits that the charge against Him was that He made Himself common with common folks, and that He was a glutton and a wine-bibber, and a friend of publicans and sinners. No such allegation as that could be made against an ascetic. But setting aside all this, which lies upon the very surface of the text, look at the career of the Saviour in another point of view. So soon as He entered upon His course as a public minister, He showed great aptness in teaching. Concomitant with this experience was another — that which was connected with the performance of His miracles of mercy. Now, is there any joy greater than that which is experienced by one person when he helps another person? He was not a stone man; He was a living soul, as full of sensibility and fire as the heart of God. Consider that He did these things every morning, every noon, and every evening. Consider that there were so many such cases that they could not be registered by name. And do you tell me that in the blessed work of teaching and mercy which He was carrying on, Jesus was not a joyful man? Why, such an idea is false to nature, as it is false to grace. But we have a more decided case yet. We perceive that He was of a nature such that He drew to Him good-livers. He did not disdain luxury: He partook of it. He did not disdain high society: He went into it, just as readily and familiarly as to the peasant s cottage, or to the abode of the poor and sick. He was a man among men; and if He looked up His look was radiant, while i[ He looked down His look was light-bearing. He could not touch any side of human nature that His soul did not go out in sympathy with it. Now the attractiveness of the Saviour was Such that these men wanted Him, and called for Him. But no man who spreads a good table, and invites folks to dine with him, goes hunting for misanthropes. But that the rich men of His day did want Christ there is irrefutable evidence to prove. This shows that His bearing was sweet and attractive. And wherever He went where people were, He shed joy and happiness upon them. You will now ask, "What about the passion? What about the forty days?" Those are the very days over which the text goes. I think the joy was an awful joy; but I believe that Jesus Christ was never so joyful as during the mighty mystery of those forty days. Let us come to it step by step through experiences such as we have ourselves. When a man does a heroic action at some cost to himself, he knows that though it costs it counts. The highest reaches that any man ever has of joy in this world are those which he has through the ministration of grief and of sorrow. When those persons who went to the stake for their faith, and sang and rejoiced as the fire blazed about them, and sent out from their pulpit of flame joyous songs of hope, do you suppose they were sufferers? There is an ecstasy in a man's soul at such a time which so affects his nervous system as to lift him above suffering. I do not doubt that there have been crowned hours when that martyr to the liberty of Hungary, Kossuth, though an exile, poor and alone, was not unhappy. I know that sometimes when men are misrepresented, and derided, and scoffed at, and kennels and sewers are opened upon them, there is a serene height into which they rise, where no one can any more touch them with sorrow than the fowler's shot can touch the eagle that soars just under the sun. And do you suppose the Saviour knew what He suffered when, "for the joy that was set before Him" — the redemption of the world; an eternity of blessedness for the myriads upon myriads that should find life in His outpouring life; and the glory of the Godhead — "He endured the Cross"? Do not you suppose that this joy that He saw in the future made Him a man of joy, and not of sorrow? He "is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." For what? To do what the morning does — pour light over darkness. To do what the dews do — cool the parched plants after a fervid day when they are well-nigh wilted. He sits there to bring sons and daughters home to glory. Where the father and mother have waited expectant for the dear children that have been long away to come home, does joy beat upon the instrument of the soul when they do come? and do you suppose that Christ, sitting on the eternal threshold, and seeing sons and daughters coming home to glory through His instrumentality, does not experience joy? He said in the hour of His deepest darkness, "Peace I give you-My peace." If in the very acme and midnight of His suffering He had so much peace that He could divide it and share it with His disciples, do you not suppose that now, a Prince of Peace, He is also a Prince of Joy?

(H. W. Beecher.)

I. Life is a journey; BUT LIFE IS SOMETHING MORE. Life is a work. It is the great opportunity for the artist who is toiling, by Divine assistance, at the world outside him; because, first, he is toiling at his own Soul. The Man of Sorrows — it is a strange paradox, but it is a fact — the Man of Sorrows supplies us with the sustaining principle, anticipated joy. Joy has a depth and a stillness far beyond mere merriment. Joy has a moral force, because it rises out of and combines real and constituent spiritual elements, loftier, more enduring than pleasure; it draws its life and gathers its strength from the most vigorous and the most varied faculties of our nature. Joy! It co-ordinates and harmonises all rays of moral glory; it has the sweetness and freshness of the music of Mendelssohn; it touches with the chromatic tenderness of Spohr; it unites the depth and splendour of the colouring of Titian, and the refinement and severity of Francia's Christ. Joy! and the crucifix! Yes, it has its roots, remember, in a rugged soil. Travellers in the Tyrol, so an able writer tells us, noticed in the distance the crest of the mountains cinctured with a girdle of vivid blue. Was it a mirage, a magic deception, worked up by the mist and the light and the winds? Would it pause at the approach of invading footsteps, or would it — as all beautiful things in this low world — would it fade and be gone? They drew on, and found it not fainter, but clearer, not vanished, not gone, no trick of the sunlight, no passing effect of the cloud; it was a belt of vivid gentians, drawing strength from the rugged rock and unsympathising stone, taking the light and outfacing the heavens with the intensity of its burning blue. Now such is the joy of the spirit. Beautiful; not vanishing, but vigorous; anticipating what it knows to be certain, the final victory of truth and righteousness, having, therefore, its roots in " eternal things." This, too, this is preached from the Cross; hence, my brothers, what looks like a streak of sunlight on the unrestful ocean becomes a stimulating and sustaining principle in the labour of life.

II. This, then, may become the stimulating principle of a persevering life, and the question is, HOW CAN IT BE LEARNED? The answer is found in the twofold aspect of the Cross.

1. If we catalogue the various departments of the subject-matter of our Redeemer's joy, we find in the Cross a revelation. It reveals the mystery of the Atonement. But a mystery it is, beautiful, wonderful, bringing life out of death, as spring flowers are the children of the winter, and forming the subject-matter Of our Redeemer's joy.

2. And the Cross is an example. Speaking morally, it springs directly out of the self-sacrificing temper, gains, in fact, its unselfish colouring there, teaches us what is the temper, the prevailing atmosphere needful for a useful life. We know of no self-denial so personal to ourselves, so complete and lasting, as the self-denial of the Cross; and we read in the joy of the Conqueror not only the principle which stimulates His endeavour, but also the evidence of His love. He had a delight, indeed, not, to use a modern phrase, "in influencing the masses," but in saving you and me.

3. And another subject-matter of that joy — we dare to say it, because His apostle taught us to do so — was the crowning in Himself of human perfection — the vindication of goodness. Goodness! the greatness of doing what you ought to do; goodness, the greatness of loyalty amid sorrow. This, the highest height of all human excellencies, is crowned on the throne of the Crucified, in the person of " Him who liveth and was dead."


1. There is a force, fierce as an unfettered animal, wild as the wind, strong as the storm; it springs from the fever and fret of a restless heart needing and finding no satisfaction. Call it taedium vitae; call it ennui; call it a lazy weariness of spirit in the overworked toiler for this world, or in the blase idler — whatever you call it, it is that mortal sickness of the human spirit, worn out with a life of unsatisfied desire, with the knowledge that riches and pleasure cannot gain for it a salvation or win for it a rest — possessions only of those who hold the hope of a future, itself the first dawning of supernatural joy.

2. We have another force in the pressure of the present. It surely comes to all either in failure of health, or overwork, or bewildering anxiety, or heartbreaking bereavement, or change of circumstances, or fading of dreams, or parting from others; it is felt in bereavement that has broken you, sorrow that has subdued you, change of circumstances, loss of fortune, forgetfulness of friends, disbelief in you by those whom you believed in, and, what is infinitely worse, disbelief in them when you have found them wanting, and the sad remembrance that you expected too much, and have been accordingly the victim of disappointment not undeserved. It may produce despondency; it may eventuate in a life of miserable murmuring and habitual discontent; or it may be made to yield the " peaceable fruit of righteousness " to them who apply the stimulating and sustaining principle.

3. And there is personal and spiritual and accomplished sin. Have you not felt the fierceness of desire, and the difficulty of its domination? Oh, it is when you get to the Crucified you see in the Atonement the way to penitence, the possibility of pardon, the path of peace.

4. And religious perplexity. You are in an age when Christianity is attacked with pitiless severity; you need fear no argument against the truth shaking your faith, though it assail your intellect, if the spiritual conditions are fulfilled; but the strength of your stand on the side of the Crucified is not the strength of your degree at Oxford or Cambridge, it is not the power of your intellect; it rests and will rest on moral grounds. Are you trying to do your duty? Are you living in communion with your Creator? Then you are in the way to keep alive a sustaining principle which will breast the religious difficulty of this great, and, I add it, of this bad time. If, yes, if we are to avoid the curse of Meroz, it is by the hope of a future, and the joy in God that we need to be stimulated, that we need to be sustained in coming "to the help of the Lord against the mighty."

IV. YES, THE CONDITIONS OF PRESERVING SUCH A PRINCIPLE ARE NOT FAR TO FIND. On the Cross we have our example; in us it is a gift of the Holy Ghost sent by our ascended Master; and it is a fruit of the Spirit in its relation to God; it depends for its energy upon our faithfulness; it is not so much the quiet joy from an accomplished fact as the larger, bracing joy of anticipated victory; and it is preserved bright and sustaining in those who willingly make sacrifices for truth and duty. The sea sets onward through the Straits of Messina with a heaving swell, smooth, yet unflagging, even when the winds are silent and the skies are clear; the Tiber rushes onward, mad and swollen, century after century, by the Sylvan's Cave; now like the restful, now like the restless waters, human waves unnumbered of the rising and falling peoples have swept over the hills and plains of Italy, have passed and disappeared; civilisations many, dim or brilliant, across the histories of Greece, of Syria, of the twilight East, have danced into the sunlight and died into the shade; but, in storm or summer stillness Soracte has towered above the dim Campagna and the Sabine Mountains, calm and stately and crowned with snow; and amid all human agonies and the tragedies of the peoples, the giants of the Abarim, folding round them their draperies of purple, have watched the starlight, or wrapped in their robes of roseate brilliance, have reckoned with the dawn. So human passions, troubles, sins, may flow onward in wild current, but principles, supernatural principles, stand firm.

(Canon Knox Little.)

I. THE JOY OF OBEDIENCE. Can we understand this — a joy in doing another's will, not our own? Yes — and no. As we naturally are we cannot take such a thing in — we want to do what we please — we fret at having any restraint put on us. And yet in proportion as we learn to love God through Jesus Christ, we learn to know what it is to be quite at God's bidding, and yet to be in perfect freedom.

II. THE JOY OF LOVE. If it be asked, whom He so dearly loved that it was an intense joy to show His love to them, the answer is sinners; for them He came into the world: unlovely objects — lovers of their own will — sheep who had strayed out of a safe fold into a waste howling wilderness; yet in our unloveliness, and wandering, and wilfulness, though He grieved at it, He loved us.

III. THE JOY OF HELP. He knew that His own would not receive Him, yet to feel that His help was open to " whosoever will" — that He was coming to bring pardon and deliverance and life even to the unthankful — was a joy that outwent the cold manger and the homeless wanderings and the spiteful conspiracies and the bitter Cross — the intense joy of helping the helpless.

IV. THE JOY OF VICTORY. He knew how He should meet the unconquered foe, Death, and by yielding awhile before him, turn and rout him all the more gloriously. He knew that for those sinners whom He so dearly loved, there would henceforth be but a crippled foe to be bruised under their feet shortly; and the chains of bondage struck off, that henceforth we should not be slaves to sin. He foresaw all this, and He heard by anticipation the notes, "Lift up your heads, O ye gates," and the still more distant ones, "The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ," and He girded Himself for the struggle as already a conqueror.

(John Kempthorne, M. A.)

I. FIRST, THE COMMANDER'S CONFLICT: "Who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the Cross, despising the shame." Now, there are three points about our Lord's work set forth in thence three clauses, all of them somewhat unlike the ordinary tone in which it is spoken of. We have the motive of His sufferings presented as being an unseen reward for Himself, which He brought vividly before Him by the exercise of His faith. We have His sufferings presented, not in reference to their saving power, but solely as being an illustration of His heroic patient endurance. And we have the contumely and shame of His death presented, not as showing to us His willing self-abasement and His loving lowliness, but as revealing to us the scorn with which He looked upon all hindrances that would bar His path and shake His resolute will.

II. THE COMMANDER'S TRIUMPH, AND OUR SHARE IN IT. "Who is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." That "sitting" expresses rest, as from a finished and perfect work; a rest which is not inactivity; dominion extending over all the universe, and judgment. These three, rest, dominion, judgment, are the prerogatives of the Man Jesus. That is what He won by His bloody passion and sacrifice. And now what has that to do with us? We are to think of this triumph of the Commander as being, first of all, a revelation and a prophecy for us. A revelation and a prophecy. Nobody knows anything about the future life except by means of Jesus Christ. In His exaltation to the throne a new hope dawns on humanity. If we believe that the Man Jesus sits on the throne of the universe, we have a new conception of what is possible for humanity. If a perfect human nature has entered into the participation of the Divine, our natures too may be perfect, and what He is and where He is, there, too, we may hope to come. And, still further, Christ's triumphal entrance into the heavens is not only prophecy of ours, but it is power to fulfil its own prophecy. He has gone up on high, sitting at the right hand of the throne of God to work for us. His work is not done. He works for us, with us, and in us, as Lord of providence and King of grace, sustaining and upholding us in all our weakness, and tending the smoky flame of our dim faith till it bursts into clear radiance.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Everything exists for an end — has its place in God's wide world, and is intended to answer some purpose, to accomplish some end. Every rational being has an object "set before" it. The creatures that are not rational live and exist for an end, but the end is not " set before" them. The end is ever before their Creator, and Master, and Ruler; but the end is not set before them. They have not eyes to see it; they have no powers, or faculties with which to pursue it; but every rational being has an object " set before " it. And it is important for us very often to ask, for what end were we made? and for what end have we been redeemed? In a state of prior existence our Redeemer had, as it respects this world, an object before Him, and that object He came, as you know, into this world to pursue. In the words before us is one view of the goal to which our Saviour ran, or of the prize for which His course was pursued. It is called "the joy" — that is, the cause and the occasion of the joy, "who, for the joy that was set before Him."

I. Let us ask, WHAT IS THIS JOY — the joy that was set before Jesus Christ? God speaks of this in the whispers of prophecy; and according to prophecy the joy set before Jesus was the joy of bruising the serpent's head; it was the joy of gathering together a scattered people; it was the joy of imparting knowledge to the ignorant upon the highest subjects; it was the joy of forming a perfect and everlasting kingdom out of lifeless and rebel souls. God exhibits it, too, in the pictures of the Levitical dispensation. It is the joy of pardoning the guilty, and of purifying the unclean; it is the joy of elevating those who have been cast down and downtrodden; it is the joy of educating those whose nature has been bruised and crushed. Jesus, too, Himself speaks of it. He speaks of it in parable. He likens it to the joy of a shepherd when having sought the lost sheep he has found it; and to the joy of a woman, who having missed treasure discovers it again; and to the joy of the father of a prodigal who is permitted to receive that prodigal in true penitence back again to his heart and to his home.

1. It was the blessedness of redeemed men. And what is their joy? It is the joy of coming out of darkness into light; it is the joy of passing from death, and from a death of which they are conscious, into life; it is the joy of coming out of wretched ignorance into sure and certain knowledge; it is the joy of rising from a state of distrust into a condition of confidence and faith; it is the joy of being converted from enmity, and alienation, and indifference towards God, into filial love.

2. The joy which redeemed men may diffuse, as well as the joy which they inherit. "Ye are the salt of the earth," said Christ, and "Ye are the light of the world." God alone can tell the blessedness which one redeemed man may be the means of communicating into others. How many tears may the hand of a true Christian wipe away?

3. The joy which the redemption of every sinner gives to the unfallen creation of God.

4. The joy of Jesus was the joy of God Himself in the salvation of the lost.

5. The joy set before Jesus was the joy which must be awakened in Jesus as the means of diffusing and spreading so much blessedness. "He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied." His joy was the joy too of being recognised as the great Joy Giver to a number of men which no man can number; and the joy of working out, even to its consummation, the greatest and most glorious work of Jehovah.

II. THE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE JOY OF JESUS. It is the joy of love — not the joy of the miser; not the joy of the spendthrift; not the joy of the lover of sinful pleasure; not the joy of the unlawfully ambitious — it is the joy of the benefactor, it is the joy of the mother; and while it is the joy of love, it is the joy of that extraordinary variety of love which inspired men call grace — the strongest form, the most beauteous form, the divinest form. It is the joy of holiness, too, and of perfect goodness.

III. Let me remind you THAT SUCH BLESSEDNESS IS WON FOR YOU. The foundation of joy Jesus has laid; will you build upon it? or will you neglect the foundation? Will you neglect to build upon the foundation which this Jesus has laid for you? If you thus neglect to build, see, you are reflecting upon Him. You are bringing clouds upon His wisdom, His love, on His power. Or you are reflecting upon the foundation? You treat the foundation as though it were either unnecessary, or as though it were not worthy of your building upon it. What blessedness may be enjoyed by you and what blessedness may be spread by you! You can spread Divine joy — will you? Will you make the joy of others your goal? Archbishop Leighton has said somewhere, "It is a strange folly in multitudes of us to set ourselves no mark, to propound no end in the hearing of the gospel. The merchant sails, not merely that he may sail, but for traffic; and he traffics, not simply for traffic, but that he may be rich. The husbandman ploughs, not merely to keep himself busy, and with no further end, but ploughs that he may sow; and he sows, not for sowing sake, but sows that he may reap, and reap with advantage. And shall we do the most excellent and fruitful work fruitlessly — hear only to hear, and look no further? This is indeed a great vanity and a great misery, to lose the labour and gain nothing by that which duly used would be of all others most advantageous and gainful; and yet," he says, "all meetings for religious purposes are full of this." Well, now, we have heard in a few brief words a little of the joy which Christ set before Himself — and I ask, have we all a mark? Have we an end? Is my life and yours a race with a goal, and a prize and a judge, and a cloud of witnesses? Is it so? Is there a joy set before us? If there be a joy set before us, who has set it before us? And what is it? If your joy be Christ's joy, and you make it your goal, and your prize, and if you run your race with patience, the day will soon come when you shall find yourselves not worn and weary on the course, but sweetly resting at the goal; and the day, too, will come when your feeble hands shall grasp the prize — your hands stretched out by the impulse of a heart filled with joy unspeakable, and full of glory.

(S. Martin.)

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