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The Strait Gate
Great Difficulty of Going to Heaven:
Plainly proving, by the Scriptures, that not only the rude and profane,
many great professors, will come short of that kingdom:
with directions how and why every one should strive to enter in.
"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."– Matthew 7:13, 14
BY JOHN BUNYAN
Edited by George Offor
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If any uninspired writer has been entitled to the name of Boanerges, or a son of
thunder, it is the author of the following treatise. Here we have a most searching
and faithful display of the straitness or exact dimensions of that all-important
gate, which will not suffer many professors to pass into the kingdom of heaven, encumbered
as they are with fatal errors. Still "it is no little pinching wicket, but wide
enough for all the truly gracious and sincere lovers of Jesus Christ; while it is
so strait, that no others can by any means enter in." This is a subject calculated
to rouse and stimulate all genuine professors to solemn inquiry; and it was peculiarly
intended to dart at, and fix convictions upon, the multitudes of hypocritical professors
who abounded in Bunyan's time, especially under the reigns of the later Stuarts.
During the Protectorate, wickedness was discountenanced, and skulked in the holes
and corners of Mansoul; but when a debauched monarch, who had taken refuge in the
most licentious court in Europe, was called to occupy the throne of his fathers,
the most abandoned profligacy and profaneness were let loose upon the nation. Vice
was openly patronized, while virtue and religion were as openly treated with mockery
and contempt. Bunyan justly says, "The text calls for sharpness, so do the times."
"With those whose religion lieth in some circumstantials, the kingdom swarms
at this day." When they stand at the gate, they will "shake like a quagmire—their
feigned faith, pretended love, shows of gravity, and holiday words, will stand them
in little stead; some professors do with religion just as people do with their best
apparel—hang it on the wall all the week, and put it on on Sundays; they save it
till they go to a meeting, or meet with a godly chapman." This state of society
called for peculiar sharpness, and Bunyan preached and published, in 1676, this awful
alarm to professors. No subject could be more peculiarly applicable than "The
Gate of heaven," and "the difficulties of entering in thereat"; a
subject of the deepest interest to all mankind—to stimulate the careless to find,
and to enter the gate of this the only city of refuge from eternal misery—to fill
the heart of God's children with love and joy in their prospects of a blessed immortality—and
to sting the hypocrites with the awful thought of finding the gate shut against them
for ever. Their cries and tears will be too late; they will stand without and vehemently
cry, "Lord, Lord, open unto us"; in vain will be their outcry, "the
devils are coming; Lord, Lord, the pit opens her mouth upon us; Lord, Lord, there
is nothing but hell and damnation left us, if thou hast not mercy upon us."
These were professors who pretended to have found the gate and way to heaven; who
passed for pilgrims who were seeking a better, even a heavenly country; such deluded
victims must be, of all men, the most miserable.
Faithfulness becomes the ministers of Christ in dealing with the souls of men; and
pre-eminently faithful is John Bunyan in this treatise. Reader, he will be clear
of thy blood. Enter upon the solemn inquiry, Have I sought the gate? Shall I be admitted
into, or shut out from, that blessed kingdom? The openly profane can have no hope.
Are you a professor?—there is danger sill. In vain will it be to urge, "We have
prophesied in thy name, and in thy name cast out devils." To the secretly profane,
whatever may be their profession, there can be no well-grounded hope of entrance
in at this gate. Those only will be admitted whom the Lord knows to be his—the sheep
of his pasture, who have heard his voice, and obeyed it. Against all others the door
will be shut, and the awful words, "I know you not—depart, ye cursed,"
will hurry them to eternal darkness. The question, "Are there few that be saved?"
will suggest itself to our minds; may the answer fix upon our conscience, "STRIVE
to enter in." It is very probable that it was in preaching upon this text, Bunyan
was assailed with a want of charity.
The anecdote is thus narrated by Mr. Doe in The Struggler:—"As Mr. Bunyan was
preaching in a barn, and showing the fewness of those that should be saved, there
stood one of the learned to take advantage of his words; and having done preaching,
the schoolman said to him, You are a deceiver, a person of no charity, and therefore
not fit to preach; for he that [in effect] condemneth the greatest part of his hearers
hath no charity, and therefore is not fit to preach. Then Mr. Bunyan answered, The
Lord Jesus Christ preached in a ship to his hearers on the shore (Mat 13), and showed
that they were as four sorts of ground, the highway, the stony, the thorny, and the
good ground, but those represented by the good ground were the only persons to be
And your position is, That he that in effect condemneth the greatest part of his
hearers, hath no charity, and therefore is not fit to preach the gospel. But here
the Lord Jesus Christ did so, then your conclusion is, The Lord Jesus Christ wanted
charity, and therefore was not fit to preach the gospel. Horrid blasphemy; away with
your hellish logic, and speak Scripture." Of one thing we are certain, that
while hollow-hearted hypocritical professors will ever complain of faithful dealing
with their soul's eternal interests; the sincere and humble Christina will be most
thankful for searching inquiries, that, if wrong, he may be set right before his
final destiny is irrevocably fixed. May our souls submit to a scriptural measurement
of this gate, and the terms upon which alone it can be opened unto us.
The difficulties that prevent "the many" from entering in are, 1. Forgetfulness
that we can only enter heaven by the permission of the law—every jot and tittle must
be fulfilled. Now, if we could live from our conversion to our death in the holiest
obedience to all its precepts, yet, having previously violated them, the stain must
not only be washed away in the blood of atonement, but we, as part of the body of
Christ, must, in him, render perfect obedience. 2. In addition to the disinclination
of our hearts to submit to this perfect righteousness, we have outward storms of
temptation and persecution. "The world will seek to keep thee out of heaven
with mocks, flouts, taunts, threats, jails, gibbets, halters, burnings, and a thousand
deaths; therefore strive! Again, if it cannot overcome thee with these, it will flatter,
promise, allure, entice, entreat, and use a thousand tricks on this hand to destroy
thee; and many that have been stout against the threats of the world have yet been
overcome with the bewitching flatteries of the same. O that we may by grace escape
all these enemies, and so strive as to enter into the joy of our Lord."
TO THE READER.
God, I hope, hath put it into my heart to write unto thee another time, and that
about matters of greatest moment—for now we discourse not about things controverted
among the godly, but directly about the saving or damning of the soul; yea, moreover,
this discourse is about the fewness of them that shall be saved, and it proves that
many a high professor will come short of eternal life; wherefore the matter must
needs be sharp, and so disliked by some, but let it not be rejected by thee. The
text calls for sharpness, so do the times, yea, the faithful discharge of my duty
towards thee hath put me upon it.
I do not now pipe, but mourn; and it will be well for thee if thou canst graciously
lament. (Matt 11:17) Some, say they, make the gate of heaven too wide, and some make
it too narrow; for my part, I have here presented thee with as true a measure of
it as by the Word of God I can. Read me, therefore, yea, read me, and compare me
with the Bible; and if thou findest my doctrine and that book of God concur, embrace
it, as thou wilt answer the contrary in the day of judgment. This awakening work—if
God will make it so—was prepared for thee: if there be need, and it wounds, get healing
by blood: if it disquiets, get peace by blood: if it takes away all thou hast, because
it was naught (for this book is not prepared to take away true grace from any), then
buy of Christ "gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich, and white raiment,
that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear, and
anoint thine eyes with eye-salve, that thou mayest see." (Rev 3:18) Self- flatteries,
self-deceivings, are easy and pleasant, but damnable. The Lord give thee a heart
to judge right of thyself, right of this book, and so to prepare for eternity, that
thou mayest not only expect entrance, but be received into the kingdom of Christ
and of God. Amen.
So prays thy Friend,
THE STRAIT GATE.
"STRIVE TO ENTER IN AT THE STRAIT GATE; FOR MANY, I SAY UNTO YOU, WILL SEEK
TO ENTER IN, AND SHALL NOT BE ABLE."—LUKE 13:24
These are the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and are, therefore, in especial manner
to be heeded; besides, the subject matter of the words is the most weighty, to wit,
how we should attain salvation, and therefore also to be heeded.
The occasion of the words was a question which one that was at this time in the company
of the disciples put to Jesus Christ; the question was this, "Lord, are there
few that be saved?" (verse 23) A serious question, not such as tended to the
subversion of the hearers, as too many now-a-days do; but such as in its own nature
tended to the awakening of the company to good, and that called for such an answer
that might profit the people also. This question also well pleased Jesus Christ,
and he prepareth and giveth such an answer as was without the least retort, or show
of distaste; such an answer, I say, as carried in it the most full resolve to the
question itself, and help to the persons questioning. "And he said unto them,
Strive to enter in," &c. The words are an answer, and an instruction also.
First. An answer, and that in the affirmative; the gate is strait—many that seek
will not be able, therefore but few shall be saved. Second. The answer is an instruction
also; "strive to enter in," &c., good counsel and instruction; pray
God help me, and my reader, and all that love their own salvation, to take it.
My manner of handling the words will be—[FIRST], By way of explication; and then
[SECOND], By way of observation.
[FIRST. THE WORDS BY WAY OF EXPLICATION.]
The words are to be considered, [FIRST], with reference to their general scope; and
then [SECOND], with reference to their several phrases.
FIRST. The general scope of the text is to be considered, and that is that great
thing—salvation; for these words do immediately look at, point to, and give directions
about salvation: "Are there few that be saved? Strive to enter in at the strait
The words, I say, are to direct us not only to talk of, or to wish for, but to understand
how we shall, and to seek that we may be, effectually saved, and therefore of the
greatest importance. To be saved! what is like being saved? To be saved from sin,
from hell, from the wrath of God, from eternal damnation, what is like it? To be
made an heir of God, of his grace, of his kingdom, and eternal glory, what is like
it? and yet all this is included in this word saved, and in the answer to that question,
"Are there few that be saved?" Indeed this word SAVED is but of little
use in the world, save to them that are heartily afraid of damning. This word lies
in the Bible as excellent salves lie in some men's houses, thrust into a hole, and
not thought on for many months, because the household people have no wounds nor sores.
In time of sickness, what so set by as the doctor's glasses and gally-pots full of
his excellent things? but when the person is grown well, the rest is thrown to the
O when men are sick of sin, and afraid of damning, what a text is that where this
word saved is found! Yea, what a word of worth, and goodness, and blessedness, is
it to him that lies continually upon the wrath of a guilty conscience? "But
the whole need not a physician"; he therefore, and he only, knows what saved
means, that knows what hell, and death, and damnation means. "What shall I do
to be saved?" is the language of the trembling sinner. "Lord save me,"
is the language of the sinking sinner; and none admire the glory that is in that
word saved, but such as see, without being saved, all things in heaven and earth
are emptiness to them. They also that believe themselves privileged in all the blessedness
that is wrapt up in that word, bless and admire God that hath saved them. Wherefore,
since the thing intended, both in the question and the answer, is no less than the
salvation of the soul, I beseech you to give the more earnest heed. (Heb 12) But,
SECOND. To come to the particular phrases in the words, and to handle them orderly,
in the words I find four things. First. An intimation of the kingdom of heaven. Second.
A description of the entrance into it. Third. An exhortation to enter into it. And,
Fourth, A motive to enforce that exhortation.
[AN INTIMATION OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.]
First. An intimation of the kingdom of heaven; for when he saith, "Strive to
enter in," and in such phrases, there is supposed a place or state, or both,
to be enjoyed. "Enter in"; enter into what, or whither, but into a state
or place, or both? and therefore when you read this word, "enter in," you
must say there is certainly included in the text that good thing that yet is not
expressed. "Enter in"; into heaven, that is the meaning, where the saved
are, and shall be; into heaven, that place, that glorious place, where God, and Christ,
and angels are, and the souls or spirits of just men made perfect. "Enter in";
that thing included, though not expressed in the words, is called in another place,
the Mount Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem, the general assembly and church of the first-born
which are written in heaven. (Heb 12:23) And therefore the words signify unto us,
that there is a state most glorious, and that when this world is ended; and that
this place and state are likewise to be enjoyed, and inherited by a generation of
men for ever.
Besides, this word, "enter in," signifieth that salvation to the full is
to be enjoyed only there, and that there only is eternal safety; all other places
and conditions are hazardous, dangerous, full of snares, imperfections, temptations,
and afflictions, but there all is well; there is no devil to tempt, no desperately
wicked heart to deliver us up, no deceitful lust to entangle, nor any enchanting
world to bewitch us. There all shall be well to all eternity. Further, all the parts
of, and circumstances that attend salvation, are only there to be enjoyed; there
only is immortality and eternal life; there is the glory and fulness of joy, and
the everlasting pleasures; there is God and Christ to be enjoyed by open vision,
and more; there are the angels and the saints; further, there is no death, nor sickness,
no sorrow nor sighing for ever; there is no pain, nor persecutor, nor darkness, to
eclipse our glory. O this Mount Zion! O this heavenly Jerusalem! (2 Cor 5:1-4, Psa
16:11, Luke 20:35,36, Heb 12:22- 24)
Behold, therefore, what a great thing the Lord Jesus hath included by this little
word, "IN." In this word is wrapt up a whole heaven and eternal life; even
as there is also by other little words in the holy Scriptures of truth: as where
he saith, "Knock, and it shall be opened unto you," and "the election
hath obtained it." This should teach us, not only to read, but to attend in
reading; not only to read, but to lift up our hearts to God in reading; for if we
be not heedful, if he gives us not light and understanding, we may easily pass over,
without any great regard, such a word as may have a glorious kingdom and eternal
salvation in the bowels of it; yea, sometimes, as here, a whole heaven is intimated,
where it is not at all expressed. The apostles of old did use to fetch great things
out of the Scriptures, even out of the very order and timing of the several things
contained therein. See Romans 4:9-11, Galatians 3:16,17, Hebrews 8:13. But,
[DESCRIPTION OF THE ENTRANCE INTO THIS KINGDOM.]
Second. As we have here an intimation of the kingdom of heaven, so we have a description
of the entrance into it, and that by a double similitude: I. It is called a gate;
II. A strait gate— "Strive to enter in at the strait gate."
[It is called a gate.]
I. It is set forth by the similitude of a gate. A gate, you know, is of a double
use. It is to open and shut, and so, consequently, to let in or to keep out; and
to do both these at the season; as he said, "Let not the gates of Jerusalem
be opened until the sun be hot"; and again, "I commanded that the gates
should be shut, and charged that they should not be opened till after the Sabbath."
(Neh 7:3, 13:19,20) And so you find of this gate of heaven, when the five wise virgins
came, the gate was opened; but afterwards came the other virgins, and the door was
shut. (Matt 25) So then, the entrance into heaven is called a gate, to show there
is a time when there may be entrance, and there will come a time when there shall
be none; and, indeed, this is a chief truth contained in the text—"Strive to
enter in at the strait gate; for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and
shall not be able." I read in the Scriptures of two gates or doors, through
which they that go to heaven must enter. 
1. There is the door of faith, the door which the grace of God hath opened to the
Gentiles. This door is Jesus Christ, as also himself doth testify, saying, "I
am the door," &c. (John 10:9, Acts 14:27) By this door men enter into God's
favour and mercy, and find forgiveness through faith in his blood, and live in hope
of eternal life; and therefore himself also hath said, "I am the door; by me
if any man enter in, he shall be saved"; that is, received to mercy, and inherit
eternal life. But,
2. There is another door or gate—for that which is called in the text a gate, is
twice in the next verse called a door—there is, I say, another gate, and that is
the passage into the very heaven itself; the entrance into the celestial mansion-house,
and that is the gate mentioned in the text,  and the door mentioned twice in the
verse that follows. And this Jacob called it, when he said, Bethel was the house
of God, and this is the gate of heaven; that is, the entrance, for he saw the entrance
into heaven. One end of Jacob's ladder stands in Bethel, God's house, and the other
end reacheth up to the gate of heaven. (Gen 28:10-17) Jacob's ladder was the figure
of Christ, which ladder was not the gate of heaven, but the way from the church to
that gate which he saw above at the top of the ladder. (Gen 28:12, John 1:51) But
again, that the gate in the text is the gate or entrance into heaven, consider—
(1.) It is that gate that letteth men into, or shutteth men out of that place or
kingdom where Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob is, which place is that paradise where
Christ promised the thief that he should be that day, that he asked to be with him
in his kingdom; it is that place into which Paul said he was caught, when he heard
words unlawful or impossible for a man to utter. (Luke 13:28, 23:42, 2 Cor 12:1-6)
Quest. But is not Christ the gate or entrance into this heavenly place?
Answ. He is he without whom no man can get thither, because by his merits men obtain
that world, and also because he, as the Father, is the donor and disposer of that
kingdom to whom he will. Further, this place is called his house, and himself the
Master of it—"When once the Master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to
the door." (Luke 13:25) But we use to say, that the master of the house is not
the door. Men enter into heaven, then, by him, not as he is the gate, or door, or
entrance, into the celestial mansion-house, but as he is the giver and disposer of
that kingdom to them whom he shall count worthy, because he hath obtained it for
(2.) That this gate is the very passage into heaven, consider the text hath special
reference to the day of judgment, when Christ will have laid aside his mediatory
office, which before he exercised for the bringing to the faith his own elect; and
will then act, not as one that justifieth the ungodly, but as one that judgeth sinners.
He will now be risen up from the throne of grace, and shut up the door against all
the impenitent, and will be set upon the throne of judgment, from thence to proceed
with ungodly sinners.
Object. But Christ bids strive: "Strive" now "to enter in at the strait
gate"; but if that gate be as you say, the gate or entrance into heaven, then
it should seem that we should not strive till the day of judgment, for we shall not
come at that gate till then.
Answ. Christ, by this exhortation, Strive, &c., doth not at all admit of, or
countenance delays, or that a man should neglect his own salvation; but putteth poor
creatures upon preparing for the judgment, and counselleth them now to get those
things that will then give them entrance into glory. This exhortation is much like
these: "Therefore be ye also ready, for in such an hour as ye think not the
Son of man cometh.—And they that were ready went in with him to the marriage, and
the door was shut." (Matt 24:44, 25:10)
So that when he saith, "Strive to enter in," it is as if he should say,
Blessed are they that shall be admitted another day to enter into the kingdom of
heaven; but they that shall be counted worthy of so unspeakable a favour, must be
well prepared and fitted for it beforehand. Now, the time to be fitted is not the
day of judgment, but the day of grace; not then, but now. Therefore, strive now for
those things that will then give you entrance into the heavenly kingdom. But,
[It is called a strait gate.]
II. As it is called a gate, so it is called a strait gate—"Strive to enter in
at the strait gate."
The straitness of this gate is not to be understood carnally, but mystically. You
are not to understand it, as if the entrance into heaven was some little pinching
wicket; no, the straitness of this gate is quite another thing. This gate is wide
enough for all them that are the truly gracious and sincere lovers of Jesus Christ,
but so strait, as that not one of the other can by any means enter in: "Open
to me the gates of righteousness: I will go into them, and I will praise the Lord:
this gate of the Lord, into which the righteous shall enter." (Psa 118:19,20)
By this word, therefore, Christ Jesus hath showed unto us, that without due qualifications
there is no possibility of entering into heaven; the strait gate will keep all others
out. When Christ spake this parable, he had doubtless his eye upon some passage or
passages of the Old Testament, with which the Jews were well acquainted. I will mention
two, and so go on.
1. The place by which God turned Adam and his wife out of paradise. Possibly our
Lord might have his eye upon that; for though that was wide enough for them to come
out at, yet it was too strait for them to go in at. But what should be the reason
of that? Why, they had sinned; and therefore God "placed at the east of that
garden cherubims, and a flaming sword, which turned every way, to keep the way of
the tree of life." (Gen 3:24) The cherubims, and the flaming sword, they made
the entrance too strait for them to enter in. Souls, there are cherubims and a flaming
sword at the gates of heaven to keep the way of the tree of life; therefore none
but them that are duly fitted for heaven can enter in at this strait gate; the flaming
sword will keep all others out. "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not
inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived, neither fornicators, nor idolaters,
nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves,
nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom
of God." (1 Cor 6:9,10)
(2.) Perhaps our Lord might have his eye upon the gates of the temple when he spoke
this word unto the people; for though the gates of the temple were six cubits wide,
yet they were so strait, that none that were unclean in anything might enter in thereat
(Eze 40:48), because there were placed at these gates, porters, whose office was
to look that none but those that had right to enter might go in thither. And so it
is written, Jehoiada set "porters at the gates of the house of the Lord, that
none which was unclean in anything should enter in." (2 Chron 23:19) Souls,
God hath porters at the gates of the temple, at the gate of heaven; porters, I say,
placed there by God, to look that none that are unclean in anything may come in thither.
In at the gate of the church, none may enter now that are openly profane, and scandalous
to religion; no, though they plead they are beloved of God: "What hath my beloved
to do in mine house," saith the Lord, "seeing she hath wrought lewdness
with many?" (Jer 11:15)
I say, I am very apt to believe that our Lord Jesus Christ had his thoughts upon
these two texts, when he said the gate is strait: and that which confirms me the
more in the things is this, a little below the text he saith, "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 heaven, and you yourselves thrust out."
(Luke 13:28) Thrust out, which signifieth a violent act, resisting with striving
those that would—though unqualified—enter. The porters of the temple were, for this
very thing, to wear arms, if need were, and to be men of courage and strength, lest
the unsanctified or unprepared should by some means enter in. We read, in the book
of Revelations, of the holy city, and that it had twelve gates, and at the gates
twelve angels; but what did they do there? Why, amongst the rest of their service,
this was one thing, that there might "in no wise enter in to it any thing that
defileth, or worketh abomination, or that maketh a lie." (Rev 21:27)
[Three things that make this gate so strait.]
But more particularly, to show what it is that maketh this gate so strait. There
are three things that make it strait—1. There is sin. 2. There is the word of the
law. 3. There are the angels of God.
1. There is sin; the sin of the profane, and the sin of the professor.
(1.) The sin of the profane. But this needs not be enlarged upon, because it is concluded
upon at all hands, where there is the common belief of the being of God, and the
judgment to come, that "the wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations
that forget God." (Psa 9:17)
(2.) But there is the sin of professors; or take it rather thus, there is a profession
that will stand with an unsanctified heart and life. The sin of such will overpoise
the salvation of their souls, the sin end being the heaviest end of the scale; I
say, that being the heaviest end which hath sin in it, they tilt over, and so are,
notwithstanding their glorious profession, drowned in perdition and destruction;
for none such hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God; therefore
"let no man deceive you with vain words; for because of these things cometh
the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience"; neither will a profession
be able to excuse them. (Eph 5:3-6) The gate will be too strait for such as these
to enter in thereat. A man may partake of salvation in part, but not of salvation
in whole. God saved the children of Israel out of Egypt, but overthrew them in the
wilderness:—"I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this,
how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed
them that believed not." (Jude 5) So we see that, notwithstanding their beginning,
"they could not enter in, because of unbelief." (Heb 3:19)
2. There is the word of the law, and that will make the gate strait also. None must
go in thereat but those that can go in by the leave of the law; for though no man
be, or can be, justified by the works of the law, yet unless the righteousness and
holiness by which they attempt to enter into this kingdom be justified by the law,
it is in vain once to think of entering in at this strait gate. Now the law justifieth
not, but upon the account of Christ's righteousness; if therefore thou be not indeed
found in that righteousness, thou wilt find the law lie just in the passage into
heaven to keep thee out. Every man's work must be tried by fire, that it may be manifest
of what sort it is. There are two errors in the world about the law; one is, when
men think to enter in at the strait gate by the righteousness of the law; the other
is, when men think they may enter into heaven without the leave of the law. Both
these, I say, are errors; for as by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified;
so without the consent of the law, no flesh shall be saved. "Heaven and earth
shall pass away, before one jot or tittle of the law shall fail, till all be fulfilled."
He therefore must be damned that cannot be saved by the consent of the law. And,
indeed, this law is the flaming sword that turneth every way; yea, that lieth to
this day in the way to heaven, for a bar to all unbelievers and unsanctified professors;
for it is taken out of the way for the truly gracious only. It will be found as a
roaring lion to devour all others. Because of the law, therefore, the gate will be
found too strait for the unsanctified to enter in. When the apostle had told the
Corinthians that "the unrighteous should not inherit the kingdom of God,"
and that such were some of them, he adds, "But ye are washed, but ye are sanctified,
but ye are justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God."
(1 Cor 6:9-11) Closely concluding, that had they not been washed, and sanctified,
and justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, the law, for their transgressions,
would have kept them out; it would have made the gate too strait for them to enter
3. There are also the angels of God, and by reason of them the gate is strait. The
Lord Jesus calleth the end of the world his harvest; and saith, moreover, that the
angels are his reapers. These angels are therefore to gather his wheat into his barn,
but to gather the ungodly into bundles to burn them. (Matt 13:39,41,49) Unless, therefore,
the man that is unsanctified can master the law, and conquer angels; unless he can,
as I may say, pull them out of the gateway of heaven, himself is not to come thither
for ever. No man goeth to heaven but by the help of the angels—I mean at the day
of judgment. For the Son of man "shall send his angels with a great sound of
a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one
end of heaven to the other." (Matt 24:31) If those that shall enter in at the
strait gate shall enter in thither by the conduct of the holy angels, pray when do
you think those men will enter in thither, concerning whom the angels are commanded
to gather them, to "bind them in bundles to burn them?" This, therefore,
is a third difficulty. The angels will make this entrance strait; yea, too strait
for the unjustified and unsanctified to enter in thither.
[AN EXHORTATION TO STRIVE TO ENTER INTO THIS KINGDOM.]
Third. I come not to the exhortation, which is, to strive to enter in. "Strive
to enter in at the strait gate." These words are fitly added; for since the
gate is strait, it follows that they that will enter in must strive.
"Strive." This word strive supposeth that great idleness is natural to
professors; they think to get to heaven by lying, as it were, on their elbows. It
also suggesteth that many will be the difficulties that professors will meet with,
before they get to heaven. It also concludeth that only the labouring Christian,
man or woman, will get in thither. "Strive," &c.
Three questions I will propound upon the word, an answer to which may give us light
into the meaning of it: I. What doth this word strive import? 
II. How should we strive? III. Why should we strive?
[Import of the word STRIVE.]
I. What doth this word strive import? Answer,
1. When he saith, Strive, it is as much as to say, Bend yourselves to the work with
all your might. "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for
there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave, whither thou
goest." (Eccl 9:10) Thus Samson did when he set himself to destroy the Philistines;
"He bowed himself with all his might." (Judg 16:30) Thus David did also,
when he made provision for the building and beautifying of the temple of God. (1
Chron 29:2) And thus must thou do, if ever thou enterest into heaven.
2. When he saith, Strive, he calleth for the mind and will, that they should be on
his side, and on the side of the things of his kingdom; for none strive indeed, but
such as have given the Son of God their heart; of which the mind and will are a principal
part; for saving conversion lieth more in the turning of the mind and will to Christ,
and to the love of his heavenly things, than in all knowledge and judgment. And this
the apostle confirmeth, when he saith, "Stand fast in one spirit, with one mind
striving," &c. (Phil 1:27)
3. And, more particularly, this word strive is expressed by several other terms;
as, (1.) It is expressed by that word, "So run that ye may obtain." (1
Cor 9:24,25) (2.) It is expressed by that word, "Fight the good fight of faith,
lay hold on eternal life." (1 Tim 6:12) (3.) It is expressed by that word, "Labour
not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting
life." (John 6:27) (4.) It is expressed by that word, "We wrestle - with
principalities and powers, and the rulers of the darkness of this world." (Eph
6:12) Therefore, when he saith, Strive, it is as much as to say, Run for heaven,
Fight for heaven, Labour for heaven, Wrestle for heaven, or you are like to go without
[How should we strive?]
II. The second question is, How should we strive?
Answ. The answer in general is, Thou must strive lawfully. "and if a man also
strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully." (2
Tim 2:5) But you will say, What is it to strive lawfully? [I] answer—
1. To strive against the things which are abhorred by the Lord Jesus; yea, to resist
to the spilling of your blood, striving against sin. (Heb 12:4) To have all those
things that are condemned by the Word; yea, though they be thine own right hand,
right eye, or right foot, in abomination; and to seek by all godly means the utter
suppressing of them. (Mark 9:43,45,47)
2. To strive lawfully, is to strive for those things that are commanded in the Word.—"But
thou, O man of God, flee the world, and follow after," that is, strive for,
"righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness; fight the good fight
of faith, lay hold on eternal life," &c. (1 Tim 6:11,12)
3. He that striveth lawfully, must be therefore very temperate in all the good and
lawful things of this life. "And every man that striveth for the mastery is
temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an
incorruptible." (1 Cor 9:25) Most professors give leave to the world and the
vanity of their hearts, to close with them, and to hang about their necks, and make
their striving to stand rather in an outcry of words, than a hearty labour against
the lusts and love of the world, and their own corruptions; but this kind of striving
is but a beating of the air, and will come to just nothing at last. (1 Cor 9:26)
4. He that striveth lawfully, must take God and Christ along with him to the work,
otherwise he will certainly be undone. "Whereunto," said Paul, "I
also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily."
(Col 1:29) And for the right performing of this, he must observe these following
(1.) He must take heed that he doth not strive about things, or words, to no profit;
for God will not then be with him. "Of these things," saith the apostle,
"put them in remembrance; charging them before the Lord, that they strive not
about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers." (2 Tim 2:14)
But, alas! how many professors in our days are guilty of this transgression, whose
religion stands chiefly, if not only, in a few unprofitable questions and vain wranglings
about words and things to no profit, but to the destruction of the hearers!
(2.) He must take heed that whilst he strives against one sin, he does not harbour
and shelter another; or that whilst he cries out against other men's sin, he does
not countenance his own.
(3.) In the striving, strive to believe, strive for the faith of the gospel; for
the more we believe the gospel, and the reality of the things of the world to come,
with the more stomach and courage shall we labour to possess the blessedness. (Phil
1:27) "Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after
the same example of unbelief." (Heb 4:11)
(4.) As we should strive for, and by faith, so we should strive by prayer, by fervent
and effectual prayer. (Romans 15:30) O the swarms of our prayerless professors! What
do they think of themselves? Surely the gate of heaven was heretofore as wide as
in these our days; but what striving by prayer was there then among Christians for
the thing that gives admittance into this kingdom, over [what] there is in these
(5.) We should also strive by mortifying our members that are upon the earth. "I
therefore so run," said Paul, "not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one
that beateth the air; but I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection, lest
that by any means, when I have preached the gospel to others, I myself should be
a cast-away." (1 Cor 9:26,27) But all this is spoken principally to professors;
so I would be understood.
[Why should we strive?]
III. I come now to the third question, namely, But why should we strive? Answer—
1. Because the thing for which you are here exhorted to strive, it is worth the striving
for; it is for not less than for a whole heaven, and an eternity of felicity there.
How will men that have before them a little honour, a little profit, a little pleasure,
strive? I say again, how will they strive for this? Now they do it for a corruptible
crown, but we an incorruptible. Methinks this word heaven, and this eternal life,
ought verily to make us strive, for what is there again either in heaven or earth
like them to provoke a man to strive?
2. Strive, because otherwise the devil and hell will assuredly have thee. He goes
about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. (1 Peter 5:8) These fallen
angels, they are always watchful, diligent, unwearied; they are also mighty, subtle,
and malicious, seeking nothing more than the damnation of thy soul. O thou that art
like the artless dove, strive!
3. Strive, because every lust strives and wars against thy soul. "The flesh
lusteth against the Spirit." (Gal 5:17) "Dearly beloved, I beseech you,"
said Peter, "as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war
against the soul." (1 Peter 2:11) It is a rare thing to see or find out a Christian
that indeed can bridle his lusts; but no strange thing to see such professors that
are "not only bridled, but saddled too," yea, and ridden from lust to sin,
from one vanity to another, by the very devil himself, and the corruptions of their
4. Strive, because thou hast a whole world against thee. The world hateth thee if
thou be a Christian; the men of the world hate thee; the things of the world are
snares for thee, even thy bed and table, thy wife and husband, yea, thy most lawful
enjoyments have that in them that will certainly sink thy soul to hell, if thou dost
not strive against the snares that are in them. (Rom 11:9)
The world will seek to keep thee out of heaven with mocks, flouts, taunts, threatenings,
jails, gibbets, halters, burnings, and a thousand deaths; therefore strive! Again,
if it cannot overcome thee with these, it will flatter, promise, allure, entice,
entreat, and use a thousand tricks on this hand to destroy thee; and observe, many
that have been stout against the threats of the world, have yet been overcome with
the bewitching flatteries of the same. 
There ever was enmity betwixt the devil and the church, and betwixt his seed and
her seed too; Michael and his angels, and the dragon and his angels, these make war
continually. (Gen 3, Rev 12) There hath been great desires and endeavours among men
to reconcile these two in one, to wit, the seed of the serpent and the seed of the
woman, but it could never yet be accomplished. The world says, they will never come
over to us; and we again say, by God's grace, we will never come over to them. But
the business hath not ended in words; both they and we have also added our endeavours
to make each other submit, but endeavours have proved ineffectual too. They, for
their part, have devised all manner of cruel torments to make us submit, as slaying
with the sword, stoning, sawing asunder, flames, wild beasts, banishments, hunger,
and a thousand miseries. We again, on the other side, have laboured by prayers and
tears, by patience and long- suffering, by gentleness and love, by sound doctrine
and faithful witness-bearing against their enormities, to bring them over to us;
but yet the enmity remains; so that they must conquer us, or we must conquer them.
One side must be overcome; but the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty
5. Strive, because there is nothing of Christianity got by idleness. Idleness clothes
a man with rags, and the vineyard of the slothful is grown over with nettles. (Prov
23:21, 24:30-32) Profession that is not attended with spiritual labour cannot bring
the soul to heaven. The fathers before us were "not slothful in business,"
but "fervent in spirit, serving the Lord." Therefore "be not slothful,
but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises."
(Rom 12:11, Heb 6:12)
"Strive to enter in." Methinks the words, at the first reading, do intimate
to us, that the Christian, in all that ever he does in this world, should carefully
heed and regard his soul—I say, in all that ever he does. Many are for their souls
by fits and starts; but a Christian indeed, in all his doing and designs which he
contriveth and manageth in this world, should have a special eye to his own future
and everlasting good; in all his labours he should strive to enter in: "Wisdom
[Christ] is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get
understanding." (Prov 4:7) Get nothing, if thou canst not get Christ and grace,
and further hopes of heaven in that getting; get nothing with a bad conscience, with
the hazard of thy peace with God, and that in getting it thou weakenest thy graces
which God hath given thee; for this is not to strive to enter in. Add grace to grace,
both by religious and worldly duties; "For so an entrance shall be ministered
unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."
(2 Peter 1:8-11) Religious duties are not the only striving times; he that thinks
so is out. Thou mayest help thy faith and thy hope in the godly management of thy
calling, and mayest get further footing in eternal life, by studying the glory of
God in all thy worldly employment. I am speaking now to Christians that are justified
freely by grace, and am encouraging, or rather counselling of them to strive to enter
in; for there is an entering in by faith and good conscience now, as well as our
entering in body and soul hereafter; and I must add, that the more common it is to
thy soul to enter in now by faith, the more steadfast hope shalt thou have of entering
in hereafter in body and soul.
"Strive to enter in." By these words also the Lord Jesus giveth sharp rebuke
to those professors that have not eternal glory, but other temporal things in their
eye, by all the bustle that they make in the world about religion. Some there be,
what a stir they make, what a noise and clamour, with their notions and forms, and
yet perhaps all is for the loaves; because they have eaten of the loaves, and are
filled. (John 6:26) These strive indeed to enter, but it is not into heaven; they
find religion hath a good trade at the end of it, or they find that it is the way
to credit, repute, preferment, and the like, and therefore they strive to enter into
these. But these have not the strait gate in their eye, nor yet in themselves have
they love to their poor and perishing souls; wherefore this exhortation nippeth such,
by predicting of their damnation.
"Strive to enter in." These words also sharply rebuke them who content
themselves as the angel of the church of Sardis, did, to wit, "to have a name
to live, and be dead" (Rev 3:1), or as they of the Laodiceans, who took their
religion upon trust, and were content with a poor, wretched, lukewarm profession;
for such as these do altogether unlike to the exhortation in the text, that says,
Strive, and they sit and sleep; that says, Strive to enter in, and they content themselves
with a profession that is never like to bring them thither.
"Strive to enter in." Further, these words put us upon proving the truth
of our graces now; I say, they put us upon the proof of the truth of them now; for
if the strait gate be the gate of heaven, and yet we are to strive to enter into
it now, even while we live, and before we come thither, then doubtless Christ means
by this exhortation, that we should use all lawful means to prove our graces in this
world, whether they will stand in the judgment or no. Strive to enter in; get those
graces now that will prove true graces then, and therefore try those you have; and
if, upon trial, they prove not right, cast them away, and cry for better, lest they
cast thee away, when better are not to be had. "Buy of me gold tried in the
fire"; mark that. (Rev 3:18) Buy of me faith and grace that will stand in the
judgment; strive for that faith; buy of me that grace, and also white raiment, that
thou mayest be clothed, that the shame of thy wickedness doth not appear, and anoint
thine eyes with eye-salve, that thou mayest see. Mind you this advice; this is right
striving to enter in.
But you will say, How should we try our graces? Would you have us run into temptation,
to try if they be sound or rotten? Answ. You need not run into trials; God hath ordained
that enough of them shall overtake thee to prove thy graces either rotten or sound
before the day of thy death; sufficient to the day is the evil thereof, if thou hast
but a sufficiency of grace to withstand. I say, thou shalt have trials enough overtake
thee, to prove thy grace sound or rotten. Thou mayest, therefore, if God shall help
thee, see how it is like to go with thee before thou goest out of this world, to
wit, whether thy graces be such as will carry thee in at the gates of heaven or no.
But how should we try our graces now? Answ. (a.) How dost thou find them in outward
trials? See Hebrews 11:15,16. (b.) How dost thou find thyself in the inward workings
of sin? (Rom 7:24) (c.) How dost thou find thyself under the most high enjoyment
of grace in this world? (Phil 3:14)
But what do you mean by these three questions? I mean graces show themselves at these
their seasons, whether they be rotten or sound.
(a.) How do they show themselves to be true under the first of these? Answ. By mistrusting
our own sufficiency, by crying to God for help, by desiring rather to die than to
bring any dishonour to the name of God, and by counting that, if God be honoured
in the trial, thou hast gained more than all the world could give thee. (2 Chron
20:12, 14:11, Acts 4, 20:22, 2 Cor 4:17,18, Heb 11:24,25)
(b.) How do they show themselves to be true under the second? Answ. By mourning,
and confessing, and striving, and praying, against them; by not being content, shouldst
thou have heaven, if they live, and defile thee; and by counting of holiness the
greatest beauty in the world; and by flying to Jesus Christ for life. (Zech 12:10,
John 19, Heb 12:14, Psa 19:12)
(c.) How do they show themselves to be true under the third? Answ. By prizing the
true graces above all the world, by praying heartily that God will give thee more;
by not being content with all the grace thou canst be capable of enjoying on this
side heaven and glory. (Psa 84:10, Luke 17:5, Phil 3)
"Strive to enter in." The reason why Christ addeth these words, "to
enter in," is obvious, to wit, because there is no true and lasting happiness
on this side heaven; I say, none that is both true and lasting, I mean, as to our
sense and feeling as there shall [be]; "For here have we no continuing city,
but we seek one to come." (Heb 13:14) The heaven is within, strive therefore
to enter in; the glory is within, strive therefore to enter in; the Mount Zion is
within, strive therefore to enter in; the heavenly Jerusalem is within, strive therefore
to enter in; angels and saints are within, strive therefore to enter in; and, to
make up all, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and that glorious Redeemer,
is within, strive therefore to enter in.
"Strive to enter in." "For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers,
and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie." Without
are also the devils, and hell, and death, and all damned souls; without is howling,
weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth; yea, without are all the miseries, sorrows,
and plagues that an infinite God can in justice and power inflict upon an evil and
wicked generation; "Strive therefore to enter in at the strait gate." (Rev
22:15, Matt 25:41, Rev 12:9, Is 65:13,14, Matt 22:13, Deu 29:18-20)
"Strive to enter in at the strait gate; for many, I say unto you, will seek
to enter in, and shall not be able."
[MOTIVE TO STRIVE TO ENTER INTO THIS KINGDOM.]
Fourth. We are come now to the motive which our Lord urges to enforce his exhortation.
He told us before that the gate was strait; he also exhorted us to strive to enter
in thereat, or to get those things now that will further our entrance then, and to
set ourselves against those things that will hinder our entering in.
In this motive there are five things to be minded.
1. That there will be a disappointment to some at the day of judgment; they will
seek to enter in, and shall not be able.
2. That not a few, but many, will meet with this disappointment; "For many will
seek to enter in, and shall not be able."
3. This doctrine of the miscarriage of many then, it standeth upon the validity of
the word of Christ; "For many, I say, will seek to enter in, and shall not be
4. Professors shall make a great heap among the many that shall fall short of heaven;
"For many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able."
5. Where grace and striving are wanting now, seeking and contending to enter in will
be unprofitable then; "For many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and
shall not be able."
But I will proceed in my former method, to wit, to open the words unto you.
[Import of the words FOR MANY.]
"For many," &c. If he had said, For some will fall short, it had been
a sentence to be minded; if he had said, For some that seek will fall short, it had
been very awakening; but when he saith, Many, many will fall short, yea, many among
professors will fall short, this is not only awakening, but dreadful!
[Various applications of the word MANY.]—"For many," &c. I find this
word many variously applied in Scripture.
1. Sometimes it intendeth the open profane, the wicked and ungodly world, as where
Christ saith, "Wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction,
and many there be which go in thereat." (Matt 7:13) I say, by the many here,
he intends those chiefly that go on in the broad way of sin and profaneness, bearing
the "tokens" of their damnation in their foreheads, those whose daily practice
proclaims that their "feet go down to death, and their steps take hold on hell."
(Job 21:29,30, Isa 3:9, Prov 4)
2. Sometimes this word many intendeth those that cleave to the people of God deceitfully,
and in hypocrisy, or, as Daniel hath it, "Many shall cleave to them with flatteries."
(Dan 11:34) The word many in this text includeth all those who feign themselves better
than they are in religion; it includeth, I say, those that have religion only for
a holiday suit to set them out at certain times, and when they come among suitable
3. Sometimes this word many intendeth them that apostatize from Christ; such as for
a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away; as John saith of some of Christ's
disciples: "From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more
with him." (John 6:66)
4. Sometimes this word many intendeth them that make a great noise, and do many great
things in the church, and yet want saving grace: "Many," saith Christ,
"will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name?
and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?"
(Matt 7:22) Mark, there will be many of these.
5. Sometimes this word many intendeth those poor, ignorant, deluded souls that are
led away with every wind of doctrine; those who are caught with the cunning and crafty
deceiver, who lieth in wait to beguile unstable souls: "And many shall follow
their pernicious ways, by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of."
(2 Peter 2:2)
6. Sometimes this word many includeth all the world, good and bad: "And many
of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life,
and some to shame and everlasting contempt." (Dan 12:2) Compare with John 5:28,29.
7. Lastly. Sometimes this word many intendeth the good only, even them that shall
be saved. (Luke 1:16, 2:34)
[How MANY is applied in the text.] Since then that the word is so variously applied,
let us inquire how it must be taken in the text. And,
1. It must not be applied to the sincerely godly, for they shall never perish. (John
10:27,28) 2. It cannot be applied to all the world, for then no flesh should be saved.
3. Neither is it to be applied to the open profane only, for then the hypocrite is
by it excluded. 4. But by the many in the text our Lord intendeth in special the
professor; the professor, I say, how high soever he seems to be now, that shall be
found without saving grace in the day of judgment.
Now that the professor is in special intended in this text, consider, so soon as
the Lord had said, "Many will seek to enter in, and shall not be able,"
he pointeth, as with his finger, at the many that then he in special intendeth; to
wit, them among whom he had taught; them that had eat and drunken in his presence;
them that had prophesied, and cast out devils in his name, and in his name had done
many wonderful works. (Luke 13:26, Matt 7:22) These are the many intended by the
Lord in this text, though others also are included under the sentence of damnation
by his word in other places. "For many," &c. Matthew saith, concerning
this strait gate, that there are but few that find it. But it seems the cast-always
in my text did find it; for you read, that they knocked at it, and cried, "Lord,
open unto us." So then, the meaning may seem to be this—many of the few that
find it will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. I find, at the day of judgment,
some will be crying to the rocks to cover them, and some at the gates of heaven for
entrance. Suppose that those that cry to the rocks to cover them, are they whose
conscience will not suffer them once to look God in the face, because they are fallen
under present guilt, and the dreadful fears of the wrath of the Lamb. (Rev 6:16)
And that those that stand crying at the gate of heaven, are those whose confidence
holds out to the last,—even those whose boldness will enable them to contend even
with Jesus Christ for entrance; them, I say, that will have profession, casting out
of devils, and many wonderful works, to plead; of this sort are the many in my text:
"For many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able."
Could we compare the professors of the times with the everlasting word of God, this
doctrine would more easily appear to the children of men. How few among the many,
yea, among the swarms of professors, have heart to make conscience of walking before
God in this world, and to study his glory among the children of men! How few, I say,
have his name lie nearer their hearts than their own carnal concerns! Nay, do not
many make his Word, and his name, and his ways, a stalking-horse to their own worldly
God calls for faith, good conscience, moderation, self-denial, humility, heavenly-mindedness,
love to saints, to enemies, and for conformity in heart, in word, and life, to his
will: but where is it? (Mark 11:22, 1 Peter 3:16, Heb 13:5, Phil 4:5, Matt 10:37-
39, Col 3:1- 4, Micah 6:8, Rev 2:10, John 15:17, 1 John 4:21, Matt 5:44, Prov 23:26,
[Import of the words I SAY UNTO YOU.]
"For many, I say unto you." These latter words carry in them a double argument
to prove the truth asserted before: First, in that he directly pointeth at his followers:
"I say unto you": Many, I say unto you, even to you that are my disciples,
to you that have eat and drunk in my presence. I know that sometimes Christ hath
directed his speech to his disciples, not so much upon their accounts, as upon the
accounts of others; but here it is not so; the "I say unto you," in this
place, it immediately concerned some of themselves: I say unto you, ye shall begin
to stand without, and to knock, "saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us, and he shall
answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are; then shall ye begin to say,
We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But
he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers
of iniquity"; it is you, you, YOU, that I mean! "I say unto you."
It is common with a professing people, when they hear a smart and a thundering sermon,
to say, Now has the preacher paid off the drunkard, the swearer, the liar, the covetous,
and adulterer; forgetting that these sins may be committed in a spiritual and mystical
way. There is spiritual drunkenness, spiritual adultery, and a man may be a liar
that calls God his Father when he is not, or that calls himself a Christian, and
is not. 
Wherefore, perhaps all these thunders and lightnings in this terrible sermon may
more concern thee than thou art aware of: "I say unto you"; unto you, professors,
may be the application of all this thunder. (Rev 2:9, 3:9)
"I say unto you!" Had not the Lord Jesus designed by these words to show
what an overthrow will one day be made among professors, he needed not to have you'd
it at this rate, as in the text, and afterwards, he has done; the sentence had run
intelligible enough without it; I say, without his saying, "I say unto you."
But the truth is, the professor is in danger; the preacher and the hearer, the workers
of miracles, and workers of wonders, may all be in danger of damning, notwithstanding
all their attainments. And to awaken us all about this truth, therefore, the text
must run thus: "For many, I say unto YOU, shall seek to enter in, and shall
not be able."
See you not yet that the professor is in danger, and that those words, "I say
unto you," are a prophecy of the everlasting perdition of some that are famous
in the congregation of saints? I say, if you do not see it, pray God your eyes may
be opened, and beware that thy portion be not as the portion of one of those that
are wrapped up in the 28th verse of the chapter: "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 heaven, and you yourselves thrust out."
"For many, I say unto you." These words, I told you, carry in them a double
argument for confirmation of the truth asserted before: first, that professors are
here particularly pointed at; and, secondly, it is the saying of the Truth himself:
for these words, "I say," are words full of authority; I say it, I say
unto you, says Christ, as he saith in another place, "It is I that speak; behold
it is I!" The person whose words we have now under consideration was no blundering
raw- headed preacher,  but the very wisdom of God, his Son, and him that hath
lain in his bosom from everlasting, and consequently had the most perfect knowledge
of his Father's will, and how it would fare with professors at the end of this world.
And now hearken what himself doth say of the words which he hath spoken; "Heaven
and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away." (Matt 24:35)
"I say unto you." The prophets used not to speak after this manner, nor
yet the holy apostles; for thus to speak, is to press things to be received upon
their own authority. They used to say, Thus saith the Lord, or Paul, or Peter, an
apostle, or a servant of God. But now we are dealing with the words of the Son of
God; it is HE that hath said it; wherefore we find the truth of the perishing of
many professors asserted, and confirmed by Christ's own mouth. This consideration
carrieth great awakening in it; but into such a fast sleep are many now- a-days fallen,
that nothing will awaken them but that shrill and terrible cry, "Behold, the
Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him."
[Two things that befall Professors.]
"I SAY UNTO YOU." There are two things upon which this assertion may be
grounded—1. There is in the world a thing like grace, that is not. 2. There is a
sin called the sin against the Holy Ghost, from which there is no redemption. And
both these things befall professors.
1. There is in the world a thing like grace, that is not. (1.) This is evident, because
we read that there are some that not only "make a fair show in the flesh,"
that "glory in appearance," that "appear beautiful outward,"
that do as God's people, but have not the grace of God's people. (Gal 6:12, 2 Cor
5:12, Matt 23:27, Isa 57:3,4) (2.) It is evident also from those frequent cautions
that are everywhere in the Scriptures given us about this thing: "Be not deceived:
Let a man examine himself: Examine yourselves whether ye be in the faith." (Gal
6:7, 1 Cor 11:28, 2 Cor 13:5) All these expressions intimate to us that there may
be a show of, or a thing like grace, where there is no grace indeed. (3.) This is
evident from the conclusion made by the Holy Ghost upon this very thing: "For
if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself."
(Gal 6:3) The Holy Ghost here concludeth, that a man may think himself to be something,
may think he hath grace, when he hath none; may think himself something for heaven
and another world, when indeed he is just nothing at all with reference thereto.
The Holy Ghost also determines upon this point, to wit, that they that do so deceive
themselves: "For if a man think himself to be something when he is nothing,
he deceiveth himself"; he deceiveth his own soul, he deceiveth himself of heaven
and salvation. So again: "Let no man beguile you of your reward." (Col
2:18) (4.) It is manifest from the text; "For many, I say unto you, will seek
to enter in, and shall not be able." Alas! great light, great parts, great works,
and great confidence of heaven, may be where there is no faith of God's elect, no
love of the Spirit, no repentance unto salvation, no sanctification of the Spirit,
and so consequently no saving grace. But,
2. As there is a thing like grace, which is not, so there is a sin, called the sin
against the Holy Ghost, from which there is no redemption; and this sin doth more
than ordinarily befall professors.
There is a sin, called the sin against the Holy Ghost, from which there is no redemption.
This is evident both from Matthew and Mark: "But whosoever speaketh against
the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the
world to come." "But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath
never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation." (Matt 12:32, Mark
3:29) Wherefore, when we know that a man hath sinned this sin, we are not to pray
for him, or to have compassion on him. (1 John 5:16, Jude 22)
This sin doth most ordinarily befall professors; for there are few, if any, that
are not professors, that are at present capable of sinning this sin. They which "were
once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of
the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world
to come," of this sort are they that commit this sin. (Heb 6:4,5) Peter also
describes them to be such, that sin the unpardonable sin. "For if, after they
have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour
Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse
with them than the beginning." (2 Peter 2:20) The other passage in the tenth
of Hebrews holdeth forth the same thing. "For if we sin willfully after that
we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for
sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which
shall devour the adversaries." (Heb 10:26,27) THESE, therefore, are the persons
that are the prey for this sin; this sin feedeth upon PROFESSORS, and they that are
such do very often fall into the mouth of this eater. Some fall into the mouth of
the sin by delusions and doctrines of devils; and some fall into the mouth of it
by returning with the dog to his own vomit again, and with the sow that was washed
to her wallowing in the mire. (2 Peter 2:22) I shall not here give you a particular
description of this sin—that I have done elsewhere;  but such a sin there is,
and they that commit it shall never have forgiveness. And I say again, there be professors
that commit this unpardonable sin, yea, more than most are aware of. Let all, therefore,
look about them. The Lord awaken them that they may so do; for what with a profession
without grace, and by the venom of the sin against the Holy Ghost, many will seek
to enter in, and shall not be able.
[Import of the words WILL SEEK TO ENTER IN.]
"Will seek to enter in." This kingdom, at the gate of which the reprobate
will be stopped, will be, at the last judgment, the desire of all the world; and
they, especially THEY in my text, will seek to enter in; for then they will see that
the blessedness is to those that shall get into this kingdom, according to that which
is written, "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right
to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city." (Rev
21:14) To prove that they will seek, although I have done it already, yet read these
texts at your leisure—Matthew 25:11, 7:22, Luke 13:28. And, in a word, to give you
the reason why they will seek to enter in.
[Why they will seek to enter in.]
1. Now they will see what a kingdom it is, what glory there is in it, and now they
shall also see the blessedness which they shall have that shall then be counted worthy
to enter in. The reason why this kingdom is so little regarded, it is because it
is not seen; the glory of it is hid from the eyes of the world. "Their eye hath
not seen, nor their ear heard," &c. Aye, but then they shall hear and see
too; and when this comes to pass, then, even then, he that now most seldom thinks
thereof will seek to enter in.
2. They will now see what hell is, and what damnation in hell is, more clear than
ever. They will also see how the breath of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone,
doth kindle it. O the sight of the burning fiery furnace, which is prepared for the
devil and his angels! This, this will make work in the souls of cast-always at that
day of God Almighty, and then they will seek to enter in.
3. Now they will see what the meaning of such words as these are, hell-fire, everlasting
fire, devouring fire, fire that never shall be quenched. Now they will see what "for
ever" means, what eternity means; now they will see what this word means, "the
bottomless pit"; now they will hear roaring of sinners in this place, howling
in that, some crying to the mountains to fall upon them, and others to the rocks
to cover them; now they will see blessedness is nowhere but within!
4. Now they will see what glory the godly are possessed with; how they rest in Abraham's
bosom, how they enjoy eternal glory, how they walk in their white robes, and are
equal to the angels. O the favour, and blessedness, and unspeakable happiness that
now God's people shall have! and this shall be seen by them that are shut out, by
them that God hath rejected for ever; and this will make them seek to enter in. (Luke
[How will they seek to enter in.]
"Will seek to enter in." Quest. But some may say, How will they seek to
enter in? [I] answer,
1. They will put on all the confidence they can, they will trick and trim up their
profession, and adorn it with what bravery they can. Thus the foolish virgins sought
to enter in; they did trim up their lamps, made themselves as fine as they could.
They made shift to make their lamps to shine awhile; but the Son of God discovering
himself, their confidence failed, their lamps went out, the door was shut upon them,
and they were kept out. (Matt 25:1-12)
2. They will seek to enter in by crowding themselves in among the godly. Thus the
man without the wedding garment sought to enter in. He goes to the wedding, gets
into the wedding chamber, sits close among the guests, and then, without doubt, concluded
he should escape damnation. But, you know, one black sheep is soon seen, though it
be among a hundred white ones. Why, even thus it fared with this poor man. "And
when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man that had not on a wedding
garment." He spied him presently, and before one word was spoken to any of the
others, he had this dreadful salutation, "Friend, how camest thou in hither,
not having on a wedding garment? 
And he was speechless"; though he could swagger it out among the guests, yet
the master of the feast, at first coming in, strikes him dumb; and having nothing
to say for himself, the king had something to say against him. "Then the king
said to the servants," the angels, "Bind him hand and foot, and take him
away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
3. They will seek to enter in by pleading their profession and admittance to the
Lord's ordinances when they were in the world. "Lord, we have eaten and drunk
in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets"; we sat at thy table,
and used to frequent sermons and Christian assemblies; we were well thought of by
thy saints, and were admitted into thy churches; we professed the same faith as they
did; "Lord, Lord, open unto us."
4. They will seek to enter in by pleading their virtues; how they subjected [themselves]
to this ministry, how they wrought for him, what good they did in the world, and
the like, but neither will this help them; the same answer that the two former had,
the same have these—"Depart from me, ye that work iniquity." (Matt 7:22)
5. They will seek to enter in by pleading excuses where they cannot evade conviction.
The slothful servant went this way to work, when he was called to account for not
improving his Lord's money. "Lord," says he, "I knew thee that thou
art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast
not strawed, and I was afraid," &c., either that I should not please in
laying out thy money, or that I should put it into hands out of which I should not
get it again at thy need, "and I went a hid thy talent in the earth; lo, there
thou hast that is thine"; as if he had said, True, Lord, I have not improved,
I have not got; but consider also I have not embezzled, I have not spent nor lost
thy money; lo, there thou hast what is thine. (Matt 25:24-28) There are but few will
be able to say these last words at the day of judgment. The most of professors are
for embezzling, misspending, and slothing away their time, their talents, their opportunities
to do good in. But, I say, if he that can make so good an excuse as to say, Lo, there
thou hast that is thine; I say, if such an one shall be called a wicked and slothful
servant, if such an one shall be put to shame at the day of judgment, yea, if such
an one shall, notwithstanding this care to save his Lord's money, be cast as unprofitable
into outer darkness, where shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, what will they
do that have neither taken care to lay out, nor care to keep what was committed to
6. They will seek to enter in by pleading that ignorance was the ground of their
miscarrying in the things wherein they offended. Wherefore, when Christ charges them
with want of love to him, and with want of those fruits that should prove their love
to be true—as, that they did not feed him, did not give him drink, did not take him
in, did not clothe him, visit him, come unto him, and the like—they readily reply,
"Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or
sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?" (Matt 25:44) As who should
say, Lord, we are not conscious to ourselves that this charge is worthily laid at
our door! God forbid that we should have been such sinners. But, Lord, give an instance;
when was it, or where? True, there was a company of poor sorry people in the world,
very inconsiderable, set by with nobody; but for thyself, we professed thee, we loved
thee, and hadst thou been with us in the world, wouldst thou have worn gold, wouldst
thou have eaten the sweetest of the world, we would have provided it for thee; and
therefore, Lord, Lord, open to us! But will the plea do? No. Then shall he answer
them, "Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these" my brethren,
"ye did it not to me." This plea, then, though grounded upon ignorance,
which is one of the strangest pleas for neglect of duty, would not give them admittance
into the kingdom. "These shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the
righteous into life eternal."
I might add other things by which it will appear how they will seek to enter in.
1. They will make a stop at this gate, this beautiful gate of heaven. They will begin
to stand without at the gate, as being loath to go any further. Never did malefactor
so unwillingly turn off the ladder when the rope was about his neck, as these will
turn away in that day from the gates of heaven to hell.
2. They will not only make a stop at the gate; but there they will knock and call.
This also argueth them willing to enter. They will begin to stand without, and to
knock at the gate, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. This word, Lord, being doubled,
shows the vehemency of their desires, "Lord, Lord, open unto us." The devils
are coming; Lord, Lord, the pit opens her mouth upon us; Lord, Lord, there is nothing
but hell and damnation left us, if, Lord, Lord, thou hast not mercy upon us; "Lord,
Lord, open unto us!"
3. Their last argument for entrance is their tears, when groundless confidence, pleading
of virtues, excuses, and ignorance, will not do; when standing at the gate, knocking,
and calling, "Lord, Lord, open unto us," will not do, then they betake
themselves to their tears. Tears are sometimes the most powerful arguments, but they
are nothing worth here. Esau also sought it carefully with tears, but it helped him
nothing at all. (Heb 12:17) There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth; for the
gate is shut for ever, mercy is gone for ever, Christ hath rejected them for ever.
All their pleas, excuses, and tears will not make them able to enter into this kingdom.
"For many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able."
[Import of the words SHALL NOT BE ABLE.]
I come now to the latter part of the words, which closely show us the reason of the
rejection of these many that must be damned; "They will seek to enter in, and
shall not be able."
A hypocrite, a false professor, may go a great way; they may pass through the first
and second watch, to wit, may be approved of Christians and churches; but what will
they do when they come at this iron gate that leadeth into the city? "There
the workers of iniquity are fallen, they are cast down, and shall not be able to
rise!" (Psa 36:12)
"And shall not be able." The time, as I have already hinted, which my text
respecteth, it is the day of judgment, a day when all masks and vizards shall be
taken off from all faces. It is a day wherein God "will bring to light the hidden
things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsel of the hearts." (1 Cor
4:5) It is also the day of his wrath, the day in which he will pay vengeance, even
a recompence to his adversaries.
At this day, those things that now these "many" count sound and good, will
then shake like a quagmire, even all their naked knowledge, their feigned faith,
pretended love, glorious shows of gravity in the face, their holiday words and specious
carriages, will stand them in little stead. I call them holiday ones, for I perceive
that some professors do with religion just as people do with their best apparel—hang
it against the wall all the week, and put it on on Sundays. For as some scarce ever
put on a suit but when they go to a fair or a market, so little house religion will
do with some; they save religion till they go to a meeting, or till they meet with
a godly chapman. O poor religion! O poor professor! What wilt thou do at this day,
and the day of thy trial and judgment? Cover thyself thou canst not; go for a Christian
thou canst not; stand against the Judge thou canst not! What wilt thou do? "The
ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous."
 "And shall not be able." The ability here intended is not that which
standeth in carnal power or fleshly subtlety, but in the truth and simplicity of
those things for the sake of which God giveth the kingdom of heaven to his people.
There are five things, for the want of which this people will not be able to enter.
1. This kingdom belongs to the elect, to those for whom it was prepared from the
foundation of the world. (Matt 25:34) Hence Christ saith, when he comes, he will
send forth his angels with a great sound of trumpet, and they shall gather together
his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to another. (Matt 24:31) And
hence he saith again, "I will bring forth a seed out of Jacob, and out of Judah
an inheritor of my mountains, and mine elect shall inherit it, and my servants shall
dwell there." "They shall deceive, if it were possible, the very elect."
"But the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded." (Rom 11:7)
2. They will not be able to enter, because they will want the birthright. The kingdom
of heaven is for the heirs—and if children, then heirs; if born again, then heirs.
Wherefore it is said expressly, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the
kingdom of God." By this one word, down goes all carnal privilege of being born
of flesh and blood, and of the will of man. Canst thou produce the birthright? But
art thou sure thou canst? For it will little profit thee to think of the blessed
kingdom of heaven, if thou wantest a birthright to give thee inheritance there. Esau
did despise his birthright, saying, What good will this birthright do me? And there
are many in the world of his mind to this day. "Tush," say they, "they
talk of being born again; what good shall a man get by that? They say, no going to
heaven without being born again. But God is merciful; Christ died for sinners; and
we will turn when we can tend it,  and doubt not but all will be well at last."
But I will answer thee, thou child of Esau, that the birthright and blessing go together;
miss of one, and thou shalt never have the other! Esau found this true; for, having
first despised the birthright, when he would afterwards "have inherited the
blessing, he was rejected; for he found no place of repentance, though he sought
it carefully with tears." (Gen 25, Heb 12:16,17)
3. They shall not be able to enter in who have not believed with the faith of God's
operation; the faith that is most holy, even the faith of God's elect. "He that
believeth on the Son of God hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the
Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." (John 3:36) But
now this faith is the effect of electing love, and of a new birth. (John 1:11-13)
Therefore, all the professors that have not faith which floweth from being born of
God, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.
4. They shall not be able to enter in that have not gospel- holiness. Holiness that
is the effect of faith is that which admits into the presence of God, and into his
kingdom too. "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection,
on such the second death," that is, hell and eternal damnation, "hath no
power." (Rev 20:6,14) Blessed and holy, with the holiness that flows from faith
which is in Christ; for to these the inheritance belongs. "That they may receive
forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified, by faith,"
saith Christ, "that is in me." (Acts 26:18) This holiness, which is the
natural effect of faith in the Son of God, Christ Jesus the Lord will, at this day
of judgment, distinguish from all other shows of holiness and sanctity, be they what
they will, and will admit the soul that hath this holiness into his kingdom, when
the rest will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.
5. They shall not be able to enter in that do not persevere in this blessed faith
and holiness; not that they that have them indeed can finally fall away, and everlastingly
perish; but it hath pleased Jesus Christ to bid them that have the right to hold
fast that they have: to endure to the end; and then tells them they shall be saved—though
it is as true that none is of power to keep himself; but God worketh together with
his children, and they are "kept by the power of God, through faith unto salvation,"
which is also laid up in heaven for them. (1 Peter 1:3-5)
"The foolish shall not stand in thy sight; thou hatest all workers of iniquity."
(Psa 5:5) The foolish are the unholy ones, that neither have faith, nor holiness,
nor perseverance in godliness, and yet lay claim to the kingdom of heaven; but "better
is a little with righteousness, than great revenues without right." (Prov 16:8)
What is it for me to claim a house, or a farm, without right? or to say, all this
is mine, but have nothing to show for it? This is but like the revenues of the foolish;
his estate lieth in his conceit. He hath nothing by birthright and law, and therefore
shall not be able to inherit the possession. "For many, I say unto you, will
seek to enter in, and shall not be able."
Thus you see, that the non-elect shall not be able to enter, that he that is not
born again shall not be able to enter, that he that hath not saving faith, with holiness
and perseverance flowing therefrom, shall not be able to enter; wherefore consider
of what I have said.
[SECOND. THE WORDS BY WAY OF OBSERVATION.]
I come now to give you some observations from the words, and they may be three.
FIRST. When men have put in all the claim they can for heaven, but few will have
it for their inheritance. "For many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in,
and shall not be able." SECOND. Great, therefore, will be the disappointment
that many will meet with at the day of judgment: "For many will seek to enter
in, and shall not be able." THIRD. Going to heaven, therefore, will be no trivial
business; salvation is not got by a dream; they that would then have that kingdom
must now strive lawfully to enter: "For many, I say unto you, will seek to enter
in, and shall not be able."
FIRST. I shall speak chiefly, and yet but briefly, to the first of these observations;
to wit, That when men have put in all the claim they can to the kingdom of heaven,
but few will have it for their inheritance. The observation standeth of two parts.
First. That the time is coming, when every man will put in whatever claim they can
to the kingdom of heaven. Second. There will be but few of them that put in claim
thereto, that shall enjoy it for their inheritance.
[First. ALL WILL PUT IN WHAT CLAIM THEY CAN TO THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.]
I shall speak but a word or two to the first part of the observation, because I have
prevented my enlargement thereon by my explication upon the words; but you find in
the 25th of Matthew, that all they on the left hand of the Judge did put in all the
claim they could for this blessed kingdom of heaven. If you should take them on the
left hand as most do, for all the sinners that shall be damned, then that completely
proveth the first part of the observation; for it is expressly said, "Then shall
they," all of them jointly, and every one apart, "also answer him, saying,
Lord, when saw we thus and thus, and did not minister unto thee?" (Matt 25:44)
I could here bring you in the plea of the slothful servant, the cry of the foolish
virgins; I could also here enlarge upon that passage, "Lord, Lord, have we not
eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets?" But these
things are handled already in the handling of which this first part of the observation
is proved; wherefore, without more words, I will, God assisting by his grace, descend
to the second part thereof, to wit,
[Second. THERE WILL BE BUT FEW OF THEM THAT PUT IN CLAIM THERETO THAT WILL ENJOY
IT FOR THEIR INHERITANCE.]
I shall speak distinctly to this part of the observation, and shall first confirm
it by a Scripture or two. "Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which
leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." (Matt 7:14) "Fear not,
little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."
(Luke 12:32) By these two texts, and by many more that will be urged anon, you may
see the truth of what I have said.
To enlarge, therefore, upon the truth; and, First, more generally; Second, more particularly.
More generally, I shall prove that in all ages but few have been saved. More particularly,
I shall prove but few of them that profess have been saved.
[First, Generally—in all ages but few have been saved.]
1. In the old world, when it was most populous, even in the days of Noah, we read
but of eight persons that were saved out of it; well, therefore, might Peter call
them but few; but how few? why, but eight souls; "wherein few, that is, eight
souls, were saved by water." (1 Peter 3:20) He touches a second time upon this
truth, saying, He "spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person,
a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly."
(2 Peter 2:5) Mark, all the rest are called the ungodly, and there were also a world
of them. These are also taken notice of in Job, and go there also by the name of
wicked men: "Hast thou marked the old way which wicked men have trodden? which
were cut down out of time, whose foundation was overflown with a flood, which said
unto God, Depart from us, and what can the Almighty do for them?" (Job 22:15-17)
There were therefore but eight persons that escaped the wrath of God, in the day
that the flood came upon the earth; the rest were ungodly; there was also a world
of them, and they are to this day in the prison of hell. (Heb 11:7, 1 Peter 3:19,20)
Nay, I must correct my pen, there were but seven of the eight that were good; for
Ham, though he escaped the judgment of the water, yet the curse of God overtook him
to his damnation. 2. When the world began again to be replenished, and people began
to multiply therein: how few, even in all ages, do we read of that were saved from
the damnation of the world!
(1.) One Abraham and his wife, God called out of the land of the Chaldeans; "I
called," said God, "Abraham alone." (Isa 51:2)
(2.) One Lot out of Sodom and Gomorrah, out of Admah and Zeboim; one Lot out of four
cities! Indeed his wife and two daughters went out of Sodom with him; but they all
three proved naught, as you may see in the 19th of Genesis. Wherefore Peter observes,
that Lot only was saved: "He turned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes,
condemning them with an overthrow, making them an example unto those that after should
live ungodly, and delivered just Lot, that righteous man." (Read 2 Peter 2:6-8)
Jude says, that in this condemnation God overthrew not only Sodom and Gomorrah, but
the cities about them also; and yet you find none but Lot could be found that was
righteous, either in Sodom or Gomorrah, or the cities about them; wherefore they,
all of them, suffer the vengeance of eternal fire. (verse 7)
(3.) Come we now to the time of the Judges, how few then were godly, even then when
the inhabitants of the villages ceased, they ceased in Israel! "the highways"
of God "were" then "unoccupied." (Judg 5:6,7)
(4.) There were but few in the days of David: "Help, Lord," says he, "for
the godly man ceaseth, for the faithful fail from among the children of men."
(5.) In Isaiah's time the saved were come to such a few, that he positively says
that there were a very small number left: "God had made them like Sodom, and
they had been like unto Gomorrah." (Isa 1:8,9)
(6.) It was cried unto them in the time of Jeremiah, that they should "run to
and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and know, and seek in the
broad places thereof, if ye can find a man, if there be any that executeth judgment,
that seeketh the truth, and I will pardon it." (Jer 5:1)
(7.) God showed his servant Ezekiel how few there would be saved in his day, by the
vision of a few hairs saved out of the midst of a few hairs; for the saved were a
few saved out of a few. (Eze 5:5)
(8.) You find in the time of the prophet Micah, how the godly complain, that as to
number they then were so few, that he compares them to those that are left behind
when they had gathered the summer- fruit. (Micah 7:1)
(9.) When Christ was come, how did he confirm this truth, that but few of them that
put in claim for heaven will have it for their inheritance! But the common people
could not hear it, and therefore, upon a time when he did but a little hint at this
truth, the people, even all in the synagogue where he preached it, "were filled
with wrath, rose up, thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the
hill," whereon their city was built, "that they might cast him down headlong."
(10.) John, who was after Christ, saith, "The whole world lieth in wickedness;
that all the world wondered after the beast; and that power was given to the beast
over all kindreds, tongues, and nations." Power to do what? Why, to cause all,
both great and small, rich and poor, bond and free, to receive his mark, and to be
branded for him. (1 John 5:10, Rev 13:3,7,16)
(11.) Should we come to observation and experience, the show of the countenance of
the bulk of men doth witness against them; "they declare their sin as Sodom,
they hide it not." (Isa 3:9) Where is the man that maketh the Almighty God his
delight, and that designeth his glory in the world? Do not even almost all pursue
this world, their lusts and pleasures? and so, consequently, say unto God, "Depart
from us, for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways; or, What is the Almighty that
we should serve him? It is in vain to serve God," &c.
So that without doubt it will appear a truth in the day of God, that but few of them
that shall put in their claim to heaven will have it for their inheritance.
Before I pass this head, I will show you to what the saved are compared in the Scriptures.
[To what the saved are compared in Scripture.]
1. They are compared to a handful: "There shall be a handful of corn in the
earth upon the top of the mountains," &c. (Psa 72:16) This corn is nothing
else but them that shall be saved. (Matt 3:12, 13:30) But mark, "There shall
be a handful": What is a handful, when compared with the whole heap? or, what
is a handful out of the rest of the world?
2. As they are compared to a handful, so they are compared to a lily among the thorns,
which is rare, and not so commonly seen: "As the lily among thorns," saith
Christ, "so is my love among the daughters." (Cant 2:2) By thorns, we understand
the worst and best of men, even all that are destitute of the grace of God, for "the
best of them is a brier, the most upright" of them "as a thorn- hedge."
(Micah 7:4, 2 Sam 23:6) I know that she may be called a lily amongst thorns also,
because she meets with the pricks of persecution. (Eze 2:6, 28:24) She may also be
thus termed, to show the disparity that is betwixt hypocrites and the church. (Luke
8:14, Heb 8) But this is not all; the saved are compared to a lily among thorns,
to show you that they are but few in the world; to show you that they are but few
and rare; for as Christ compares her to a lily among thorns, so she compares him
to an apple-tree among the trees of the wood, which is rare and scarce; not common.
3. They that are saved are called but one of many; for though there be "threescore
queens, and fourscore concubines, and virgins without number," yet my love,
saith Christ, is but one, my undefiled is but one. (Cant 6:8,9) According to that
of Jeremiah, "I will take you one of a city." (Jer 3:14) That saying of
Paul is much like this, "Know ye not that they which run in a race run all,
but one receiveth the prize?" (1 Cor 9:24) But one, that is, few of many, few
of them that run; for he is not here comparing them that run with them that sit still,
but with them that run, some run and lose, some run and win; they that run and win
are few in comparison with them that run and lose: "They that run in a race
run all, but one receives the prize"; let there then be "threescore queens,
and fourscore concubines, and virgins without number," yet the saved are but
4. They that are saved are compared to the gleaning after the vintage is in: "Woe
is me," said the church, "for I am as when they have gathered the summer-fruits,
as the grape-gleanings" after the vintage is in. (Micah 7:1) The gleanings!
What are the gleanings to the whole crop? and yet you here see, to the gleanings
are the saved compared. It is the devil and sin that carry away the cartloads, while
Christ and his ministers come after a gleaning. But the gleaning of the grapes of
Ephraim are better than the vintage of Abiezer. (Judg 8:2) Them that Christ and his
ministers glean up and bind up in the bundle of life, are better than the loads that
go the other way. You know it is often the cry of the poor in harvest, Poor gleaning,
poor gleaning. And the ministers of the gospel they also cry, Lord, "who hath
believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?" (Isa 53:1)
When the prophet speaks of the saved under this metaphor of gleaning, how doth he
amplify the matter? "Gleaning-grapes shall be left," says he, "two
or three berries in the top of the uppermost bough, four or five in the outmost fruitful
branches thereof, saith the Lord." (Isa 17:6) Thus you see what gleaning is
left in the vineyard, after the vintage is in; two or three here, four or five there.
Alas! they that shall be saved when the devil and hell have had their due, they will
be but as the gleaning, they will be but few; they that go to hell, go thither in
clusters, but the saved go not so to heaven. (Matt 13:30, Micah 7) Wherefore when
the prophet speaketh of the saved, he saith there is no cluster; but when he speaketh
of the damned, he saith they are gathered by clusters. (Rev 14:18,19) O sinners!
but few will be saved! O professors! but few will be saved!
5. They that shall be saved are compared to jewels: "and they shall be mine,
saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels." (Mal 3:17) Jewels,
you know, are rare things, things that are not found in every house. Jewels will
lie in little room, being few and small, though lumber takes up much. In almost every
house, you may find brass, and iron, and lead; and in every place you may find hypocritical
professors, but the saved are not these common things; they are God's peculiar treasure.
(Psa 135:4) Wherefore Paul distinguisheth betwixt the lumber and the treasure in
the house. There is, saith he, in a great house, not only vessels of gold and silver,
but also of wood and of earth, and some to honour, and some to dishonour. (2 Tim
2:20) Here is a word for wooden and earthy professors; the jewels and treasures are
vessels to honour, they of wood and earth are vessels of dishonour, that is, vessels
for destruction. (Rom 9:21) 6. They that shall be saved are compared to a remnant:
"Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have
been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah." (Isa 1:9) A remnant,
a small remnant, a very small remnant! O how doth the Holy Ghost word it! and all
to show you how few shall be saved. Every one knows what a remnant is, but this is
a small remnant, a very small remnant. So again, "Sing with gladness for Jacob,
and shout among the chief of the nations: publish ye, praise ye, and say, O Lord,
save thy people, the remnant of Israel." (Jer 31:7) What shall I say? the saved
are often in Scripture called a remnant. (Eze 9:4,8, Isa 10:20-22, 11:11,16, Jer
23:3, Joel 2:32) But what is a remnant to the whole piece? What is a remnant of people
to the whole kingdom? or what is a remnant of wheat to the whole harvest?
7. The saved are compared to the tithe or tenth part; wherefore when God sendeth
the prophet to make the hearts of the people fat, their ears dull, and to shut their
eyes, the prophet asketh, "How long?" to which God answereth, "Until
the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land
be utterly desolate, and the Lord have removed men far away, and there be a great
forsaking in the midst of the land. But yet," as God saith in another place,
"I will not make a full end," "in it shall be a tenth, - so the holy
seed shall be the substance thereof." (Isa 6:10-13) But what is a tenth? What
is one in ten? And yet so speaks the Holy Ghost, when he speaks of the holy seed,
of those that were to be reserved from the judgment. And observe it, the fattening
and blinding of the rest, it was to their everlasting destruction; and so both Christ
and Paul expounds it often in the New Testament. (Matt 13:14,15, Mark 4:12, Luke
8:10, John 12:40, Acts 28:26, Rom 11:8) So that those that are reserved from them
that perish will be very few, one in ten: "A tenth shall return, so the holy
seed shall be the substance thereof." 
I shall not add more generals at this time. I pray God that the world be not offended
at these. But without doubt, but few of them that shall put in their claim for heaven
will have it for their inheritance; which will yet further appear in the reading
of that which follows.
[Second. Particularly—but few of them that profess have been saved.]
Therefore I come more particularly to show you that but few shall be saved. I say,
but few of professors themselves will be saved; for that is the truth that the text
doth more directly look at and defend. Give me, therefore, thy hand, good reader,
and let us soberly walk through the rest of what shall be said; and let us compare
as we go each particular with the holy Scripture.
1. It is said, "The daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as
a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city." (Isa 1:8) The vineyard
was the church of Israel, the cottage in that vineyard was the daughter of Zion,
or the truly gracious amongst, or in that church. (Isa 5:1) A cottage; God had but
a cottage there, but a little habitation in the church, a very few that were truly
gracious amongst that great multitude that professed; and had it not been for these,
for this cottage, the rest had been ruined as Sodom: "Except the Lord of hosts
had left unto us," in the church, a very few, they had been as Sodom. (Isa 1:9)
Wherefore, among the multitude of them that shall be damned, professors will make
a considerable party.
2. "For though thy people Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant of them
shall return," "a remnant shall be saved." (Isa 10:22, Rom 9:27) For
though thy people Israel, whom thou broughtest out of Egypt, to whom thou hast given
church- constitution, holy laws, holy ordinances, holy prophets, and holy covenants;
thy people by separation from all people, and thy people by profession; though this
thy people be as the sand of the sea, "a remnant shall be saved"; wherefore,
among the multitude of them that shall be damned, professors will make a considerable
3. "Reprobate silver shall men call them, because the Lord hath rejected them."
(Jer 6:30) The people here under consideration are called, in verse 27, God's people,
his people by profession: "I have set thee for a tower and a fortress among
my people, that thou mayest know, and try their way." What follows? They are
all grievous revolters, walking with slanders, reprobate silver; the Lord hath rejected
them. In chapter 7, verse 29, they are called also the generation of his wrath: "For
the Lord hath rejected and forsaken the generation of his wrath." This, therefore,
I gather out of these holy Scriptures,—that with reference to profession and church-constitution,
a people may be called the people of God; but, with reference to the event and final
conclusion that God will make with some of them, they may be truly the generation
of his wrath.
4. In the fifth of Isaiah, you read again of the vineyard of God, and that it was
planted on a very fruitful hill, planted with the choicest vines, had a wall, a tower,
a wine-press belonging to it, and all things that could put it into right order and
good government, as a church; but this vineyard of the Lord of hosts brought forth
wild grapes, fruits unbecoming her constitution and government, wherefore the Lord
takes from her his hedge and wall, and lets her be trodden down. Read Christ's exposition
upon it in Matthew 21:33, &c. Look to it, professors, these are the words of
the text, "For many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be
5. "Son of man," said God to the prophet, "the house of Israel is
to me become dross, all they are brass and tin, and iron and lead, in the midst of
the furnace they even are the dross of silver." (Eze 22:18) God had silver there,
some silver, but it was but little; the bulk of that people was but the dross of
the church, though they were the members of it. But what doth he mean by the dross?
why, he looked upon them as no better, notwithstanding their church-membership, than
the rabble of the world, that is, with respect to their latter end; for to be called
dross, it is to be put amongst the rest of the sinners of the world, in the judgment
of God, though at present they abide in his house: "Thou puttest away all the
wicked of the earth like dross; therefore I love thy testimonies." (Psa 119:119)
God saith of his saved ones, "He hath chosen them in the furnace of affliction."
The refiner, when he putteth his silver into his furnace, he puts lead in also among
it; now this lead being ordered as he knows how, works up the dross from the silver,
which dross, still as it riseth, he putteth by, or taketh away with an instrument.
And thus deals God with his church; there is silver in his church, aye, and there
is also dross: now the dross are the hypocrites and graceless ones that are got into
the church, and these will God discover, and afterwards put away as dross. So that
it will without doubt prove a truth of God, that many of their professors that shall
put in claim for heaven, will not have it for their inheritance.
6. It is said of Christ, his "fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge
his floor, and will gather his wheat into the garner, but he will burn up the chaff
with unquenchable fire." (Matt 3:12) The floor is the church of God: "O
my threshing, and the corn of my floor!" said God by the prophet, to his people.
(Isa 21:10) The wheat are these good ones in his church that shall be undoubtedly
saved; therefore he saith, "Gather my wheat into my garner." The chaff
groweth upon the same stalk and ear, and so is in the same visible body with the
wheat, but there is not substance in it: wherefore in time they must be severed one
from the other; the wheat must be gathered into the garner, which is heaven; and
the chaff, or professors that want true grace, must be gathered into hell, that they
may be burned up with unquenchable fire. Therefore let professors look to it! 
7. Christ Jesus casts away two of the three grounds that are said to receive the
word. (Luke 8)
The stony ground received it with joy, and the thorny ground brought forth fruit
almost to perfection. Indeed the highway ground was to show us that the carnal, whilst
such, receive not the word at all; but here is the pinch, two of the three that received
it, fell short of the kingdom of heaven; for but one of the three received it so
as to bring forth fruit to perfection. Look to it, professors!
8. The parable of the unprofitable servant, the parable of the man without a wedding
garment, and the parable of the unsavoury salt, do each of them justify this for
truth. (Matt 25:24,29, 22:11-13, 5:13) That of the unprofitable servant is to show
us the sloth and idleness of some professors; that of the man without a wedding garment
is to show us how some professors have the shame of their wickedness seen by God,
even when they are among the children of the bridegroom; and that parable of the
unsavoury salt is to show, that as the salt that hath lost its savour is fit for
nothing, no, not for the dunghill, but to be trodden under foot of men; so some professors,
yea, and great ones too, for this parable reached one of the apostles, will in God's
day be counted fit for nothing but to be trodden down as the mire in the streets.
O the slothful, the naked, and unsavoury professors, how will they be rejected of
God and his Christ in the judgment! Look to it, professors!
9. The parable of the tares also giveth countenance to this truth: for though it
be said the field is the world, yet it is said, the tares were sown even in the church.
"And while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went
his way." (Matt 13:24,25) Object. But some may object, The tares might be sown
in the world among the wheat, though not in the churches. Answ. But Christ, by expounding
this parable, tells us the tares were sown in his kingdom; the tares, that is, the
children of the devil. "As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the
fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his
angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them
which do iniquity, and shall cast them into a furnace of fire; there shall be wailing
and gnashing of teeth." (verse 30,39- 43) Look to it, professors!
10. The parable of the ten virgins also suiteth our purpose; these ten are called
the kingdom of heaven, that is, the church of Christ, the visible rightly-constituted
church of Christ; for they went all out of the world, had all lamps, and all went
forth to meet the bridegroom; yet behold what an overthrow the one- half of them
met with at the gate of heaven; they were shut out, bid to depart, and Christ told
them he did not know them. (Matt 25:1-13) Tremble, professors! Pray, professors!
11. The parable of the net that was cast into the sea, that also countenanceth this
truth. The substance of that parable is to show that souls may be gathered by the
gospel—there compared to a net—may be kept in that net, drawn to shore, to the world's
end, by that net, and yet may then prove bad fishes, and be cast away. The parable
runs thus:—"The kingdom of heaven," the gospel, "is like unto a net
which was cast into the sea," the world, "and gathered of every kind,"
good and bad, "which when it was full, they drew to shore," to the end
of the world, "and sat down," in judgment, "and gathered the good
into vessels, but cast the bad away." Some bad fishes, nay, I doubt a great
many, will be found in the net of the gospel, at the day of judgment. (Matt 13:47,49)
Watch and be sober, professors!
12. "And - many shall come from the east and from the west, and shall sit down
with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of
the kingdom shall be cast out." (Matt 8:11,12) The children of the kingdom,
whose privileges were said to be these, "to whom pertaineth the adoption, and
the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God,
and the promises." (Rom 9:4) I take liberty to harp the more upon the first
church, because that that happened to them, happened as types and examples, intimating,
there is ground to think, that things of as dreadful a nature are to happen among
the church of the Gentiles. (1 Cor 10:11,12) Neither, indeed, have the Gentile churches
security from God that there shall not as dreadful things happen to them. And concerning
this very thing, sufficient caution is given to us also. (1 Cor 6:9,10, Gal 5:19-21,
Eph 5:3-6, Phil 3:17,19, 2 Thess 2:11,12, 2 Tim 2:20,21, Heb 6:4-8, 10:26-28, 2 Peter
2, 3, 1 John 5:10, Rev 2:20-22)
13. The parable of the true vine and its branches confirm what I have said. By the
vine there I understand Christ, Christ as head; by the branches, I understand this
church. Some of these branches proved fruitless cast-always, were in time cast out
of the church, were gathered by men, and burned. (John 15:1-6)
14. Lastly, I will come to particular instances.
(1.) The twelve had a devil among them. (John 6:70) (2.) Ananias and Sapphira were
in the church of Jerusalem. (Acts 5) (3.) Simon Magus was among them at Samaria.
(Acts 8) (4.) Among the church of Corinth were them that had not the knowledge of
God. (1 Cor 15:34) (5.) Paul tells the Galatians that false brethren crept in unawares;
and so does the apostle Jude, and yet they were as quick-sighted to see as any now-a-
days. (Gal 2:4, Jude 4) (6.) The church in Sardis had but a few names in her, to
whom the kingdom of heaven belonged. "Thou hast a few names, even in Sardis,
which have not defiled their garments, and they shall walk with me in white, for
they are worthy." (Rev 3:4) (7.) As for the church of the Laodiceans, it is
called "wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked." (Rev
3:17) So that put all things together, and I may boldly say, as I also have said
already, that among the multitude of them that shall be damned, professors will make
a considerable party; or, to speak in the words of the observation, "when men
have put in all the claim they can for heaven, but few will have it for their inheritance."
[REASONS WHY FEW ARE SAVED.]
I will show you some reasons of the point, besides those five that I showed you before.
And, First, I will show you why the poor, carnal, ignorant world miss of heaven;
and then, Second, why the knowing professors miss of it also.
[First, Why the poor, carnal, ignorant world miss heaven.]
1. The poor, carnal, ignorant world miss of heaven even because they love their sins,
and cannot part with them. "Men loved darkness rather than light, because their
deeds were evil." (John 3:19) The poor ignorant world miss of heaven, because
they are enemies in their minds to God, his Word, and holiness; they must be all
damned who take pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thess 2:10-12) The poor ignorant
world miss of heaven, because they stop their ears against convictions, and refuse
to come when God calls. "Because I have called, and ye refused, I have stretched
out my hand, and no man regarded, but ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would
none of my reproof; I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear
cometh - as desolation, and your destruction - as a whirlwind, when distress and
anguish cometh upon you; then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they
shall seek me early, but they shall not find me." (Prov 1:24-29)
2. The poor ignorant world miss of heaven, because the god of this world hath blinded
their eyes, that they can neither see the evil and damnable state they are in at
present, nor the way to get out of it; neither do they see the beauty of Jesus Christ,
nor how willing he is to save poor sinners. (2 Cor 4:2,3)
3. The poor ignorant world miss of heaven, because they put off and defer coming
to Christ, until the time of God's patience and grace is over. Some, indeed, are
resolved never to come; but some, again, say, We will come hereafter; and so it comes
to pass, that because God called, and they did not hear; so they shall cry, and I
will not hear, saith the Lord. (Zech 7:11-13)
4. The poor ignorant world miss of heaven, because they have false apprehensions
of God's mercy. They say in their hearts, We shall have peace, though we walk in
the imagination of our heart, to add drunkenness to thirst. But what saith the Word?
"The Lord will not spare him; but then the anger of the Lord, and his jealousy,
shall smoke against that man, and all the curses that are written in this book shall
lie upon him, and the Lord shall blot out his name from under heaven." (Deu
5. The poor ignorant world miss of heaven, because they make light of the gospel
that offereth mercy to them freely, and because they lean upon their own good meanings,
and thinkings, and doings. (Matt 22:1-5, Rom 9:30,31)
6. The poor carnal world miss of heaven because by unbelief, which reigns in them,
they are kept for ever from being clothed with Christ's righteousness, and from washing
in his blood, without which there is neither remission of sin, nor justification.
But to pass these till anon.
[Second.] I come, in the next place, to show you some reasons why the professor falls
short of heaven.
First. In the general, they rest in things below special grace; as in awakenings
that are not special, in faith that is not special, &c.; and, a little to
run a parallel betwixt the one and the other, that, if God will, you may see and
1. Have they that shall be saved, awakenings about their state by nature? So have
they that shall be damned. They that never go to heaven may see much of sin, and
of the wrath of God due thereto. This had Cain and Judas, and yet they came short
of the kingdom. (Gen 4, Matt 27:4) The saved have convictions, in order to their
eternal life; but the others" convictions are not so. The convictions of the
one doth drive them sincerely to Christ; the convictions of the other doth drive
them to the law, and the law to desperation at last.
2. There is a repentance that will not save, a repentance to be repented of; and
a repentance to salvation, not to be repented of. (2 Cor 7:10) Yet so great a similitude
and likeness there is betwixt the one and the other, that most times the wrong is
taken for the right, and through this mistake professors perish. As, (1.) In saving
repentance there will be an acknowledgment of sin; and one that hath the other repentance
may acknowledge his sins also. (Matt 27:4) (2.) In saving repentance there is a crying
out under sin; but one that hath the other repentance may cry out under sin also.
(Gen 4:13) (3.) In saving repentance there will be humiliation for sin; and one that
hath the other repentance may humble himself also. (1 Kings 21:29) (4.) Saving repentance
is attended with self-loathing; but he that hath the other repentance may have loathing
of sin too; a loathing of sin, because it is sin, that he cannot have; but a loathing
of sin, because it is offensive to him, that he may have. The dog doth not loath
that which troubleth his stomach because it is there, but because it troubleth him;
when it has done troubling of him, he can turn to it again, and lick it up as before
it troubled him. (2 Peter 2:22) (5.) Saving repentance is attended with prayers and
tears; but he that hath none but the other repentance, may have prayers and tears
also. (Gen 27:34,35, Heb 12:16,17) (6.) In saving repentance there is fear and reverence
of the Word and ministers that bring it; but this may be also where there is none
but the repentance that is not saving; for Herod feared John, knowing that he was
a just man and holy, and observed him; when he heard him, he did many things, and
heard him gladly. (Mark 6:20) (7.) Saving repentance makes a man's heart very tender
of doing anything against the Word of God. But Balaam could say, "If Balak would
give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the commandment of
the Lord." (Num 24:13)
Behold, then, how far a man may go in repentance, and yet be short of that which
is called, "Repentance unto salvation, not to be repented of." (a.) He
may be awakened; (b.) He may acknowledge his sin; (c.) He may cry out under the burden
of sin; (d.) He may have humility for it; (e.) He may loath it; (f.) May have prayers
and tears against it; (g.) may delight to do many things of God; (h.) May be afraid
of sinning against him—and, after all this, may perish, for want of saving repentance.
Second. Have they that shall be saved, faith? Why, they that shall not be saved may
have faith also; yea, a faith in many things so like the faith that saveth, that
they can hardly be distinguished, though they differ both in root and branch. To
come to particulars.
1. Saving faith hath Christ for its object, and so may the faith have that is not
saving. Those very Jews of whom it is said they believed on Christ, Christ tells
them, and that after their believing, "Ye are of your father the devil, and
the lusts of your father ye will do." (John 8:30-44) 2. Saving faith is wrought
by the Word of God, and so may the faith be that is not saving. (Luke 8:13) 3. Saving
faith looks for justification without works, and so may a faith do that is not saving.
(James 2:18) 4. Saving faith will sanctify and purify the heart, and the faith that
is not saving may work a man off from the pollutions of the world, as it did Judas,
Demas, and others. (2 Peter 2) 5. Saving faith will give a man tastes of the world
to come, and also joy by those tastes, and so will the faith do that is not saving.
(Heb 6:4,5, Luke 8:13) 6. Saving faith will help a man, if called thereto, to give
his body to be burned for his religion, and so will the faith do that is not saving.
(1 Cor 13:1-5) 7. Saving faith will help a man to look for an inheritance in the
world to come, and that may the faith do that is not saving. All those virgins "took
their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom." (Matt 25:1) 8. Saving faith
will not only make a man look for, but prepare to meet the bridegroom, and so may
the faith do that is not saving. "Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed
their lamps." (Matt 25:7) 9. Saving faith will make a man look for an interest
in the kingdom of heaven with confidence, and the faith that is not saving will even
demand entrance of the Lord. "Lord, Lord, open to us." (Matt 25:11) 10.
Saving faith will have good works follow it into heaven, and the faith that is not
saving may have great works follow it, as far as to heaven gates. "Lord, have
we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name
done many wonderful works?" (Matt 7:22)
Now, then, if the faith that is not saving may have Christ for its object, be wrought
by the Word, look for justification without works, work men off from the pollutions
of the world, and give men tastes of, and joy in the things of another world—I say
again, if it will help a man to burn for his judgment, and to look for an inheritance
in another world; yea, if it will help a man to prepare for it, claim interest in
it; and if it can carry great works, many great and glorious works, as far as heaven
gates, then no marvel if abundance of people take this faith for the saving faith,
and so fall short of heaven thereby. Alas, friends! There are but few that can produce
such [works] for repentance; and such faith, as yet you see I have proved even reprobates
have had in several ages of the church. 
Third. They that go to heaven are a praying people; but a man may pray that shall
not be saved. Pray! He may pray, pray daily; yea, he may ask of God the ordinances
of justice, and may take delight in approaching to God; nay, further, such souls
may, as it were, cover the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping and crying
out. (Isa 28:2, Mal 2:13)
Fourth. Do God's people keep holy fasts? They that are not his people may keep fasts
also—may keep fasts often—even twice a week. "The Pharisee stood, and prayed
thus with himself: God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are, extortioners,
unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes
of all that I possess." (Luke 18:11,12) I might enlarge upon things, but I intend
but a little book. I do not question but many Balaamites will appear before the judgment-seat
to condemnation; men that have had visions of God, and that knew the knowledge of
the Most High; men that have had the Spirit of God come upon them, and that have
by that been made other men; yet these shall go to the generations of their fathers,
they shall never see light. (Num 24:2,4,16, 1 Sam 10:6,10, Psa 49:19)
I read of some men whose excellency in religion mounts up to the heavens, and their
heads reach unto the clouds, who yet shall perish for ever like their own dung; and
he that in this world hath seen them, shall say at the judgment, Where are they?
(Job 20:5-7) There will be many a one, that were gallant professors in this world,
be wanting among the saved in the day of Christ's coming; yea, many whose damnation
was never dreamed of. Which of the twelve ever thought that Judas would have proved
a devil? Nay, when Christ suggested that one among them was naught, they each were
more afraid of themselves than of him. (Matt 26:21-23) Who questioned the salvation
of the foolish virgins? The wise ones did not; they gave them the privilege of communion
with themselves. (Matt 25) The discerning of the heart, and the infallible proof
of the truth of saving grace, is reserved to the judgment of Jesus Christ at his
coming. The church and best of saints sometimes hit, and sometimes miss in their
judgments about this matter; and the cause of our missing in our judgment is, 1.
Partly because we cannot infallibly, at all times, distinguish grace that saveth
from that which doth but appear to do so. 2. Partly also because some men have the
art to give right names to wrong things. 3. And partly because we, being commanded
to receive him that is weak, are afraid to exclude the least Christian. By a hid
means hypocrites creep into the churches. But what saith the Scripture? "I the
Lord search the heart, I try the reins." And again, "All the churches shall
know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts; and I will give unto every
one of you according to your works." (Jer 11:20, 17:10, Rev 2:23) To this Searcher
of hearts is the time of infallible discerning reserved, and then you shall see how
far grace that is not saving hath gone; and also how few will be saved indeed. The
Lord awaken poor sinners by my little book.
[USE AND APPLICATION OF THE WHOLE.]
I come now to make some brief use and application of the whole: and
[USE FIRST.]—My first word shall be to the open profane. Poor sinner, thou readest
here that but a few will be saved; that many that expect heaven will go without heaven.
What sayest thou to this, poor sinner? Let me say it over again. There are but few
to be saved, but very few. Let me add, but few professors— but few eminent professors.
What sayest thou now, sinner? If judgment begins at the house of God, what will the
end of them be that obey not the gospel of God? This is Peter's question. Canst thou
answer it, sinner? Yea, I say again, if judgment must begin at them, will it not
make thee think, What shall become of me? And I add, when thou shalt see the stars
of heaven to tumble down to hell, canst thou think that such a muck-heap of sin as
thou art shall be lifted up to heaven? Peter asks thee another question, to wit,
"If the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner
appear?" (1 Peter 4:18) Canst thou answer this question, sinner? Stand among
the righteous thou mayest not: "The ungodly shall not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous." (Psa 1:5) Stand among the
wicked thou then wilt not dare to do. Where wilt thou appear, sinner? To stand among
the hypocrites will avail thee nothing. The hypocrite "shall not come before
him," that is, with acceptance, but shall perish. (Job 13:16) Because it concerns
thee much, let me over with it again! When thou shalt see less sinners than thou
art, bound up by angels in bundles, to burn them, where wilt thou appear, sinner?
Thou mayest wish thyself another man, but that will not help thee, sinner. Thou mayest
wish, Would I had been converted in time; but that will not help thee either. And
if, like the wife of Jeroboam, thou shouldst feign thyself to be another woman, the
Prophet, the Lord Jesus, would soon find thee out! What wilt thou do, poor sinner?
Heavy tidings, heavy tidings, will attend thee, except thou repent, poor sinner!
(1 Kings 14:2,5,6, Luke 13:3,5) O the dreadful state of a poor sinner, of an open
profane sinner! Everybody that hath but common sense knows that this man is in the
broad way to death, yet he laughs at his own damnation.
Shall I come to particulars with thee?
1. Poor unclean sinner, the "harlot's house is the way to hell, going down to
the chambers of death." (Prov 2:18, 5:5, 7:27)
2. Poor swearing and thievish sinner, God hath prepared the curse, that "every
one that stealeth shall be cut off as on this side according to it; and every one
that sweareth shall be cut off as on that side, according to it." (Zech 5:3)
3. Poor drunken sinner, what shall I say to thee? "Woe to the drunkards of Ephraim,"
"woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of - strong drink; they
shall not inherit the kingdom of heaven." (Isa 28:1, 5:22, 1 Cor 6:9,10)
4. Poor covetous worldly man, God's Word says, that "the covetous the Lord abhorreth";
that the "covetous man is an idolater"; and that the covetous "shall
not inherit the kingdom of God." (Psa 10:3, Eph 5:5, John 2:15, 1 Cor 6:9,10)
5. And thou liar, what wilt thou do? "All liars shall have their part in the
lake which burneth with fire and brimstone." (Rev 21:8,27)
I shall not enlarge, poor sinner, let no man deceive thee; "for because of these
things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience." (Eph 5:6)
I will therefore give thee a short call, and so leave thee.
Sinner, awake: yea, I say unto thee, awake! Sin lieth at thy door, and God's axe
lieth at thy root, and hell-fire is right underneath thee. (Gen 4:7) I say again,
Awake! "Therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down,
and cast into the fire." (Matt 3:10)
Poor sinner, awake; eternity is coming, and HIS SON, they are both coming to judge
the world; awake, art yet asleep, poor sinner? let me set the trumpet to thine ear
once again! The heavens will be shortly on a burning flame; the earth, and the works
thereof, shall be burned up, and then wicked men shall go into perdition; dost thou
hear this, sinner? (2 Peter 3) Hark again, the sweet morsels of sin will then be
fled and gone, and the bitter burning fruits of them only left. What sayest thou
now, sinner? Canst thou drink hell-fire? Will the wrath of God be a pleasant dish
to thy taste? This must be thine every day's meat and drink in hell, sinner!
I will yet propound to thee God's ponderous question, and then for this time leave
thee: "Can thine heart endure, or can thine hands be strong, in the days that
I shall deal with thee?" saith the Lord. (Eze 22:14) What sayest thou? Wilt
thou answer this question now, or wilt thou take time to do it? or wilt thou be desperate,
and venture all? And let me put this text in thine ear to keep it open; and so the
Lord have mercy upon thee: "Upon the wicked shall the Lord rain snares, fire
and brimstone, and an horrible tempest; this shall be the portion of their cup."
(Psa 11:6) Repent, sinners!
[USE SECOND.]—My second word is to them that are upon the potter's wheel; concerning
whom we know not as yet whether their convictions and awakenings will end in conversion
or not. Several things I shall say to you, both to further your convictions, and
to caution you from staying anywhere below or short of saving grace.
1. Remember that but few shall be saved; and if God should count thee worthy to be
one of that few, what a mercy would that be!
2. Be thankful, therefore, for convictions; conversion begins at conviction, though
all conviction doth not end in conversion. It is a great mercy to be convinced that
we are sinners, and that we need a Saviour; count it therefore a mercy, and that
thy convictions may end in conversion, do thou take heed of stifling of them. It
is the way of poor sinners to look upon convictions as things that are hurtful; and
therefore they use to shun the awakening ministry, and to check a convincing conscience.
Such poor sinners are much like to the wanton boy that stands at the maid's elbow,
to blow out her candle as fast as she lights it at the fire. Convinced sinner, God
lighteth thy candle, and thou puttest it out; God lights it again, and thou puttest
it out. Yea, "how oft is the candle of the wicked put out?" (Job 21:17)
At last, God resolveth he will light thy candle no more; and then, like the Egyptians,
you dwell all your days in darkness, and never see light more, but by the light of
hell-fire; wherefore give glory to God, and if he awakens thy conscience, quench
not thy convictions. Do it, saith the prophet, "before he cause darkness, and
before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains, and he turn" your convictions
"into the shadow of death, and make them gross darkness." (Jer 13:16)
(1.) Be willing to see the worst of thy condition. It is better to see it here than
in hell; for thou must see thy misery here or there. (2.) Beware of little sins;
they will make way for great ones, and they again will make way for bigger, upon
which God's wrath will follow; and then may thy latter end be worse than thy beginning.
(2 Peter 2:20) (3.) Take heed of bad company, and evil communication, for that will
corrupt good manners. God saith, evil company will turn thee away from following
him, and will tempt thee to serve other gods, devils. "So the anger of the Lord
will be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly." (Deu 7:4) (4.) Beware
of such a thought as bids thee delay repentance, for that is damnable. (Prov 1:24,
Zech 7:12,13) (5.) Beware of taking example by some poor, carnal professor, whose
religion lies in the tip of his tongue. Beware, I say, of the man whose head swims
with notions, but "his life is among the unclean." (Job 36:14) "He
that walketh with wise men shall be wise; but a companion of fools shall be destroyed."
(Prov 13:20) (6.) Give thyself much to the Word, and prayer, and good conference.
(7.) Labour to see the sin that cleaveth to the best of thy performances, and know
that all is nothing if thou be not found in Jesus Christ. (8.) Keep in remembrance
that God's eye is upon thy heart, and upon all thy ways. "Can any hide himself
in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and
earth? saith the Lord." (Jer 23:24) (9.) Be often meditating upon death and
judgment. (Eccl 11:9, 12:14) (10.) Be often thinking what a dreadful end sinners
that have neglected Christ will make at that day of death and judgment. (Heb 10:31)
(11.) Put thyself often, in thy thoughts, before Christ's judgment-seat, in thy sins,
and consider with thyself, Were I now before my Judge, how should I look, how should
I shake and tremble? (12.) Be often thinking of them that are now in hell, past all
mercy; I say, be often thinking of them, thus: They were once in the world, as I
now am; they once took delight in sin, as I have done; they once neglected repentance,
as Satan would have me do. But now they are gone; now they are in hell, now the pit
hath shut her mouth upon them!
Thou mayest also doubt thy thoughts of the damned thus: If these poor creatures
were in the world again, would they sin as they did before? would they neglect salvation
as they did before? If they had sermons, as I have; if they had the Bible, as I have;
if they had good company, as I have; yea, if they had a day of grace, as I have,
would they neglect it as they did before?
Sinner, couldst thou soberly think of these things, they might help, God blessing
them, to awaken thee, and to keep thee awake to repentance, to the repentance that
is to salvation, never to be repented of.
Object. But you have said few shall be saved; and some that go a great way, yet are
not saved. At this, therefore, I am even discouraged and weakened; I think I had
as good go no further. I am, indeed, under conviction, but I may perish; and if I
go on in my sins, I can but perish; and it is ten, twenty, and an hundred to one
if I be saved, should I be ever so earnest for heaven.
Answ. That few will be saved must needs be a truth, for Christ hath said it; that
many go far, and come short of heaven, is as true, being testified by the same hand.
But what then? "Why, then had I as good never seek." Who told thee so?
Must nobody seek because few are saved? This is just contrary to the text, that bids
us therefore strive; strive to enter in, because the gate is strait, and because
many will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. But why go back again, seeing
that is the next way to hell? Never go over hedge and ditch to hell. If I must needs
go thither, I will go the furthest way about. But who can tell, though there should
not be saved so many as there shall, but thou mayest be one of that few? They that
miss of life perish, because they will not let go their sins, or because they take
up a profession short of the saving faith of the gospel. They perish, I say, because
they are content with such things as will not prove graces of a saving nature when
they come to be tried in the fire. Otherwise, the promise is free, and full, and
everlasting—"Him that cometh to me," saith Christ, "I will in no wise
cast out"; "for God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten
Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
(John 6:37, 3:16) Wherefore let not this thought, Few shall be saved, weaken thy
heart; but let it cause thee to mend thy pace, to mend thy cries, to look well to
thy grounds for heaven; let it make thee fly faster from sin to Christ; let it keep
thee awake, and out of carnal security, and thou mayest be saved.
[USE THIRD.]—My third word is to professors. Sirs, give me leave to set my trumpet
to your ears again a little. When every man hath put in all the claim they can for
heaven, but few will have it for their inheritance; I mean but few professors, for
so the text intendeth, and so I have also proved. "For many, I say unto you,
will seek to enter in, and shall not be able." Let me, therefore, a little expostulate
the matter with you, O ye thousands of professors!
1. I begin with you whose religion lieth only in your tongues; I mean you who are
little or nothing known from the rest of the rabble of the world, only you can talk
better than they. Hear me a word or two. If "I speak with the tongues of men
and of angels, and have not charity," that is, love to God, and Christ, and
saints, and holiness, "I am nothing"; no child of God, and so have nothing
to do with heaven. (1 Cor 13:1,2) A prating tongue will not unlock the gates of haven,
nor blind the eyes of the Judge. Look to it. "The wise in heart will receive
commandments; but a prating fool shall fall."  (Prov 10:8)
2. Covetous professor, thou that makest a gain of religion, that usest thy profession
to bring grist to thy mill, look to it also. Gain is not godliness. Judas' religion
lay much in the bag, but his soul is now burning in hell. All covetousness is idolatry;
but what is that, or what will you call it, when men are religious for filthy lucre's
sake? (Eze 33:31)
3. Wanton professors, I have a word for you; I mean you that can tell how to misplead
Scripture, to maintain your pride, your banqueting, and abominable idolatry. Read
what Peter says. You are the snare and damnation of others. You "allure through
the lust of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from
them who live in error." (2 Peter 2:18) Besides, the Holy Ghost hath a great
deal against you, for your feastings, and eating without fear, not for health, but
gluttony. (Jude 12) Further, Peter says, that you that count it pleasure to riot
in the day-time are spots and blemishes, sporting yourselves with your own deceivings.
(2 Peter 2:13) And let me ask, Did God give his Word to justify your wickedness?
or doth grace teach you to plead for the flesh, or the making provision for the lusts
thereof? Of these also are they that feed their bodies to strengthen their lusts,
under pretence of strengthening frail nature. But pray, remember the text, "Many,
I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able."
4. I come next to the opinionist; I mean, to him whose religion lieth in some circumstantials
of religion. With this sort this kingdom swarms at this day. These think all out
of the way that are not of their mode, when themselves may be out of the way in the
midst of their zeal for their opinions. Pray, do you also observe the text; "Many,
I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able."
5. Neither is the formalist exempted from this number. He is a man that hath lost
all but the shell of religion. He is hot, indeed, for his form; and no marvel, for
that is his all to contend for. But his form being without the power and spirit of
godliness, it will leave him in his sins; nay, he standeth now in them in the sight
of God, and is one of the many that "will seek to enter in, and shall not be
able." (2 Tim 3:5)
6. The legalist comes next, even him that hath no life but what he makes out of his
duties. This man hath chosen to stand or fall by Moses, who is the condemner of the
world. "There is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust."
7. There is, in the next place, the libertine—he that pretendeth to be against forms
and duties, as things that gender to bondage, neglecting the order of God. This man
pretends to pray always, but, under that pretence, prays not at all; he pretends
to keep every day a Sabbath, but this pretence serves him only to cast off all set
times for the worship of God. This is also one of the many that "will seek to
enter in, and shall not be able." (Titus 1:16)
8. There is the temporizing latitudinarian. He is a man that hath no God but his
belly, nor any religion but that by which his belly is worshipped. His religion is
always, like the times, turning this way and that way, like the cock on the steeple;
neither hath he any conscience but a benumbed and seared one, and is next door to
a downright atheist; and also is one of the many that "will seek to enter in,
and shall not be able."
9. There is also the willfully ignorant professor, or him that is afraid to know
more, for fear of the cross. He is for picking and choosing of truth, and loveth
not to hazard his all for that worthy name by which he would be called. When he is
at any time overset by arguments, or awakenings of conscience, he uses to heal all
by—I was not brought up in this faith; as if it were unlawful for Christians to know
more than hath been taught them at first conversion. There are many Scriptures that
lie against his man, as the mouths of great guns, and he is one of the many that
"will seek to enter in, and shall not be able."
10. We will add to all these, the professor that would prove himself a Christian,
by comparing himself with others, instead of comparing himself with the Word of God.
This man comforts himself, because he is as holy as such and such; he also knows
as such as that old professor, and then concludes he shall go to heaven: as if he
certainly knew, that those with whom he compareth himself would be undoubtedly saved;
but how if he should be mistaken? nay, may they not both fall short? But to be sure
he is in the wrong that hath made the comparison; and a wrong foundation will not
stand in the day of judgment. (2 Cor 10:12) This man, therefore, is one of the many
that "will seek to enter in, and shall not be able."
11. There is yet another professor; and he is for God and for Baal too; he can be
anything for any company; he can throw stones with both hands; his religion alters
as fast as his company; he is a frog of Egypt, and can live in the water and out
of the water; he can live in religious company, and again as well out. Nothing that
is disorderly comes amiss to him; he will hold with the hare, and run with the hound;
he carries fire in the one hand, and water in the other; he is a very anything but
what he should be. This is also one of the many that "will seek to enter in,
and shall not be able." 
12. There is also that free-willer, who denies to the Holy Ghost the sole work in
conversion; and that Socinian, who denieth to Christ that he hath made to God satisfaction
for sin; and that Quaker, who takes from Christ the two natures in his person: and
I might add as many more, touching whose damnation, they dying as they are, the Scripture
is plain: these "will seek to enter in, and shall not be able." But,
[USE FOURTH.]—If it be so, what a strange disappointment will many professors meet
with at the day of judgment! I speak not now to the open profane; everybody, as I
have said, that hath but common understanding between good and evil, knows that they
are in the broad way to hell and damnation, and they must needs come thither; nothing
can hinder it but repentance unto salvation, except God should prove a liar to save
them, and it is hard venturing of that.
Neither is it amiss, if we take notice of the examples that are briefly mentioned
in the Scriptures, concerning professors that have miscarried. 1. Judas perished
from among the apostles. (Acts 1) 2. Demas, as I think, perished from among the evangelists.
(2 Tim 4:10) 3. Diotrephes from among the ministers, or them in office in the church.
(3 John 9) 4. And s for Christian professors, they have fallen by heaps, and almost
by whole churches. (2 Tim 1:15, Rev 3:4,15-17) 5. Let us add to these, that the things
mentioned in the Scriptures about these matters, are but brief hints and items of
what is afterwards to happen; as the apostle said, "Some men's sins are open
beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after." (1 Tim
So that, fellow-professors, let us fear, lest a promise being left us of entering
into this rest, any of us should seem to come short of it. O! to come short! nothing
kills like it, nothing will burn like it. I intend not discouragements, but awakenings;
the churches have need of awakening, and so have all professors. Do not despise me,
therefore, but hear me over again. What a strange disappointment will many professors
meet with at the day of God Almighty!—a disappointment, I say, and that as to several
(1.) They will look to escape hell, and yet fall just into the mouth of hell: what
a disappointment will be here! (2.) They will look for heaven, but the gate of heaven
will be shut against them: what a disappointment is here! (3.) They will expect that
Christ should have compassion for them, but will find that he hath shut up all bowels
of compassion form them: what a disappointment is here! Again,
[USE FIFTH.]—As this disappointment will be fearful, so certainly it will be very
full of amazement.
1. Will it not amaze them to be unexpectedly excluded from life and salvation? 2.
Will it not be amazing to them to see their own madness and folly, while they consider
how they have dallied with their own souls, and took lightly for granted that they
had that grace that would save them, but hath left them in a damnable state? 3. Will
they not also be amazed one at another, while they remember how in their lifetime
they counted themselves fellow-heirs of life? To allude to that of the prophet, "They
shall be amazed one at another, their faces shall be as flames." (Isa 13:8)
4. Will it not be amazing to some of the damned themselves, to see some come to hell
that then they shall see come thither? to see preachers of the Word, professors of
the Word, practisers in the Word, to come thither. What wondering was there among
them at the fall of the king of Babylon, since he thought to have swallowed up all,
because he was run down by the Medes and Persians! "How art thou fallen from
heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground which
didst weaken the nations!" If such a thing as this will with amazement surprise
the damned, what an amazement will it be to them to see such a one as he whose head
reached to the clouds, to see him come down to the pit, and perish for ever like
his own dung. "Hell from beneath is moved for thee, to meet thee at thy coming;
it stirreth up the dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth." (Isa
14) They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying,
Is this the man? Is this he that professed, and disputed, and forsook us; but now
he is come to us again? Is this he that separated from us, but now he is fallen with
us into the same eternal damnation with us?
[USE SIXTH.]—Yet again, one word more, if I may awaken professors. Consider, though
the poor carnal world shall certainly perish, yet they will want these things to
aggravate their sorrow, which thou wilt meet with in every thought that thou wilt
have of the condition thou wast in when thou wast in the world.
1. They will not have a profession, to bite them when they come thither. 2. They
will not have a taste of a lost heaven, to bite them when they come thither. 3. They
will not have the thoughts of, "I was almost at heaven," to bite them when
they come thither. 4. They will not have the thoughts of, how they cheated saints,
ministers, churches, to bite them when they come thither. 5. They will not have the
dying thoughts of false faith, false hope, false repentance, and false holiness,
to bite them when they come thither. I was at the gates of heaven, I looked into
heaven, I thought I should have entered into heaven; O how will these things sting!
They will, if I may call them so, be the sting of the sting of death in hell-fire.
[USE SEVENTH.]—Give me leave now in a word to give you a little advice.
1. Dost thou love thine own soul? then pray to Jesus Christ for an awakened heart,
for a heart so awakened with all the things of another world, that thou mayest be
allured to Jesus Christ. 2. When thou comest there, beg again for more awakenings
about sin, hell, grace, and about the righteousness of Christ. 3. Cry also for a
spirit of discerning, that thou mayest know that which is saving grace indeed. 4.
Above all studies apply thyself to the study of those things that show thee the evil
of sin, the shortness of man's life, and which is the way to be saved. 5. Keep company
with the most godly among professors. 6. When thou hearest what the nature of true
grace is, defer not to ask thine own heart if this grace be there. And here take
(1.) That the preacher himself be sound, and of good life. (2.) That thou takest
not seeming graces for real ones, nor seeming fruits for real fruits. (3.) Take heed
that a sin in thy life goes not unrepented of; for that will make a flaw in thine
evidence, a wound in thy conscience, and a breach in thy peace; and a hundred to
one, if at last it doth not drive all the grace in thee into so dark a corner of
thy heart, that thou shalt not be able, for a time, by all the torches that are burning
in the gospel, to find it out to thine own comfort and consolation. 
 However homely this illustration, yet how striking. No family has been many years
without that uneasy anxiety—earnest seeking the doctor to alleviate their sufferings,
or those of a beloved relative, and then the trembling hope that "his excellent
things" may produce the desired effect. Reader, have you had, at any time, equal
anxiety for your soul's health and salvation? What has been the result?—Ed.
 How delightfully but solemnly is this illustrated in the "Pilgrim's Progress."
The wicket-gate, at the head of the way, at which the poor burdened sinner must knock
and obtain an entrance by Christ the door. It may be like Mercy, with a trembling
but sure hope. And then the glorious entrance into the Celestial City itself, after
crossing the river which has no bridge. This was opened to Christian, but shut against
Ignorance and against Turnaway of the Town of Apostasy.— Ed.
 Much confusion appears to exist in the minds of many in reference to the "strait
gate" mentioned in the text, as this passage is frequently introduced into exhortations
to the unconverted. It is addressed exclusively to professors of religion—to those
who profess to have set out for the Celestial City, and seems to say, Beware of the
form of godliness without its power—of the profession without the possession! For,
as old Mason truly said, "They fall deepest into hell that fall backward."
The "striving" here alluded to refers to the whole course of the believers'
life, with its end in view—"We labour to be accepted of him" "Give
diligence," by adding to faith virtue, &c., "to make your calling and
election sure; for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the
everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." (2 Peter 1:5-11)
 How well does our unlettered author give the meaning of strive, agonize.—Ed.
 Reader, while we bless God for being mercifully relieved from those bodily privations
and sufferings through which our pilgrim fathers passed, forget not that Satan plies
all his arts to allure our souls from the narrow path. If we are saved from tedious
imprisonments in damp dungeons—if Antichrist has lost much of his power, the flatterer
is ever at hand to entangle us in his net—the atheist is ever ready, by his derision
and scorn, to drive us back to the City of Destruction.—Ed.
 In the edition printed 1692, "an holiday saint" is used. Saints' days
were holidays upon which the gayest dress was put on; but the outward affectation
of religion in pious company is better expressed by "holiday suit," and
I have followed all the modern editors in concluding that the word "saint"
is a typographical error.—Ed.
 See the character of By-ends and his companions in the "Pilgrim's Progress."
 O how few professors feel that the judgment of man is as nothing in comparison
with that of a heart-searching God. Thousands would tremble at the thought of outwardly
committing these great crimes, but who inwardly, in spirit, are daily guilty of them
before God. He who is kept by Divine power from spiritual sins, is alone safe from
the commission of carnal sins.—Ed.
 It is an awful fact that in every age of the church these "blundering raw-headed
preachers" have abounded. It is a singular appellation to make use of to those
who strut in black, and vainly pride themselves upon being descended from the apostles.
Alas! how many are those whose hearts and heads are raw indeed as to any influences
of vital religion, and whose whole ministry is calculated to mislead the souls of
their fellow-sinners as to their eternal hopes. Reader, how solemn is our duty to
examine what we hear by the unerring Word—to try all things, and hold fast that only
which is good.—Ed.
 More particularly in the "Jerusalem Sinner Saved"—"He that would
be saved by Jesus Christ, through faith in his blood, cannot be counted for such,"
&c. The sin against the Holy Ghost is an abandonment of Christianity—"to
crucify the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame." (Heb 6:6) Poor
trembler, wouldst thou crucify the Son of God afresh? If thy conscience says, Never!
never! thou hast not committed this unpardonable sin.—Ed.
 The wedding garments being provided by the host, this man must have refused
it, and insults his King by sitting among the guests in his ordinary apparel. O reader,
before you take a seat at the Lord's table, take prayerful care to be clothed with
the robe of righteousness, otherwise you will eat to your utter condemnation and
may, after all, be cast into outer darkness.— Ed.
 May these searching words make an indelible impression upon the heart of every
reader. How striking, and alas! how true, is this delineation of character. Religious
when in company with professors—profane when with the world; pretending to be a Christian
on a Sunday; striving to climb with Christian the Hill Difficulty—every other day
running down the hill with Timorous and Mistrust. Such may get to the bottom of the
hill, and hide themselves in the world; but they can never lie concealed from God's
anger, either in this world, or in the bottomless pit, whither they are hurrying
"Sinner, O why so thoughtless grown?
Why in such dreadful hast to die?"—Ed.
 "Tend it," or attend to it. What madness does sin engender and foster!
The trifles of time entirely occupy the attention, while the momentous affairs of
eternity are put off to a more convenient opportunity.—Ed.
 Lowth's translation of this passage in Isaiah 6:13 not only confirms Bunyan,
but exhibits his view in a more prominent light:—"And though there be a tenth
part remaining in it, even this shall undergo a repeated destruction; yet as the
ilex and the oak, though cut down, hath its stock remaining, a holy seed shall be
the stock of the nation."—Ed.
 How solemn the thought—there is but little wheat in comparison with all the
grass and vegetable produce of the earth; and in the harvest how much chaff and straw,
which grew with the wheat, will be cast out! Well may it be said, Look to it, professors.—Ed.
 The word "faith" was changed in 1737 for "repentance," which
has been continued in subsequent editions; "faith" is right. Awakenings
and repentance are classed together under the first head, and faith under the second.—Ed.
 Many readers will cry out, Who then can be saved? Without charity, or the love
of Christ in the heart, all faith and works are but dross. Love is the touchstone
of faith and works—not to glorify ourselves, but him who has bought us with his own
most precious blood. Carry the solemn inquiry to the throne of grace, Have I passed
from death unto life? for whosoever thus liveth believeth in Christ, and amidst the
fatal wreck of professors, he shall never die.—Ed.
 "To doubt"; to suspect, make a question of, reconsider.—Ed.
 When Talkative asked Faithful what difference there is between crying out against
and abhorring sin, he answered, "O! a great deal; a man may cry out against
sin of policy, but he cannot abhor it but by virtue of a godly antipathy against
it. I have heard many cry out against sin in the pulpit, who yet can abide it well
enough in the heart, house, and conversation."— Pilgrim's Progress.
 Similar to By-ends who never strove for heaven against wind or weather; was
most zealous when religion walked in his silver slippers, and walked with him in
the streets, while the sun shone, and people applauded him.—Pilgrim's Progress.
 The striving inculcated in this treatise reminds us of Hopkins' bold appeal
to conscience. He says, "There must be a holy roughness and violence, to break
through all that stands in our way; neither caring for allurements, nor fearing opposition,
but by a pious obstinacy and frowardness, we must thrust away the one and bear down
the other. This is the Christian who will carry heaven by force, when the whining
pusillanimous professor, who only complains of difficulty, but never attempts to
conquer it, will be for ever shut out!"—Ed.
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