“Unto you, O men, I call, and my voice is to the sons of man.”
- These are the words of wisdom; and wisdom in the book of Proverbs is no other than our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. This is evident from chapter 1:23, where he says, “Behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you;” but it is Christ alone who has the gift of the Holy Spirit. And again, from chapter 8:22, where he says, “the Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way;” and verse 30, “Then I was by him as one brought up with him; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him.” These words are true of none but Jesus Christ, the Word that was with God, and was God, by whom all things were made.
- The places he goes to with the invitation. 1. He goes to the country. He climbs every eminence, and cries there; then he descends to the highway where many roads meet. 2. He goes to the city. He begins at the gates where the people are assembled to make bargains and hear causes; then he proceeds along the principal avenue into the city, and cries in at every door as he passes. He first goes out into the highways and hedges, then goes into the streets and lanes of the city, carrying the blessed message.
- Observe the manner in which he invites. He cries aloud, he puts forth the voice; he stands and cries; he calls and lifts up his voice; he seems like some merchant offering his wares, first in the market and then from door to door. Never did busy crier offer to sell his goods with such anxiety as Jesus offers his salvation: verse 10, “Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold.”
- Observe to whom the invitation is addressed. Verse 4, “Unto you, O men, I call, and my voice is to the sons of man.” Merchants only offer their goods to certain classes of the people that will buy; but Jesus offers his to all men. Wherever there is a son of Adam, wherever there is one born of woman, the word is addressed to him: he that hath ears to hear let him hear.
Doctrine: Christ offers himself as a Saviour to all of the human race.
Point 1: The most awakening truth in all the Bible.
It is commonly thought that preaching the holy law is the most awakening truth in the Bible; that by it the mouth is stopped, and all the world becomes guilty before God; and, indeed, I believe this is the most ordinary mean which God makes use of. And yet to me there is something far more awakening in the sight of a Divine Saviour freely offering himself to every one of the human race. There is something that might pierce the heart that is like a stone in that cry, “Unto you, O men, I call, and my voice is to the sons of man.”
- Had you lived in the days when Noah built the Ark, had you seen that mighty vessel standing open and ready, inviting all the world to come into its roomy cavities, would it not have been the most awakening of all sights? Could you have looked upon it without thinking of the coming flood, that was to sweep the ungodly world away?
- Had you lived in the times when Jesus was on the earth, had you seen him riding down the Mount Olivet, and stopping when he came in sight of Jerusalem, lying peaceful and slumbering at his feet, had you seen the son of God weep over the city, and say, “If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong to thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.” would you not have felt that some awful destruction was awaiting the slumbering city? Would he shed these tears for nothing? Surely he sees some day of woe coming which none knows but himself.
- Just so, dear friends, when you see Jesus here running from place to place; from the high places to the highways, from the highways to the city gates, from the gates to the doors; when you hear his anxious cry, “Unto you, O men, I call,” does it not show that all men are lost, that a dreadful hell is before them? Would the Saviour call so loud and so long if there was no hell?
Apply this to slumbering souls:
1st, mark who it is that calls you; it is Wisdom! Jesus Christ, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. “Unto you, O men, I call.” Often, when ministers prick your hearts in their sermons, you go home and say, “Oh! it was only the word of a minister; shall I tremble at the words of a man?” But here is the word of no minister, but of Christ. Here is the word of one who knows your true condition, who knows your heart and your history; who knows your sins done in the light, and done in the dark, and done in the recesses of your heart; who knows the wrath that is over you, and the hell that is before you. “Unto you, O men, I call.”
2nd, mark in how many places he calls you. In the high places and the highways, in the gates, in the entries, at the coming in of the doors. Has it not been so with you? Have you not been called in the Bible, in the family, in the house of prayer? You have gone from place to place, but the Saviour has gone after you. You have gone to places of diversion, you have gone to places of sin, but Christ has followed you. You have lain down on a bed of sickness, and Christ has followed you. Must not the sheep be in great danger, when the shepherd follows so far in search of it?
3rd, how loud he cries. He calls and lifts up the voice. Has it not been so with you? Has he not knocked loudly at your door, in warnings, in providences, in deaths? Has he not cried loudly in the preached word? Sometimes when reading the Bible alone, has not the voice of Christ been louder than thunder?
4th, He cries to all. Had he cried to the old, then the young would have said, “We are safe; we do not need a Saviour.” Had he cried to the young, the old men among you would have said, “He is not for us.” Had he called to the good or to the bad, still some would have felt themselves excused. But he cries to you all. There is not one person hearing but Jesus cries to you. Then all are lost — old and young, rich and poor. Whatever you think of yourselves, Jesus knows you to be in a lost condition; therefore this piercing cry, “Unto you, O men, I call.”
Point 2: The most comforting truth in the Bible.
When awakened persons are first told of Jesus Christ, it generally adds to their grief. They see plainly that he is a very great and glorious Saviour; but then they feel that they have rejected him, and they fear that he never can become their Saviour. Very often awakened persons sit and listen to a lively description of Christ, of his work of substitution in the stead of sinners; but their question still is, “Is Christ a Saviour to me?” Now, to this question I answer, Christ is freely offered to all the human race. “Unto you, O men, I call.” If there were no other text in the whole Bible to encourage sinners to come freely to Christ, this one alone might persuade them. There is no subject more misunderstood by unconverted souls than the unconditional freeness of Christ. So little idea have we naturally of free grace, that we cannot believe that God can offer a Savior to us, while we are in a wicked, hell–deserving condition. Oh, it is sad to think how men argue against their own happiness, and will not believe the very word of God!
All the types showed the Saviour to be free to all:
(1) The brazen serpent was lifted up in sight of all Israel, that anyone might look and be healed; and Christ himself explains this: “So must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
(2) The Refuge City set on a hill, with its gates open night and day, showed this. Whosoever will, may flee for refuge to the hope set before us.
(3) The angels over Bethlehem repeated the same thing: “Behold, I bring you glad tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” And the last invitation of the Bible is the freest of all: “Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” Mark, also, in the text before us: “Unto you, O men, I call.” This shows that He is not free to devils; but to all men, to every one that has human form and human name the Saviour is now free. It is not for any goodness in men, not for any change in them that Christ offers himself, but just in their lost condition as men. He freely puts himself within their reach. There are many stratagems by which the devil contrives to keep men away from Christ.
- Some say there is no hope for them. “There is no hope, no; for I have loved strangers, and after them I with go. I have committed such great sins, I have sunk so deep in the mire of sin, I have served my lusts so long, that there is no use of me thinking of turning. There is no hope, no.” To you I answer, There is hope; your sins may be forgiven for Christ’s sake; there is forgiveness with God. Ah, why should Satan so beguile you? True, you have waded deep into the mire of sin, you have destroyed yourself; and yet in Christ there is help. He came for such as you. Christ speaks in these words to you: you are of the human race, and Christ is free to all of the human race “Unto you, O men, I call.”
- “I have not the least care about my soul. Up to this moment I never listened to a sermon, nor attended to a word in the Bible. I have no wish to hear of Christ, or God, or eternal things.” To you I answer, Still Christ is quite free to you. Though you have no care for your soul, yet Christ has, and wishes to save it. Though you do not care for Christ, yet He cares for you, and stretches out His hands to you. Christ did not come to the earth because people were caring about their souls, but because we were lost. You are only the more lost. Christ is all the more seeking you. This day you may find a Saviour. “Unto you, O men, I call.”
- “If I knew I were one of the elect, I would come; but I fear I am not.” To you I answer, Nobody ever came to Christ because they knew themselves to be of the elect. It is quite true that God has of His mere good pleasure elected some to everlasting life, but they never knew it till they came to Christ. Christ nowhere invites the elect to come to Him. The question for you is not, Am I one of the elect? but, Am I of the human race?
- Some of you may be saying, “If I could see my name in the Bible, then I would believe that Christ wants me to be saved. When Christ called Zaccheus, He said, ‘Zaccheus, come down.’ He called him by name, and he came down immediately. Now, if Christ would call me by name, I would run to Him immediately.” Now, to you I say, Christ does call you by your name, for he says, “To you, O men, I call.” Suppose that Christ had written down the names of all the men and women in the world, your name would have been there. Now, instead of writing down every name, He puts them all together in one word, which includes every man, and woman, and child: “Unto you, O men, I call; and my words are to the sons of men.” So your name is in the Bible. “Go and preach the gospel to every creature.”
- “If I could repent and believe, then Christ would be free to me; but I cannot repent and believe.” To you I say, are you not a man, before you repent and believe? then Christ is offered to you before you repent. And, believer, Christ is not offered to you because you repent, but because you are a vile, lost sinner. “Unto you, O men, I call.”
- “I fear the market is over. Had I come in the morning of life, I believe Christ was offered me then– in youth, at my first sacrament; but now I fear the market day is done.” Are you not still a man, one of the human race? True, you have refused the Saviour for years, yet still he offers himself to you It was not for any goodness that he offered himself to you at first, but because you were vile and lost. You are vile and lost yet, so he offers himself to you still. “Unto you, O men, I call.”
I would here, then, take occasion to make offer of Christ with all his benefits to every soul in this assembly. To every man, and woman, and child, I do now, in the name of my Master, make full, free offer of a crucified Saviour to be your surety and righteousness, your refuge and strength. I would let down the gospel cord so low, that sinners, who are low of stature, like Zaccheus, may lay hold of it. Oh! is there none will lay hold on Christ, the only Saviour?
Point 3: The most condemning truth in the Bible
If Christ be freely offered to all men, then it is plain that all who live and die without accepting Christ shall meet with the doom of those who refuse the Son of God. “He that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul; all they that hate me love death.” Ah! it is a sad thing that the very truth, which is life to every believing soul, is death to all others. “This is the condemnation.” We are a sweet savor of Christ unto God. When the ignorant heathen stand at the bar of God, Hindus, and Africans, and Chinese who have never had the offer of Christ made to them, they will not be condemned as those will that have lived and died unsaved under a preached gospel. Tyre and Sidon will not meet the same doom as Chorazin and Bethsaida, and unbelieving Capernaum.
Oh, brethren, you are without excuse in the sight of God, if you go home unsaved this day! The gospel cord has been let down as low as to every one of you this day. If you go away without laying hold, your condemnation will be heavier at the last day. If Christ had not come to you, you had not had sin, but now you have no cloak for your sin.
Objection. But my heart is so hard that I cannot believe, my heart is so set upon worldly things that I cannot turn to Christ. I was born this way.
Answer. This does but aggravate your guilt. It is true you were born thus, and that your heart is like the nether millstone. But that is the very reason God will most justly condemn you; because from your infancy you have been hardhearted and unbelieving. If a thief, when tried before the judge on earth, were to plead guilty, but to say that he had always been a thief, that even in infancy his heart loved stealing, would not this just aggravate his guilt, that he was by habit and repute a thief? So with you.
Oh, brethren, if you could die and say that Christ had never been offered to you, you would have an easier hell than you are likely to have! You must go away either rejoicing in or rejecting Christ this day; either won, or more lost than ever. There is not one of you but will yet feel the guilt of this Sabbath day. This sermon will meet you yet. See that ye refuse not him that speaketh: “How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?”
St. Peter’s, 1838. Robert Murray M’Cheyne