John Bunyan.

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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 consequently no saving grace. But,

2. As there is a thing like grace, which is not,
so there is a sin, called the sin against the Holy
Ghost, from which there is no redemption ; and
this sin doth more than ordinarily befall 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,
neither in the world to come.' ' But he that shall
blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never for-
giveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation.'
Mat. xii. 32. Mar. iii. 29. Wherefore, when we know
that a man hath sinned this sin, we are not to
pray for him, or to have compassion on him. 1 Jn. v. 16.

Jude 22.

This sin doth most ordinarily befall professors;
for there are few, if any, that are not professors,
that are at present capable of sinning this sin.
They which ' were once enlightened, and have
tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made par-
takers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the
good word of God, and the powers of the world to
come,' of this sort are they that commit this sin.
He. vL i, 5. Peter also descrihes them to be such,
that sin the unpardonable sin. ' For if, after they



have escaped the pollutions of the world through
the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus
Christ, they are again entangled therein, and
overcome, the latter end is worse with them than
the beginning.' 2 re. a. 20. The other passage in
the tenth of Hebrews holdeth forth the same thing.
* For if we sin wilfully after that we have received
the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no
more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking
for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall
devour the adversaries.' He. x. 26, 27. These, there-
fore, are the persons that are the prey for this sin;
this sin feedeth upon trofessors, 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. 2 Pe. u. 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 pro-
fessors that commit this unpardonable 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 with-
out grace, and by the venom of the sin against
the Holy Ghost, many will seek to enter in, and
shall not be able.

[Import of the words will seek, to enter in.]

• Will seek to enter in.' This kingdom, at the
gate of which the reprobate will 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 blessed-
ness is to those that shall get into this kingdom,
according to that which is written, ' Blessed are
they that do his commandments, that they may
have right to the tree of life, and may enter in
through the gates into the city. ' Re. «L 14. To
prove that they will seek, although I have done it
already, yet read these texts at your leisure —
Mat. xxv. li; vii. 22. Lu. xiii. 28. And, in a word, to give
you the reason why they will seek to enter in.

[ 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

* More particularly in the ' Jerusalem Sinner Saved ;' see
p. 102 — ' He that would be saved by Jesus Christ, through
faith in his blood, cannot be counted for such,' Stc. The siu
against the Holy Ghost is an abandonment of Christianity —
'to crucify the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open
shame.' He. vi. 6. Poor trembler, woulrist thou crucify the
Son of God afresh ? If thy conscience says, Never ! never !
thou hast not committed this unpardonable sin. — Ed.

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. Aye, 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
damnation 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, de-
vouring fire, fire that never shall be quenched.
Now they will see what * for ever ' 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 within !

4. Now they will see what glory the godly are
possessed 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 un-
speakable 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. Lu. xvi.

22, 23; xiii. 28.

[How will they seek to enter in. ]
' Will seek to enter in.' Quest. But some may
say, How will they seek to enter in ? [I] answer,

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
himself, their confidence failed, their lamps went
out, the door was shut upon them, and they were
kept out. Mat. xxt. 1—12.

2. They will seek to enter in by crowding them-
selves in among the godly. Thus the man with-
out the wedding garment sought to enter in. He
goes to the wedding, gets into the wedding cham-
ber, sits close among the guests, and then, without
doubt, concluded he should escape damnation.
But, you know, one black sheep is soon seen,
though it be among a hundred white ones. W by,
even thus it fared with this poor man. ' And when
the kimr came in to see the <ruests, he saw there



a man that had not on a wedding garment.' He
spied him presently, and hefore one word was
spoken to any of the others, he had this dreadful
salutation, ' Friend, how earnest thou in hither,
not having on a wedding garment ?* And he
was speechless;' though he could swagger it out
among 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 the king said to the
servants,' the angels, 'Bind him hand and foot,
and take him away, and cast him into outer dark-
ness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. '

Mat. ixii. 11—13.

3. They will seek to enter in by pleading their
profession and admittance to the Lord's ordinances
when they were in the world. ■ Lord, we have eaten
and drunk 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 ad-
mitted 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
virtues; how they subjected [themselves] to his
ministry, how they wrought for him, what good
they did in the world, and the like, but neither
will this help them ; the same answer that the two
former had, the same have these — ' Depart from
me, ye that work iniquity.' Mat. ni. 22.

5. They will seek to enter in by pleading ex-
cuses where 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 thee that thou
art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not
sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed,
and I was afraid,' &c, 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, tliere thou hast Hunt is thine;'
as if he had said, True, Lord, I have not improved,
I have not got ; but consider also I have not em-
bezzled, I have not spent nor lost thy money ; lo,
there thou hast what is thine. Mat. 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, misspending, and slothing away
their time, their talents, their opportunities to do
good in. 13ut, I say, if he that can make so good
an excuse as to say, Lo, there thou hast that is

* The wedding garments being provided by the host, this
man must have refined it, and insults his King by sitting
among the guests in his ordinal; appareL reader, before
yon take a seat at the Lord's table, take prayerful care to be
clothed with the robe of righteousness, otherwise you will eat
to your utter condemnation, and may, after all, be cast into
outer darkness. — Kb.

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 judgment, yea, if
such an one shall, notwithstanding this care to
save his Lord's money, be cast as unprofitable
into outer 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
ignorance 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 ?' Mat. xxv. «. 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 ? True, there
was a company of poor sorry people in the world,
very inconsiderable, set by with nobody ; but for
thyself, we professed 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 provided it
for thee ; and therefore, Lord, Lord, open to us !
But will this plea do ? 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 beau-
tiful gate of heaven. They will begin to stand
without at the gate, as being loath to go any
further. Never did malefactor so unwillingly turn
off the ladder when the rope was about his neck,
as these will turn away in that day from 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 word, Lord, being
doubled, shows the vehemeucy of their desires,
1 Lord, Lord, open unto us.' The devils are com-
ing ; Lord, Lord, the pit opens her mouth upon us ;
Lord, Lord, there is nothing but hell and damna-



fion left us, if, Lord, Lord, thou hast not mercy
upon us; ' Lord, Lord, open unto us! '

3. Their last argument for entrance is their
tears, when groundless confidence, pleading of
virtues, excuses, and ignorance, will not do ; when
standing at the gate, knocking, and calling, 'Lord,
Lord, open unto us,' will not do, then they betake
themselves to their tears. Tears are sometimes
the most powerful arguments, hut they are nothing
worth here. Esau also sought it carefully with
tears, but it helped him nothing at all. He. xii. 17.
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.'

[Impoii of the words shall not be able.]

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

A hypocrite, 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 will they do when they come
at this iron gate that leadeth into the city ? ' There
the workers of iniquity are fallen, they are cast
down, and shall not be able to rise !' Ps.xxxvi. 12.

4 And shall not be able. The time, as I have
already hinted, which my text respecteth, it is the
day of judgment, 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 manifest the counsels
of the hearts.' iCo. iv. 5. It is also the day of his
wrath, the day in which he will pay vengeance,
even a recompence to his adversaries.

At this day, those things that now these ' many'
count sound and good, will then shake like a quag-
mire, even all their naked knowledge, their feigned
faith, pretended love, glorious shows of gravity in
the face, their holiday words and speciou3 car-
riages, will stand them in little stead. I call them
holiday ones, for I perceive that some professors
do with religion just as people do with their best
apparel — hang it against the wall all the week,
and put it 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 !
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 ungodly shall not stand


in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation
of the righteous.' *

' And shall not bo able.' The ability here in-
tended is not that which standeth in carnal power
or fleshly subtlety, but in the truth and simplicitv
of those things for the sake of which God giveth
the kingdom of heaven to his people.

There &refve things, for the want of which (his
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. Mat.xxv. S4. Hence Christ saith, when he
comes, he will send forth his angels with a great
sound of trumpet, and they shall gather together
his elect from the four winds, from one end of
heaven to another. Mat. xxiv. 31. 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 pos-
sible, the very elect.' ' But the election hath
obtained it, and the rest were blinded.' Ro. 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 ex-
pressly, ' 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 produce
the birthright ? But art thou sure thou canst ?
For it will little profit thee to think of the blessed
kingdom of heaven, if thou wantest a birthright to
give thee inheritance 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
bcrn again. But God is merciful ; Christ died for
sinners; and we will turn when we can tend it,t
and doubt not but all will be well at last.' But 1
will answer thee, thou child of Esau, that the
birthright and blessing go together ; miss of one,

* May these searching words make an indelible impression
upon the heart of every reader. How striking, and alas ! how
true, is this delineation of character. Religious when in com-
pany with professors — profaue when with the world ; pre-
tending to be a Christiau on a Sunday; striving to climb with
Christian the Hill Difficulty— every other day running down
the hill with Timorous and Mistrust. Such may get to the
bottom of the hill, and hide themselves in the world ; but tin y
can never lie concealed from God's anger, either in tiiis world,
or in the bottomless pit. whither they are hurrying to de-

' Sinner, O why so thoughtless grown?
Whj 111 such dreadful haste to die':' — Ed.

f 'Tend it,' or attend to it. What madness docs sin en-
gender and foster! The trifles of time entirely occupj
attention, while the momentous affairs of eternity are put oil
to a more convenient opportunity. — i.u.
o B



and thou shall never liavo the other ! Esau found
this true; for, having first despised the birthright,
when he would afterwards 'have inherited the
Massing, he was rejected; for he found no place
of repentance, though he sought it carefully with

tears. ' Ge. or. He. xii. 16, 17.

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. ' He that believeth on the Son of God hath
everlasting life ; and he that believeth not the Son
shall not see life ; but the wrath of God abideth on
him.' Jd. iii. 36. But now this faith is the effect of
electing love, and of a new birth. Jn. i. n— 13. There-
lore, all the professors that have not faith which
iloweth 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 gospel-holiness. Holiness that is the effect of
faith is that which admits into the presence of God,
and into his kingdom too. ' Blessed and holy is
he that hath part in the first resurrection, on such
the second death,' that is, hell and eternal dam-
nation, ' hath no power.' Re. xx. 6, 14. 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 which are sanctified, by
faith,' saith Christ, ' that is in me.' Ac. xxvi. 18. This
holiness, which is the natural effect of faith in the
Son of God, Christ Jesus the Lord will, at this
day of judgment, distinguish from all other shows
of holiness and sanctity, be they 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 be able.

5. They shall not be able to enter in that do
not persevere 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 chil-
dren, and they are ' kept by the power of God,
through faith unto salvation,' which is also laid
up in heaven for them, l Pc. i. 3— 5.

' The foolish shall not stand in thy sight; thou
hatest all workers of iniquity.' Ps.v. 5. The foolish
are the unholy ones, that neither have faith, nor
holiness, nor perseverance in godliness, and yet
lav olaim to the kingdom of heaven; but 'better
U a little with righteousness, than great revenues
without right.' Pr. 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 show for it ? This is
but like the revenues of the foolish ; his estate lieth

in his conceit. He hath nothing by birthright 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 perseverance flowing there-
from, shall not be able to enter ; wherefore consider
of what I have said.


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

First. 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.' Second. 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.' Third.
Going to heaven, therefore, will be no trivial busi-
ness ; salvation is not got by a dream ; they that
would then have that kingdom must now strive
lawfully to enter : ' For many, I say unto you, will
seek to enter in, and shall not be able.'

First. 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 will have it for
their inheritance. The observation standeth of
two parts. First. That the time is coming, when
every man will put in whatever claim they can to
the kingdom of heaven. Second. 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 twenty -fifth 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 should 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 thus and thus, and did
not minister unto thee ? ' Mat. 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 eaten
and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught

Online LibraryJohn BunyanThe works of John Bunyan (Volume 1) → online text (page 89 of 182)