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obedience in all those very cafes and inftances, where we are most unwilling to it.

(3.) As this obedience must be univerfal, fo it must be conftant alfo, and this ftill adds to the difficulty. St. Paul having given the Corinthians a large defcription of the glorious state of the blefsed in heaven, after their resurrection from the dead, concludes it with these words: Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfaft, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord. Sometimes mens confciences may be ftruck with a fudden conviction of the folly and the danger of their ways; fometimes they quarrel with their lufts by reason of that shame and fuffering, which they bring upon them; fometimes the temptation is removed, the evil company withdrawn, the tempter hides himself, and then the luft fleeps, and while it fleeps it seems to be dead. But no fooner doth the temptation return, but then the luft awakes, the finner forgets his convictions, forgets the fhame and fufferings his fins had formerly brought upon him, forgets the refolutions he made when he was under that condition; he then violates his intentions, breaks his vows, and returns to the fame excefs of riot as before. But now the obedience of the Gofpel muft be ftedfaft, unmoveable; it must be fuch as will continue as well when we are, as when we are not under temptation. And this is the third of those particulars, which renders the way and gate to heaven strait and narrow. But likewise,

(4.) THEY that will enter the ftrait gate of everlafting happiness, must be obedient from the heart, or fincere in their obedience, which renders it fo much the ftraiter ftill. Were it enough to put on a fpecious garb in all our external converfation, only to hide our lufts, and cover the corruption that lurks within us, the craft and policy of this world would teach fome men to do their duty; they

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would

would eafily learn to fmooth the tongue, and oil the lips, and bear the appearance of such persons as Chrift requires his difciples to be. But now the precepts of the Gofpel reach farther than to the outward man, they require the obedience of the heart; and here indeed lies the greatest part of our obedience; yea, and that which is moft difficult to us. 'Tis no fuch great matter of difficulty to forbear the outward act that is forbidden; but for the proud and haughty man to fubdue his inward pride, for a man in affliction to check all inward murmuring, and bear it with a free fubmiffion to the will of God; for the fenfual man to mortify and fubdue his fenfual inclinations; for him that naturally loves wealth to abandon his fecret veneration and efteem of it; for him that hath received an injury, heartily to lay afide all inward malice, or grudges, as well as actual revenge; this is the gate that leads to heaven and happiness, and this indeed is a strait gate. Men may flatter themselves with vain hopes of getting to heaven fome other way; but it is certain there is no other than this, of fincere, conftant, univerfal obedience to all Chrift's precepts, can bring them thither; which being in its nature a very strait narrow gate, it is to be fear'd that few men will enter in at it, especially confidering there are many impediments in their way; which brings me to my fecond general enquiry.

II. WHAT the impediments are, which are apt to divert men out of it, or hinder them from making any great progrefs in it. And they are principally,

(1.) NATURAL inclination. Man was indeed at firft created upright, with a capacity for, and a prevailing inclination to holiness, though yet with a poflibility of finning; but when Adam had finned away the original perfection of his nature, and

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by one wilful act of difobedience corrupted all his
faculties; the biafs of his mind was changed, his
understanding darkned, his affections debauch'd,
his will diftorted with a violent bent to that which
is evil; and this fad corruption runs in the blood
through every creature defcended from him. It ap-
pears betimes, even in the tender age of infancy,
and fticks clofe to us in all the periods of human
life, in youth, in manhood, in old age; and tho'
it may by the grace of God be kept in fubjection,
it is never totally conquered, even in the best of
men, till the body return to duft, and the spirit re-
turn to God who gave it. Now this is that earth-
ly or natural man, which favoureth not the things
of heaven; nor can at all relish them, without the
illuminations and ftrong impreffions of divine grace;
and even then, nature is ftill apt to return upon us,
and over-bear what is fpiritual. How inclinable
are we to all the evils which the Gospel prohibits,
and how averfe to thofe duties which the Gofpel
exprefly requires? What abundance of pains muft
be taken with men, what arguments used, what
reafons urged, what inward checks and convictions
upon their minds, before they can be induced to
offer any violence to this their corrupted nature?
And then when the arguments that have been used,
the love of happinefs, the fear of mifery in another
world, the fenfe of God's infinite favour in giving
his Son to die for them, have wrought fome better
inclinations in them; yet how many degrees of
their former natural defires and appetites ftill remain
to be fubdued? And what a conflict must a man
have with himself, what ftrifes and wars in his own
breaft, to refift and oppofe these appetites? And
yet all this must be done, we must
we muft mortify
and fubdue these corrupt defires, and paffions, and
averfions, before we fhall be able to walk in the
narrow way, or enter in at the ftrait gate to hea-
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ven.

(2.) A

(2.) A fecond impediment we have to ftruggle with, is, the temptation of the devil; that fubtil, that unwearied follicitor to fin, who from his hatred of God is continually fomenting the rebellion against him; from the malignity of his nature, takes delight in wickedness; and from his envy to mankind, industriously watches all opportunities of enticing us into the broad way of fin and ruin; or (if he can't prevail for that) to make our way to heaven as rough and troublesome as he can, by plying us with vile fuggeftions, by laying fecret fnares for us, by giving us frequent falls, difquieting our minds, and interrupting our religious courfe by many arts of moleftation. Indeed he is invifible to us, we are not aware of his approaches; but that renders his temptation the more dangerous, he furprises us when we are leaft provided, he applies himself to that luft which is moft potent in us, and at that time when it is moft enflamed, and in fuch manner as is most likely to work with us. He is a fpirit, and can infinuate himself into our minds with great advantage; his long experience in mifchief has render'd him politic and crafty, and his malice makes him diligent. So that with great reafon it is, that St. Peter has cautioned us, * Be fober, be vigilant, because your adverfary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, feeking whom be may devour; whom refift, fledfaft in the faith. And to the fame purpofe is that of St. Paul, Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to ftand against the wiles of the devil. For we wreftle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against Spiritual wickedness in high places. We fee then what an enemy we have, who will, if poffible, divert us from walking in the narrow way, and entring in at the ftrait gate.

I Pet. v. 7, 8,

† Eph. vi. 11.

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(3) A third impediment is, the many fnares that this world lays before us. The good and evil, the hopes and fears of this prefent life, divert us out of the way to heaven. The overbearing opinion we have of what is neceffary, convenient and beneficial to us here, is apt to work upon us fo far, as to make us eagerly to purfue the advantages of this prefent world, with the neglect of that bleffedness which is proposed to us in the life to come. We are apt to confider things imperfectly, fo as to give the preference to concernments of lefs value, but prefent; before thofe of greater worth, which are future. The love of this present world, the profits, honours, and pleafures of it, draw men afide from fpiritual things, and chain them down to vile affections, alienate them from the laws of God, and introduce them into a thousand frauds and injuries to one another; and the fear of want or poverty, difgrace or danger in this life, betray men to bafe actions, unworthy arts, and finful compliances, to avoid them. *Demas bath forfaken me, faith St. Paul, having loved this prefent world; loved the advantages, and fear'd the dangers of this prefent life; having confidered things prefent, and not confidered things to come, he hath abandon'd me, and it may be the truth it felf, to avoid the dangers which attend me. Now feeing the things of this prefent life have fo ftrong an influence upon us, feeing we must refift this influence, if we will walk in the ftrait way, and mortify all defires of worldly things, take up our crofs, and follow Chrift, if we will be his difciples; it is evident what a mighty difficulty or obftruction this must be to us in our way to heaven.

(4.) ADD hereunto in the fourth place, the ill examples we have from other men to lead us out of

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