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if such grace can be received in vain, they may come short of salvation forever; we see therefore that this text is fatal to universalism, for it clearly teaches that the grace of God may be received in vain. The apostle would not have besought the Corinthians not to receive the grace of God in vain if there can be no such thing—if the thing is in itself impossible. Matt. vii. 13, 14.
ye in at the strait gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction and many there be that go in thereat; because strait is the gate and narrow is the way that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” On this text Dr. Clarke among other remarks has the following: “Our Saviour seems to allude here to the distinction between the publick and private ways mentioned by the Jewish lawyers. The publick roads were allowed to be sixteen cubits broad, the private ways only four. Enter in (to the kingdom of heaven) through This strait gate of doing to every one as you would he should do unto you, for this alone
appears to be the strait gate which our Lord alludes to. With those who
means repentance and forsaking of sin, I can have no controversy. That is certainly a gate, and a strait one too, through which erery sinner must turn to God in order to find salvation. Gate among the Jews signifies metaphorically the entrance, introduction, or means of acquiring any thing. So they talk of the gate of repentance, the gate of prayers, and the gate of tears. When God, say they, shut the gate of paradise against Adam, he opened to him the gate of repentance.” On the expression,“ broad is the gate,” the Doctor says, , “a spacious roomy place, that leadeth forward into that destruction, meaning eternal misery.” There is no necessity or room for controversy about the meaning of the term gate, as used in this text, for it must be obvious to all that it here has reference to our moral characters and conduct ; nor is it on the meaning of the word gate that the strength of the argument depends, but on the meaning of the terms life and destruction as used in this text. The text informs us that there are two gates or ways, that is, two courses of moral conduct pursued by man, that one of these, the strait gate, leads to life, and the other, the broad gate, to destruction.
What then is to be understood by life and destruction ? If these refer to the rewards and punishments of a future state, the question is settled that the text teaches that there is danger of coming short of salvation, for as these two gates are opposed to each other, if one leads to endless life, the other, of course leads to endless destruction. Now, that the text really speaks of that eternal life which will be conferred on the righteous in a future state, appears as follows. The text cannot be true in relation to any temporal blessing. It most clearly teaches that the strait gate, by which we must understand a course of duty and virtue, leads to life. Now, suppose we understand natural life, and by the opposite destruction, natural death, and the text is false, for there is no gate, strait or broad, that leads to life in this sense. This would make the text say that sin leads to the death of the body, and that duty and virtue, the strait gate, lead to exemption from the death of the body, to an earthly immortality, which every one knows to be false. Nor will it relieve the difficulty to suppose that the text refers to the destruction of the Jews; for, keeping temporal life and death in view, the text is still untrue in this sense. The Jews were not all slain-did not experience temporal death, though it must be admitted that those who were captured by the Romans passed the wide gate and pursued the broad road. On the other hand many of the christians perished before the overthrow of the Jews. Stephen was stoned, and James was slain with the sword, and many others perished, if by perishing temporal death be meant in the text ; though it cannot be denied that every true christian entered in at the strait gate, and pursued the narrow way which leadeth unto life. We see then, that by life, to which the strait gate leads, we cannot understand natural life, or the life of the body; and by destruction to which the wide gate leads, we cannot understand natural death, or the death of the body. Nor will it afford any
relief to understand these terms in a very highly figurative sense, as expressing prosperity on one hand, and a state of calamity and affliction on the other, for the text is no more true in this sense than in the preceding one. tain this view, it must be made to appear that the strait gate, that is, the path of duty and piety, always leads to prosperi
and that the wide gate, that is, the way of sin and unbelief, always leads to calamity and distress in this life, neither of which is true. It cannot be denied that many of the pious in all ages of the world, who have entered in at the strait gate, (if this is a work common to the righteous, which cannot be contradicted,) have, notwithstanding, endured the deepest afflictions, and most distressing calamities to which flesh can be heir in this world; hence, if by life any temporal prosperity is meant, in opposition to affliction and distress, the strait gate does not lead to life, and therefore the text cannot be true. On the other hand, many, who pursue the broad way of sin, are, notwithstanding, so prosperous as to have it said of them that they receive their “ good things,” that they “have their portion in this life.” If then misfortunes and suffering in this life, are meant by destruction, the broad way does not certainly lead to destruction, whereas Christ declares that it does. What life is meant then in the text? We answer, it must be that “ eternal life” which God will “render to those who through patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality.” In other words, this life is that blessing to which duty and virtue will conduct us. Nor can this be disposed of by saying, as universalists often assert, that this is the blessing which the obedient enjoy in this world, as the fruit of their piety, for their piety is the way which leads to the life" strait is the gate and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life :” the strait gate must be passed, and the narrow way must be kept as the means of coming at this life, which is represented as lying at the end of the way; hence, whatever is meant by entering in at the strait gate and passing the narrow way, it is a work which must be performed before we can arrive at life, and as by this work nothing less can be meant than the proper duties of the present state, the blessing must be at the end of life's career, and the strait.gate and the narrow way that lead to life, will conduct us to that life which shall be enjoyed when the pilgrim's footsteps shall take hold upon the realities of the future world. Now, as the strait gate leads to endless life, in the future world, then, the wide gate and the broad way, which are opposed thereto, and which do not lead to the same place, must conduct those who enter,
to endless destruction and misery, and Christ says, “many go in thereat.” The text, then, clearly teaches that there is danger of coming short of salvation. This view is further sustained by Luke, xiii. 24. “ Strive to enter in at the strait gate, for many,
you, shall seek to enter in and shall not be able.” On this text Mr. Morse, in his vindication of universalism in reply to Mr. Parker's Lectures, page 5, has given the following paraphrase as expressing its true meaning. “Strive to enter into the gospel dispensation, for at a particular time many Jews will seek to enter in and shall not be able, because they strive to enter through the Mosaic Law.” This certainly is making the text speak what it does not speak of itself. This paraphrase we consider defective in the following particulars.
1. The application which it makes of the text to an entry.into the gospel dispensation is wholly assumed: the text says nothing of entering into the gospel dispensation. If by the the strait gate, the christian religion, with its high and holy privileges and duties, be understood, we will not contend, for this we believe to be the way to eternal life, for which we should strive; but that Christ here exhorts to strive to enter into the gospel dispensation, in distinction from the Jews and heathen who are without the pale of the gospel church, with exclusive reference to the present life, is wholly unfounded.
2. Mr. M's expression, "enter into the gospel dispensation," is unmeaning, or at least unintelligible. What is the gospel dispensation ? Dispensation is the
act of dealing out any thing; hence, the gospel dispensation is that method of dealing with us, which God has revealed in the gospel, and that distribution of the divine favors which God makes through the gospel. Now we ask how can a man enter into the gospel dispensation, that is, enter into the method of dealing with us revealed in, or the blessing dispensed through, the gospel? We may be under this dispensation, we may receive the revelation which the gospel makes of God's gracious dispensation, or we may enjoy the blessings which are dispensed through the gospel; but to tell of entering into the gospel dispensation is to talk without saying any thing. What does Mr. M. mean by striving to enter into the gospel dispensation ? Does he mean that an effort should be made
to receive the gospel, believe the gospel, or to obey the gospel? Why did he not say so? We should have then understood him.
3. Mr. M's exposition of this subject makes the gospel dispensation comprise no more than temporal blessings. The expression, “strive to enter in at the strait gate,” &c. was spoken as an answer to a question which was asked, there few that be saved?" On this question Mr. M. says, “it is plain that he who asked the question are there few that be saved,'had his mind upon temporal salvation-and our Saviour's answer was adapted to the condition of the enquirer's mind.” This makes the conversation stand thus : Are there few that be saved with a temporal salvation? And he said strive to enter into the gospel dispensation. Now if, as Mr. M. says,
our Saviour's answer was adapted to the condition of the enquirer's mind” it follows that the gospel is a dispensation of temporal blessings.
4. Mr. M's paraphrase makes the text speak an untruth, by saying that “at a particular time many Jews shall seek to enter into the gospel dispensation and shall not be able, because they strive to enter through the Mosaic law.” The truth is, the Jews have never sought “ to enter into the gespel dispensation" in any way, nor is it now probable that they ever will make an ineffectual effort to become christians. The door of the gospel church has always been open to the Jews, and will be until they shall be brought in with the fullness of the gentiles.
5. The reason which Mr. M. assigns why they shall not be able to enter, is assumed, absurd in itself, and contrary to the plain sense and spirit of the text. He says “ many Jews will seek to enter in,” (to the gospel dispensation,) " and shall not be able because they strive to enter through the Mosaic law." This is assumed because there is nothing said or intimated in the text about the Mosaic law. It is absurd in itself, because it supposes the Jews to seek to become christians with their peculiar adherence to the law of Moses. No Jew can be supposed to strive to enter into the gospel dispensation, until he is convinced that the gospel is true; and no Jew, when convinced that the gospel is true, can maintain his peculiar attachment to the law of Moses,