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The sealing of the Spirit is the work of sanctification in the soul. It is the impression of the divine image on the inward man. None therefore are sealed to the day of redemption, but those who are partakers of a divine nature. Whatever inward persuasions we may feel, that the heavenly inheritance is ours, if we have not within us a holy principle governing our hearts and lives, we are not meet to be partakers of the inheritance, and can shew no seal of our title to it. The seal of the Spirit is that holiness, which prepares for heaven ; and this only is the sure evidence of our claim to it. This sealing is not an inward suggestion or revelation made to the mind, but it is a holy change wrought in the mind. If we are renewed after the image of God in righteousness and true holiness, we have the first fruits of the Spirit, and may wait in hope for the day of redemption.
4. We see that Christians are under indispensable obligations to universal holiness.
Every sin is an injury and dishonor to God; but the sins of believers are, in a peculiar sense, a grief to the Spirit of God, who has sanctified and sealed them. The Apostle therefore improves this sealing as an ar. gument against wickedness of every kind in the professors of the gospel. “ Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouths, and grieve not the holy Spirit of God. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice, and be kind one to another.”—“ Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you ; if any man defile this temple, him will God destroy, for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.”
If God has given his Spirit to seal you, grieve not this Spirit. If ye run into the allowed practice of sin, or continue impenitent in any iniquity, into which ye have fallen, the Spirit is not then the earnest of your inheritance. You blot and obscure his seal on your
hearts. And the pollutions with which you have dark. ened and deformed it, must be washed off by the tears of repentance, before you can there read your title to the inheritance. You must keep your seal fair and bright by the constant exercise of faith, and practice
You must preserve your hope by purifying your souls.-"Know ye not, brethren, that your bodies are the temples of the Holy Ghost, which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? Therefore glorify God in your bodies, and in your spirits, which are God's.”
Faith, Love, Hope, and the high Prospects, to which
believers are enlightened.
EPHESIANS i. 15–30:
Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesusj
and love unto all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers ; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation, in the knowledge of him ; the eyes of your understanding being enlightened ; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his posue er to usward who believe according to the working of his mighty power which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead
In the foregoing verses, the Apostle speaks of the Ephesian believers, as being “ sealed with that holy spirit of promise, which was the earnest of their inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession." the words now read, he mentions two graces, which were eminent marks and characters in that holy seal, which had been impressed upon them.
Faith in the Lord Jesus, and, Love to all the saints," which are ever to be considered as distinguishing signatures of the heirs of heaven, and seals of their title to the purchased possession.
The Apostle gives thanks to God for their faith and love, of which he had lately heard, and some effects of which he had formerly seen, while he resided among them.
As there were many from all parts of Asia, who at. tended on his ministry, when he preached in Ephesus, it is not supposable, that he could be personally acquainted with them all; he therefore speaks of their faith and love, as having been reported to him. Be. sides : He had now for sometime been absent from them; and he foretold, that after his departure, there would be a great defection from the faith, which accordingly, happened, as we learn from his epistles to Timothy And he probably intends here to express his joy concerning those, of whom he had heard, that in these times of dangerous declension they remained stedfast in the faith. He did not, however, think them so firmly established, as to be secure in that evil day from all the power of temptation ; he therefore prays, as well as gives thanks in their behalf.
What he requested was, in general, that they might have greater knowledge and clearer discernment in die vine things and, particularly, that they might know the exalted hope to which they were called ; the glori. ous inheritance which was provided for them; and the greatness of that power which will work in believers, to raise them unto immortal life, as it had already wrought in raising Christ from the dead, and setting him at God's right hand in heavenly places.
I. Let us consider the things for which the Apostle commends the Ephesians : These are faith in Christ, and love to all the saints.
Faith is such a sensible, realizing belief of the gos. pel, in its general truth, and in its particular doctrines and precepts, as gives it a practical influence on the heart and life. It * receives the love of the truth' “receives it as the word of God, which effcctually works in them who believe." VOL. III.
Evangelical faith has a particular respect to Jesus Christ, as the great author of the gospel, and as the purchaser of that salvation which it reveals. God has spoken to us by his Son : Faith receives him as a teacher sent from God, and embraces as truth whatever is taught by him. Jesus is the mediator, through whom God shews mercy to guilty men. Faith, therefore, looks up to God through him. “ We by Christ believe in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, that our faith and liope might be in God."
True faith is “ made perfect by works.” The Apostle commends the Thessalonians for the works of faith, which accompanied their good profession. The christian scheme is so vastly important, that one who believes it with the heart, and views it as it is, cannot feel indifferent to it, nor live uninfluenced by it. The Apostle says of the Ephesian believers, “ He had heard of their faith.” Its fruits were so conspicuous, that it was spoken of at a distance. They had not only professed their faith, but stedfastly maintained it in times of great corruption and defection. They had attended on the ordinances of Christ in his church. They had walked in humble obedience to his laws, and in peace and charity with one another ; and thus had shewed their faith by their works. Real faith has such a commanding influence in the soul, that “it casts down imaginations and every high thing, which exalts itself against the knowledge of God and brings into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ."
The faith of the Ephesians toward Christ, was accompanied with “ love to all the saints." Where the work of faith is, there will be the labor of love ; and where faith grows among Christians, their charity toward each other will abound. The gospel exhibits the most engaging examples of love in the character of the great God, and in the life of Jesus Christ; and it pro