John A. Broadus
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
This is an appalling
generalization when we lind that all the countless diversities of human character,
conduct, destiny, can be reduced to two classes. Men are diverse-as leaves of the
cut-paper mulberry, no two precisely alike. Moreover, they pride themselves so on certain
of their diversities and distinctions. Yet they all belong to one or other of two classes.
There are but two ways, and two ends they reach. Our Saviour has contrasted these ways in
several most important and interesting particulars.
I. Two ways: wide-strait, broad-narrow.
1. The one gate is wide-the entrance upon a wicked life is easy, almost spontaneous-all men begin it in early life. Terrible indeed is the depravity of man, when prone "as the sparks to fly upward," so man easily follows a particular evil course.
But the other is difficult of entrance. For man as he is, and unaided, it is not easy to be converted-he may change some points of outward conduct, may modify disposition, etc-but to effect a radical change is for him impossible. Man forgets the need of divine influence. It is hard to give up self-reliance, as well as to renounce the world.
2. The one way is broad, spacious. As was said before, it is but to yield to natural inclinations. It requires little effort, and no constraint. This broad way "admits of many subdivisions"-may be profligate, or outwardly moral-coarse or refined-a reviler of religion, or a hypocritical pretender to religion. Among a thousand courses, one may take his choice, and yet be still in the broad way.
But the other way is narrow. The Christian life on earth is surpassingly difficult-viewed with carnal eye seems surprisingly disagreeable.
(a) Sometimes the Christian faces opposition, both open or secret-the days of persecution not wholly past.
(b) Many temptations come from wicked acquaintance-for there are human tempters, sometimes through little more than thoughtless folly.
(c) However, worse than either, is one's own inclinations. It costs painful and sustained effort to deny ourselves all sinful gratification, and steadfastly resist the world's allurements. One thoroughly in earnest, striving to climb the heights of holiness, must know that it is difficult.
(d) In addition, one of the chief sources of difficulty and distress in the Christian course, is our own disposition to despondency-we grow fainthearted. Sometimes such despondency is the natural reaction from excessive confidence, or rather from self-confidence. The remedy is prayer-the afflicted pray and sing cheerful psalms.
I would mention many other courses of difficulty, they are legion-and our only help is in the name of the Lord. "Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might."
II. Those who travel their ways.
1. One group-and a majority, takes the broad way. Many are taking the wrong road. It is not self-righteous pride to say this, for Jesus said it.
2. A second group-and a small group, only a few, takes the right way. It seems impossible that only a few will see. But this is the clear teaching of the text.
III. The end of the two ways.
1. The one, though broad and crowded, leadeth to destruction. Not the destruction of existence, but of happy existence-not of being, but of well-being. Scriptures speak of death in the strongest terms, to describe the ruin and wretchedness of the world of woe. Jesus himself, so gentle and sympathizing, has often spoken strongly of hell: certainly something as bad as "fire."
2. But the narrow way, though found by few, and difficult, leads to life, [the kind of life given by Jesus]. This will make amends for sacrifice and suffering . . . . And is not the end of any earthly course most important? We are immortal beings. Do you believe indeed that you are to live forever? And shall not this outweigh [all else]?
Hear then the Saviour's injunction-"Enter ye in at the strait gate." Be not deterred by its difficulties-it may seem at first almost impossible, certainly disagreeable. We know this is so-count the cost-but is it not better to bear this than hell? To forsake fleeting and imperfect pleasure and case, rather than turn from the way to heaven? And he who does this will soon find pleasure in so doing-as one who by an effort leaves the beaten, crowded way along a mountain's base, and climbs a narrow path well-nigh alone. Pleasure is not only in the prospect, but fresh air and the very effort of climbing the rugged path make one vigorous and buoyant. So, with changed desires and tastes, the narrow way may become a delight.
Enter in quickly-no need, no reason, for delay. You may become a Christian speedily-why not today resolve, in the fear of God, to "deny yourself" and to receive Christ.
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