They used to serve God wonderfully when they were young. — 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. But brooding is no more to be encouraged than boasting. 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. Smith, M. There are branches to spring from the ever-growing trees that have not yet even budded. 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. FORGETFUL OR OBLIVIOUS TOWARDS THE PAST.1. 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. Former character and prospects have to be forgotten.2. Then let us not take credit for it. 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. This advice goes dead against much "experimental" Christianity; but it is wise for all that. Vaughan, M. A.The secret of all moral force, of all spiritual success, of all reality, is concentration. )The things that are beforeS. As one endowed with talents which must be ceaselessly used. If you would live a braced life everywhere you would find fixedness of thought in your devotions.(J. is it in the increase of knowledge, of science, of art? He does not think of the furlongs that he has passed, he heeds not the nature of the ground over which he runs. And this one thing he did — he built. He must use them. 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. The material system of nature will some day be dissolved. 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. And so the beautiful blossoms of grace must be left behind. The exhibition of new phases of character is before him. (1) He never said but once, "Who art thou, Lord? We must remember the failures and sins of the past in order to magnify the mercy that forgave.Conclusion:1. Macmillan, LL. The same perfection he aimed at for himself he aimed at for "every man" (Colossians 1:28).(D. And so he reached forth unto those things which were before.II. 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. Some people have good memories as to their performances. This will multiply instances of His faithfulness. 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. "(Professor Eadie. Work, then, with the better law intelligently, consistently, perseveringly.3. You see him! Cold is fatal to the summer leaves; warmth is fatal to the winter leaves. As one endowed with talents which must be ceaselessly used. He has passed through, and these are His footprints. Conversion, justification, and peace are the first principles of the doctrine of Christ. He replied that he took care to press home the one principal point of the case without paying much regard to the others. 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. Continued demerit calls for continued mercy. 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. Of course the figure is not strictly applicable to the reality. Falls and failures: no use trying any more.2. 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. It is marvellous how, when you have a work in hand for God, it will brace up your whole being. 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. To this boldness of confession they should add knowledge, and follow on to know the Lord. Maclaren, 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. Work, then, with the better law intelligently, consistently, perseveringly.3. You say, "I shall never be any better. 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.II. Vaughan, M. 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. Thus it is with the memories of past sorrows. 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." Men forget it is with us as it is with our planet. Ecclesiastes 1:5). Every mineral is not a diamond. The whole soul, purpose, and trend of life must be in the direct line of daily striving.3. 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. All that he had acquired, he laid on the altar.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. Both are past; why remember them? Difficulties and dangers: David thought he would one day fall by the hand of Saul.3. is it in the evolution of the man from the child? But in spring, the buds, stimulated by the unwonted sunshine, begin to open at their sharp extremities. "Forget the things which are behind." 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. We may all be trying to be like Jesus Christ, whatever may be the material at which we toil.(A. A.)ProgressJ. no unusual thing to see branches in Christ whose spiritual life is so weak that their growth is at a standstill. "Be ye perfect." Up and down the scale he remorselessly runs, until even the calamity of temporary deafness would almost be welcome to me. The body is not one member but many. So it does. And so was it with St. Paul. 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. He would be Hastings of Daylesford. (Archdeacon Farrar. Forget past circumstances, whether sorrows or joys. The labourer leaves his work undone when the spade is not in his hand, and he sits beneath the hedge to rest. He has a purpose that Augustine monk. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider … The sun was just rising. Of course the figure is not strictly applicable to the reality. A rule which God has made fundamental in the world, we must make so in individual life. (2)You must look to gain ground, and grow from grace to grace. Both are past; why remember them? The preaching of the gospel to every creature.III. 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. 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. A. 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. M. Whiton, Ph. 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. His example may be beyond us, but the spirit that moved him to work may be ours. Speaker: Bryce Morgan Series: Misc. 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. 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.I. Personal holiness, they say, is legal. 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. Thoughts fly on wings toward the tomorrow. Martin. As long as you are in the world forget what you have done, and go forward — individuals, churches, denominations.III. 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. Whatever he had given up for Christ (ver. He also said that he know the secret of being short. Maclaren, D. D.)Reaching forth to the things which are beforeAll things are prospectiveHomiletic Monthly.The impulse of a river is ever onward. They used to serve God wonderfully when they were young. All the lines of life go up to it. 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. 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. Because he felt God had called him to it.3. He in the man, we as the molecules of the man are to be of one mind — "forgetting," etc. The sharp stones in the path do not stay him, nor the flowerets in the grass catch his glance. 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. The whole man gathering himself up to a point — oneness of being, body, soul, spirit — the will, judgment, energy in unity. W. Alexander, D. D.)Forget past sorrowsPaxton Hood.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. If there is no God, no future, let the atheist tell us what the meaning is. 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. The apostle's principle is the very one which makes the civilized man distinct from the barbarian. The exhibition of new phases of character is before him. )The racer as runnerProfessor Eadie.The picture is that of a racer in his agony of struggle and hope. (J M. Whiton, Ph. God gives him opportunities. H. (2) Have we done imperfectly or ill in the past? PAUL'S MEANING AS TO THE PRIZE WAS A PERSONAL RESEMBLANCE TO CHRIST, AND A DESIRE TO BE NEAR HIM. W. Alexander, D. D.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. 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. 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. 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. "And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three."2. The memory of things behind —I. The everlasting kingdom.II. It becomes your special habit, which is all right, but it also tends to become your limit, which is wrong. But in Christian life, every moment and every act is an opportunity for doing the one thing of becoming Christ-like. Now, why all this? A. Inactivity renders useless the summer leaves; and growth supersedes the winter leaves.I. We ought to be reaching forward, to be like Jesus. What does it mean? He forgot them in the sense of neglecting them. No bounds can be set to it. His spiritual life from the beginning to the end was a series of fresh beginnings. how civilization leans on morality? I. FORGETFUL OR OBLIVIOUS TOWARDS THE PAST. 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. But above the horizontal sea, three or four mountain peaks projected themselves like islands dotting the expanse. To rest satisfied with attainment is to check development. 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. 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. Absolute pardon. TO MAKE LIFE, AS IT OUGHT TO BE, ONE, THE GREAT REQUISITE IS TO HAVE ONE FIXED AIM. Ecclesiastes 1:5). )Look not at the pastJ. He also said that he know the secret of being short. (2) That is eminently true of "growth in grace." 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. Another feature in Paul's character. Everything in earth's geology, and everything on earth's surface, point towards a future. TO MAKE LIFE, AS IT OUGHT TO BE, ONE, THE GREAT REQUISITE IS TO HAVE ONE FIXED AIM. MAY LEAD TO DISCOURAGEMENT.1. 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. Lot's wife looked back and perished. The bird must forget its nest, the seed its husk, the flower its bud. 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. 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! 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. FROM THESE THOUGHTS WE MAY DRAW FRESH CONVICTIONS FOR THE REALIZATIONS OF THE SPIRITUAL CAPABILITIES OF OUR NATURE.1. The man who calculates with even a tincture of discontent what he has suffered for Jesus, has never seen the Cross.2. Start afresh.(J. (3) None the less does the old barbarian strain come to the surface. Oh, there is something more and higher than all this and these. )The nobility of a single aimA. He in the man, we as the molecules of the man are to be of one mind — "forgetting," etc.II. TO MAKE LIFE, AS IT OUGHT TO BE, ONE, THE GREAT REQUISITE IS TO HAVE ONE FIXED AIM. A.)ProgressJ. As one endowed with talents which must be ceaselessly used. 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. H. 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. 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. Lot's wife looked back and perished. PLACING THE PAST IN ITS TRUE LIGHT. And the religious development of intellect is unquestionably a prominent feature of true human progress. 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. 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. He may not have known much trouble, but he has to undergo the discipline of suffering. King, LL. How is that noble ideal reached? 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. The sun was just rising. Absolute assurance of forgiveness.3. Smith, M. A.The things behind and the memory of them may be helpful or hurtful. After the Lord has shown Himself to the eye of faith, they seem unable to let this matter rest. D.1. 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. (2) Have we done imperfectly or ill in the past? )Forgetting the things that are behindW. The bird must forget its nest, the seed its husk, the flower its bud. If we have taken a gun from the enemy, let us go and take another, and not sit idly down.2. 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. If there is no God, no future, let the atheist tell us what the meaning is. (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. Continued and ever improving mutual service. (1) He never said but once, "Who art thou, Lord? Work, then, with the better law intelligently, consistently, perseveringly.3. Do you not see how every good thing takes hold of and leans upon a higher thing? 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. The body is not one member but many. 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. 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." The past is done with us, let us have done with it, and in putting off the old let us put on the new. So far as relates to our worldly condition, our constant endeavour for betterment as the necessity of an undecaying life. Mark the confidence of his personal feelings when he finds occasion to impart them — "I know whom I have believed." But Paul rebukes this spirit. There, in full view, is the "goal," and the racer's eye is fixed on it.II. He replied that he took care to press home the one principal point of the case without paying much regard to the others. These figures are the very opposite of idleness. The affections, the adhesive powers of the soul, speak the same language. Like the bud scales, they afforded protection and nourishment. A rule which God has made fundamental in the world, we must make so in individual life. The errors and doubts that marked his first approach to Christ. Maclaren, D. D.)Behind and beforeE. Paul having put the past and present in their proper places goes on to the FUTURE, ASPIRING EAGERLY TO MAKE IT GLORIOUS. PAUL PRESSED EVEN TOWARD A DEFINITE WORK. F. Pentecost, D. D.I. We cannot forget our early griefs and bereavements. (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. When a man thinks of his moral condition, he says, "I am as good as the average of my neighbours." The peace that we trust in will vanish in sorrow. The memory of things behind —I. 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. is it in the evolution of the man from the child? "(5) And therefore that habit of living in the future should make us glad and confident. 7). ENERGETIC IN THE PRESENT.1. You say, "I shall never be any better. 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. 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. The apostle's principle is the very one which makes the civilized man distinct from the barbarian. 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. Absolute pardon. 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. (2)That he forgot the sins he had committed.2. It should flow on widening and deepening till it meets the ocean and mingles with it.(M. He lived only to sweep, as with a roused tempest, over all the AEolian sympathies of the human heart. Let us not brood or despair. "Be ye perfect." Why clasp a handful of poor withered flowers when the grass is sown with their bright eyes opening to the sunshine?III. The very dream of hope to do something better has been their rum.2. (J M. Whiton, Ph. 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. D.1. Shall we ever reach it. 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. King, LL. To join the Church is not sufficient, you must contribute to its life.2. (Professor Hollard. 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. It is marvellous how, when you have a work in hand for God, it will brace up your whole being. )Practice necessary to perfectionC. "I count," as if he had taken stock, made a careful estimate, and had come to a conclusion. The affections, the adhesive powers of the soul, speak the same language. Think about this: what has to happen to a person, what happens inside of them to cause them to act and talk and hunger like this? (a)Extirpation of sin;(b)Attainment of the Divine likeness.Sin may be extirpated, and yet the second process may be in its infancy. That purpose is the Reformation. Nothing can now be altered. Animal organism reads onward toward the image of God. D.I. 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. PUTTING FORTH ALL HIS EXERTIONS TO REACH THAT WHICH HE DESIRES.1. Thoughts fly on wings toward the tomorrow. We cannot forget our early griefs and bereavements. Not satisfied with any measure of past attainment, or service, or consecration, but continually reaching forth with ever-growing ardour. 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. THIS WAS ALSO THE PRIZE HE SOUGHT. Smith, M. A.The things behind and the memory of them may be helpful or hurtful. F. Pentecost, D. D.)Life's contests and prizesP. He has passed through, and these are His footprints. Our activities include a weekly Scripture memory verse. A. Alexander, D. D.)Progress unlimited for the ChristianA. PAUL'S MEANING AS TO THE PRIZE WAS A PERSONAL RESEMBLANCE TO CHRIST, AND A DESIRE TO BE NEAR HIM. )The racer as runnerProfessor Eadie.The picture is that of a racer in his agony of struggle and hope. 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. 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. 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. A man may determine to have nothing to do with anything not essentially religious. 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. 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. 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. (4) This grand future should draw our thoughts all the more to itself, because it is not only grand, but certain. Each is to help the others.3. )Look not at the pastJ. )Look not at the pastJ. 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. 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. 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. He must use them. 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. It is amazing how soon when we cease to forget the things that are behind, and remain stationary we degenerate. 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