WHEN GOD CALLS YOU BY NAME OR THE ‘GENERAL’ AND THE ‘SPECIAL CALL’
“UNTO THEM WHO ARE CALLED.” I received a note this week asking me to explain that word “called”; because in the passage it says, “Many are called but few are chosen,” while in another it appears that all who are called must be chosen. Now, let me observe that there are two calls. As my old friend, John Bunyan, says, the hen has two calls, the common cluck, which she gives daily and hourly, and the special one, which she means for her little chickens. So there is a general call, a call made to every man; every man hears it. Many are called by it; all you are called this morning in that sense, but very few are chosen.
The other is a special call, the children’s call. You know how the bell sounds over the workshop, to call the men to work—that is a general call. A father goes to the door and calls out, “John, it is dinner time”—that is the special call. Many are called with the general call, but they are not chosen; the special call is for the children only, and that is what is meant in the text, “Unto us who are called, both Jews and Greeks, the power of God and the wisdom of God.” That call is always a special one. While I stand here and call men, nobody comes; while I preach to sinners universally, no good is done; it is like the sheet lightning you sometimes see on the summer’s evening, beautiful, grand; but whoever heard of anything being struck by it? But the special call is the forked flash from heaven; it strikes somewhere; it is the arrow sent in between the joints of the harness.
The call which saves is like that of Jesus, when he said “Mary,” and she said unto him “Rabonni.” Do you know anything about that special call, my beloved? Did Jesus ever call you by name? Canst thou recollect the hour when he whispered thy name in thine ear, when he said, “Come to me”? If so, you will grant the truth of what I am going to say next about it—that it is an effectual call; there is no resisting it.
When God calls with his special call, there is no standing out. Ah! I know I laughed at religion; I despised, I abhorred it; but that call! Oh, I would not come. But God said, “Thou shalt come. All that the Father giveth to me shall come.” “Lord, I will not.” “But thou shalt,” said God. And I have gone up to God’s house sometimes almost with a resolution that I would not listen, but listen I must. Oh, how the word came into my soul! Was there a power of resistance? No; I was thrown down; each bone seemed to be broken; I was saved by effectual grace. I appeal to your experience, my friends. When God took you in hand, could you withstand him? You stood against your minister times enough. Sickness did not break you down; disease did not bring you to God’s feet; eloquence did not convince you; but when God puts his hand to the work, ah! then what a change.
Like Saul, with his horses going to Damascus, that voice from heaven said, “I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.” “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?” There was no going further then. That was an effectual call. Like that, again, which Jesus gave to Zaccheus, when he was up in the tree; stepping under the tree, he said, “Zaccheus, come down, today I must abide in thy house.” Zaccheus was taken in the net; he heard his own name; the call sank into his soul; he could not stop up in the tree, for an almighty impulse drew him down. And I could tell you some singular instances of persons going to the house of God and having their characters described, limned out to perfection, so that they have said, “He is painting me, he is painting me.” Just as I might say to that young man here, who stole his master’s gloves yesterday, that Jesus calls him to repentance.
It may be that there is such a person here; and when the call comes to a peculiar character, it generally comes with a special power. God gives his ministers a brush, and shows them how to use it in painting life-like portraits, and thus the sinner hears the special call. I cannot give the special call; GOD ALONE CAN GIVE IT, and I leave it with him. Some must be called. Jew and Greek may laugh, but still there are some who are called, both Jews and Greeks.
Praise the Lord!