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except the Father, which hath sent me, draw him.It is written in the prophet, They shall be all taught of God: every man, therefore, that hath heard and learned of the Father, cometh unto me.” And thus the Spirit comes, with internal power, to make the soul, by the external call working in it, both to will and to do, of his good pleasure, Phil. ii. 13.; and so he is called internally and efficaciously, and united to Christ. This is the immediate branch that love grows on.
4thly, Consider the origin and hidden root from · which it springs, and that is the purpose of God; “ called according to his PURPOSE.” This is both the root of effectual calling, and the root of that love to God that issues from it: “ We love bim, because he first loved us." True love to God issues from his everlasting love to us. But this divine
relates here to effectual calling. I shall view it in relation thereto; and it seems to point out four things, with reference to this call.
1. It points out the peculiarity of this call, not only that it is a special, internal call, limited by the special purpose of God, in contradistinction from the external, that many have, who yet come short of conversion ; but it is a call peculiar to the elect, such as is mentioned, 2 Pet. i. 10. “ Give all diligence to make your calling and election sure.” It is such a calling as is joined with election; insomuch, that they that are thus called, may be as sure of election from eternity, as they are sure of their vocation in time. O sirs, let us admire the sovereignty of grace in dispensing this internal call to some, and not to others. Surely they that are thus
vardly and effectually called, can never enough love and praise that God that has granted this special mercy to them. And let those who are yet only outwardly called, as all to whom the gospel comes are, let them hearken diligently to that external call, and be restless till they get grace to answer it, by coming to Christ; for, this outward call is the means of the effectual one, and let them not meddle with the purpose of God, till once they are brought to answer the gospel call; for this
is the rule you are to follow : whereas the divine pure pose is a hidden secret, not to be revealed till you have followed the outward rule. The gospel offer is to all ; • Whosoever will, let him come:' and, if you do not exclude yourselves, by your unbelief, from this open call and invitation, you shall never find yourselves excluded from any secret decree; for, whenever your heart opens to Christ, then the decree opens in your favours. Therefore, be diligent in the use of gospel means that tend to the opening of the heart to Christ. " Why, say you, but if God did not decree my salvation, my heart will never open to Christ; and, therefore, what need I use the means ? Why, indeed, the antecedent is true; but the consequent absurd. You may as well say, if God decree that I should live no longer, then I will die; and, therefore, what need I take any more meat or drink, or use the means of life? I imagine you will not argue so grossly, about the life of your body; and why will you suffer the devil to cheat you into such a trifling, about the life of your souls, to all eternity ?
2. To be called according to his purpose, points out the freeness of the call, that it flows out from mere grace; for, if it be a call, according to his
it is not a call according to our works; 2 Timothy 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.” It must be free; for the worst of sinners, and the chief of sinners have been and are called effectually. Let the greatest of sinners be persuaded to look out after this sovereign grace of God, and plead that he would glorify his free grace in saving them.
3. It points out the efficacy and energy of the call; for, God's purpose is a standing purpose : “ His counsel shall stand, and he will do all his pleasure.” Hence his call is irresistible, and yet without force and violence. It is irresistibly sweet, and sweetly irresistible : here there is no compulsion, but that of love, cords of love.
4. It points out the perpetuity of the call, because it is the fruit of an unalterable purpose;
irrevocable : " The gifts and calling of God are without repentance,” Rom. xi. 29.-Thus you see this love in the object, the act, the immediate spring, and the original root of it. Here then is the character of those to whom “ All things shall work together for good; they are lovers of God, by virtue of his call and purpose.
- V. The next thing proposed, in the general method, is, to shew whence it is that all things shall work together for good to such lovers of God; and so to point out the evidence the apostle had for saying, we know that it shall be so: and here also observe the suitableness and connection between the character, of being lovers of God; and this privilege, of all things working together for good.
If you ask then, Why all things work together for good, to them that love God, to them that are called according to his purpose ?
There is a general answer in the bosom of the text, and that is drawn from the divine purpose; the determination of God.-- There is a stated law in heaven from eternity for it; they are predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things according to the counsel of his will, Eph. i. 11. There is not any thing, that falls out in this world, but was resolved upon and decreed from eternity, that things should be so and so. Men and devils may as well go up to the court rolls of heaven, and there cross and cancel the eternal statutes and decrees of God, as hinder our good, who love God, and are the called according to his purpose. “ The foundation of God standeth sure.” More particularly,
1. The first reason and argument, upon which we know that all things shall work together for good to them who love God, and are the called according to his purpose, is drawn from the nature of God: why, he is the Lord of hosts, the God of armies, who hath all the hosts of men, and angels, and creatures, in his hand; and all the legions of devils at his back.--He can command the stars in their courses to fight for his people, and against their enemies.-Hę can create an army of frogs, and lice, and locusts; they want but a commis. sion from him, and so they execute his purpose.
Again, he is a God of infinite wisdom, who knows what will work best for his people's good. Let God be doing with thee, O believer ; whatever thy 'condition be, he knows when to send affliction, and when prosperity: he knows what afflictions to send, and by what hands and means; and how long to continue them. He knows also how to deliver the godly out of temptation and trouble. Prescribe not to infinite wisdom.
Again, he is a God of infinite power; he can do what he will: nothing is too hard for him to do. As he knows all things, so he can do all things; and make all things do what he pleases, and work what he has amind. And he has made over himself to you, believer; and, with himself, his infinite power, to make all things work for thy good.
Again, he is a God of infinite love and compassion to them that love him : “ As a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them:" and his everlasting love makes him carry on his loving design by all means whatsoever.
Again, as this is the nature of God, so this is the way of God to act for his people, in a suitableness to his nature : his usual way is even by contrary means to bring about great things for his people, as you see in God's way with David, Daniel, Joseph, Mordecai, and others.
In a word, his providential government of the world is extended to all creatures, and more especially to his people. It extends to the birds of the air, the lilies of the field, and the hairs of the head; and much more to them, Matth. vi. 28,-34. Whatever men and devils design, all shall come to nothing, and go no farther
han God gives leave. Ezekiel's vision was a wheel within a wheel: though in a watch the wheels seem to go cross, yet the wise artificer knows what they mean. But,
2. Another reason and argument, upon which 'we know that all things shall work together for good to them who love God, is drawn from the Mediator, Christ Jesus Why, be is entrusted with them by the Father, from whom he had a special charge of them,
given him from all eternity : “ I have manifested thy name to the men whom thou gavest me out of the world thine they were, and thou gavest them me,” John xvii. 6. Now, Christ will be faithful to his trust; yea, he hath received all fulness of the Spirit, and that not for himself, but for them, that he may improve it for their souls, Col. i. 19. : yea, as Mediator, he hath the whole world given him; and, “ All power in heaven and earth,” Matth. xxviii
, 18. And, as he upholds all things by the word of his power, Heb. i. 2.; so, all things are put under his feet; and, “He is given to he head over all things to the church;” Eph. i. 22. that he may rule and over-rule kingdoms and nations as he will; and make use of all the creatures to promote the good design the Father sent him upon.
Again, by virtue of this great power and commission, he is pleased to give a special commission and charge to millions of excellent spirits in heaven to look to his people; “ He has given his angels charge over them : and, are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister to the heirs of salvation ?" Heb. i. 14. And so they are compassed about with this invisible guard :“ The angel of the Lord encampeth about them that fear him." Yea, the Lord JEHOVAH himself is their life-guard : “ As the mountains are round about Jeru. salem, so is the Lord round them. The place of their defence is the munition of rocks.”
Again, by virtue of the power of Christ, he has qualified several men with gifts and graces, and has given them a charge of his people, saying, as to Peter, Feed my lambs. When Christ ascended up on high, he received gifts for men, and gave gifts to men; what to do? It was for the perfecting of the saints. Christ, going out of the world, to be crowned with glory and honour at the Father's right-hand, he leaves coronation gifts behind him; and he is distributing some of these amongst you at this occasion.
Again, Christ has removed all things out of the way, that might obstruct the good of his people : that sin might not do it, he has condemned sin in the flesh, by giving himself a sacrifice for sin : that the devil might