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XI.-CALLING, OR VOCATION.
The state of liberty and elevation described by the doctrine of adoption, has afforded us a cheering view of Christian privilege, and taken in connexion with all the preceding statements on which we have exercised our minds, brings up the glorious revelation to the highest practical results. But we have yet to inquire into the remaining scenes, lying beyond the present state of things, wherein the attainment of the believer's inheritance will exhibit a yet more enrapturing view of the salvation of the church in Christ Jesus, and of the glory which in her perfection the Saviour himself will inherit.
Before passing to a view of this period, we will however answer an inquiry which is properly placed in this stage of our volume, it is this-How and by what means is it that persons, in their original condition fallen, alienated, and at enmity against God, come into
the possession of the great distinction described ? And what are we to understand of a speciality in the general invitation to sinners with which the scriptures abound? There is a question of similar import in the scriptures themselves, “ But I said, how shall I put thee among the children, and give thee a pleasant land, a goodly heritage of the hosts of nations ?” The reply is provided in the same scripture, “ Thou shalt call me, my Father; and shalt not turn away from me.” Jer. iii. 19. It is thus that every individual of the family of God's house is placed in his high habitation, and thus alone that any man receives the spirit of adoption, whereby to cry, “ Abba, Father.”
The call is given, couched in general terms. “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that bath no money ; come ye, buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money, and without price.” “Turn ye, turn ye, why will ye die.” “ Come unto me all ye that are weary and heavy-laden." “Come out, and be ye separate, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." These are words of general im
port, and are delivered as the proclamation of terms of peace in a rebel's country, promising an amnesty on condition of their arms being laid down, in submission. Such proclamations are calls from the Divine Majesty, and are varied in merciful liberality according to man's character and condition. He is addressed with every consideration, which, to a rational creature should appear unanswerable, and is urged by every motive which the experience of an observant mind should enforce. The Lord has been pleased also to continue his method of mercy from generation to generation, adding to each succeeding race of men the example of their fathers, whether in the ruin consequent upon continued revolt, or in the blessedness of the exchange made by acceptance of peace.
Along with these measures there have been tokens, dispensations, and convictions from time to time, of mercy and judgment wrought towards, and within, individual transgressors, and all well calculated to confirm the proclaimed word. But, ah! how disgraceful and destructive has been the perverse choice of man. He refuseth to hear the voice of the charmer, charm he never so wisely. He is like the deaf adder: the music of the heavenly
strain has nothing of harmony to his ear; and whether it fall upon him in the melody of love in Jesus, exhibited to guilty sinners, or in the louder tones of judgment, ready to avenge the cause of God and strike the rebel into the pit, in vain is the appeal : “ We have piped unto you and ye have not danced, we have mourned unto you and ye have not wept.” The truth is, there is no sympathetic chord which can be touched. Man's heart is destitute of love or fear, when these momentous subjects would claim them; and with an awful indifference to eternal things, confirmed by his enmity to things spiritual, he refuses the proclamation, and comes under the condemnation spoken by our Lord, “ Ye will not come unto me that ye might have life.” It is not therefore by being merely addressed, that the heart is obtained for Christ. The invitations that are thus brought near to man, serve but to give opportunity for the developement of man's determination to be an alien : they are as the touchstone to our nature, or as the temptation or proof bringing out the latent evil of the heart's enmity, and serving to display to all creation what is the nature of human depravity. There is indeed in one respect what some persons are so earnest to advocate, viz. a
will that is free: there needeth no constraint upon this faculty to render man free to the service of evil, he pursues it with appetite, eagerly, deliberately, voluntarily ; indeed, were this faculty otherwise than free, it must lose its own characteristic, and cease to be will; for what a man does by reason of necessity, which were he able he would resist, cannot be described as performed with his will. In this sense, therefore, all men are free in the full bent of their will, with their affections preferring the things which are abhorred by the Lord. Thus corrupt man has no faculty remaining in him that is true to God's claims, and is a creature not to be moved to the service of his God, so long as his will remains in its native condition. It is consequently this faculty that, holding so important a station in the affairs of man, must receive the first operation of the Spirit. It is the inlet, or door, through which the Lord must enter in order to take possession of the whole man;-hence Jesus says, “ Behold, I stand at the door and knock, if any man open the door unto me, I will come in and sup with him, and he with me.” General invitations are as a blow upon the door, demanding admittance ; the reasonings, excuses, or resolves by which