"How hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God - And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved?" Most men think it a very easy matter to be saved: they imagine they have to do with a God so made up of love and mercy, that if they do but abstain from the grosser acts of sin, and go on in a round of duty, or if they do but with their dying lips acknowledge that they have done amiss, and ask forgiveness, he will not find in his heart to reject them, but that all will be well. They do not consider that he who is gracious and merciful is also holy and righteous, and that as he pardoneth iniquity, transgression and sin, so he will by no means clear the guilty. Some dream of general grace, and others of general redemption; but if things were so, instead of asking, Who then can be saved, it might rather be said, Who then can be lost. According to the notions of some men. the way to heaven is so wide that few can miss it; whereas he who is the faithful and true witness hath assured us, that it is so strait that few shall find it. The difficulties of salvation however do not arise from the want of power in God, for nothing is too hard for him: he can as easily save a world as he could at first create one. Nor does it arise from any want of sufficiency in Christ; for '' he is able to save to the uttermost them that come unto God by him" yes, to the uttermost of our desires and necessities, and in the last extremity. He not only pardons, but abundantly pardons: he justifies freely and fully even from all things, from which we could not be justified by the law of Moses: he sanctifies wholly, in body, soul and spirit: gives to the most unworthy a title to heaven, and works a meetness for it in the most polluted. The difficulties therefore arise from the nature of salvation itself, and our sinful aversion to it. We are weak and impotent, obstinate and incorrigible creatures: we will not frame our doings to turn unto God, or the Saviour, that we might have life. We will neither obey the precepts of the law, nor rely upon the grace of the gospel: we cannot save ourselves, and are not willing that God should save us. Considering our natural depravity, and the deplorable condition of mankind, we may well wonder and say, Who indeed can be saved?
3. The dispositions to be exercised are such as are contrary to the natural bias of our depraved hearts.
4. The duties to be performed.
5. The trouble and danger to which religion exposes its professors.
1. Such shall be saved as are appointed to it.
2. Those shall be saved who are truly desirous of it.
4. Such as endure to the end shall be saved.
Let those who have obtained the first-fruits and foretastes of this salvation, beware of self-confidence and self-sufficiency, depending on Him who is both the author and finisher of faith. Go forth in his strength, making mention of his righteousness, and of that only. Let him that hath done the work have the full, the final glory. Say with the church of old, "I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness." Isa 61:10