I am editing these sections down, but I hope you will take the time to read the entire thing, as it has many more examples and Scripture references, and you can find it here:
And here are the previous blog posts:
Part 1 - Astonishment at Rich Men's Difficulty
Part 2 - Doubt at Difficulty, but Generally Proved
Part 3 - Human Nature & the Habit of Worldliness
Part 4 - The Power of Worldliness
From Thomas Manton:
Mark 10:26 - "And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved?"
III. This difficulty must be sufficiently understood, and seriously thought of by us. And here
2. Not that we should despair, or wholly despond, ... When men hear how hard it is to go to heaven, they throw off all in a despondency, they shall never bring their heart to this work. But we should not despair, and think it altogether impossible; there cannot be a pursuit of that which is impossible; past cure, (they say) past care. Many their affections are so strongly set upon carnal things, and they are so inveigled with the comforts of the world, and the pleasures of the flesh, that they are discouraged, and so think it impossible to do otherwise than they do. O no, that's not the use of it, ... God would have the fallen creature to despair of himself indeed; with man it is impossible, but with God all things are possible; as in the next verse.
(2.) Positive: Why should these difficulties be thought of, and laid to heart? To what end?
It is no such easy matter to go to heaven as the world imagines; a cold faint wish will never bring us thither, nor a desire to enjoy it when we can live here no longer: no, there must be watching, and labouring, and striving, this must be your great business and employment ... O! whatever is neglected, this business must be looked after day after day, namely, in what posture we are for the enjoyment of the blessed God,
Now it is necessary men should be sensible of the difficulty of being saved, to quicken their endeavours, and to bring them out of this slight frame of heart, which is so natural to us; they think there needs not so much ado, that we make the way straiter than God hath made it, they will not believe it is half so hard as it is: we see how great is our sloth and negligence; now if after he hath told us it is as hard as to go through the eye of a needle, what would we do if all were easy? Think of the difficulty to prevent this slight heart.
2. To keep us in a due dependence upon, and an admiration of grace, God would have us sensible of the difficulty. What carnal hearts have we? How hard a matter is it to guide and govern them in the fear of God, that we may keep up an admiration of the power of God that is perfected in our weakness. ... This awakeneth our prayers for special grace from day to day, and maketh us to look up to God for new supplies, because we find it is not in our selves; 'The way of man is not in himself, it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps', Jer. 10:23. 'We are not sufficient of our selves to think any thing as of our selves, but our sufficiency is of God', 2 Cor. 3:5.
3. That we may be forearmed with resolutions. They that take a walk for recreation do not prepare for all weathers, as they that resolve upon a journey; or they that go to sea for pleasure, if they see a storm coming, easily go to shore again, but they that go for business resolve upon all hazards, to finish their voyage. Now that we may resolve to make a thorough work of Christianity, and to hold on our way in Christ's strength notwithstanding all difficulty, our Lord would have us to sit down and count the charges, Luk. 14:28, to consider what it will cost us to go to heaven; not to discourage us, but to provoke us to put on the more resolution, lest we tire when we find more difficulty than we did expect, and that we may resolve to hold on with God whatever it cost us.
May we trust God as sovereign Lord; may we pray for His graces to seek Him with all our hearts, bodies and souls; and we pray He grant us His graces to persevere to the end!
Stay tuned for part 6, if the Lord wills!