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All People almost that we converse with, infuse the Poison of their corrupt Notions and Opinions, while they speak with such an Air of Esteem and Admiration of the Things of the World, and so drily and indifferently (if they afford them any Place at all in their Conversation) of the great Concerns of another Life. As it is a very difficult Matter, when an Infection is so generally spread, that the very Air is corrupted, not to suck in some of the peftilential Atoms ; so it is a very difficult Business, in this corrupt World, to converse so innocently, as not to learn some of their wrong Notions and Maxims, and to be led into some of their vicious Manners and Customs. We must therefore both fortify our felves with the best Preservatives and Antidotes, with which our Saviour's Doctrine furnishes us the best of all kinds; and must likewise frequently search and examine whether any of the World's Infection has taken hold of us, and got within us, and so purge it out again by Repentance, and new Resolutions and Endeavours. But sometimes the evil Customs of the World are so headstrong, that bare Caution alone will not do, without a great deal of Courage and Resolution to stem the Tide, and to oppose the Torrent of Vice which breaks in, and carries all down before it. There is a weak and fearful Bashfulness, which often betrays us to sinful Compliances ; this we must take the Courage to break through, remembring our Saviour's Threatning, Mark viii. 38. Whosoever shall be ashamed of me, and of my Words, in this adulterous and Jinful Generation ; of him also all the Son of Man
be ashamed, when he cometh in the Glory of his Father with the holy Angels.
So much for the second Thing I observed in the Words, the small Company in the narrow Way of Duty, and the great Company in the broad Way of Sin. I find Time will not permit my meddling at present with the other two Points I observed from the Words, concerning the different Ends, to which these two Ways do lead; and the Necessity of our using our most vigorous Endeavours to get out of the broad Way of Sin, which leads to Destruction, and to walk in the narrow Way of Virtue, which leads unto Life: And therefore I must refer them to another Opportunity.
Only that ye may not be discouraged with what I have said of the Difficulties in the Way of Christ's Precepts, it will be necessary to acquaint you, that though the Way was very difficult in those Days, by Reason of the Persecutions which attended the Christian Profession; and although it is still difficult, especially at the first Thaking off of evil Habits; it grows daily more and more pleasant, the further Progress we make in it; and the Peace of Conscience with which it is attended here, and the well-grounded Hope of Happiness hereafter, to all considering People, gives it much the Advantage even in Point of true Ease and Pleasure, of the Way of Sin and Folly; the Pleasures of which are both short and unsatisfactory, and exceedingly embittered with the doleful Prospect of that everlasting Anguish and Despair in which they will certainly end.
Now God give us all Grace to consider in this our Day, the Things which belong to our everlasting Peace, before the Time come that they be hid from our Eyes.
To this great God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, &c.
Enter ye in at the strait Gate; for wide is the
Gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to De-
in thereat. V. 14. Because strait is the Gate, and narrow is
the Way which leadeth unto Life, and few there be that find it.
The Second Sermon on this Text.
AVING at the last Occasion discoursed
from these Words, there were Four Things I then proposed to be considered from them.
1. What is to be meant by the broad and nare row Way here described.
2. That there is but little Company in the narrow, and a great Company in the broad Way.
3. The different Ends to which both these Ways do lead; the broad Way to Destruction, the narrow Way to Life.
4. The Exhortation concerning the Necessity of our most vigorous Endeavours to enter by the Arait Gate, and to walk in the narrow Way.
Now, having at that Time spoke to the first and second of these, shewing you that by the broad Way, is meant the Way of Sin and Vice; and by the narrow Way, the strict Way of Duty, which had been described by our Saviour in the foregoing Part of this excellent Sermon on the Mount; and likewise, how few there are, in comparison, who follow this strict Way of Duty, and how many that are for inventing easier, but much unsafer Ways to Heaven; I proceed now to what remains upon this Text.
III. The third Thing then I observed in the Words, was the different Ends to which both these Ways do lead; the broad Way to Destruction, and the narrow Way to Life. Broad is the way that leadeth to Destruction; and narrow is the Way wbich leadeth unto Life. In treating of this Subject, I shall go by these three Steps or Degrees.
1. I. will shew, that the Way of Virtue, and the Way of Vice, have Ends vastly different.
2. From the two Words in the Text, which describe those different Ends, Destruction and Life, I will enquire into the Nature of those different States.
3. I will endeavour to explain how those different States result from the different Courses of Life of the Wicked and the Godly; because the several Ways are said to lead to them.
I. First, That the Way of Virtue, and the Way of Vice, have Ends vastly different; as