by Thomas Vincent  

This salvation is a rare salvation: I mean, that few do obtain it; Many are called, few are chosen, Matthew 20:16.  Many are damned, few are saved: There are many troops of sinners that are posting in the broad way of destruction, it is but a thin scattered company that are pressing forward in the narrow way of life and salvation; this is evident from the answer of our Savior upon the question propounded unto Him, Luke 13:23, 24.  Then said one unto him, Lord are there few that be saved?  And he said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate, for many I say unto you will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.  In which words He in effect says, that few, very few should be saved, for He tells them plainly, that the gate of salvation is a strait (narrow) gate, and many cannot pass through a strait gate; and although many should seek to enter in at this gate, yet they should not be able; and if many that seek to enter in shall not be able, then it follows, that none of those which do not seek to enter in shall be able: Hence then we may gather a strong argument to prove, that very few shall be saved; If the most of men and women in the world do not seek salvation at all, and they cannot possibly attain it, and many that seek salvation shall never find it, then there are but few that shall be saved; but the most in the world do not seek salvation at all, to say nothing of the heathen world which is by many degrees the far greater part of the world, who sit in darkness, and from whom the gospel of salvation is hid, and therefore are expressly said to be lost, II Corinthians 4:3.  Even in the Christian world where the light of the gospel does shine, the most of men and women that bear the name of Christians, are ignorant, or profane, or only civil and moral, and live in the total neglect of the salvation of the gospel, and such cannot possibly attain salvation that do not at all seek after it.  And of them that make some profession of religion, and do something in order to salvation, many shall not be able to attain it, our Savior says, that many shall seek to enter in and shall not be able, because they do not seek in a right manner, because they do not seek salvation chiefly; they seek the satisfaction of their lusts, before the salvation of their souls; because they do not seek it diligently, they are careless and formal in the use of the means of salvation; they seek, but they do not strive to enter in at the strait gate; they do not press towards the mark for the prize of the high calling, and therefore they fall short and miss of it.  There are but few that strive to enter in at the strait gate, that strive as wrestlers in wrestling, or racers in running, or warriors in fighting; few that seek their salvation above all other things, and with all their heart and might, few that are resolved for salvation whatever it costs them, whatever they do, or suffer for it, unto which resolution and endeavor all must come, or else they cannot be saved. And these being so few, certainly there are but few that shall be saved. More plainly our Savior speaks to the same purpose, Matthew 7:13,14.  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; because strait is the gate and narrow the way which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. The gate and way of sin which leads to death and Hell, are wide and broad, and the most in the world are passing through this gate, and walking in this way.  The course of the world is a course of sin, the end of which course is destruction.  And the reason why so many go in at the gate of sin, which is the outer gate of Hell, is because strait is the gate, and narrow the way which leads unto life; because of the difficulties in the way of life and salvation, which require much pains and diligence if we would go through them.  We must give all diligence if we would make our calling and election sure, 2 Peter 1:10.  We must work out our salvation with fear and trembling, if we would attain salvation, Philippians 1:12.  We must labor if we would enter into rest, Hebrews 4:12.  We must strive if we would enter in at the strait gate, Luke l3:24.  We must run if we would obtain the prize, 1 Corinthians 9:24.  We must fight the good fight of faith if we would lay hold on eternal life,  I Timothy 6:12.  The kingdom of heaven suffers violence, says our Savior, and the violent take it by force, Matthew 11:12.  We must lay siege to heaven, if we would take it, and with force and violence overcome those potent enemies, the devil, the flesh, and the world, who would draw or drive us away from the walls and gates of the New Jerusalem.  It is not an easy thing to be saved, the way to heaven is narrow, and it lies up hill.  Our endeavors for heaven especially at the first, are like climbing up a steep hill, like hewing a way through hard rocks, like swimming against a strong stream, like cutting hard wood against the grain; and because of the opposition and difficulty in the way of salvation, therefore there be but few that find the path thereof; most choose a broader and easier way.   

It is evident then from what has been said, that this salvation is rare and scarce. The consideration whereof should not discourage you, but quicken you unto the greater diligence in your endeavors after it.  The rarity of it shows the worth and excellence of it.  Jewels and precious stones are rare and hard to be got; what difficulties will some go through?  What dangerous voyages unto the uttermost parts of the earth will some undertake, to bring home some rare things?  But especially the full consideration of the necessity of salvation (of which in the next particular) should energize you to seek after it.  Think with yourselves (my beloved) think seriously, and think frequently, that there are but few that shall be saved; and then examine, what reason you have to think that you are in the number of those few: When our Savior told His disciples that but one of them should betray him, they looked one upon another, and every one asked him, Lord is it I?  There was none of them without their fears which made them so inquisitive, and they seem to be in pain until they are resolved; what then would they have been, if our Savior had told them that the most of them should have betrayed him, but one?  May I not without a lack of charity say, that not one in twelve, no nor one in twenty, no nor one in a hundred in this city and  nation shall  be saved?  If  I  should tell  you that hear me this day, that some of you will be damned, yea that many of you will be damned, and that but few of this great company will be saved, should I be a false prophet?  I will not say it will be thus, neither can I do it, because this is God's secret; much less do I desire it should be thus, for the end of my preaching is, that you all might be saved; but let me tell you, that I fear that many of you here present will be found in the number of those many our Savior speaks of, that shall seek to enter in at the strait gate, and shall not be able.  Our Savior told His listeners, that flocked to hear Him, thus, and are you better than they?  You all seek to enter in at the strait gate, by coming into this place where the gospel is preached, and where the gate is set open before you; but are there not many among you that seek in a careless and negligent manner?  May not I say of all the seekers here, that there are but few that strive to enter in at the strait gate?  Do you all, or the most look as if you had your eye upon the mark and glorious prize before you, and were pressing with all your might towards it?  Do you hear as if it were for your lives, as if you might hear words this day whereby you may be saved'?  Do you pray and seek as if you were in earnest, as if you were resolved to take heaven by violence, and whatever you were denied in, would not be denied your salvation?  Such as do not strive shall never get through the strait gate.  Think with your selves, It may be that many in this place shall be damned, and then say, Shall not I?  Shall not I?  And Oh what a miserable wretch shall I be if I should be damned! if I should get only to the gate of heaven, and not get through!  if I should come only to the borders of the heavenly Canaan, and die in the wilderness!  if I should be found in the number of the negligent seekers which will miss of salvation?  What grounds have I to think that I am in the number of the few? I think this consideration of the rarity of salvation should awaken you to give earnest heed that with the most that seek it, you may not miss of it.

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