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it well becomes us to abstain from any expression of certainty, though we may, and though we ought even to entertain the greatest fear and alarm in regard to the fate which awaits them. The question, therefore, “are there few that be saved ?” which most assuredly means what will become of those countless numbers of human beings who fail to comply with the terms of the Christian covenant, is a question which need never enter into the mind of the disciple of Christ, and for this reason, because it is a question which his Divine Master will not deign to answer, though he will nevertheless urge him to endeavour by every means which God has placed at his disposal, to obtain that happiness which is most assuredly in store for those who love and obey him. And such an exhortation as is here implied do we find contained in the second verse of our text, to which I would now more particularly call

your attention. Our Lord here says, “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many will seek to enter therein, and shall not be able.” Now, it may here, perhaps, be supposed that the latter portion of this verse was given in answer to the question contained in the preceding one. As though in allusion to the question, “ are there few that be saved ?” our Lord had replied

“ there are many who shall not be saved.” By regarding, however, the small monosyllable which connects the former and the latter portion of this verse, we shall find that this latter portion was alone connected with the former por

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tion, and had no direct reference to the question proposed in the preceding verse. The word “for, if not more correctly, would have been more intelligibly translated “ because," and then the reply of our Lord would have run thus: “Strive to enter in at the strait gate, because many will seek to enter therein, and shall not be able.”

Before we proceed further, brethren, permit me to call your attention to another word which is here used in a sense different from what is now usual, but which it is of course necessary that we should correctly understand; "Strait" is the term to which, as you doubtless perceive, I am now alluding, and signifies, not according to its ordinary present acceptation any thing possessing a form or shape, opposed to a form or shape which is crooked, but it signifies that which, as opposed to the term wide, we are accustomed to call narrow. This is the meaning of the word before us as it is here used. The translation of our Saviour's answer in the text may, therefore, likewise undergo this further alteration, according to which it would be as follows: "Strive to enter in at the narrow gate, because many will seek to enter therein, and shall not be able.”

If, then, the latter division of the preceding words apply not to the question.I mean, do not imply a direct answer to the question contained in the first verse of our text, to what, as you probably ask, do they more immediately and more directly refer? Undoubtedly they refer to the first portion of this second verse by which they are immediately

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preceded, and the explanation of which, as contained in them, is to the effect, that the mere wish to arrive at the kingdom of heaven will not produce the desired effect; but that courage, and constancy, and determination, are the grand essentials by means of which this place of refuge, this haven of happiness and rest is to be attained !

The gate which our Saviour here speaks of as strait or narrow, is evidently the gate of the kingdom of heaven; and, as a learned commentator on the passage has asserted, the expression was a figurative one, borrowed from the Jewish practice of having a narrow entrance on occasions of marriage festivities, that the multitude who were not invited, and who might probably be pressing inwards, might be the more easily excluded. Such a probability is the more reasonable, in consequence of the fact of our Saviour having on certain occasions adopted a marriage feast as an emblem of the sacred institution of the Lord's Supper, itself no insignificant type or emblem of the kingdom of Heaven. And into such a gate is it, brethren, that we are exhorted by our Lord to strive to enter, in consideration of the difficulty of obtaining admission. And here I would again remind you, that the mere wish to obtain admission must of necessity fail in effecting its object. Many, who, according to the customs of the Jews, used to assemble in the night season, at which time matrimonial rejoicings for the most part took place, undoubtedly did so with the vain hope that, though unqualified and


consequently uninvited, they might perchance be admitted from the "outer darkness” into the brilliancy and splendour which reigned within ; for it is to be remembered that occasions of this description were of a far more public nature in the warm country of Judea, where the necessity of artificial warmth and comfort was comparatively trifling, than they are in this country, where the limited dimensions of even a large house are insufficient to contain a very large number of persons. Many, I say, might have endeavoured—might have sought to obtain admission on such occasions ; but it is likewise clear that many were prevented in so doing by the straitness of the entrance. The cause of the failure of these persons we may reasonably attribute to the fact of their having endeavoured to obtain admission by means different from those which were the only lawful and regular means of doing so. They sought to enter in by some method peculiar to themselves ; they endeavoured to discover a method different from the only one which was clearly and indisputably available—that of obtaining an invitation from the bridegroom, the giver of the feast, which they would not do without striving to obtain—without exerting themselves among the friends of the bridegroom, and persuading these to interest themselves in their behalf. And these means they ought to have adopted beforehand, so that when the banquet was ready they might have passed through the strait entrance without let or hinderance. They were, however, too indolent and too indifferent to their own interests to strive thus much; to submit to so much trouble; they preferred waiting till the moment arrived, and then seeking a different way— trying what chance or luck, or perhaps the darkness of the night, would accomplish for themseeing whether they could not obtain a clandestine admission by means, perhaps, of a small bribe offered to the keeper of the strait entrance, or by falsely persuading him that they were among the invited friends of the bridegroom. We may consider, however, that in such vain expectations as these they were disappointed, and that, having thus sought a method of admission they found none, they were altogether unsuccessful in the object of their search.

And thus is it in respect of those rejoicings which will take place hereafter when the proposed connexion between the bride and bridegroom, to wit, Christ and his church, shall be consummated in the kingdom of heaven. They who, before the appointed time shall arrive, strive to qualify themselves for admission, will most assuredly, by the Divine help, which is sure to attend such an attempt, as is here implied, succeed in the object of their endeavours; whereas, they who omit this necessary work of preparation, and who seek to be admitted by some other means, will be unable. But recollect, I beseech you, that these preparatory attempts are of no ordinary description, but such as imply the most strenuous efforts to succeed. The expression which is here used by our Saviour is the same as that used by St. Paul when he says,

every man

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