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is as direct. The secret, still, small voice, in which the Lord speaks personally to the heart, like the unknown source of the air, which bloweth where it listeth, is discoverable only by its effects. We hear the sound thereof, and we see its operation, but we cannot tell whence it cometh nor whither it goeth.: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
It is from the sacred impressions left inind, we infer the call of God. And when those impressions are clearly traced, which the scriptures teach to expect from the awakening voice of the Master, there can be no more reason, to question the reality of the voice having been heard, than when in the case of Samuel, the Lord called him, Eli perceived, (though he heard it not) that the Lord had called the Child.*
Respecting the marks, -and characters, by which this is to be known, the Lord Jesus himself, hath given some very striking outlines, to form a general judgment by, which if closely attended to, will keep from every error. Under the office of a Shepherd, and in which, Christ considers his people as sheep, he saith; the sheep hear his voice; and he calleth his own sheep by name; and leadeth them forth and they follow him. § Here are certain particularities in these few words, which at once serve to explain the matter.
They John 10. 3. 4.
* 1 Sam. 3. 8.
They hear his voice. That is, they distinguish the voice of Jesus, in the word. Never man spake like this man. It comes home directed with energy to the heart.
. It is in demonstration of the spirit and of power. And the effects of it, prove from what direction it comes. For it awakens, it animates, it influenceth the whole Man, and is accompanied with a life-giving, a soulenriching power. So that every one who hears it, is constrained to say, with David, I shall never forget thy precepts for with them thou hast quickened me. †
He calleth his own sheep by name. That is, the word is so applied personally to the heart, by the Holy Ghost, and with an emphasis so very striking: it speaks so exactly to his own case, and circumstances, as if he, and he alone, was concerned in it, and called to by name.
He leadeth them forth and they follow him. That is, from the very evident charge, wrought in the life and conversation, the most incontestible evidences are afforded, that they are under the leadings, and teachings, of his holy Spirit : and being called with an holy calling, they are enabled to walk worthy of the vocation, and to follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth.
Hence therefore wherever these effects are found, we have as full an assurance, that true believers in the present hour, hear the voice of
1 and follow him in the regeneration: as when in the days of his flesh, he called Zaccheus from the tree, or Matthew from the receipt of custom.
May I not venture to add, that there are some who hear me this Day, concerning whom, I am fully persuaded it may be said, that these truths are living principles in their experience; and to whom the words of the Lord Jesus, may be strictly applied. Blessed are your eyes for they see and your ears for they hear.
Nothing can be more gratifying to those who minister in holy things, than the consciousness that our gospel cometh not unto you in word only but also in power and in the holy Ghost and in much assurance.
And how very sweet a testimony that is in reply which I am well convinced many of you can, and do give, when like the Samaritans concerning Jesus, you say as they did: now we believe not because of thy saying for we have heard him ourselves and know that this is indeed the Christ the Saviour of the world. *
1 * John 4. 42.
I will detain you no longer, than only to beg, that you
will not forget, the very earnest, and pressing claims, our subject hath, upon the different characters, which more, or less, make up every religious congregation,
My poor unawakened Brother! You who are not only unconscious of any personal interest in the Master's call, but are altogether unconcerned about it: forgive me when I say, my fears are greatly exercised on your account: and especially for such among you, as have long sat under a preached gospel, lest after all, you should have received the grace of God, (in the means of it) in vain. Indeed, indeed, there is but too much reason to fear. And what the Lord Jesus in the days of his flesh told the Jews, may be equally said to many nominal Christians. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape. And ye have not his word abiding in you. §
Hath it never struck you, how very awful a situation that man stands in, who though the Master be come, and is for ever calling in his word, and in his ordinances, yet remains through life insensible to the call; and at length departs out of it, as unconscious and unconcerned, as though it had never been made!
It will be a distinguishing mercy if the renewed call of this day, should be accompanied with a divine power. Gracious God! Commission, if it be thy blessed will the outward means with an inward effect, to the heart of some poor unawakened Sinner present, and give him an experimental evidence of the truth of the doctrine, that he may know that the Master is indeed come, and calleth personally for him.
Our subjecť in its application is peculiarly consolatory and encouraging also, to every humble soul, who fears that he hath never heard, but most ardently desires to know, the joyful sound,
It is more than probable, I may be speaking, before soine of this description, and I would therefore beg to drop a word by way of infera ence to them.
You fear, that your unworthiness is a disqualification, and that some previous merit is necessary towards the attainment of it. But do my Brother, learn to correct such unbecoming notions of God's mercy. If human merit was made the standard of divine favor, what flesh could then be saved ? It is a precious consideration, which the scriptures teach, and