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Parable of the Master of the House.

LUKE XIII. 24-29.

"Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the Master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are: Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are ; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God."

In this passage the parable and the application are closely blended, so that it is with difficulty we can separate the one from the other. This will not, however, hinder us from obtaining the true application.

It seems that a person came to Jesus with this question: "Lord, are there few that be saved?' In answer, he replied, strive to enter in at the strait gate,' &c. It ought in the first place to be settled, what did this person mean, when he inquired, are there few that be saved? Did he intend to inquire, are there few who will finally be saved from hell torments in the world to come? We think not. In order to ascertain the proper import of this question, we must seek the true

sense of the word saved. It is generally supposed that it signifies deliverance from misery in the future existence, but we are confident that a brief examination, will shew the incorrectness of that supposition. Horne says, 'it is not uncommon, even in the best versions, to find meanings put upon the sacred text, which are totally foreign to the intention of the inspired penmen. If the translators of our common version, had rendered the original of Acts ii. 47 literally, it would have run thus the Lord added daily to the church, the saved; that is, those who were saved from their sins and prejudices. Dr. Whitby says, 'the Christians are styled the saved. So 1 Cor. i. 18, to us the saved, Christ crucified is the power of God; and when the means of salvation, or that grace of God which brings salvation, was vouchsafed to them, salvation is said to come, Luke xix. 9. Rom. xi. 11, or to be sent to them, Acts xiii. 16. xxviii. 28.2 This fact should be kept in remembrance, that this expression-the saved-was a common term that the Christians chose by which to designate themselves. They did not mean by it persons who had been translated to an immortal existence, but persons who had been turned from darkness to light, from the power of sin and satan unto God, and who had been translated into the kingdom of God's dear Son. Thus, when the jailor said to Paul and Silas, 'Sirs, what must I do to be saved?' the import waswhat must I do to be one of the saved? what must I do to be as you are? And hence they returned the very answer which, in that case, we should have expected, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.' Acts xvi. 31. The intention, therefore, of the person who 1 Introduction ii. 683, 684.

2 Com. on Acts ij. 47.

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asked Jesus the question, are there few that be saved?' seems to have been this-are there few that have embraced the religion you teach? Is it to be embraced by many, or confined to a few? He seems to have expected to justify his rejection of the gospel by the example of the many. Jesus replies, strive to enter in at the strait gate, for many I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able' Entering at the strait gate was embracing the religion of Christ, and was the same thing as being saved. Hence Kenrick very judiciously observes; Believing in Christ, is, with propriety, called being saved, because it was attended with temporal deliverance; whereas unbelief produded inevitable destruction, in the calamities which awaited the Jewish nation. Christ, therefore, in his answer to the question, exhorts the person who made it, and others who might hear it, to enter the strait gate, that is, to embrace his religion, which was at that time attended with many difficulties, and which might fitly be compared to entering a strait or narrow passage; and he enforces this exhortation, by assuring them that the time would come, when many would seek an entrance into the kingdom of the Messiah, but would be refused admission."1

The very exhortation, 'strive to enter in,' shows that there were difficulties to encounter. These difficulties however, were not in the nature of the religion of Christ abstractly considered; but existed in the errors and vices of the times, and the corrupt prejudices of the age, to which his religion was directly opposed. This state of things made the entrance into the gospel difficult, and men had to strive to attain it. Had the religion of Jesus been

1 Expos. on the passage.

the popular religion, embraced and countenanced by the rich and great, men naturally, and from motives of worldly interest would have embraced it; if they had strove at all in that case, it must have been to have kept out. The blessed doctrine of universal grace at the present day, like christianity in the primitive age, is opposed by the proud, the self-righteous, and those who call themselves religious ; and it hence requires an effort on the part of those who embrace it, to rise above the influences of the world, and sacrifice all minor considerations to the cause of truth. Popular prejudice, in the days of Christ, set, like the current of a river, against the truth; and those who followed him, were obliged to encounter this obstacle, and gain truth under all these disadvantages. For this reason entrance into the gospel was represented by a strait gute, to which men had access by striving.

But there is another fact to be noticed. Not every one that did strive was able to enter in. 6 Many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.' This seems to be a hard case, that after endeavoring to enter the gate of the gospel, they should be excluded. For what reason was this? Answer, because they did not strive soon enough. While the enemies of Jesus were comparatively safe, eating, and drinking and making merry, they could not profess the name of Christ before men; but when thick troubles began. to gather upon the Jewish church and state, and the divine favor began to be manifested in an unusual manner in favor of the persecuted religion of Jesus, then they turned their eyes to him, and cried Lord, Lord, open the gate of the gospel unto us. To these events the following words of Christ are applicable. 'Whosoever, therefore, shall be

ashamed of me, and of my words, in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him also shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father, with the holy angels;' and Jesus assured them that this should take place, during the natural lives of that generation. Mark viii. 38 compared with ix. 1. To illustrate this fact, the parable now under consideration was spoken. "When once the Master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us, and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are, Then shall ye begin to say, we have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you I know you not whence ye are depart from me all ye workers of iniquity." The purport of this advice is, strive to enter now into the acceptance and profession of my gospel; be not ashamed of me, nor of my doctrine before this sinful generation. If you do not embrace the present opportunity, the time will come when you will regret it. Your nation will soon be overthrown with the most dreadful calamities; and then not a hair on the heads of my disciples shall be hurt. When that time comes, it will be too late for you to enter the kingdom of God; the door will be shut; you will wish you had embraced past opportunities; but it will be of no avail; you will put forth pretences and claims to be considered my followers, but you will not have the test of true discipleship. At that critical time, there cannot be this change of character. Christians then will be christians, and enemies must remain enemies-the judgments cannot be averted. 'He that is unjust will then be unjust still; he that is filthy will be filthy still; he that is

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