The heavenly calling
In a sermon on the heavenly calling from Revelation 17:14 Beddome closes thus
1. It is personal and particular. The general call is to all that come under the sound of the gospel: this singles out the very person, and speaks to him, as it were, by name, —" Zaccheus, come down;" "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" The former is drawing the bow at a venture; the latter directs the arrow to the mark. The one is directed to the ear, the other to the heart. Ministers stand at the door and knock; the Spirit comes with his key, and opens the door. "I have called thee by name - thou art mine."
2. It is a secret call; it is perceptible in its effects, but not in itself. This is beautifully illustrated by that saying of our Saviour, "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, nor whither it goeth; so is every one that is born of the Spirit." Saul's companions heard a sound of words, but knew not what was spoken. The outward walk, the moral and religious conduct of the saint, are conspicuous to all; but the principles from which he acts, and the motives by which he is influenced, are known only to God and his own soul; in which sense the apostle might say, "As unknown, and yet well known." How different this call from that in the last day, when the angel commissioned for that purpose will say, in the hearing of all the world, "Arise, ye dead, and come to judgement!"
3. It is always successful. Many other calls are not so, even where God himself is the speaker; for he "speaketh once, yea, twice, but man regardeth it not." But when he speaks with a design that we should hear and obey, that design is never frustrated. All the power, policy, and malice of earth and hell, cannot obstruct the operations of his grace, which, as they are sovereign and free, so they are irresistible; so that the enlightened sinner may say, with Job, "Call thou, and I will answer:" and as this call admits of no resistance, so it admits of no delay. "Immediately," says the apostle, "I conferred not with flesh and blood." He speaks, and it is done; .he commands, and it stands fast.
4. As it is effectual, so it is irrevocable. As the gifts, so the calling, of God is without repentance. God never repents that he has been the author of the change effected by his calling, nor the sinner, that he has been the subject of it. God is said to repent that he gave man a being, but never that he gave him grace. The exertion of his power towards his people is so far from creating any regret, either in him or them, that they both rejoice. There is joy both in the repenting sinner, and in heaven over him; and it is not likely that that should be revoked which gives such universal satisfaction. As it is happy for the sinner that his state is alterable, it is equally so for the saint that his is not so. A child of the devil may become a child of God; but a child of God shall never become a child of the devil again. The divine principle shall never be lost; but it shall, in the believer, be "a well of water, springing up to everlasting life." It came from heaven, and it will never leave the soul till it is brought thither.
Let us apply this subject, by inquiring whether we have been thus called. This is the great thing necessary to internal sanctification and all real religion. Here God's work upon us begins, and here begins our working for God. Let us then sit down to examine this matter; much, nay, all, depends upon it. No grace, no glory; - if we are not called, we shall not be crowned. Well might the apostle give that advice: "Give all diligence to make your calling and election sure." We can only know that our names are written in heaven by God's law being written in our hearts.
Let the saints especially, who are God's called ones, learn,
1 To be humble. Whatever they do for Christ is the fruit of what he has done for and in them; they have no reason to be puffed up with their best performances, for they have nothing but what they have received. The evil that is in them is from themselves, the good from God.
2 To be thankful. "I will bless the Lord," saith David, "who hath given me counsel;" those that are the subjects of God's grace should be the trumpeters of his praise. [ocr errors]
3 To be fruitful. Let not the grace bestowed upon you be received in vain; not only bring forth fruit, but show forth the high praises of Him that called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. Walk worthy of your vocation, my friends, and "as He that hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation."