Page images

or the honey-comb,-when he makes them our delight and joy, exciting and quickening the practical principles of our minds to compliance with them in holy obedience, then have we that unction from the Holy One which will both sanctify and secure our souls unto the end.

I Shall only add, that as we ascribe this anointing in a peculiar manner to the Spirit as the Comforter of the Church, we may easily discern wherein the consolation which we receive by it doth consist ;—for who can express that satisfaction, refreshment, and joy, which the mind is possessed with, in those spiritual,effectual teachings,which give it a clear apprehension of saving truth in its own nature and beauty, and enlarge the heart with love to it, and delight in it! It is true, that the greatest part of believers are sometimes at a loss with respect to their spiritual state, or so disordered by temptations, that they do not receive a refreshing sense of those comforts and joys which are inseparable from this anointing: but still it is in itself that spring from whence their secret refreshments and supports arise; and they are able to conceive how their chief joys and comforts, under their heaviest troubles, are resolved into their spiritual understanding of the mysteries of divine love and grace in Christ; with that ineffable complacency and satisfaction which they find in them, whereby their wills are engaged into an unconquerable constancy in their choice. And there is no small consolation in a due apprehension of that spiritual dignity which ensues hereon; for when they meet with the greatest trouble and contempt in this world, a sense of their acceptance with God, as being made kings and priests unto him, yields them a refreshment which the world knows nothing of, and which themselves are not able to express.

The Spirit a Seal.

effect of the

Ghost, as the Comfort


er of the Church, is, that by him believers are SEAL He who anointed us is God, who hath also sealed us.' 2 Cor. i. 21, 22. And how this is done, the same apostle declares: In whom also after ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise.' Eph. i. 13:


and (chap. iv. 30.) Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed to the day of redemption.' In the first place, it is expressly said, that we are sealed with the Spirit, whereby the Spirit himself is expressed as this seal, and not any of his operations; as he is also directly said himself to be the pledge of our inheritance. In the latter, the words are (2001) in whom ;'-in and by the receiving of whom, 'ye are sealed.' Wherefore no special act of the Spirit, but only a special effect of his communication unto us, seems to be intended hereby.

The common exposition of this sealing is taken from the nature and use of sealing among men. The sum of which is this,-sealing may be considered as a natural or moral action; that is, with respect to the act of it as an act; .or with respect to its use and end. In the first way, it is the communication of the character or image that is on the seal, to the thing sealed: and so the sealing of the Spirit should consist in the communication of his own image to the soul; and thus his sealing would be mate. rially the same with our sanctification. The end and use of sealing among men is twofold. (1.) To give security to the performance of deeds, wills, &c.: and thus we may be said to be sealed when the promises of God are confirmed to our souls, and we are secured of them by the Holy Ghost. But the truth is, this were to seal the promises of God, and not believers; but it persons, and not promises, that are said to be sealed. (2.) It is for the preservation of that which is sealed. Thus things precious and valuable are sealed up, that they may be kept safe and inviolable: and so it is that power which the Holy Ghost puts forth in the preservation of believers, which is intended: and in this respect they are said to be sealed unto the day of redemption.'

These things are often enlarged upon, and, what is commonly said to this purpose, is good and useful as to the substance of it; but I cannot fully acquiesce in this interpretation; for I am not satisfied that there is such an allusion herein to the sealing among men as is pretended: and if there be, as there are so many considerations of sealing, it will be hard to determine which is intended; and if you take in more than one, then various effects will be ascribed to the Holy Ghost under the term of Seal

ing; and so we shall never know what is that one determinate act and privilege which is intended. Besides, all things usually assigned to this sealing, are acts or effects of the Holy Ghost upon us; whereas it is not said that the Holy Spirit seals us, but that we are sealed with him: he is God's seal unto us.

As all our spiritual privileges are communicated to us by Christ, so they consist in our participation of that fulness of them which is in him: and as they proceed from our union with him, so their principal end is conformity to him: and in him, in whom all things are conspicuous, we may learn the nature of those things, which in lesser measure, and much darkness, we are made partakers of. So we learn our unction in him: so we must enquire into the nature of our being sealed, in his sealing; for as it is said, that he who hath sealed us is God;' so of him it is emphatically said, 'For him hath God the Father sealed' (John vi. 27); and if we can learn aright how Christ was sealed, we shall learn how we are sealed.

The sealing of Christ by the Father is the communica tion of the Holy Spirit in all his fulness to him, authorizing him unto. and acting his divine power in all the acts and duties of his office, so as to evidence the presence of God with him, and approbation of him; for the Holy Spirit, by his powerful operations in him and by him, did evidence and manifest that he was called and appointed of God, owned by him, and accepted of him. Hence the sin of them who despised this seal of God was unpardonable; for God neither will nor can give greater testimony to his approbation of any person than by the great seal of his Spirit: and this was given to Christ in the fulness of it. He was declared to be the Son of God,' with power according to the Spirit of holiness' (Rom. i. 4.) and justified in the Spirit,' or by his power, evidencing that God was with him. 1 Tim. iii. 16.—Thus did God seal the Head of the Church with the Holy Spirit; and thence we may best learn how the members are sealed.

God's sealing of believers then, is his gracious commu ation of the Holy Ghost unto them, so to act his dipower in them, as to enable them unto all the

of their holy calling, evidencing them to be ac

cepted with him, both to themselves and others, and asserting their preservation to eternal salvation. The ef fects of this sealing are, gracious operations of the Spirit in and upon believers; but the sealing itself, is the communication of the Spirit unto them. Further to evidence the nature of this privilege, we may observe,

That when any persons are effectually called, they are brought into many new relations,-to God himself as his children, to Jesus Christ as his members,-to saints and angels as the family of God: they are also called to many new works and duties which they knew nothing of before. In short, they are brought into a new world; erected by the new creation; and whatever way they turn themselves, they say,' Old things are past away; behold, all things are become new.' In this state, how shall they behave themselves aright, and answer the holy station wherein they are placed? This no man can do of himself; for who is sufficient for these things?

In this state then God owns them, and gives them his Holy Spirit to fit them for their relations, to enable them unto their duties, to acts their new principles, and every way to discharge the work they are called to: he gives them the Spirit of power, of love, and of a sound mind: and hereby doth God seal them ;-for

Hereby he gives his testimony to them that they are his, owned by him, accepted with him, his sons or children; which is his seal; for if they were not such, he would never have given his Spirit to them and herein consists the great testimony that God doth give, and the only seal that he doth set unto any in this world. This the apostle Peter proves (Acts xv. 8, 9); for on the debate of that question, Whether God accepted of those believers who did not observe the rites of Moses? he proves that he did, because he bare them witness ;'-and how did he do it? By giving them the Holy Ghost;' and that not by miraculous operations merely, but by his gracious operations, purifying their hearts by faith!'

Hereby he gives believers assurance of their relation to him, of their interest in him, of his love and favour to them. It has been generally conceived, that this sealing is that which gives assurance to believers: and so it does; though the way whereby it does so has not been rightly apprehended: and, therefore, none have been able to de

clare the special nature of that act of the Spirit whereby he seals us, whence such assurance should ensue. But indeed, it is not any act of the Spirit in us that is the ground of our assurance, but the communication of the Spirit unto us. This the apostle plainly testifies: Hereby, we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.' (1 John iii. 24:) and again, in chap. iv. 13,

Hereby know we that we dwell in God, and he in us; because he hath given us of his Spirit.' This is the great evidence, the great ground of assurance which we have, that God has taken us into a near and dear relation to himself, because he has given us his Spirit,-that great and heavenly gift which he will impart to no others :and indeed on this one hinge depends the whole case of that assurance which believers are capable of. If the Spirit of God dwell in us, we are his; but if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.'

Hereby God evidenceth them unto the world: he marks them for his own; so that the world cannot but take notice of them. Where God sets this seal, such ef fects will be produced as shall fall under the observation of the world. Though the world is blinded by prejudice, and under the power of a prevalent enmity against spiritual things, yet it cannot but discover what a change is made in those whom God thus sealeth; and how, by the gifts and graces of the Spirit which they hate, they are differenced from other men; and this keeps up the enmity that is in the world between the seeds; for God's sealing of believers shews his special acceptance of them, which fills the hearts of them who are acted with the spirit of Cain, with hatred and revenge. All other causes of difference are capable of a composition; but this about the seal of God can never be composed: and it follows from hence, that those who are thus sealed, cannot but separate themselves from the most of the world, whereby it is still more evident to whom they belong.

Hereby God seals believers unto the day of redemption, or everlasting salvation; for the Spirit thus given unto them, is, as we have shewn already, to abide with them for ever, as a well of water in them, springing up into everlasting life.'


[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »