MAT. VII. 13-20.

We have now concluded the consideration of the two great divisions of the Sermon on the Mount, the one relating to the righteousness of the Scribes, the other to the righteousness of the Pharisees; and it only remains that we consider the important and impressive practical exhortations with which our blessed Redeemer closes this truly instructive discourse. His chief design in addressing His hearers from the Mount was to explain and enforce the true nature and principles of the kingdom of God, or that eternal life which, begun on earth, is consummated in heaven. And as

a fitting conclusion to the whole He urges the absolute necessity of strenuous exertion in pressing into the kingdom and seeking to overcome the numerous obstacles which hindered their entrance into life.

Vv. 13 and 14. "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 which go in thereat because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."

The grand object at which Jesus exhorts all men habitually to aim, and after which He exhorts them to strive, is, that they may obtain "life" and avoid "destruction" or eternal death. Both are represented as splendid mansions. The road to the one is narrow, and the gate of entrance strait; the road to the other is broad, and the gate of entrance wide. Few find admission to the one; multitudes crowd into the other. The one is a mansion of eternal bliss, the other a mansion of eternal woe. Employing this figure then our Lord exhorts all to "enter in at the strait gate," or, as it is still more strongly expressed by Luke, "strive," or agonize, contend as in a combat, to enter in, evidently conveying the idea of extreme difficulty. The same idea is represented throughout the whole of the Sacred Scriptures. We must "fight," "labour," wrestle," "run," if we would lay hold on eternal life." There must be an effort of faith, and an effort so strong as to overcome all difficulties, to surmount all obstacles, and to press into the kingdom. "For the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force."


The language of this passage is evidently designed to intimate that there are many difficulties in the way

of our salvation. It is right, however, that we should reflect from what quarter these difficulties arise. God Himself puts no hindrances in the way of our entrance into heaven. He "would have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." Every legal obstacle is removed out of the way. The work of Christ is perfect. All the demands of law and of justice are fully satisfied. Heaven is " a purchased possession," freely offered to all who will accept it. Whence then arises the difficulty of entering into life? It arises, not from God, but entirely and exclusively from ourselves. The gate is strait and the road is narrow, because we ourselves are unwilling to enter in. The hindrances then, we remark, are of different kinds, but all of them more or less connected with that condition to which we have reduced ourselves.

1. They arise directly from our own depraved nature. Originally the heart of man was an emblem of heaven. God dwelt in it as in a holy temple. But since the fall it has become a habitation of devils. "The imaginations of the thoughts of the heart are only evil, and that continually." Ignorance clouds the understanding, so that we neither know ourselves nor the way of eternal life. Unbelief hardens the heart, so that the truth cannot find a lodgement there, and accordingly the apostle to the Hebrews tells us, that "they could not enter in because of unbelief;" and even after this obstacle is overcome, there is " a law

in the members warring against the law of the mind, and bringing it into captivity to the law of sin and of death." The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, all exercise their ascendency in the soul. Our tendency to evil and our aversion to good, are naturally so strong, that we are compelled to subscribe to the truth of the apostle's statement, "The carnal mind is enmity against God; it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." And even after the enmity of the heart has been slain, how many obstacles are there to the progress of sanctification in the converted soul! Pride, prejudice, evil passions, wicked inclinations, unhallowed desires, all operate powerfully in retarding the work of grace, and make the experience of Paul familiar to every child of God; Rom. vii. 15-19: "For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do." Thus it is that "the gate is strait," and "the road is narrow" through the deceitfulness and desperate wickedness of the human heart. And we remark,


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