Friday, December 5, 2008
The Heavenly Footman by John Bunyan
So run, that ye may obtain.1 Corinthians 9:24.
Heaven and happiness is that which every one desireth, insomuch that wicked Balaam could say, Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his (Num 23:10). Yet for all this, there are but very few that do obtain that ever-to-be-desired glory, insomuch that many eminent professors drop short of a welcome from God into his pleasant place.
The apostle, therefore, because he did desire the salvation of the souls of the Corinthians, to whom he writes this epistle, layeth them down in these words, such counsel, which if taken, would be for their help and advantage. First, Not to be wicked, and sit still, and wish for heaven; but TO RUN for it. Second, Not to content themselves with every kind of running; but, saith he, So RUN, that ye may obtain. As if he should say, Some, because they would not lose their souls, they begin to run betimes (Eccl 12:1), they run apace, they run with patience (Heb 12:1), they run the right way (Matt 14:26). Do you so run? Some run from both father and mother, friends and companions, and thus, that they may have the crown. Do you so run? Some run through temptations, afflictions, good report, evil report, that they may win the pearl (1 Cor 4:13; 2 Cor 6). Do you so run? So run that ye may obtain.
These words, they are taken from men’s running for a wager: a very apt similitude to set before the eyes of the saints of the Lord. Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. That is, do not only run, but be sure you win as well as run. So run, that ye may obtain.
I shall not need to make any great ado in opening the words at this time, but shall rather lay down one doctrine that I do find in them; and in prosecuting that, I shall show you, in some measure, the scope of the words.
[I. THE DOCTRINE OF THE TEXT.]
The doctrine is this: THEY THAT WILL HAVE HEAVEN, MUST RUN FOR IT; I say, they that will have heaven, they must run for it. I beseech you to heed it well. Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run ye. The prize is heaven, and if you will have it, you must run for it. You have another scripture for this in the 12th of the Hebrews, the 1st, 2d, and 3rd verses: Wherefore seeing we also, saith the apostle, are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us. And LET US RUN, saith he. Again, saith Paul, I therefore so run, not as uncertainly, so fight I, &c.
[II. THE WORD RUN OPENED.]
But before I go any further, observe,
First, FLYING That this running is not an ordinary, or any sort of running, but it is to be understood of the swiftest sort of running; and therefore in the 6th of the Hebrews it is called a fleeing; that we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge, to lay hold upon the hope set before us. Mark, who have fled. It is taken from that 20th of Joshua, concerning the man that was to flee to the city of refuge, when the avenger of blood was hard at his heels, to take vengeance on him for the offence he had committed; therefore it is a RUNNING or FLYING for ones life. A running with all might and main, as we use to say. So run!
Second, PRESSING this running in another place is called a pressing. I press toward the mark (Phil 3:14); which signifieth, that they that will have heaven, they must not stick at any difficulties they meet with; but press, crowd, and thrust through all that may stand between heaven and their souls. So run!
Third, CONTINUING this running is called in another place, a continuing in the way of life. If ye continue in the faith grounded, and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel of Christ (Col 1:23). Not to run a little now and then, by fits and starts, or half-way, or almost thither; but to run for my life, to run through all difficulties, and to continue therein to the end of the race, which must be to the end of my life. So run, that ye may obtain.
You can read this work in its entirety here