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obedience to thee, because it is in this way that thou exercisest thy rational creatures, and fittest them for durable happiness :
Give us teachable and upright dispositions, that we may be serious in our researches after thee and thy truth, and ready to embrace it ; and at all times may be inclined to make continual improvements in all virtue.
And as thou, O holy and righteous Father, didst give to Jesus, our great lord and master, power over all nature whilst he was here, and even to raise the dead to life, that all men might know that he received his authority from thee, and believe and obey him:
And wilt also enable him, by the same power, to call the dead, small and great, to life, at the awful approaching day : those innumerable multitudes that are now asleep in their graves, and us, and all others, that are daily gathering to them :
Let the thoughts of this solemn most important scene, in which we shall all of us assuredly bear our part, alarm the guilty sinner to turn to thee by true repentance, lest he die in his sins; and quicken the slow and tardy pace of others, to make haste to finish the work of virtue and holiness which thou hast
appointed for them; that we may all find favour in thy sight, when we shall stand before thy throne of judgement, O thou sovereign judge of all! and that Jesus, our appointed judge under thee, may pronounce us the blessed of thee his Father; and receive us into that eternal kingdom, which of thine infinite goodness thou hast prepared for the faithful and virtuous of mankind.
Now, unto thee, O Father, the only living and true God, be rendered all praise, thanksgiving, and an increasing obedience, by us, and thy whole rational creation for ever and ever!
grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us all evermore!
April 19, 1778.
Matthew vii. 14.
How strait is the gate and narrow the way
which "leadeth unto life! and few there be that find it.
In the verse before our Lord had said, “Enter ye in at the strait gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way which leadeth to destruction, and many
there be which go in thereat ;" upon which he proceeds with this pathetic remark, “How strait is the gate and narrow the way which leadeth to life, and few there be that find it!” For so it is put in the margin of our English translation, and it ought to be adopted as the true reading, being found in some of the best ancient manuscripts, in the earliest versions of the Scriptures, and in many ancient Christian writers, and makes the observation more lively and affecting.
But, not to dwell on such remarks, though sometimes proper to be mentioned, ---I proceed to what more immediately belongs to this place and the present employment of our time. Our Saviour Christ having now ended all
precepts which he judged necessary at this time to lay before his hearers, sets himself, in the remaining part of his divine discourse, to apprize them of the dangers and difficulties they would have to encounter, if they engaged in earnest to become his disciples. A method which he always took to let men know beforehand what they were to expect if they enlisted themselves amongst his followers, that they might not be disappointed and so fall away from him, and to prevent worldly, hypocritical, or unstable persons from adjoining themselves to him, and bringing discredit on himself and his doctrines. And the connexion of the words I have read to you with the whole of what has preceded is thus well expressed*.
“These holy precepts that I have now been delivering to you, may seem hard to men that are covetous, sensual, lovers of the world: and there are indeed but few who will be at the pains to practise them sincerely. But if ye will attain eternal happiness, ye must resolve to be imitators of those few, and be content to follow them in the narrow path of virtue. The
The way of vice that leads to de
* See Dr. Clarke's Paraphrase.