« PredošláPokračovať »
DEVOTED, PRINCIPALLY, TO DOCTRINE, MORALITY, AND RELIGIOUS
By SAMUEL C. LOVELAND.
In my Father's house are many mansions.JESUS.
SERMON, NO. 111. Matt. vii. 13, 14.-Enter ye in at the strait gate : for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth, to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat : because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
IN St. Luke's gospel, we are told the question was asked our Lord, “Are there few that be saved ?" His reply was, "Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and sball not be able." This answer was direct to the point proposed, for evident reasons. Ope is, the question was put in the present tense. A direct answer, therefore, must describe the then present state of mankind. In giving a second reason, it is probable the question implied, as many such questions now do, a preservation in a sinful state. It could not then be expectod, our Lord
No, 4. Vol. I.
would answer it, by naming what shall be accomplished, in the dispensation of the fulness of limes.
Life and destruction, in the language of our text, are opposite terms. The law of God is the fountain of life, prescribing to man, in the golden rule of the Savior, his proper line of conduct. Jesus is the life and light of the world. His words impart life to every believer. But how is this principle described, by a strait gate and a Darrow way ? Does the principle of life introduce to a straitened and narrow situation ? Not generally so understood. But we may consider the gate and way of life strait and narrow, in the following respects :
1. However various the terms may be, which de. scribe the principle of life, it always comprises unity of idea, and unity of nature. He that enters into life, must, therefore, enter at one place, and travel but one course. Whoever deviates, will soon find, that he is stumbling upon the ridges, or miring in the clay of the broad road to destruction.
2. The straitness of the gate is in consideration of the unskilfulness of the sinner to find it. A subject may be perfectly easy to one, that is strait and difficult to another. Hence Jesus' yoke is easy and bis burden is light, to the weary and heavy laden, to the meek and honest ; but it ever galls the neck of the hypocrite. From this we learn the great need, we have of a Savior to place us at the gate, and shew us the path of life.
The wide gate and the broad way are so called undoubtedly, because they are found in every course except the right. In these courses there is nothing of the unity which is known in the way of life. Destruction and misery are likewise in the broad way, that leads to destruction : destruction is in the travel, and destruction, in the end.
The words few and many refer to two classes of the buman family ; botb of which, it will not be disputed, comprehend the whole. The many must embrace a farge number, in comparison with the few. It follows, then, a lamentable truth, that most of the human family travel the broad road that leads to destruction.
The ancient question, we now introduce, “Who then can be saved ?" If it can be none of the many that go to destruction, there is but little room for hope. But Christ came to seek and to save that which was lost. Lost and destroyed are words of similar import ; and those passages of scripture which testify Christcame to save the lost,show, at least.the possibility of salvation to them who are destroyed or lost. God, by the prophet Isaiah, speaking of Christ, says, “By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.” Comparing this with our test, unless we adopt the more rational idea, that men may be saved from destruction, we must either account that few means many, or that many will be justified in a state of destruction! St. Paul writes, “But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead; much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Je. sus Christ, hath abounded unto many." In this passage we find, through the offence of one many he dead which is something like many in the broad road to destruction; yet this prevents not the abounding of the grace of God, much more unto many. “For," says the apostle, "as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners ; so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” To be made righteous is something more than barely being called righteous, or having the righteousness which another possesses imputed. This comparison of many made sinners with many made righteous, is stated to be all in another passage. “Therefore as by the offence of one, judgement came upon all men to condemnation ; even so by the rivhteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men to justification of life."
By this it is made plain that our Savior did not mean by destruction, annihilation of existence, por interminable misery. Nor have we reason to believe, that it exclusively belongs to a future state. It includes the moral depravity of man, and the sufferings naturally consequent on iniquity. By the prophet Hosea,* God says, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge." This can have no reference to natural existence. Again, † "O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help. I will be tby King : where is any other that may save thee in all thy cities ?” Here is anotber destruction spoken of, but not of such a kind but what there is belp and salvation in the Lord, the King of Israel.
We may here remark that although we see many go the broad road to destruction, in this life, we do pot yet see the many made righteous through Christ. But the many, according to scripture, are to be made righteous by Christ. The inference is, some will be made righteous in another state. A second inference is, if some be made righteous in another state, destrue tion accompanies them to that state. This affords an argument in favor of future misery and punishment.
INTERPRETATION OF PARABLES.
The last state worse than the first. Matt. xii. 43, 44, 45.
“When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh
through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith. I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come," &c.
Various and confused as have been the opinions of sincere christians in relation to the above parable ; yet a careful perusal of the following explanation, may
* xiii. 9, 10.
prove highly beneficial to every candid reader. This illustration of the subject is not considered free from all objections ; but we presume none can be fairly raised and stated, but what may be as easily answered. and removed. The points to be illustrated are,
1. The man having an unclean spirit.
The reader's care and attention are solicited, as P propose the greatest brevity
1. The man having an unclean spirit, represents the generation to whom Jesus spake.
When the Seribes and Pharisees said they would see a sign from Jesus demonstrating his sonship he replied, “An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign," which unquestionably referred to the generation then present He declared them more barden. ed in wickedness, than the men of Nineveh, Tyre, Sidon, Sodom, or Gomorrah. This parable will uot apply to mankind in general, only by analogy : as far az olhers are comparable with that wicked and adulterous generation they must expect similar treatment in. their day of judgement.
11. The uncleap spirit is designed to represent that disposition of mind by which the opposers of our Lord were actuated. Expositors who have inadvertently blended the man and the unclean spirit in their explanations; bave darkened their subject, and bewildered the understanding of their readers. It cannot be an objection to this explanation, that the spirits are re. presented as walking, seeking rest. saying, I will return, &c. since this representation of them is found in all the Evangelists. Examine the account of the men or man amoog the tombs, (Matt. viii. 28, and Mark v. 7,) and you will learn tbat evil demons are said to speak, when those possessed of them spake by their influence. Other representations implying intelligent