And the door was shut. I.
1. Necessary for the sake of the redeemed. One guest who does not enter into the spirit of your festivity robs your friends of their joy.
2. Necessary when we regard the sinner himself.
II. FINALITY OF EXCLUSION. The word here used for "shut" does not mean simply "to close to," but to shut that it cannot be opened — "to lock." The door is open now.
THE CHARACTERS IN DANGER OF THIS GREAT CALAMITY.
1. The mere religious professor.
2. The procrastinating.
II. WHAT IS THE DOOR WHICH IS SHUT.
1. The door of repentance will be shut.
2. The door of religious opportunity and of hope.
3. The door of "glory, honour, and immorality" will be shut.
The door of heaven was shut.
2. The door of mercy was shut.
3. The door of hope was shut.
4. The door of hell was shut.
Two readings of the text. I am glad some gates will be closed.
1. The persecutions of this world cannot get through the gate of heaven.
2. The fatigues of life will not get through the gate.
3. The bereavements of life will not get through the gate.There will be some persons who will come up to that gate at last who will not be admitted.
1. The outrageously wicked and abandoned most certainly cannot get in.
2. The door of heaven will not open to those who are depending upon their morality for salvation.
3. The gate of heaven will not open for the merely hollow professor.
4. All infidels and sceptics will be kept out.
Let us consider how easily this may happen with respect to outward blessings and opportunities in life. Take education; friendship; wealth; personal capacity; the value of these is often missed till it is too late. Thus as the years pass, we listen in life to the sound of the closing doors as, one after another, they strike upon the ear of the soul and of the conscience.
2. The door is shut for each of us as we draw our last breath. There is no repentance in the grave.
A door is a barrier which often separates two very unlike scenes. On one side, for instance, are green fields, and bright sunshine, and running streams, and happy laughter. On the other, the manacled forms of listless prisoners, the dark cell, the moan of despair, the vision of death. Or, outside are wild, sobbing, wintry winds, driving showers of hail and sleet, homeless wanderers, friendless outcasts; inside, bright light, abundant food, a warm hearth, and a cheerful circle of friends. Between such opposite scenes as these there is only a door. The real question in all such cases is, "Can I open that door? Can I pass through it?" If not, all the waters of the sea, all the mountains of the world, could not form a stronger barrier.
Dreadful to be read or heard; but much more so to be experienced. Oh, foolish virgins; foolish indeed. All their labour is now lost, and they themselves too. Separated from the wise virgins, their fellows, and from God.
I. The "door" primarily the door of heaven, and with it the door of
II. Awfulness of this.
(1)It is God who shuts the door.
(2)No other way of entrance.
(3)Might once have entered.
(4)Others are in and we shut out.
(1)Terror of wicked.
(2)Happiness of saints.
(3)Distinction between saints and sinners is a lasting one.
()In the spiritual world as well as in the natural world there is a seedtime, and unless you sow your seed in the seed-time it will rot in the ground. What would you think of the farmer who said, "It is not quite convenient for me to sow the corn at the time when the other farmers are sowing it. I very much prefer to enjoy myself, and go my own way, and do what I like. God is a God of love and mercy, and He is also omnipotent, and He certainly would not wish that my wife and children should starve for want of food; so I will sow my seed in the summer, and then God in His omnipotent mercy will cause it to bring forth a harvest, and I shall have a supply, and my wife and children will be provided with food." Do you think this man's strange idea about the love of God will alter the facts of the case? I tell you that while he is talking thus he is deliberately violating the laws of God revealed by nature, and as he deliberately violates the laws of God on selfish grounds, without the slightest necessity, and wantonly, that man shall put his seed into the ground and talk about the love of God, and his seed shall rot before his eyes and his children shall die of starvation, the love of God notwithstanding. You must sow at the right time, or it will not spring up.
()Thus, as the years pass, we listen in life to the sound of the closing doors as, one after another, they strike upon the ear of the soul and of the conscience. We hear them proclaiming that a something which once was ours, and for the use of which we still have to answer, is ours no longer. We hear them more often, we hear them louder, as the time flies past; and thus in their frequency and their urgency they lead us up towards a climax when there will be the closing of a door and none beyond it — the door of our individual probation at death, the door of all probations at the last judgment. Place the last judgment in the light of that aspect of life on which we have been dwelling, and it is seen in its essential character and principle to be not an innovating catastrophe as much as the result to which the lesser catastrophes of life steadily point onward. It is the final term of many experiences which lead up to it. As by a continuous analogy it exhibits visibly, and on a scale of unimagined vastness, that judgment of God which is ever going forward invisibly, and, with individuals, bringing to a close first one and then another sphere and department of our responsibility, until the account is sufficiently made up to be closed in whatever sense, until the time has come when all accounts can be closed, and the last hour for the world of moral beings of their probation has clearly sounded in the providence of God.
()The poet Cowper tells us that, when under conviction of sin, he dreamed that he was walking in Westminster Abbey, waiting for prayers to begin. "Presently I heard the minister's voice, and hastened towards the choir. Just as I was upon the point of entering, the iron gate under the organ was flung in my face, with a jar that made the Abbey ring. The noise awakened rue; and a sentence of excommunication from all the churches upon earth could not have been so dreadful to me as the interpretation which I could not avoid putting upon this dream."Have you not felt a fainting of heart, and a bitterness of spirit, when, after much preparation for an important journey, you have arrived at the appointed place, and found that the ship or train by which you had intended to travel had gone with all who were ready at the appointed time, and left you behind? Can you multiply finitude by infinitude? Can you conceive the dismay which will fill your soul if you come too late to the closed door of heaven, and begin the hopeless cry, "Lord, Lord, open to us"?
() A lady, who heard Whitefield in Scotland preach on these words, being placed between two dashing young men, but at a considerable distance from the pulpit, witnessed their mirth, and overheard one say, in a low tone, to the other, "Well, what if the door be shut? Another will open." Thus they turned off the solemn words of warning. Mr. Whitefield had not proceeded far when he said, "It is possible there may be some careless, trifling person here to-day, who may ward off the force of this impressive subject by lightly thinking, 'What matter if the door be shut? Another will open.'" The two young men were paralyzed, and looked at each other. Mr. Whitefield proceeded: "Yes: another will open. And I will tell you what door it will be: it will be the door of the bottomless pit! — the: door of hell! — the door which conceals from the eyes of angels the horrors of damnation!"Many things should make us look and long for the Lord's coming. A sense of justice should have this effect. He suffered here; should He not rejoice here? He was put to shame here; should he not be glorified here? He was judged and condemned here; should He not rule and reign here? He laboured here; should He not rest here? Love to Christ should have the same effect. When a friend whom we greatly love is absent, don't we often think of him? and if we hope that he will soon return, do we not long for it, and count the months and days that intervene? If you are expecting a friend, say from India, does not your nimble mind seem to go with him all the way home? You say, Now he is passing the Sunderbunds, now crossing the Bay of Bengal, now at the Point de Galle, now in the Indian Ocean, now in the Red Sea, now passing through the Desert, now in the Mediterranean, and now sighting our shores. If we did not so often go to the Bible, with a veil upon our faces — an extinguisher upon our heads — we should see that the thought of Christ's coming was far more present to the mind of the early Christians than it is to ours.
()It quickens to care and diligence. He was a shrewd man who said, "The eye of the master is worth a dozen overseers." I remember once living at a place where a large number of people were constantly employed in keeping the walks, grounds, and gardens in order. The proprietor was absent, and everything had a sleepy, slovenly look. But when tidings came that he would soon return, all became awake, earnest, and active. The pruning, the rolling, the weeding, the sweeping, went on amain; none rested till all was ready; and all were gratified by the look and word of approval, when the master came. And so, if we constantly felt, "I know not the day or hour that my Lord may come," it would exercise a salutary influence on our whole character and conduct. It would keep us from much sin and folly; it would keep us from wearying and despondency; it would keep us always ready, in that frame of mind, and that employment of time, in which we should like Him to find us. It would keep us from being absorbed with earthly things; it would regulate our affections, connections, and recreations. Shall I go where I would not like my Lord to find me? Shall I tie myself to those whom I must leave behind when the Lord comes? If you were always watching, you would have a constant sense of readiness, and so a constant peace of mind. If you were always watching, it would have an effect on those among whom you live; it would either condemn or awaken them. We know the watchman on the streets at night. He has his lamp; he is on the outlook; he is not sauntering idly along; he has an object. But, you say, would not all these ends be answered by thinking of death, that it will come, and may come at any time, — oh! how suddenly in these last times, both on land and sea? Well, in many respects this would have the same effect. But do you habitually watch for death? Is it always present to your thoughts, influencing your whole character and conduct? If your mind is like mine, you will honestly answer No. Death is not a pleasant object of contemplation, — that death-struggle, that death-dew, that parting with loved friends, that cold, lonely grave! But, blessed be the Lord, He does not bid us watch for death; He bids us watch for Himself.
()Take heed of slackening the spring, of weakening the motive, by introducing the idea that a long period must elapse, that great changes and revolutions must take place, before the Lord can come. Take heed of this, for it will certainly diminish your freshness, spirituality, love, and zeal. I marvel at the presumption of mortal men, who take it upon them to fix how near, or how distant, that coming is. Christ, when on earth, said distinctly, No man knows it; angels do not know it; I myself know it not. He says, "All that My Father hath showed Me, I have made known to you," but this a thing which My Father at present has not seen fit to show Me. He has kept it in His own power. We can see the Divine wisdom of this reticence. The element of uncertainty is just the tempering of the spring, — what gives it an unchanging elasticity in all generations. If men knew the exact time, the whole world would be on the qui vive. Flesh and blood could then take cognizance of it; and this high, holy, spiritual motive would degenerate into a mere carnal, sensational thing.
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