LONG, long years ago, all the large cities and towns in Palestine, and in other countries too, were enclosed with high, thick walls. In those days, when the people went to war, they did not use guns, and cannons, and bombshells, and all those other things that would so quickly tear down the walls; for they did not know about them. But they fought with darts, and spears, and swords, and bows and arrows. So these strong, high walls protected them very well from any of their enemies who might come up to fight against them.  There are quite a number of cities in Palestine that yet have very good walls around them, protecting the people from the many robbers in the land. But the most of them have crumbled to ruins, as this one in the picture has done.

The openings through the wall into the city were closed at night by heavy gates, and the gates were locked. The gateways were generally broad and high; and as the walls were very thick, it made a cool, roomy place, large enough for a great many people to gather together in. Sometimes they built a chamber in the wall, above the gate. And they frequently built towers on either side over the gate, placing soldiers there to guard the city against the approach of foes.  People went to the city gates to chat with friends passing in and out, or to watch the strangers who entered the city. That was what Lot was doing, when he sat at the gate of Sodom toward evening, and saw two dusty, tired-looking strangers enter the gates. You remember that he took them to his own home to stay overnight, and that they proved to be not men, but angels, come to save him and his family.

It would seem very strange to us, would it not, were our lawyers and judges to go out on the street corner in all the noise and confusion of a town, and there hold their trials, and decide their cases?  Yet this is just what the judges and rulers in Palestine did, and still do at the present day. They heart heir cases right in the crowded gateway, with men, women, and children jostling against each other, and with donkeys braying, dogs barking, and horses clattering by over the dusty way. But they are not in the least disturbed by the noise.

At night, everything has to be brought inside the walls, for fear that the robbers, of which there are plenty, will come and carry something off. At sunset, the people, with their flocks and herds and camels, can be seen hurrying home from their work in the fields, anxious to get inside the walls before the gates are closed. For when they are once shut, they are not opened again till morning; so if the people are behindhand, they have to stay outside the walls all night.  But all the gates are not as large as these we have been talking about. The narrow, or strait, gates are only about one fourth as wide as the main gates. They are not used very often; only a few go through them. They are not put into those parts of the walls where there is much going on, and you would have to hunt to find them.

The most of the people go in at the broad gate; and if you were to follow the crowd, you would get here too. To enter the narrow gate, you must turn aside from the common highway.  How plain this makes the Saviour's words seem, when he says: "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 there at: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." Jesus was not speaking of city gates, but of the way to eternal life. He meant to teach us that to gain a home in heaven, we must not do as the world does; for that would be going in at the broad gate. We must follow the example he set for us when he was here upon the earth. To enter in at the strait gate, we must love God with all the heart, and our neighbors just as much as we do ourselves; for this is the way that leads to life. Have you searched for the strait gate, and have you entered it, children?



W. E. L.