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while thou art not united to Christ, Eph. ii. 12. Poor soul, thou art sitting in the region and shadow of death, in the suburbs of hell. The wrath of God is hovering over thy head, though thou perceivest it not, John iii. nit. 'He that believeth not,—the wrath of God abideth on him.' Thou art secure but far from safety. The deluge of wrath is at hand, but thou hast no ark. The avenger of blood is at thy heels, and thou art not got into the city of refuge ; the destroying angel is coming through, and thy door-posts are not sprinkled with blood yet; and fire and brimstone are ready to be rained down upon thee, but thou hast no Zoar to flee to.
Mot. alt. Christ offers to unite with you, Rev. iii. 20. even with the worst and vilest of you all. He sends out his ambassadors to gain your consent to this union, and win your hearts. Behold the former of all things making suit to his own clay, Matth. xxii. 4. * All things are ready; come unto the marriage. Will ye slight and despise this union, and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life?
2. Labour to get the Spirit, who casts the inviolable knot. If ye have not the Spirit of Christ, ye can be none of his.
3. Lastly, Believe. Christ and all his redemption are in your offer. Believe his word, embrace him in it, let your whole soul say amen to the blessed bargain. Consent to the gospel-offer, saying, Henceforth then he is mine, and I am his. Christ does not apprehend a soul by his Spirit, as a man takes a tree in his arms, but as one friend takes another, who mutually clasp one another. Do not delay this work; do not say, Ye dare not do it, since without it ye cannot be united to Christ.
OF EFFECTUAL CALLING.
2 Tim. i. 9.—Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not
according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.
The mystical union betwixt Christ and a sinner is brought to pass in the effectual calling of a sinner, which I come now to explain, and we have in the text. The apostle had exhorted Timothy to a confident adhering to the doctrine of the gospel, over the belly of afflictions for the cause of God; and in the text shews a good reason that both he himself and Timothy had to do so, taken from what God had done for them.
1. What the Lord had done for them. (1.) Saved them; namely, from sin and wrath; i. e. had brought them into a state of salvation out of a state of sin and misery, applied Christ's salvation to them, which is so effectual that never one dies of the disease after it is applied, and therefore may be said thereupon to be saved. (2.) Called them, namely, by his Spirit, when they were at a distance from him; he called them to himself, saved and called ; not that he first saved, and then called them ; but he saved them by calling them; which shews this call to be an effectual call. Therefore also it is called an holy calling, not only as proceeding from an holy God, but as making the called holy too.
2. The cause of the Lord's doing this for them. (1.) Negatively; not for any merit of theirs, they had done nothing to move God to call them more than others. (2.) Positively : [1.] His eternal purpose of love and salvation to them, as the apostle explains it, Rom. viii. 30. They were from eternity predestinated to salvation and the means of it, and therefore in complement of that purpose were savingly called. [2.] His grace or free favour given them in and through Jesus Christ, which is said to have been given them before the world began, from eternity; namely, virtually in the decree, which secured the real giving them it in time, as much as if they had it in hand. And this account of the causes of this call does further evince it to be effectual calling that is meant.
The doctrine of the text is,
Doct. 'All that partake of Christ's salvation are effectually called.'
Here I shall briefly explain to you the nature of effectual calling, and then apply it. Effectual calling is the first entrance of a soul into the state of
grace, the first step by which God's eternal purpose of love descends
I. What the effectual call in the general is.
III. Whence and whither are they called that are effectually called.
IV. What makes the call effectual to some, when it is not Bo to others.
V. What is the necessity of their being thus effectually called.
VI. I shall more particularly explain the nature of effectual calling.
I. I am to shew what the effectual call in the general is. An effectual call is opposed to an ineffectual one. An effectual call is the call that gains its real intent; that is to say, when the party called comes when called. An ineffectual call is that which gains not the real intent of it, but falls short thereof, the party called not answering and obeying the call. To apply this to our purpose, all that hear the gospel are called; but,
1. To some of them it is ineffectual, and these are the most part of gospel-hearers, Matth. xx. 16. “For many be called, but few chosen. They are called, invited, and obtested to come to Christ; but it is but the singing of a song to a deaf man that is not moved with it, Prov. i. 24. The real intendment of the call is lost upon them. Though the intent of God the great caller can never be lost, who says, 'My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure,' Isa. xlvi. 10. yet the design of the thing is so. Though they are called, yet they come not to Christ, they sit his call, to their own destruction.
2. To others it is effectual, and these are but few, Matt. xx. 16. forecited. They get the call, and they rise and come away to Christ. It is not only the intent of the call, but of him that called them, to have them home to himself; and they receive not the grace of the gospel in vain. While others at best do but play about tho bait, they greedily embrace it, and are catched according to that, 'Ye shall be fishers of men.' They come away like Lot out of Sodom, while others account the call in effect but a jest, and so abide and perish in the overthrow.
II. I come now to shew who they are that are thus effectually called. The text tells us, that this effectual call is according to God's purpose and free grace in Christ; and so it follows, that the elect, and they only are thus called, Rom. viii. 30. Acts xiii. 48.
Others may be outwardly called by the ministry of the word, and have some common operations of the Spirit too, but are never effectually called. The bow is shot at a venture among the hearers of the gospel; but God, that knoweth who are his, directs the arrow, so as to make it hit right. O the riches and freedom of grace that appears in this ! For,
1. It is men, and not fallen angels, that are called, though they should have been preferred, if God had respected the dignity of nature among his lost creatures. But the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains, under darkness, unto the judgment of the great day,' Jude, 6. There is special love in that, ' Unto you,
I call; and my voice is to the sons of men,' Prov. viii. 4. O may we not say, as Psal. viii. 4.' What is man, that thou art mindful of him ? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?
2. It is some men, and not others, that are called effectually, and these naturally in as bad and sinful a condition as others, Eph. ii. 12. At the time ye were 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. They cannot pretend here, that they made the difference by their works ; for says the text, He saved us, and called us, not according to our works. Nay, oft-times, they were worse than many others, such as fornicators, idolaters, &c. of whom Paul to the Corinthians, 1 Epist. vi. 11. says, 'Such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, and justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. And says that apostle of himself, 1 Tim. i. 13. 'I was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious. But I obtained mercy.' Oft-times grace chuses to work on the most knotty piece of timber, which there is the least hope of.
3. Lastly, It is for the most part those who have the least advantages as to their outward condition in the world. For says the apostle, 1 Cor. i. 26, 27, 28. 'Ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called. But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world, to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world, to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are.' The Lord takes some of the greatest wits, of the greatest power, and the best blood in the world, but not many such. But often grace passeth by the learned man, and wise, and sits down and teaches babes in comparison with them. He passes by the rich, the
noble, and the gentle, and brings the meaner sort, the kinless things [ta agene], into a match with the Son of God, and an alliance with Heaven.
III. I proceed to shew whence and whither they are called who are effectually called. That I may answer this in a few words, observe, that there was a blessed bond of society betwixt God and his rational creatures, and among themselves, till sin entered, and then all was shaken loose. As it was at the building of Babel, so it was at the entrance of sin, there was a great scattering ; sinners were separated from God, and from the holy angels, and scattered up and down on the mountains of vanity. For remedy of this, God appointed Jesus Christ the Head, in whom an elect world might meet again with God, and be gathered together among themselves, Eph. i. 10. That in the dispensation of the fulness of times, he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth, even in him.' 1 Pet. ii. 25. ' For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.' So then they that are effectually called, are,
1. Called out of the world that lieth in wickedness, 1 John v. 19. And hence the church has its name in the prophetical and apostolical writings, Ekklesia ; q. d. a company called out from among others, a gathered congregation. And so the gathering of them is made the great work of Jesus Christ, the Founder of the church, John xi. 52. The elect of God, in their natural condition, are lost sheep gone astray among the devil's goats; effectual calling is the bringing them from out among them, back to Christ's fold. They are the lost groat lying hid among the dust of the nasty house of this world; effectual calling is the taking them out from among that dust, and restoring them to the use for which they were designed.
Thus Christ bespeaks his spouse (for that work is still going on, and will be so, till they be quit of the world, soul and body, 1 Thess. v. 24.) 'Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also thine own people, and thy father's house*.' Psal. xiv. 10. 'come with me from Lebanon, my spouse, with me from Lebanon: look from the top of Amana, from the top of Shenir and Hermon, from the lions' dens, from the mountains of the leopards.' They are called away from the sinful and miserable state of the world, from their ways manners and work; in a word, out of their society, so that though they be in the world, they are no more of it,
The author has some excellent sermons on these texts, not yet printed.