Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say to you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.
I. THE OBJECTIONABLE NATURE OF THE QUESTION PROPOSED.
1. Objectionable, as indicating an exclusive and self-righteous spirit.
2. Objectionable, as indicating an undue curiosity upon a subject which God has concealed from human view.
II. THE SOLEMN EXHORTATION TO WHICH IT GAVE RISE. The Christian is exposed to the ridicule of the scoffer, the contempt of the scorner, and the sneers of the profane. His conduct is misrepresented, his words misinterpreted, and his motives misunderstood. His religion is termed hypocrisy, his faith presumption, his holiness self-righteousness, his strict walk with God an arrogant assumption of superiority over men, and his diligent attendance on the means of grace and ordinances of religion a mere observance of useless forms and ceremonies. His wisdom is called folly, his patience pusillanimity, his meekness cowardice, his sobriety avarice, his almsgiving an ostentatious display of benevolence; and his zealous exertions for the temporal and spiritual welfare of man and the honour and glory of God are stigmatized as unhallowed attempts to promote his own worldly interests and to advance his own worldly reputation. These oppositions from without are abetted by the corruptions of the heart within, which "is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked," and is ever inventing excuses for indulging in forbidden gratifications and for resting in a mediocrity of spiritual attainments. Add to these considerations the devices and stratagems of the arch enemy of God and man, by which he deludes men into a false security and seduces them into the commission of sin, exaggerating the enjoyment and concealing the danger of the forbidden fruit, and saying, as he did of old, "Ye shall not surely die," and who does not see the necessity of vigilance, circumspection, and active exertion to secure the favour of God, according to our Saviour's exhortation, "Strive to enter in at the strait gate "?
III. Such being the difficulties which beset the path of life, we are at no loss to account for THE APPALLING TRUTH WHICH CHRIST BRINGS FORWARD TO ENFORCE THAT EXHORTATION — "For many will seek to enter in, and shall not be able"; the meaning of which is, that many have thoughts and faint desires of heaven who will never be found among the heirs of glory. The spectators might wish the happy lot of the successful racer or the victorious combatant in the public games of Greece, and sigh for the laurels which crowned his brow and the acclamations which awaited his return home; but such idle and empty wishes could never secure the prize. Even the prophet who "loved the wages of unrighteousness" could exclaim, "How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, and thy tabernacles, O Israel! Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his." But desires like these may be felt without the slightest approximation to the object desired. It is to covet a treasure and refuse to dig for it. It is to know of a "pearl of great price" and grudge the expense of buying the field where it is deposited. It is to wish for the abundance of the harvest and decline the labour of cultivating the soil. Alas! how great is the number of those who in regard to the kingdom of heaven put the wish for the act, who idle away their time, and " spend their strength for nought," through all the stages of an unprofitable existence, and then sink down, astonished and confounded, into that gulf of endless perdition from which they have never made any real effort to escape.
Parallel VersesKJV: Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.