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Bible Dictionaries

Charles Buck Theological Dictionary

Call, Calling

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Generally denotes God's invitation to man to participate the blessing of salvation: it is termed effectual, to distinguish it from that external or common call of the light of nature, but especially of the Gospel, in which men are invited to come to God, but which has no saving effect upon the heart: thus it is said, "Many are called, but few chosen." Matthew 22:14 . Effectual calling has been more particularly defined to be " the work of God's Spirit, whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds with the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, he doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ freely offered to us in the Gospel." This may farther be considered as a call from darkness to light, 1 Peter 2:9; from bondage to liberty, Galatians 2:13; from the fellowship of the world to the fellowship of Christ, 1 Corinthians 1:9; from misery to happiness, 1 Corinthians 7:15; from sin to holiness, 1 Thessalonians 4:7; finally, from all created good to the enjoyment of eternal felicity, 1 Peter 5:10 . It is considered in the Scripture as an holy calling, 2 Timothy 1:9; an high calling, Philippians 3:14; an heavenly calling, Hebrews 3:1; and without repentance, as God will never cast off any who are once drawn to him, Romans 11:29 . It has been a matter of dispute whether the Gospel call should be general, 1:e. preached to all men indiscriminately. Some suppose that, as the elect only will be saved, it is to be preached only to them; and, therefore, cannot invite all to come to Christ. But to this it is answered, that an unknown decree can be no rule of action, Deuteronomy 29:29 . Proverbs 2:13; that, as we know not who are the elect, we cannot tell but he may succeed our endeavours by enabling those who are addressed to comply with the call, and believe; that it is the Christian minister's commission to preach the Gospel to every creature, Mark 16:1-20; that the inspired writers never confined themselves to preach to saints only, but reasoned with and persuaded sinners, 2 Corinthians 5:11 :

and, lastly that a general address to men's consciences has been greatly successful in promoting their conversion. Acts 2:23; Acts 2:41 . But it has been asked, if none but the elect can believe, and no man has any ability in himself to comply with the call, and as the Almighty knows that none but those to whom he gives grace can be effectually called, of what use is it to insist on a general and external call? To this it is answered, that, by the external call, gross enormous crimes are often avoided; habits of vice have been partly conquered; and much moral good at least has been produced. It also observed, that though a man cannot convert himself, yet he has a power to do some things that are materially good, though not good in all those circumstances that accompany or flow from regeneration: such were Ahab's humility, 1 Kings xxi 29; Nineveh's repentance, Jeremiah 3:5; and Herod's hearing of John, Mark 6:20 . On the whole, the design of God in giving this common call in the Gospel is the salvation of his people, the restraining of many from wicked practices and the setting forth of the glorious work of redemption by Jesus Christ.

See Gill and Ridgley's Body of Div.; Witsius on the Cov.; and Bennet's Essay on the Gospel Dispensation.

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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography Information
Buck, Charles. Entry for 'Call, Calling'. Charles Buck Theological Dictionary. 1802.

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