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you, dear hearers, lest you should have forgotten it. In xxxiii. 31, 32, God thus complains to him: “ And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit beiore thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them ; for with their mouth they shew much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness. And, lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not.” You have gone sometimes, perhaps, to hear some delightful music ; you have been charmed ; you have gone away delighted with the art of the player: and you have come and heard a sermon, and have retired precisely under the same feelings, saying, “What a beautiful sermon! How excellently the preacher spoke on such a subject !” but that was all; the call of the Gospel was cast aside as if it were a thing that did not belong to you. Sometimes I have heard individuals say, “ How excellently such a part of the subject was adapted to such a person”—perhaps their husband, neighbour, or friend; and yet despising or neglecting the truth themselves. Thus we find it in the parable of the Supper. The lord
is represented as sending out his servants at supper-time o call them that were bidden to the wedding ; but they all with one consent began to make excuse ; one said he had his farm to mind; inother said he had bought some oxen, and it was necessary to attend to them; another had bought a piece of land, and that he must certainly particularly attend to that which had become his inheritance—that was his first concern; another said he had married a wife, therefore he could not come. Now all these excuses were taken from lawful objects :. it is lawful for a man to attend to his farm; it is lawful for a man to attend to his merchandize; it is lawful for a man to look after his property ; it is lawful for a man to pay proper attention to the wife of his bosom-he is a brute that does not do it; but still these are not to be excuses laid down for not coming to Christ and abusing this call of the Gospel. But this is often the case; multitudes of these entreaties go forth ; persuasions which, one would think, being accompanied with such peculiar tones and such powerful arguments, must surely lead to the conversion of some souls. And so it may have been : but after the sermon that has caused the preacher not only the least labour and thought, but with respect to which, he has left the pulpit perfectly ashamed for speaking in the way he has done—that is the sermon which has been the most useful ; while the sermon that he has so Carefully prepared, which has been so persuasive, so energetic, so
well adapted to the people, has been lost in air, and he has never heard a word about it, and perhaps never will till the judgment of the great day, when that sermon will rise up to the condemnation of many individuals. This call, however, as to its nature, shews men what they ought to do in order to salvation, and it leaves them utterly inexcusable in their guilt and in their danger.
But there is another call spoken of in the Scriptures, which is an inward and an effectual call. The one is addressed to the outward ear, the other is addressed to the inmost soul, and it is this which is here intended : “ Whom he did predestinate them he also called." It is the call of God's Spirit whereby he first enables a sinner to obey Christ, and to receive Christ as he is freely offered to us in the Gospel. Now by this call of the Spirit of God, the sinner's heart becomes softened, so that he yields like wax to the impression of the seal; the sinner's mind becomes enlightened, so that he sees sin in a different colour, the law of God in its beauty, and Christ in his suitableness ; his will becomes subdued, so that he takes God's salvation upon God's terms, and receives the Saviour in all his plenitude of grace and of mercy. While others play about the net of the Gospel, he enters into it, and is saved thereby; he is drawn, inclined, so sweetly and irresistibly compelled, that he yields himself up to the voice that calls, and is saved thereby. The outward call often brings men into the profession of Christ; the inward call always brings men into the possession of Christ : and this is the distinction between the two. Now to describe a little further the nature of this effectual call of the Gospel, let me observe that this call is a call from sin to holiness, from the world to Christ, from danger to glory.
It is first, a call from sin to holiness. Man by nature is living in sin, walking in sin, loving sin, embracing sin, delighting in sin: what is worse than this state of walking in sin, it is his pleasure, his delight; he has no chief source of happiness but that which is derived from opposition to God. This in the Scripture is described as a state of darkness; it is called “ the works of darkness ;” and Satan is represented as the deceiver of those individuals, lulling them to sleep in carnal security, and keeping their consciences quiet lest they be aroused to any state of alarm at their condition. You will find the men of the world, in the general, framing an infinite variety of excuses for their condition ; and the cause is this: Satan endeavours to shut the windows and keep out the light from these persons, and, as he has them asleep, to draw the curtains around the bed, and make up an artificial light to them, so that they should not
receive one gleam of light into their souls. But this call of God brings them out of this case, withdraws the curtains from the bed, takes down the shutters from the windows, and lets in broad day light on their souls'; and the men wonder where they are.
When a man begins to have this call from God, as a good old man told me this week, who is ninety-two years of age, speaking of his first entrance into this chapel, he said, “ When first the Lord began to work on my soul, and I saw sin in its true colours, I said to myself, Why where have I been all my life? I knew these things before, but I never saw them as I do now: I saw Christ before as a Saviour, but never as I do now." O what wonderful light this call of God brings into the mind !
Hence it is said by the Apostle Peter, when speaking of the honours of this people, “ But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people ; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called
you out of darkness into his marvellous light.” They see themselves now as they never saw themselves before; and now they see their deliverer ; just as if a person should be called out of a dungeon, which was all closed up, to behold the light of the sun, shedding its rays on all the beauties of nature. It is a call from sin to holiness. 6 God” (says the Apostle, in writing to the Thessalonians) “ hath not called us to uncleanness, but to holiness."
Secondly, it is a call from the world to Christ. Those who are predestinated according to the divine purpose of God have gone astray: though his sheep according to the purpose of election, yet they are among Satan's goats; they are conformed to the world and the things of the world; they are under the rule of Satan and the dominion of the flesh. Now effectual calling is bringing them out of this state, bringing them out of the world to Christ. Christ
says to Matthew, as he sits at the receipt of custom, “ Come and follow me;" and the man rises up and instantly follows him. Hence they become hereafter not natives of the world, but pilgrims, men passing through it to another country; they are in the world, but there is a different characteristic—they are not of it; its motives, pleasures, pursuits, they have no relish for ; they have greater, yea, heavenly enjoyments; though they live here they are in converse with heaven ; they look for their Saviour thence ; their hearts are there, their treasures are there, their pleasures, their joys are there. Hence they are not conformed to the world; they do not follow its passions. “ Yeare not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” Now they cone to better society. Come where? Why to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, to the heavenly Jerusalem. To what? Why to the spirits of just men made perfect, to the holy state of the angels, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, to God the Judge of all. This is the city to which they are introduced, and they are called out of the world to Christ and to this blessed state.
Again, this call of the Gospel is from danger to glory. Lot, while living in Sodom, did not know that the city was devoted to destruction till the angel came and tapped at his door and told him : and the sinner cannot know that the city in which he dwells is devoted to destruction, and that God is about to consign its inhabitants to everlasting misery and woe, till God tells him—either gently taps at the door of his heart and begs for admission, or with the mighty club of Moses knocks with such violence that the sinner is obliged to submit and yield himself to God. Men do not generally see the streams of divine wrath which are about to burst upon them till God comes to us: then, like Lot, they come out—the Lord being merciful to them, and leading them out of the city of destruction to glory. Hence we are told by the Apostle, that “ God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by the Lord Jesus Christ." The first step they take is, a cry for mercy; and when that first cry, that whisper, is sent up for mercy and pardoning grace, they go on their road till they attain to glory. They are not going to a little city like Zoar, but it is as if they were called from prison to sit on a throne, an “ exceeding and eternal weight of glory:" this is the object of their pursuit, and that which God intends to bestow on them. Such is the call of God in the Gospel.
Now let us look at THE MEANS BY WHICH THIS IS EFFECTED. There are three things which connect themselves with this call of God: the first is, the operations of his providence; the second is, the teaching of the Gospel; the third, and most important is, the influence of the Spirit.
The first means of this call are the operations of his providence. These are a great means in his hand of bringing a sinner to acquaintance with himself. Every thing in nature God makes to speak; the heavens declare his glory, the firmament sheweth forth his handy work. If you have read the life of the late Miss Jane Craven, you will find that the first impressions on her mind towards God were occasioned by going out on a starry evening and beholding the bright orbs in their splendid array. She began to think, " Why, I anderstand this as a science, but I have never thought of the God who made it all:" so that the nineteenth Psalm was fulfilled in her experience, “ Day unto day uttereth speech, night unto night sheweth knowledge.” Then there is the voice of conscience, which sometimes calls loudly; and God makes this a means of an effectual calling, by making it speak so loud that the man cannot resist Sometimes he employs the voice of affliction : “ Hear ye the rod, and him that hath appointed it.” There is a poor wayward youth, who for a long time has been engaged in running with the multitude in vanity and folly; he has no time for religion, his time is taken up with sin, all seems gay and delightsome to him. But behold the archrebel : a touch from the hand of God places him on a bed of sickness; for six, eight, or ten weeks he is taken from his pleasures, and vanities, and gaieties, and follies; and some kind friend comes and sees him; some book is lent to him; he hears something that touches his conscience; and he begins to think, and to think effectually, about his soul.
This portion of our subject might be illustrated by many in this congregation; and many who have been mercifully and graciously called out of darkness into marvellous light, owe that calling in the first place perhaps to a very trifling incident. They happened to call on a friend who invited them to come to the house of God, and the sermon was made effectual. They went to see a sick friend, and that friend spoke about the Saviour. As happened to a dear friend of mine, a physician, who is now in glory; going to see one of his patients, the patient exhorted him to seek his Saviour, and was instrumental by the grace of God of bringing him, though an infidel, to the acknowledgment of the truth as it is in Jesus, and living many years in the way of God and glory. Many other circumstances, though trivial in themselves, and perhaps apparently unconnected with the subject of religion, concur to bring the sinner out of sin and the miseries of it, into an acquaintance with Christ and his salvation.
I pass on, secondly, to another means by which this calling is rendered effectual, and that is the preaching of the Gospel. We have now no immediate voice from heaven speaking to us; visions, and revelations, and dreams, are things which we utterly disavow; not that these may not in God's way be made instrumental to his purposes ; but these are extraordinary means, in which God goes out of the general mode of his providence in order to accomplish his intentions. God calls us now by his ministers: he sends them forth, the Apostle tells us, as his ambassadors, to beseech men to be recon