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addressing the God of all grace on my behalf; my bosom swelled, my eyes gushed, and gratitude triumphed in my soul. Why, permit me to ask, are those strong ties of attachment suffered to bind a person, destined a wanderer? But no more.
I have again held forth the words of life to a large congregation. The subject I thought most proper to dwell upon, after the one which hath so recently engaged our attention, may be found in Luke, chapter xiii. verses 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, and 30.
"Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.
"When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer, and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are :
"Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets.
"But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are ; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.
"There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.
"And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God.
"And, behold, there are last, which shall be first, and there are first, which shall be last."
As there are, perhaps, no two passages in sacred writ, which appear to the generality of hearers more contradictory than the declaration in Genesis, made to the patriarch Abraham, and this in Luke, you will conclude the audience were very attentive. And you will no doubt suppose, that as many as were not utterly blinded by prejudice, found no difficulty in acknowledging, that this passage was, in fact, a confirmation of the former. The subject was naturally divided into the following heads of discourse:
First, What is intended by the gate, why denominated a straight
Secondly, Why many should strive to enter in, and should not be
Thirdly, Who is the master of the house?
Fifthly, What is designed by the master of the house rising up? Sixthly, What by his shutting the door?
Seventhly, The arguments made use of by those who were without.
Eighthly, The reply made to them.
Ninthly, What by the weeping and gnashing of teeth?
Tenthly, What by the East and by the West, by the many coming from thence, and uniting with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God?
Eleventh, What by the kingdom of God?
And lastly, What by the first being last, and the last first?
You will anticipate my comments upon this passage, your illumined understanding will decisively pronounce, that the gate, the strait gate, could be no other than the Redeemer of the world. “I am the door," said our Saviour, the door of the sheep, John x. 7. and again in the 9th verse, "I am the door; by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and go in and out, and find pasture." Assuredly he shall, and all who would propose any other mode of entrance, are, (in as much as they derogate from the all-sufficient and complete righteousness of him who died for us, thus robbing him of the glory which is due unto his great name,) properly styled, as in the eighth verse of this same chapter, "thieves and robbers." But why is this gate termed a strait gate? to announce its difficulty; the carnal mind is enmity against God; no man can know the things of God but by the spirit of God. It is elsewhere said, "Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." Few indeed; if thou wouldst enter into life keep the commandments. No man, save the God Man, ever was able to perform this condition. But the exhortation is admonitory," strive to enter in." In other words, "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." I recollect an exposition of this last text, given me by an able minister of the reconciliation, with which I was perfectly charmed. "A certain man, "said he,” had a field sup posed to contain a mine of inestimable value, which he forcbore to work, although his necessities were urgent. Under the most acute sensations of poverty, his soul was still soothed, and buoyed up, by contemplating his latent treasure; believing that he had it in his power at his pleasure, to raise himself from want, and beggary, to the highest affluence. But more sensibly pinched, and nearly sinking under oppression, he at last resolves to open his mine. He
does it, and gains shining ore in abundance, upon which he is crowned with his own, and his neighbour's applause, and considered as a man increasing in goods.
"Domestic calls still encroaching upon his forbearance, at last compel him to assay the glittering fossile. Upon trial it is found to be a deception! From an infinite mass not an ingot, nay, not a grain of pure metal can be produced. Stimulated by disappointment, and the dread of what his mistake might produce in futurity, he works more eagerly, until his mine is worn out, and what had the appearance of riches and stability is totally exhausted.
"Who can depict the countenance of this disappointed man, or describe the anguish of his mind? It will readily be answered, none but such whom experience teaches. His dream of riches and power, or of dignity and pleasure as dependant thereon, vanishes forever, and makes him, for the first time sensible of his real poverty; yea, makes him content to receive his daily bread from the hand of the bountiful.
"I have used this similitude with a pure view to elucidate the sacred text, 'Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.' Every man by nature dreams of having the mine of salvation in
mself; nor is he sensible to the contrary, until he has worked it out. Then, he not only hears, but feels that he is miserable, poor, blind, and naked; in other words, he knows himself, and although the lesson be painful, yet it is absolutely necessary to the certain sound of the gospel trumpet."
Thus, it is true that the trial of our most perfect performances, will not abide the test: brought to the standard of the divine law, they are weighed in the balance and found wanting. It is the law that convinces us of sin; it slays us, and we die: but we revive again in our federal head. If any man can build upon the foundation laid in Zion, "Gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.
If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved: yet so as by fire." 1 Corinthians iii. 12, 13, 14, 15.
Secondly, Why do many who strive, find themselves not able to enter in? Because they seek to obtain entrance by the deeds of the law; and Paul informs us, Romans iii. 20, “That by the deeds of the law no flesh shall be justified, for by the law is the knowledge of sin."
Thirdly, Who is the master of the house? Ye call me Lord and Master, said Jesus, and ye say well, for so I am.
Fourthly, What is the house? Most undoubtedly human nature, "I will glorify the house of my glory,” saith God by the mouth of the prophet Isaiah. "But Christ as a Son over his own house; whose house are we." Hebrews iii. 6. "Having an high-priest over the house of God." Hebrews x. 21. and I Corinthians iii. 16. "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God," chapter vi. 19. "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost?" 2 Corinthians vi. 16, "For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people." 1 Corinthians iii. 9, "Ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building." Ephesians ii. 21, "In whom all the building fitly framed together, groweth unto a holy temple in the Lord." Thus it is plain the human nature is the house, the temple, the building of God. Christ Jesus is a wise master builder. His house is the superstructure of his own Omnipotence, and it is consequently founded upon a rock, against which the gates of hell shall never prevail. The rain may descend, the floods arise, and the winds blow, all these may beat upon this house, and it will not fall-certainly not, for it is founded upon a rock.
Fifthly, What is intended by the master of the house rising up? The morning of his resurrection; when he burst the barriers of the grave, and showed himself alive unto many.
Sixthly, What by his shutting the door? Previous to his crucifixion he addressed himself solely to the descendants of Israel; but when our Saviour quitted the chambers of the tomb, the scene was reversed; and he commissioned his immediate disciples to go forth into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature ; but it appears the door was shut against the Jews. I shut, says God, and no man can open. God hath shut them up, or included them in unbelief; as saith Isaiah vi. 10, "Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand
with their hearts, and convert and be healed." Romans xi. 8, 9, 10, "According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear unto this day.
"And David said, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumbling block, and a recompense unto them:
"Let their eyes be darkened that they may not see, and bow down their back alway."
Seventhly, The arguments made use of by those who are with
These Jews still seek to enter this narrow way, this strait gate, by the deeds of the law! this is manifest by the nature of their plea; grant us admittance, for our own personal excellence" We have eaten and drank in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets." Yet, saith Paul, Romans iii. 20, "By the deeds of the law shall no flesh living be justified," and again, verse 23," For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God."
Eighthly, Our Saviour's reply cannot therefore be a matter of wonder, "I tell you, I know you not, whence ye are; depart from me all ye workers of iniquity." That he knew them as men cannot be denied, for he was their Creator, so saith the apostle, Colossians i. 16, "For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him." That he knew them as sinners is indubitable, for he had died to redeem them; and, besides, he says, " Depart from me all ye workers of iniquity." How then doth the text consist? It is plainly this, he knew them not as righteous, as keepers of the law. He knew no such character among mankind. It is therefore he saith unto them, I know you not. As good, as upright persons he could not know them; indeed, he had before indirectly reproved those, who, considering him only in the human character, addressed him as good by thus questioning, Mark x. 18, "Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is God." Although Emmanuel was indeed very God, immaculate, perfect. Yet consider. ing himself as the head of every man, and not then having put away the iniquity of his heels, he adverts to his character as human, and says, "there is none good but one, that is God." To have known them in the character they assumed, would have been to have admitted the justice of their claims, and to have denied his own