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felicity in whatever good I do, that, therefore I have no greater good to expect hereafter, which when received shall take the character of a reward, a crown, or prize ? May not the idea of a present and a future reward be so associated, that the former shall be necessary to the latter? These questions ought to be discussed with patience and candor. When you undertake any 'enterprize, you feel a conscious joy at every step you take in your progress, and why do you so ? Because every step brings you nearer the end which you have in view, the prize for which you undertook the arduous race. The husbandman is cheered each day of his labors, with the consciousness of duty faithfully performed, but this is because he has the rich harvest in prospect; the prize is before hin; he keeps in constant view the goal at the end of his race, and this stimulates his exertions and sustains his ondeavors. But if the harvest should fail, he would say, “how bave I labored in vain and spent my strength for nought.” You would not hear him assert, that the immediate pleasure resulting from his exertions, was itself a full reward. These observations exhibit point in which the two ideas unite. We find a present reward, because the effort to obtain it leads to a future and greater recơmpense. The last idea is necessary to the first. We shall now see how far these views are justified by the voice of the scriptures.
That the apostles and primitive believers did not act from the supposition that they had no 'reward to expect for their faithful adherence to their-Master's cause, except what they received in the present time, is evident from the declaration, that "sif in this life only they had hope, they were of all men the most miserable.” Now if the theory which asserts, that the present reward of virtue is sufficient, be perfectly correct, the above declaration must be very incorreot and even false. For according to that theory, tho there were no future life, or nd reward beyond the grave, yet the course of virtue which these person's pursued, would render them even here, of all nen,
the most happy. We shall be assisted in arriving at a correct view of this point, by attending to this simple fact, that whatever we look for in future, as a reward, a crown, or prize, to recompense present efforts, must necessarily be accounted a reward, a crown, or a prize, when we receive it. If we say otherwise, we must admit that the apostles acted under the influence of a deception; which I believe very few will be prepared to assert. It
It may be said, that the primitive Christians acted under the influence of the hope of a happy immortality. Be it so. We have no objection. But yet, this happy immortality was the prize, the crown for which they ran; the hope of it sustained them in adversity, stimulated their efforts, made them faithful and persevering, and when they received it, must have been considered as forming an immense balance in their favor, for all personal sufferings, "a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory."
Here I anticipate a supposed difficulty; there may be an objection to these statements, arising from the alledged difference between a 'reward and a gift. “The satisfaction, derived from a faithful observance of the commands of Christ, is a reward; eternal life is a free gift.” This is the form of the objection, and we shall proceed to give it an answer. I admit, that a man may receive as a gift, that which cannot in strictness of speech be called his reward or wages; but still the gift may have as great and even greater influence to stimulate him to duty, than the wages stipulated by his employer. The gift is so denominated, because it is something additional to the wages, and not embraced in that article, but with the person who receives it, it is truly a reward, because he has reference to it in his labors. You tell a man whom you employ in your service, that he shall receive as a compensation a certain sum for every day's labor, which sum shall not be detained in your hands after the sun has set, according to a well known provision of the Jewish law. Now, in this case, your servant
receives a present recompence, which as it is stipulated in the contract, is not called a gratuity or gift. But in addition to his wages, you have a right to promise him a sum, at the close of the year, by way of gratuity or gift. Suppose you do this, then, thoʻrelatively and verbally there is a distinction between the two payments, yet virtually there is none in reference to the receiver. The gift will have as powerful an effect upon the person employed to secure his attachment to your service and his faithfulness in your busiDess, as his wages. Indeed, in his mind the two will be strongly associated. I believe it will not be con. tended, that if your servant would be inclined to be faithful for the mere consideration of his wages, that he will be likely to be less Bo, because the promised gratuity is super-added ; and hence I think it will not be suggested, that the doctrine in question has an immoral tendency, or is calculated to produce a redaxation of effort in the cause of virtue. If I do not mistake the sense of scripture, it supports the preceding idea. , Our Savior told his disciples, in reply to Peter?s observation, that “they had left all and føllowed him," and his question, "what shall we have therefore ?” “Verily I say unto you, there is wo man, that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God's sake, who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting." "Be faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” This is strictly consonant to the spirit of the text and context, and conforms to the similitude which Paul borrowed , from the practice at the Grecian games. The crown was never bestowed till the race was completed or the
It is proper to mention in this place, the view that Paul entertained of this subject in its relation to himself. Being near the close of an eventful life, which had been principally employed in the service of his Master, he seems to contemplate a future reward, a glorious prize, with rapturous exultation, "I
am now ready to be offered, and the time of my des parture is at hand; I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; henceforth, there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteons Juidge shall give to me at that day; and not to me only, but to all such as love his appearing " Why does the apostle speak of his crown as "laid up for him ?” Why not say that he had always worn it, from the commencement of his Christian race? Why does he speak of its being given in future, if he had at all times possessed it? “The Lord; the righteous Judge shall give it to me at that day."
Secondly. We are to show more particularly, what constitutes the crown or prize for which we are to pursue
the Christian course. The preceding article was devoted to the consid. eration of the fact itself, that God has placed before us an object, which being seen, will animate the Christian in his exertions, and render him more active, patient and persevering in duty; the present article is to consist in defining this object as clearly as we can, with the aid which the scriptures afford us. The bible writers and our Lord himself treat this subject in a very lucid manner, and their representations place it in a most striking point of view. The reward which is promised to the faithful servants of Jesus Christ may be expressed in few words; it is to receive their Master's plaudit, "well done, good and faithful servants ;" it is to share his bonor ; to him that evercometh will I give to sit down with me upon my throne, even as I also have overcome, and have sat down with my father on his throne;" it is to participate his joy; "enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” “It is a faithful saying, if we suffer we shall also reign with him." The followers of the Lamb were inforned from the beginning of what they might expect in the present world. “Bonds and afflictions would abide them ;" they would have to bear about in their bodies the dying of the Lord Jesus ;" they might ex. peet to have to fill up what was behind of the saf
ferings of Christ in the flesh;" and if they suffered
with him," that is, in his cause, with his temper, in the exercise of his patience, meekness, and love, they would be gorified together with their Master; they would receive his approbation, as he also was approved of God.” But to receive so great and glorious a reward, they must be faithful unto death," "endure to the end," and finish their course, “by striving lawfully." In doing these things, the true disciple imitates his Lord, "who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross and despised the shame.'
It was with reference to this object, that Paul declared, "that forgetting the things that were behind, he reached forward for those which were before, and pressed towards the mark, for the prize of his high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
It was this which chastened his conduct, inducing temperance and sobriety; "I keep under my body, and bring it into sabjection; lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a cast-away." The declaration of Christ was holden in solemn remembrance ;
che that' denieth me before men, him will I also deny before my Father and his holy angels,"
The approbation of one's conscience is desirable; but the approbation of heaven is a superior object. The apostle urged the idea of keeping this object in constant view, in the various duties and labors of the Christian life. "No man that warreth, entangleth himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier;" and hence, in his advice to Timothy with respect to his conduct as ari Evangelist, he set before him, what he considered the strongest inducement to faithfulness, zeal and activity, when he said, "study to show thyself approved unto God."
Thirdly. The race which the Christian is to run, or the combat in which he must engage, should be particularly described.
“I therefore 'so run, not as ancertainly, so fight I, not as one that beateth the air.» The course; marked out for the apostle' is supposed