He Scarcely Saves

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
~ 1 Peter 5:8

And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened. Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
~ Matthew 24:22-24

For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?
~ Luke 23:31

For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
~ Romans 5:6

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
~ Romans 5:8

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
~ Matthew 7:13-14

Practical Commentary on the First Epistle of Saint Peter 4:18, by Robert Leighton. The following contains an excerpt from his work.

And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?
~ 1 Peter 4:18

It is true then, that they are scarcely saved; even they who endeavour to walk uprightly in the ways of God, that is, the righteous, they are scarcely saved. This imports not any uncertainty or hazard in the thing itself as to the end, in respect of the purpose and performance of God, but only the great difficulties and hard encounters in the way, temptations and tribulations, fightings without, and fears within. All outward difficulties however would be but matters of ease, would be as nothing, were it not for the incumbrance of lusts and corruptions within. Were a man to meet disgraces and sufferings for Christ, how easily would he go through them, yea, and rejoice in them, were he rid of the fretting impatience, the pride, and self-love, of his own carnal heart! These clog and trouble him most, and he cannot shake them off nor prevail against them without much pains, many prayers and tears; and many times, after much wrestling, he scarcely finds that he hath gained any ground: yea, sometimes he is foiled and cast down by them. And so in all other duties, such a fighting and continual combat with a revolting : backsliding heart, the flesh still pulling and dragging downwards! When he would mount up, he finds himself as a bird with a stone tied to its foot; he hath wings that flutter to be upwards, but is pressed down with the weight fastened to him. What struggling with wanderings and deadness in hearing, and reading, and prayer! And what – is most grievous, is, that, by their unwary walking and the prevailing of some corruption, believers grieve the Spirit of God, and provoke him to hide his face and withdraw his comforts. How much pain to attain any thing, any particular grace of humility, or meekness, or self-denial ! And if any thing he attained, how hard to keep and maintain it against the contrary party! How often are they driven back to their old point! If they do but cease from striving a little, they are carried back by the stream. And what returns of doubtings and unbelief, after they thought they were got somewhat above them, insomuch that sometimes they are at the point of giving over, and thinking it will never be for them.! And yet, through all these, they are brought safely home. There is another strength than theirs, which bears them up and brings them through. But these things, and many more of this nature, argue the difficulty of their course, and that it is not so easy a thing to come to heaven as most imagine it.

Thou therefore that findest so little conflict in it, who goest thy round of external duties, and all is well, art no more troubled; thou hast need to inquire, “Am I right? Have I not yet to begin? Surely, this looks not like the way to heaven, as it is described in the scripture : it is too smooth and easy to be right.” And if the way of the righteous be so hard, then how hard shall be the end of the ungodly sinner, that walks in sin with delight! It were strange if they should be at such pains and with great difficulty attain their end, and he should come in amongst them in the end. Then were they fools indeed. True, if it were so. But what if it be not so ? Then the wicked man is the fool, and shall find that he is, when he shall not be able to stand in the judgment. Where shall he appear, when to the end he might not appear, he would be glad to be smothered under the weight of the hills and mountains, if they could shelter him from appearing?

And what is the aim of all this which we have spoken, or can speak on this subject, but that ye may be moved to take into deeper thoughts the concernment of your immortal souls ? O that you would be persuaded ! O that you would betake yourselves to Jesus Christ, and seek salvation in him! Seek to be covered with his righteousness, and to be led by his Spirit in the ways of righteousness. That will seal to you the happy certainty of the end, and overcome for you all the difficulties of the way. What is the gospel of Christ preached for? What was the blood of Christ shed for? Was it not, that by receiving him, we might escape condemnation? Nay, this drew him from heaven; He came that we might have life, and that we might have it more abundantly. John 10:10.