Philippians 3:13
Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have laid hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,
ForwardV. Hutton Philippians 3:13
The Race and the GoalAlexander MaclarenPhilippians 3:13
The True CircumcisionR. Finlayson Philippians 3:1-16
Aim At PerfectionJ. Lyth, D. D.Philippians 3:12-14
AspirationW. L. Watkinson.Philippians 3:12-14
Christian ProgressT. Craig.Philippians 3:12-14
Failure and ProgressPres. Woolsey.Philippians 3:12-14
Few Believers Perfect HereH. W. Beecher.Philippians 3:12-14
Moral OnwardnessD. Thomas Philippians 3:12-14
More and Yet MoreC. H. Spurgeon.Philippians 3:12-14
No RetreatNew Testament AnecdotesPhilippians 3:12-14
Paul's Ideal of LifeH. W. Beecher.Philippians 3:12-14
The Apostle's Confession of His Imperfection and His Method of Christian ProgressT. Croskery Philippians 3:12-14
The Christian Race: Conditions of VictoryV. Hutton Philippians 3:12-14
The Ideal and the ActualW. Hubbard.Philippians 3:12-14
The Struggle for PerfectionW. L. Watkinson.Philippians 3:12-14
Unrealized PossibilitiesAbp. Trench.Philippians 3:12-14
The River of ForgetfulnessR.M. Edgar Philippians 3:12-16
A Life's PurposeW. M. Punshon, LL. D.Philippians 3:13-14
A Noble DespairC. H. Spurgeon.Philippians 3:13-14
All Things are ProspectiveHomiletic MonthlyPhilippians 3:13-14
An Indomitable PurposeLord Macaulay.Philippians 3:13-14
Behind and BeforeE. E. Jenkins, LL. D.Philippians 3:13-14
Christian PerfectionH. Melvil, B. D.Philippians 3:13-14
Christian ProgressW. P. Insley, M. A., J. A. Alexander, D. D.Philippians 3:13-14
Christian Progress as it Nears its EndM. D. Hoge, D. D.Philippians 3:13-14
Christian Progress by Oblivion of the PastF. W. Robertson, M. A.Philippians 3:13-14
Christian Progress Impelled by a Single PurposeJ. Vaughan, M. A.Philippians 3:13-14
ConcentrationJ. Vaughan, M. A.Philippians 3:13-14
Concentration the Secret of DispatchS. Budgett.Philippians 3:13-14
Devotion to a Single Purpose Essential to SuccessC. H. Spurgeon.Philippians 3:13-14
Dissatisfaction the Motive of ProgressC. Wadsworth.Philippians 3:13-14
Forget Past SorrowsPaxton Hood.Philippians 3:13-14
Forgetting the Things that are BehindW. Hubbard.Philippians 3:13-14
Forward the True DirectionJ. F. B. Tinling, B. A.Philippians 3:13-14
Life's Contests and PrizesP. S. Henson, D. D.Philippians 3:13-14
Look not At the PastJ. W. Alexander, D. D.Philippians 3:13-14
Memory, Hope, and WorkA. Maclaren, D. D.Philippians 3:13-14
One Point BestSir T. F. Buxton.Philippians 3:13-14
OnwardC. H. Spurgeon.Philippians 3:13-14
Paul's View of LifePrincipal Tullock.Philippians 3:13-14
Practice Necessary to PerfectionC. H. Spurgeon.Philippians 3:13-14
Pressing ForwardA. Maclaren, D. D.Philippians 3:13-14
ProgressJ. M. Whiton, Ph. D.Philippians 3:13-14
Progress in HeavenA. Maclaren, D. D.Philippians 3:13-14
Progress Inevitable to the ChristianJ. A. Alexander, D. D.Philippians 3:13-14
Progress More than MotionPaxton Hood.Philippians 3:13-14
Progress Unlimited for the ChristianA. Maclaren, D. D.Philippians 3:13-14
Singleness of AimPhilippians 3:13-14
Singleness of AimPhilippians 3:13-14
Spiritual BarbarismJ M. Whiton, Ph. D.Philippians 3:13-14
The Christian RaceR. Sibbes, D. D.Philippians 3:13-14
The Danger of Looking BackA. Maclaren, D. D.Philippians 3:13-14
The Enemy Will Advance If the Christian Does NotW. Baxendale.Philippians 3:13-14
The Great PrizeG. F. Pentecost, D. D.Philippians 3:13-14
The Hindering Force of Past HabitA. Maclaren, D. D.Philippians 3:13-14
The Importance of a High AimF. W. Robertson, M. A.Philippians 3:13-14
The Law of ProgressCanon Liddon.Philippians 3:13-14
The Laws and Hindrances of the Christian RaceR. Sibbes, D. D.Philippians 3:13-14
The Memory of Past Sorrows not to Obliterate the Appreciation of Present MerciesM. D. Hoge, D. D.Philippians 3:13-14
The Nobility of a Single AimA. Maclaren, D. D.Philippians 3:13-14
The Onward Movement of the SoulPaxton Hood.Philippians 3:13-14
The Passion for ProgressJ. F. B. Tinling, B. A.Philippians 3:13-14
The Power of a Single AimC. Wadsworth.Philippians 3:13-14
The Racer as CharioteerArchdeacon Farrar.Philippians 3:13-14
The Racer as RunnerProfessor Eadie.Philippians 3:13-14
The Sense in Which the Past Cannot be ForgottenM. D. Hoge, D. D.Philippians 3:13-14
The Things that are BeforeS. Martin., D. King, LL. D.Philippians 3:13-14
The Unreasonableness of Non-ProgressivenessW. L. Watkinson.Philippians 3:13-14
The Varied Means of Obtaining PerfectionF. W. Robertson, M. A.Philippians 3:13-14
Things BehindJ. Smith, M. A.Philippians 3:13-14
Things PastProfessor Hollard.Philippians 3:13-14
Want of ApplicationS. Smiles, LL. D.Philippians 3:13-14
Winter LeavesH. Macmillan, LL. D.Philippians 3:13-14

Like the runner who will lose the prize if he mistake any point short of the goal for the end, or if he waste his time in looking back on the course traversed, the Christian must press forward with his face towards Christ, unresting till the great race is won.

I. WE MUST NOT CONSIDER ANY PRESENT ATTAINMENT SUFFICIENT, St, Paul was no novice when he wrote this Epistle. An old man, rich and ripe in many graces, far and away beyond the experience of most Christians, he still felt that he had not reached the great end of his efforts. How much less can inferior Christians allow themselves to be satisfied with what they have as yet acquired! The end is to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:48). We are not blamed if we have not yet reached that crown of goodness. But we are blamed if we are not pressing on to it and rest contented with anything short of it. Height above height rises before us. Let no inferior aim lull us to unfaithful indolence with its soothing prospects.

II. WE MUST LOOK FORWARD, NOT BACKWARD. Some men stand with their faces to the west, regretting the lost radiance of the setting sun. Others turn their gaze on the east, eager to catch the first streak of dawn. Surely the latter are the wiser. Our faces look forwards that we may see the path we are about to tread instead of looking only on the path already trodden.

1. We must forget past attainments. Otherwise they will be a snare, and out of the very fruit of good deeds may be distilled the poisonous narcotic that will prevent the repetition of them. Let the sweet fruit be cast away that the seed may be sown to produce future fruit.

2. We must forget past failures. It is foolish to dwell in idle regrets, for thus we neglect the duty of to-day in lamenting the neglect of yesterday's duty! It is positively wrong to clog our future efforts by carrying the burden of past sin. If God has forgiven our sin we should forget it.

3. We must forget past joys and sorrows - this only in a measure, of course. We are human, and there are wholesome uses of memory. But still the dreamy life of reflection is sadly hindering to progress. Greater joys open before us - even before the saddest, most desponding of us, if we are truly following Christ - than any that lie buried in the graves of the past. They who may hope for the joy of the resurrection reunion do foolishly to weep for ever at the tomb.

III. WE MUST STRETCH FORWARD TO THE THINGS WHICH ARE BEFORE. The picturesque figure represents the eager runner who stretches out his hand and bends his body towards the long-sought end of his endeavors. The eye must precede the foot. If our hearts are not already in heaven our souls cannot be travelling thither. Great effort is also necessary. The Christian must put forth all his energies. His life is a battle, a wrestling, a race.


1. He is the Goal. We are to strive to attain unto him. The Christian course is marked out by the footprints of. Christ. Every right step brings us nearer Christ, both in resemblance and in fellowship. Perfection is absolute Christ-likeness.

2. Christ is also the Prize. The end of the race is its own reward. And it is enough. To possess Christ is worth the loss of all earthly possessions (ver. 7). It is, however, in the end, to give us the inheritance of all things (1 Corinthians 2:22, 23). - W.F.A.

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended

1. Past sinful pleasures.

2. Past evil acquaintances.

3. Past good works.


1. Increased holiness.

2. The prize of eternal glory.

(W. P. Insley, M. A.)Religion is a progressive principle, and that not merely by Divine appointment, but from its very nature. This is the only satisfactory evidence that religion exists at all. It is also the chief source of happiness here, and a large ingredient in it hereafter. It is not, however, always equally marked and measurable. The incoming tide has receding waves; so let no man judge his neighbour a hypocrite because he thinks he sees a retrograde movement. This progressive character may be argued —

I. FROM THE NATURE OF THE SUBJECT IN WHICH THE CHANGE IS WROUGHT. Man, an essentially active being. As previous to conversion the soul was in progress, going from one degree of evil to another, so it may be expected to make progress in the new direction given it.

II. FROM THE NATURE OF THE POWER WHICH EFFECTS THE CHANGE. If the effect could be ascribed to chance, or to momentary impulse, it might be expected to be stationary, or even to cease or disappear, but when the power of God, almighty and unceasing, is the sole efficient cause of conversion, it is unreasonable to suppose that the life created can be at a standstill.

III. FROM THE MEANS EMPLOYED TO EFFECT THE CHANGE. Had these been of a natural or ordinary character, such as human wisdom might devise and human power set in motion, then we might infer that God intended us to rest contented with actual attainments. But could it be to keep piety alive without improvement or increase that God gave His Son, that that Son came to die, that the Spirit was given? From the prodigality and divinity of the agents and instrumentalities religion cannot he a stationary thing. The purpose must be adequate to the means.


1. Not deliverance from present pain.

2. Not mere deliverance from future misery.

3. Nor, indeed, man's restoration by itself. If the end were in man he would usurp God's place.

4. The end is for God's glory. This cannot be adequately promoted by stationary religion.

V. FROM THE NATURE OF THE CHANGE ITSELF. As far as Scripture and experience reveal it, it is but an incipient change, and must be carried on forever. This change does not consist in anything corporeal, but in the mind, and not in the structure of the mind, in the creation of new faculties or the destruction of old ones, but in new desires, dispositions, and affections. These must have their objects, and their actings on those objects must increase their strength, enlarge their scope, and stimulate their energies.


1. The emptiness of past achievements.

2. The weight of future glory.

(J. A. Alexander, D. D.)

There are some views of the apostle which are discouraging. His almost superhuman career, and his calm superiority to temptation seem to place him far beyond the reach of imitation. But here we see him frail and struggling like the rest of us, a sight precious —(1) To the man, because it tells him that what he feels Paul felt, imperfect, feeble, far from what he would wish to be, yet with sanguine hope expecting progress in the saintly life.(2) To the minister, because it tells him that his very weakness may be his people's strength.

I. THE APOSTLE'S AIM — Perfection.

1. Less than this no Christian can aim at. There are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises that by these we might be partakers of the Divine nature. Not merely to be equal to the standard of our day or even to surpass it: but to be pure as Christ is pure, "perfect as our Father in heaven."

2. It is easily conceivable why this perfection is unattainable here. Faultlessness is conceivable, being merely the negation of evil; but perfection is positive, the attainment of all conceivable excellence. Like truth, you may labour on for years and never reach it, yet your labour is not in vain. Every figure you add makes the fraction nearer than the last to the million millionth.

3. To this object the apostle gave himself with singleness of aim — "this one thing."

4. In pressing towards this mark St. Paul attained a prize. The mark was perfection of character — the prize was blessedness. But he did not aim at the prize, but at the mark. In becoming perfect he attained happiness, but that was not his primary aim. In student life there are those who seek knowledge for its own sake, and those who seek it for the prize. To the first knowledge is its own reward, the second are not genuine lovers of knowledge. That is a spurious goodness which is good for the sake of reward. The child who speaks truth for the sake of the praise of truth is not truthful. The man who is honest because honesty is the best policy, has not integrity in his heart. He who endeavours to be holy, etc., to win heaven has only a counterfeit religion. God for His own sake, Goodness because it is good, Truth because it is lovely — are the Christian's aim. The prize is only an incentive, inseparable from success, but is not the aim itself. With this limitation, however, it is a Christian duty to dwell much more on the thought of future blessedness than most men do. If ever the apostle's step began to flag, the radiant diadem before him gave new vigour to his heart. It is our privilege, if we are on our way to God, to keep steadily before us the thought of home. It was so with Moses and with our Lord.

II. THE MEANS WHICH ST. PAUL FOUND AVAILABLE for the attainment of Divine and perfect character.

1. What are the things behind which are to be forgotten?(1) The days of innocence. We come into the world with tendencies to evil; but there was a time when there were only tendencies. We call that innocence. And when men come bitterly to feel that it is gone they look back upon it with regret. In this there is much that is feeble and sentimental. Our early innocence is nothing more than ignorance of evil. Christian life is not a retaining of that or a returning to it. We lose our negative sinlessness and put on a firm, manly holiness.(2) The days of youth. Up to a certain period it is our tendency to look forwards; but as we arrive at middle age it is the tendency to look back with the remorseful feeling that the days of youth are gone by half enjoyed. This is a natural feeling, but not the high Christian tone of feeling. We have an inheritance incorruptible, etc. What have we to do with things past? And so manhood in the Christian life is a better thing than boyhood, because riper; and old age ought to be brighter, calmer, and more serene than manhood. There is a second youth for man better and holier than the first, if he will look on and not back.(3) Past errors. There is that rueful, self-accusing temper, which is always looking back. Something of this we ought to have, but not that only. Faith is having the heart to try again. "Forget the things that are behind." We shall do better next time. Under this head we include all those mistakes which belong to circumstances. Some of these are irreparable. A wrong profession, e.g., has been chosen. It is wise to forget all that. It is not by regretting what is irreparable that true work is done, but by making the best of what we are. Poor mediocrity may secure the fewest false steps, but he is the best who wins victory by the retrieval of mistakes.(4) Past guilt. Bad as the results have been of making light of sin, those of brooding over it have been worse. Remorse has done more evil than even hardihood. We want everything that is hopeful for our task, for it is not an easy one. And therefore it is that the gospel comes to the guiltiest with the inspiring news of pardon. Do not stop too long to weep over spilt water. Conclusion:

1. Christian progress is only possible in Christ. It is a high calling, and therefore seems impossible; but it is in Christ Jesus, and therefore to be achieved.

2. Out of Christ it is madness to look on.

(F. W. Robertson, M. A.)

1. The apostle here corrects a misapprehension, which might have been occasioned by his previous language. The mighty moral act which changed the whole tenor of his life did not so contain in itself his spiritual history as to make all further aspirations and efforts superfluous. Unspiritual men have thought to compound with heaven by one supreme sacrifice, and so to escape from the wearing trials of the daily struggle. St. Paul maintains that at his conversion he was laid hold of so that he might attain that for which he was still striving, and now with the whole history of the Acts behind him, and having written his greatest Epistles and founded his noblest Churches, and having been caught up into Paradise and heard unspeakable words, he yet forgets those things that are behind, etc.

2. In these words we catch the echo of the most familiar and potent watchword of modern times. The most opposite aspirations and determined antagonists; government, society, art, science, even religion, are ranged under the banner of progress.(1) The source and motive of progress is a sense of want.(2) This is kept alive by an ideal of possible perfection which haunts the soul, and is a relic of Eden. This is largely the distinction of man from the beast. It is the effort to satisfy an unquenchable thirst for the infinite.(3) Allied to this is the mighty power of hope. It may fail, and be seduced and degraded, yet its very errors bear witness to its strength and the greatness of its origin.(4) But is not this yearning joined to this hope of realization among the dispositions which welcome revelation to the soul? Was not revelation for ages a progress from Eden to Moriah, to Sinai, to Calvary? and although it is now complete (Jude 1:3), yet it has become the principle of progress. On the one hand, through the Church it leavens the world gradually; and, on the other, the apostle here is a sample of its progressive power within the soul, and that it has enriched and is still enriching human thought, ennobled character, and given an original impulse to entire sciences, and created virtues that are impossible without it, are simple matters of fact.

I. TRUE PROGRESS MUST BE THE PROGRESS OF MAN as distinct from anything which is properly outside him.

1. Contrast this with one of the most general conceptions of progress at the present day — that which ministers dignity and well being to man's outward life. Political reforms, great constructive efforts, rapid locomotion, sanitary improvements, vast accumulations of capital seconded by vast outlays, inventions which economize labour or relieve pain — these are progress. It is almost a marketable commodity; it can be measured, weighed, valued. Mental speculation that does not invent or cannot be utilized, morals which do not sanction economical theories or subserve epicureanism — these are the enemies of progress. We are bidden compare English life today with that of the time of our grandfathers. But forgetting the vast achievements of the past and present, we are bidden to look forward to the new triumphs which await us or our children. As contrasted with our grandfathers we are great and powerful; yet for our descendents there is reserved a land of promise, compared with which our modern civilization is but as the desert. To these enthusiasms the Church of God replies in no unfriendly spirit. She has not forgotten the blessing of Eden (Genesis 1:28). Nay, material progress contributes real, if indirect service to the higher interests of man.

2. But at the same time society may be well organized, while man himself is barbarous and selfish. Man's conquests over matter are no adequate measure of the true progress of man. For he is a spiritual being, linked by his higher nature to an immaterial world. Man can rule matter because he is superior to it. Comprehend your matchless dignity in your Creator's world. Each of you has, or rather is, that with which nothing material, atom or planet, can rightly challenge comparison. Each is in the depth of his personality a spiritual substance.

3. Let it be thankfully granted that as a means to a higher end, material improvement is a healthful condition of human life and a blessing from God. But its exaggeration at the expense of what it should subserve is fatal to the progress of man. When the sense of the eternal, and all the finer sensibilities have been crushed out by the worship of matter, man sinks in the creation of God, even though he should learn year by year to wield more and more power over the dead atoms around him. A high material civilization does but arm the human brute with new instruments of his lust or his ferocity, unless it go hand in hand with a power that can penetrate his heart and mould his will.

II. MUST EMBRACE THE WHOLE OF HUMAN NATURE. It must not consist in the undue development of a single power or faculty.

1. To some progress is co-extensive with the growth of the mind. And it is our sacred duty to cultivate intellect long and well; not indeed that it may be a pledge of selfish temporal advancement, but as an instrument of religious work. And the religious development of intellect is unquestionably a prominent feature of true human progress. But it is only one feature.

2. When intellectual energy is substituted for moral and spiritual energy; when a man's mind is developed at the expense of his heart and will, he deserves compassion. Pure intellectualism is apt to fall short even of the lower measures of duty, and when unbalanced by a warm heart and a vigorous will, the mere cultivation of mind makes a man alternately selfish and weak.


1. The Fall. How rarely do secular theories of human progress condescend to recognize this solemn fact, even when they do not in terms reject it. Yet there are witnesses to it beyond the precincts of theology. There is the pagan doctrine of the difficulty of virtue; there is the spontaneous tendency to evil profoundly imbedded in humankind, and admitted by unChristian writers; and there is man's undeniable aversion for his brother man when in a state of nature. So that when man's life is organized into human society, and society is furnishing itself into government, it can only secure itself against tyranny and corruption by a mechanical system of checks and counterchecks.

2. The wonderful phenomenon of grace. Grace is not that mere barren inoperative sentiment of good will or favour on the part of God. In God to will is to act, to favour is to bless, and thus grace is a positive boon conferred on man (Ephesians 3:20); the might of the everlasting Spirit renovating man by uniting him to Christ.

3. Immortality. Can any theory of progress dare to claim our attention which, while not venturing to reject this, in practice proceeds as if they were uncertain or improbable? What a poor, narrow conception of man's capacity for progress is that which sees no horizon beyond the tomb. This is worse than educating a child without training him for the duties or guarding him against the dangers of coming manhood.

(Canon Liddon.)

Behold an excellent description of a Christian course, borrowed from the exercise of running a race, being a manlike and commendable exercise, fitting men and enabling them for war. The very heathen herein condemns us, whose ordinary chief exercises are but good company as we call them, continual lying at taverns, to the impoverishing of our estates and weakening our bodies? The kind I condemn not, but the excess is such as the heathen would be ashamed of; for which they shall even rise up in judgment against us, and condemn us. But from the simile, we may gather thus much, that Christianity is a race. The beginning of this race is at the beginning of our conversion. It should begin at our baptism. The first thing we should know ought to be God. The race is the performance of good duties, concerning our general calling, and concerning our particular. For the length of our races, some are longer, some shorter, but the end of every man's race is the end of his life. Some men's ways are plainer, some rougher. The prize is fulness of joy. The lookers on are heaven, earth, and hell. God is the institutor of this race, and the rewarder. The helpers are Christ, good angels, and the Church, which helps by prayer. The hinderers are the devil and his instruments, who hinder us by slanders, persecutions, and the like. For ground of this race in us, we are to know that man is created with understanding, directing him to do things to a good end and scope. Other creatures are carried to their end, as the shaft out of a bow, only man foreseeing his end, apprehends means thereto. His end is to receive reconciliation and union with God, to which he aims by doing some things, suffering others, and resisting others.

(R. Sibbes, D. D.)


1. The laws.(1) As those who ran had to use such diet as did strengthen, not cloy, and such apparel as might cover, not clog them, so the Christian (Hebrews 12:1).(2) We must consider the ways we are to run in, and what dangers we are like to meet with. The want of this is the ground of apostasy.(3) We must enter the race betimes. The devil's trick is to tell us we have plenty of time; but life is uncertain, and youth is the best time to get into training.

2. Hindrances.

(1)Hope of long life.

(2)A conceit that when we have given our names to Christ we must bid adieu to all delight.

(3)A despair of getting through.


1. Laws.

(1)You must resolve to hold on without failing in good duties.

(2)You must look to gain ground, and grow from grace to grace.

(3)You must do all things with all your might.

(4)You must run cheerfully and speedily.

2. Hindrances.

(1)Idle scruples which are as dust thrown in the eyes of runners, and temptations which are as stones to their feet.

(2)Sins against conscience.

(3)Ill and dull company.

(4)Wandering minds.

(R. Sibbes, D. D.)

! — So far as acceptance with God is concerned a Christian is complete in Christ as soon as he believes. But while the work of Christ for us is complete, that of the Holy Spirit in us is not complete, but is continually carried on from day to day. The condition in which every believer should be found is that of progress. Nearly every figure by which Christians are described implies this. We are plants in the Lord's field, but we are sown that we may grow. "First the blade," etc. We are born into the family of God; but there are babes, little children, etc. Is the Christian a pilgrim? Then he must not sit down as if rooted to a place. Is he a warrior, wrestler, etc.? These figures are the very opposite of idleness. Admire our apostle as —

I. FORMING A JUST ESTIMATE UPON HIS PRESENT CONDITION. "I count," as if he had taken stock, made a careful estimate, and had come to a conclusion. The conclusion was dissatisfaction; nor was this to be regretted: it was a sign of true grace. And yet he was vastly superior to any of us. Shame then on us poor dwarfs if we are so vain as to account ourselves as having apprehended. Yet there are those who prate of having reached a higher life than this. But self-complacency is the mother of spiritual declension. We have observed —

1. That the best of men do not talk of their attainments. Their tone is self-depreciation, not self-content. Everybody could see their beauty of character but themselves. Shallow streams brawl and bubble, but deep waters flow on in silence.

2. That we, in our holiest moments, do not feel self-complacent. Job spoke up for his innocence till the Lord revealed Himself. We shall never see the beauty of Christ without perceiving our own deformity.

3. That whatever shape self-satisfaction may assume it is a shirking of the hardships of Christian soldierhood. Some shirk watchfulness and repentance by believing that the only sanctification they need is already theirs by imputation. Personal holiness, they say, is legal. Others believe they have perfection in the flesh, and others yet attain complacency by the notion that they have overcome all their sins by believing they have done so, as if believing a battle won could win it.

4. That complacency can be reached by many roads.(1) Enthusiasts reach it by sheer intoxication of excitement.(2) Antinomians by imagining that the law is abolished, and that sin is not sin in the saints.(3) Cowards, who say we cannot conquer all sin, and, therefore, we need not aim at it.

5. That complacency has its root in forgetfulness of the awful holiness of God's law, and the heinousness of sin.


1. He does not mean —

(1)That He forgot the mercy of God he had enjoyed.

(2)That he forgot the sins he had committed.

2. We must follow out his figure. If a racer were to pass most of his fellows, and then look round and rejoice over the distance covered he must lose the race. His only hope is to forget all behind.(1) So must it be with past sins overcome. Perhaps at this moment you can honestly say, "I have overcome a fierce temper," "I have bestirred a naturally indolent spirit." Stop long enough to say, "Thank God for that"; but do not pause to congratulate yourselves, or it may be soon undone. The easiest way to give resurrection to old corruptions is to erect a trophy over their graves. Yonder friend is very humble, but if he were to boast of it there would be an end of it.(2) So with all the work we have done. Some people have good memories as to their performances. They used to serve God wonderfully when they were young. In middle life they wrought marvels, but now they rest on their oars. As long as you are in the world forget what you have done, and go forward — individuals, churches, denominations.

III. Paul having put the past and present in their proper places goes on to the FUTURE, ASPIRING EAGERLY TO MAKE IT GLORIOUS. We ought to be reaching forward, to be like Jesus. He who would be a great artist must not follow low models. "Be ye perfect." Shall we ever reach it. Millions have who are before the throne, and we shall too by God's good help.


1. "This one thing I do." He might have attempted other things, and did, but all with reference to this one purpose.

2. Why? Because he felt God had called him to it.

3. Moreover he saw the crown.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. THE PURPOSE OF PAUL: What is involved in it?

1. Supreme love to Christ and consecration to His service.

2. Deadness to all human ambitions and merely earthly good. So absorbed is the soul in this one idea that it becomes the master passion of life; and the world, the flesh, and all things else cease to have any attraction.

3. Not satisfied with any measure of past attainment, or service, or consecration, but continually reaching forth with ever-growing ardour. There, in full view, is the "goal," and the racer's eye is fixed on it.

II. PAUL'S MEANING AS TO THE PRIZE WAS A PERSONAL RESEMBLANCE TO CHRIST, AND A DESIRE TO BE NEAR HIM. His vision of Christ in the infinite attractiveness of His character, and in the glory and blessedness of His presence and reign in heaven, made him long to be like Him, and to have, not only a place in His kingdom, but a place hard by the throne of the Lamb. Multitudes of Christians are content just to be saved — to get inside the heavenly gate. But Paul rebukes this spirit. He had a higher and truer ambition.

III. HOW THE GREAT PRIZE IS TO BE WON. In no other way than Paul won it.

1. The mind must contemplate it, the heart be fixed upon it, until the power of it shall overmaster all other objects and passions.

2. The purpose to gain it must be single as well as supreme. Divided affection, and allegiance, half-hearted strivings, will end in disappointment and disaster. The whole soul, purpose, and trend of life must be in the direct line of daily striving.

3. To insure success, all dead weights must be thrown off, all unnecessary hindrances avoided, all entangling alliances sacrificed, and "the sins which do so easily beset" or hinder us, put away.

(G. F. Pentecost, D. D.)

Such was the language of the most masterful man that ever trod the earth, and this utterance is the keynote of his marvellously successful life.

I. SINGLENESS OF EYE, UNITY OF PURPOSE, CONCENTRATION OF POWER. This one thing I do, he cries, and he does it.

II. His was A SANCTIFIED, BUT BOUNDLESS AMBITION, forever reaching forth in the direction of higher acquisitions of spiritual truth and nobler results of Christian work.

III. PAUL PRESSED EVEN TOWARD A DEFINITE WORK. Paul's mark was the highest that ever loomed up before a human soul.

IV. THIS WAS ALSO THE PRIZE HE SOUGHT. Earth has its prizes, its crowns, its plaudits, its splendid fortunes. Heaven's real prize is Christ Himself, and so Paul's aspiration was, "That I may win Christ and be found in Him."

(P. S. Henson, D. D.)

was what it should be. —


1. Of course the figure is not strictly applicable to the reality. Life cannot break itself from the past. The continuity of life cannot be divided at any point. Nor would it be well if it could. Up to whatever point we have run our race we have accumulated experience which has entered into life's texture and given it direction and colour which it will more or less always keep. And Paul did not mean it in this sense. There are dark days and bright faces that will never die away.

2. What the apostle means is that we are to forget the things which are behind as no longer practically concerning us. Nothing can now be altered.(1) Did we stand well in the past? Then let us not take credit for it. There is no time for self-elation or self-sufficiency. As soon as you begin to dwell with self-complacency on the past you lose your ideal of duty, and your right sense of the claims of the future and the present. This is the mark of a small and never of a great life.(2) Have we done imperfectly or ill in the past? Let us not brood or despair. The past is done with us, let us have done with it, and in putting off the old let us put on the new. The future is before you; the present is still yours.


1. Life by itself has a tendency to stagnate, to grow commonplace, bounded in desire and aim. The young live mainly in the future; but by and by the vision fades away or becomes limited. A definite prospect of duty opens up within which the man must work, and find his happiness in working. Many lives are wrecked at this point, just because they wilt not settle and go to some definite work. The world neglected, neglects them. The very dream of hope to do something better has been their rum.

2. But this is no reason why a hopeful eagerness towards the future should die out of life. All right-minded men should have their gaze so far on the future that they may hope to become better and have more enthusiasm and patient continuance in well doing. This is to stretch forth unto the things before; to have not merely an ideal, but to work out our character, by God's help, more and more into the forms of that ideal.

3. In whatever respect we feel that we are offenders against the law of Divine perfection revealed in Christ let us be more active. It is too often the case as life goes on to get contented with our characters such as they are.


1. Paul did not perplex himself with questions as to the meaning of life, or use of it. He was not found asking, as clever writers now are, Is life worth living? Such is only the case when a kind of sickness has come over human speculation. Paul had too much common sense and manliness, and moreover had a real work to do.

2. His example may be beyond us, but the spirit that moved him to work may be ours. It is not necessary that we should have any great work to do, although we have all such work in the improvement of our own characters, and in making life sweet around us.

3. Unlike many in our day, who have cast the hope of the future away from them, we have something for which to work — the mark for the prize of the high calling.

(Principal Tullock.)

The future for the young, we say, the present for the middle-aged, the past for the old. But these words of sublime hopefulness are from "Paul the Aged."


1. The two objects of hope and effort are distinct though connected. The mark is reached by the runner's effort, the prize is the reward given for victory. The former stands for "being made conformable unto Christ's death," the latter for "attaining the resurrection;" or the mark is likeness to Christ, and the prize whatsoever glory and felicity God shall give besides.

2. Then there is to be a distinct recognition of moral perfection as our conscious aim, and our efforts are allowably stimulated by the hope of the fair reward it ensures. If you want to be blessed you must be good; if you want to get to heaven you must be like Christ.

3. Our highest condition is not the attainment of perfection, but the recognition of heights above us as yet unreached.(1) Such recognition is the condition of all progress. The artist who is satisfied with his transcript of his ideal will never grow any more. Unless we saw an ideal far above us, the actual would never approximate toward it. The unrest born of the contrast between these two marks man off from the happy contentment of the brutes beneath him, and the happy peacefulness of the angels of God.(2) That is eminently true of "growth in grace." The type for us is the express image of God in Christ. To that supreme beauty our nature is capable of unlimited approach. No bounds can be set to it.(3) There are two ideas in that notion of perfection.

(a)Extirpation of sin;

(b)Attainment of the Divine likeness.Sin may be extirpated, and yet the second process may be in its infancy. And we shall not stop growing in heaven, but through the eternities we shall be growing wiser, nobler, stronger, greater, and more filled with God.(4) This grand future should draw our thoughts all the more to itself, because it is not only grand, but certain. "We know that...we shall be like Him."(5) And therefore that habit of living in the future should make us glad and confident. And that is the true temper for wider interests than our own. Live in the future for yourselves, and for the world. Believe in a millennium of some sort or other, because that faith is wrapped up in the confidence that God loves us all, and is shaping this earth's history to His own perfect aim, and instead of lamenting "the former days were better," let us believe that the time will come when our brethren with us will have reached the mark, and the purposes of God finished in a redeemed humanity and a perfected world.


1. This advice goes dead against much "experimental" Christianity; but it is wise for all that. All sorts of backward looking are a positive weakness and impediment to a man in running a race. Time given to such occupation is withdrawn from the actual work of life. A man cannot run with his eyes over his shoulder; he is sure to knock against somebody, and so be delayed and hindered. And if you stand there looking backwards instead of making the best of your way out of evil, the evil will catch you up. Remembering always tends to become a substitute for doing. But take the injunction more specifically.

1. Forget past failures. They are apt to weaken you. You say, "I shall never be any better. Experience teaches me my limits." So it does. There are certain things we shall never be able to do, but it says nothing about the limits in our line of things. There is no limit in that respect, and to take the past as proving it is to deny the power of God's gospel, the expansibility of the soul, and the promise of the Divine Spirit.

2. Forget past attainments.(1) They are apt to become food for complacency and every vain confidence. We are apt to say, "At such and such a time I was converted and growing in Christian attainments. Then my heart was cleaving to the Lord, and filled with His fulness." Yes, and you ate your dinner twenty years ago; will that serve to strengthen you for today? The rain fell on the young spring wheat when you and I were boys; will that do anything towards this year's harvest?(2) These attainments, like failures, do very often become the measure of our notion as to what we shall be able to do in the future, and so cripple us.

2. Forget past circumstances, whether sorrows or joys. The one are not without remedy, the other not perfect. Both are past; why remember them? Why should you carry about parched corn when you dwell among fields white unto harvest? Why clasp a handful of poor withered flowers when the grass is sown with their bright eyes opening to the sunshine?


1. Be the past and future what they may, I cannot reach the one nor forget the other except by setting myself with all my might to present duties and by reducing all duties to various forms of one life purpose.

2. How is that noble ideal reached? It is the spirit in which, not the work at which, we work that makes life one. A hundred processes may go to the manufacture of a pin. We may all be trying to be like Jesus Christ, whatever may be the material at which we toil.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

1. This is the language of men who subdue the world, the motto of all heroes, the secret of all triumph.

2. We here observe one of those laws of compensation by which nature would atone for the inequality of her gifts. All men have not great talents: but all men may have great industry, and as talents are useless without diligence, one talent improved by honest labour will make a greater man than ten that rust unused.

3. Paul's entire life was an illustration of the text. As a lad he was bent on scholarship, and won honours at the feet of Gamaliel; as a member of the Jewish Church by his prodigal ability he soon placed himself beyond parallel. As a convert to Christianity he was the same man in singleness and intensity of purpose.

4. Another feature in Paul's character. He arrogates no particular saintship. His fellow disciples are not left to infer that his path is accessible to no traveller but himself, He preaches to sinners as the chief of sinners, to Christians as a fellow citizen; the race and fight were his no less than theirs.


1. Whatever he had given up for Christ (ver. 7). He forgot them in the sense of neglecting them. He not only never repented these sacrifices, he forgot them. The Israelites fondly recollected the fleshpots of Egypt, and there are Christians who dispute with themselves whether in the sensitive jealousy of their first love they did not make too many sacrifices for their Master. The man who calculates with even a tincture of discontent what he has suffered for Jesus, has never seen the Cross.

2. The errors and doubts that marked his first approach to Christ.(1) He never said but once, "Who art thou, Lord? What wilt Thou have me do?" As soon as it pleased God to reveal His Son to Paul, he disentangled his mind forever from the elements or rudiments that typified and foreshadowed Christ, and never returned to those beggarly elements. Mark the confidence of his personal feelings when he finds occasion to impart them — "I know whom I have believed." This is the language of a man who has laid aside forever the doubt of his acceptance with God, of Christ's ability to save, of his Master's constant presence and guiding spirit. Doubts on other matters arising in the progress of his ministry he would discuss in their proper time, but those which had been once disposed of were forgotten forever.(2) What a melancholy religion is theirs who are ever contending with old doubts. After the Lord has shown Himself to the eye of faith, they seem unable to let this matter rest. A conversation with an unbeliever, the perusal of a book, the pressure of a besetting sin, disturbs their assurance, and they go over the old ground.(3) Having obtained faith in Jesus and adoption into God's family, they ought to give all diligence to add to their faith courage to confess it. A bold utterance of our trust in Jesus is an excellent remedy for unbelieving fears. To this boldness of confession they should add knowledge, and follow on to know the Lord. This will multiply instances of His faithfulness. And then, lest knowledge should puff up, there should follow self-discipline, meek endurance, fervent piety towards God, and charity to men.

II. We have seen what Paul left behind: LET US NOW COME UP TO THE FRONT AND LOOK INTO THE DISTANCE FOR THE THINGS TOWARDS WHICH PAUL IS RUNNING, AND REACHING AS HE RUNS. These are all embraced in fellowship with Christ.

1. Few knew more of Christ than Paul, yet he considered his attainments but as the first steps in a path of ever-unfolding discovery. Jesus was a mine just opened; and he describes his prospects like a man almost bewildered by the sudden inheritance of wealth untold.

2. To win Christ was not to gain His favour simply, but to be conformed to His image.

(E. E. Jenkins, LL. D.)


1. The apostle's principle is the very one which makes the civilized man distinct from the barbarian. The characteristic of the former is restless progressiveness; of the latter, supineness and stagnation..(1) The civilizing man has his caravan track, but he will have one directer and easier. He has turnpikes and stage coaches, but he must level or tunnel the mountain, and lay a pavement of iron, and chain his ear to a horse of fire. The earth yields him enough to eat, but he will not live by bread alone; he must eat bread enough to bring with it a better provided life; so he contrives steam ploughs and threshers to make the arm of the farmer equal to the productive power of the sun and field. He finds the pen too slow, hence his types and cylinders scatter libraries. On the other hand, the barbarian is content to live in a hut, to scratch the ground with a stick, to trudge on foot with a trail for a road. He takes the world as he finds it, and leaves it as he found it.(2) But the one sort do not all live where civilization prevails, nor do the others in lands where barbarism is dominant. Every civilized region has risen out of barbarism, and we see the barbarian spirit in stagnant conservatism resisting improvement.(3) None the less does the old barbarian strain come to the surface. When a man thinks of his moral condition, he says, "I am as good as the average of my neighbours." It is this from which man has to be saved.

2. A rule which God has made fundamental in the world, we must make so in individual life.(1) Since the day when man first lighted a fire to boil his pot, and hollowed out his first canoe, up to the day when the latest development of these contrivances appears in the steamship which can sail three thousand miles a week, the world has never rested in its advance. What achievements has the world made and forgotten in achieving better. Again and again it would seem as if the men of Babylon, of Memphis, of Athens, and Rome must have said to themselves, "No more beyond." Modern men have said this, and prophesied dire results from setting up of power instead of hand looms, sewing machines instead of needles, locomotives instead of coach horses. But the world moved on to "forget the things behind," etc.(2) Said the popes to those who saw a purer Church and truth attainable, "No more beyond, except the fire for those who would disturb our established order." So said the English kings of the seventeenth century to the uprising spirit of liberty. So say the theologians today; but the world and the Church move on. There are branches to spring from the ever-growing trees that have not yet even budded.(3) What God works in the great whole, we are to work in our part. He in the man, we as the molecules of the man are to be of one mind — "forgetting," etc.


1. While we derive inspirations of confidence from contemplating the grand law of the world's increasing progress, must we not see a stern rebuke upon every life not in harmony with this law?

2. On what principle is our personal life and thought conducted? So far as relates to our worldly condition, our constant endeavour for betterment as the necessity of an undecaying life. How then about the far more important thing? All unimproveable life must sooner or later run out. When the law of development will not work, the law of decay and dissolution is the only one that will. Work, then, with the better law intelligently, consistently, perseveringly.

3. The great reproach of Christianity is its passive content with an average morality, and a life devoid of aspiration to higher levels — in a word, its spiritual barbarism, stagnant, supine, and poor in power.

(J M. Whiton, Ph. D.)

Trees have their winter as well as their summer foliage. Every one is familiar with the buds which tip the extremities of every branch in spring. On the outside they are covered with dry, glossy scales, which are true leaves of the lowest type. They are formed in spring, and grow during the whole summer, though very slowly, owing to the diversion of the sap from them to the foliage, behind which they are hid. As the season advances, the sap gradually ceases to flow to the summer leaves, which therefore ultimately fade and fall from the tree; and the last movements of it, at the end of autumn, are directed towards the buds, in order to prepare them for taking at the proper time the place of the generation of leaves that has just perished. But in spring, the buds, stimulated by the unwonted sunshine, begin to open at their sharp extremities. And as the young green leaves within expand in the genial atmosphere, the services of the bud scales, or covering leaves, are no longer needed, and by and by they roll away, and fall one by one from the tree, strewing the ground beneath till it looks like a threshing floor. Thus every tree has a double leaf fall every year. The winter leaves, which are designed for the protection of the bud during winter, are pushed off by the growth of the summer leaves from the bud in spring; and the summer leaves, which are designed for the nourishment and growth of the tree in summer, wither and fall off in autumn. Cold is fatal to the summer leaves; warmth is fatal to the winter leaves. Inactivity renders useless the summer leaves; and growth supersedes the winter leaves.


1. In his unconverted state, there were many things on which he prided himself — the scenes and associations of his youth, the eager sympathies of his opening intellect, and his ardent affection for the polity and religion of his fathers. But all these natural qualifications of the man belonged to the winter or unregenerate state of his soul; were winter leaves that hid and confined the germ of spiritual life.

2. But although worthless as grounds of justification, they had their own value in training and fitting him for his work. Like the bud scales, they afforded protection and nourishment. All that he had acquired, he laid on the altar.

3. And when the great crisis of his life came — the spring time of his conversion, a light exceeding the brightness of the noonday sun shone upon him; and in this warm genial atmosphere of grace, the germ of spiritual life unfolded itself within, and burst its wrappings. Old forms ceased to have any hold upon his affections and homage. He died to his former self and all its experiences, and lived a new life in Jesus. The winter leaves having served their purpose, now dropped off, and the summer leaves of grace — the blossoms of holiness, the fruits of righteousness — had full liberty to grow and develop themselves.

4. But we must not suppose that the dropping was without effort or pain. It sometimes needs a severe gust of wind to shake off the scales that still linger around the bud. And it was with a sore wrench that St. Paul tore himself away from all his former cherished associations.

5. But even in his converted state there were many things which Paul required to forget. The branch of a tree puts forth bud after bud in its gradual growth anal enlargement. These summer leaves, having added a cubit to the stature of the branch, pass away; and the added growth in its turn puts forth a new bud covered with its scales or winter leaves, which drop off the following spring, and allow the imprisoned summer leaves once more to unfold themselves in the sunny air. And so was it with St. Paul. His spiritual life from the beginning to the end was a series of fresh beginnings. Not once merely at conversion, but often in his converted state, had he to form and to drop the winter leaves in the process of spiritual growth. There were many things by which his spiritual life was nourished and guarded — which had to be blotted out if he would go on to perfection. And so he reached forth unto those things which were before.


1. Forgetfulness of what is behind is an essential element in the progress of every believer. In our conversion we must separate ourselves from the associations of our unregenerate state, and count those things that were gain to us, loss, so that we may be found in Christ. These winter leaves must fall off, when the vernal season of grace has come, and we who were dead in trespasses and sins are made alive unto God.

2. But not at this initiatory stage merely is there to be a discarding of the things that are behind. At every subsequent stage of our growth there must be the same process. By a course of prosperity our souls are made to unfold in gratitude to God and beneficence to men. In a season of sorrow we are made more heavenly reminded. But these means are not to be cherished as if they were the end. We are to keep them in the background, and prize the character they have formed for the glory of God, and not for self-complacency. These winter leaves that cherished and nourished our growth in grace must drop off from time to time, with each new attainment that we "may rise on stepping stones of our dead selves to nobler things."

3. But not the means of growth and formative processes of the Christian character only, must be left behind and forgotten; the very ends, the growths themselves, must also be superseded. In a certain sense each attainment must be the bud covering of a succeeding attainment, and fall away when it is matured. There must be a double leaf fall from the soul as well as from the tree. The summer leaves that are cherished must drop off as well as the winter leaves that cherished them. And so the beautiful blossoms of grace must be left behind. To rest satisfied with attainment is to check development. It is amazing how soon when we cease to forget the things that are behind, and remain stationary we degenerate. When means become ends, they encase us with a hard covering impervious to the tender influences of heaven.


1. Very many believers stop short at the very initial processes of grace, and imagine that these are the final ends — that nothing more can be desired or attained. It is as if the life of the tree always remained in the bud, instead of casting off its wrappings and expanding into summer foliage and fruit. Conversion is indeed all essential, for while the heart is unchanged there can be neither life nor growth; but it is merely the commencement of a course. Conversion, justification, and peace are the first principles of the doctrine of Christ. They are not, indeed, to be dropped as mere bud scales, as mere means to an end — for they are the basis upon which all the subsequent efforts of the spiritual life are to be made. But just as in the unfolding buds of the lilac and horse chestnut tree, the covering leaves of winter, pass through intermediate changes — in the one into the blades of the leaf, and in the other into the leaf stalks — so the principles of the doctrine of Christ are to be carried on in the growth, and their substance is to be used up and modified, as it were, in the expansion of the soul. In this sense the things that are behind are to be forgotten.

2. It is vain to tell the believer to forget the things that are behind, to discard the preparatory means by which he advances in piety by a mere temporary effort of will. He cannot do so. It is only by growing that he can get rid of the things no longer essential; and what he cannot remove, except by a violent destructive wrench, will fall off easily, and of its own accord, when superseded and rendered effete by growth.

3. To this development we should be further stimulated by the consideration that the bud whose growth is arrested becomes transformed into a thorn. If our winter leaves — the experiences that contribute to form our character, and which are appropriate to the various stages of our growth — be allowed to remain unchanged and unforgotten, and to choke up our spiritual life so as to arrest its advancement, they will be changed into thorns. The peace that we trust in will vanish in sorrow. The attainment with which we are satisfied becomes a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet us lest we be exalted above measure. It is no unusual thing to see a branch of a tree whose vital activity is so enfeebled that its growth is arrested. Its terminal bud loses the power of throwing off its winter leaves, because no summer leaves form in its interior. The bud then dies, and the branch withers and becomes fit for the burning. And so it is, alas! no unusual thing to see branches in Christ whose spiritual life is so weak that their growth is at a standstill. They lose the power of forgetting the things that are behind, because they are not reaching forth unto those things which are before. They are therefore in danger of perishing. There is a sense, indeed, in which we cannot forget the things that are behind, strive as we may. The winter leaves or bud scales of a tree leave behind them when they drop off a peculiar mark or scar on the bark, just as the summer leaves do when they fall. On every branch a series of these scars, in the shape of rings closely set together, may be seen, indicating the points where each growing shoot entered on the stage of rest. And so every experience through which we pass, every act we perform, goes into the very substance of our being, and we can never be after it what we were before it. But though these things cannot in this sense be forgotten, they should not be allowed to hang around us to impede our efforts at improvement, any more than the development of the tree is impeded by its scars. We must remember the failures and sins of the past in order to magnify the mercy that forgave.Conclusion:

1. Taking a comprehensive view of the universe, we find that everything has a special object to perform, and when that object is accomplished, the agency perishes. The material system of nature will some day be dissolved. Life on earth is not an end, but a means — a state of discipline and preparation for something higher and nobler beyond, and is therefore transitory in its duration. So, too, the means of grace are the scaffolding by the aid of which the spiritual life is built up, and will be removed as a deformity when the building is completed. Everything that is purely subordinate and distinctive in religion — that is extraneous to the spiritual nature, however necessary to educate it — will vanish as the winter leaves of time from the expanding bud of everlasting life. "And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three."

2. It is through loss that all gain in this world is made. But in heaven a different law of development will prevail. In the trees of warm climates the buds have no winter leaves or protective scales, being simply formed of the ordinary leaves rolled up; consequently they expand in growth without losing anything. And so it will be in the eternal summer above. There will be a constant unfolding of the fulness of immortal life from glory to glory; but there will be no loss of the processes and experiences through which the unfolding will take place. The means and the end will be one and the same. There will be a constant reaching forth unto those things which are before, but there will be no forgetting the things that are behind.

(H. Macmillan, LL. D.)

This one thing I do
The secret of all moral force, of all spiritual success, of all reality, is concentration. And what is concentration? The whole man gathering himself up to a point — oneness of being, body, soul, spirit — the will, judgment, energy in unity. And what is unity? The reflection of the one great God. What a beautiful thing is unity, where all the attributes of God meet together in love; beautiful is the world of harmonies in the home where there is no jarring element, in the knit Church, in the man who, having learned the pervading power of the love of Jesus, says henceforth, "This one thing I do."


1. The exclusive way. A man may determine to have nothing to do with anything not essentially religious.

2. The inclusive way, when a man makes a wide circle of engagements converge towards religion.

II. TO MAKE LIFE, AS IT OUGHT TO BE, ONE, THE GREAT REQUISITE IS TO HAVE ONE FIXED AIM. It is the want of this that makes the life of so many weak, uncertain, capricious. The far, high, gathering point, high enough to sustain life, is only one — the glory of God. Some of you did once live for another object — pleasure, self, sin. You served your master with good service. What you have to do now is to throw as much heart into the new purpose as you did once into the old.


1. All the lines of life go up to it. You can eat and drink to it, and do whatever you do to it.

2. It is God's end: the end for which God is, for which He gave Christ, for which He does everything.

IV. UNDER THIS END OF ENDS AND SUBSERVIENT TO IT IT IS THE DUTY OF EVERY ONE TO HAVE SOME DISTINCT CHRISTIAN PURPOSE ALWAYS BEFORE HIM. It is marvellous how, when you have a work in hand for God, it will brace up your whole being. If you are troubled with wandering thoughts in prayer or in Church, it is because your outer life is not concentrated. If you would live a braced life everywhere you would find fixedness of thought in your devotions.

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)

The famous De Witt, one of the greatest statesmen of his age, being asked how he was able to dispatch the multitude of affairs in which he was engaged, replied that his" whole art consisted in doing one thing at a time.

(S. Budgett.)

That was a grand action of old when he laid all his pressing engagements aside to achieve a purpose to which he felt a call from heaven. He had a large congregation — as large a one as any of us need want; but he said to his people, "Now, it is of necessity that the New Testament should be translated; you must find another preacher. The translation must be made; I am bound for the wilderness, and shall not return till my task is finished." Away he went with his manuscripts, and prayed and laboured, and produced a work — the Latin — which will last as long as the world stands; on the whole, a most wonderful translation of Holy Scripture.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I asked Sir James Scarlett what was the secret of his preeminent success as an advocate. He replied that he took care to press home the one principal point of the case without paying much regard to the others. He also said that he know the secret of being short. "I find," said he, "that when I exceed half an hour I am always doing mischief to my client; if I drive into the heads of the jury unimportant matter, I drive out matter more important which I had previously lodged there."

(Sir T. F. Buxton.)

A Frenchman hit off in a single phrase the characteristic quality of the inhabitants of a particular district, in which a friend of his proposed to settle and buy land. "Beware," said he, "of working a purchase there; I know the men of that department; the students who come from it to our veterinary school in Paris do not strike hard upon this anvil; they want energy, and you will not get any satisfactory return on the capital you may invest there."

(S. Smiles, LL. D.)

He has a purpose that miner's son. That purpose is the acquisition of knowledge. He speedily exhausts the resources of Mansfeld, reads hard, devours lectures at Magdeburg, and at the age of eighteen has outstripped his fellows, has a university for his admirer, and professors predicting for him the most successful career of the age. He has a purpose that scholar of Erfurt. That purpose is the discovery of truth, for in an old library he has stumbled on a Bible. Follow him out into the new world which that volume has flashed upon his soul. With Pilate's question on his lip and in his heart, he foregoes his brilliant prospects — parts without a sigh with academical distinctions — takes monastic vows in an Augustine convent; until at last Pilate's question answered on Pilate's stairs — then comes the thrice repeated gospel whisper, "The just shall live by faith," and the glad evangel scatters the darkening and shreds off the paralysis, and he rises into moral freedom, a new man in the Lord! He has a purpose that Augustine monk. That purpose is the Reformation. Waiting with the modesty of the hero until he is forced into the strife, with the courage of the hero he steps into the breach to do battle for the living truth.

(W. M. Punshon, LL. D.)

On one bright summer day the boy, then just seven years old, lay on the bank of the rivulet which flows through the old domain of his house to join the Isis. Then, as threescore and ten years later he told the tale, rose in his mind a scheme which through all the turns of his eventful career, was never abandoned. He would recover the estate which belonged to his fathers. He would be Hastings of Daylesford. This purpose formed in infancy and poverty, grew stronger as his intellect expanded and his fortunes rose. He pursued his plan with that calm but indomitable force of will which was the most striking peculiarity of his character. When, under a tropical sun, he ruled 50,000,000 of Asiatics, his hopes, amidst all the cares of war, finance, and legislation, still pointed to Daylesford, the possession of it being the summit of his ambition. At length the wish was accomplished; and the domain, alienated more than seventy years before, returned to the descendants of its old lords, and when his public life was closed forever, it was to Daylesford that he retired to die.

(Lord Macaulay.)

Forgetting the things that are behind





(Professor Hollard.)

The things behind and the memory of them may be helpful or hurtful. We often find the former, e.g., God's mercies are to be remembered as a theme of gratitude; past sins to produce penitence; former history as ground of warning and hope (Deuteronomy 4:9; Deuteronomy 8:2; Deuteronomy 9:7; Psalm 77:5; Psalm 103:2; Ezekiel 16:63). Paul speaks of the past as hurtful, a hindrance. He speaks as a runner; perfect as regards equipment, consecration, aim; but not perfected as having attained the goal; he looks not behind him but hurries on. The memory of things behind —

I. MAY CAUSE DECLENSION. Israel remembered the fleshpots of Egypt and turned back and tempted God. Lot's wife looked back and perished. Many in answer to Christ's call say, "Suffer me first to — ." Rich young ruler.

1. Former character and prospects have to be forgotten.

2. Former sins.

3. Former companionships, or they may draw the soul back to perdition.


1. Victories achieved; temptations resisted elated Samson to his hurt. Even when the glory is given to God there is apt to be a ring of self-satisfaction, "I am not as other men." If we have taken a gun from the enemy, let us go and take another, and not sit idly down.

2. Sacrifices may become a cause of pride — "Lord, we have left all and followed Thee." Yet what does the "all" amount to.

3. So of trials.

4. Of attainments. We may say of ourselves, "Well done, good and faithful servant." But whatever they are, they are as nothing compared with what is before; and inasmuch as they are all of grace, we have nothing to glory of.

5. Past enjoyments.

6. The people we have left. "If any man love father or mother more than Me," etc.


1. Falls and failures: no use trying any more.

2. Difficulties and dangers: David thought he would one day fall by the hand of Saul.

3. Guilt contracted; time lost; work undone; salvation neglected; resolutions broken; convictions stifled — all this and much more may be behind. But brooding is no more to be encouraged than boasting. Start afresh.

(J. Smith, M. A.)

We are as children taught as in a play; instructed by toys and pictures. But the day does come when the form should be lost to us in the reality, the letter lost in the spirit. The bird must forget its nest, the seed its husk, the flower its bud. The tree may be full of bloom, and an orchard is a beauteous sight, but the blossom must wither away and be forgotten in the fruit. These things get behind, they pertain to the past, and are of it. The bud must burst, the flower blow, the nest foul. That in which the seeds of things were bound and nourished must become a dried and worthless skin; and the finest foliage must fade; and to such things it is unwise to hold. They should be forgotten, and, whether you forget them or not (and some men never do), they are sure to get behind; and if you do not forget them you are behind also, and can never reach the goal.

(W. Hubbard.)

We are like one sailing down rapid stream, intensely anxious as to the issue of our voyage, and fearful of the dangers which await us, and yet turning our backs on both, and trying to derive encouragement from gazing at that portion of our course already past, and every moment growing less and less visible. Of what avail, to such a mariner, is even distinct view of some distant point long since swept by, when his vessel is approaching some perilous pass, or passing through some vast and foaming estuary into the deep sea. Oh, surely it is then time to forget what is past, and to bend forward to reach forth to that which is before.

(J. W. Alexander, D. D.)

A writer tells how years, long years before, he cut the initials of his name in the bark of a tree, and after many years he came and trod through the tasselled grass to the grey old beech tree where he had whittled his boyish name. The blackbirds were singing among the alders, the green foliage of the branches spread above, the green carpet spread a sward below, and through the interlacing boughs were glimpses of the ancient blue of the firmament; but when he found the tree he could not discover the letters of his name, only a curious scar in the bark. So the scars of the heart heal over; and, indeed, however sorrowful and bitter a man's experiences, he must be a woeful and a miserable man who, in this world of great interests, can find nothing to talk of but his own griefs, the neglect he has received, the extortions and vexations by which he has suffered. What a petty world such a man must live in; under what a low sky he must walk; in what, a muggy atmosphere he must breathe. Oh, let us remember that hate is transitory, is temporal, like the sear on the bark of a tree; but love, goodwill, is eternal, like the grey old firmament, which, old as it is, was never younger than it is today. "Forget the things which are behind." There is strength in forgetting; "let the dead bury their dead." We can only be cheerful while we forget.

(Paxton Hood.)

I once crossed the "Warm Spring Mountain" in the early morning. The sun was just rising. All the valley between the Blue Ridge and the Alleghenies was filled with a silvery mist, level at the surface as a sea line. But above the horizontal sea, three or four mountain peaks projected themselves like islands dotting the expanse. Thus it is with the memories of past sorrows. They emerge from the sea which has swallowed up so much else. We cannot forget our early griefs and bereavements. But we must not permit them to obliterate the appreciation of present mercies. We must hear the voice of the Master, saying, Thy brother, thy sister, thy child shall rise again. Remembered griefs are prophetic of coming joys. Forgetting the things which are behind we press forward to the time when "we shall be ever with one another and with the Lord."

(M. D. Hoge, D. D.)

Paul could not have meant that he literally forgot the past, for had he done so, both present and future would have been alike useless to him. The past is the sculptor, the ten thousand touches of whose chisel have given to our present lives the shapes they wear; it is the painter too that has coloured these forms with every tint and hue they bear. All the influences that have made our actual characters what they now are came out of the past, just as the seed sown in earlier seasons, with their sunshine and rain, make the subsequent harvest. Were we to forget past knowledge, ours would be the ignorance of infancy; if past experiences were obliterated, our imbecility would be that of idiocy. If history is philosophy teaching by example, the erasure of the remembrance of the events of our own history would strip both philosophy and religion of the power to teach at all.

(M. D. Hoge, D. D.)

You find some certain type of Christian character, or exercise of Christian grace, that is easy and natural to you, and you come to know how to do it. It becomes your special habit, which is all right, but it also tends to become your limit, which is wrong. Habits are like fences, very good to guard the soul from sudden incursions of trespassers, but very bad when the trunk has grown up and presses against their stubborn rings. And many of us simply keep on doing the narrow round of things that we fancy we can do well, or have always been in the way of doing, like barrel organs, grinding our poor little set of tunes, without any notion of the great sea of music that stretches all round about us, and which is not pegged out upon our cylinders at all.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

There may have been floating in the apostle's mind, combined with the image of the racer, some remembrance of the old story in the Book of Genesis about Lot's wife. She looked back, and as she stood there gazing behind her, precious time was irrevocably lost, the fugitives swept on in front, and the swift-flying death that struck her with terror, as she saw it pressing close behind, caught her up. She was whelmed in the fiery destruction that filled the air; and as the shower of ashes at Pompeii moulded themselves over the forms of the poor wretches that were smothered by them, and preserved till today the print of the very waves of their hair and the texture of their dress, "salt" was crusted round that living core, and she perished, because she wasted in trembling retrospect the flying moments which, rightly used, would have set her in safety.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Reaching forth to the things which are before
Homiletic Monthly.
The impulse of a river is ever onward. So of all things physical and intellectual. The world's building was prospective. Animal organism reads onward toward the image of God. Everything in earth's geology, and everything on earth's surface, point towards a future. The little child is telling what he intends when he is a man. Thoughts fly on wings toward the tomorrow. The affections, the adhesive powers of the soul, speak the same language. Now, why all this? What does it mean? It must mean something. It means that there is a future and a God. God has gone that way. He has passed through, and these are His footprints. If there is no God, no future, let the atheist tell us what the meaning is.

(Homiletic Monthly.)

I. THERE ARE THINGS BEFORE EVERY CHRISTIAN towards which he is proceeding. There is childhood, youth, manhood in Christian life. Here you see the difference between a self-deceiver and a Christian. There is no growth before a hypocrite any more than there is in an artificial flower. He may change, but there is no life in him, and therefore he cannot advance. There are things before him.

1. As one endowed with talents which must be ceaselessly used. God gives him opportunities. He must use them. Some do not see their opportunities because their eyes are shut: some see their opportunities but do not use them, because they are indolent or their talents rusty from long disuse.

2. As one exposed to fresh demands on principles and powers of all kinds. The exhibition of new phases of character is before him. He may not have known much trouble, but he has to undergo the discipline of suffering. Then in working there has not been much demand made on patience.

3. As one must continue to the end.

4. Death.

5. The everlasting kingdom.

II. THERE ARE CERTAIN THINGS BEFORE EVERY CHURCH. The body is not one member but many. Before the Church, therefore, is — 1 The real, conscious, manifested unity of all its members. To join the Church is not sufficient, you must contribute to its life.

2. Continued and ever improving mutual service. Each is to help the others.

3. The increase of itself.

4. An extending and improving influence on society.

5. An increasing ministration to the whole body of Christ.

6. The preaching of the gospel to every creature.

III. While certain things are before every Christian and every Church, PARTICULAR THINGS ARE BEFORE PARTICULAR CHRISTIANS AND CHURCHES. Every mineral is not a diamond. Every star is not a sun.

(S. Martin.)Paul reached forth to the things before.


1. Absolute pardon. Continued demerit calls for continued mercy.

2. Absolute assurance of forgiveness.

3. Absolute conformity to the Divine character and will as immediately and specifically exhibited in Christ.

4. The fellowship of the Spirit in all its perfection.

5. A perfect accordance in present action with the prospect of the great day.

II. AS REGARDED A DIFFUSIVE USEFULNESS. The same perfection he aimed at for himself he aimed at for "every man" (Colossians 1:28).

(D. King, LL. D.)

St. Paul is like one of those eager charioteers of whom his guardsmen so often spoke to him when they had returned from the contests in the Circus Maximus, and joined their shouts to those of the myriads who cheered their favourite colours — leaning forward in his flying car, bending over the shaken rein and the goaded steed, forgetting everything — every peril, every competitor, every circling of the meta in the rear, as he pressed on for the goal by which sat the judges with the palm garlands that formed the prize.

(Archdeacon Farrar.)

The picture is that of a racer in his agony of struggle and hope. You see him! — every muscle strained and every vein starting — the quick and short heaving of his chest — the big drops gathered on his brow — his body bending forward, as if with frantic gesture he already clutched the goal — his eye, now glancing aside with a momentary sparkle at objects so rapidly disappearing behind him, and then fixing itself on the garland in eager anticipation. The apostle is not leaving, he is forgetting the things behind; he is not merely looking, he is reaching forth unto the things before; not only does he run, he presses toward the mark; nor was he occupied, weakened, or delayed by a variety of pursuits — "This one thing I do."

(Professor Eadie.)

The idea is that of a man stretching himself out towards something as a runner does, with his body straining forward, the hand and the eye drawn onward towards the goal. He does not think of the furlongs that he has passed, he heeds not the nature of the ground over which he runs. The sharp stones in the path do not stay him, nor the flowerets in the grass catch his glance. The white faces of the crowd around the course are seen as in a flash as he rushes past them to the winning post, and the parsley garland that hangs there is all that he is conscious of. "They do it to obtain a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible." Let us, with eye and hand flung forward, "stretch out towards the things that are before," and imitate that example — not in the fierce whirl of excitement, indeed, but in fixed regard to, and concentrated desire of, the mark and the prize.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

is like those problems in mathematics where we can never find the true answer. We may go on working the sum for years, and though each succeeding figure brings us nearer to it, we can never actually reach it.

(H. Melvil, B. D.)

Perfection is being, not doing — it is not to effect an act but to achieve a character. If the aim of life were to do something, then, as in an earthly business, except in doing this one thing the business would he at a standstill. The student is riot doing the one thing of student life when he has ceased to think or read. The labourer leaves his work undone when the spade is not in his hand, and he sits beneath the hedge to rest. But in Christian life, every moment and every act is an opportunity for doing the one thing of becoming Christ-like. Every day is full of a most impressive experience. Every temptation to evil temper which can assail us today will be an opportunity to decide the question whether we shall gain the calmness and the rest of Christ, or whether we shall be tossed by the restlessness and agitation of the world. Nay, the very vicissitudes of the seasons, day and night, heat and cold, affecting us variably, and producing exhilaration or depression, are so contrived as to conduce towards the being which we become, and decide whether we shall be masters of ourselves, or whether we shall be swept at the mercy of accident and circumstance, miserably susceptible of merely outward influences. Infinite as are the varieties of life, so manifold are the paths to saintly character; and he who has not found out how directly or indirectly to make everything converge towards his soul's sanctification, has as yet missed the meaning of this life.

(F. W. Robertson, M. A.)

A neighbour near my study persists in practising upon the flute. He bores my ears as with an augur, and renders it almost an impossibility to think. Up and down the scale he remorselessly runs, until even the calamity of temporary deafness would almost be welcome to me. Yet he teaches me that I must practise if I would be perfect; must exercise myself unto godliness if I would be skilful; must, in fact, make myself familiar with the Word of God, with holy living, and saintly dying. Such practice, moreover, will be as charming as my neighbour's flute is intolerable.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Confucius' son once said to him, "I apply myself with diligence to every kind of study, and neglect nothing that could render me clever and ingenious; but still I do not advance." "Omit some of your pursuits," replied Confucius, "and you will get on better. Among those who travel constantly on foot, have you ever observed any who run? It is essential to do everything in order, and only grasp that which is within the reach of your arm; for otherwise you give yourself useless trouble. Those who, like yourself, desire to do everything in one day, do nothing to the end of their lives, while others who steadily adhere to one pursuit find that they have accomplished their purpose."

"Mr. A. often laughs at me," said Professor Henry once, in Princeton College Laboratory, "because I have but one idea. He talks about everything, aims to excel in many things; but I have learned that if I ever make a breach, I must play my guns continually on one point."

Paul's experience teaches us that one unmutilated and entire idea is as much as a man can entertain in his soul, or actualize in his lifetime. Nor herein was Paul's experience anomalous. Such has been the experience as well of all truly efficient men. None of them ever entertained more than one great aim or purpose of being. Noah was a man of one idea. His idea was an ark! And though he did other things, yet the one great thought, moving as a glorious dream through all his chambers of imagery, was something that would float upon stormy and shoreless seas! And this one thing he did — he built. Abraham was of this class. His one idea was a city. He, too, did other things; he trained his servants, commanded his household after him, etc. But amidst his fairest dreams by the ancestral waters, a great voice out of heaven spake to him of "a city which hath foundations, whose builder was God." And evermore afterwards he journeyed towards that city. Nor of regenerated men only is the thought true — of all men who retain amid their moral ruins some lines of the mutilated Divine image — is this a characteristic. A singleness of aim and effort ever hath been — ever will be — the secret of all noble human accomplishment. Napoleon was the most efficient man of his own time, not because gifted above his fellows, either physically or intellectually, but because universal empire was his single aim — he lived only to conquer! Demosthenes was the prince of all earth's orators, not because God gave him a splendid voice, and exquisite grace of motion, but because eloquence was his one idea. He lived only to sweep, as with a roused tempest, over all the AEolian sympathies of the human heart. Newton was the king of astronomers, not because his eye was keener as it scanned the heavens, nor because God gave him mighty wings to sweep through the empyrean, but because, with the power of an omnipresent dream, the constellations of heaven were flashing on his soul! The stars were in his heart. His life was in the stars. So is it ever: singleness of aim, oneness of effort — the gathering of thought, feeling, heart, soul, life into one intense absorbing passion — is the secret of all greatness. And no wonder that Paul was the very chief of the apostles, so that the earth shook at his tread, as when a giant goes on pilgrimage; not because he had read Grecian lore in Cilician schools, and mastered the Hebrew law at Gamaliel's feet, but because, with his heart all afire within him, and his eye, as the eagle's on the sun, fixed on one sublime purpose — in that one thing he gloried — to that one thing he tended.

(C. Wadsworth.)

What a noble thing any life becomes that has driven through it the strength of a uniting single purpose, like a strong shaft of iron bolting together the two tottering walls, of some old building!

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

The life of man is a vagrant, changeful, desultoriness; like that of children sporting on an enameled meadow, chasing now a painted butterfly, which loses its charm by being caught — now a wreath of mist, which falls damp upon the hand with disappointment — now a feather of thistledown, which is crushed in the grasp. In the midst of all this fickleness, St. Paul had found a purpose to which he gave the undivided energy of his soul.

(F. W. Robertson, M. A.)

Look at the machine stamped with the date of half-a-dozen different patents in consecutive years, and see there the image of the diligent inventor bent on alternate excellence, to whom each improvement makes a stepping stone to another improvement, and each difficulty mastered gives greater skill to master the remaining difficulty, until the original creative idea is rounded out in a consummate instrument. Such is the true life of the spirit conformed to the Divine law of progress — not a drift, but a race; not a dream, but a study; not self-contentment, but self-criticism and self-improvement, with the eye on the Divine model, and constantly saying to itself, "This one thing I do."

(J. M. Whiton, Ph. D.)

Progress is the great law of life, but by those even who say so, its principle is not always seen. Progress — what do you mean by that? — is it in the increase of the quantity of material productions? is it in the growth of a nation in the numbers of its population, or in its territory? is it in the advance of agriculture or manufactures? is it in the increase of the superior quality of material appliances? is it in the increase of knowledge, of science, of art? is it in the evolution of the man from the child? the philosopher from the savage? Oh, there is something more and higher than all this and these. Men forget it is with us as it is with our planet. There is a circular movement in which all motions turn on themselves, and return to the point from whence they first set out, and then there is an onward movement, as when the whole system is borne upward into infinite space. It is so with man; he is the subject of a succession of events, that which hath been is now and shall be. How wonderfully the preacher in Ecclesiastes describes this circular movement (chap. Ecclesiastes 1:5).

(Paxton Hood.)

Man is the creature of the same senses; he beholds the same sun, the same streams, and flying clouds; youth succeeds to infancy, and the festival of nature is followed by decay. We live on food, the blood circulates through the frame; and all these motions return on themselves; but there is another motion in man, there is an onward movement — he is a being of religious instincts; and to foster and fan their flames is the end of all religious services and exercises. Oh, is it not sad when the onward movement of the soul is forgotten! The world is good for an inn; but an inn is not a home; and it is unwise to lay any plan of life in which provision is not made for the infinite future of the soul. Do you not see how every good thing takes hold of and leans upon a higher thing? how civilization leans on morality? As a child leans on a parent, and a wife on a husband, and a husband on a wife, and so at last all things lean on God; and well it is that it is so, for he can at any time take off the wheels of the most rapid chariot, He can break the wings of the proudest ambition, and He is, in fact, constantly saying, "Arise, this is not your rest."

(Paxton Hood.)

Rivers do not grow shallower as they roll away from their sources, and so it has been well said, the heart's river ought not to be an exception. It should flow on widening and deepening till it meets the ocean and mingles with it.

(M. D. Hoge, D. D.)

You have stood upon our shores, and seen a ship under full press of sail making for her destination. How she throws aside the seaweed and the waves — how straight amidst the currents she holds her bow — how she strains upon her way, and goes resolutely to her point! The winds are strong, hut the helm overrules the winds, and turns them to account. Life is going on onboard that vessel in many forms, but they are all moving on together to the port — there is a master principle which everything obeys, and they all delight to have it so. And as that ship pursues her bent and often homeward course, it is an emblem to you every day you look at it, of the condition of the life of that man who has had the grace given him to say, "This one thing I do." For so, by just such singleness of purpose, such independence of external things, such a straight, unbending way, the great purpose of life is to be gained, heaven is to be won, and God glorified.

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)

The Confederate General Longstreet, during the battle of Gettysburg, had one of his generals come up to him and report that he was unable to bring up his men again so as to charge the enemy. "Very well," said the general, "just let them remain where they are; the enemy's going to advance, and will spare you the trouble."

(W. Baxendale.)

If the spark which grace has kindled had been left to itself, or to the feeble breath of mortals to preserve it, we might well suppose that nothing more than its continued existence was intended; but when we find an unbroken current of life-giving air from the breath of the Almighty brought to play upon that spark, we may conclude with safety that it was meant to glow and kindle to a flame, and that the flame was meant to rise and spread, and to become a conflagration; so that what at first was but a seed of fire, smothered in ashes, drenched in rain, or blown at random by the viewless winds, shall yet light up the whole horizon, and dye the very heavens with its crimson.

(J. A. Alexander, D. D.)

No bounds can be set to that progress of growth. There is no point on that happy voyage, beyond which icy cliffs and a frozen ocean forbid a passage; but before us, to the verge of our horizon of today, stretch the open waters; and when that furthest point of vision lies as far astern as it now gleams ahead, the same boundless sapphire sea will draw our yearning desires, and bear onwards our advancing powers.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

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