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tluence, their general habits; many, to whom they are possibly attached by the ties of love and of respect, and with whom they would almost be content to share some danger; that at last they begin to take courage; they suppose that religion is not so strict as it is represented, or else why should so many considerate persons not conform to it? that it is not so difficult, or else why should the world not take more pains about it? that the majority of men look happy, and cheerful, and easy, and that therefore the conduct which allows that, so far from being so culpable as some formal persons who deceive themselves, and others pretend to assert, must be right and sufficient; that God is merciful, and therefore that he will not punish so many of his creatures for a little failure in the rigours of his service; and that he would not have made the common way of life so delightful and pleasant as it is, if it were so surely to lead to the destruction of the soul. I say these excuses, either directly or indirectly, are very frequently urged by us; and no man present can fairly say, but that, in any thing he does, right or wrong, it is a great source of consolation to him to find the majority of the world on his side.
But, my brethren, whenever you are inclined to feel consolation from the practice of the world, whenever you begin to doubt that you are in any jeopardy, because you see others walking by your side in ease and security, turn to the seventh chapter of St. Matthew, and read there these words of the text: "Wide is the gate, and broad is the way, which leadeth to destruction; and many there be that go in thereat." There learn, that insensibility is no argument of a good conscience; that splendours are no proofs of a safe road; that the friendship of the world is enmity against God; that the greater multitude are
in religious error; and that when you find yourself going on too prosperously in life—when you have no lets, or hindrances, or crosses, or troubles, then is the very time to hesitate, and tremble, and examine, lest, haply, you may have got into that declivity which blinds the eyes while it destroys the soul.
A gieat man of our own times once publicly declared, that he had met with such uniform success in life, that he began to be afraid that God was angry, and had forsaken him. The sincerity of such a sentiment might, perhaps, have gone some way in working out his salvation.
But it is time now to turn to the narrow roof of the Gospel entrance. Observe, first, then, it is a strait gate: it will not admit us easily; money will not open it—stratagem will not unbar it—the crowd (for there is no crowd there) will not bear us in whether we will or no. Alas! I wish not unfairly to alarm any one here present; but the bolt of this gate turns comparatively but seldom, and it can be opened only by repentance and tears! We must kneel, and weep, and pray: the only price here is penitence and faith—the best passport is a sincere heart. But I wish to make a remark here upon the terms of the text; . "Few," says our Lord, "few there be that find it." What does this shew i Why, undoubtedly, that it must be searched for: carelessness will never make or preserve a Christian. It will not do to sit down and fancy that re. ligion will come and force herself upon us, or that we shall be brought, as if by a miracle, to her strait, but friendly portal. No, we must inquire, and reflect, and seek diligently, and compare, and prove; we must not be Christians merely because our fathers were; or belong to any particular church or department of Christianity, only because it has been the custom of our family and household, but we must search and prove for ourselves; and then (as the
Apostle enjoins) "hold fast that which is good." We must read, or rather study the Bible; that is, read it regularly, attentively, with prayer, and with a candid and teachable mind ; and then the grace of God will guide us into all truth, and bring us in safety to the sure, though narrow, way of salvation.
May the Lord that made us thus preserve us. But, observe, the next remark: The gate is not only " strait," but " the way is narrow." Admission to Christianity does not immediately secure to a man, as a matter of course, all its privileges. "In my Father's house are many mansions ." and this applies to religion upon earth, as well as to happiness in heaven. There are different degrees of Christian perfection from the first dawning of penitent obedience; and of babes in Christ, to the noonday manhood of the confirmed saint. Difficulties, therefore, must be expected, especially at first, in the Christian course. Nature and sin will not part with us without a considerable struggle. "Narrow is the road." And why is it narrow? I will mention one reason, which will shew a cause, among others, for the different proportions of the two ways. You will observe that the broad way is made broader by the continued crowd of its travellers: they prevent the verdure from growing; they beat it down with their footsteps, and make the path wide, and smooth, and dusty; whereas the narrow way is contracted for the very opposite cause—it is little frequented, so little, as to allow the grass and the briars to grow, and the im
pediments to remain. My brethren, this also is literally the case : the broad road of the world is rendered smooth by the number of those who are in it: they are all going the same way; they keep up each other's spirits; they remove each other's difficulties; they defend, countenance, support, and applaud, with mutual attention. But the poor solitary Christian is too often left, in his lonely but pious journey, to provide for himself; he is thwarted by the world, slighted and misrepresented by the multitude, frequently without the least social advice or intercourse, and subject to moments of despondency, when nothing but God's grace can help or reinstate him. But the road is still further to be called narrow, because it confines us within certain limits. Christianity does not allow excursive flights, and wanderings by the way side, at our own will and pleasure, nor that pursuit (so common to the other party) of every gleam of pleasure that flits across our path; but it bounds our course; it draws about us the impassable line of God's commandments; it subdues the roving propensities of sensual appetite, and points only to the goal that is fixed before us.
It now only remains for me shortly to apply the subject to our personal improvement. I take it for granted, then, that in this congregation there are two kinds of persons—some -who are proceeding through the spacious gate of sin, and others who are walking along the narrow track of humble religion. I shall address a word of advice to both parties.
(To be continued.J
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I first call upon you, then, you who are yielding to the facilities of Satan, and who have ventured your footsteps amidst the carnal and thoughtless crowd, give some account of yourselves; state the reasons, if you have any for your infatuated conduct Is it that you promote by it your present happiness? You know better than I can convince you, that it does no such thing; you know you are often tortared with doubts, and anxieties, and disappointments and care. But you hope, possibly, that all may yet be well in the world to come! No, the text has settled that point for you; "the broad road leadeth to destruction." The wages of sin is death." Is it the beauty of the road, the pleasure of sin that seduces you? Every moment that beauty, such as it is, is becoming less. Is it the multitude of your fellowtravellers i Alas, what can they do for you, when they cannot help themselves? Is there one of your profligate companions who will care, (not that it mattered if he did) but is there one who will care, if you plunge into the gulph to-morrow? And are the pains of hell less, because the groans are many? But, perhaps, you do not like to be singular. Singular! what, not to save your souls? not like to be singular! but I can tell you, that to go to heaven (if the text be true) you must be singular; for the road is narrow, and few there be that find it. Where would Noah have been if he had not
been singular? Where would Lot have been if he had not been singular? and where will every Christian be who is afraid to confess Christ before men, when he comes to meet him as a judge with his holy angels? Do not (whatever you lose it for) lose heaven from ceremony or shamefacedness. But perhaps you are touched—you see your error. "Can I yet be saved?" you say. I tell you, " Yes," blessed be God, it is never too late; and "though your sins be as scarlet, they may be yet white as snow." Do you ask the way? Happy omen! St. Thomas asked the same question; and what said the Saviour, "I am the way and the truth and the life." I can add nothing to this.
But I turn, lastly, for a moment to the lowly travellers in the narrow road, to those, who like Martha, have chosen the better part—to those whom grace, and conversion, and faith, and obedience have brought within the straitness of the Gospel entrance. May God prosper you, my brethren. You will need all the resources of the Holy Spirit to help you in your thorny ascent. Be aware of your difficulties, and you will conquer them the better. Never regret the pleasures or advantages you have left behind; you are travelling to a fairer country, where there are prepared for you, what the heart can now not even conceive; and remember that God's eye is upon you as you travel along. Do you meet with neglect from the world? Are you assailed with ridicule for what is called your foolish choice? Are even your temporal interests injured, and sometimes deeply, by your service of the cross? Yet be not disheartened; what does it signify to you? your hearts are not there, and for your sakes Christ has overcome the world! In every trouble, turn to the verses of the text, and bless God for having placed you among the safe, though smaller number. Cheer, then, each other as you walk on your pilgrimage. Let all be united in a holy love and emulation; but especially let families act together; let husbands
and wives, and parents and children, dwell together in religious unity, and spiritual affection. In the awful night of judgment, let not two be in one bed, the one taken and the other left; let not two be in the field, the one accepted, and the other rejected! but let all who loved each other on earth be joined together in love eternal. Thus, shall hope make the road easy; the towers of the new Jerusalem will soon appear, and our journey shall terminate with these glorious sounds, "Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors, and the King of glory shall come in."
DELIVERED BY THE REV. H. B. BULTEEL,
AT ST. CLEMENT DANES CHURCH, FOR THE CONTINENTAL SOCIETY OP LONDON, MAY 10, 1831.
John, vi. 37.—" All that the Father gireth me, shall come to me."
It is not my intention, my dearly beloved in the Lord, at this present moment, to speak much to you respecting the prospects and success of the society whose cause I stand here to advocate this day. There are other times, other occasions, other opportunities, on which these things may be known, and there is a day not far distant when you will hear an account of the society, what has been its success, and what are its present prospects. But rather it is for me to dwell particularly upon the principles of the society—to come to the scriptural grounds on which it is founded, and which I trust are to be found in these few short but most sweet words which I have brought before you for your meditation—"All that the Father giveth me shall come to me." By which I mean to say, that this society has an eye to a limited
portion or measure of success ; that its prospects, therefore, are limited, even as the word of God itself has limited them; that it has no universal expectation of making converts of the whole world, but expects that the Lord will give unto them that portion which it seems good to Him, even as many as it shall please Him to call by means of the ministry of his word.
On this passage then, beloved brethren, let us meditate at present. Sweet, indeed, are its words, and may the Lord the Holy Spirit be sent down in power from above to make them indeed precious to our souls!" Ail that the Father giveth me shall come to me."
There are then, two particular points to which I would call your attention in these words. The First is, that there is a portion of mankind given by God the Father to his dear Son Jesus Christ. And the Second is, that all who are so given to Christ, shall infallibly come unto him.
First—There Is A Portion Of ManKind Given By God The Father To His Dear Son Jzsus Christ. Observe, my beloved brethren, it is said, "all that the Father giveth unto me," and no more. Who then are those whom the Father hath given to his Son? Is it all the world that He has so given? No; it is not all the world. It is most true, indeed, that all the world are in a certain sense given to the Lord Jesus Christ, but all the world are not given with the purpose of bestowing on them eternal life through his merits. No. Jesus himself in the seventeenth chapter of John's Gospel, prays to his Father, and says, "As thou hast given him power over all flesh that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him." And in the same chapter we find that they are distinguished from the world; for our Lord himself prays for them in contradistinction to the world—" I pray for them, I pray not for the world, but for them whom thou hast given me, for they are thine." And so likewise we read in the first of the Ephesians, that though God had given Christ to be head over all things, He had given him especicially "to be head to the Church, which is his body."
My dearly beloved brethren, you will observe in the last verse of that chapter, that it is only the church which is given to Christ—the church which is his body. All the world do not stand in this intimate relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ. They are not members of his mystical body. No, beloved, it is the children of God alone that stand in this near, this close relationship, and it is between them and Christ that this most blessed union subsists.
Well then, it is those that were given by God the Father to his Son Jesus Christ, and that before all worlds; yea, it is "the remnant according to the election of grace." And this shews us, beloved, the time when the church was given to Christ, for if it be according to election, then we know that election took place before ever time was, as we see from the structure of these words that the "gift" takes place before the "coming." Yea, ages before the world was created, the church was given by God the Father to his dear Son. "Chosen in him," says Paul to the Ephesians, "before the foundation of the world, that they should be holy and without blame before him in love." "Not according to works :" again, "but according to his purpose, and of grace given us in Christ Jesus before the foundation of the world." Here then, if we would inquire into the time when the church first began to be dear unto God, when it first stood as it were the object of his special love, we must look for it in those everlasting covenanted settlements which subsisted between the Father and the Son before the world began. In the seventeenth chapter of John, to which we have already referred, we find that Jesus himself says to his Father, "Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world." At the moment the Father began to love the Son, did he begin to love the church, whom he had given him—and so Jesus prays, "that the love wherewith thou hast loved me, be in thine and in them!"
So the church and Christ have always stood together in the view of God the Father, and so they will ever stand together. What God hath thus put together, no man nor devil shall