« PreviousContinue »
was the friend taken and the companion left? O the sovereignty of free grace! Let us magnify and admire it.
And shall I not say, Admire and magnify the freeness of this call? When was it you were called? When you were more virtuous than on other occasions; when there was a peculiar excellence in your character not known at the former periods of your history? No; but when you were in your sin, and in your blood; and, with many, when you were running on the "thick bosses of his buckler," and daring him to vengeance agianst you. It was at the moment when you were seeking after lust, when you were walking after the course of this world, when you were seeking the vanities and pleasures of time: at that moment he passed by and said, Live! He called Saul when he was persecuting him: he called Matthew sitting at his worldly business: he called Zaccheus in the midst of his extortion: he called you when you were indulging in your impiety and iniquities. Can you look back to that period and see your hand lifted up against heaven, and not admire free grace? O miracle of grace! Sing of it: sing of it when you rise in the morning; sing of it when you are engaged in your business: sing of it at the conclusion of the day:
And let all hear what a merciful Saviour you have; tell all about you how he put the banner of free grace over your heads, that the song of free grace might ascend from your lips.
Admire and magnify the honour of this calling. You are now not a rebel, but a friend; not now an heir of hell, but an heir of heaven; not a condemned culprit, but a justified man; not now the slave of Satan, but the friend of God: and must you not rejoice? O who would have thought that you should have been in such a state? Who would have thought you should have such prospects, and be called to such honours? And may you not sing, and sing loudly, of the riches of that grace which has made such a distinction in you? Methinks every called soul in this place would respond to the hymn in your books, and sing,
"O praise Him, all beneath, above;
O praise Him; praise the God of love!"
Then secondly, Take pains clearly to ascertain your calling. I need not say of what vast importance is this. As there is a call which is not effectual, a mistake may be here of very serious and
very dreadful importance. Now two things certify this calling; and if a man have these two things he never can make a mistake.
The first is this-that he who is called of God responds to God's call. When God calls he convinces the mind of its sin, its helplessness, its misery: he breaks up the fallow ground of a man's heart, and when he turns it up he shews him all the weeds which have been growing there so long, and some which have been lying under ground, unseen even by his own heart-the motives and prejudices which have laid lurking in his heart. And when his law convinces the sinner of his condemned and miserable state, then he calls him to partake of his grace in Christ: and when he calls the sinner obeys; and, like Samuel, says "Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth.” Dost thou say, "I am come to thee?" Dost thou say, "I will pardon thee?" What! such a wretch as I am? What! one so guilty as I am? O marvellous peace! The sinner hears the welcome voice, and he delights in it: and when it tells him to take up his cross he does it; when it tells him to mortify the flesh he does it. Hence you hear of many giving up their friends and relations, the sins and the pleasures of the world. Why? God has called them, and they respond to the call.
Then, secondly, he that is called of God is deaf to other calls. Satan may call, but he calls in vain now; sinners may call, but they call in vain; the world calls, but the man says, "No, I have done with you;" and friends call, but it is in vain. I do not mean say that a saint who is called is never overtaken in a fault, never yields to temptation: but I mean to say this, that the bent of that man's mind who is called, is consistently and invariably against sin, uncleanness, the world, its vanities, follies, and pleasures. See a man who is enlightened by the grace of God. "I wonder what has come to you," said a father to his son lately; " you don't seem to take any pleasure in going to the theatre now; you to go, you were always willing: what is it? to that chapel you have become very different to what you were." "The Lord hath spoken to me," said the lad; " and I see beauties and glories in religion which I never saw before; and therefore I cannot go I have pleasures, and meat to eat, father, which you know not of; therefore 1 cannot go." There has been a call from heaven; and when the call comes from heaven other calls are fruitless. Now, dear hearers, I ask you, in the presence of God, What says conscience to this? Have you responded to God's call? If you
when I used to ask
Since you have been
can lay your hands on your hearts, and appeal to heaven, saying, "O Lord, there are many defects in me, much sinfulness in my nature; yet I can most sincerely say that I have yielded to thee, and that the hearty desire of my spirit is, to be thine; and wherein [ err, teach thou me;" surely thy spirit must have listened to this call. Therefore comfort yourselves if this is the case.
And further, shall I not say, Pity such as are uncalled? If you were to see an ox or an ass going astray, you would pity them, and strive to help them. There is no man you would like to see injured, or to see injuring themselves. And can you see a soul going astray without pitying them? Can you behold souls under the bondage of sin and not pity them? Can you look on your wife, your husband, your child, or your servant, and see that they are uncalled, and see them under the condemnation of the law, under the bondage of sin and Satan, and not pity them; see them in their 'blood, and not pity them? Dear hearers, who can tell but that you may be the instrument of calling and awakening these souls around you? Have you even thought of this, that God delights to put honour on the meanest beings, taking sometimes the most infirm and feeble of the church, that he may magnify his own grace and power in that medium? Will you say, then, "What can I do? Would to God I might be the instrument." Why you cannot call -that is quite certain; you cannot quicken-that is sure: but there are two things you can do. First, you can pray for them: you can call down the divine grace. So Abraham called: "O that this child may live before thee!" So Christ prayed for his murderers: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." You can do this; and knowing the value of souls will put life and fervency in your petitions. And then you can exert yourselves. Some of you can write letters: why not tell them of their state? Some can put a book into their hands: others can converse with them about the things of God. You can say to some of the poor creatures who go into the gin-palaces around this neighbourhood, who poison their life's blood, and spend what they gain with the sweat of their brow, in the purchase of that destructive thing, "I wish you would come with me to the house of God:" and who can tell but that some of them might be, through you, aroused and awakened, regenerated and saved? Let them not alone; do not abandon them to their misery; but do what you can to get your Redeemer honour in the conversion of these lost souls, and to gather them from the world to the church,
Finally, let me say to those who feel you are still uncalled, See the misery of your condition. It is said that the cure is half effected when the physician or the patient knows what causes the disease. Now the awfulness of your condition is, that you see not your misery. But look at yourselves for a moment. What a wretched state you live in! At enmity to God, opposed to his law, condemned by that law, having no pleasure in divine things, no real wish to go to heaven, no association with the people of God, no commemoration of the dying love of Christ, no elevation of mind to heaven! What a miserable condition! And I hear many of you say this morning, "What can I do?" I will tell you what you can do.
The first thing I would say is, Put yourselves in the way to be called. The same feet that carry you to the theatre, and to places of wretchedness, can bring you to the house of God: the same eyes that read books can read the Bible: the same ears that listen to the lustful and filthy conversation of the wicked can listen to the counsel of a Father, of a mother, and can hear the voice of the preacher on the Sabbath-day. You recollect that Zaccheus wanted to see the Saviour, and he climbed up into a tree because he was passing that way: the man who had a disease thirty-eight years, was waiting at the pool, he was where the ordinance of God was, and Christ met him: the blind man was in the way when Christ passed by; and he healed him. Now this you can do; and it will be your condemnation at the last, that the means through which this call might have met you, you despised ard rejected.
Then another thing you can do. Beg of God to call you effectually. I think, if ever I prayed in my life, it was when I was between seven and eight years of age; and though it was a brief prayer, I have seen that God has answered it, and believe that it was dictated by him: "Lord, save me, by thy grace." These are the words which over and over again escaped my childish lips; and I believe God heard them and answered them. Now take this short prayer, and go to God with it daily, hourly. You have been weeks, and months, and years, without saying "Lord, call me by thy grace:" go him, and tell him of your weakness, of the power of sin, of your insufficiency to bring yourself out of your present state, and cry for divine influence, by which alone your spirit can be elevated to joys above. So shall I have joy over you; so shall this church have joy over you; so shall your friends have joy over you; and there is joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth. God grant us this joy, for Christ's sake. Amen.
THE BELIEVER'S PRESENT IGNORANCE AND FUTURE ILLUMINATION.
REV. T. DALE, A.M.
ST. BRIDE'S, FLEET STREET, DECEMBER 28, 1835.
"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known."-1 CORINTHIANS, xiii. 12.
Two questions arise at once out of the text-Who are they that see through a glass? and, What is it that they see? They are not the men of this world; for the natural man discerneth not the things of God: and what they see is not carnal, palpable, immediate; for the carnal man knoweth it not because it is spiritually discerned. Doubtless, the Apostle is speaking only to those who had the eyes of their understanding unenlightened by the Spirit of God, and who walked by faith, and not by sight: and as certainly, if such be our condition, does he speak to ourselves. Let us then endeavour to ascertain whether such be our condition: and surely no time can be more appropriate for such an examination than the last public service of another year: a time when we ought, not only to forecast the future, but to review the past; not only recal what God has done for us, but in the presence of each other, as well as in communion with our God, to ask what we have rendered to him again.
Now it is expressly declared in the word of God, that "the just shall live by faith;" and faith is defined to be "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." If therefore we are indeed partakers of a true and lively faith, we shall endure as seeing Him who is invisible; and we shall learn and be taught of Him who speaks in the heart as well as to it. We shall see what the world sees not, though obscurely, and know what the world. knows not, though imperfectly. We shall know the love of God which passeth knowledge; and we shall behold the Lamb of God, we shall see him for ourselves and not another, taking away the sins of the world, and taking away our sins.
If it then be demanded more particularly what it is we shall see, what it is we shall know, which the world sees not, and which the