31 The Cloud Of Witnesses
Secondly, What did they witness to? Salvation being all of grace, through faith; not of works, lest proud men should boast.
Thirdly, Why called a cloud? Because, when gathered together, they are a number which no man can number, any more than he can tell how many drops of water there are in a cloud, or grains of sand on a sea shore. What a crowd, or cloud, will appear in glory, when all those who are gone, those who are going, and those yet to go, will all appear in one glorious body before the throne of God, praising redeeming grace!
Because as a cloud is a recipient of water, and drops down rain, «o are the witnesses of God recipients of the Water of Life, Christ Jesus; and at times they drop down showers of blessings upon the earthen vessels around them, filling them instrumentally with heavenly treasure.
What is this race? In order to run in this race, you must have no legs of your own to stand upon. That is, you must be stripped of all dependence upon yourself, and stand alone upon the finished work of Christ; and then, when you are enabled to do this, you will run well.
What is it to lay aside every weight? For your mind to be divested of worldly care, sinful company, sinful propensities, which are heavy weights to the mind. The blood of the Lamb, when applied to your conscience by the Holy Ghost, will affect this; nothing else can.
What is the besetting sin? Not only any evil propensity of the heart, such as to drunkenness, lewdness, and other works of the flesh, with temptations to which some are beset and tortured; but legality and unbelief combined. This, more or less, besets us all.
What is it to run with patience? Those who go smoothly on have no work for patience to do; but those who run in this race have need of patience that, after they have done the will of God, they may inherit the promise. Tribulation worketh patience; therefore in patience may you possess your souls; the Lord help you so to do.—Jan. 9th, 1842.
William Gadsby (1773-1844) was a Strict and Particular Baptist preacher, writer and philanthropist. John Hazelton wrote of him—
“[Gadsby’s] labours extended to well-nigh every part of the country, and who by his sermons, hymns, and other writings, exerted a wide spiritual influence, and his interest in the poor and needy in Lancashire and elsewhere rendered his public advocacy of their cause of great value. In him we have a man of eminent public spirit, as well as of originality and spiritual force…The first time he preached was in 1798, in an upper room in a yard at Bedworth, from the words, "Unto you therefore which believe, He is precious." His Hymn Book, now so widely known, was first published in 1814, his desire being "to have a selection of hymns free from Arminianism and sound in the faith, that the Church might be edified and God glorified.” He removed to Manchester in 1805, and while over the Church there he travelled over 60,000 miles and preached nearly 12,000 sermons.”