A further Explanation of the Nature of Ef∣fectual calling, by shewing from what, and to what God calls us. As also, the Epithets the Scripture gives it.
ROM. 8. 30.
THe next thing considerable, that will further explain the nature of this Calling, is the Terminus a quo, and Adquem: And this is mani∣fold. *
First therefore, Gods calling is from a state of blindeness and ignorance, into marvellous and wonderful light: As if a man in a dark dungeon, where there was not the least beam of light, should be called out of that to the glorious Sun: Ye were once darkness, but now are ye light, saith the Apostle, Ephes. 5. 8. yea, its called Marvellous light, 1 Pet. 2. 9. for the wonderful glory and excellency of it: A man without this holy calling, is like hell it self, a place of utter dark∣ness. Now the call of God brings a twofold light with it, as you heard; one Page 592 external, inlightning all without us; and the other internal, inlightning the minde and soul of a man.
In darkness there is, first, Danger of stumbling and fall; a man knoweth not where he goeth: Thus, while not effectually called, men are ready to fall into hell every step they take; they see not the hell that is open to devour them, they do they know not what. And
Secondly, In darkness There is great uncomfortableness: The Scripture ex∣presseth misery, and gloomy calamities, under the name of Darkness; and cer∣tainly the life of every unconverted man, is a very uncomfortable life; for though he may have carnal, transient pleasures, like the blaze of thorns, yet he hath no induring joy: The very name of death and a day of judgement, is like Belshazzars Hand-writing on the wall to him, it puts him into trembling and quaking: But this effectual calling of God, hath the contrary to these, its directive to a mans steps; he knoweth how to live, how to dye; he know∣eth how to abound, how to want: The word of God being his Counsellor, giveth him wise, safe, and holy counsel; and hereupon he is never confound∣ed, he is never fallen into the pit, unless when he forsakes this light: And then for the second effect of comfort, they are called To rejoyce, and again to rejoyce, Phil. 3. 1. they are called To peace with God, Phil 4. 4. to serenity in their own consciences, like the upper Religion that is not disturbed by any Meteors; insomuch, that it is both a sin, and a great dishonor unto our holy calling, for a godly man to live in discouragements and dejections: Its as if there were not that comfort, that happiness, that joy in possessing of God, as the Scripture informs us.
Secondly, We are called from a way of prophaneness and ungodliness, to live*pure and holy lives: Thus the Apostle, God hath not called us to uncleanness, but unto holiness, 1 Thess. 4. 7. By Uncleanness, he means any gross sins; insomuch, that none can conclude he is partaker of this Divine Calling, that still wallow∣eth in the filthy lusts of sin. Oh then what terror should this strike into every prophane man! If I am thus ungodly, I am not effectually called; if not cal∣led, I cannot be justified, I cannot be glorified: How then dare I live as I do? hath God called me to live like a beast? is it not said, That we are Saints by calling, not wicked and ungodly by calling? Oh shame and confound thy soul; saying, Where hath God called thee to lye, to swear, to be proud, cove∣tous? it cannot be lamented enough, to see how Christians forget the nature of their Holy Calling: Fasten and fix this meditation upon your hearts; how doth this wickedness and dissoluteness of mine, consist with my calling? The Apostle exhorts, That they would walk worthy of their vocation, Ephes. 4. 1. do actions beseeming such an holy, heavenly priviledge; therefore thou shouldst always reflect on thy self, saying, How doth this agree with my calling? how doth this become my calling? A man grown up to years, will not still use his childish tricks, he saith, it becomes not his gravity; how much rather mayest thou say, Such follies, lusts, do not become my Christianity? This is to make my self a monster, and spiritually deformed.
Thirdly, Gods call is from all our former ways of idolatry, superstition, or false*worship, to the pure and commanded worship of God: All men by nature are said To walk according to the course of this world, Ephes. 2. 2. but the godly are con∣verted from serving their dumb Idols: Thus Abraham, God calls him from his own Land, a place of idolatry, to serve him. Gods people are called To come out of Egypt and Babylon, that they might worship him according to his own way: The Churches name is Ecclesia, A company called together to serve and wor∣ship God; now who shall prescribe that worship, but God himself? not the servants, but the master of the house, must set down the orders to be kept therein; so that the pure and spiritual worshipping of God, is one main end of our calling; for God would have a select company out of the world, who Page 593 should own him, give up themselves to him, and glorifie him, which is mani∣festly done by a sincere, pure worshipping of him: Its strange therefore that people should be no more inquisitive about Gods pure worship, wherein it con∣sists; not to dote upon, or affect customs and traditions of worship, but to look for the institution and command of God.
Fourthly, Its a call out of the world, and all things therein, to the enjoyment*of God, and applying our selves onely to him: And herein lyeth the excellency of this call. All the world lyeth in wickedness, their principles, actions and ends are all wicked; now God calls us out of this Sodom, out of this Egyptian dark∣ness, to enjoy him. Hence pure Religion is said to be, In keeping a man unspotted from the world, James 1. 27. that expression denotes, That the world, and world∣ly things are like pitch, there is a readiness to defile, to pollute; and a godly man labors to keep his garments clean: So the Apostle exhorts, That we should not be conformed to the fashion of the world, but transformed through the re∣newing of the minde, that we may know what is the good and acceptable will of God, Rom. 12 2. And thus the world and the Church are two distinct, opposite things; its therefore defined to be Coetus evocatorum, A company called out of the world: Though we be men made of the earth, yet our Christian being is by a Divine call and power: As precious stones, though their materials are of the earth, yet the precious nature they have, is onely from the heavens; as the clouds, though they be vapors arising from the earth, yet they fly up to heaven, and follow the motions thereof: So it is here, The people of God, though consisting of flesh and blood, and living an animal life, as others, yet they have a spiritual life; insomuch, that though they live in the world, yet they are not of the world: So that our calling is not onely from gross foul sins, but also from immoderate and inordinate affections, even to lawful things; called therefore An heavenly calling, because its from heaven, and lifteth up to heaven. Hence the godly have their conversation in heaven, Phil. 3. 20. heaven, and not the world, is that Corporation and City they are of; they live by the Laws of heaven, not the world; their comforts are heavenly comforts, not earthly; their priviledges are heavenly priviledges, not worldly. Art thou effectually called? herein it will discover it self, if thy heart and affections be set on heavenly things, where God and Christ are, who are the beloved of thy soul: Its not enough to cast off all the noisom rags and menstrous cloathes of impiety, but to throw away all burthens, and any heavy weight that may hinder thee in thy race to heaven: The Apostle supposeth this, when he pre∣scribes us such a spare dyet upon these things: They that marry, must be as if they married not, 1 Cor. 7. so they that buy, and have the world: God hath called you to look upwards; and as man cannot at the same time look with one eye up to heaven, and another towards the earth; so neither can a man have his heart towards God, and also towards the world: Live not then, as if thy soul were made of dust, as well as thy body, as if thou wert a worm in this sense; for feeding on the earth, as well as for contemptibleness: The Devil feeding on the dust of the earth, is the Devil possessing earthly men. Consider, that God hath called you to injoy himself, to be made one with Christ, and to have communion and fellowship with him: Oh how should this sunne put out the stars; this Manna, that Garlike.
Fifthly, This calling is from a state of quietness and security in the world, to a*state of trouble and affliction: The very calling of a Christian, is accompanied with many oppositions and sufferings, which formerly he was not used unto; and herein our Saviour dealt very faithfully, when he invited men to come un∣to him, He bid them prepare for the cross, for all evil-intreating in the world: The world loves his own, but it will hate those that are Christs; and again, He that will be his disciple, must take up his cross, and follow him; this Christ admo∣nisheth aforehand: That as the Devil inticeth by the present pleasures, but Page 594 concealeth the future miseries; Christ doth take a contrary way, he revealeth the future glory and happiness, but doth also instruct them concerning the present afflictions and troubles they shall have in this world; so then, sad and grievous exercises they must look for: The Apostle Peter speaks excellently to this purpose, 1 Pet. 2. where laying down admirable directions about suffer∣ings, that it must not be for any fault or imprudence in our selves, but meerly out of conscience to God, so that we suffer wrongfully in all we suffer; he tells them, This is acceptable unto God; And hereunto we are called; observe that, to unjust and wrongful sufferings he is called: The Scripture useth an equiva∣lent phrase, Hereunto you were appointed; yea, God from all eternity did pre∣destinate us to be conformable unto Christ in his sufferings; therefore as our Sa∣viour saith, Let every one that sets out against the world and the Devil in Christs name, that will take up his profession, let him first consider, what he can do; Can he leave all, forsake all, deny all, and part with every dearly beloved ob∣ject for Christs sake? then he may take much comfort: The Hypocrite, the temporary Believer; he proveth an unfaithful Apostate, because of this, he did not forecast what he should do, when the scorching heat of the Sun should arise; and this made our Saviour even refuse the offer, that some tendred to be Disciples, following of him, because he knew what unsted fastness and un∣faithfulness was in their heart. Now as this hath some disheartning in it, that while we lived slaves to our lusts, all things were quiet, and we lived secure lives; but since we gave up our selves to God, every thing hath risen up against us, we have procured an universal odium: I say, though this may discourage, yet in that the Scripture saith, we are called to it, it denoteth, That these things come by the gracious providence of a merciful father; and that where he calls, he gives also strength and proportionable abilities: so that the very expression, To be called to trouble in this world, hath much sweetness. and hopeful incourage∣ment in it. And
Lastly, This holy calling is from a state of danger and misery, to a state of blessedness*and happines: God doth not only call us out of the sinfulnes of the world, but also all that wrath and vengeance which is prepared for men of the world. As Lot, you heard, was called out of Sodom, or as Noah was called into the Ark, when the waves of water did overwhelm others: Thus God he calls his people from that fire and brimstone, and from that deluge of fury, which is to fal upon others: so some make this expression of calling to be a metaphor or allusion, to one that calleth such a man to come out of an house, when the main pillars are ready to break in pieces. Oh then, never think much to be called out of this Egypt, this Babylon; for its Gods mercy to thee, when thou shalt see the beams fall upon others, the fire and brimstone burn others, and thou escape; this must needs fill thee with much astonishment and joy: Stand not then consulting, How shall I part with these pleasures, these profits? How shall I depart from the custom of evil do∣ing? for its a mercy to be snatched from them: Oh say rather, How can I in∣dure those everlasting burnings?
In the next place, let us consider, what Epithets or Properties the Scripture gives this calling. And *
First, Its a calling according to his purpose, and his good pleasure, as here in this Chapter: And this denoteth, That God doth not foresee any merit, or any motive in us, but its meerly of his pleasure; therefore its in the passive sense, we are called, viz. By God; its never said, We call our selves; and withal, it being a calling according to Gods purpose, it supposeth the sure and power∣ful efficacy of it: God cannot be disappointed in his purpose, The counsel of the Lord will stand; so that all this debaseth man, makes him an impotent and undone man to all eternity, if God help not: Oh then let this take thee up, as it were, into the third heavens, let it mightily rejoyce thy heart, who Page 595 hath had this compassion and pity on thee: Alas! God from all eternity had a purpose to be thus gracious unto thee; when thou hadst no being at all, long before the foundations of the world were laid, God had thoughts of love and kindeness to thee, when thou couldst not desire or beg for such a mercy: Its no wonder that Paul doth often run out in large expressions concerning Gods Love, his Predestination from all eternity, when he hath occasion to praise God for the calling and conversion of any in time; for this is to trace the stream, till we finde the well-head: This is, as it was with Ezekiels waters, to go from wa∣ters that rise up to the ankle, at last to that which will cover the head: What can then be able to discourage the heart of a godly man? what can disquiet? Here is a Catholicon for all diseases: Art thou afflicted? God hath called thee from all eternity? Art thou despised by men? God esteemed of thee from the beginning of the world.
Secondly, Its an holy calling▪ This is a frequent adjective; so that there is nothing in this calling, but what comes from an holy God: The matter of it * is holy, and the end altogether holy; insomuch, that all prophane, ungodly men should blush to own this profession: Thou art called to be a Saint, to be in the world, as a bright star in a dark night; But, is to be proud, cove∣tous, prophane, malicious? is this to be a Saint? Oh how should our bowels rowl within us, to see how God is dishonored, his Laws are broken, and that by those, who glory in the call of a Christian! Oh let not such gross sins be any more practised or named among you! As in the Temple, every vessel was holy, so every part of thy soul and body shall be holy; an holy minde, holy thoughts, holy affections, holy eyes an holy tongue, an holy body: Thy cal∣ling being thus an holy calling, all within thee, and all that floweth from thee, should also be holy.
Thirdly, Its an heavenly calling: Whether you do regard the efficient cause, * God from heaven calls to these dry bones to live; if the matter of it, it is to be heavenly in our conversations; to go through this world as pilgrims, to be as the fowls of the heaven, which though they pitch upon the ground for their food, yet they presently fly up to heaven: The priviledges are heaven∣ly, pardon of sin, assurance of Gods favor, increase in grace, communion with God, and enjoying of God in heaven for ever. We see how David prized being son in Law to a King: There are callings to great outward glory in this world; but God vouchsafeth a greater mercy to those who have this heavenly calling.
Fourthly, Its an high calling, Phil. 3. 14. The Apostle there compareth himself * in the progress of Christianity, to one striving and running in a race; there should be no dulness no wearisomness in this way: now as in those race, they who judged sate in an high place, and by an Herald called out every man to run; so he saith, God from heaven calls out every man to make haste in this way of god∣liness; so that thou art to hear him from heaven, calling thee to press forward, to think nothing is yet done, as long as so much remaineth behinde; and if they were so earnest for a corruptible crown, how much rather should we for an incorruptible?
Lastly, Its a calling dispensod in a very contrary way to humane expectation; which makes that Doctrine of Congrua vocatio to fall to the ground: You see*your calling (saith Paul) not many wise, not many noble are called, but he hath called the foolish ana w•ak things of the world, to confound the wise: Herein God * hath manifested his dreadful power, and glorious wisdom; It hath not been of him that runneth, or willeth, but of him that calleth, that so there might be no glorying or boasting in the arm of flesh: If you consider who they are that God hath called in all ages, they have not been the learned men, the great men, the wise men of the world, but the poor and the contemptible; some, indeed, there have been, therefore he saith, Not many, which implyeth some: JulianPage 596 objected against the Christian Religion, That they were Maids and Nurses, and Eunuchs, and such contemptible persons that were Christians; not considering that God doth not call according to outward appearance.
Use of Admonition; Let all those particular terms from which, and to which in this calling, be so many vehement motives and strong goads to obey this call. Doth God call thee to thy losse? Doth he offer thee any wrong, when he in∣vites thee? He cals thee from a dungeon to a Palace, from hell to Heaven, from slavery to liberty, and yet wilt thou refuse? Oh thou art a man of no reason, no consideration, no faith, else thy heart would eccho presently to Gods Call! Oh consider that as God hath this gracious call inviting thee; so he hath dread∣ful terrible cals for those that refuse him! The Scripture tels of Gods calling for a Famine, of his calling for a Sword; God cals for Judgements as well as for Mercies; He that cals thee now graciously, will one day call to the devils to torment, to the flames of hell eternally to scorch thee.