This is Part 8 of a series of writings from Puritan Thomas Manton’s excellent case showing that it is no easy thing to be saved. This part comes from his sermon on Psalm 84:7. While this is a different sermon than the original discussed in the first six parts, as with the last part, I came across this one and thought it was relevant to the topic of how difficult is the path to salvation. This is the final planned part of this series.
These sections below are only part of the sermon, so I hope you will take the time to read the entire thing, as the whole sermon is beneficial, 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
Part 5 – Why This Is Important
Part 6 – How to Use This Information
Part 7 – Living for Worthless Shadows
From Thomas Manton:
Psalm 84:7 – “They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God.”
2. As it is a duty.
Use 1: It showeth the folly of them who count an earnest pursuance of eternal life to be more than needs, and that a little holiness will serve the turn. Oh no! A christian should always be growing and always improving, still pressing nearer and nearer towards the mark, going on from strength to strength. There is no nimium [too much] in holiness; you cannot have too much holiness, or too much of the love of God, nor of the fear of God, nor of faith in him.
There are many that come near and never enter: Luke xiii. 24, ‘Strive to enter in at the strait gate; for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.’ Certainly he that knoweth what was lost in Adam, and must be recovered in Christ, cannot think he can do enough or too much.
How hard a matter is it to keep what we have! Such is the vanity, lightness, and inconstancy of our hearts in good, and so furious are the assaults of sundry temptations, and so great is our impotency to resist them; our proneness to turn from the ways of God so great; so strong, subtle and assiduous are our spiritual adversaries; so many are these difficulties, discouragements, diversions, and hindrances which we have to wrestle with and overcome in the way to heaven, that it concerneth us to give all diligence to advance in our christian course.
Once more, there is so much promised, that certainly a man knoweth not what christianity meaneth if he striveth not to be more holy. So exact is our rule, and strict, so holy is our God, so great are our obligations from all the means and providences of God, that such a vain [useless] conceit cannot possess the soul of a serious christian.
Use 2: It reproveth those who, if they have gotten such a measure of grace, whereby they think they may be assured they are in a state of grace, they never look further, but set up their rest, and think hereafter Christ will make them perfect when they die. Consider—
2. All promises are accomplished by degrees; and so far as we hope for anything, we will be endeavouring it: 1 John iii. 3, ‘Every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself even as he is pure.’
3. According to the degrees of grace so will our glory be. The vessel is filled according to its capacity. They that are growing here have more in heaven. He that improved ten talents hath a reward proportionable, and so he that improved five, Matt. xxv. As our measures of grace are, so will our measures of glory be, all according to their size and receptivity. As there are degrees of punishments in hell, so of rewards in heaven. He that loved God more on earth has more of his love in heaven.
Use 3: It showeth the miserable estate of them that do not go strength to strength, but from weakness to weakness; that waste their strength by sin, that are fallen back, and have lost the savouriness of their spirits, and their delight in communion with God, and grow more careless and neglectful of holy things, weak in faith, impatient under the cross, formal in holy duties; their heart is not watched, their tongue is not bridled, their conversation is more vain [useless], they wax worse and worse. Oh! take heed of such a declining estate. When men fall from their first love: Rev. ii. 4, ‘I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.’ First faith: 1 Tim. v .12, ‘Having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith.’ Or first obedience: 2 Chron. xvii. 3, ‘The Lord was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the first ways of his father David.’ David in his later time fell into scandalous crimes.
Use 4: Is to persuade you to go on from strength to strength. It is the gift of God’s free grace, and the work of the Spirit: Eph. iii. 16, ‘That he would grant you to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man.’ By maintaining and actuating grace, notwithstanding all difficulties.
May the Lord grant us a desire to be more like Him in His holiness; that He grant us to daily grow in His graces and never grow slack; to be troubled about the relics of sin and grieved we cannot serve Him better; may we continuously pray for these things; and may He see us through to the end in His faith, with patience and thankfulness, through all the difficulties of being saved!