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way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee
whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus said unto him, Foxes
have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son
of man hath not where to lay his head.
Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a
truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons ; but in every nation he that feareth him and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.
When our blessed Saviour was asked by his disciples, “ Are there few that be saved ?” he answered them in terms which tended to check the spirit of useless curiosity, and at the same time to excite the feelings of anxiety and earnestness respecting their own personal interest in that salvation, concerning which they had inquired. s Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” No direct reply was given to a
question, prompted, perhaps, by vain curiosity ; and yet enough was stated, to show that no common care, no trifling exertion was necessary, in order to secure salvation. The gate is described as strait, the way as narrow, that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
To the minds of those who have felt the obligation which attaches to all mankind, to “ work out their own salvation with fear and trembling," various conjectures may have arisen, as to the final result of that wondrous plan of salvation, which has been offered to a ruined and guilty world. Such conjectures cannot be useless or improper, if they are pursued with reference to our own eternal welfare, and if they lead us to those same conclusions to which Christ evidently wished to direct the minds of his disciples ; namely, the necessity of our own exertions, the duty of zeal and earnestness in our christian profession.
In fact, the more closely we examine the nature of those qualifications, which can alone fit us for our heavenly inheritance, the more fully shall we be convinced of the value of those means of grace, which are vouchsafed to us in order to our preparation for that inheritance; the more readily shall we acknowledge the goodness of God, who has not left us to wander undirected in our pilgrimage, but has given us his word to be a lamp to our feet and a lantern unto our paths.
It can arise only from a very imperfect idea of God's law, and a very erroneous comprehension of the state to which we shall soon be introduced, that many persons entertain the most vague notions respecting the absolute necessity of accepting the revelation of God, in its hopes and promises, in its principles and its demands. It is surely from a very inferior estimate of the holiness which must be established in the soul, in order to the enjoyment of everlasting happiness, that men are led to undervalue the means by which alone that holiness can be acquired; or that any can be brought to imagine, that the belief of those doctrines, which by their adoption become influential principles of action, may be a matter of no importance; and that the rejection of those doctrines involves no crime, and incurs no danger. No man who feels that, with all the appliances and means of godliness offered by the covenant of mercy, he still falls far short of that example which is proposed for his imitation; no one who thus feels, can acknowledge that sufficient advancement in true virtue could still be made, if Christianity had never been revealed ; or at least, if, when revealed, it should be despised and slighted, deprived of all its holy hopes, and awful sanctions, its moral influence opposed, its practical utility denied.
In forming our opinion of the obligation to believe the things which God has revealed, we