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SERMON XX.

GOD'S CALL REFUSED.

PROVERBS i. 24-31. Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at nought all my connsel, and would none of my reproof; I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; when your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you: then shall ye call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but shall not find me; for that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord: they would none of my counsel; they despised all my reproof: therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices. For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them.

The

THIS solemn and affecting passage is from the lips of Eternal Wisdom. It is the voice of God heard everywhere, speaking in public and in private, in the house and by the way, on the land and on the ocean. persons addressed are the simple ones, who love simplicity, the ignorant, unwary, and careless, who love to continue thoughtless and dissipated, and turn away from all those thoughts which interfere with their present pursuits of pleasure, reputation, or worldly gain. They are the scorners who delight in their scorning— those who deride and revile the truths and precepts of the Gospel, and glory in their impiety and unbelief. They are the fools who hate knowledge,-persons who have had some acquaintance with religion, whose con

sciences have been awakened and convinced, but who have broken these bonds, who sin in defiance of these convictions, and set at nought all counsels, and despise all rebuke. The consequences of their folly are here portrayed in glowing and mournful colors. They are the most dreadful calamity and terror;-fear and destruction, like the impetuous and all-prostrating blast of the whirlwind-distress and anguish seizing upon them -every hope and comfort fled-and every helper, human and divine, neglecting and disdaining their distress. The object of this discourse, therefore, is to point out some of the ways in which God thus expostulates with men, and to show that when they disregard his expostulations, they have reason to expect that he in his turn will disregard theirs.

I. I am to point out some of the ways in which God calls the children of men. He calls them,

1. In the first place, by his Word. Here, he opens to them the sources of divine instruction, the counsels of his infinite mind, the fountains of eternal Wisdom. Here he reveals to them truths which the lights of nature and reason could never disclose, which angels could not reveal, and which none but God knew. Here he makes them acquainted with the sublimest objects in the universe,—his own infinitely great and divinely glorious character, government, and method of mercy by his well-beloved Son. Here he shows them the rule of duty, and the great end of their existence. Here he uncovers the depth of their moral depravity, and, if possible, the deeper abyss of woe and wrath which await all the impenitent workers of iniquity. Here he supplies the strongest motives which the universe contains, and which his own infinite mind

can suggest, to induce them to hearken to his voice and live. Here he introduces them to the amazing realities beyond the grave; and by all that is conclusive and irreversible in the decisions of the Final Day, all that.. is elevating and transporting in the condition and joys of God's right hand, and all that is fearful in the agonies and anguish of the soul that is forever exiled from his presence; entreats them to accept his offered mercy. He here spreads before them the map of eternity, the chart of their perilous voyage to that distant and unmeasured country; and puts into their hands a guide, a manual of written instructions, clear, and intelligible, and safe. Throughout all its revelations is diffused the glory of its divine Author, and in every sentence and line his own almighty voice is uttered, as really as it was uttered to our first parents in the garden, or to Moses and the people of Israel on Sinai.

2. God calls them by his ministers. Once he called them by the ministry of angels; by his servants the prophets; and by special messengers, raised up and sent forth upon this special errand. For a series of years, he called them by the personal ministry of his Son. On his return to the heavenly world, he called them by divinely instituted apostles; and since that period by the ordinary ministers of the Gospel. They are God's ambassadors, and speak in his name. They are his advocates at the bar of the human conscience, intrusted with a concern that interests the well-being of their fellow-men for eternity. They are appointed to argue the cause of God before this thoughtless and revolted world; to present and urge his claims; to hear the word at his mouth, and warn them from him.

What the Bible does privately, ministers of the Gospel

do publicly. They illustrate and defend the truth, and press the invitations of their Lord and Master on all that have ears to hear. Through them, Wisdom crieth without, and uttereth her voice in the streets; she crieth in the chief places of concourse, and in the opening of the gates. Every Sabbath brings with it privileges which, if improved, would be remembered with joy in heaven. Faithful ministers aim to convey the divine calls directly to the minds of their hearers, and to make them vibrate on their hearts. They endeavor to present the expostulations of God's word in such a light as to constrain men to hear, and understand them, and feel their force. They view the condition of lost sinners, in some measure, as God views it; and feel toward them, in some measure, as God feels; and try all in their power to wake up their attention, to rouse them to a sense of their guilt and danger, to show them the worth of their souls, and with all fidelity and love, to persuade them to flee from the coming wrath.

3. God calls men by the faithfulness and prayers of Christian friends. By their parents, who dedicate them to him, and nurture them for his kingdom; who pray with them, and for them, and teach them to pray; who daily bear them to his throne in the arms of faith; and who, by the light of their example and the tenderness of their expostulations, would fain conduct them in the path of life. Friends and associates, too, who have themselves tasted and seen that the Lord is good, are often moved by tender compassion for them, and plead with them to turn from the error of their ways. Few, however thoughtless and forbidding, have escaped these affectionate counsels of godly men. There are seasons when the heart of Christian love glows with sympathy,

and burns with the hallowed desire to rescue them from impending danger. Faithful are the wounds of such a friend; and many is the bosom where some pliant arrow has been thus lodged, and left a wound, never to be healed but by the balm of redeeming mercy.

4. God calls them also by the conversion of others. He often appears to awaken, convince, and convert those who are around them. And when heedless and scornful sinners behold these wonders of the divine mercy; when they see those who but a little while ago were as heedless and scornful as themselves, now solemn and tender,-anxious and prayerful,―agitated and alarmed, convinced of sin and humbled for their ungrateful disobedience,―returning to God, and casting themselves into the arms of redeeming love,-wiping away their tears and beginning their everlasting song; it is difficult for them to suppress the thought, that it is the call of Heaven's tender mercy to them, to "seek the Lord while he may be found, and call upon him while he is near."

5. God calls them by the awakening and convincing influences of his Spirit. He rouses them from their stupidity; he arrests their attention, and fixes their thoughts on the solemn and effective truths of his word. He lays open their hearts, and makes them feel what they deserve, and what his justice requires him to inflict upon them. He takes off the covering from that world of everlasting burnings, to which they are tending, and makes them tremble at every step they take in their guilty career. And in the midst of such scenes, not unfrequently do they feel that God is bowing his heavens and coming down, and solemnly and directly inviting and calling them to become reconciled to him

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