A sermon by Thomas White
So much for the properties of this call; and so much for the opening of the point. Shall I speak a word or two of APPLICATION?
Beloved in the Lord, I have answered you many questions: I beseech you, answer me a few. “Me,” said I? Nay, answer them to God and your own consciences.
1. Are you of the number of the called?—Called by the gospel I know you are; but that may be your misery. Are you “called according to the purpose?” That only can be your happiness. Is your calling inward and effectual? “We hope it is.” Why? “We have some convictions, some inclinations to good.” So had Herod, so had Agrippa; so may a reprobate [have] by the common work of the Spirit. I would be loath [that] you should be but almost Christians, lest you be but almost saved. Tell me, then, Is the whole frame of your hearts altered? Is sin odious? Is Christ precious? Doth the price of heavenly commodities rise in your hearts, and the price of earthly trumpery fall? Do you love God and his Son Jesus Christ in sincerity? Then I can assure you,—not in the word of a mortal man, which is as good as nothing; but in the word of God that cannot lie, even in the words of my text,—you are “called according to his purpose.”
2. If you be effectually called, why do you not answer that call, in receiving Christ in all his offices, in obeying Christ in all his commands, in meeting Christ in all his ordinances? Why do you not “give all diligence to make your calling and election sure?” (2 Peter 1:10.) Shall the “children of this world” still be wiser in their generation than the “children of light?” They rest not till they have assured (as they suppose) their earthly tenements: why do not we bestir ourselves as much to assure a heavenly inheritance?
Why are you not more thankful for this grace? Why are you not more joyful in it? How did the wise men of the East rejoice, when they found Christ horn in Bethlehem! Is it not matter of greater joy to find Christ born in your hearts? Tell me, Is it nothing to have your names written in the book of life? To have God for your Father, Christ for your Husband and Brother, the Spirit of Christ for your Comforter, the angels for your servitors, all the creatures at your beck? These are the noble privileges of those that are “called according to the purpose of God.” How can they but rejoice in them, and “sing of the mercies of the Lord forever?” (Psalm 89:1.)
Why are you not more careful to “walk worthy of” this grace? (Eph. 4:1.) There is a decorum, a seemliness, that appertains to every calling. This made Scipio that he would not accept the offer of a harlot, because he was general of the army: and when Antigonus was invited to a place where there was none of the best company, he was well advised by one to remember [that] he was a king’s son. When you suffer yourselves to be drawn away by your lusts, to be ensnared by the world, to be captivated by the devil, you forget the decorum that should attend your Christian calling: remember, I beseech you,
(1.) That it is a holy calling.—And therefore be ye also holy in all manner of conversation.” (1 Peter 1:15.) Methinks, it should sound as harshly in our ears to hear of a wicked Christian as of a dark sun.
(2.) It is a high calling.—Do live high. Scorn baseness: blush to appear in your old rags; to be seen catering for your lusts as you used to do. Crown yourselves with the stars; clothe yourselves with the sun; tread the moon under your feet. Let the gospel be your crown; let Christ be your clothing; let the world be your footstool; let hidden manna be your constant diet. Keep open house to all comers: set your spiritual dainties before them; bid them feed heartily, and welcome: and, for discourse, tell them what great things God hath done for your souls. (Psalm 66:16.)
(3.) It is a heavenly call.—Let your “conversation be in heaven” (Phil.
3:20): you have a good Correspondent there. Maintain a constant trade and traffic
thither: expect returns thence. “Lay up your treasure” there, “where neither moth
nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.” (Matt.
6:20.) Be always preparing for your passage thither.
(4.) It is an immutable call.—Do not droop and hang your heads for the changes and mutations [which] there are in the world. “The foundation of God standeth sure,” (though the foundation of states be overturned, overturned, overturned,) “having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his,” (2 Tim. 2:19,) and will cause “all things to work together for their good.”
3. But what, if now there be many amongst you that are not effectually called?—In the third and last place I address myself to them:—
Men and brethren, if you have any sense of the excellency of your immortal souls; any love to them, suitable to that excellency; any care and solicitousness, suitable to that love; do not “resist the Holy Ghost.” Make the best use you can of the means of grace. “Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” (Heb. 3:15.) If he now knock at the door of your hearts, and you will not open, you know not how soon you may come to knock at the door of his house, and he will not open.
It is reported that Thales, one of the Grecian sages, being urged by his mother to marry, told her at first [that] it was too soon; and afterward, when she urged him again, he told her [that] it was too late. Effectual vocation is our espousal unto Christ: all the time of our life God is urging this match upon our souls; his ministers are still wooing for Christ. If now we say, “It is too soon,” for aught we know, the very next moment our sun may set; and then God will say, “It is too late.” They that are not contracted to Christ on earth, shall never be married to him in heaven.