STRIVE TO ENTER BY THE NARROW GATE, LUKE xiii. 24
Consider first, how the light of Christ in the gospel represents to us the broad road of the world as infinitely dangerous to our souls, and as directly leading to the wide gate of eternal damnation. ‘Enter ye in at the narrow gate,’ saith he, Matt. vii. 13, 14, ‘for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there are who go in thereat. Oh, how narrow is the gate, and how strait is the way that leadeth to life, and few there are that find it!’ Here we see there are two ways in which men walk in this life, and two gates out of this life into eternity. One of these ways is broad and spacious, agreeable to the world and to the flesh, and crowded with great multitudes of slaves to the world and to the flesh, whom it conducts down the hill to a wide gate, by which they no sooner enter than they suddenly slip down a precipice into the bottomless pit of a miserable eternity. The other way is strait and narrow, rough and craggy, by reason of the restraints it puts upon the liberties and passions of worldlings, and its disagreeableness to the corrupt inclinations of flesh and blood; and therefore few, in comparison, care to walk in it, but these few, by the favour of heaven, walk on cheerfully towards the gate of life, assisted and comforted by Jesus Christ;, whom they follow, and with him and through him are happily introduced by this narrow gate into the most spacious and most beautiful regions of never-ending bliss. See, my soul, which of these two ways thou art disposed to choose, and make that choice now which thou shalt be glad to have made for all eternity.
Consider 2ndly, what it is that engages such numbers of Christians to walk on with so little concern, in the broad road that leads to destruction, in spite of this solemn declaration of the gospel, and of the light of our faith. Oh! ’tis their want of thinking; ’tis their wilfully shutting their eyes against the light, and so running blindfold to the precipice; ’tis in the language of the wise man (Wisdom vi. 12), their being quite bewitched with worldly toys, and cheating vanities; ’tis a downright folly and madness, which they shall loudly condemn in hell, for all eternity. Alas, how unhappy are they! How wretchedly blind indeed, to profess themselves Christians – that is followers of Christ – and yet to believe and follow the maxims of the world, rather than the maxims of the gospel of Jesus Christ: to obey the laws of the world, of the flesh, and of the devil, their mortal enemies, rather than the ordinances of their Saviour; to prefer lies, deceit, and empty vanity before truth; darkness before light; slavery before liberty; misery before happiness; hell before heaven; and Satan before God! My soul, see thou never make so wretched a choice. Let not the world, the flesh, and the devil, drag thee along with them in the broad road of perdition; it would be a sad thing to go to hell for company’s sake. O choose the narrow way of self-denial and true devotion, in the company of Christ and his saints, and thou shalt live with them for ever.
Consider 3rdly, the frightful sentence, repeated more than once by our Lord, in the gospel: ‘many are called but few are chosen’: for it has a very close connexion with what he has said above of the broad road that leads to eternal woe, and the narrow way that leads to everlasting life. Yes, Christians, many are called, but few are chosen: because the far greater part of mortals are fond of the broad road which gratifies their passions and corrupt inclinations; and prefer the highway of the world; the way of self-love; the way of lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and of the pride of life – before the narrow way of self-denial and of the love of God, which is less agreeable to flesh and blood. God, on his part, is infinitely good and merciful; he desires that all should be saved and should come to the knowledge of the truth; and his Son Christ Jesus gave himself a redemption for all, 1 Tim. ii. 4, 6. If then but few are chosen, it cannot be for want of good-will in God; but for want of a correspondence on the part of man. It is for want of compliance with the necessary conditions of salvation, the chiefest of which is the keeping of the divine commandments. In a word, ’tis because men choose rather to walk in the broad road than in the narrow; which, in fact, is choosing hell before heaven. So that the reason why they are not chosen, is because they have no real mind to be chosen.
Conclude to keep off, in the practice of thy life, from the broad road of the children of this world, and to walk in the narrow way of the children of light, by living always in the fear of God and keeping his commandments; and thou shalt not fail of being of the number of the chosen.