Thursday, March 16, 2017

David's Digest: It's Not Easy Being Saved, Part 5 - Why This Is Important

This is Part 5 of Puritan Thomas Manton's excellent case showing that it is no easy thing to be saved. It comes from his sermon on Mark 10:26.

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:
http://quod.lib.umich.edu/e/eebo/A51840.0001.001/1:17.13?rgn=div2;view=fulltext

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

(1.) Negatively. We should so reflect upon the difficulty,

1. Not to murmur against God because heaven is not to be had upon cheaper terms, and his ways lie so cross to our desires. Take heed of this; as if he were envious, and had not a good respect for the happiness of his creature. It is but reasonable that we should labour for heaven as we do for all other things that are good and excellent: that which costs nothing is worth nothing. Besides, there are so many corruptions to be mortified, duties to be performed, and trials to be endured, that the faith of the elect may be found to the more praise and honour', 1 Pet. 1.7. and therefore all the pains, and shame, and loss, and trouble, is but necessary. This is an ill use and end, to murmur against God, and repine against his sovereignty and dominion over the creature; and yet this is the use that many make of it.

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?

1. To prevent slightness of spirit: there is not a greater bane to religion, nor a greater judgment lights upon a creature, than a vain frothy slight heart, and therefore to prevent this, and that we may in good earnest mind the things of our eternal peace, it is good to understand sufficiently the difficulty of it. A slight heart thinks it no such great matter to get to heaven, there is no such danger of missing it as men talk of; though they be not so religious as preachers would have them, nor so strict in conscience as to abstain from every smaller matter; yet through the grace of God they shall do well enough; hell is made for the devil and devilish men, and outrageous sinners; if they live fairly, and do as their neighbours do, they shall do well enough, though they do not pine and whine over their sins, or busy their brains about clearing up their interest in God; though they be not so nice and scrupulous, and take God's word too strictly, they shall do well enough for all that. Christians, these conceits, with which most men are leavened, are the bane, and eat out the heart of all religion.

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!

-- David

2 comments:

Shannon said...

What a sobering, blessed series this has been to read.

Thank you for taking the time to share and thank the Lord for His infinite graces and mercies in this process of sanctification... and for the rich meat He has graciously given us in these Godly writers of the past.

Shannon

David and Susan Sifford said...

Hi Mrs. Stonger,

Yes, we're very grateful for all of the means of grace the Lord has granted and what He has granted from them. We pray He continue as He might.

Thanks for saying hello!

-- David