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This is done by the renewing of the will in a special manner. The soul being made pliable, actually complies; and having got the new disposition, acts accordingly, embracing and uniting with Jesus Christ.
I proceed now to the application of this subject.
1. The happiness of those that are effectually called; they are partakers of Christ's salvation. He and his redemption are theirs. Their particular privileges will afterwards occur. In the general,
(1.) Whatever they meet with in the world, it shall turn to their good, Rom. viii. 28. Their crosses shall not be curses, but their curses be turned into blessings. The teeth-winds they meet with shall blow them towards their harbour, and every stone cast at them shall be turned into a precious stone. They shall be gainers by all, and losers by nothing at length. For that eternal purpose by which they are called, has ordered all things for their good.
(2.) They shall surely be safe for ever: For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance,' Rom. ix. 29.
They are brought out from among the perishing multitude, and they shall never fall back again. Of the society they are called into, none can be lost. God will perfect the work which he has begun; and they that are brought upon this first step of the ladder, shall go from one step to another, till they come into the hill of God.
2. The misery of those who are not effectually called. They are not partakers of Christ's redemption. We all have the external call of the gospel; but, alas ! how few of the called do come in upon the call ? O, Sirs, see how ye entertain the gospel-call, your all depends on it for salvation or damnation. While ye do not comply with it, ye are in a lost state, a state of sin and wrath ; yea, if
ye do not comply with it, it will be worse for you than if ye had never heard the gospel-call, Prov. i. 24. I shall here, for the conviction of sinners, lay down some evidences of the gospel-call not being effectual to them.
(1.) They that never felt a divine power coming with the word into their hearts, are not effectually called, Isa. liii. 1. Psal. ex. 3. Think on this, ye that have still sat unmoved under the dropping of the gospel, into whose ears the word comes; but as I may say, it never sinks into your hearts. Ye have never heard the Lord's voice, and therefore are still in your sin.
(2.) They that never had any abiding impression made by the word on their spirits. Many are like the stony ground on whom the word makes some impression, while they hear or read it, but
presently it goes away, Matth. xiii. 6. They are like the sieve in the water, full, but immediately lose all again. Be sure, if ever the Spirit of God deal effectually with you, he will make an impression on you that will abide. Ye will carry it home with you, and it will remain, till it make you change your way and course, and make you new creatures.
(3.) They that are still with the world lying in wickedness; the old men and women they were before, no change, no reformation with them, by all the calls of the gospel, sounding in their ears, 1 John v. 19. If ever ye comply with the call, ye will come out, and leave that way and that society. Such are all profane persons, grossly ignorant of the truths of God, prayerless persons, and generally all that are not truly godly. O how easily may most be known to be of the world! Are there not many whose speech bewrays them? they speak the language of the world, they know not that of Canaan. They keep the way of the world; they are conformed to it, in sinful scandalous practices. They drive worldly designs as the main design they have in hand. The constant language of their practice is, ' Who will shew us any good,' any worldly or temporal good? They go with ease the way of the multitude.
(4.) They that have never been under convictions of their sinful and lost state. This is the first work of the Spirit in effectual calling. What think ye of yourselves then, who have lived at ease all your days, whose rest has never been disturbed with the thoughts of what shall become of your immortal souls at death? Luke xi. 21. Have ye never seen yourselves lost and undone under the wrath of God? If so, it is an evidence, that it lies upon you still. If ye have never seen yourselves children of the devil, it is a sure token that ye are not yet the children of God.
(5.) Those whose convictions have never gone deep enough, Matth. xii. 6. Many have got the sluggard's awakening, who have been disturbed in their spiritual sleep, but never thoroughly awakened, and therefore they have just fallen asleep again. They have been frightened under the guilt of gross sins, but never saw the evil of vain thoughts, idle words, &c. like children that are very easy playing with the dust, as long as it gets not into their eyes. If they have got a frightful sight of their actual sins, yet they never had the sin of their nature spread out before them. They have not been convinced of their need of Christ's Spirit for their sanctification, as well as of his blood for their justification.
(6.) Those who have stifled their convictions, warred against an awakened conscience, and come off victorious. Many take ways and means to quench the Spirit, which prevail to their own ruin ; a
plain evidence that they are strangers to the efficacious irresistible operations of the Spirit in effectual calling. Some get their convictions laid by delays and off-puts, as Felix did, Acts xxiv. 25. Some for that end fill their heads and hands with business, like · Cain building cities. Some with carnal mirth divert them, or, by rushing on to more sin over the belly of their consciences, do choke them, till they become as seared with a hot iron. O horrid cruelty against the soul! to refuse to be healed !
(?') Those who have never had any special illumination in the knowledge of Christ. It is certain, that hypocrites may be enlightened both in the knowledge of the law and of the gospel. Heb. vi. 4; but there is a saving illumination in effectual calling that is peculiar to them called, John iv. 10. Psal. ix. 10. In that work there is such a discovery made of Christ in his ability and willingness to save, as shews him to be so suitable to the sinner's case, so transcendently excellent, as that the soul is determined to embrace him for all, Matth. xii. 45, 46. It sinks the value of all created things, and makes sinful lusts to appear as husks for swine, in comparison of the bread of life.
(8.) Those who, whatever light they have got, yet there has been no heat with it, to melt down the heart and will into a pliableness to the will of God, and the call of the gospel, Job xxiv. 13. Many come a great length in light, by the common operations of the Spirit, from whom the stony heart is never taken away, nor the power of it broken. Such was the case of Balaam, in whom the heart enmity against God and holiness is still rampant, as appears from the history of him. Such also was the case of those mentioned, Heb. vi. 4. &c. The outer door is broken up by the force of a law-storm, and some common touches of the Spirit on their minds; but the inner door remains still shut. The outworks are taken, but the fort of the heart remains impregnable. Some one lust or other still has the throne in the heart.
(9.) Lastly, Those whose exercises have never issued in a kindly closing with Christ in the gospel-offer. O! it is lamentable to think how many a good work that seems once fairly begun is miserably marred. Some are still kept wavering and undetermined, halting betwixt God and Baal, light pressing them forward, love to their lusts drawing them back, so that their time is like to go ere they come to a resolution what to do. Some, instead of closing with Christ, close with duties ; but never come out of themselves to Christ, but like the spider, entangled in her own web, perish. But true believers rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh,' Phil. iii. 3. Some close with Christ for jus
tification, but never mind or see a need to close with him for sanetification.
Use II. Of exhortation. Come away from the world lying in wickedness, unto Jesus Christ, and so comply with the gospel-call. Come away, sinners, unto him. For motives,
1. Consider what a society ye are called to come out of. See their character, Eph. ii. 12. Those that are without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world. We are all natives of that society indeed; but it is a Godless, Christless society, which we have need to leave, and that timeously.
(1.) It is a sinful society, a corrupt, unclean one, where there is nothing pure, Tit. i. 15. Better lie in a kennel with dogs, or in a hog-sty with swine, than with the world in wickedness. Their souls are like Job's body, boils and sores all over, that they have not a free finger to scrape themselves withal. The society of the unconverted are defiled in all their faculties, and so they can do nothing that is good and acceptable in God's sight. Their thoughts are polluted with vanity or vileness, their words are abominable, for their throat is like an open sepulchre; their actions, their very civil actions, are sinful, Prov. xxi. 4.; and their religious ones are so too, Prov. xv. 8.
(2.) It is a most miserable society, Rev. iii. 17. 0 the wretched state of the unconverted world! what tongue can tell their misery, who are without Christ, and without God in the world. They are the butt of God's indignation, and set for a mark to the arrows of his wrath, Psal. vii. 12, 18. They are those that are under God's curse; their state is a prison, out of which those that die in it are carried to the prison of hell: and there is no more difference betwixt them and the damned, than betwixt a dry faggot lying before the fire ready to be cast in, and the faggot that is in it already. A black cloud of wrath hangs over their heads at all times, ready to break upon them, John iii. 36.
How can it be otherwise, since it is a society which Satan is the head of, 2 Cor. iv. 4. ruled and governed by him, and with whom those that die in it must lodge for ever?
Now, sinners, have ye not been long enough there already? May I not say, as Deut. i. 6. ' Ye have dwelt long enough in this mount.' O come away from Lebanon ! Cant. iv. 8. Leave the world of the ungodly, that are to be swept away with the flood of wrath, and come into the ark. Turn your back on that Sodom, which is to be overthrown in its own filthiness; haste and flee for your life; there is a Zoar to flee into, where ye may be safe.
2. Consider what a society ye are called to. This calling is a high calling, Phil. iii. 14. It is a holy and happy society. All the saints, the excellent ones of the earth, are of it, the glorified saints, the holy angels, and God in Christ is the head of it, Heb. xii. 22, 23, 24. O refuse not that high calling !
If ye will come away, ye shall enjoy the privileges of this society as members thereof, Eph. ii. 19. Ye shall be inheritors of glory, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ: not only saved from wrath, but made happy here in the favour of God, and completely blessed in the full enjoyment of God to all eternity.
3. Lastly, Consider who calleth you. It is the voice of a man that ye hear, but the word of the call is the Lord's own word : and therefore I say, 'See that ye refuse not him that speaketh,' Heb. xii. 25. Our Lord Jesus has got the grant of the kingdom from the Father; and he minds to raise it up on the ruins of Satan's kingdom. And therefore he comes to the world lying in wickedness, to call out from among them whom he may make partakers of his glory. And therefore I say unto you, ' Arise, for the Master calleth you.' And since it is so, it is evident,
(1.) Ye may come; there is an open door for you, none of you all are excluded, Isa. Iv. 1. The fallen angels have not that privilege, and therefore they grudge ye should have it; and they will do what they can to keep you from the benefit of it.
(2.) Ye shall not be rejected, nor get the door cast in your teeth, John vi. 37. Your being called ensures your welcome. Let not unbelief suggest such jealousies, as that it is needless to come now, for we will not be accepted; for the market of free grace is not yet over, and as long as the call is given you, ye may be sure of wel
Indeed the day will come, that Christ will cease to call you; and then it will be needless to think of coming : but O come while the door is open ! 'Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for
many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know
you not whence yon are,' Luke xiii. 24, 25. (3.) Lastly, If ye do not come, it is upon your peril, the peril of the Mediator's vengeance. Does he call you, and will ye not come? Nay, you must come under the pain of the King's highest displeasure, Mat. xxii. 7.
As for you that are called, see that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, being holy in all manner of life and conversation.