I have known men to run the race of religion with all their might, and yet they have lost it because they did not start right. You say, “Well, how is that?” Why, there are some people who of a sudden leap into religion. They get it quickly, and they keep it for a time, and at last they lose it because they did not get their religion the right way. They have heard that before a man can be saved, it is necessary that, by the teaching of the Holy Spirit, he should feel the weight of sin, that he should make a confession of it, that he should renounce all hope in his own works and should look to Jesus Christ alone. They look upon all these things as unpleasant preliminaries, and, therefore, before they have attended to repentance, before the Holy Spirit has wrought a good work in them, they have been brought to give up everything and trust to Christ, they make a profession of religion. This is just setting tip in business without a stock in trade, and there must be a failure. If a man has no capital to begin with, he may make a fine show for a little time, but it shall be as the crackling of thorns under a pot — a great deal of noise and much light for a little while, but it shall die out in darkness. How many there are who never think it necessary that there should be heart work within! Let us remember, however, that there never was a man who had a changed heart without his first having a miserable heart. We must pass through that black tunnel of conviction before we can come out upon the high embankment of holy joy; we must first go through the Slough of Despond before we can run along the Walls of Salvation. There must be ploughing before there is sowing; there must be many a frost and many a sharp shower before there is any reaping. But we often act like little children who pluck flowers from the shrubs and plant them in their gardens without roots, then they say how fair and how pretty their little garden is; but wait a while, and all their flowers are withered, because they have no roots. This is all the effect of not having a right start, not having the “root of the matter.” What is the good of outward religion, the flower and the leaf of it, unless we have the “root of the matter” in us — unless we have been ploughed with the plough of the Spirit, and then have been sown with the sacred seed of the Gospel, in the hope of bringing forth an abundant harvest? There must be a good start in running the Christian race, for there is no hope of winning unless the start be right.