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THE SEALING OF THE SPIRIT.
EPHESIANS, 1, 13, 14.
Ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the
earnest of our inheritance. Here is a blessed character of the righteous—to be • sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise'—to have an earnest of their inheritance before they obtain it. My dear hearers, I pray not that you may be people of rank or of fortune; for that might prove your ruin: but I earnestly pray God, that every one of you may be sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise,' and have the earnest of your inheritance in your hearts, while here on earth; and that you may enter the grave without fear, and not be ashamed when Christ cometh!
1. Let us EXPLAIN this high privilege ; and consider what it is to be sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, and thereby to have the earnest of the inheritance.
2. Let us make some REMARKS on the subject.
1. We shall EXPLAIN what it is to be sealed with the Spirit of Promise, and to have the earnest of the inheritance.
It cannot mean an extraordinary gift of the Holy Spirit; such as the working of Miracles: for the gift of miracles was not the earnest of the future inheritance. But this sealing of the Spirit is connected with our having an earnest; something in hand; something assured to us previous to that which is greater and better.
Nor can it mean the gift of Faith; however that may be the root of other graces: because it is said, After that ye
ye were sealed.' It will be proper to consider the image here employed. What is sealing? Sealing is a common act among men, to ascertain a right and title to some property: as when a man writes his name on his property, it is as much as to say, “ This is mine." It is common in deeds, to assure or ascertain a title to property or inheritance. It is common in commerce : merchants set their seals as a mark of their property. Thus, in Rev. vii, it is said that the servants of God had his seal in their foreheads : and, in the ixth of Ezekiel, it is said to the men that went forth with the slaughter weapons in their hands, 'Go ye through the city, and smite—but come not near any man upon whom is the mark :' touch not any that are sealed.
Now, as in the sealing of wax, for instance, it is first softened to render it impressible: so God says, by Ezekiel, ‘I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and will give you a heart of flesh :' that is, à soft and impressible heart. And we find, in fact, that this work of softening and impressing is carried on in a Christian as long as he lives.
In sealing, also, there is an impression left, corresponding to the seal.
The figure implies, therefore, “After that ye believed, it pleased God to stamp a character on you— to leave an impression-corresponding to the seal of the Spirit set on your hearts; After that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise.' When ye became men, ye put away childish things : your
will chose the better part: your affections were set on higher objects.” When God, therefore, seals a man, he impresses on his heart a character: he impresses on his understanding, his will, and his affec
tions, a character distinct from that which he once had.
Now, as a seal, in order to impress its image, must have a hand to use it; so the Holy Spirit of promise is this agent; he was promised by the prophets, he was promised by Christ, to this very end, that he should soften and make impressible by the application of his word to the heart-suggesting truth-elevating the soul to grasp at the things promised-enlarging the mind, and enlivening it in duty-sanctifying, satisfying, melting it; till, at length, the man shall say, "I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.'
Brethren! a Christian receives the truth in the love of it. He has not only an elevating view of the doctrines of the Gospel, but there is a character impresssed on his mind : he has not only a sentiment, but a spiritual taste.
Tell us not what such a man as Colonel Gardiner may have been before his conversion. He might be wicked, hardened, sensual, far from God! But tell me what Colonel Gardiner was after he received the truth : after that truth, by the Spirit of God, had impressed his character in holiness, humility, love of God, in a peaceable disposition toward his neighbour, in a general desire to do good. Tell me what he was afterward— A light in the world! salt in the earth, that had not lost its savour! a city set upon a hill, that could not be bid ! a mark for the profligate to shoot their arrows at, even bitter words!!
The same may be said of Lord Rochester. He might be a monster : he was a monster ; and every man who had any regard to his character, would have avoided him. But tell me what the man was, after he believed the truth, and was sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise. He stands a record a miracle of the grace of God, and the power of God; and tells us plainly, as a matter of fact, what it is to be sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise.
“But,” say you, "granting all this, how is this seal the earnest of our inheritance ?"
Earnest, as you know, is a part of payment; a security for the remainder: it is common among us, to deliver up a thing of great value, by a kind of pledge or earnest : a house is delivered up, by delivering up the key.
Now, the seal of which I have been speaking differs from a common seal among men, in that it is both seal and earnest. A seal may be annexed to a deed, but it may be cut off from the deed: the deed remains, but there is no seal. But, with this seal, God seems to deliver the future inheritance : as if he should say, “They are inseparable: this shall be an authentic pledge, earnest and evidence--heaven begun in the soul!" The Spirit of Promise, when he seals a character, becomes a Spirit of Holiness, a Spirit of Consolation ; giving us a taste of what we shall become, since we are heirs of the future inheritance.
The present illumination, therefore, which a Christian receives, is a pledge of that everlasting light to which he is passing. The present love of holiness, which God gives him, is an earnest of perfect holiness among the spirits of just men made perfect. The present comfort, rest, and satisfaction, which a godly man receives, is a taste of that fulness of joy which he shall find in the presence of God.
And every Christian receives his portion of this earnest: nor did I ever know a single Christian, who, at the very lowest ebb, would part with this sealing of the Holy Spirit, this newness of character, for all that the world could propose. “In whom also, after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise.
If the faithful, therefore, are sealed by the Spirit of God, then, though the moralist may ridicule the
thing, though an antinomian may reject it, though an enthusiast may expose it ; yet, let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering.' A counterfeit proves that there is real coin. Let, me, then, call on every one of you here
preent. May God grant, that I may never so spend my time, nor you so idly waste yours, as to consider points of this nature in a merely speculative way, to pass away our hour! My dear hearers, the Gospel is every thing or nothing ! Examine, therefore, whether God has sent his Holy Spirit to enlighten, soften and impress your hearts : for, if you could speak with the tongue of men or angels, and had not this holy impression--a consciousness of the nothingness of present things; and a hope full of immortality, that shall lead you to stretch out to the mark of the prize set before you—all your hearing will only tend to condemnation.
Whenever, therefore, this work of the spirit of God begins to be spoken lightly of, ask yourselves a question: “What is the image and superscription written on this ?" No doubt Satan has, herein a very important end--to sink and degrade the truth. There never was a tinie, since the truth was first set forth, but the evil heart of man, influenced by the good of this world,' was always attempting to degrade the truth : some taking it up as an opiate; and others professing it, as a means of accomplishing some sinister end. But, • Thus saith the Lord: If any man have not the the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.'
Examine, therefore, whether the Spirit has impressed the truth on your mind, to any saving purpose.
11. Let me make a few REMARKS on this subject.
1. Be CAUTIOUS OF GRIEVING THAT HOLY SPIRIT, WHEREBY DEMPTION—that Holy Spirit, who put vitality and effect into the truth proposed.
SEALED UNTO THE DAY OF RE