Melvil, B. D.)The varied means of obtaining perfectionF. 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. But these words of sublime hopefulness are from "Paul the Aged."I. 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. 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. M. Punshon, LL. The material system of nature will some day be dissolved. We ought to be reaching forward, to be like Jesus. We must remember the failures and sins of the past in order to magnify the mercy that forgave.Conclusion:1. THIS WAS ALSO THE PRIZE HE SOUGHT. As a convert to Christianity he was the same man in singleness and intensity of purpose.4. )Concentration the secret of dispatchS. 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. We cannot forget our early griefs and bereavements. 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. 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. He forgot them in the sense of neglecting them. Former character and prospects have to be forgotten.2. His example may be beyond us, but the spirit that moved him to work may be ours. Whatever he had given up for Christ (ver. Spurgeon. Spurgeon. THERE ARE THINGS BEFORE EVERY CHRISTIAN towards which he is proceeding. Do you not see how every good thing takes hold of and leans upon a higher thing? 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. Some of you did once live for another object — pleasure, self, sin. To join the Church is not sufficient, you must contribute to its life.2. Remembered griefs are prophetic of coming joys. Let us not brood or despair. 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. Vaughan, M. 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. 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! And if you stand there looking backwards instead of making the best of your way out of evil, the evil will catch you up. Such practice, moreover, will be as charming as my neighbour's flute is intolerable.(C. We must follow out his figure. A rule which God has made fundamental in the world, we must make so in individual life. no unusual thing to see branches in Christ whose spiritual life is so weak that their growth is at a standstill. Time given to such occupation is withdrawn from the actual work of life. As one endowed with talents which must be ceaselessly used. how civilization leans on morality? (3) There are two ideas in that notion of perfection. 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. A. When means become ends, they encase us with a hard covering impervious to the tender influences of heaven.III. Maclaren, D. D.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. 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. The labourer leaves his work undone when the spade is not in his hand, and he sits beneath the hedge to rest. Forget past circumstances, whether sorrows or joys. 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. 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. Oh, is it not sad when the onward movement of the soul is forgotten! He ran for over 65 yards and was eventually stopped by one of his teammates at the 3-yard line. Oh, there is something more and higher than all this and these. The reflection of the one great God. Budgett.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. 1. Many in answer to Christ's call say, "Suffer me first to — ." Life by itself has a tendency to stagnate, to grow commonplace, bounded in desire and aim. — is it in the increase of the quantity of material productions? He may change, but there is no life in him, and therefore he cannot advance. 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. Forgetfulness of what is behind is an essential element in the progress of every believer. D.)Progress more than motionPaxton Hood.Progress is the great law of life, but by those even who say so, its principle is not always seen. 7). )The onward movement of the soulPaxton 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. Among those who travel constantly on foot, have you ever observed any who run? His life is a battle, a wrestling, a race. Why should you carry about parched corn when you dwell among fields white unto harvest? The stars were in his heart. (4)Wandering minds.(R. There is no time for self-elation or self-sufficiency. And so he reached forth unto those things which were before.II. 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. A singleness of aim and effort ever hath been — ever will be — the secret of all noble human accomplishment. 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. Shall we ever reach it. It sometimes needs a severe gust of wind to shake off the scales that still linger around the bud. Forget past attainments. Smith, M. — 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. 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. Perhaps at this moment you can honestly say, "I have overcome a fierce temper," "I have bestirred a naturally indolent spirit." That purpose is the Reformation. 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. MAY CAUSE DECLENSION. Even when the glory is given to God there is apt to be a ring of self-satisfaction, "I am not as other men." At every subsequent stage of our growth there must be the same process. (3)You must do all things with all your might. The two objects of hope and effort are distinct though connected. There is no growth before a hypocrite any more than there is in an artificial flower. II. Ecclesiastes 1:5). Every star is not a sun.(S. In whatever respect we feel that we are offenders against the law of Divine perfection revealed in Christ let us be more active. Macmillan, LL. Then let us not take credit for it. 7). What does it mean? But although worthless as grounds of justification, they had their own value in training and fitting him for his work. 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. To that supreme beauty our nature is capable of unlimited approach. The student is riot doing the one thing of student life when he has ceased to think or read. )The onward movement of the soulPaxton 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. the philosopher from the savage? Divided affection, and allegiance, half-hearted strivings, will end in disappointment and disaster. )The memory of past sorrows not to obliterate the appreciation of present merciesM. He does not mean —(1)That He forgot the mercy of God he had enjoyed. — So far as acceptance with God is concerned a Christian is complete in Christ as soon as he believes. is it in the increase of knowledge, of science, of art? THIS WAS ALSO THE PRIZE HE SOUGHT. We may say of ourselves, "Well done, good and faithful servant." We must follow out his figure. 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. And so he reached forth unto those things which were before.II. ARE NOT THE LESSONS OF SUCH A LIFE VERY BROAD AND INTELLIGIBLE.1. III. And it was with a sore wrench that St. Paul tore himself away from all his former cherished associations.5. Israel remembered the fleshpots of Egypt and turned back and tempted God. Difficulties and dangers: David thought he would one day fall by the hand of Saul.3. He sought —1. D.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. What does it mean? He has passed through, and these are His footprints. Remembered griefs are prophetic of coming joys. What achievements has the world made and forgotten in achieving better. FROM THESE THOUGHTS WE MAY DRAW FRESH CONVICTIONS FOR THE REALIZATIONS OF THE SPIRITUAL CAPABILITIES OF OUR NATURE.1. His idea was an ark! There is strength in forgetting; "let the dead bury their dead." 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. Baxendale.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. ENERGETIC IN THE PRESENT.1. We may say of ourselves, "Well done, good and faithful servant." 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. Difficulties and dangers: David thought he would one day fall by the hand of Saul.3. We must hear the voice of the Master, saying, Thy brother, thy sister, thy child shall rise again. Moreover he saw the crown.(C. 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. These are all embraced in fellowship with Christ.1. The peace that we trust in will vanish in sorrow. Before the Church, therefore, is — 1 The real, conscious, manifested unity of all its members. He would be Hastings of Daylesford. The whole soul, purpose, and trend of life must be in the direct line of daily striving.3. Vaughan, M. A.The secret of all moral force, of all spiritual success, of all reality, is concentration. is it in the evolution of the man from the child? We may say of ourselves, "Well done, good and faithful servant." 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. He cannot do so. He may change, but there is no life in him, and therefore he cannot advance. THERE ARE CERTAIN THINGS BEFORE EVERY CHURCH. W. Robertson, M. A.Perfection is being, not doing — it is not to effect an act but to achieve a character. (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. 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. A perfect accordance in present action with the prospect of the great day.II. It means that there is a future and a God. God gives him opportunities. Falls and failures: no use trying any more.2. Both are past; why remember them? 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. To join the Church is not sufficient, you must contribute to its life.2. 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. The material system of nature will some day be dissolved. It is through loss that all gain in this world is made. Live in the future for yourselves, and for the world. To this boldness of confession they should add knowledge, and follow on to know the Lord. This advice goes dead against much "experimental" Christianity; but it is wise for all that. 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. LIVE IN THE FUTURE.1. )The onward movement of the soulPaxton 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. Thoughts fly on wings toward the tomorrow. )The things that are beforeS. A. As long as you are in the world forget what you have done, and go forward — individuals, churches, denominations.III. — 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. VI. )Singleness of aimConfucius' 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." Maclaren, D. D.)Behind and beforeE. Surely the latter are the wiser. To win Christ was not to gain His favour simply, but to be conformed to His image.(E. Maclaren, D. D.)The importance of a high aimF. )Practice necessary to perfectionC. Paul speaks of the past as hurtful, a hindrance. We are apt to say, "At such and such a time I was converted and growing in Christian attainments. 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. 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. 4. "And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three."2. 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. 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. Have you counted your gain as loss in light of Christ? 1. THERE ARE THINGS BEFORE EVERY CHRISTIAN towards which he is proceeding. Maclaren, D. D.)The danger of looking backA. Under this head we include all those mistakes which belong to circumstances. 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. TWO THOUGHTS ARE HERE SUGGESTED.1. The body is not one member but many. 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. That the best of men do not talk of their attainments. We must hear the voice of the Master, saying, Thy brother, thy sister, thy child shall rise again. 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. Difficulties and dangers: David thought he would one day fall by the hand of Saul.3. Conversion, justification, and peace are the first principles of the doctrine of Christ. Guilt contracted; time lost; work undone; salvation neglected; resolutions broken; convictions stifled — all this and much more may be behind. With this limitation, however, it is a Christian duty to dwell much more on the thought of future blessedness than most men do. The exclusive way. 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. An extending and improving influence on society.5. Every one is familiar with the buds which tip the extremities of every branch in spring. A. He died to his former self and all its experiences, and lived a new life in Jesus. In whatever respect we feel that we are offenders against the law of Divine perfection revealed in Christ let us be more active. We ought to be reaching forward, to be like Jesus. The mind must contemplate it, the heart be fixed upon it, until the power of it shall overmaster all other objects and passions. 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. 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. The apostle's principle is the very one which makes the civilized man distinct from the barbarian. It is no unusual thing to see a branch of a tree whose vital activity is so enfeebled that its growth is arrested. Christ is also the Prize. Paul speaks of the past as hurtful, a hindrance. Paul had too much common sense and manliness, and moreover had a real work to do.2. That complacency can be reached by many roads. Maclaren, D. D.No bounds can be set to that progress of growth. That whatever shape self-satisfaction may assume it is a shirking of the hardships of Christian soldierhood. 3. Some people have good memories as to their performances. 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. Paul speaks of the past as hurtful, a hindrance. Millions have who are before the throne, and we shall too by God's good help.IV. 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. PUTTING FORTH ALL HIS EXERTIONS TO REACH THAT WHICH HE DESIRES.1. To this development we should be further stimulated by the consideration that the bud whose growth is arrested becomes transformed into a thorn. Let us not brood or despair. )Progress inevitable to the ChristianJ. A. Baxendale. And so it will be in the eternal summer above. 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 summer leaves that are cherished must drop off as well as the winter leaves that cherished them. This purpose formed in infancy and poverty, grew stronger as his intellect expanded and his fortunes rose. 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. SINGLENESS OF EYE, UNITY OF PURPOSE, CONCENTRATION OF POWER. Wadsworth. (4)You must run cheerfully and speedily.2. 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. 3. D. Hoge, D. D.)The hindering force of past habitA. Let’s pray now, together, and ask God to eyes to see the surpassing worth of knowing Christ. He might have attempted other things, and did, but all with reference to this one purpose.2. 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! He who would be a great artist must not follow low models. 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! Every one is familiar with the buds which tip the extremities of every branch in spring. Martin. Life cannot break itself from the past. He was not found asking, as clever writers now are, Is life worth living? D. Hoge, D. D.I once crossed the "Warm Spring Mountain" in the early morning. Budgett.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. WHAT ARE THOSE THINGS WHICH PAUL LEFT BEHIND AND FORGOT.1. (Paxton Hood. (1) The source and motive of progress is a sense of want. To this development we should be further stimulated by the consideration that the bud whose growth is arrested becomes transformed into a thorn. A.)ProgressJ. But the day does come when the form should be lost to us in the reality, the letter lost in the spirit. )Progress inevitable to the ChristianJ. )The racer as runnerProfessor Eadie.The picture is that of a racer in his agony of struggle and hope. Melvil, B. D.is like those problems in mathematics where we can never find the true answer. Here you see the difference between a self-deceiver and a Christian. 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