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With many a strong, but ill founded confidence, that all shall terminate happily, though they know not how. And with as inany more, a total disregard, whether it will or not.
Hence, though the Son of God is come, and, calleth by his word, and by his ordinances: tho’ Wisdom standeth without and lifteth up her voice in the street: neither invitations, nor entreaties, neither the sweet, -melodious sounds of the gospel, nor the dreadful denunciations of the law; no, nor all the 'dispensations of providence, in the world, either in a way of mercy, or of judgment, will avail, until the same Almighty grace, which calls, graciously gives with that call a disposition to obcy; and makes the Sinner willing in the day of his power. God hath drawn, this distinction, between the outward means of his grace, and the inward operation of his holy Spirit: and most decidedly taught, that the same hand, which formed the world, must be stretched forth, to frame the sinner's heart anew, or he will be dead, in trespasses, and sins, to all eternity.
It is not enough, as is evident, in the instance of Mary in the text, that the Master is comé and that he calleth by the outward ministry of his word, or in any of the various methods of his providence, or grace; there must be an inward accompanying power, by a personal application, of the Spirit's work in the heart, to render it effectual. But when this glorious act of sove
reignty is wrought in the soul, and the sinner is led to see that Jesus not only speaks, but speaks personally to him; then are the secrets of his heart made manifest, and like the man spoken of by the Apostle, he falleth down upon his knees and will worship God and report that God was in . that word of a truth.I.
I hope I shall have fully prepared your mind, by these observations, on the former branches of my subject, for what remains yet to be considered, under the last particular; namely, that when the gospel is preached with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven and is directed to the heart, with a special, and personal application ; this manifests, that the Master is not only come, and calleth, but that he calleth for thee. And this part of our discourse, considered as connected with the happiness of the individual, becomes the most interesting of the whole,
If such effects, as I have described, under the preceding head of the subject, be induced by the fall, and man, really is, by nature, blind, and unconscious, of any one act of spiritual apprehension; nay even dead in trespasses and sins: nothing can be more evident, than that a recovery, from such a state if effected, must be all together supernatural; and consequently, the sole result of a divine power. · None but He who created the soul can form the faculties of the soul anew. The same who at first commanded
light 1 Cor. 14. 25.
light to shine out of darkness, must shine in the heart to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the fuce of Jesus Christ.
In the accomplishment of this act of mercy, God hath been pleased to appoint various means of grace, by way of conveying his energy to the soul: causing them to act as mediums, and instruments, to this purpose : yet still reserving to himself the sole efficient operation, to render them in every instance effectual. And this distinction is of all other points, the most essential to be preserved, in the mind, in order to form a just conclusion, between the common means of grace, simply considered as means, and the special application of them, when they are at any time rendered effectual, under the operation of the Holy Ghost. Gospel ordinances, how excellent soever they are in themselves, are but ordinances; and like the pool of Bethesda, or the pool of Siloam, possess no medicinal quality in themselves. They only become so, when commissioned by Him..
When the Apostle Paul preached the word to many, that came to him, unto his own lodgings, the result was, that some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not. Whereas, had the efficacy depended, either upon the word, or the Preacher, certainly in all instances, the success would have been the same. And still, to mark this great point, with stronger
precision, and to manifest from what source, the whole blessing must be derived; when the same Apostle, was made instrumental, to the Conversion of a certain woman of Thyatira, the reason is immediately added, whose heart the Lord opened so that she attended to the things which were spoken by Paul.
But what I am chiefly desirous at this time, to impress upon your mind, is this; that in every instance, where this divine work, is formed, in the heart, it must be individually exercised.
In religion, as in all matters of a secular nature, it is the right of property, which a man hath in it, which constitutes the value. General, unapplied mercies, never reach the heart. They must become special, personal, and particular. They must come, directed immediately to you, or to me, before that they will interest the affections of either. So that it is not enough, that the proclamation of mercy in the gospel, runs in those sweet words of invitation : ho! every one that'thirsteth come ye to the waters and drink! The soul, however thirsty, will still be asking, is that call addressed to me? May I venture to come? Hence therefore, a conscious sense of a personal interest in all the privileges of the gospel, certainly forms the sweetest part of it. Job felt all this, when he said, I know that my Redeemer liveth and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth and though after
my my skin worms destroy this body yet in my flesh shall I see God whom I shall see for myself and mine eyes shall behold for myself and not another for me.
· And Paul had the same personal consciousness, when he declared, that the life he then lived in the flesh he lived by the faith of the Son of God who loved me (said the Apostle) and gave himself for me. The most precious part, of the manifestation, which the Angel of the Covenant, made of himself to Moses at the bush, without all question was that, in which the Lord, called him by his name. Before that took place, what Moses saw, however it excited his wonder, and arrested his attention, yet, it did not become personally interesting. And I cannot but think, that when the Jubilee trumpet, sounded in the camp of Israel, however generally pleasing it might be, to every one, who knew how to appreciate the blessings of free dom; yet the sweetest note, vibrated on the captive's ear. He knew, though he had never heard it before, the joyful sound.
If your ideas correspond with mine, that this consciousness of a personal interest in the Master's call, is of all others the most important point, to be attended to, by every individual; the question will immediately arise out of it, by what means shall it be known? And the answer