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"'righteous souls" in every section of the visible church, "that shall be accounted unto the Lord for a generation." Still, when the myriads of mere professors are withdrawn from the true disciples of Christ, there is much ground to fear that the calculation of the text, though made eighteen hundred years ago, is numerically correct at this moment. Blessed as our day is with the unprecedented profusion of the means of grace, and the unexampled efforts of Christian mercy for the instruction of the ignorant, and salvation of the lost, there is, notwithstanding, a frightful proportion of the population of our beloved land "without God, and without hope in the world." Let us make the reflection useful to ourselves. If there be only one individual of the human family found in this much unfrequented road, by prayer, faith, repentance, and the grace of God, let us each endeavour to be that happy man.
Finally. Observe its blissful end,-"it leadeth unto life." Life is a valuable blessing,- "skin for skin; yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life." In the sacred writings, it generally includes all the happiness and joy of which the spirit of man, either on earth or in heaven, is capable. In the text, it is put in striking contrast with the miserable termination of the "broad way that leadeth to destruction." The glories of the celestial regions are frequently revealed unto us by this significant expression, and we are not, therefore, to consider it as denoting mere existence, for the unjust will live in sorrow after the resurrection; but a distinct and special life, which consists in every thing that can delight and adorn us, and which flows from the immediate union of the soul with God. It is the plant of grace, arrived to its perfect stature and beauty in the Paradise of heaven. It is the child attained to his majority, and enjoying the uninterrupted possession of the paternal inheritance with his Father above. Ah! happy soul, that hath thus received
the end of his faith! "The lines are fallen unto him in pleasant places; he hath a goodly heritage." Now the faculties are full of life, and are ever conversant with objects sufficient to enlarge and delight them. In the enjoyment of their pleasures nothing cloys or satiates them. "O blessed life! where there is such an eternal reciprocation, as objects infinitely alluring, and faculties ready for them,-faculties perfected, and yet the objects so transcendent, as infinitely to surpass all their powers. This is life indeed! It is the true and proper notion of the soul's happy life! It is life in perfection,-it is eternally so! The powers of the soul will be no more benumbed with a drowsy unwilling body, nor its activity restrained with dull organs. But the soul, having now its unconstrained liberty, it walks at large in its own proper element, and takes in all that is grateful and pleasing from every object; but especially and mainly terminating on the fulness of the Deity, as the same is exhibited and communicated in Christ. Here it can meet with nothing that can confine it, except the finite measure of its own capacity; and so it can take its fill of solace and joy for ever."
III. A FEW REFLECTIONS, AND WE WILL CLOSE THE EXERCISE.
First. The subject reminds us, that there is an inseparable connection between the present and the future. 66 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. He that soweth to the flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption; and he that soweth to the spirit, shall of the spirit reap life everlasting."* The security in which the impenitent fold themselves is most amazing, and can only be explained by the representation of an apostle-" it is through the deceitfulness of
Gal. vii. 10.
sin." Every step they take leads them farther from heaven, and nearer to hell. This is the “ way that seemeth good unto a man, but the end thereof is death." Hence we read of some who walk as enemies of the cross of Christ, but "whose end is destruction." My hearers, which of these paths is your's? Am I needlesly alarmed, when I assure you, that there is cause to fear, lest a considerable number of the present congregation may be found at last in destruction? Whence is it that you are under no concern as to the path in which you are travelling? I must, in faithfulness to my office, and pity to your souls, plainly declare, that if you reach the end of your earthly sojournment in the broad way of the world, and under the reigning power of sin, your state will be irremediable,— "for as the tree falls, so it lies." If you pursue this course, your perdition is inevitable. But with regard to the "narrow way," the reflection is rich with consolation. That leads to endless life. Difficult as it may be at its entrance, and ull of discouraging circumstances as it first appears, it nevertheless, gradually ripens into a "path of pleasantness and peace." It may be trying and toilsome to your fallen heart, but
"A hand divine shall lead you on
Through all the blissful road,
Secondly. There is no middle path in religion. these two only, the Scripture speaks, and in these the millions of mankind are severally found. In one or the other we are travelling; some, I would fain hope, in the despised and much deserted path of the Saviour, which leads to the throne of God; and others, I much fear, in the spacious road that conducts them to the chambers of death. Let me, therefore, affectionately urge you to
choose between these opposite courses.
It is a matter for
deep regret, that so many are desirous of finding out some other road, rather than that which the Bible reveals as the right. Many are deterred from following the multitude openly in all their gross impieties, by a portion of self-respect; and they would wish to avoid destruction at last, but they cannot practice Christian self-denial. They pursue a species of religion, merely as a gratification, and not from an undivided and sincere regard to the will of God. Such persons, however, should remember, that neutrality in the cause of Christ is impossible, for the lips of Infinite Wisdom have said, "He that is not with me, is against me; and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth abroad."*
Thirdly. Never suffer the world to be your authority in matters of religion. We see, from the subject before us, that numbers are no criterion of what is right. Example is powerful,—that of one wicked man beguiles another, and leads him astray. Still nothing is more fallacious and dangerous. If all the world, with one solitary exception, were to reject the Holy Scriptures, and walk in the broad road of heathenism and impiety, it would, nevertheless, follow that they were wrong, and that individual correct. Christianity, practical and personal Christianity, will ever be the way of life, and unbelief the way of death. Under all possible circumstances, the former leads to heaven, the latter to hell. Then never 'follow a multitude to do evil." Will it soften your pillow in a dying hour, that you have been allured to sin by the sins of others, and that there are thousands who must some day feel as you feel, and die as you die? Will example do to plead at the bar of God? Must you not then stand alone, and on your own responsibility? Therefore,
* Matt. xii. 30.
Finally. Strive to enter in at the strait gate. Let it be your constant and vigorous endeavour, by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, to obtain salvation. And never forget that He is the gate, according to his own testimony: "I am the door; by me, if any man enter, he shall be saved." It is not because the gate is strait, and the way narrow, that few find it, but because they never truly seek it. It is said in St. Luke, that "many seek to enter in, and shall not be able." But wherefore shall they not be able?-because they seek to enter by other ways than the atonement of Christ, and the influence of his spirit. Some attempt it by their deeds of charity; some by affecting superior sanctity; and some by flaming zeal: but nothing will save us but the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. It is not being a member of the Gentile or the Jewish church— the circumcision, or the uncircumcision, that availeth any thing; but a new creature-the regeneration of the heart, by the spirit of the Lord. "As many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and on the whole Israel of God."* Amen.
Gal. vi. 16.