John Bunyan.

The greatness of the soul : and the unspeakableness of the loss thereof ; No way to heaven but by Jesus Christ ; The strait gate (Volume 2) online

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nothing at all with reference thereto. The Holy Ghost also
determines upon this point, to wit, that they that do so
deceive themselves : " For if a man thinketh himself to be
something when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself ;" he
deceiveth his own soul, he deceiveth himself of heaven and
salvation. So again : " Let no man beguile you of your
reward," Col, ii. 18. 4. It is manifest from the text, " For
many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not
be able." Alas ! Great light, great parts, great works, and
great confidence of heaven, may be where there is no faith
of God's elect, no love of the Spirit, no repentance unto
salvation, no sanctification of the Spirit, and so conse-
quently, no saving grace. But,

'^dly^ As there is a thing like grace, which is not, so there
is a sin, called the sin against the Holy Ghost, from w^hich
there is no redemption ; and this sin doth more than ordi-
narily befal professors.

There is a sin called the sin against the Holy Ghost, from
which there is no redemption. This is evident both from
Matthew and Mark : " But whosoever speaketh against the
Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this
world, nor in the world to come. But he that shall blas-
pheme against the Holy Ghost, hath never forgiveness, but
is in danger of eternal damnation," Matth. xii. 32 ; Mark,
iii. 29. Wherefore, when we know tliat a man hath sinned
this sin, we are not to pray for him, or to have compassion
on him, 1 John, xv. 16 ; Judg. xxii.

This sin doth most ordinarily befal professors ; for there
are few, if any, that are not professors, that are at present
capable of sinning this sin. " They which were once en-
lightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, that were
made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the


good word of God, and the power of the world to come,"
Heb. vi. 4, 5, of this sort are they that commit this sin.
Peter also describes them to be such, that sin the unpardon-
able sin : " For if after thay have escaped the pollution of
the world, through the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour
Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein and over-
come, the latter end is worse with them than the begin-
ning," 2 Pet. ii. 2. The other passage in the 10th of the
Hebrews holdeth forth the same thing : " For if we sin
wilfully, after we have received the knowledge of the truth,
there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin, but a certain
fearful looking for of judgment, and fiery indignation, that
shall devour the adversaries," Heb. x. 26, 27. These, there-
fore, are the persons that are the prey for this sin : this sin
feedeth upon professors, and they that are such, do very
often fall into the mouth of this eater. Some fall into the
mouth of this sin, by delusions and doctrines of devils ;
and some fall into the mouth of it, by returning with the
dog to his own vomit again, and with the sow that was
washed to her wallowing in the mire, 1 Pet. ii. 22. I shall
not here give you a particular description of this sin — that
I have done elsewhere ; but such a sin there is, and they
that commit it shall never have forgiveness. And I say
again, there be professors that commit this unpardonalile
sin, yea, more than most are aware of. Let all therefore
look about them. The Lord awaken them that they may
so do ; for what with a profession without grace, and by
the venom of the sin against the Holy Ghost, many will
seek to enter in, and shall not be a])le. Will seek to
enter in.

This kingdom, at the gate of which the reprobate Avill be
stopped, will be at the last judgment the desire of all the
world ; and they, especially they in my text, will seek to
enter in ; for then they will see that the blessedness is to
those that shall get into this kingdom, according to that
which is written, " Blessed are they that do his command-
ments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and
may enter in through the gates into the city, Rev. xxi. 14.


To prove that they will seek, although I have done it al-
ready, yet read these texts at your leisure, Matt. xxv. 11 ;
vii. 22 ; Luke xiii. 28. And, in a word, to give you the
reason why they will seek to enter in.

(1.) Now they will see what a kingdom it is, what glory
there is in it, and now they shall also see the blessedness
which they shall have that shall then be counted worthy
to enter in. The reason why this kingdom is so little
regarded, it is because it is not seen ; the glory of it is hid
from the eyes of the world : " Their eye hath not seen, nor
their ear heard," &c. Ay, but then they shall hear and
see too ; and when this comes to pass, then, even then, he
that now most seldom thinks thereof will seek to enter in.

(2.) They will now see what hell is, and what damna-
tion in hell is, more clear than ever. They will also see
how the breath of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone,
doth kindle it. the sight of the burning fiery furnace,
which is prepared for the devil and his angels ! This, this
will make work in the souls of cast-aways at that day of
God Almighty, and then they will seek to enter in.

(3.) Now they will see what the meaning of such words
as these are, Hell-fire, Everlasting fire. Devouring fire, P'ire
that never shall be quenched. Now they will see what
Forever means, what Eternity means ; now they will see
what this word means, the Bottomless Pit ; now they will
hear roaring of sinners in this place, howling in that, some
crying to the mountains to fall upon them, and others to
the rocks to cover them ; now they will see blessedness is
nowhere but wdthin.

(4.) Now they will see what glory the godly are pos-
sessed with ; how they rest in Abraham's bosom, how they
enjoy eternal glory, how they walk in their white robes,
and are equal to the angels. the favour, and blessedness,
and unspeakable happiness that now God's people shall
have ! and this shall be seen by them that are shut out,
by them that God hath rejected for ever ; and this will
make them seek to enter in, Luke xvi. 22, 23 ; xiii. 28.
Will seek to enter in.


Quest. But some may say, How will they seek to enter in ?

Ans. (1.) They will put on all the confidence they can,
they will trick and trim up their profession, and adorn it
with what bravery they can. Thus the foolish virgins
sought to enter in ; they did trim up their lamps, made
themselves as fine as they could. They made shift to make
their lamps to shine awhile ; but the Son of God discovering
liimself, their confidence failed, their lamps went out, the
door was shut upon them, and they were kept out.

(2.) They will seek to enter in by crowding themselves
in among the godly. Thus the man without the wedding
garment sought to enter in : He goes to the wedding, gets
into the wedding-chamber, sits close among the guests, and
then, without doubt, concluded he should escape damna-
tion. But you know, one black sheep is soon seen, though
it be among an hundred white ones. Why, even thus it
fared with this poor man : And when the King came in to
see the guests, he saw there a man that had not on a wed-
ding-garment. He spied him presently, and before one
word was spoken to any of the others, he had this dreadful
salutation, " Friend, how camest thou in hither, not having
on a wedding garment ?" And he was speechless ; though
he could swagger it out amongst the guests, yet the master
of the feast, at first coming in, strikes him dumb ; and
having nothing to say for himself, the King had something
to say against him : " Then said the King to the servants
(the angels), bind him hand and foot, and take him away,
and cast him into utter darkness, there shall be weeping
and gnashing of teeth."

(3.) They will seek to enter in, by pleading their pro-
fession and admittance to the Lord's ordinances when they
were in the world : " Lord, we have eat and drank in thy
presence, and thou hast taught in our streets :" we sat at
thy table, and used to frequent sermons and Christian
assemblies ; we were well thought of by thy saints, and
were admitted into thy churches ; we professed the same
faith as they did ; Lord, Lord, open unto us.

(4.) They will seek to enter in, by pleading their vir-


tues ; how they subjected to his ministry, how they wrought
for him, Avhat good they did in the world, and the like,
Matt, vii, 22 ; but neither will this help them ; the same
answer that the two former had, the same have these, —
" Depart from me, ye workers of iniquity."

(5.) They will seek to enter in, by pleading excuses,
when they cannot evade conviction. The slothful servant
went this way to work, when he was called to account for
not improving his Lord's money : " Lord (says he) I knew
thou wast an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sowed,
and gathering where thou hast not strawed, and I was
afraid," ike. (either that I should not please in laying out
thy money, or that I should put it into hands out of which
I should not get it again at thy need), " and I went and
hid thy talent in the earth ; lo, there thou hast that is
thine ;" as if he had said. True, Lord, I have not improved,
I have not got ; but consider also I have not embezzled, I
have not spent nor lost thy money ; lo, there thou hast
what is thine. Matt. xxv. 24^28. There are but few will
be able to say these last words at the day of judgment.
The most of professors are for embezzling, mispending, and
slothing away their time, their talents, their opportunities
to do good in. But I say, if he that can make so good an
excuse as to say, Lo, there thou hast that is thine ; I say,
if such an one shall be called a wicked and slothful servant,
if such an one shall be put to shame at the day of judg-
ment, yea, if such an one shall, notwithstanding this care
to save his Lord's money, be cast as unprofitable into utter
darkness, where shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth,
what will they do that have neither taken care to lay out,
nor care to keep what was committed to their, trust ?

(6.) They will seek to enter in, by pleading that igno-
rance was the ground of their miscarrying in the things
wherein they offended. Wherefore when Christ charges
them with want of love to him, and with want of those
fruits that should prove their love to be true — as, that they
did not feed him, did not give him drink, did not take him
in, did not clothe him, visit him, come unto him, and the


like — they readily reply, " Lord, when saw we thee an
hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in
prison, and did not minister unto thee V Matt, xxv. 41-45.
As who should say. Lord, we are not conscious to ourselves
that this charge is worthily laid at our door : God forbid
that we should have been such sinners. But, Lord, give
an instance ; when was it, or where 1 True, there was a
company of poor sorry people in the woild, very incon-
siderable, set by with nobody ; but for thyself, we pro-
fessed thee, we loved thee, and hadst thou been with us in
the world, wouldst thou have worn gold, wouldst thou
have eaten the sweetest of the world, we would have pro-
vided it for thee ; and therefore. Lord, Lord, open to us.
But will this plea do 1 No. Then shall he answer them,
" Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these my
brethren, ye did it not to me." This plea, then, though
grounded upon ignorance, which is one of the strangest
pleas for neglect of duty, would not give them admittance
into the kingdom : " These shall go away into everlasting
punishment, but the righteous into life eternal."

I might add other things by which it will appear how
they will seek to enter in. As,

(1.) They will make a stop at this gate, this beautiful
gate of heaven ; they will begin to stand without at the
gate, as being loath to go any further. Never did male-
factor so unwillingly turn off the ladder when the rope was
about his neck, as these will turn away in that day fi-om
the gates of heaven to hell.

(2.) They will not only make a stop at the gate ; but
there they will knock and call. This also argueth them
willing to enter. They will begin to stand without, and
to knock at the gate, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. This
A\ord Lord being doubled, shews the vehemency of their
desires : Lord, Lord, open to us. The devils are coming ;
Lord, Lord, the pit opens her mouth upon us ; Lord, Lord,
there is nothing but hell and damnation left us, if. Lord,
Lord, thou hast not mercy upon us ; Lord, Lord, open
to us.


(3.) Their last argument for entrance is their tears, when
gTOundless confidence, pleading of virtues, excuses, and
ignorance, will not do ; when standing at the gate, knock-
ing and calling. Lord, Lord, open to us, will not do, then
they betake themselves to their tears. Tears are some-
times the most powerful arguments, hut they are nothing
worth here. Esau also sought it carefully with tears, but
it helped him nothing at all, Heb. xii. 15, 16. There shall
be weeping and gnashing of teeth ; for the gate is shut for
ever,'mercy is gone for ever, Christ hath rejected them for
ever. All their pleas, excuses, and tears, will not make
them able to enter into this kingdom.

" For many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and
shall not be able."

I come now to the latter part of the words, which closely
shew us the reason of the rejection of these many that
must be damned, — " They will seek to enter in, and shall
not be able."

An h^'pocrite, a false professor, may go a great way ;
they may pass through the first and second watch, to wit,
may be approved of Christians and churches ; but what
yyiU they do when they come at this iron gate that leadeth
into the city 1 There the Avorkers of iniquity will fall, be
cast down, and shall not be able to rise.

" And shall not be able." The time, as I have already
hinted, which my text respecteth, it is the day of judg-
ment, a day when all masks and vizards shall be taken off
from all faces. It is a day wherein God " will bring to
light the hidden things of darkness, and will make mani-
fest the counsels of the heart," 1 Cor. iv. 5. It is also the
day of his wrath, the day in which he will pay vengeance,
even a recompense to his adversaries.

At this day, those things that now these many count
sound and good, will then shake like a quagmire, even all
their naked knowledge, their feigned faith, pretended love,
glorious shows of gravity in the face, their holiday-words,
and specious carriages, will stand them in little stead. I
call them holiday ones, for I perceive that some professors


do with religion just as people tlo with their best apparel —
hang it against the wall all the week, and put them on on
Sundays. For as some scarce ever put on a suit but when
they go to a fair or a market, so little house religion will
do with some ; they save religion till they go to a meeting,
or till they meet with a godly chapman. poor religion !
O poor professor ! What wilt thou do at this day, and the
day of thy trial and judgment ? Cover thyself thou canst
not ; go for a Christian thou canst not ; stand against the
Judge thou canst not. What wilt thou do ? " The un-
godly shall not stand in judgment, nor sinners in the con-
gregation of the righteous."

" And shall not be able." The ability here intended is
not that which standeth in carnal power of fleshly subtlety,
but in the truth and simplicity of those things for the sake
of which God giveth the kingdom of heaven to his people.

There are five things, for the want of which this people
will not be able to enter.

(1 .) This kingdom belongs to the elect, to those for whom
it was prepared from the foundation of the world. Matt.
XXV. Hence Christ saith, when he comes, he will send
forth his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they
shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from
one end of heaven to another. Matt. xxiv. And hence he
saith again, " I will bring forth a seed out of Jacob, and
out of Judah an inheritor of my mountains, and mine elect
shall inherit it, and my servants shall dwell there." " They
shall deceive, if it were possible, the very elect." " But the
elect hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded," Rom.
xi. 7.

(2.) They will not be able to enter, because they will
want the birthright. The kingdom of heaven is for the
heirs, — and if children, then heirs ; if born again, then
heirs : wherefore it is said expressly, '' Except a man be
born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." By this
one word, down goes all carnal privilege of being born of
flesh and blood, and of the will of man. Canst thou pro-
duce the birthright 1 But art thou sure thou canst 1 For it


^vill little profit thee to think of the blessed kingdom of
heaven, if thou wantest a birthright to give thee inheri-
tance there. Esau did despise his birthright, saying, What
good will this birthright do me ? And there are many in
the world of his mind to this day. Tush, say they, they
talk of being born again ; what good shall a man get by
that ? They say, no going to heaven without being born
again. But God is merciful ; Christ died for sinners ; and
w^e will turn when we can tend it, and doubt not but all
will be well at last. But I will answer thee, thou child
of Esau, that the birthright and blessing go together ; miss
of one, and thou shalt never have the other. Esau found
this true ; for having first despised the birthright, when he
would afterwards have inherited the blessing, he was re-
jected ; for he found no place of repentance, though he
sought it carefully with tears, Gen. xxv. ; Heb. xii. 14-16.

(3.) They shall not be able to enter in who have not
believed with the faith of God's operation ; the faith that
is most holy, even the faith of God's elect : " lie that be-
lieveth on the Son of God hath everlasting life ; he that
believeth not the Son sliall not see life, but the wrath of
God abideth on him," John, iii. But now, this faith is
the effect of electing love, and of a new birth, John, xi. 12.
Therefore, all the professors that have not faith wdiich
floweth from being born of God, will seek to enter in, and
shall not be able.

(4.) They shall not be able to enter in that have not gos-
pel-holiness. Holiness that is the efi'ect of faith is that
which admits into the presence of God, and into his king-
dom too : " Blessed and holy are they that have part in
the first resurrection, on such the second death (which
is hell and eternal damnation, Rev. xx. 14) have no power,"
Rev. XX. 6. Blessed and holy, with the holiness that flows
from faith which is in Christ ; for to these the inheritance
belongs : " That they may receive forgiveness of sins, and
inheritance among them that are sanctified by faith (saith
Christ) which is in me," Acts, xxvi. 18. This holiness,
which is the natural effect of faith in the Son of God,


Clirist Jesus the Lord will, at this day of judgment, dis-
tinguish from all other shows of holiness and sanctity, be
the}' what they will, and will admit the soul that hath
this holiness into his kingdom, when the rest will seek to
enter in, and shall not he able.

(5.) They shall not be able to enter in that do not per-
severe in this blessed faith and holiness ; not that they that
have them indeed can finally fall away, and everlastingly
perish ; but it hath pleased Jesus Christ to bid them that
have the. right to hold fast that they have ; to endure to
the end ; and then tells them they shall be saved — though
it is as true that none is of power to keep himself; but
God worketh together with his children, and they are kept
by the power of God, through faith, unto salvation, which
is also laid up in hfeaven for them, 1 Pet. i. 3-5.

" The foolish shall not stand in thy sight ; thou hatest the
workers of iniquity." The foolish are the unholy ones,
that neither have faith, nor holiness, nor perseverance in
godliness, and yet lay claim to the kingdom of heaven ;
but '• better is a little with righteousness, than great reve-
nues without right," Psalm Iv. ; Prov. xvi. 8. What is
it for me to claim a house, or a farm, without right ? or
to say, all this is mine, but have nothing to shew for it ?
his estate lieth in his conceit ; he hath nothing by birth-
right and law, and therefore shall not be able to inherit
the possession : " For many, I say unto you, will seek to
enter in, and shall not be able."

Thus you see, that the non-elect shall not be able to enter,
that he that is not born again shall not be able to enter,
that he that hath not saving faith, with holiness and per-
severance flowing therefrom, shall not be able to enter :
wherefore consider of what I have said.

II. I come now to give you some observations from the
words, and they may be three.

1. When men have put in all the claim they can for
heaven, but few will have it for their inheritance : " For
many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not
be able." 2. Great, therefore, will be the disappointment


that many will meet with at the day of judgment : " For
many will seek to enter in, and shall not be able." 3. Going
to heaven, therefore, will be no trivial business ; salvation
is not got by a dream ; they that would then have that
kingdom, must now strive lawfully to enter : " For many,
I sav unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be

I shall speak chiefly, and yet but briefly, to the first of
these observations, to wit.

That when men have put in all the claim they can to the
kingdom of heaven, but few Avill have it for their inherit-
ance. The observation standeth of two parts.

1. That the time is coming, Avhen every man will put in
whatever claim they can to the kingdom of heaven. 2.
There will be but few of them that put in claim thereto
that shall enjoy it for their inheritance.

I shall speak but a word or two to the first part of the
observation, because I have prevented my enlargement
thereon by my explication upon the words ; but you find
in the 25th of Matthew, that all they on the left hand of
the Judge did put in all the claim they could for this blessed
kingdom of heaven. If you shall take them on the left hand,
as most do, for all the sinners that shall be damned, then
that completely proveth the first part of the observation ;
for it is expressly said, " Then shall they (all of them
jointly, and every one apart) also answer him, saying,
Lord, when saw we thee thus and thus, and did not minister
unto thee ?" Matth. xxv. 44. I could here bring you in the
plea of the slothful servant, the cry of the foolish virgins :
I could also here enlarge upon that passage, " Lord, Lord,
have we not eat and drank in thy presence, and thou hast
taught in our streets ?" But these things are handled al-
ready, in the handling of which this first part of the
observation is proved ; wherefore, without more words, I
will, God assisting by his grace, descend to the second part
thereof, to wit.

There will be but few of them that put in claim thereto
that will enjoy it for their inheritance.


I shall speak distinctly to this part of the ohservation,
and shall first confirm it hy a Scripture or two.

" Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, that leadeth
unto life, and few there be that find it," Matth. vii. 13, 14.
" Fear not, little flock, it is your Father's good pleasure to
give you the kingdom," Luke, xii. 32.

By these two texts, and by many more that will be urged
anon, you may see the truth of what I have said.

To enlarge, therefore, upon the truth ; and, First, more
generally ; Secondly, more particularly.

1, More generally, I shall prove that in all ages but few
have been saved. 2. More particularly, I shall prove but
few of them that profess have been saved.

First, In the old world, w^hen it was most populous, even
in the days of Noah, we read but of eight persons that were
saved out of it : well, therefore, might Peter call them but
few ; but how few 1 Why, but eight souls ; " wherein few,
that is, eight souls, w^ere saved by water," 1 Pet. iii. 20. He
touches a second time upon this truth, saying, " He spared
not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a
preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the
world of the ungodly." Mark, all the rest are called the
ungodly, and there were also a world of them, 2 Pet. ii. 5.
These are also taken notice of in Job, and go there also by
the name of wicked men : " Hast thou marked the old way,

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