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safety. This is not a secret, but a revealed decree. By this let us govern qur conduct. On this let us ground our hopes, or our fears, according as we find our character. God will not depart from it ; for he is of one mind ; none can turn him. We cannot alter it, for it is founded in the nature of God. The change must be in us. Let us by faith embrace the promise of God, and by repen. tance renounce the practice of fin, and thus giving all diligence, add to our faith all the virtues and works of the gospel ; in this progress we shall make our calling and election sure, and shall never fall, but an entrance will be ministred to us abundantly into the kingdom of Christ.

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The Causes, why many who seek, cannot enter at

the strait Gate.

LUKE xiii. 24

Strive to enter in at the strait gate ; for many, I say unto you, will seek to

enter in, and shall not be able

THE entrance into heaven is here represented as a strait gate. It is so called, because the terms of admiffion are strict and indispensable ; and in the way thither much opposition is to be expected. Our Lord warns us, that there are many,

who will fail of entering in at this gate.

Hence he commands us to strive for an entrance, left we be found among the unhappy number, which shall be excluded.

These observations have, in a former discourse, been illustrated and applied.

We now proceed to observe, Thirdly : Our faviour, for our caution, points out the causes, why many will not enter in at the strait gate. These are negligence, dilatoriness and falfe dependence.

1. One cause, why many fail of salvation, is negligence. Strive," says our Lord, " for many

will seek to enter, and shall not be able. Seeking is a word often used to express the whole condition of salvation : but here it is used in a lower sense, and in diftinction from Ariving.

The latter is a word, which imports the greateft earnestness the most vigorous exertion, like that which combatants use, when they are contending for the mastery. There is a promise of eternal life to them who seek it ; but it is only to them who seek it first, and in preference to all earthly interests to them who seek it diligently, and by a patient continuance in well-doing-to them who seek it betimes, and while it may be found. This seeking is the same as friving. There is a careless kind of seeking, which will not be successful. Our faviour speaks of some, who shall seek him, and yet shall die in their fins-of some who seek him, not for the spiritual blessings which he bestows, but for inferior ends. If they seek the kingdom of heaven, yet they first seek what they shall eat and drink.

Under the light of revelation, it is probable, there are few, but who have an intention to obtain heaven. Depraved as human nature is, few are so abandoned to stupidity-fo loft to the fentiments of happiness and misery, as to feel no im. prefsion from the terrors of the world to come. To dwell with devouring fire, with everlasting burningsis so tremendous a thought, that even care. less finners are sometimes afraid. They wilh to escape the awful scene, which the gospel opens to their view. In their serious hours they form some purposes of repentance, they make some address es to the God of mercy, and they think of turning to a virtuous life. But their resolutions, prayers and endeavors are faint, transient and inef. fectual. If they may be said to seek heaven; yet they Vol. V.


do not strive for it, with that engagedness of heart, that constancy of resolution, that perseverance of application, with which combatants contend for victory, or with which men ordinarily pursue their worldly ends. If they seek, yet they feek not first the kingdom of God. If they attend at all to the care of their souls, yet they attend not to it as the one thing needful. There is no reason to think, that such a seeking as this, will avail. The gospel injoins a different kind of seeking. “ Strive to enter in at the strait gate." “ So run that ye may obtain.” “Labour not for the meat which perishes, but for that which endures to everlasting life.” “ The kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force-they press into it.” This is the seeking which God requires, and in no other way can we promise ourselves success.

The object in view is so great, that our prayers to obtain it cannot be too importunate-our labours to secure it cannot be too earneft, constant and persevering

We need not fear, that we shall strive with too much engagedness. But we must be careful that we place not a wrong kind of dependance on our striving.. We may hope for success, when we feek with carnestness and diligence, because God has required us thus to seek. But still we muft remember that we are unworthy creatures—that our fins have forfeited every blesling--that whatever good we obtain, it is a gift of grace-that we have no claim on God's justice in virtue of any thing we have done, nor any claim on his promise,

till we have actually complied with the terms of it ; and, that as long as we remain impenitent, we are exposed to the condemnation of God's law, whatever pains to escape it we have taken. We are to strive earnestly, but humbly ; we are to rely not on the value of what we have done to obtain falvation, but on the grace of God, who has offered salvation to us, awakened our defires to secure it, and excited our diligence in seeking it.

If we indulge the proud thought, that God would be unjust and cruel, to deny us salvation after we have done so much in the business or that he is unkind to keep us so long in fear and suspense, when we have been so importunate for the assurance of hope-or that he is partial in withholding from us those comforts and joys, which others have obtained in a shorter time and with less pains ; we then turn our strivings into a vain and offensive self-righteousness; we dishonour God, and defeat the otherwise hopeful success of our endeavours ; we discover the fame haughty and impatient spirit, which God condemns in some ancient hypocrites. “Your words have been stout against me-Ye have said, It is vain to serve God : and what profit is it, that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before, the Lord of hosts? And now we call the proud happy; yea, they who tempt God are even delivered."

2. Another cause why many will not be able to enter, is dilatoriness. Strive," says our Lord, strive now, “ for many will seek,” will seek hereafter, and “ shall not be able to come in."

But why shall they not be able ? Because the door will then be shut. Thus it is added, " when once the master of the house has risen up and has fhaut to the door ; and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us ; then shall he say unto you, I know you not whence ye are.” You will here observe,

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