Enter Ye In at the Strait Gate
By Robert Traill
"Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, aha 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
I. That the gate to life, and the way to it, is strait and narrow. In handling of this, I would, first, Give you some things that confirm that so it is; secondly, Shew wherein the straitness of it lieth.
First, That the way to life is hard and strait, 1. It is seen in the confessions and practices of multitudes that walk in the broad way: some never think on it; some are affrighted from it, when thinking thereupon. Upon this same account it is seen, that the way to life is narrow, 2. In that the truly godly find it very hard, and the longer, both the sweeter and the harder. They at first seem to attain something of sweetness in religion; but afterwards, the work and the trials are better seen. 3. In the hypocrite’s pain, which he finds in the external show of this strait way (Mal. iii. 14), though it be certain, that the hypocrite is not acquainted either with the sweetest, or hardest part of religion. But besides the testimony of the word, the surest confirmation of this, and the clearest, will be by giving a particular account of the straitness of this gate, and narrowness of this way to life.
As the second thing wherein this stands, I shall give you a brief account of the way to life, and of the difficulty in each of them. And they all are but so many stages in this way, and passages that a believer must go through.
1. The new birth, (John iii. 3, 6). A man is never in the way to heaven till this change pass over him. This is a change, 1. Of nature. Oh! how hard is it for folks to put off their nature! They think they make excuse for any fault, when it is said to flow from their nature. This is a creation, (2 Cor. v. 17). 2. It is a most perfect change of inclination and affections, that what was loved is hated now, and what hated is loved now: and people know what a pain there is in turning the inclination. 3. It is a change wrought by another power than theirs, which renders it some way the harder, though the more sure and possible. Now, compare this new birth with the natural birth, or with death, which is as the soul’s birth into glory; and the differences are very evident: Alas! how many are there that: stand at this gate, and by no means will pass it. What!—change their natures and cast off all their beloveds?—they cannot hear of it.
2. The strait gate of the covenant. Shall I call it strait, that is cast up so wide with a universal invitation? Yet I may venture to call it so. It is so strait, that no man with any of such baggage can enter it, or will be willing. 1. The proud unhumbled sinner cannot enter in here. He that comes not empty and lost in his own sight, cannot be admitted to make such a bargain with God for salvation. 2. The resolved idolater that will not sell all for Christ in this bargain, and will not give up with all other lovers, to make a new covenant with Christ, cannot enter. (Matt. xiii. 44.)
3. There is the new life, which is a part of this narrow way. This follows on the new birth, and is the soul’s promise in the covenant, that he will lead a new life, (Rom. vi. 4). This new life is a great and rare thing. We shall not insist at large on it, but on a few properties of it.
1. It is a life of faith, (Gal. ii. 20, Heb. x. 38). Formerly, the man lived by sense and reason: now, he doth by faith, looking on a promise as a good security; and employing God, and acting faith on it, whenever he is in any strait.
2. It is a life of sincerity and uprightness, or a sincere life. Hypocrisy and deceitful shows he striveth against, and in a great measure overcometh; for there is now uprightness in the inward parts, and no corner of the heart that is reserved for any evil to lodge in, though it may be found there in too great abundance, (2 Cor. ii. 17).
3. It is a life of holiness. The Holy Ghost is its author, the holy law of God the rule, and the holy Jesus the man’s pattern and example.
4. A growing life, and that all a man’s days. This new life being duly cared for, attains growth as long as a man lives.
This life is called "new," because the man lived not this way before: and the rest of the world do not so, nor ever did, nor will do. It is different from the life of the world, in that it hath another food for its strengthening, and air for its breathing; another father, or another and more special way of begetting, another end it lives for and aims at, with other vital actings.
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