The King's Highway
James Smith, 1861
"Set your heart toward the highway." Jeremiah 31:21
In anticipation of the expiration of the seventy years' captivity in Babylon, the prophet Jeremiah was directed and inspired by the Holy Spirit, to stimulate, encourage, and direct the Jews in reference to their return to their own land. And among other things he said to them, "Set your heart toward the highway" — the way by which many of them were brought into Babylon, and the way by which all of them must return. Now as there was a highway from Babylon to Zion — so there is a highway from earth to Heaven, and to this I wish now to direct attention.
The Object. The highway, that is Jesus — for he is the way, and no man comes to the Father but by him. Now this is the way that just suits sinners, and it is the only way that will suit them.
It suits them, because it is a way in which we can get rid of sin. We no sooner enter on this way, than we get rid of . . .
the guilt of sin from the conscience,
the power of sin from the heart,
the practice of sin from the life, and
the penal consequences of sin from the person.
It is a way in which we acquire a title to property. When a government wishes to colonize, it often offers a grant of property to emigrants, to induce them to leave their native land, and sail for a far-off country. So when we enter upon Christ, the highway to the land of glory — we acquire a title to an inheritance which is incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fades not away.
It is a way in which we find provision made for the entire journey. What Joseph said in reference to his brethren, "Give them provision for the way," Jesus does in reference to all who seek to go to glory by him. Here we find strength and wisdom, comfort and courage, the bread of life, and the waters of salvation! No one can faint by the way, or fail of reaching the end, from lack of provision. There is provision made for us from the first step out of a state of sin, until we step into glory.
There is, in this way, the certainty of a safe arrival. The righteous shall hold on his way. No funeral was ever seen on this highway. No bleached bones of pilgrims who had sunk and perished along the road, were ever seen here. All who enter upon Christ, all who start aright — arrive safe at the journey's end.
O blessed way, where we . . .
get rid of all sin and its consequences,
get an unquestionable title to Heaven,
find plentiful provision for our journey, and
prove that as our day, so is our strength, until we arrive at Mount Zion!
This way is PLAIN, the simplest mind cannot mistake it — it is only believe, trust in Christ alone, venture wholly on Christ — and you shall be saved.
It is a WELL-TRODDEN way, for from the days of righteous Abel until now, pilgrims more or less numerous have trodden this way. Millions have proved it to be suitable, safe, and certain!
It is very often found to be a SHORT way. The thief on the cross found it so, and so have many others. They have stepped out of self on to Christ — and have passed in a very brief space of time, to glory. It is just the way to suit weak, weary, and dying sinners.
It is a FREE way, no toll-booths, no fees, no conditions — all is free. Whoever will, may enter on it, pass along it, and reach the home of the blessed by it.
It is a PUBLIC way — the king's highway. The nobleman may walk with the peasant, and the pauper with the king. The publican and harlot have the same right to use it — as the most chaste and moral. Upright and moral character is not required. Whoever will, may come, and travel unmolested to the heavenly Canaan!
It is a LIVING way. It gives life. It increases life. It ensures life. It introduces to everlasting life. Death never set his foot on it, nor ever will.
It is the ONLY way. By this way, anyone can get to eternal glory — but by no other. By this way, the greatest number, of the greatest sinners, may escape from the wrath to come. But by no other way can anyone reach the promised land. O that it were thronged by perishing souls, hastening from earth to Heaven!
The Exhortation. Set your heart toward the highway! Reader, do you need this exhortation? Or, are you on this road? Don't try any bye-path — neither pope nor prelate, priest nor presbyter, ceremony nor sacrament — but come to Christ at once — venture on Christ alone. Direct the eye to this highway — let the heart move in the dirction of it, be sure you enter upon it, persevere in it, and think often of the glorious end to which it leads.
Do not imagine that you are in the way — when you are not. Do not be deceived by a dream. But make sure work of it. In the way — you are safe; but out of it — you are lost forever! Are you willing to leave the Babylon of this world? Many to whom Jeremiah spoke were not willing to leave Babylon of old, and therefore they perished there. Will you start for Mount Zion at once? For what should you wait? Why should you delay? What will you get by it? Rather, what will you lose? If you are willing, listen to the prophets advice, "Set your heart toward the highway!"
Make up your mind then, solemnly, seriously, deliberately make up your mind. Be determined to escape from eternal wrath, to obtain salvation, to find a home in the promised land.
Never rest outside of this way. Do not rest in mere desires, resolves or wishes — but enter upon the way, make thorough work of it.
The entrance is strait and narrow. You must strip, and give up self, sin, and the world — and then you pass through it. There is plenty of room for the sinner, the naked sinner, any naked sinner — but only the naked sinner.
The way is narrow — but it is wide enough for you. Greater sinners than you, have traveled this way, and gone singing from earth to Heaven. As flagrant sinners as you, have entered the strait gate, and journeyed along the narrow way — the grace that enabled them, will enable you. It is only . . .
repent, or change your mind, which has been to live in sin, reject Christ, and go with the world;
believe, or venture on Christ, trust in Jesus, commit yourself to him, renouncing all and everything beside;
give God the heart, the whole heart, the heart just as it is! Give it him to cleanse, adorn, and save
— and thus make a start for eternal glory.
Is there any difficulty finding the way? Be sure you ask of those who know. Take the prophet's representation for your example, "In those days, at that time, the people of Israel and the people of Judah together will go in tears to seek the Lord their God. They will ask the way to Zion and turn their faces toward it. They will come and bind themselves to the Lord in an everlasting covenant that will not be forgotten."
Imitate Israel in the days of Jeroboam, who withstood the temptation of the King, and "set their hearts to seek the Lord God of Israel." So you will enjoy the blessing of which David sung, "Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. They go from strength to strength, until each appears before God in Zion!"
Beloved, there is a way . . .
from earth — to Heaven,
from sin — to holiness,
from condemnation — to justification,
from eternal death — to eternal life!
That way is Jesus, to that way you are welcome. In that way you may walk and . . .
find peace with God,
enjoy communion with Jesus,
escape dangers, and
obtain everlasting life.
You will either walk in it — or you will not. If you will not, there is but one other way, and that is the way of eternal death! ""Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it!" Matthew 7:13-14.
Therefore Jesus exhorts in another place. "Strive to enter in at the strait gate" — strive as if in an agony — as if eternal life and eternal glory depended upon it — strive, nor leave off striving, until you are safe through the gate, and traveling in the way to eternal glory!