Read CHAPTER XXI. A SERMON ON THE BOAT RACE. of Broken Bread from an Evangelist's Wallet , free online book, by Thomas Champness, on

In finding illustrations for our teaching at the river-side, we shall be in good company, for that manly preacher, Paul, had seen wrestlers and race-runners. It is true that then, athletics had not been disgraced by betting; and it is only of very late years that the struggle on the Thames has been polluted by gamblers.

There are not a few who read our paper, who will be on the lookout to know as soon as possible, whether


has won. For ourselves we care not, but we are anxious to make use of the contest as a parable, before the race is forgotten.

If you would row as to obtain, you must mind certain things, and these are pictures of what we must do, would we gain the heavenly prize.


So thought Paul. See 1st Cor. ix, 25 and 27. Those sixteen young fellows who will pull the oars in the race, have, for months, been undergoing strict physical training. This means abstinence from all that could be said to weaken the frame, or lower the action of the heart. There are only certain things they may eat and drink. They must have the right amount of sleep, and no more. Exercise of the most bracing kind they must take every day, and eschew every practice that could weaken the nerves or muscles in the slightest degree.

And he that would win the heavenly race must say “No,” to self, and “flee youthful lusts,” and “endure hardness.” He whose soul can be mastered by his body has lost the bridle, and cannot wonder if he lose the prize.


Just before the Starter gives the word to go, the men paddle till the cord which the coxswain holds at arm’s length is tight, and every man has his oar ready for the dash into the water and away. To lose time at the start is to find that a chance has been thrown away.

“Remember thy Creator in the days of thy youth.” “They that seek Me early shall find Me.” He who would be a first-class Christian, must begin betimes. Time lost is lee-way, that cannot be recovered, strive as we like.


In the picture parable you can see who is steering. Don’t let him come aboard you! Proverbs ii, tells you whom to trust with the tiller ropes.

He shall direct thy paths.”

If young men would only let the Bible “coach them,” they would be saved from many a blunder and defeat. It is important to have, as steersman, one who knows the currents, and just when to alter the course. The youngster who steers the University boat has been up and down the river many a time, till he has learned everything he needs to know. Let me ask you, “Who steers?” If self-will does, you are undone.


Your adversary will not. He will pursue you till you have gained the prize. “He who to the end endures,” is the saved man. It is very instructive to note how many backsliders there are among professors of mature age. The most grievous cases of falling away are not from the ranks of young disciples, but from those who ought to have been safe examples for them! If you have lived to be grey-headed, remember your silver hair may make a fool’s cap yet! There are other lessons, but they will keep till another year. We will end our Sermon with some lines of Charles Wesley’s, not known to all our readers:

“But did the great apostle fear
He should not to the end endure,
Should not hold out, and persevere,
And make his own election sure?
Could Paul believe it possible,
When all his toils and griefs were past,
Himself should of salvation fail,
And die a reprobate at last?”

“Who then art thou that dar’st reject
The sacred terms, the humbling awe,
As absolutely saved, elect,
And free from an abolished law?
Dost thou no self-denial need,
no watch, or abstinence Severe;
In one short moment perfected!
An angel an immortal here?”