"Many be called, but few chosen."
THESE are heavy words, Brethren. Of them, as well as of the doom of the wicked, we would gladly be silent, if we dared. We would gladly speak only of the Love wherewith God so loved the world, as to give His Son to be the Propitiation for our sins; the Love, wherewith God the Son so loved us, as to become one of us, one flesh with us, that we might be one Spirit with Him; the Love, wherewith God the Holy Ghost vouchsafes to hallow us, by dwelling in our clay, knitting us into one with God; the Love, wherewith the Co-Eternal Trinity vouchsafed, in Their Ever-Blessed Eternity, to love our nothingness.
But do we then, whose little love is but a spark from that Sun of Love Which kindleth all which loves in all Creation, do we then indeed love one another, better than He Who is Love? Can it be loving to hold back what He, Who is Love, revealed? Or safe for you, or without peril to our souls?
These Words of our Blessed Lord do give the intensest awe and pain of any in Holy Scripture; ... they render what Holy Scripture says of Eternal Punishment most fearful, and bring it most near ourselves. For they cut at the root of the very comfort, wherewith so many delude their souls, that God cannot mean to punish so great a multitude; that they are no worse than most besides; have done no more harm; not wasted their talents more; not been more irreligious, or impure, or careless than their neighbours. The poor, who speak most honestly, draw out this in words; they tell you, plainly, this is their ground of hope. But is it not that of all, who are not in deep earnest about their souls? Whence is it that, not so long ago, words of Holy Scripture were wrested aside from their real meaning, and that to be "righteous overmuch," was taken as a warning from God Himself, not to be too religious? Whence was it that "pious," or "saint," or (God have mercy) "godly," were used as terms of reproach? Whence is it that, even now, a person who will not content himself with easy ways, thinks it for his soul's good to use more devotion, be stricter with himself, "deny himself," "take up his cross daily" after his Lord, if this becomes known of him, by the mass of Christians, who renounce the world in words but not in deeds, he is made "a proverb of reproach." Whence is it that, whenever our ruder nature is not restrained by forms, and even among the young, not to be ashamed of Christ, amid coarse or finer ridicule, is often one of the sharpest tests by which their steadfast love of Him is tried?