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PHIL. iii. 13.






In the following discourse, I shall, first, endea. vour to explain the text; and shall, secondly,

apply it.

The words will bear this general interpretation:-Brethren, I do not consider myself as having yet attained the highest degree of christian perfection. That is a height, towards which we may be continually advancing, and yet can never fully attain. It is the part of every good christian, however, to aim at it, as nearly as he can. He ought never to be at rest; but, leav, ing behind him his past attainments, he should press, like a racer, to the ground before him. All his attention should be laid out in adding to his virtues--in improving those he has in wean. ing himself from the world—in becoming daily more heavenly-minded, and in advancing, still nearer perfection.


This seems to be the general sense of the text : let us now examine it more closely.

The first thing the apostle enjoins, is to forget the things which are behind. What things he says not; but leaves us to collect his meaning, and common sense will easily explain it. He cannot mean our fins : thefe, it is true, may be called things behind, or things past; but common sense affures us, these are things we should never for. get, but always remember ; bewailing and la. menting them; praying for God's grace ;

and hoping for his goodness, through Christ, to par. don them. We may take it for granted, therefore, that what the apostle bids us forget, is something which is better forgotten than remem. bered. What that is, requires little study to recollect, but some candour to apply. Let us take

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a view

a view of our own hearts, and reflect what thoughts are continually passing and repassing in those dark recesses. Let us see what we are apt to remember with most readiness, and what generally comes uppermost. I fear our memory

is most apt to run upon any little matter of good. ness we may have discovered in ourselves—some superiority to others—some little praise we may think we deserve, or may have received some little accomplishments, or qualities, we may value -- fome little attainments, perhaps, we may have made in religion; or, fome little charity we may have rendered to a necessitous neighbour. These are the things the apostle alludes to, and which he enjoins us to forget. We must not dwell upon them: we must not conceive there is any merit in them. Let us leave God to judge our works ; let us only take care to do them; and leave his balance to weigh them, and fix what value his goodness pleafes on each.

Only consider, what advantage arises from remembering these things. It only serves to puff you up with vanity—to make


you are something, when in fact you are nothingto make you think you are good men, when you are only unprofitable fervants. This is not


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acting the humble christian, but the proud Pharisee. He cries, with self-importance, God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are. The humble christian, knowing how little he does, and how little he can do, forgetting all his doings as things not worth remembering, cries, God be merciful to me, a finner !

But the remembrance of our good actions not only leads us into pride of heart, but has a tendency to check our farther improvement: for, when a man thinks highly of himself, it is naa tural for him to rest satisfied, and stop where he is : nothing but a sense of our own deficiencies will make us proceed. It is so in every thing, as well as in religion. If a man think he has gotten money enough, he will not distress himself with getting more; and, in the same manner, if a man think he has religion enough, he will cease to improve himself farther.

Besides, to remember our good works, takes away

whatever little value they may have. Only consider how the matter stands in common life. When you hear a man praising himself for any good he may have done, you see how much it deflens the action: he has set his own value upon it, and perhaps a greater than people in general

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are inclined to acknowledge : before a higher tribunal, we may be assured, his felf-exaltation: would bring him to shame. We are expressly told, that every one who exalteth himself, shall be humbled : and we have it on record, how jt fared with the boasting Pharisee.

Well, therefore, may the apostle advise us, in the second place, after forgetting the things that are behind, to reach forth unto the things that are before. We should never think ourselves fo good as we may be, nor to have done fo much good as we may do; but still to be endeavouring to proceed, in the scripture language, from Atrength to strengthe

There are certain principles, which we must first learn in every thing. From these we ad, vance higher; and whoever stops, either at the principles, or in the progress, will never make any proficiency. Whatever we pursue in earnest, we keep the point of perfection always in view. If a man wishes to be learned, for instance, and wishes it from his heart, all the acquirements he makes are nothing : time is too fhort for him: he keeps presling on; adding knowledge to knowledge; reading book after book; correcta


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