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prize; there may be many that do run, yea, and run far too, who yet miss of the crown that standeth at the end of the race. You know that all that run in a race do not obtain the victory; they all run, but one wins. And so it is here; it is not everyone that runneth, nor everyone that seeketh, nor everyone that striveth, for the mastery, that hath it. “Though a man do strive for the mastery,” saith Paul, “yet he is not crowned, unless he strive lawfully;” that is, unless he so run, and so strive, as to have God's approbation. What, do ye think that every heavy-heeled professor will have heaven? What, every lazy one? every wanton and foolish professor, that will be stopped by anything, kept back by anything, that scarce runneth so fast heavenward as a snail creepeth on the ground? Nay, there are some professors that do not go on so fast in the way of God as a snail doth go on the wall, and yet these think that heaven and happiness are for them. But stay, there are many more that run than there be that obtain; therefore he that will have heaven must run for it. 2. Because you know that though a man do run, yet if he do not overcome, or win, as well as run, what will they be the better for their running? They will get nothing. You know the man that runneth, he doth do it that he may win the prize: but if he doth not obtain it, he doth lose his labor, spend his pains and time, and that to no purpose; I say, he getteth nothing. And ah! how many such runners will there be found in the day of judgment? Even multitudes, multitudes that have run, yea, run so far as to come to heaven-gates, and not able to get any further, but there stand knocking, when it is too late, crying, Lord, Lord, when they have nothing but rebukes for their pains. Depart from me, you come not here, you come too late, you run too lazily; the door is shut. “When once the master of the house is risen up,” saith Christ, “and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us, I will say, I know you not, depart!” O sad will the state of those be that run and miss; therefore, if you will have heaven, you must run for it; and “so run that ye may obtain.” 3. Because the way is long (I speak metaphorically), and there is many a dirty step, many a high hill, much work to do, a wicked heart, world, and devil to overcome; I say, there are many steps to be taken by those that intend to be saved, by Vol. I-13
running or walking in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham. Out of Egypt thou must go through the Red Sea; thou must run a long and tedious journey, through the vast howling wilderness, before thou come to the land of promise. 4. They that will go to heaven they must run for it; because, as the way is long, so the time in which they are to get to the end of it is very uncertain; the time present is the only time; thou hast no more time allotted thee than that thou now enjoyest: “Boast not thyself of to-morrow, for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.” Do not say, I have time enough to get to heaven seven years hence, for, I tell thee, the bell may toll for thee before seven days more be ended; and when death comes, away thou must go, whether thou art provided or not; and therefore look to it; make no delays; it is not good dallying with things of so great concernment as the salvation or damnation of thy soul. You know he that hath a great way to go in a little time, and less by half than he thinks of, he had need to run for it. 5. They that will have heaven, they must run for it; because the devil, the law, sin, death, and hell follow them. There is never a poor soul that is going to heaven, but the devil, the law, sin, death, and hell make after that soul. “The devil, your adversary, as a roaring lion goeth about, seeking whom he may devour.” And I will assure you, the devil is nimble, he can run apace, he is light of foot, he hath overtaken many, he hath turned up their heels, and hath given them an everlasting fall. Also, the law that can shoot a great way; have a care thou keep out of the reach of those great guns, the Ten Commandments. Hell also hath a wide mouth; it can stretch itself further than you are aware of. And as the angel said to Lot: “Take heed, look not behind thee, neither tarry thou in all the plain" (that is, anywhere between this and heaven), “lest thou be consumed; ” so say I to thee, Take heed, tarry not, lest either the devil, hell, death, or the fearful curses of the law of God, do overtake thee, and throw thee down in the midst of thy sins, so as never to rise and recover again. If this were well considered, then, thou, as well as I, wouldst say, They that will have heaven must run for it. 6. They that will go to heaven must run for it; because perchance the gates of heaven may be shut shortly. Sometimes sinners have not heaven-gates open to them so long as they suppose; and if they be once shut against a man, they are so heavy, that all the men in the world, nor all the angels in heaven, are not able to open them. “I shut, and no man can open,” saith Christ. And how if thou shouldst come but one quarter of an hour too late? I tell thee, it will cost thee an eternity to bewail thy misery in. Francis Spira can tell thee what it is to stay till the gates of mercy be quite shut; or to run so lazily, that they be shut before thou get within them. What, to be shut out! what, out of heaven! Sinner, rather than lose it run for it; yea, and “so run that thou mayest obtain.” 7. Lastly, because if thou lose, thou losest all, thou losest soul, God, Christ, heaven, ease, peace! Besides, thou layest thyself open to all the shame, contempt, and reproach, that either God, Christ, saints, the world, sin, the devil, and all, can lay upon thee. As Christ saith of the foolish builder, so will I say of thee, if thou be such a one who runs and misses; I say, even all that go by will begin to mock at thee, saying, This man began to run well, but was not able to finish. In the next place, be not daunted though thou meetest with never so many discouragements in thy journey thither. That man that is resolved for heaven, if Satan cannot win him by flatteries, he will endeavor to weaken him by discouragements, saying: “Thou art a sinner, thou hast broken God's law, thou art not elected, thou comest too late, the day of grace is passed; God doth not care for thee, thy heart is naught, thou art lazy,” with a hundred other discouraging suggestions. And thus it was with David, where he saith: “I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the loving-kindness of the Lord in the land of the living.” As if he should say, the devil did so rage, and my heart was so base, that had I judged according to my own sense and feeling, I had been absolutely distracted; but I trusted to Christ in the promise, and looked that God would be as good as his promise, in having mercy upon me, an unworthy sinner; and this is that which encouraged me and kept me from fainting. And thus must thou do when Satan, or the law, or thy own conscience, do go about to dishearten thee, either by the greatness of thy sins, the wickedness of thy heart, the tediousness of the way, the loss of outward enjoyments, the hatred that thou wilt procure from the world, or the like; then thou must encourage thyself with the freeness of the promises, the tenderheartedness of Christ, the merits of his blood, the freeness of his invitations to come in, the greatness of the sin of others that have been pardoned, and that the same God, through the same Christ, holdeth forth the same grace as free as ever. If these be not thy meditations, thou wilt draw very heavily in the way to heaven, if thou do not give up all for lost, and so knock off from following any further; therefore, I say, take heart in thy journey, and say to them that seek thy destruction. “Rejoice not against me, O my enemy, for when I fall I shall arise, when I sit in darkness the Lord shall be a light unto me.” So run. Take heed of being offended at the cross that thou must go by before thou come to heaven. You must understand (as I have already touched) that there is no man that goeth to heaven but he must go by the cross. The cross is the standing waymark by which all they that go to glory must pass. “We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of heaven.” “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” If thou art in thy way to the kingdom, my life for thine thou wilt come at the cross shortly (the Lord grant thou dost not shrink at it, so as to turn thee back again). “If any man will come after me,” saith Christ, “let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” The cross, it stands, and hath stood, from the beginning, as a way-mark to the kingdom of heaven. You know, if one ask you the way to such and such a place, you, for the better direction, do not only say, “This is the way,” but then also say, “You must go by such a gate, by such a stile, such a bush, tree, bridge,” or such like; why, so it is here; art thou inquiring the way to heaven? Why, I tell thee, Christ is the way; into him thou must get—into his righteousness—to be justified; and if thou art in him, thou wilt presently see the cross; thou must go close by it, thou must touch it—nay, thou must take it up, or else thou wilt quickly go out of the way that leads to heaven, and turn up some of those crooked lanes that lead down to the chambers of death. Now thou mayest know the cross by these six things: 1. It is known in the doctrine of justification. 2. In the doctrine of mortification.
3. In the doctrine of perseverance.
4. In self-denial.
6. Communion with poor saints.
1. In the doctrine of justification, there is a great deal of the cross in that a man is forced to suffer the destruction of his own righteousness for the righteousness of another. This is no easy matter for a man to do; I assure to you it stretcheth every vein in his heart, before he will be brought to yield to it. What, for a man to deny, reject, abhor, and throw away all his prayers, tears, alms, keeping of Sabbaths, hearing, reading, with the rest, in the point of justification, and to count them accursed; and to be willing, in the very midst of the sense of his sins, to throw himself wholly upon the righteousness and obedience of another man, abhorring his own, counting it as deadly sin, as the open breach of the law—I say, to do this in deed and in truth is the biggest piece of the cross; and, therefore, Paul calleth this very thing a suffering, where he saith: “And I have suffered the loss of all things (which principally was his righteousness) that I might win Christ, and be found in him, not having (but rejecting) my own righteousness.” That is the first.
2. In the doctrine of mortification is also much of the cross. Is it nothing for a man to lay hands on his vile opinions, on his vile sins, on his bosom sins, on his beloved, pleasant, darling sins, that stick as close to him as the flesh sticks to the bones? What, to lose all these brave things that my eyes behold, for that which I never saw with my eyes? What, to lose my pride, my covetousness, my vain company, sports, and pleasures, and the rest? I tell you, this is no easy matter; if it were, what need all those prayers, sighs, watchings? What need we be so backward to it? Nay, do you not see that some men, before they will set about this work, they will even venture the loss of their souls, heaven, God, Christ, and all? What means else all those delays and put-offs, saying, “Stay a little longer, I am loth to leave my sins while I am so young, and in health "2 Again, what is the reason else that others do it so by the halves, coldly and seldom, notwithstanding they are convinced over and over; nay, and also promise to amend, and yet all's in vain? I will assure you, to cut off right hands, and to pluck out right eyes, is no pleasure to the flesh.