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It is therefore a small thing with them to prove, that the way is right, because it is brorud; that he who follows a multitude cannot do eril, but only he who will not follow them; that your way minst be wrong, because it is narrow, and because there are so few that find it. These will make it clear to a demonstration, that evil is good, and good is evil; that the way of boliness is the way of destruction, and the way of the world the only way to heareu.
7. O how can unlearned and ignorant men maintain their cause against such opponents! And yet these are not all with whom they must contend, however uneqnal to the task : for there are many mighty, and noble, and powerful men, as well as wise, in the road that Icadeth to destruction ; and these have a shorter way of consutius, than that of reason and argument. They usually apply, not to the understanding, but to the fears, of any that oppose them ;-a method that seldom fails of success, even where argument profits bothing, as lying level to the capacitics of all men; for all can fear, whether they can reason or no. And all who have not a firın trust in God, a sure reliance both on his power and lovc, cannot but fear to give any disgust to those who have the power of the world in their hands. Wl'hat wonder, therefore, if the example of these is a law to all who know not God ?
8. Many rich are likewise in the broad way. And these apply to the hopes of men, and to all their foolish desires, as strongly and effectually as the mighty and noble to their fears. So that hardly can you hold on in the way of the kingdom, unless you are dead to all below, unless you are crucified to the world, and the world crucified to you, unless you desire nothing more but God.
9. For how dark, bow uncomfortable, bow forbidding is the prospect on the opposite side! A strait gate! A narrow way! And few finding that gate! Few walking in the way! Besides, even those few are not wise men, not men of learning or eloquence. They are not able to reason either strongly er clearly : they cannot propose an argument to any advantage. They know not how to prove what they profess to belicre; or to explain even what they say they experience. Surely such advocates as these will never recommend, but rather discredit, the cause they have espoused.
10. Add to this, that they are pot poble, not honourablo men : if they were, you might bear rith their folly. They are men of no interest, no authority, of no account in the world. They are mean and base; low in life; and such as have no
power, if they had the will, to hurt you. Therefore there is nothing at all to be feared from them; and there is nothing at all to hope: For the greater part of them may say, 6 Silver and gold have I none;" at least a very moderate share. Nay, some of them have scarce food to eat, or raiment to put on. For this reason, as well as because their ways are not like those of other men, they are every where spoken against, are despised, have their names cast out as evil, are variously persecuted, and treated as the filth and offscouring of the world. So that both your fears, your hopes, and all your desires, (except those which you have immediately from God,) yea, all your natural passions, continually incline you to return into the broad way.
JII. 1. Therefore it is, that our Lord so earnestly exhorts, “ Enter ye in at the strait gate.” Or, (as the same exhortation is elsewhere expressed,) « Strive to enter in :" Aywvideode El0eX Daiv,-strive as in an agony: “For many,” saith our Lord, “shall seek toenterin, [indolently strive,) and shall not be able.”
2. It is true, he intimates what may seem another reason for this, for their not being able to enter in, in the words wbich immediately follow these. For after he had said, “ Many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able,” he subjoins, “ When once the master of the house is risen up, and bath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without,"apžno de E&W esa101,-rather, yestand without; foraz znota seems to be only an elegant expletive," and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us ; he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not : depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.” (Luke xiii. 26, &c.)
3. It may appear, upon a transient view of these words, that their delaying to seek at all, rather than their manner of seeking, was the reason why they were not able to enter in. But it comes, in effect, to the same thing. They were, tberefore, commanded to depart, because they had been “ workers of iniquity;” because they had walked in the broad road; in other words, because they had not agonized to “ enter in at the strait gate." Probably they did seek before the door was shut; but that did not suffice: And they did strive, after the door was shut; but then it was too late.
4. Therefore strive ye now, in this your day, to “enter in at the strait gate.” And in order thereto, settle it in your heart, and let it be ever uppermost in your thoughts, that if you are in a broad way, you are in the way that leadeth to destruction. If many go with you, as surc as God is true, both
they and you are going to hell! If you are walking as the generality of men walk, you are walking to the bottomless pit! Are many wise, many rich, many mighty, or noble, travelling with you in the same way? By this token, without going any farther, you know it does not lead to lise. Here is a short, a plain, an infallible rule, before you enter into particulars. In whatever profession you are engaged, you must be singular, or be damned! The way to hell has nothing singular in it; but the way to heaven is singularity all over: if you move but one step towards God, you arc hot as other men are. But regard not this. It is far better to stand alone, than to fall into the pit. Run then with patience the race which is set before thee, though thy companions therein are but few! They will not always be so. Yet a little while, and thou wilt “come to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and Church of the first-born, and to the spirits of just men made periect.”
5. Now, then,“ strive to enter in at the strait gate;” being penetrated with the cheepest sense of the inexpressible danger your soul is in, so long as yon itre in a broad way,--so long as you are roid of poverty of spirit, and all that inward religion, which the many, the rich, the wise, accouni maduess. “ Strive w enterin;” being pierced with sorrow and shame for having so long run on with the unthinking crowd, utterly neglecting, if not despising, that “ boliness without which no inan can sce the Lordl.” Strive', as in an agony of holy fear, lest “a promise being made you of chilering into his l'est,” even that “rest which remaineth for the people of God," you should nevertheless "come short of it.” Siire, in all the fervour of desire, with “groanings that cannot be uttered.” Strire by prayer without ceasing ; at all times, in all places, lifting up your heart to God, and giving him no rest, till you “Wake up after bis liheness, and are "siltistied with it.”
ö. To conclude: “Siriva 10 enter in at the strait gate,” pot only by this igony of soil, of couriction, of sorrow, of shame, of desire, of fear, of unceasing prayer; but likewise by ordering the conversation aright, by walking with all thy strength in all the ways of God, the way of innocence, of piety, indotmercyAbstain from all appearance of evil: do all possible good in all men : deny thyseli, thy own will, in all things, and take up thy croas daily. Beready to cut off thy right hand, tu pluck out thy right upe, and cut it from thee; to sunter the loss of goods, friends, health, all things on carth, so yaou mayest enter into the higher of licarea!
UPON OUR LORD'S SERMON ON THE
“ Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's
clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. “ Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes
of thorns, or figs of thistles ? “Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a
corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. “A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a
corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. “Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down,
and cast into the fire. “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” Matt. vii.
1. It is scarce possible to express or conceive, what multitudes of souls run on to destruction, because they would not be persuaded to walk in a narrow way, even though it were the way to everlasting salvation. And the same thing we may still observe daily. Such is the folly and madness of mankind, that thousands of men still rush on in the way to hell, only because it is a broad way. They walk in it themselves, because others do : because so many perish, they will add to the number. Such is the amazing influence of example over the weak, miserable children of men! It continually peoples the regions of death, and drowns numberless souls in everlasting perdition !
2. To warn mankind of this, to guard as many as possible against this spreading contagion, God has commanded his watchmen to cry aloud, and show the people the danger they are in. For this end he has sent his servants the Prophets, in their succeeding generations, to point out the narrow path, and cxhort all men pot to be conformed to this world. But what if the Watchmen themselves fall into the spare, against which they should warn others ? What if “the Prophets prophesy deceits ? ” If they “cause the people to err from the way?” What shall be douc, if they point out as the way to cternal life, what is in truth the way to eternal death ; and exhort others to walk, as they do themselves, in the broad, not the narrow way?
3. Is this an unhcard of, is it an uncommon thing ? Nay, God knoweth it is not. The irstances of it are almost iunumerable. We may find them in every age and nation. But how terrible is this! When the Ambassadors of God turn agents for the Devil! When they, who are commissioned to teach men the way to heaven, do in fact tcach them the way to hell! These are like the locusts of Egypt, “which eat up the residue that had escaped, that had remained after the hail.” They devour even the residue of men that had escaped, that were not destroyed by ill example. It is not, therefore, without cause, that our wise and gracious Master so solemnly cautions us against them: “Beware,” saith he,“ of false Prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.”
4. A caution this of the utmost importance.—That it may the more cllectually sink into our hearts, let us inquire, First, Who these False Prophets are : Secondly, W'bat Appearance they put on: and, Thirdly, How we may know what they really are, notwithstanding their fair appearance.
J. 1. We are, First, to inquire, Who these False Prophets are? And this it is needful to do the more diligently, because these very men have so laboured to “wrest this scripture to their own though not only their own] destruction.” In order, therefore, to cut off all dispute, I shall raise no dost, (as the manner of some is,) neither vise any loose, rhetorical exclamations, to deceive the hearts of the simple; but speak rough, plain truths, such as none can deny, who has either understanding or modesty left, and such truths as have the closest connection with the whole tenor of the preceding Discourse : Whereas too many have interpreted these words, without any regard to all that went before; as if they bore no manner of relation to the Sermon in the close of which they stand.
2. By Prophets here (as in many other passages of Scripture, particularly in the New Testament) are meant, not those who foretell things to comc, but those who speak in the name of