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And therefore we may well conclude it is an easy thing to go to that Place of Torments which even now we spake of, or rather that it is an hard, a difficult matter to keep out of it; the way being so narrow that carries from it that it is a difficult thing to find it, and the way so broad that leads unto it that none can miss of it that hath but a mind to walk in it. BUT I hope none of my Readers have so, God forbid they should have a mind to go to Hell; their taking religious Books into their Hands is rather an Argument that they have a mind to go to Heaven, and read on purpose to learn the way thither.

And we do well to take all Opportunities of finding out the way to Bliss; for we may assure our selves it is a very narrow one, it is hard to find it out, but touch more hard to walk in it; for it is a way very rarely trodden, so that there is scarce any Path to be seen, most People going either on one side, or else on the other side of it; some running into the By-paths of Error, Heresy, or Schism, others into the broad way of Profaneness or Security: Insomuch that there are but very few that hit upon the right Path that leads directly to the New Hierusalem, the Place of rest.

I speak not this of my self; no, Christ himself, that came from Heaven to Earth, on purpose to shew us the way from Earth to Heaven, saith, That strait is the gate and narrow is the way that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. AND let not any think that Christ spoke these Words in vain, or that it is no great matter whether we believe what he said or no.

For questionless, one great Reason why so few ever come to Heaven, is because most think it so easy to get thither that they need not take any Care or Pains about it. For even amongst our selves, to whom the Gospel is so clearly revealed, Men generally think if they do but read the Scriptures, and hear Sermons, and live honestly with their Neighbours so as to harm no body, but pay every one their own, then they shall as surely come to Heaven as if they were there already; nay, many are so simple as to think that their Separation from the Church Militant on Earth is the way to bring them to the Church Triumphant in Heaven; and others so ridiculous as to believe that a Death-bed Repentance is sufficient to entitle them to eternal Life.

But stay a while: It is not so easy a matter to get to Heaven. Indeed to me it seems one of the greatest Mysteries in the World, that ever any Man or Woman should come thither, that such sinful Worms as we are, who are born in Sin, and live so long in Sin and Rebellion against the great Creator of the World, should ever be received so far into his Grace and Favour as to enjoy Life and eternal Happiness in him. And did we look no farther than our selves, we might justly despair of ever obtaining so transcendent Glory which we are so altogether unworthy of.

Napthali, or, Holy Wrestling

But the Goodness of God both is and hath been so great to Mankind, that there is none of us but in and through the Merits of Christ Jesus, is in a Capacity of it. But we must not think that it is so easy a thing to come to Heaven, as the Devil, the World, and our own base Hearts, would persuade us it is: if we do, we are never likely to come thither; no, we may assure our selves, as Heaven is the greatest Good that we can attain, so doth it require our greatest Care and Study imaginable to attain it. For, I dare say, there is none of us but desire to see Christ in Glory, and to be happy with him and in him for ever; but that we can never be, unless we do whatsoever is required of us in order to it; and if we think it is so easy a matter to do whatsoever is required of us, I have just Cause to suspect that we never yet made tryal of it, nor set our selves seriously upon the Performance of those Duties which are enjoyned us here in Reference to our being happy for ever.

For if we have set upon it in good earnest, we cannot but have found it very hard and difficult, by reason of our natural averseness from what is Good, and inclinations unto Evil. For we all know, that without Holiness no Man shall see the Lord, Heb. So that Holiness is the way, the direct and only way that leads to Heaven neither is there any way imaginable of being happy hereafter but by being holy here.

And though it be an easy thing to profess Holiness, and to perform some external Acts of it; yet to be truly pious and holy indeed, so as we must be if ever we would go to Heaven, this is every whit as difficult as the other is easy. FOR, first, I suppose, all will grant that he is not truly holy that lives in any known Sin, as the Apostle also intimates, saying, He that is born of God doth not commit sin, 1 Joh.

And therefore he that still indulgeth himself in the Commission of any known Sin, he is not yet regenerate or born of God, he is not truly holy. So that to our being so holy here, as that we may be happy hereafter, it is absolutely and indispensably necessary that we forsake and avoid to the utmost of our Power whatsoever is offensive unto God and contrary to his Laws. But it is as difficult as it is necessary to forsake Sin as we ought to do. It is an easy matter, I confess, to rail at Sin, to backbite others, or blame our selves for it.

But that is not the Business; but to loath our Sins as much as ever we loved them, to abhor as much as ever we desired them, and to be as much averse from them as ever we were inclined to them, to forsake Sin as Sin, and by consequence all Sin whatsoever, one as well as another; so as to deny our selves all that Pleasure we were wont to take in any Sin, and all that seeming Profit which we used to receive by it, and that too, out of love to God and fear of his Displeasure.

This is to forsake Sin indeed, but it is sooner spoken of than done; and it requires a great deal of time and skill, and pains to get so great a Conquest over our selves as this is, to cut off our Right Hand, pluck out our Right Eye, and cast it from us; even renounce and forsake those very beloved and darling Sins, which the Temper and Constitution of our Bodies, the Corruption of our Hearts, and constant Custom and Practice hath made in a manner natural to us.

So that our very Natures must be changed, before we can ever leave them. And therefore it must needs be a matter of as great Difficulty as it is of Moment, to master and subdue those Sins and Lusts that have been long predominant in us, which I dare say many of us have found by their own sad and woful Experience, having struggled perhaps many Years against some Corruption, and yet to this Day have not got it under, nor totally subdued it.

And it is such, and such alone, who are competent Judges in this Case; for they that never strove against their Sins, cannot know how strong they are, nor how hard it is to conquer them. And therefore it is to those who have made it their Business to destroy and mortify their Lusts, that I appeal, Whether it be not hard to do it. I am confident they cannot but have found it, and therefore must needs acknowledge it to be so; and by Consequence that it is no easy matter to get to Heaven, seeing it is so hard to keep out of Hell, and to avoid those Sins which otherwise will certainly bring us thither; every Sin unrepented of having eternal Punisment entailed upon it.

AND if it be so hard to forsake Sin, how difficult must it needs be to perform all those Duties, and to exert all those Graces which are necessarily required, in order to our attaining everlasting Happiness. It is true, praying and hearing, which are the ordinary means for the obtaining true Grace and Holiness, are Duties very common and customary amongst us, but they are never the easier because they are common, but rather far more difficult. For we being accustomed to a careless and perfunctory performing these Duties, cannot but find it an hard and difficult matter to keep our Hearts so close unto them, as to perform them as we ought to do, and so as that we may be really said to do them.

For we must not think that fitting at Church while the word of God is preached, is hearing the word of God, or that being prefect there whilst Prayers are read, is real praying. No, no, there is a great deal more required than this to our praying to the great God aright; insomuch that for mine own part, I really think that Prayer, as it is the highest, so is it the hardest Duty that we can be engaged in. All the faculties of our Souls, as well as members of our Bodies, being obliged to put forth themselves in their several Capacities, to the due performance of it.

I suppose I need not tell any one that it is hard and difficult to perform such Duties, and to act such Graces as these are; but this let me tell the Reader, that how hard, how difficult soever it is, it must be done if ever we desire to come to Heaven, and by consequence it is no easie matter to come thither. Seeing therefore the way that leads to Heaven is thus narrow, and hard, it is no wonder that there are but few that walk in it, or indeed that find it out, as our Saviour himself assures us; for People generally love to swim with the Stream, to run with the Multitude, though it be into the Gulph of Sin and Misery.

It is very rare to find one walking in the narrow way, and keeping himself within those bounds and limits wherewith it is enclosed; and this seems to have been the occasion of these words the Gospel of St. Luke, where one said unto Christ, Lord, are there few that be saved? For many I say unto you will seek to enter in, and shall not be able, Luk. Intimating not only that there are but few that shall be saved, but likewise that many of those that seek to be saved shall not attain it; not as if any of those who really and cordially made it their business to look after Heaven, can never miss of it; but that many of those who presuming upon their seeming Obedience and good Works, shall think and seek that way to enter into the Kingdom of God, shall not be able.

For many will say unto me at that Day, saith he, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works?

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And then I will profess unto them, I never knew you, Depart from me ye that work iniquity, Mat. And if many of those who are great Professors of Religion, and make a plausible shew of Piety in the World, than notwithstanding come short of eternal Happiness, and if of those many which are called there are but few chosen, Mat.

Nicolas Notovitch Alexina Donovan. Clara Erskine Clement Waters. William Burt Pope. James Gilchrist Lawson. God in Christ Three Discourses. The Essence of Christianity. One Greater Than Satan. Heather A Kendall. Breaking the Mold. The Greatest Thing in the World. The Life of God in the Soul of Man. The Modernist. A Theology for the Social Gospel. Walter Rauschenbusch. The Conflict of Ages. The Problem of Christianity Lectures; Volume 2. Watts] Called the Ruin and Recovery of Mankind. The Precious Things of God.

The Creeds and Platforms of Congregationalism. The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit. The Theology of Calvin. But the Lord is not only the saviour of sinners but the one who knows the heart and will one day be the incorruptible judge. Not only does he see the outward appearance but also the inner reality.


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We are not say that profession does not have any importance. However, it should go further than this, 'For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation' Rm. A true disciple of Jesus will confess his Lord wherever he can. But in our verse in Matthew the Lord is warning about mere profession without true faith.

More than once the Lord Jesus has been talking to his disciples about God as their father ch. In our verse 21 it is the first time the Lord Jesus calls God 'my Father'. It was grace alone to bring the disciples into this relationship, riches of which the Lord opened up to them after his redemptive work on the cross.

He is and will always be the Son of His love. He was so when He came from heaven and being man upon earth revealed God and accomplished the work that was necessary for our salvation in greatest humility. The Lord Jesus warns those who are lead religious lives, and even perform great deeds in His name and yet are lost for eternity.

He does not speak of a few in this connection but of 'many' who have performed extraordinary things by calling upon his name and yet have to be condemned by him as wrongdoers. Many believing readers of the Scriptures may ask, 'How is such a thing possible? Is it possible for men who are not born again but who wear a religious garment to perform miracles in the name of the Lord?

The Lord had already spoken of false prophets in verses 15 to Balaam 2 Pet. And among the Lord's own disciples we find Judas Iscariot! Note that the Lord Jesus had given his disciples power to cast out unclean spirits. See Mt. Even amongst the Jews were such who cast out demons Mt.

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In Acts we are told that seven sons of the Jewish high priest Sceva called on those who had wicked spirits in name of the Lord. In this case the wicked spirit was not submissive but prevailed against the 'would be' exorcists. But in how many other cases Satan has brought men under his spell! As Paul mentions in one of his letters, ' And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.

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Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works' 2 Cor. These things have not been restricted to the beginning of Christendom only. In our days we will find - and especially so in charismatic circles - false prophets, healers and preachers, who perform miracles 'in the name of Christ'.

And yet these men are not truly converted. The source of these miracles - if they are miracles at all, is none else than Satan himself. Every child of God should be most careful in judging extraordinary phenomena in Christian circles. By writing this we do not want to give the impression that all who distinguish themselves by sensational doings are not saved.

Satan is able to beguile the heart of a believer also. Men who have performed sensational miracles 'in the name of the Lord Jesus' but have not been converted will one day stand before him as their judge. Then it will be clear where that stand in regard to Him. In the Old Testament this day is called the day of the Lord Isa. As we study through the New Testament we learn that 'that day' includes the whole time from the believers' appearing before the judgment seat of Christ up to the end of the millennium:.

This awful moment will take place when these false professors will appear before the throne of Christ to receive their final sentence to damnation Rev. The judge is the Lord Jesus to whom the Father has given all judgment because he is the Son of man Jn. He will no longer be the gracious Saviour of sinners but the Judge seated upon a great white throne.

The sentence will be as follows, 'I never knew you. They may often have used his name and therefore in a certain sense have 'professed' Him but He will testify to them that they have not believed in him and therefore have no relationship with him. What a proof these words are that a true believer cannot be lost again, for otherwise the Lord would have to say to them. The righteous judge will pronounce the terrible punishment, 'Depart from me'.


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Those who have made a false profession and pretended a nearness to Christ will be seen to have always been a stranger to him and will receive their punishment: eternal damnation from the presence of God and his glory 2 Thess. Here the Lord calls they who are eternally damned 'ye that work iniquity. For the Jews listening to His words in this passage are disregarding and trespassing the law of Sinai. Such is also the meaning of this word in Hebrews where it is mentioned together with 'sin'. In other references lawlessness signifies more than that, for example in 1 John , where we read: 'Sin is lawlessness' N.

Lawlessness in this verse is rebellion against the will of God which is binding upon every man. Lawlessness therefore is the true character of every sin. So 'those who work iniquity' are not the only guilty ones but all who do not want to submit to the will of God even if they have accomplished great things in the name of the Lord during their lives.

The Lord Jesus concludes His teachings with the well-known picture of the wise man who built his house upon the rock and the foolish man who built his upon the sand compare the parallel reference in Luke Later on in the gospel He speaks of the same contrast again in the parable of the wise and foolish virgins Mt. The wise or understanding man is someone who knows and does the will of the Lord, the foolish man, who hears the words of the Lord but does not do them.

As we have learnt in the previous passage a mere profession of the lips that we belong to the Lord Jesus is not sufficient to be accepted by Him. Now He explains what really matters in the lives of those who call themselves His disciples: not only to hear but also to do His words. We are often reminded of what the Lord Jesus says here when we read the words of James, 'But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves' Jas.

The Lord Jesus uses the symbol of a house to illustrate a human life. Just as every house requires a solid foundation to keep standing so every man needs a sure foundation for his life. The best foundation for a house is rock. The rock upon which a wise man builds his life's 'house' is Christ. He is the 'rock' which accompanied the people of Israel during their wilderness journey 1 Cor. And here at the end of the Sermon on the Mount He is also the unshakeable foundation of the practical life of faith.

In building his life's house upon the rock Jesus Christ the wise man finds it does not fall but it stands eternally. It means he directs his life according to the Lord Jesus and his word, which is the only way we can prove our love for Him. It is often only a crisis that reveals if the house has been built upon a solid foundation or not. From a superficial point of view it may appear that a house is built on firm ground but a storm can prove otherwise. Southern countries like Israel, for example, can suffer very heavy rainfall which transforms the wadis rivers dried out during summertime into rapid torrents within a very short time.

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The rain pouring down, the floods pressing on the foundations and the storm blowing against the walls will prove the worth of the foundations of houses. If they are laid on an elevated rock the storm may well damage the house but it will not be able to destroy it. A disciple wanting to be faithful to the Lord and obey his word - that is the wise man in our parable - can fail also. Nor will he be spared trials. There are happenings and events that will shake the life of even the strongest believer to it's very foundation, but he knows that his house is built upon a solid rock and won't fall.

And he has the full and unshakeable security of salvation in respect of eternity as well. The foolish man's thoughts do not go very deep.