“The Gospel Call” a sermon on Prov. 8:4, 1888, in Memoir and Remains of the Robert Murray M’Cheyne, ed. Andrew Bonar, p. 365-371
“Unto you, O men, I call; and My voice is to the sons of man.”
(1) These are the words of wisdom; and wisdom in the book of Proverbs
is none other than our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This is evident
from chap. 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 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 of Jesus Christ,—the
Word that was with God, and was God, by whom all things were made.
(2) The places He goes to with the invitation.—First, He goes to the
country. He climbs every eminence, and cries there; then He descends
to the highway where many roads meet. Second, 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.
(3) 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
(4) 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 Savior to all of the human race.
I. 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 Savior 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.”
(1) 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?
(2) 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.
(3.) 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 bid 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 Savior 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
laid 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 Savior.” 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.”
II. 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 Savior; but then they feel that they
have rejected Him, and they fear that He never can become their
Savior. 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 Savior 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 show the Savior to be free to all.
(1) The brazen serpent was lifted up in sight of all Israel, that any
one 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
(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 man away from Christ.
(1) Some say, There is no hope for me. “There is no hope, no; for I
have loved strangers, and after them I will 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
(2) “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.”
(3) “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?
(4) 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 man.” So your name is in the Bible.
“Go and preach the gospel to every creature.”
(5) “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.”
(6) “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 Savior 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 Savior 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 Savior?
III. 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 savour of Christ unto God.
When the ignorant heathens 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 very low 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
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 habit and repute a thief?—So 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 like 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 speaks: “How shall we escape if we
neglect so great salvation?”
“Ye Will Not Come To Me,” a sermon on John 5:40, in Additional Remains of the Rev. Robert Murray M’Cheyne, p. 298-99
Sinners are lost, not because Christ is unwilling to save all. The whole Bible shows that Christ is quite willing and anxious that all sinners should come to him. The city of refuge in the Old Testament was a type of Christ; and you remember that its gates were open by night and by day. The arms of Christ were nailed wide open, when he hung upon the cross; and this was a figure of his wide willingness to save all, as He said: “I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” But though His arms were firmly nailed, they are more firmly nailed wide open now, by His love and compassion for perishing sinners, than ever they were nailed to the tree.
There is no unwillingness in the heart of Jesus Christ. When people are willing and anxious about something, they do everything that lies in their power to bring it to pass. So did Jesus Christ: “What could have been done more for my vineyard, that I have not done in it?” But if they are very anxious, they will attempt it again and again. So did Jesus Christ: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered your children as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” But if they are still more anxious, they will be grieved if they are disappointed. So was Jesus Christ: “When he came near, he beheld the city, and wept over it.” But if they are very anxious, they will suffer pain rather than lose their object. So did Jesus Christ: The good Shepherd gave his life for the sheep. Ah! dear brethren, if you perish, it is not because Jesus wishes you to perish.
A word to anxious souls. How strange it is that anxious souls do most of all doubt the willingness of Christ to be their Saviour! These should least of all doubt him. If he is a willing Saviour to any, O surely he is a willing Saviour to a weary soul! Remember the blind beggar of Jericho. He was in your case — blind and helpless — and he cried: “Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy upon me.” And when. the crowd bade him hold his peace, he cried so much the more. Was Jesus unwilling to be that beggar’s Saviour? He stood still, and commanded him to be brought, and said: “Thy faith hath made thee whole.” He is the same willing Saviour still. Cry after him; and, though the world may bid you hold your peace, cry after him just so much the more.
A word to careless souls. You say Christ may be a willing Saviour to others, but surely not to you. O yes! he is quite willing for you too. See him sitting by the well of Samaria, convincing one poor sinful woman of her sins, and leading her to himself. He is the same Saviour toward you this day. If you do perish, it is not because Christ is willing. He wills all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth. He pleads with you, and says: “Turn ye, turn ye, why will ye die?“
Chosen to Salvation, found here, this quote was compiled by Robert Basham.
God does not choose men to leap from their sins into glory. But He sends the free Spirit to anoint their eyes, to melt their hearts, to persuade and enable them to embrace Christ freely offered in the gospel. A simple heart-felt belief of the truth, is the first mark that we have been chosen to salvation. “All that the Father giveth me, shall come to me.” Have I come to Jesus? Then I know that I am one of those whom the Father gave to Christ before the world was. Do I really believe the truth as it is in Jesus? Then God has chosen me to salvation.
M’Cheyne’s, God in Christ Reconciling the World, on 2 Cor. 5:19