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shall surely die;" but this father of lies directly contradicts the threatening, and induces her to eat, by saying, “ Ye shall not surely die." So in this case, our Saviour plainly declares, that the broad road of sin leads to destruction; but he deceives poor sinners, and prevails upon them to believe that, though they live in sin and unbelief, they shall not experience the destruction threatened.
But whom will you believe—the God of truth, or the father of lies? Observe the text: " the broad road leads to destruction;" and O think what that destruction is ! Think what “a fearful thing it is to fall into the hands of the living God." Think, O think, of “ the worm that never dies, and the fire, that is never quenched !" What would you not do to prevent the destruction of your property, the destruction of your dear relations, the destruction of your
life? But what are all these to your soul, your
immortal soul! “ For what is a man profited if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or, what shall a man give in exchange for his soul ?” Well, then, would you avoid this destruction, and surely you would, this broad road must be forsaken; and blessed be God that it is not yet too late to forsake it; and you must enter into the narrow way, by the strait gate, mentioned in the text. Let us therefore, in the second place,
II. Consider what is meant by the strait gate and the narrow way, and what it leads to.
The design of these expressions is to show, that the entrance into a religious course of life is painful and difficult, and that tribulation is to be expected progress.
include the whole in three words, REPENTANCE, Faith, and HOLINESS: a little examination of these particulars will prove the propriety of the phrases in the text.
John the Baptist, our Saviour, and his apostles, all went out and preached REPENTANCE: and with
out this we are assured that men must perish. Now, repentance cannot but be painful; for it consists, chiefly, in a godly sorrow for sin; together with a firm resolution to forsake it at all events, and whatever it may cost us. The penitent, being convinced that he has sinned, and come short of the glory of God; that he has, by sin, destroyed himself, and become liable to the dreadful wrath of God, perceives that he has all his life been acting a most foolish and hurtful part; but that he must now forsake all his sins, though dear to him as his right eye, and useful to him as his right hand. Now all this appears to a natural man irksome and unpleasant. He is unwilling to think seriously of his sins, and of their fatal consequences, and still more unwilling to part with them. He, therefore, shuns this, as a man would avoid passing through a very strait and low door, when a spacious one offered itself at the same time.
Faith is also intended by the narrow way: “ By grace are we saved, through fuith;” and “ without faith it is impossible to please God.” True faith consists in so believing the gospel of Jesus Christ, as to take him for our only Saviour; utterly renouncing all dependence on our own works and righteousness; submitting to be saved by the mere favour of God in Christ, as a poor beggar is relieved by an alms. Jesus Christ is, himself, “ the way.” “I,” saith he, (John xiv. 6.)
:-no man cometh to the Father but by me:" and it is by faith that we walk in this way; for all true Christians live by faith, and walk with God by faith.
Now this way of living, renouncing all our own works in point of dependence, and accounting them, in that respect, as “dung and dross, that we may win Christ"—this way is so contrary to our natural inclinations, and so humbling to a self-righteous spirit, that it may well be called a narrow way.
There are thousands who are so proud of their good
of HOLINESS is also a narrow way. Holiness consists in the conformity of our will to the will of God; it is produced by the power of the Holy Spirit, in the regeneration of a sinner. The law of God is written on his heart, whereby he is disposed to resist temptation, to forsake sin, and to practise obedience to the commands of God. In doing this, we must deny ourselves, take up our daily cross, and follow Christ. We must mortify the flesh with its affections and lusts. We must crucify the old man of sin, and walk, not according to the course of the world, nor according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. Now, in doing this, we cannot but meet with difficulties. We shall meet with continual opposition from our own corruptions, the law in our members warring against the law of our minds. We shall also suffer reproach and contempt from the world; for “ all who will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution;"—and, besides all this, God, our heavenly Father, sees it necessary to chastise us with the rod of affliction, of which all his children are partakers for their spiritual good, “that they may be partakers of his holiness."
Considering, therefore, the nature of Repent
ance, Faith and Holiness, we clearly see how properly a true Christian may be said to enter upon a religious life by a strait gate, and to proceed in it by a narrow way. But here, perhaps, an objection may be started. Does not our Lord say, “Take my yoke upon you, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light?” Does not Solomon say, “ The ways of wisdom are pleasantness, and her paths peace ?”and does not St. John say that “ Christ's commands are not grievous ?" How, then, is it true, that the gate is strait and the way narrow ?
I answer, the ways of religion are perfectly easy and pleasant in their own nature;—the difficulty arises from the depravity and corruption of our nature. Angels do the will of God with perfect ease and pleasure, for they have no sin in their nature to oppose it;—but through the power of sin in our hearts, the entrance into religion becomes painful and difficult; and through the remains of it in regenerate persons, more or less of that difficulty is found in the whole journey; yet grace renders it practicable; and often pleasant, so that no believer repents of his choice, nor wishes to turn back because of the hardships he endures ; but, like Moses of old, “ chooses rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt;" and for the same good reason, having “respect to the recompense of reward :" and this leads us to the last particular, namely,
III. To enforce the exhortation :-"Enter ye in at the strait gate.
O how wise, how gracious, how reasonable is this advice! May God dispose all our hearts to obey it ! There are but two ways that we can travel; the one leads to eternal misery, the other to eternal bliss; and that we may not miss our way, the blessed Jesus clearly marks out the right one, so that we
cannot mistake ;--the gate is strait, the way'is narrow, and there are but few travellers in it. It is true, there are difficulties in the way, but heaven will make amends for all. Heaven is worth every thing, or it is worth nothing! Let us not be such cowards as to be frightened at a little trouble; nothing, even in this life, can be obtained without it. A child cannot learn to read without difficulty; a boy cannot learn a trade without pains; we cannot carry on any business without care and labour; but are thereby prevented from attending to these things ? No; we wisely consider the advantage, and act accordingly.
Neither let us be swayed by numbers. “ Follow not a multitude to do evil.” Let us not think ourselves right, because we do as others: we must suspect ourselves, if we do. The broad road is thronged with travellers; but the narrow way has only a pilgrim here and there; and this should keep us from being ashamed of singularity in a good
Christ here teaches us to expect that religion will have but few advocates, comparatively.
Well, then, let us, by divine grace, resolve on eternal life at all events. On the one hand, here is a broad road, full of passengers; in which, it is true, the poor, paltry, perishing, intoxicating pleasures of sin may be enjoyed for a moment, though not without many a pang; and at the end of this short course is (Oh, tremble, my soul, at the thought!) Destruction !--not a ceasing to be, but an utter end of all pleasure for evermore! Misery, pains, torments; without mitigation, without cessation, without end! Everlasting separation from the presence of God, the Fountain of Life and coufinement in chains of darkness, with devils and damned spirits to all eternity!
On the other hand, God has set before us the way of life. The entrance is strait—the way is