This is Part 2 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:
And here are the previous blog posts:
Part 1 – Astonishment at Rich Men’s Difficulty
From Thomas Manton:
Mark 10:26 – “And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved?”
The second effect is, a doubt moved among themselves privately, ‘Who then can be saved?’ This question may be looked upon either,
(2.) Of murmuring and secret dislike; why, if it be so, who is able to receive this severe doctrine, or to enter upon this strict course? Now which of these shall we take it to be? Either for a question of anxious solicitude; or a question of murmuring and secret repining? I answer:
(1.) I suppose this question expresseth their anxious solicitude, and so for the main it is a good question: When we hear strict doctrine, it is good to be moved with it, and fall a questioning. Many hear it over and over again, yet are slight, no wonder, no astonishment in their hearts; therefore it is good when it is weighed and laid to heart. This question of the apostles brings to mind a saying of one, when he heard Christ’s sermon in the mount read to him, he cried out, ‘Either this is not true Gospel, or we are not true Christians’.
(2.) There might be something of weakness, mixtures of infirmity; I cannot say there was nothing of murmuring and dislike; the muttering, or saying this among themselves seems to infer it; they durst not make Christ conscious to the question, for it is in the text, ‘They said among themselves’; that is, they muttered privately, and so it argues there was something of dislike.
(3.) This weakness was not to a prevalent degree, so as to make them take offence, and depart from Christ, as we find others did upon the like occasion, when Christ had preached something strict and contrary to their humour, John 6.60, 61. ‘Many of the disciples when they heard this, said, This is a hard saying, who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? What and if you shall see the son of man ascend up where he was before,’ etc. ‘And from that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him’, ver. 66. Now these [the disciples in Mark 10:26], though they were astonished at the strangeness of the doctrine of Christ, yet they did not reject, or refuse the belief of it. There was more of anxious solicitude, but somewhat of muttering, ‘Who then can be saved’.
Doctrine: When the difficulties of salvation are sufficiently understood, and laid forth, we shall wonder that any are, or can be saved?
I shall prove,
2. Wherein the difficulty of salvation doth lie.
3. Show how this ought to be seriously minded and regarded by us, that it is such a difficult thing to go to heaven.
I. That it is a difficult thing to be saved. Christ showeth that, Matt. 7.14, ‘Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.’ The way to heaven is somewhat like that which is described, 1 Sam. 14.4, ‘And between the passages, by which Jonathan sought to go over unto the Philistines’ garrison, there was a sharp rock on the one side, and a sharp rock on the other side’: So is our way to heaven a strait way, between rock and rock; here is the rock of vain presumption, and there the rock of despairing fears. Indeed the text tells us of two things, the gate strait, the way narrow.
The gate is strait, the entrance into religion hard; there must be repentance, and bewailing our former sins; the working up the heart to a fixed resolution against sin, and a serious dedicating ourselves to God: O how hard is it to pass through this gate!
And then there’s a narrow way, full of difficulties to corrupt nature; our lusts [sinful desires] are impatient of any restraint, and we are loth entirely to give up ourselves to do and suffer God’s will: So Matt. 11.12, ‘The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force’. It is no wonder that earthly kingdoms are surprised by violence, but it is strange that the kingdom of heaven should suffer violence; how shall we understand this? Violence doth not signify unlawful attempts, but earnest diligence. It is not an injurious violence, such as snatches at earthly crowns, but the industrious violence, a resolution to break through all impediments, and take no ‘Nay’, no discouragements can much abate our edge, and take us off from our pursuit of the heavenly kingdom: So 1 Pet. 4.18, ‘A righteous man is scarcely saved’; with much ado he gets to shore, he makes a hard shift to get to heaven.
This is enough to intimate the general truth, that there is difficulty to get to heaven.
May God grant us this earnest diligence!
Stay tuned for part 3, if the Lord wills!