The Noblest Provocation to Sanctified Imagination
Matthew 7:13, 14
Enter you in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction…

Supposing that it was certain that we were intended to have, in the recorded sayings of the discourse of the mount, a closely connected discourse, we might feel it difficult to pronounce with any confidence on the connection of this thrilling passage, and feel anxious and grieved proportionately that we could not discharge more satisfactorily the responsibility herein which lay on us. Both for extent and for significance and commanding point of view, what a domain this passage has conquered for its own in its journey down the unrolling Christian centuries! What thoughts, what feelings, what facts and illustration from life, do now, with solemn rich sadness, cluster round it! Though difference of opinion may justly prevail as to the link of connection between the matter we have here and all that precedes, or whether there be any specific link at all, yet it may safely be generally remarked that, nearing the end of the discourse, it speaks appropriately enough more directly of the things that near the end of life, that solemn end, regard it as we may. The great bulk of the matter of the discourse graciously and condescendingly and practically affects the conduct of life; but here, and in the two great following and closing sections of the discourse, the solemn event of all here, of all the passing, the fleetly passing present, seems to be intentionally borne upon our heart and conscience, fear and hope. It may further be well to note that, if in all three of the clauses concerned, the "gate comes first, and in the two in which the way" is spoken of it follows distinctly the "gate," nevertheless the "gate" is that which must be found after traversing the way, and at the end of it, as surely as the grave or gate of death is at the end of life (see Luke 13:23, 24). And, once more preliminarily, hold up prominently to view this instructive and impressive fact - that the Light and the Love of the world, the Power and the Salvation of heaven in the world, thought fit to challenge, and did boldly challenge, thus soddenly the ignorance of those his first hearers, their surprised ignorance, as matter of fact (and leaving out all count of the causes of it, or the greater or less guilt of it), with these detached proclamations of eternal truth, as unseen by ordinary eye, and as unthought of as they were and ever are of matchless significance. What a model for the pronounced, dogmatic preaching of the Church to-day and for ever! From the Model how far in some quarters has the departure travelled! The many-sided, massive heart of the subject of these verses may then be treated thus. Invite to a reverent, humble attempt to meditate, to ponder, however afar off from the magnificent subject -


1. How really great this mystery is; because we know so little of it; because we grasp so little of it; because, probably, we can at present grasp only so little of it!

2. How glorious the mystery is, as measured (with power to measure, which we do possess, which we certainly can command) by the mere subject of it - "the gate that leadeth to life"! What a gate this must be, what a way, out of all the dull, toilsome, overshaded, contrast, which we struggle on with here!

3. How wakening, rousing, fascinating, to the imagination, which herein has offered to it its supremest employment! Everything conspires to this end. The conterminousness and the coincidence in time of this "gate" of life, in its last and highest expression, with certain grossest facts of our experience, which tyrannize over us under the name of death and its gate, offer the noblest provocation to an imagination though only ever so partially to be called a "sanctified" imagination. Invite to a humble, penitential meditation of -

II. THE CAUSES WHY THIS GATE IS CALLED, AND IS, STRAIT. It is all even too certain that it is strait, and must be so, or evil and sin and misery would be perpetuated, not stayed; propagated on infinite scale and to infinite proportions, not cut off. The straitness of the gate secures that only those shall pass back again into the life of Eden - yes, yet higher and better life than that - in whom is left no love of these, no seeds of these, no infection of them - those only in whom have died the deadly fruits, the vain flowers, the subtle growths of them, by reason of

(1) penitence unfeigned;

(2) repentance practical and thorough;

(3) mortification of self, through sanctification of the Spirit.

If the "gate that leadeth into life" were not strait with this straitness, it would be another and yet blanker abortion of life, misnamed, to which it would conduct. Necessities, absolute and essential, rule the straitness of this gate. And the transformation that sincerity, and truth, and purity, and the denial of the bodily self, and the denial of certain passions of the spiritual self, and the abhorring of all the cursed inspirations of the devil - the transformation that all these accomplish in one and another man, alike vindicate the straitness of the "gate," and pass him blessedly through it. Insist on the fact that -

III. THE STRAIT GATE IS ONLY TO BE COME AT BY THE NARROW WAY. This life not left to drift, not treated defiantly, not wasted recklessly, not passed in an ungodly, unrighteous, unsober temper - this life it is which must choose between the broad way or the narrow way, and which must "find" and follow the narrow way, if it is to find and enter through the strait gate into the city of life and of splendour "which is not strait." The narrow way is one of sorrow and carefulness, of confession oft and watchfulness constant, of severest self-condemnings, and of humblest clinging to Christ and obedience renewed again and again to a slighted and injured Holy Spirit. "But," said Chrysostom (fourteen centuries ago), "let us not be sad when many sorrows befall us here; for the way is strait, but not so the city; neither rest need we look for here, nor anything of sorrow, fear, there." - B.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:

WEB: "Enter in by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter in by it.

The Narrowness of the Gospel
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