Here then is the highest kind of strength, and it is a strength within the reach of all. Bodily strength some of us can never attain. We are born with weakly bodies, we have grown up delicate and frail, we could no more transform ourselves into strong, powerful men, than we could make ourselves into elephants.
There was a man who lived in Greece long before Hezekiah, who was determined to make his nation the strongest nation on earth; he was resolved that it should consist of mighty giants in strength, and that not one delicate or weak man should be found amongst them. But what did Lycurgus find himself obliged to do in order to secure his end? He was compelled to have every infant carefully examined as soon as it was born, and if a child had the least appearance of delicacy, he took it from its mother, and sent it to some lonely cave on the hill-side, where it was left to die of cold and hunger. He found that it was not possible to turn a puny delicate child into a strong man.
Bodily strength then is beyond the reach of many men; weak they were born, weak they live, and weak they will die, nothing will alter or improve them.
Nor can strength of mind be attained by many. They were born with no power of memory, no aptitude for learning, no gift for study; you may teach them, and labour with them, and they may work hard themselves, but no application can instil into them what was not born in them; they came into the world with second-rate intellects, and they will die with the same.
But, thank God, the highest form of strength, strength of soul is, in this respect, not like strength of body or strength of mind. No one is born with it, we are all by nature weak as water, an easy prey for Satan; but there is not one of us who may not acquire this spiritual power. If we will take the lost sinner’s place, and claim the lost sinner’s Saviour, we shall be filled by that Saviour with joy, joy because sin is forgiven, and with the joy will come the strength of soul.
In Greece, in that city in which all the weakly babies were murdered, those children who were spared and who were pronounced to be strong, were looked upon from that time as belonging not to their parents but to the state, and they were trained and brought up with this one object in view, to make them strong and powerful men. They were taught to bear cold, wearing the same clothing in winter as in summer; they were trained to bear fatigue, being accustomed to walk barefoot for miles; they were practised in wrestling, in racing, in throwing heavy weights, in carrying burdens, in anything and everything which was calculated to make the strength that was in them grow and increase. And it was wonderful how, by means of practice, the strength did grow.
We are told of one man, who in the public games carried a full grown ox for a mile, and we are told that he accomplished this by gradually accustoming himself to the weight. He began when the ox was a tiny calf to carry it a mile every day, and the increase of weight was so gradual that he did not feel it; his arms became used to the weight, and as the ox grew bigger, he at the same time grew stronger.