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encouragement to duty. We are bound and accustomed to pray for this happy consummation, saying, "Thy kingdom come:" and let us remember that we are also bound and encouraged to employ, for this end, and as far as may be in our power, all those outward means through which the Spirit of God may be expected to work, for bringing our fellow-creatures of every nation to the obedience of faith.
Lastly, See to it that these prophetic parables be receiving a fulfilment in you. They are illustrative of the kingdom of God, of the prevalence of true religion; inquire, then, if that kingdom be within you. Is the seed of divine truth sown in your hearts at all, and springing up in your character at all? Is the root of grace in your souls? If it be not, seek that it may be implanted in you, that you may not remain unfruitful. If it be, look up to heaven for the dew, and the rain, and the sunshine of divine influence, that it may increase more and more.
Consider, according to the other parable, whether the leaven of Christian doctrine be at all in your hearts. It will work, if it be there. The truth will excite some commotion, if it have reached your consciences. Nay, it will not only move you, but renew and transform you. There must be a leaven of some kind working within you; but, beware lest it be a bad and corrupting leaven-that is, false doctrine or bad principle. "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy." Beware of the "leaven of malice and wickedness." 66 'Purge out the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump." "Hide God's commandments with you," that you may say, as did David," Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. Blessed art thou, O Lord; teach me thy statutes."
And whereas both these parables suppose small beginnings, and afterwards great progress in religion, let none of you be disheartened who have grace even in the lowest degree; but let every one of you be encouraged to press forward to greater attainments. Do consider that salvation is, of all things, by far the most important in itself, and, therefore, that it ought to be, of all things, by far the most interesting to you. The God whose you are, and whom you serve, is surely well deserving of your whole heart; the Saviour, on whom you rely, is surely well deserving of your undivided and unhesitating trust; and a heaven of perfect holiness, and endless felicity, is surely well deserving of your most intense pursuit. Be not, therefore, satisfied
with small progress in a concern of such moment. Look around you, and learn wisdom from the children of this generation. See what study, and toil, and life, and bustle, and dread of failure, and anxiety for success are there: body and soul-eyes, ears, hands, feet, heads, hearts-all are busy, and yet all for what is sublunary and perishing. Will you, then, become sluggish in prosecuting what is heavenly and eternal? Will you be contented with poor attainments and feeble exertions in such a field as this? Will you not rather awake and arise, and exert yourselves to the utmost? and will you not importune your God never to allow you to desist, or relax, till you finally and completely prevail, and have an entrance ministered to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ?
LUKE XIII. 22-30.
"And he went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. 23. Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, 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. 25. 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: 26. Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. 27. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. 28. 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. 29. 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. 30. And, behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last."
LUKE here represents all that we have been reading of from the 51st verse of the 9th chapter, as having taken place during our Lord's journey from Galilee," through the cities and villages towards Jerusalem:" and this seems to have been his last journey thither before his death, as we do not read of his returning to Galilee again till after his resurrection. He performed this journey slowly, making a circuit of the country, and preaching in the cities and villages. During some part of his progress on this occasion, and, probably, while he was actually teaching, "one said unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved?" We are not expressly told what was the motive which induced the person to put this question. It may have been put in a hostile and captious spirit; but, from the way in which it was received, it is probable that it was put chiefly from curiosity. However this may have been, it was wise and gracious in Christ to avoid giving any direct answer. If it was put by an enemy, a direct answer, of whatever kind, would have been laid hold of as a ground of objection to the Saviour. Had he said that few would be saved, he would have been
sented as uncharitable-had he said that many would be saved, he would have been called lax. If the question was put by one who had a respect for Christ, as seems to have been the case from the way in which he addressed him, but who was more curious about others, than concerned about himself, he would have been satisfied with a direct answer, and would have given himself no more concern about the matter. If, however, he was in earnest about his own salvation, as well as influenced by curiosity, a direct answer might have proved very hurtful to him; for, if he had been told, without explanation, that there would be but few saved, he might have been driven to despair; whereas, if he had been told that there would be many saved, he might have become too easy about his own case, and might have concluded that all would be well with him at last, without any good ground.
It cannot be inconsistent with the spirit of this passage to say, in conformity with other parts of Scripture, that the saved, in one sense, will be many, and in another sense will be few. In one sense, they will be many; for, our Lord has just been comparing the kingdom of God to a grain of mustard-seed, and to the leaven; and he tells us, in this very passage, that converts shall come from every quarter of the world, to sit down in the kingdom of God. We are told, too, elsewhere, that the redeemed will at last form a great multitude, which no man can number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues. And yet, in perfect consistence with this, the saved will be, in another sense, few; that is, they will be few, at particular times, in many places, in comparison of those who reject the gospel and perish. This was true of the generation then living, and of many other generations. This answer, in this particular view, our Lord himself gives here, when he says that " 'many shall seek to enter in, and shall not be able." And still more plainly, he said, in the sermon on the mount, "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be who go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." Each of these views is correct, and useful, when rightly improved: but our Lord knew the temper of the inquirer and of the listeners at the time, and neither to the one view, nor to the other, would he so direct their attention, as to divert their serious thoughts from
themselves. Instead of that, he answered so as to withdraw them from speculation to practice. And this was the method which he dexterously followed on other similar occasions. Thus, as we read towards the end of the Gospel of John, when Peter, desirous to know what was to be the future history of John, said to Jesus, "Lord, and what shall this man do?" Jesus replied, "What is that to thee? follow thou me." And when the disciples asked him, saying (as we read in the 1st chapter of the Acts), "Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times, or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me, both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth."
Declining to give any precise answer to this question, our Lord "said unto them," that is, not only to the inquirer, but to all who were present, "Strive to enter in at the strait gate." Let us mark well this weighty exhortation. What is here called a "strait gate," seems to signify literally a wicket, that is, a little gate, in, or connected with, a large one. We still frequently see gates of this construction. When a crowd comes to a gate, on any very interesting occasion, such as that of a great public entertainment, it is wished, of course, to admit only those who are fit, and have a right to enter, and to shut out all improper characters, and those who have no right: and, with this view, it is usual, instead of throwing open the large gate, to open only the wicket; improper persons are prevented, by those who keep the wicket, from entering, while those who are invited and get admittance, have to force their way with difficulty through the crowd. The strait gate is here put, figuratively, for the entrance, or introduction, into a state of salvation, and of course, into heaven. By this gate we are exhorted to strive, literally to agonize, to wrestle, to struggle, to enter in; as men will do in making their way through a crowd, and in overcoming every obstacle, in such a case as we have just supposed. In a word, this exhortation implies that there are great difficulties in the way of our salvation, which must be resolutely encountered and actually overcome. In entering on the consideration of these difficulties and necessary exertions, it is proper to premise that no exertions of ours could have any effect in working out our