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nor covetous, nor 'drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” You will observe, the apostle does not say, that the man in whom all these vicious characters meet, but the man to whom any one of them belongs, will be excluded from the kingdom of glory. If there be any one fin, which you cherish and retain, your souls are guilty and defiled ; and before you can enter into heaven, you must be washed, justified and fanctified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the spirit of God. Saint John fays, “They who do God's commandments,' they who have respect to them all without reserve, “ Thall enter through the gates into the city ; for without are dogs, and forcerers, and adulterers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whatsoever loveth and maketh a lie.”
You see, then, that, whatever duties you feem to perform, and whatever qualifications, you think, you poffess; if you be not new creatures if
you have not the love of God in your hearts ; but still retain fome known wickedness, fome favorite luft ; you cannot enter through the strait gate.
Though you make a good profession, yet if your hearts and lives be not conformed to it, though you call Christ your Lord, yet if not the things which he says, he will disown you as none of his. “ Behold, thou art called a Jew," says the apostle, “and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law; but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is become unicircumcifion. For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew, who is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart, in VOL. V.
the spirit, and not in the letter, whofe praife is not of men, but of God."
The highest attainments in knowledge will not avail to your acceptance, without a correspondent temper and practice. Though you hear Chrift teaching in your streets, as well as in his own loufe, and attend upon his instructions both in feason and out of feafon ; yet if you regard not the things which he says, he will profefs unto you, that he never knew you. They who hear his fayings and do them not, are like a man, who builds his house on the fand. They only are bleffed, who hear his word and keep it. Though you have all knowledge, and understand all myfteries, yet without charity, you are nothing.
Farther ; Though you should be greatly awakened in hearing the word, and fhould feel pun gent convictions of fin and strong terrors from the representations of hell and judgment ; yet if these sensations die away, and leave your hearts unchanged, and your lives unreformed, you have no claim to heaven. When Paul reasoned of righteousness, temperance and the judgment to come, Felix trembled. But he soon dismissed the folemn subject for the present; and we do not learn, that he ever refumed it. Judas felt the ana guish and horror of guilt ; but he remained a fon of perdition, and is gone to his place.
Yea; though you fhould not only be alarmed by the threatenings, but alfo comforted by the promises of the gofpel ; yet if there be not an abiding conformity to its holy precepts, your guilt remains. We read of fome, who not only hear the word, but receive it with joy, and yet have no root in themselves. Thefe, in a time of tempt. ation, fall away. They are like story ground, in which the feed fown fprings up fpeedily ; but be. cause it has no root, it withers and dies.
However strict and regular you are in your attendance on the duties of devotion and the ordinances of Christ, if your hearts be not devoted to him, your claims to heaven will be rejected. There are some who eat and drink in his prelence, and still remain workers of iniquity. In Christ neither circumcision, nor uncircumcision availeth any thing, but a new crcature. Devotional duties are highly important as the means of holiness, but if you substitute them in the place of holiness, and make the whole of your religion to consist in them, they then become unprofitable and vain.
And, finally, whatever you do in religion, if you be not influenced by the motives which the gospel proposes to you-motives taken from the character of God, and your relation to him from the things which he has done for you, and the glorious hopes which he has set before youif instead of these motives, you admit only those which respect the present world ; your religion is but external; it has no place in the heart, and will not be accepted of that holy being, who requires truth in the inward parts.
As we have violated the purity, and incurred the penalty of the divine law, we must know, that our present repentance and future obedience cannot be the ground of our pardon here, nor of our happiness hereafter. This must be the free mercy of God, which he exercises toward finners through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We are never to consider any thing which we do as having the least degree of meritorious influence in procuring our salvation ; but we are to ascribe this, in every stage of its progress, to the grace of God in the redeemer.
Personal holiness, however, is a necessary qual
ification for heaven, for without it we are incapable of the spiritual felicity there to be enjoyed.
Our works of righteousness are necessary fruits of that repentance and faith by which we become interested in the purchased and promised salvation. Whatever pretensions we may make to forrow for fin, and reliance on the Saviour, if still we are workers of iniquity, we never have forrowed after a godly fort, nor believed to the saving of the soul.
Besides ; as the publick process of the last day is designed to be a revelation of the righteous judgment of God; therefore our works will be the matter of the final enquiry, and on these the judgment will proceed, for these only are visible to others. Hence it is said, that “God will judge the world in righteousness, and render to every man according to his works ; and according to the deeds done in the body; and every man shall receive according to that he hath done, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”
We see, then, what is necessary to our finding admission into heaven through the strait gate. We must renounce sin with godly sorrow, repair to the saviour with humble faith in his righteousness, yield ourselves to God to serve him in new obedience, resolve, in reliance on his grace, to depart from all iniquity, and conform to the whole will of God, and in hope of eternal life which God has promised, patiently continue in well-doing, and be faithful to the death. Thus we thall receive the crown of life.
The awful Condition of those who shall be excluded
from the kingdom of Heaven.
LUKE xiii. 24.
Strive to enter in at the Atrait gate ; for many, I say unto you, will seek to
enter in, and shall not be ablc.
ROM these words we have observed, That our entrance into heaven is by a strait gate - that there are many, who will fail of entering in at this gate—that the causes of their miscarriage will be negligence, delay, and false. dependence That the character of such as will be excluded is workers of iniquity. These observations have already been illustrated.
We will now, Fifthly; attend to the representation, which our Lord makes of the awful condition of those who shall be excluded from his heavenly kingdom.
When we attend to this representation, it would be well, that we should consider it as a serious reality, not a fanciful fiction. As it is made by the son of God himself, who came to be our teacher, and who is appointed to be our judge, we may be assured, that it was intended, not for our amusement, but for our warning.