“Strive to enter 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 is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” These roads are distinct, separate, and in opposite directions. One leads to eternal life, the other to death, eternal death. There is a distinction between these roads, also between the companies traveling in them. One road is broad and smooth, the other is narrow and rugged. So the parties that travel in them are opposite in character, life, dress, and conversation.
Those traveling in the narrow way are talking of the joy and happiness at the end of the journey.
Their countenances are often sad, yet beam with holy, sacred joy. A man of sorrow and acquainted with grief opened that road for them, and traveled it himself. His followers see his footsteps, and are comforted. He went through safely; so can they if they follow him. In the broad road all are occupied with their dress and the pleasures in the way. They freely indulge in hilarity and glee, and think not of their journey’s end, of the certain destruction that awaits them there. Every day they approach nearer their destination; yet they madly rush on faster and faster.
Why is it so hard to lead a self-denying, humble life? Because professed Christians are not dead to the world. It is easier living for Christ after dying to the world. They desire to be as much like the world as possible, and yet be considered Christians. Such seek to climb up some other way. They do not strive to enter through the narrow way and strait gate. Earth attracts them. Its treasures seem of worth to them. They find enough to engross the mind, and have no time to prepare for Heaven. Satan is ever ready to plunge them deeper and deeper into difficulty; and as one perplexity and trouble is removed from the mind, he begets within them an unholy desire for more of the things of earth. Thus time passes, and when it is too late they find they have nothing substantial. They have grasped at shadows, and lost eternal life.
If the Christian would have a true and saving influence, let him show his faith by righteous works, and make the distinction great between himself and the world. The words, the dress, the actions, all should tell for God. Then a holy influence will be shed upon all. God hates pride. “And all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly will be stubble; and the day that cometh will burn them up.” Religion will work like leaven upon hearts that embrace it, and purge away pride, selfishness, covetousness, and love of the world.
In these days childlike simplicity is rarely seen. The approbation of man is more thought of than fear to displease God. Some spend time that is worse than thrown away in studying how to decorate their person, forgetting that the same body may in a few days be food for worms. Mothers frequently set the example of pride to their children, sowing seed that will spring up and bear fruit. The harvest will be plenteous and sure. It is much easier to teach a child a lesson of pride than of humility. If in after years they would counteract the influence of such a lesson, they find it impossible to do so. Pride early fostered in the heart remains there; and nothing but the Spirit of God can eradicate it.
Both young and old neglect the study of the Bible, and do not make it their rule of life. That important book by which they are to be judged is scarcely studied at all. Idle stories have been attentively read, while the Bible has been passed by, neglected. A day is coming when all will wish to be thoroughly furnished by the plain truths of the word of God.
It would be an act of mercy to children if parents would burn the idle story books and novels as they come into the house. The reading of them bewilders and poisons the mind. Unless parents awake to the eternal interests of their children, they will surely be lost. They should be exemplary, and rebuke pride in their children, as they value their eternal interests.
The Master’s sacred head was decorated with a crown of thorns. “He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed.” Many who profess to be his followers decorate themselves with needless ornaments and costly array.
The ax must be laid at the root of the tree. Pride must not be suffered to exist in the heart. It is this that separates God from his people. When Bible truths affect the heart, they cause a desire to be separate from the world, like the Master. Those who acquaint themselves with the meek and lowly Jesus will walk worthy of him.