This is Part 4 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
Part 2 – Doubt at Difficulty, but Generally Proved
Part 3 – Human Nature & the Habit of Worldliness
From Thomas Manton:
Mark 10:26 – “And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved?”
II. Wherein lies the difficulty of salvation?
2. This addictedness to present delights and pleasures, makes us impatient of the restraints of religion. Our natural desires carry us to those things which religion forbids: we cannot endure to be bridled, and kept from forbidden fruit, but we have all an appetite after it, … And Rom. 8:7, ‘The carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be‘. … A man wholly given up to present satisfactions, cannot endure the yokes and fetters religion would lay upon him, he would be a free creature, and live as he list. Indeed it is to be a captive creature, but this he accounts his liberty and freedom.
3. It maketh those duties seem irksome and unnecessary, which are necessary as the way to salvation. Look into the book of God, and you will find we are called upon to strive to enter into heaven, and required to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, Phil. 2:12, with all holy solicitude, with all lively diligence, to be still employed in this work; to strive to enter in at the strait gate: Luke 13:24. To walk worthy of God, who hath called us to his kingdom and glory, 1 Thes. 2:12. Now they that are addicted to ease, pleasure, and sensual delights, cannot endure to be held to this work; they do either openly refuse this work, or delay it, which is the more modest denial, or else are cold in it.
Some profane persons cast off all care of duty, as if religion were but a point of policy, heaven but a dream, and hell but a false fire, the Gospel but a fable to busy men’s heads with, and so resolve to please the flesh, and never trouble themselves about uncertain futurities.
Many thus live in defiance of God and Christianity, or else they delay to a more convenient season, they have no mind to the work; … lust [desire] must have present satisfaction, but Christ comes always out of season. When Christ makes an offer of heaven to their souls, hereafter they will be glad to hear of him, but now he comes before the time. … When the heart cannot keep out light and conviction of our duty, it seeks to keep off care, and so by making fair promises for the future, we elude the importunity of present conviction.
Or else a heart addicted to present satisfaction is very cold in religion, for the heart that is diverted by other pursuits, cannot make religion its work, but only minds it by the by: the world, that is their business, but religion that is put in the place of a recreation, and they mind earthly things; Phil. 3:19; their heads and hearts are full of the world, so that they have no room for God: their time, thoughts, discourses, are wholly swallowed up of present things, and complying with their present lusts [desires].
4. This addictedness to present satisfactions, will make us shrink at the trials God exerciseth us with, before we go to heaven: Acts 14:22. Through much tribulation we must enter into the kingdom of God. All good things are hard to come by, and God will shew that heaven is worth something. When men have cheap thoughts of it, God will enhance the price of heaven. There must be striving and suffering before we get thither. The howling wilderness was the ready way to Canaan. The Captain of our salvation was made perfect through suffering. We should else [Or otherwise we will] neither esteem the cross of Christ, nor long for heaven. But present ease, present safety, present wealth, doth wonderfully enchant us, to have good days here, and a quiet life without any trouble. If we could compound with God for this world and heaven too, then we should like it: but now while we are so wholly inclined and addicted to present things, it must needs be a difficult thing to hear of trials and crosses that we must endure.
May God remove this desire for the things of this world, the things comfortable to the senses, and grant us a vision and desire wholly past them, through faith, for Him and the things of Him!
Stay tuned for part 5, if the Lord wills!