Holding forth the Nature of Vocation, or Divine Calling.
ROM. 8. 30.
THe efficient and instrumental cause of this Divine Calling mentioned in the Text, hath already been declared. We come now to consider, The nature wherein it consists; and the terms from which, to which, in it: And first for the nature of it, because you heard it was partly external, and partly internal; even as man consists of an external body, and an internal invisible soul; so this heavenly calling hath that which is visible, sounding into the ear, and that which is invisible and internal, reaching with a mighty power, even to the heart.
Because, I say, it consists of these two parts, we must consider the Nature * of it first as external, and then as internal.
First, And as its external, so it doth primarily and principally lie in the preach∣ing of the word: The merciful and gracious invitation of sinners to come in by the Gospel, is the very essence of external calling: So that the word of God preached to you, whether it be in Commands, Promises or Threatnings, is to Page 587 be received by you as the voyce and calling of God from heaven to you: The Scripture commanding to leave such a sin, and obedience to such a duty; is as truly the voice and call of God, as any immediate extraordinary call that God e∣ver vouchsafed to any; its as truly and as really, and with as much faith to be obeyed, though it be not so immediately and miraculously: As for example, Paul had this wonderful voyce from heaven, Paul, Paul, why persecutest thou me? Now every prophane, ungodly man, hath as really Gods voyce from heaven by the word speaking to him, Turn, turn ye, why will ye dye? Its said, when Je∣rusalem was so near its destruction, they had a call from heaven, saying, Migre∣mus hinc, Let us depart hence: No less doth every ungodly man hear every day, when he is bid to depart from iniquity, and have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. Its noted as a great mercy of God to Lot, that he sent an Angel to call him out of Sodom, when fire and brimstone was im∣mediately to be poured from heaven upon it; and whereas Lot delayed and de∣layed, the Angel even pulled him out, who was unwilling for his own good; This is a fit representation of our spiritual calling out of sin; the Angels are the Ministers of God, that cry daily, Come out of the world, lest you partake of the judgements of the world; and men are so unwilling, they do so dearly love their Sodom, though it will cost them fire and brimstone, that we are to com∣pel you out of it: This then is a main fundamental principle, introductory to our conversion, when we consider God as speaking and calling to us by his word, to look upon it as truly and really the call of God, as if there were im∣mediate voyces from heaven speaking to us by name: Heb. 10. Christ is said still to speak to us from heaven; And how is that but by the word? and the Scripture is called the The word of God; God speaks it now, as well as at first when he commanded it to be written: Oh then tremble, lest you should be in the number of those who reject God calling of you: Should God send innu∣merable company of Angels from heaven to you, to call you out of your lusts, to the state of grace, it would not be more really (though more immediately) the voyce of God, then what we out of the word declare unto you: This then undoeth you, you do not believe God himself by the word speaking to you, you do not think this is Gods voyce, that he speaks thus and thus to me, and therefore you are still setled in a willful way of sinning. Now the word preached is Gods calling:
First, Instrumentally, as its the word of God, the word that comes out of his mouth: All the Ministers of God, faithfully discharging their trust, are voyces crying unto you, Prepare a way for the Lord; and 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, to preach, is to be the Lords solemn Herald, to offer peace to Rebellious enemies, if they will come in; and if not, in a solemn and dreadful manner, to denounce his heavy wrath and curse: Look not then on Ministers in their Ambassage, as weak frail men, subject to the like passions with others, butas Ambassadors, as coming in the name of God, that cry out, Thus saith the Lord, Oh thou sinner, wash thee from thy iniquity; thus saith the Lord, and not man. And
Secondly, The word preached doth call men objectively; the matter of it is so precious, good, excellent and necessary, as that it doth strongly invite every man. Some Grammarians say, That that which is good and excellent, is called 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, because it doth 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, it doth call and invite men to be in love with it: This is sure about the matter of Gods word; How Divine and Supernatural is it? what purity, what heavenly affections doth that require? insomuch, that no humane precepts concerning piety and honesty ever came near to the Bible: And than the good things promised, are wholly transcendent mans capacity; they are such as never entered into the heart of man to conceive: Justification, the light of Gods countenance, Eternal happiness and glory in heaven, were not men so bruitishly earthly, would ravish them, and make them run after Page 588 them; as the Church said Cant 1. 2. Because of the savor of thy ointments, there∣fore do the virgins love thee: If therefore ye would consider, both how great that infinite majesty is, who doth call you; and what that bait is he doth in∣vite you to, even great and admirable priviledges, this would excite in you such vehement and impatient desires after them, that all the lusts and pleasures of sin, would be accounted as dross and noisom vomit: Oh then think more and more, and consider of this calling. Shall the Devil and lusts call, and thou runnest after them, though into hells mouth? but God calleth, and thou re∣fusest him: Come unto me all ye that pass by, saith the whorish woman; and in the same manner, every kinde of sin, and how many venture into her snares! But come unto me, saith Christ, all ye that labor, and you shall finde rest unto your souls, Mat. 11. in this men are refractory.
In the Second place, The call of God consists in those things that are less prin∣cipal, and such, as without the former, would do no good; but when •oyn∣ed * with it, is very subservient and instrumental. And here we may speak of three tongues calling aloud to us, two without us, and one within us; which I call external, though within us, because of it self it doth not internally change the heart of a man.
And the first less principal, Is the whole Creation: All the Creatures are like * like so many tongues, as they declare the Glory, Power and Wisdom of God.
As for that dangerous opinion, that makes Gods calling of man to repentance * by the Creatures, to be enough and sufficient, we reject, as that which cuts at the very root of free grace: A voyce, indeed, we grant they have, but yet they make like Pauls Trumpet, an uncertain sound; men cannot by them know the nature of God and his Worship, and wherein our Justification doth consist: Therefore whereas Psal. 19. the Psalmist had spoken of the sound of the hea∣vens, and how they all declare the glory of God, he comes in the latter part to commend the Law of God, for that which hath spiritual effects indeed; viz. To convert the soul, and to forwarn from sin: Thou canst not then look up to heaven, or down to the earth, but there is some imperfect voyce calling on thee to glorifie that great and wonderful Creator, who made all these things: But then
Secondly, There are the Judgements and Chastisements of God upon men * for sin; these have a louder and more distinct voyce: Thus the Prophet, Hear ye the Rod, Micah 6. 9. The Rod speaketh: There are no judgements, either pub∣lique or personal, but by them God calls aloud to thee to leave thy sins: Eve∣ry blow-thou hast, every stroke thou feelest, say, Now God speaketh, Oh let me hearken and hear what God would have me do. Those Psalms that have this Inscription, Maschil, or To give Instruction, do for the most part contain the Chastisements and Afflictions of God for sin: And so thou mayest say of every affliction, This is an affliction to give instruction; of every loss, This is a loss to give instruction. Take heed then of that deaf ear, that when God smiteth thee once, twice, yea, many times, yet thou hearest nothing at all; as deaf men do not hear the most terrible thundrings that are.
Lastly, There is a voyce that calls aloud, and that is the conscience God hath planted in thee; for that is Gods lamp put into thy breast: All the bitings * and accusings, and smitings that gives thee for thy sins, its no less then God calling thee by that; Indeed this is a natural call, and so reducible to Gods external calling, yet it is more peremptory, more quick and lively then either the Creatures or Afflictions are: Hearken then to the calls, to the voyce that speaks in thy bosom; How often doth that say, O vile and beastly sinner, when wilt thou leave these lusts? when wilt thou depart from these evil ways? Is it not high time that thou wert changed from these noisom courses. Take heed of putting out this light, do not stop the mouth of it, for it will one day cry louder, Page 589 That will be the gnawing worm, which will never dye. Thus much for the first part.
We come to the Second, wherein the marrow and life of this Holy calling* doth consist; and that is in internal works upon the soul, which are carefully to be observed; that so every man may consider, whether he be in the number of those called ones or no, that shall also be glorified; for its no mercy, yea an ag∣gravation of misery, to be called here outwardly, and to enjoy the priviledges of grace, and hereafter to be damned finally.
Now the first particular, wherein this inward calling consists, Is to open the ear of*man, to give him a spiritual hearing, so that he doth readily close with the call: Every man naturally hath a deaf ear to Gods call: Though he hath a natural ear to hear the sound of the words, yet he hath not a spiritual ear; whence is that phrase so often, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear: So that God in effectual calling of his people to him, doth not onely cause a sound of words, but changeth the ear, so that it heareth spiritually: This is called An awakened ear, or A revealed ear, Isa. 50. 4. Men naturally have their ears stopt and filled with earthly and mucky lusts: So that as deaf men cannot hear the most terrible noise of thundrings; so neither do such the dreadful voyce of God threatning in his word: So that in this powerful calling, God saith Ephaphtha, to every deaf man, Be thou opened. Consider then with thy self, if thou art thus called, God hath given thee a quick ready ear; no sooner doth God speak, but thou sayest, Lo here I am, O Lord, to do thy will; and although lusts, and the cares of the world make a noise, yet thou hearest Gods voyce above alll: You may hear with affection, with delight and understanding, and yet not have this graci∣ous ear.
Secondly, This effectual calling is opening the heart chiefly, so that it gives up it self in obedience unto God: Where there is this calling after Gods purpose, there * the heart is so mollified and softned, that the first thing it pitcheth upon, is with Paul, to say, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? This is so natural a conse∣quent from spiritual hearing, that 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, hearing, is often put for obedience in the Scripture: Thus, as Paul, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, Acts 26. 19. so is every man when inwardly called, he doth no longer resist and re∣fuse the gracious offers of God, he stands it out no more; yea it grieveth and troubleth him at the very heart, that he hath withstood the call of God so often; it might now be too late, God might justly refuse to hear him, as he re∣fused to hear God. Now this obedience unto God calling, hath these pro∣perties:
First, Its a ready obedience: When once this powerful call manifests it self, there is no more disputing, there is no more arguings; Its God that calls, I must obey: Indeed, the outward offer of grace is too often rejected, and many Antecedaneous motions to conversions are suffocated; but when God giveth this last call, then the dead come out of the grave and live; then saith Paul, Imme∣diately I consulted not with flesh and blood, Gal. 1. As Christ called from heaven to Paul, so Paul had flesh, and blood on earth calling him the clean contrary way. Carnal consultations, they invited to safety, ease, pleasure; but the holy calling of God, to self-denial, zeal, and suffering for Gods sake, prevailed: Behold then the mighty power of God, that as soon as his word is out of his mouth, to such a soul imbracing and desiring its old lusts, immediately he throweth all away, though pleasures, profits, carnal friends, all hang upon him to be the same he was once: Thus Matthew the Publican, as soon as Christ called him, Come and follow me, immediately he leaveth his profit and imployment, going after Christ: So that this calling hath a speedy obedience.
Secondly, It hath a chearful and willing obedience: They follow this call with delight, yea they bless and greatly praise God, that hath made them par∣takers of this Heavenly calling, as the Apostle calls it, Heb. 3. 1. Hence it is that Page 590 Calling in the Text is reckoned among those other inestimable benefits of Pre∣destination, Justification, and Glorification. How gladly did Zacheus receive Christ, when Christ called to him! and the Apostles whom Christ called, how willingly did they part with all to accompany him! So then, if thou art thus effectually called, there is a willingness, a delight, and exceeding great joy put into thy soul: Oh thou blessest God that ever he took notice of thee, thou art even ravished with the admiration of Gods love and kindeness to thee, its no grief or trouble of heart to leave thy former lusts; yea, they are a burthen, a shame now to thee. As if a poor Peasants daughter should be called to marry a great King; how doth this transcendently affect her? it doth not trouble her to leave her old Cottage, to put off her old rags, to eat no more of her course food, but rather rejoyceth in the change that is made: Thus it is here, when God gives thee this call, then thou abhorrest the prophane, igno∣rant, and ungodly life that thou didst once live: then thou sayest, I have found Manna for those husks I fed upon; I have found gold for that noisom dung I had before.
Thirdly, Its an universal obedience: This effectual calling hath divers duties to which a man is called, and it refuseth none. When God called Abraham out of his own Countrey, from his kindred, and from the Idolatry he lived in; What an illimited obedience did Abraham demonstrate? He went, saith the Text, not knowing whither he did go, Heb. 11. 8. God called him out of his Coun∣trey, and did not tell him whither he should go, nor what he should do, yet Abrahams obedience is ready to all this: This then cuts off the hopes of hypo∣crites, who run hastily after Gods command in some particulars, and in some duties, where self-advantage, self-interest or applause may shew it self; but universally to obey in every command, in every call, that they cannot yield unto.
Lastly, Its a pure obedience: This calling hath a pure obedience, that is, obe∣dience for obedience sake, because of the Authority and Soveraignty of God who commands; as you see it was in Abraham, in Paul, in Moses, in the Apo∣stles: There was no reason in the world of their obedience, but meerly because God called them: And then is obedience acceptable, when it is because God requireth it. But
Thirdly, This effectual calling gives a spiritual understanding and abilities, to know how to perform the duties and parts of this calling: Hence they are said to be *made light in the Lord, Isa. 4. God never called any man to a particular calling, either in Church or State, but he also gave him abilities and fitness for it; as Moses, Aaron, Joshua, yea Saul had Kingly, though not gracious abilities be∣stowed on him: Now God will much more do thus in a general and more no∣ble calling. Oh then consider, how art thou qualified with abilities to be a Christian, to be a Believer? God hath called thee out of darkness, out of pro∣phaneness, to be a Saint, to walk as a member of Christ; now, hast thou abi∣lities for this calling? Do you not deride those that are in any calling, and have no abilities for it? do you not think such men unworthy of their place? No less art thou of this calling, who knowest not how to believe, to pray, to live, to worship God as thy calling doth require.
Fourthly, This effectual calling denoteth a separation, or setting of a man apart unto that which he is called: So that he must not live as he hath done, but he * must solely busie himself in that to which he is called: Thus the Apostle speak∣ing of his calling to be an Apostle, he saith, He was set apart: And in all worldly callings, you see men are set apart betimes unto it, and that they wholly give themselves to what their calling is; and its a sure forerunner of poverty, to be negligent herein: And thus it is in our spiritual calling, God hath set apart the godly man for himself, he calls him out of the world, and from all his former lusts, to live wholly unto him: Oh how little do men consider, that Page 591 they are separated and set apart by their calling, unto God onely, not to live to sin or the world any more: Thus you have heard wherein the nature of this spiritual effectual calling doth consist.
The first use is of Instruction, That most men in the Church of God have but an * outward calling meerly, they have no inward at all; for where is the opened ear, the opened heart? where is the ready, speedy and pure universal obedience un∣to all that God calls upon us to do? where is the spiritual abilities for all the parts of our Christian calling? where are men separated and set apart from their lusts to holiness onely? and yet no man is inwardly called, till he have all these: Oh then let thy soul make bitter lamentations in secret, let it pour out tears abundantly, saying, O Lord, this heavenly calling hath been no further then hear yet, it hath not gone to the heart; How often hast thou called upon me to leave these sins, to love those duties, and yet I have wilfully been dis∣obedient. Oh it is this inward effectual calling, that will onely make thee hap∣py; yet from this very day, from this very sermon that calleth you at this time, how many will go to their former lusts and wickedness? what may not God and his Ministers say, We are weary with calling any more, as God told Ezekiel, Ezek. 3. 6. If he did send him to a people of a strange speech, and a strange lan∣guage, surely they would hear, but the Israelites would not: So if God should send us to call the Heathens and Pagans, surely they would regard the call, they would entertain it; but you have lived long under this mercy, and so neglect it: Non respondere pro convitio est, What dishonor is it then to God, not to answer him, calling so many years together.