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of Christ, to whom he says, ' “ Eat, О friends ; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved :" and I call them all friends of Christ, whatever they have been before, who have through grace, been made to answer Christ's call and invitation, saying, “Rise, my love, my fair one, and come away." You know, that as Christ calls his people by opening their eyes, and turning them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God; so the manner of his calling is, 1. Externally, by ministers, ordinances, and providences. 2. Internally, by his Spirit, when he speaks to their hearts, which he does by four ways. (1.) By conviction of sin and misery. (2.) By illumination of a God in Christ, the Saviour. (3.) By excitation, and raising the soul to spiritual life. (4.) By determination, inclining and enabling the quickened soul to rise actively and come voluntarily at bis call, with a “ Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.” Lord, I come at thy call; O help me up, and draw me to thee.
I offer a few of the marks and properties of the call, when it is effectual, that believers in Christ, and comers to him, may know that they are so; and may be distinguished from these that are excluded.
1. The call has been a preventing call: when you was in a sad and dismal case, and when you was ready to think all hope was gone; yet he prevented you merci. fully with the blessing of his goodness, Psal. xxi. 3.
2. It is a particular call he gives you, like that of Christ to Mary, John xi. 28. “ The master is come, and calleth for thee. He calls his sheep by name, and leads them out,” John x. 3.
3. It is a penetrating call, that pierces the heart, and moves the bowels, Song v. 4. “ My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him ;" or, moved in me,' as it may be read.
4. It is a discernible call; the believer can distinguish it from all other calls My sheep know my voice, says Christ, and they follow me," John x. 4, 5. They know not the voice of strangers, so as to follow thein ; they know the difference between his voice and theirs : his call makes them say, “ The voice of my
Beloved! Behold, he cometh !"
5. It is a conquering call; it reaches farther than the ear; the drowzy soul is awakened with it; the hard and stony heart is sweetly wounded and kindly melted with it, according to the promise, Ezek. xxxvi. 26. “I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.” The hard stone is softened, and the rebellious will is conquered and captivated; for, the weapons of the gospel warfare are not carnal, but mighty, through God, to the pulling down of strong holds, casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ, 2 Cor. x. 4, 5. And hence,
6. It is a quickening and enlivening call; “ You hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins," Eph. ii. 1. This call brings life and warmness to the soul, that was dead and cold. It is true, great partial deadness and coldness may be contracted after this quickening and warming call, and that to such a de. gree, as nothing but like a smoking flax may be to the fore; yet it is what our Lord Jesus will not quench, but quickens again by his repeated calls.
And now, you that have been thus called effectually to himself, he calls you again to his table, saying, “ Rise, my love, my fair one, and come away.”
O wonder men and angels ! that his language to a loveless bride should be, " Rise, my love;" and his language to a black bride, “ Rise, my fair one!” O can you find in your hearts to resist such a kind and wonderful call, accompanying his sweet command, • Do this in remeinbrance of me. Come with an appetite; he satisfies the longing soul. Come with boldness, like the King's bride. Come affectionately; all lovely things are in him. Come with hope and expectation; he is a God in Christ.
Remember withal, he is not calling you to rise and go alone, or upon your own legs that are but lame; nay, he is calling you to rise and come away with him : he is ready to gather you with his arms, and carry you in his bosom, Isa. xl. 11. and therefore, just allow him to take you in his arms to his table. Why, say you ;
what mean you by allowing him? Or, how shall I manifest
allowance? O shew it, 1. By not resisting him ; for your wicked hearts are ready always to resist the Holy Ghost, and his holy motions. 2. Show it more actively, by inviting him into your heart, saying, " Come in, thou blessed of the Lord; wherefore standest thou without” doors, knocking and calling? Open the everlasting doors, and come in thou King of glory. Well, do you allow him thus, and would you be glad at your hearts, to be carried in his arms ? Why, he wants no more but your heart and hand: though your heart be a worthless heart, and your hand a withered hand'; yet his day of power has made you willing, and given you a willing heart to stretch forth the withered hand: therefore, be your heart never so worthless, and your hand never so withered, he is bidding you welcome, welcome: welcome, with a thousand good wills: and saying,
* Rise, my love, my fair one, and come away."
SERVICE OF THE FIRST TABLE.
Now, communicants, I hope your coming here to this table is the effect of Christ's calling you first to himself: and then to his table, by his word and Spirit. Has he courted you with his kindness? Has he said to you, " Rise, my love, my fair one, and come away," and drawn you so, as to cast the marriage-knot between Christ and you ? Why, then, it is fit you share of the marriage-feast; and now he is ready to feed your soul with wonders of the most substantial nature. There are three great wonders that eternity will never unriddle, and they are all to be seen in this sacramental table. 1. That God feeds our bodies with bread, and our souls with the flesh and blood of his own Son. O! how he loved you, to give you his own flesh :
2. The next wonder is, That his love was stronger than death : for, love held him on the cross, when death could not hold him in the grave: he burnt between two fires; the fire of his love and affection for us, and the fire of his suffering and affliction for us; yea, all the wrath of God could not quench this love.
3. The third wonder is, That he should die for us, when on earth; and nourish or feed us, with himself, now when he is in heaven. O! wonder that the Au. thor of life should become the bread of life. The sacrament is the shadow and representation of these substantial things : it is the presence of things distant, the sight of things absent, and a taste of things inconceive able. O the miracles of Christ's love, that is now represented under these elements !
In the same night wherein Christ was betrayed, he left us a supper to feed upon, till he should come again ; * He took bread, and having blessed it, he brake it," &c. That God should dwell in flesh, and that this flesh should be our food, is wonderful; yea, that he should do more than die for us; for he not only desired to die for us, when he had this bloody baptism to be baptized with and was straitened till it was accomplished; but he also desired to live for us, and to live for ever in heaven
O sirs, there was never such a fire of love in any breast! O! who can freeze and be cold over such a fire! Ah! our carnality, that spends our thoughts so much upon other things, who have such a Saviour to take them up.
Here is not only his flesh to eat, but his blood to drink ; “ After supper he took the cup,” &c. O what love was this, to take the cup of trembling and wrath, that he might give you the cup of mercy and blessing! O his loving work flowed from his loving heart: and his loving heart vented itself also in loving words! What a wonder is it, that ever his love should have made him call the like of you his love, and his fair one ; you, a spotted leopard, a black Ethiopian, yet his love, bis
fair one, his beautiful and comely bride ; when he makes you comely, through his comeliness, and beautiful through his beauty put upon you, and looks to you, not through the glass of your vile and sinful nature, but the glass of his own grace and love! And since he, by a miracle of grace and condescension, calls you
his love, his fair one, his beautiful bride; O tell me, what should you call him ? What names does he deserve at your hand ? O sirs, may you not call him your fair, fair, fair, infinitely fair Head and Husband ? Ought you not to call him what he calls himself, by virtue of the marriage relation between him and you, which you are now getting the seal of, Isa. liv. 5.
Thy Maker is thy Husband, the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer, the holy One of Israel; the God of the whole earth shall he be called !" Here is a wonder in every word, as that text may be read: and particularly five wonders, for your faith to feed with wonder upon.' 1. Thy Maker is thy Husband; there is one wonder. 2. The Lord of hosts is thy Husband; there is another wonder. 3. Thy Redeemer is thy Husband; there is a third wonder. 4. The holy One of Israel is thy Husband; there is a fourth wonder. 5. The God of the whole earth is thy Husband ; there is a fifth wonder. O believer! why does he claim his marriage-relation to you, by so many names, may you say? I answer, It is partly to prevent your fear and jealousy ; partly to show what great things you have to expect from him, that is clothed with all glorious perfections: and partly to magnify his condescension in coming under this relation to mortal worms. But, if you ask again, Wherein lies the wonder? Why,
Thy Maker is thy Husband !" Where is the wonder here? Why, he that brought thee out of nothing, and breathed into thee the breath of life, and made thee a living soul, capable to enjoy himself? O astonishing! He that made thee, has become thy Husband ! He that advanced thee from nothing to a rational being, and after thou hadst made thyself worse than nothing by thy sin, he made thee over again a new creature, and matched with thee! It is grace for a servant to