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there is room for the grave and the gay; the wise and the foolish ; the rich and the poor; the master and the servant. It is the broad way of carelessness and impiety, where millions travel, and find room. And I will only observe, that you may change from one side to the other; from extravagance to penuriousness ; from unblushing profligacy to the adoption of decent formalities : but if this be the only change, you are still in the "broad way.” It is the way in which we are all born; and no conversion but that which is wrought by grace to personal religion will rescue us from it. My beloved hearers, what course is your's ? Thirdly. This road is crowded.
“Multitudes go in thereat.” It is a lamentable truth, that while few find “the strait gate," and walk in “the narrow way,” there are many that enter “ the wide gate," and proceed in “the broad road. These words are fully verified in the present day. It is but too evident that there is in man a natural and powerful tendency towards earthly and temporal objects, that it requires a great exertion for him to take off his attention, and much more to withdraw his affections, from present pleasures, that it is with the utmost reluctance he directs his meditation to things unseen, and that he needs the working of God within him, to raise his heart from this carnal to an heavenly state. Now “ the way that leadeth to destruction” is just such a road as suits him. “ It is spacious in its opening; smooth in its ascent; pleasant and inviting in its appearance. It requires no consideration to find it; it stands at all times open to view. It requires no constraint to walk in it; it is filled with every thing flattering to the heart, and soothing to the sense. We are soon directed towards it, and easily persuaded to enter it, by the crowds who pass on together with us, and who throng to go in thereat.”
Such, my brethren, is the world's public road. There you will see multitudes of the profane, “who walk in the counsel of the ungodly, and stand in the way of sinners." There you will see multitudes of sceptical men, “who sit in the seat of the scornful,” and will not bow to the dictates of inspiration. There you may see multitudes of libertines, “ whose god is their belly, and who mind earthly things." There you will see multitudes of men of rank and fashion all travelling on, sometimes in concert, and sometimes falling out by the way. There, too, are multitudes of the poor, who waste their Sabbath in idleness and sin, possessed of little but wretchedness and want, and having no hope for the future. Oh, my beloved hearers, ye rich, and ye poor, “come ye out from among them, and be ye separate, and touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you, and be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord God Almighty.”
Fourthly. Observe its termination, -"it leadeth to destruction.” By this expression we are not to understand annihilation, but simply the amount of misery into which these multitudes of deluded travellers will be finally plunged. This is no unusual acceptation of the term ; for when we speak of an enemy destroying a country, we mean that he has made it miserable by the calamities of
I have no such pleasing intelligence to communicate to the sons of vice and folly, that they will perish like the beasts of the field. The resurrection, at the last day, will be both of the just and the unjust,“ some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” Of the aggregate of the sorrow which you must expect to feel, and of the certainty of your realizing all the anguish which the worm-conscience, under the displeasure of God, can inflict, I will not now attempt to speak. There are two passages of Scripture which I submit to your atten
tion, and will then leave them to your own contemplation. The first of these is the declaration of the psalmist.* " The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God." The other is the testimouy of an apostle: “ The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven, with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, nor obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.”+ Let us proceed to set before you,
II. THE PATH OF CHRISTIAN HOLINESS WE ARE TO PURSUE:"STRAIT IS THE GATE AND NARROW IS THE WAY THAT LEADETH UNTO LIFE, AND FEW THERE BE THAT FIND IT."
Here we perceive that this road is put in complete contrast with the former, as it regards its entrance, dimensions, passengers, and end.
First. Observe its entrance. The gate is "strait :" the idea is, that it requires care, caution, and divine assistance, to enable you to pass through it, and commence a traveller in the narrow way. The transition from the wide world into the road of holiness is made with great difficulty. There are the bitter tears of repentance towards God: and there must be faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, In a word, there is the gate of regeneration-of conversionof sanctification of taking up the cross-of surrendering the world—and of abandoning, without compromise or delay, every thing that is opposed to our devotedness to God. But whence the difficulty of this ? Surely it does not consist in religion itself. The practice of virtuethe service of our heavenly Father—the duties of the
Christian life—are, in their own nature, pleasant and delightful. But it rises from the contrariety there is in our hearts to the things that make for our peace. To believe that we are lost; that there is no way of salvation but through the Lord Jesus Christ, who is “the way, the truth, and the life :” to renounce all sin, and follow holiness, is no light or easy matter. There are many things to be put away,--many lusts to be mortified,--prejudices and habits, which are become second nature, to be eradicated,-pride to be cast down,-self-righteousness to be renounced,—the smile and the reproach of the world to be alike despised, — the glory and salvation of the soul to be all in all. This is the gate to be entered, and no human expedients, nor pride of man, can either widen it, nor set it aside.
Secondly. Observe the dimensions of the path, “narrow is the way." Religion is not a certain state of feeling to be once realized, and never repeated; it is a continued course of circumspection and watchfulness, in which prayer and prudence are necessary at every step. It is a course that requires love to God. A love which admits not of competition, and which nothing must subdue. A love that requires the surrender of friends, relations, health, honour, property, ease, and even life itself, if they interfere with our progress, or would prevent our advancement. A course that requires love to our neighbour, although he should be an enemy. It commands us to forget the most atrocious injuries, and to step forward to the performance of every deed of kindness, alike towards friends and foes. But where shall I stop? To exercise such a love; to possess, in conjunction with it, a faith that would lay the head on the scaffold, rather than renounce the truth ; a self-denial that compels us to pluck out the right eye, and cut off the right hand; a sympathy that constrains uz to
weep with them that weep, and to share the burdens of the oppressed; here is a narrow path indeed! Yet this road must be travelled, its duties performed, and its afflictions endured to the end, or we cannot be saved.
Thirdly. Observe the paucity of its passengers : “ few there be that find it.” This is the declaration of the Saviour; shall we be chargeable with illiberality if we faithfully expound it? Whether “men will hear or forbear,”—whether they are pleased or offended, unto the minister who preaches not the gospel.” Delightful, indeed, are the annunciations of prophecy of the multitudes which shall be born to Christ when He shall enter on his millenial glory; but hitherto, at no period from the creation to the present, has He ever had the pre-eminence -no, not even in outward profession. In every age, up to this time, “the god of this world,” has held by far the largest portion of the human race, in a state of the most degrading vassalage and darkness,-“blinding the minds of them that believe not." The faithful servants of the God of heaven have always been comparatively few. We read of an ark, but only eight souls were saved in it from the waters of the deluge. We read of Sodom and Gomorrah, but there were not five righteous persons within these cities to save them from destruction. We read that “there were many widows in Israel, in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land ; but unto none of them was Elias sent save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet, and none of them was cleansed save Naaman the Syrian.”* It is necessary to speak with great caution and charity on this subject; and doubtless there are many, many thousands of
• Luke iv. 25 -27.