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the amphitheatre and other places, either for their own glory, or for the gratification of their numerous spectators. They are said to have originated with the Etrurians, from the custom of killing slaves and captives at the funeral pyres of the dead. In the third century before Christ they were exhibited at Rome by Marcus and Decimus Brutus, at the funeral of their father. From being confined to public funerals, they become common at entertainments and festivals ; and the combatants might be either captives or criminals who were compelled to take part in them; or freeborn citizens, who engaged in them voluntarily. We must not infer that Paul's allusion to these gladiators, whether forced or free, implied his approval of their contests. He rather intimates the contrary by calling his own conflict a “good fight.” Referring to another popular institutionthe Grecian race—he said, “I have finished my course," or more literally, the course, there being nothing in the original to require the pronoun, my. Then regarding himself as a steward, to whom a valuable deposit had been entrusted, he added, “ I have kept the faith.” *
Collecting from this figurative phraseology the spiritual meaning of the apostle, we must understand him to declare that his past life had been marked by three things,-by severe conflict, by strenuous exertion, and by strict fidelity. Such should be the life of every real Christian, and especially of every
devoted Christian minister. Let us consider our spiritual life in this triple view :
First : It is a severe conflict. We have to enter the lists as antagonists—to fight for our own interests, and to contend for the Divine glory. The Christian religion is preeminently pacific. Its author is “the Prince of Peace,” and its design is to conciliate an alienated world, and to bring it into allegiance to God. Its tendency is to promote peace
* The Greek of the passage, having the article before each of the nouns, requires a rendering which would be superior both in accuracy and elegance to our common version. Thus: “I have fought the good fight ; I have finished the course : I have kept the faith."
on earth, and when it becomes universally prevalent, there will be “abundance of peace, so long as the moon endureth.” But this pacific religion is stoutly opposed, and consequently it has much to put down. It often comes into collision with "principalities and powers, with the rulers of the darkness of this world, with spiritual wickedness in high places." No man can be either its open advocate, or its earnest votary, without finding himself involved in serious warfare. This is intimated by the frequent recurrence of military language in the new Testament. Even Christ, “who is our peace,” is styled “the Captain of our salvation.” His followers are “soldiers." A complete suit of armour is provided for us, which we are to take to ourselves, and to put on, so that we may resist in the evil day, and having overcome- “ done all”
'may stand.” This conflict was foretold in what has been considered the first promise of good to fallen man. Enmity was to be put between the seed of the serpent, and the seed of the woman, which would work and show itself by bruising the head of the one, and the heel of the other. Christ as the woman's seed, when made flesh, received the long predicted contusion. His enemies had their “hour” and seemed to prevail against Him; but He triumphed over them, and having overcome, He ascended on high, and sat down with His Father on His throne. His servants, who are left in the world to extend the kingdom which He founded, have to encounter all forms of evil, and to contend with all kinds of foes. Paul had to act the part of a moral gladiator. Even where a great door, and effectual," was opened to him," as a preacher, there were many
adversaries. At Ephesus, to which place he was about to despatch his present epistle, he had fought with men, whom he likened to “beasts” in the ensanguined circus—the infuriated rabble, headed by Demetrius, crying up the greatness of their goddess Diana. Other places, such as Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra, were memorable for the persecutions he had endured in them. In every city, bonds and afflictions awaited him. His common experience was that of a warrior ; his whole life was a striving for the mastery. “Without were fightings, within were fears.”
There is but little resemblance between our outward circumstances, and those of the apostles and primitive Christians. Still, every one has a warfare to wage, and a battle to win. Besides the inner conflict," the law in our members warring against the law of our minds”.
'—we have an evil world to overcome. And the Prince of this world, who found nothing in our glorious Leader which he could successfully assail, finds much in us to give him the advantage over us. Were there no other foe to face or fear, we should surely find it no easy task to watch against his “ wiles,” to avoid his “snares," to defeat his “ devices,” to repel his “accusations,” and to quench his “ fiery darts”!
But this fight, however it may differ in many cases, and however formidable it may prove to all who are engaged in it, is a “good fight”—the only one that is truly good, either in its origin or objects, in the mode of its prosecution, or in its final results.
Secondly : Our spiritual life is one that necessitates strenuous exertion. It is here compared to the ancient stadium, or race-course, which was not to be walked over with slow or sauntering steps, but to be run with all the energy and agility that could be put forth. John, the forerunner of our Lord, had his “course," which he properly “fulfilled.” And Paul had his course both as a Christian and an apostle, which he desired to “finish with joy.” The comparison contained in this clause of the verse is so often repeated in his writings that he evidently considered the Grecian race as the most expressive symbol of the Christian life. We are greatly mistaken as to its nature if we regard it as a calm, quiet, contemplative existence,-a passive, dormant, and indolent, state of being. We must “not sleep as do others, but watch and be sober.” Christ's servants are no sluggards—nor is it ever permitted them to be slothful. They are called to “work in his vineyard,” and are required to “ labor for the meat that endureth unto eternal life.”
Thirdly: Our life is a stewardship, in which the strictest fidelity is demanded. “I have kept the faith.” This phrase admits of various modes of interpretation ; but however it may be explained, the statement is equally true. Paul “kept the faith” by continuing a believer in Christ, and in the revelation he had received respecting Christ. His trust in the Saviour was intelligent, cordial, unreserved, and unwavering. While he exhorted others to “continue in the faith,” and sought to perfect that which was lacking in their faith,” his own life in the flesh was one continued act of implicit confidence in the Son of God. The trial of his faith was unusually severe, and defection was very frequent in his time. Some departed from the faith; some denied it; some made shipwreck of it ; in others it was overthrown. But he was not of them who drew “back unto perdition, but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.”
Again, when Paul said he had “kept the faith," he might mean that he had maintained the system of evangelical truth in the same pure and perfect form in which it had been revealed to him. He spoke of the glorious gospel of the blessed God as having been committed to his custody-of being “allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel,” and of being “ set for the defence of the gospel"; and considered as a steward, a guardian, and a champion, he was faithful and valiant. He made no parade of his fidelity, but he did not scruple to assert it; sometimes as shown in connexion with his brethren, sometimes in contradistinction from them. Of himself, and Silas, and Timothy, he could say—“As we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.” “We are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God, speak we in Christ.” When false brethren came in privily to spy out the liberty enjoyed by believers in Christ, and to bring them again into bondage, he gave place by subjection to them, “no, not for an hour,—that the truth of the gospel might continue with them.” And when one of his true
brethren, and one of the most venerable of the apostles wavered in his principles, and connived at what Paul deemed to be incompatible with the gospel, he “withstood him to the face,” and blamed him for his temporizing policy. Other Jews on that occasion dissembled with Peter, insomuch that Barnabas, one of Paul's most endeared fellow-laborers,
was carried away with their dissimulation.” But when he saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, he remonstrated with Peter before them all
, and applied his great reasoning powers to convince them of the grave practical error into which they were falling. In his personal ministry, therefore, and as far as his apostolic influence availed, he “kept the faith.”
But he “kept the faith” in another sense. While as a guilty man he believed in Christ, that he might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law; and while as a minister of Christ, he fully preached the true gospel, and repudiated any other gospel ;- he was concerned to feel its vital power in his heart, and to exemplify its effects in his daily
The faith to him was much more than a creed; it was a practical principle, a doctrine according to godliness, a ground of hope, a spring of consolation. He knew that there is a "joy of faith” to be experienced, and “the obedience of faith” to be maintained. Hence he lived unto God. “He walked by faith.” How holily and justly, and unblameably, he behaved himself among those that believed, his converts were witnesses and God also. “He kept under his body, and brought it into subjection, lest that by any means, when he had preached to others, he himself should be a castaway."
Leaving this most refreshing retrospect of a life devoted to the service of Christ, we proceed to consider :
A RESERVED REWARD.
Il. THE DELIGHTFUL ANTICIPATION HERE EXPRESSED OF
“Henceforth there is laid up for me,” &c. This was not the language of blind credulity or selfrighteous presumption, but of enlightened conviction, of