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In whom also, after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance, etc. - Ver. 13, 14.

The coherence of these words with the former, as I have shewed you, is easy and natural. He had spoken of an inheritance; he had spoken of it in the 11th verse, and he speaks of it likewise in the 14th verse; an inheritance unto which they were predestinated by God’s eternal purpose, so ver. 11 in which inheritance they had, by faith and by believing, as I shewed, obtained an interest : ‘we obtained an inheritance who first trusted in Christ,’ ver. 11, 12. Now then, having been thus appointed to it, having obtained an interest in it, and the thing itself being made thus sure, and this by faith ; now, saith he, ‘After ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise.’ This inheritance, as it was made sure in itself, so you had the inheritance made good to you by a work of sealing: ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise.
I shewed the last time, in opening of the work of sealing, first what it was not, which some interpreters would have to be meant in this place.
It is not, first, the gift of the Spirit only, abstractedly considered, for it importeth a work of the Spirit upon the heart, which sealing always must needs do, and impression likewise. Indeed, the gift of the Spirit may be the earnest of the inheritance, merely and alone considered, as I shall shew you anon ; but the sealing of the Spirit importeth an impression, a work upon the heart.
It is not, secondly, a work of faith, as some would have it; for besides that he doth not say, ‘ Believing ye were sealed,’ (as elsewhere he speaks; so the apostle Peter speaks, 1 Pet. i. 5, ‘Believing, ye rejoice,’ in the present tense ; but it is having believed, or, as our translation well rendereth it, ‘after ye believed;’ which at least implieth is a distinct thing from faith.
Then, thirdly, I shewed it was not sanctification or regeneration; which though it be an image, yet the use of the metaphor of sealing, though it implieth an image, is taken principally from the use of a seal, which primarily is not so much to stamp an image, though it doth that, as it is to assure.
I shewed by this what it was not. I shewed, secondly, what I conceived it to be.
You must fetch the notion of it from the use of a seal amongst men, and you must confine it likewise to the use of a seal in matters of inheritance, for that is properly the Apostle’s scope, he followeth that metaphor; therefore, though there he many uses of a seal, - for service, and propriety, and the like, - yet, I take it, they are not the proper scope here.
The use of a seal in point of inheritance is, first, to make the thing sure, to convey an inheritance, that the inheritance should be thereby conveyed, and made sure in itself. Now, though that is not excluded, - for every work of the Spirit doth make the thing over and over sure, still engageth God more and more, - yet that is not the proper and primary scope of sealing here. Why? Because there is an ancienter seal than that, the original seal of all, whereby salvation is made sure in itself, even God’s eternal purpose. And this sealing is a distinct thing from that 2 Tim. ii. 19, ‘The foundation of the Lord remaineth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth who are his,’ speaking of eternal election; that is, rather a setting of us upon God’s heart as a seal, (as the expression is, Cant. viii. 6, ‘Set me as a seal upon thine heart,’) than God’s sealing our hearts by his Spirit. This is not the meaning here, for he had spoken of that before; he had spoken how by predestination they were appointed to it, ver. 11, and how by faith they had obtained it, and the thing was conveyed; they had ‘obtained an inheritance,’ ver. 11.
There is therefore another use of a seal. It is to ascertain the parties, or others, to whom the thing is made over unto, that they might have that to shew for it for ever. So, indeed, sealing is taken in the Scripture, not only so much for making salvation sure in itself; as to assure our hearts, as the phrase is that the Apostle useth in his epistles. It is parallel to what is in 2 Cor. i. 21, 22. ‘He which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God, who hath also sealed us.’ Sealing and anointing is there put for stablishing us, making us sure of it, not making the thing sure.
Now, because there are two ways of making us sure of salvation; the one mediate, by the witness of our graces and the witness of the blood of Christ sprinkled upon the conscience, and laid hold upon by faith; and the other immediate, which is an immediate testimony of the Holy Ghost, as I shewed out of 1 John v. 8, where there are said to be three that bear witness that we have eternal life, as it followeth afterward, ver. 11 ; there is the water, blood, and Spirit. Now by Spirit there is meant the Holy Ghost, by water is meant our graces and sanctification, and by blood is meant the blood of Jesus Christ, looked upon by faith; when faith hath a recourse unto it, it leaveth a witness behind itself. A mart never cometh to Christ but he goeth away somewhat quieted, somewhat comforted; he never layeth hold upon that blood but it easeth or pacifieth the conscience more or less. Now when Spirit is made a distinct thing from the other two, it must needs be an immediate witness of the Spirit distinct from the other two. Why? Because the Holy Ghost witnesseth with the blood and water; therefore when he saith Spirit as a third witness, it is differing from both these ; it must be the Holy Ghost witnessing without these.
The question is then, Which of these are meant here, when he saith, ‘Ye are sealed with the Spirit of promise?’
I answer, If you take it in a large sense, every witness, and all assurance ? salvation by any of those witnesses, may be called a sealing of the Spirit; if you take sealing in a large sense, for testifying or witnessing a thing that is true, as John iii. 33, where the word is used, he that believeth, saith he, ‘hath set to his seal that God is true.’ If ou will take it for witnessing anything, every one of these witnesses, in such a metaphorical sense, may be called a seal. Yet I take it, that which is principally aimed at here is an immediate testimony of the Holy Ghost. The metaphor of sealing an inheritance implieth as much; for you know, in conveying inheritances, as I shewed out of Jeremiah, there are witnesses that are as standers-by; but the act of sealing is the immediate act of the party that conveyeth it. And the seal of great persons is set to without witnesses; the seal of the king is without hand, as the broad seal amongst us, you know, is. And so, Esth. viii. 8, the seal of the king Ahasuerus was without a hand; there was no other witness but the king’s seal to it. So now, when the great God of heaven and earth, when his Spirit will witness over and above water and blood, he will do it himself. My brethren, every seal is a witness, but every witness is not a seal, in a strict sense.
Now then, concerning this seal of the Spirit, we having found what is principally meant; for all this is but to find out the meaning of it; I gave you these three things The first was, that it was a distinct light from the ordinary light of faith, a light beyond that light. It is indeed faith elevated, though not to vision, where faith shall cease, as it is in heaven; yet as Stephen’s bodily eye was raised to see Christ beyond what the power of the ordinary sight could have done, so here is a light beyond what the ordinary light can reach unto.
In the second place, this immediate seal must have an impress that it stampeth upon the heart. Now I told you, that the motto, or the impression that this beareth, - to follow still the metaphor of a seal, - is the impress, it is the copy of that great seal in heaven, which God did set to our salvation before all worlds. Now what was that great seal, that original seal of all God’s heart? Saith the Apostle, ‘The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth who are his;’ that is, he chooseth them out of love. Now then this immediate seal of the Holy Ghost beareth the impress of this original seal, stampeth this upon the heart, - The Lord knoweth thee to be his, and he hath known thee so from everlasting. And as God chooseth us, not looking to works or anything in us, so this light cometh in without reference to graces, or anything else.
Then, in the third place, as in a seal, the wax, you know, is passive unto the stamp of the seal, so is the heart, the understanding, and the will and affections to this work of sealing. That is a third thing I add now, still keeping to the metaphor of sealing, as being proper to the text. It is a light that doth not leave you to think, ‘This may be my own thoughts,’ but an overpowering light; for when the Holy Ghost will speak as a sealer, he will do his office, and therefore a man’s own spirit is not active in it. He is active in it in the effect indeed, but in the light itself and in the receiving of it, he is passive, as at the first conversion.
Having opened what the work is, I shewed in the second place the order of it; it is after believing. I gave you that one instance in the apostles themselves, which I shall repeat, because I should have use it afterward. You may read, John xiv. 1 - 4, that they believed in Christ; yea, at the 17th verse, they had the Holy Ghost in them yet at the 16th verse, he promiseth them, when he was ascended he would give them the Comforter; and, ver. 20, ‘At that day,’ saith he, ‘ye shall know that I am in you, and you in me. The apostles had not this seal of the Spirit till Christ ascended; they had the Holy Ghost before, they had some assurance before; for you know Peter appealeth to Christ, ‘Lord,’ saith he, ‘thou knowest that I love thee,’ and Christ telleth Peter, that he did believe so as ‘flesh and blood had not revealed to him,’ Matt. xvi. 17. He had the witness both of blood and water, yet the Holy Ghost was to come down as a Comforter. And in that day, saith he, ye shall know your immediate union with me, ‘that I am in you, and you in me.’
III. The third thing concerning this sealing in the text is, the person in whom we are sealed. There is, first, the work of sealing, that hath been opened. Secondly, there is the order of it, it is after believing. Then, thirdly, the person in whom, or the virtual cause in whom we are sealed. It is in Christ ‘In whom, after ye believed, ye were sealed.’
The words translated here, ‘in whom,’ iv 5, are exceeding ambiguous in their reference, as in the Greek they are. They may refer unto the gospel, spoken of just before, and so Piscator would have it; that is, by which gospel ye believed; Or, secondly, they may refer to Christ, ‘in whom,’ as our translation readeth it; and so they have a double reference : either that the meaning is, ‘in whom, after ye believed,’ and so it referreth to faith, to believing in Christ; or, secondly, they may refer to sealing, ‘in whom, after ye believed, ye were sealed,’ sealed in him after believing.
My brethren, there is not a verse but there are such ambiguities as these are; so comprehensive and vast a writer in his scope and aim is the Holy Ghost, yet still aiming at something peculiar. There is no book written so ambiguously, in that comprehensive way, as the Scripture.
If you ask now, to which I refer ‘in whom?’ Plainly, I say, unto sealing; and my reason is this, for he mentioneth sealing here as a new benefit distinct from faith. And as he had said of all other benefits, that they were in Christ; we are elected in Christ, adopted through him, redeemed through him, in whom God abounded in grace to us; still mark it, to every benefit, ‘in Christ,’ is added. Now speaking of a new benefit of sealing, this phrase, ‘in whom,’ referreth to sealing; so that this is the meaning of it, that the work of sealing is performed in Christ.
Now, my brethren, ‘in whom’ will still have a double reference, and a double meaning, if we refer it to Christ and to sealing in him, and both is the meaning and scope of the place.
First, In Christ you were sealed, that is, you were sealed into Christ, into him : so it importeth that the matter made known in the work of sealing, is a man’s union with Christ. When the Holy Ghost sealeth a man up, the thing he makes known, the thing he sealeth to him is this, that he is in Christ, that he hath been elected in Christ by God the Father from everlasting, that he is one in Christ; he was one with him from everlasting, he was one with him when he hung upon the cross, he is one with him now in heaven. ‘Into whom,’ so the words will bear, you may read either, one as well as another; I speak for the scope and meaning of it.
I will give you a scripture for this interpretation: 2 Cor. i. 21, where he speaks of establishing and sealing our hearts, he putteth in this phrase, saith he, ‘He who stablisheth us with you in Christ, is God.’ He hath stablished us in Christ, or sealed us in Christ (for that followeth, ver. 22, ) into Christ. And, John xiv. 20, ‘At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.’ So that a man’s union with Christ, his being in Christ, is the matter sealed up to him; ‘in whom ye are sealed.’ My brethren, in the work of sealing there is the love of all the Persons manifested; God the Father’s love, and Christ’s love, and our union with him, he leaveth not him out. Therefore you shall find, 1 John v. 8, there are three witnesses in heaven that witness love to us, as well as three on earth. I remember that I shewed that the work of baptism is the outward seal, to which this inward seal most principally referreth; for baptism is not to work regeneration, that is a mistake, as circumcision was not. ibm. iv 11, he calleth circumcision ‘the seal of the righteousness of faith, which Abraham had, being uncircumcised;’ so that it is not to work, but to seal regeneration and salvation unto us. Now, as we are said to be ‘baptized into Christ,’ ibm. vi. 3, that is the outward seal: so this is the inward work, whereby the Holy Ghost sealeth a man into Christ. whom we are sealed;’ it may be as well i; as iv, as it is in that place of the Corinthians which interpreteth it.
Or, in the second place, this phrase, ‘in whom ye are sealed,’ importeth, and the intent of it is to shew, by virtue of whom this benefit is bestowed, that it is bestowed by virtue of Christ. The work of sealing is wrought in us by virtue of Christ; it is in him virtually, though by the Holy Ghost efficiently. The Holy Ghost is the author of it, but Jesus Christ is the virtual cause. In that 2 Cor. i. 20, the place I quoted even now for sealing and stablishing us, you shall find there, that ‘all the promises are yea and Amen in him.’
Now as all the promises are yea and amen virtually in Christ, they had been worth nothing else, if he had not died to make them good, so the sealing of all the promises unto the heart of a believer is in him too. So the words that follow, ‘ He that stablisheth us, and sealeth us in Christ,’ will bear both senses, as well as here it doth.
Now, my brethren, to open this a little, for it is a point of useful consideration. The work of sealing of the Holy Ghost is done by virtue of Jesus Christ. He, and his virtue, is left out in no work that is done, for us. I remember that I gave you this rule in handling of the 10th verse, and it is a thing I have largely elsewhere handled, that whatsoever work God doth upon us, he doth unto Christ first. Now then, are we sealed virtually in Christ? Why then, we must find the same work upon Christ himself first. We died to sin, because he died; we rose from sin, because he rose; we are sealed, because he once was sealed, and by virtue of that we come to be sealed. This is necessary to be opened, if you will understand the full scope of this, ‘in whom ye are sealed.’ Now we read that Jesus Christ was sealed, John vi. 27, ‘For him hath God the Father sealed.’ Mark it, this hath he sealed. Now do but look into your margin, and see to what the translators have referred this sealing of Christ; to Matt. iii. 17. Do but read there, and you shall find that Jesus Christ, when he was baptized, which, as I told you, is the outward seal, heard a voice from heaven, saying, ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’
My brethren, as Christ did partake of the same ordinances we do, so there was some effect that these ordinances had upon him, which he was capable of, answerable and suitable to what they have upon us. Therefore, as baptism is the outward seal, to seal up adoption to a believer, and the witness of the Spirit is the inward work, the fruit of baptism, to be waited for, (yet a man hath it not by virtue of his baptism;) so when Christ was baptized, what was the fruit of it? What was the inward work answerable to the outward upon him? This, ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom,’ &c. And as the inward seal of the Spirit to us is an immediate witness, so was this from heaven to Christ. Not that ours is an immediate voice from heaven, but a light of the Holy Ghost’s superadded to the light of faith; other revelations cease, and they are the revelations that the Papists speak of.
That you may see your ground for this, look I John v. 9, compared with the verses going before. He saith there are three witnesses in earth, and three in heaven, that bear witness to two things (read the place, you will. find it the scope.) First, that we have eternal life in Christ; and, secondly, as appeareth by the 9th verse, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God; ‘This is the witness of God,’ saith he, ‘which he hath testified of his Son.’ There are three in heaven that bore witness that Jesus Christ is the Son of God when he was baptized; there was God the Father, and God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, all these three did bear this witness. There was God the Father; he speaks, the voice that came from heaven was his voice properly, for he called him his Son, ‘This is my beloved Son;’ there was God the Father’s testimony. And, John i. 32, ‘the Holy Ghost descended down upon him like a dove;’ there is the Spirit’s witness, and all at his baptism. And then, as ‘he that believeth hath the witness in himself,’ so Christ had the witness of his being Son of God from the second Person also; he had it in himself. All these three witnesses concurred then at his baptizing; and thus was Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour then sealed. Will you have me speak plainly? Though he had the assurance of faith that he was the Son of God, he knew it out of the Scriptures by reading all the prophets; yea, and as Adam had it written in his heart that he was the son of God, so Christ had the like instinct and law in his spirit that he was the Son of God; yet to have it sealed to him with joy unspeakable and glorious, by the witness of all the three Persons, this was deferred to the time of his baptism. He was then ‘anointed with the Holy Ghost,’ as I remember the expression is, Acts x. 38; ‘ anointed with the oil of gladness’
- that was the first beginning of it - ’ above all his fellows,’ in a more peculiar and transcendant manner. Now mark it, answerably (compare 2 Cor. i. 22) he hath sealed and anointed us, just as he sealed and anointed Christ in his baptism. We are conformed unto Christ; look what was wrought upon him, is wrought upon believers. He did believe in God, and himself to be the Son of God by faith from his mother’s womb, so he telleth us, Ps. xxii. 9. But this eminent, transcendant, heavenly witness of it from all three Persons, was deferred till now. So now we see we are sealed in him, by virtue of him, and by his being sealed.
IV. The fourth thing in the text is this, The efficient cause by whom we are sealed. By the Spirit, the third Person in the Trinity, who is described to us by two things. 1. That he is the Spirit of promise. 2. A holy Spirit, and this as a sealer, for so you must understand it. All these must be spoken to; for there is a mystery lieth in all these. First, here is the Spirit by whom we are sealed, there is the person. Secondly, here is his description as he is a sealer : 1. he is the Spirit of promise ; 2. he is a holy Spirit. You shall find every one of these have their weight in the matter of sealing.
First, For the person. Let us speak to that a little. The Apostle had mentioned the work of the other two persons before: he had mentioned the work of God the Father; ‘Blessed be God the Father, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings;’ so ver. 3 and 4. He had mentioned God the Son before; ‘In whom we have redemption through his blood,’ and we are ‘chosen in him,’. But he had not mentioned the Spirit before; yet he had mentioned the work of the Spirit before too, the work of faith and the work of vocation, working prudence and wisdom, as I shewed before out of the 8th verse. What is the mystery of this?
Obs. - The thing I observe out of this is, That it is the special work of the Holy Ghost to comfort and assure the hearts of believers of their salvation. It s a most special work of the Holy Ghost. I will give you but two evidences out of Scripture for it. The first is out of John xiv. 26. Our Saviour Christ did forbear to comfort them, for he telleth them there is a Comforter to come; ‘But the Comforter,’ saith he, ‘who is the Holy Ghost, Whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things,’. Our Saviour Christ would not take the office out of his hands, he is to be your Comforter, saith he, and I will refer all to him. As he is called by the special name of the Comforter, to shew what is his special work and office, so answerably you shall find that joy is called ‘joy in the Holy Ghost,’ 1 Thess. i. 6. It is the Father’s love which is sealed up to us, it is the Son in whom we are sealed, so it is the Holy Ghost by whom we are sealed. The Father prescribed all the cordials, the Son tempered them, but the Holy Ghost applieth them. 1 Cor. ii. 10, 11, As the spirit of a man only knoweth the things of a man, and he to whom this spirit in him will reveal it: so, saith he, it is the Spirit of God that revealeth the deep things of God, that everlasting love of his. Who else but he is to do it? It is his office.
Therefore, my brethren, you must give the honour of all the comfort you have to the Holy Ghost in a more special manner. Give it not to your graces, thongh the Holy Ghost witnesseth with them; there is no comfort you have but in the power of the Holy Ghost; there is an express place for it, Rem. xv. 13. Therefore look not to your graces; I mean, do not ascribe it to your graces, do not pore and dote upon them; it is the Holy Ghost always comforteth when they comfort. As it would derogate from Christ to ascribe justification to any other, so it derogates from the Holy Ghost to ascribe comfort to any other. And remember, that the special thing upon which mention of the Holy Ghost is made is, when comforting, when assuring, when sealing cometh to be mentioned. - So much for that observation.
Come we now to the description of the Holy Ghost here, as he is a sealer. First, he is called the Spirit of promise. Secondly, he is called the Holy Spirit. ‘Ye are sealed,’ saith he, ‘with that holy Spirit of promise.’
He is called the Spirit of promise for two reasons and considerations. First, because, take him as he is a sealer and comforter of them that believe, he is promised; we have a promise that the Holy Ghost shall comfort us and seal us. Therefore, because the Holy Ghost is the thing promised, and that as a sealer, we are said to be sealed by the Spirit of promise. And, in the second place, he is called the Spirit of promise as a sealer; because he never sealeth but by a promise, as I shall show by and by; To speak of both these - The Holy Ghost is called the promise, and that as a sealer, (that is the first thing,) because he is promised. Our Saviour Jesus Christ was the great promise of the Old Testament, but the Holy Ghost is the great promise of the New. I need not quote you places to shew you that Christ was the great promise of the Old Testament. You have it Ac xiii. 32, and Heb. xi. 39. Many places might be brought. The Holy Ghost is the great promise of the New; he is called the ‘promise of the Father,’ Acts i. 4, ii. 33, and GaL iii. 14. ‘That we may receive,’ saith he, ‘the promise of the Spirit.’ He is called the promise there, because he is the thing promised.
My brethren, God doth give forth all three Persons in promises, (it is a good observation by the way.) He hath a Son, he promiseth’ him; well, he hath given him, that promise is ceased, - I mean in the exhibition of Christ in the flesh, - is fulfilled. He hath a Spirit, you shall have him one day fully; but in the meantime you have him under a promise. He hath given us his Spirit also, saith he; that also cometh in 2 Cor. v. 5. He had given us his Son before, he giveth us his Spirit too; he hath promised it. There is God the Father, you have him promised too; for the time will come, as it is 1 Cor xv. 28, that ‘God will be all in all.’ You have all three Persons us promises. God hath put forth all out of himself, he hath more blessings than one, he hath promised all in himself. But the Holy Ghost is called the Spirit of promise, as he is a sealer. That is the point I must stand upon.
The word here is of that promise; he hath put the article to every word, that Spirit, of that promise - namely, of sealing, to seal believers. There is a special promise, my brethren, unto believers, that they shall have the Spirit to seal them, if they sue it out. Many want it, but there is a promise for it, that same 14th of John which I quoted before. The apostles, they were believers, ver. 1; they had the Spirit dwelling in them, ver. 17; yet he promiseth them the Spirit both in ver. 16, 20, and 26. He doth not promise him as a sanctifier, but under the notion and in the name of a Comforter; not only as one that should give gifts to them and make them apostles, but should comfort them. They believed already; but that the Holy Ghost should come unto them as a Comforter, here was a special promise yet to be fulfilled. Look into Acts . 4, ö, and you shall find this to be true; he biddeth them there wait at Jerusalem ‘for the promise of the Father, which,’ saith he, ‘you have heard of me; for John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost, not many days hence.’ And still observe it, for it is spoken of him as a Comforter; for so Christ promised him, though indeed he came with enlargement of gifts upon them too as apostles.
You will say, the apostles had this promise, who were extraordinary men, have believers the same?
Read first Acts ii. 33. Saith he, Christ being ascended, ‘and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this which ye now see and hear.’ They were filled with the Holy Ghost as with wine, as the Apostle’s expression is in the Ephesians, so that they said they were drunk. But doth this belong to believers? See what he saith to the men that were pricked in their heart, ver. 38, ‘Repent, and he baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins,’ - that is, for assurance of remission; for otherwise a man must believe before he be baptized, for so they did, and so they were, as appeareth, ver. 41, ‘They that gladly received the word were baptized,’ or, they should be baptized, that they might receive the remission, or the assurance of the remission of their sins, - ’ and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise’ (mark it, that promise that was made to us, and you have seen fulfilled to us) ‘is unto you and to your children; and to all that are afar off,’ - to the Gentiles afar off to the end of the world, - ’ even to as many as the Lord our God shall call.’ Mark that, to all believers. There is a promise of it, you may sue it out; and therefore you shall find, Gal. iii. 14, there is mention of the receiving of the promise of the Spirit after believing, ‘That they might receive,’ saith he, ‘the promise of the Spirit through faith.’ What promise of the Spirit is it that a man receiveth through faith? A man must have the Spirit to work sanctification, (mark that;) then to have the Spirit as a worker of faith, as a beginner of sanctification, cannot be the meaning of it; but there is an eminent promise yet to be fulfilled to believers, for they received the promise of the Spirit through faith. What promise of the Spirit is that? The Spirit as a sealer, the Spirit as a comforter; for so he was promised to the disciples after they believed.
Obs. - What is the observation from thence? Plainly this: You that are believers, wait for a further promise of the Holy Ghost as a sealer, and sue it out with God; for you see here the great promise, it is the promise of the Spirit as a sealer. So you shall find, Acts i. 4, that the apostles were to wait for the promise of the Spirit: so do you. My brethren, those that did receive the word gladly, as the text saith, Acts ii. 41, had a promise of the Holy Ghost to be expected as a comforter, as a sealer, as the place there evidently implieth. Though you have some joy wrought in you by faith, yet there is some further promise still to be expected; ‘For the promise,’ saith he, ‘is to you, and to all that are afar oft even to as many as the Lord shall call.’ You shall find in John vii. 38 - that I may not stand reckoning up many places - that our Saviour Christ saith, ‘He that believeth on me, as the Scripture saith, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water; of water to comfort and refresh him. ‘But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive; for the Holy Ghost was not yet given’ (mark,) ‘because that Jesus was not yet glorified.’ My brethren, let me vent that notion to you, for I believe it will hold, that the giving of the Holy Ghost as a sealer with joy unspeakable and glorious, was reserved to the times after Christ was glorified. Men had the Spirit to work faith before, they had faith under the Old Testament; but for the Spirit to come and work joy unspeakable and glorious in ordinary believers, was not till Jesus Christ himself was glorified. It is true that David and some other saints in the Old Testament had it, who were eminent types of Christ, that was to be anointed with the oil of gladness; but the ordinary saints under the Old Testament had a spirit of bondage upon them; there was a spirit of adoption too, but not to seal up to a man his sonship. This is the great promise of the gospel, which cometh to believers when Jesus Christ is glorified, when he is ascended up to heaven, and there is ‘anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows;’ then he poureth out the Spirit upon men, which will sue out this promise.
My brethren, it is the great fruit of your baptism ; you have not that great fruit of your baptism till you have this. The circumcision of old was a seal of the righteousness of faith, and of the promised seed, of Christ to come, of a bloody Saviour, to redeem by blood; for so circumcision was by blood. Now as circumcision was then, so now that Christ is come and glorified, our baptism is the seal of the Spirit; it is the proper work that answereth to baptism. Therefore you shall find it is called ‘baptizing with the Holy Ghost,’ because it is that which is the fruit of baptism, it answereth that outward seal; and therefore you may read that Peter biddeth them be baptized, and they should receive this promise, Acts ii. 38.
You that believe are to wait for this promise; as the Jews waited for the coming of Christ, so are you to wait for the coming of the Holy Ghost into your hearts. It is said that the fathers served God night and day, waiting for the promise, namely, Christ to come, Acts xxvi. 6. Serve your God day and night faithfully, walk humbly; there is a promise of the Holy Ghost to come and fill your hearts with joy unspeakable and glorious, to seal you up to the day of redemption. Sue this promise out, wait for it, rest not in believing only, rest not in assurance by graces only; there is a further assurance to be had. It was the last legacy Christ left upon earth. Look John xiv. 16; he saith there that he would send the promise of the Father; this very promise of sending the Comforter; read Luke xxiv. 49. Therefore sue out the will of Christ, sue out that last legacy of his. It was the fruit of his ascension; when he was ascended up and received this promise, then he poured it out
And let me add this too - I thought to make it a distinct observation - from the persons here that were to be sealed. ‘Ye were sealed;’ ye, who? Ye Ephesians; they were ordinary believers, they were not apostles, they had not all miraculous gifts, yet he saith of them, ‘Ye were sealed with the Spirit of promise after ye believed.’ Read over all the epistles, and you shall find almost all the saints in the primitive times sealed; thus the Corinthians they had it, 2 Cor. i. 22, ‘God hath stablished us with you, and hath also sealed us. The Ephesians had it you see, they were sealed; for afterward, chap. iv. 30, he exhorts them not to grieve the Holy Spirit, by which they were sealed. The Thessalonians had it, 1 Thess. i. 10. They received the word with such joy, that he saith they waited for the coming of Jesus Christ from heaven; for that is the next step, heaven is next unto it, and to wait for Christ when you are thus sealed. Those that Peter wrote to had it, 1 Pet. i. 8, ‘ In whom believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.’ Thus ordinary it was in the primitive times; where the defect lies God knows; but certainly it might be more common if men would sue it out; such a promise there is. He is therefore called the Spirit of promise, because he is promised as a sealer.
Only, my brethren, let me give you a direction or two. First, believe this promise, wait for it by faith, make it the aim of your faith; we are said to ‘receive the promise of the Spirit through faith,’ Gal. iii. 14. Believe there is such a thing, aim at it, wait for it, and serve God day and night in all humility to obtain it, rest in no other lower and under assurance; and in the end the Lord will give it. The reason why men attain it not is, because they rest in other assurance, and they do not aim at this; they content themselves with bare believing, and that their consciences are quieted. But, my brethren, there is such a work as sealing by the Spirit, if you have faith; there is a Spirit, and a Spirit of promise made to believers, which you may receive by faith. This is the first reason why he is called a Spirit of promise, because he is promised to believers as he is a sealer.
I mentioned a second reason why he is called the Spirit of promise as he is a sealer. What is that? Because he always sealeth by a promise. These truths, my brethren, are worthy your laying up, not only to clear the doctrine of this great work of the Spirit, (and I still speak what is proper to the text,) but also to direct you, and to try whether you have it, you that boast of it. It is always, I say, by a promise; when he sealeth he bringeth a promise home to the heart He is therefore called the Spirit of promise, because he useth a promise in sealing; as we say of a soldier, he is a man of the sword, because a sword is the weapon he useth; so he is called the Spirit of promise because he useth a promise. As we are said to be heirs of the promise, because the promise belongeth to us, so he is called the Spirit of promise because he comforteth us by a promise. There is a Spirit lieth hid and dwelleth in the promise to comfort us, if faith could but draw him down to come into our hearts and set them on.
My brethren, we heard that Jesus Christ was sealed when he was baptized; but he was sealed by a promise, it was not by an immediate revelation only, but by bringing home a truth to his heart. What was it? ‘This is beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’ This is a Scripture pronuse, you shall find it in Isa. xlii. 1, ‘This is my servant, in whom I delight; my elect, in whom my soul is well pleased.’ That which had been spoken before of the Messiah is brought home to his heart. He sealcth not up his Son when he speaks from heaven immediztely, but he doeth it by a promise; therefore much more, my brethren, doth he seal up you. The Word and the Spirit are joined; they are joined in the new Jerusalem, much more now. Isa. lix. 21, the promise there, that ‘my Word and my Spirit shall not depart out of thy mouth,’ is spoken of the calling of the Jews plainly, for the Apostle quoteth it in Rem. xi. 26, and it is the only place he quoteth for their call. ‘The Redeemer shall come out of Zion,’ are the words just before. When Jesus Christ gave the promise of the Holy Ghost as a sealer and Comforter to the apostles, he calleth him a Comforter indeed; but how?
Saith he, ‘He shall bring all things to your remembrance, for he shall take of mine and shew it unto you;’ for if the Holy Ghost do not come with a word, and take of Christ’s and set that upon your heart, it is a delusion; he sealeth by a promise still, and therefore in all that discourse of Christ, where he promiseth him as a Comforter, in John xiv., he calleth him a ‘Spirit of truth,’ as well as a Comforter. Therefore when we say, it is an immediate testimony, the meaning is not that it is without the Word; no, it is by a promise; but the meaning is, it is immediate in respect of using your own graces as an evidence and witness: but he bringeth home a promise to the heart, some absolute promise or other; he ‘rideth upon the wings of a promise,’ as you may read in the Book of Martyrs, concerning Bilney. He is a Spirit of promise, my brethren, when he sealeth. Therefore let me tell you this, all your revelations that are without the Word, or would draw you from the Word, are naught and dangerous. We do not speak for enthusiasms; it is the Spirit applying the Word to the heart that we speak of. It is not to write new Scripture, to make words, to be guided by the Holy Ghost without the Word. No, we detest all such; but it is to draw you to the Word; he fasteneth the Word upon your hearts, sealeth you by a promise; therefore he is called a Spirit of promise.
There is one thing more that I must make an end of; it was necessary to open these truths unto you, for I could not open the words else. The last thing he is described by as he is a sealer is, that he is a holy Spirit. The Holy Ghost hath put a mighty emphasis upon this, as you shall see by and by; he hath put an article upon every word, ‘sealed with that Spirit of that promise, that holy.’ There is not the like again in any place. There is a special promise of him as a sealer; and he sheweth himself to be a holy Spirit, if in any work, in sealing. And, which is more, he doth not say, ‘that Holy Spirit,’ indeed we translate it so, we put holy to Spirit; but the truth is, the word holy cometh in divided from the other, and promise cometh in between, it is ‘that Spirit of that promise, that holy.’ This is the true reading of it according to the original, to shew that this title of holy is not given to the Spirit himself, but as an effect of his in sealing. It is true, indeed, he is holy in himself and it argueth him to be so, if he make us so when he sealeth us; for look what impress is left upon the wax must needs be in the seal much more; if he make us holy when we are sealed, he himself must be holy much more originally. But that is not the aim of it, only to shew that he is holy; but to shew that when he seeth then he works holiness; therefore the Holy Ghost here putteth an emphasis upon it, by putting to the article ‘that’
Observe from hence this, that all assurance that is true assurance, and the true seal of the Holy Ghost, it makes a man holy. If ever anything makes him holy, this doth it. Is he a holy Spirit in working faith? Doth he purify your hearts by believing? He will purify your hearts much more when he sealeth you, when he works joy in believing, unspeakable and glorious.
Yea, my brethren, God doth not give this promise of his Spirit as a sealer till a man be very holy. John xiv. 21, ‘He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and manifest myself to him.’ God doth not put these cordials into a foul stomach; and when a man hath these, they make him wonderful holy. Take the apostles for an instance. The apostles, as I told you, were believers, they had a promise of the Holy Ghost as a sealer and a Comforter; but they were to wait for it, as you read in Acts i. 4. Now all the while they waited for it, what did they? They continued all the while, till they had it, in prayer and supplication; the text saith so; they were exceeding holy, especially before. Well, when they had it, how holy did it make them! It is of purpose made the preface to the Book of the Acts. You see how full of boldness they were, how full of zeal, because full of the Holy Ghost, and full of the joy of the Holy Ghost. The apostles were poor low Christians as any are, almost. When Jesus Christ was to die, how sleepy were they! When Christ was administering the sacrament to them, and told them what he should suffer, they talked presently ‘who should be the greatest amongst them.’
Thus carnal were they, they had not received the Spirit as a sealer; but when once they had received him as a sealer, read the story of the Acts, read their Epistles, and see what a spirit of boldness and zeal they had. ‘When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.’ It is a new conversion, it will make a man differ from himself in what he was before in that manner almost as conversion doth before he was converted. There is a new edition of all a man’s graces, when the Holy Ghost cometh as a sealer. Selflove bustleth before, and keepeth a coil to secure itself; but when once selflove is secure, and the love of God is shed abroad in a man’s heart, it makes a man work for God ten times more than before, or else at least more kindly. I know there are ways wherein the soul can glorify God more, in a way of recumbency, when he hath not assurance, by submitting himself to God whatsoever becometh of him, and by pure trusting of God, though he know not whether he will save him or not, which is the greatest trust in the world. But yet in matter of holiness and obedience, the assurance of the love of God, when it is shed abroad in the heart, will constrain a man, as the apostle’s phrase is. ‘He that hath this hope,’ he speaks of assurance in that 1 John iii. 3, ‘purifieth himself, even as he is pure.’ My brethren, it is the next thing to heaven, therefore it must needs make a man heavenly. If there were nothing but self-love in a man, it is true he would abuse it when he hath assurance; but when this love shall stir up love to God, and bring a greater increase of love to God above a man’s self, how will that work! I appeal to you, good souls, if Christ do but look toward you a little, how holy doth it make you! Much more, then, when the Holy Ghost is poured out upon you, and when you are baptized with the Holy Ghost as a Comforter. Look, as when the sun cometh near to the earth, then is the spring; it was winter before; so when the Holy Ghost cometh in this manner upon the heart, it was winter before, but it will be spring now.
My brethren, to end this, therefore all those comforts, - mark what I say, try yourselves, and try others by it, - all those revelations and comforts that make men loose and unholy, unclean and carnal, are not these comforts of the Holy Ghost. I confess, a holy man may, when they are gone, abuse the remembrance of them; but while they are upon the heart, they do carry a man’s soul in all up to God. The apostle Jude doth not know how to speak words bitter enough against those men that turn the grace of God into wantonness. ‘They are ordained of old,’ saith he, ‘to this condemnation.’ Read how bitterly he speaks of such men from the third verse to the end of his epistle; especially when men shall be loose in their opinions, as he saith, ‘corrupt themselves’ in what they know naturally to be sin. My brethren, he is a holy Spirit, nothing is more opposite to this holy Spirit than looseness, than uncleanness, and such sins are. ‘If we say,’ saith he, 1 John i. 6, ‘that we have fellowship with God, and walk in darkness, we lie.’ What doth he mean by fellowship here? He meaneth assurance plainly. These things we write to you, that you may know ye believe in the Son of God; (it is the scope of that epistle,) he that saith he hath fellowship with God, and walketh in darkness, lieth; let him be what he will. The apostles are vehement, their spirits are up against no men more. He is a holy Spirit of promise that sealeth men to salvation.
Let this therefore be made a motive to seek it at God’s hands; urge him with this, besides his promise; tell him it will make you holy. It is a great motive to seek it, it is a motive to you to seek it, and it is a motive to you to urge God to obtain it. I conclude with this: a seal hath two ends and uses, the first is to assure and certify, and the other is to stamp an image; for so always a seal doth. Now they are both here. He is called the Spirit of promise, because he bringeth home the promise to a man’s heart and assureth him of an interest. He is called the Holy Spirit of promise in sealing, because he stampeth the image of holiness upon you, and makes you more holy than before.
So you have the meaaing of these words, ‘In whom ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,’ with all those concurring scriptures that were necessarily to be brought for the opening of them.
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