« ZurückWeiter »
vocable. Or to confirm the testimony that is given by any one of the truth of any thing. Such was the manner among the Jews: when any one had given true witness unto any thing or matter, and it was received by the judges, they instantly set their seals to it, to confirm it in judgment. Hence it is said, that he who receives the testimony of Christ, sets to his seal that God is true; John iii. 33. The promise is the great grant and conveyance of life and salvation in Christ to the souls of believers. That we may have full assurance of the truth and irrevocableness of the promise, God gives us the Spirit to satisfy our hearts of it; and thence is he said to seal us, by assuring our hearts of those promises, and their stability. But though many expositors go this way, I do not see how this can consist with the very meaning of the word. It is not said that the promise is sealed, but that we are sealed, and when we seal a deed or grant to any one, we do not say the man is sealed, but the deed or grant.
[2.] To appropriate, distinguish, or keep safe ; this is the end of sealing ; men set their seals on that, which they appropriate, and desire to keep safe for themselves : so evidently in this sense, are the servants of God said to be sealed, Rev. vii. 4. that is, marked with God's mark, as his peculiar ones, for this sealing answers to the setting of a mark, Ezek. ix. Then are believers sealed when they are marked for God, to be heirs of the purchased inheritance, and to be preserved to the day of redemption. Now if this be the sealing intended, it denotes not an act of sense in the heart but of security to the person. The Father gives the elect into the hands of Christ to be redeemed ; having redeemed them in due time, they are called by the Spirit, and marked for God, and so give up themselves to the hands of the Father.
If you ask now, which of these senses is chiefly intended in this expression of our being sealed by the Holy Ghost; I answer the first, not excluding the other; we are sealed to the day of redemption, when from the stamp, image, and character of the Spirit upon our souls, we have a fresh sense of the love of God given to us, with a comfortable persuasion of our acceptation with him. But of this whole matter I have treated at large elsewhere.
b Persev. of Saints, chap. 8.
Thus then the Holy Ghost communicates unto us his own likeness, which is also the image of the Father and the Son. We are changed into this image by the Lord the Spirit;'. 2 Cor. ii. 18. And herein he brings us into fellowship with himself. Our likeness to him, gives us boldness with him. His work we look for, his fruits we pray for; and when any effect of grace, any discovery of the image of Christ implanted in us, gives us a persuasion of our being separated and set apart for God, we have a communion with him therein.
6. He is an earnest unto us; 2 Cor. i. 22. “He hath given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts ;' chap. v. 5. 'Who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit;' as also, Eph. i. 13, 14. · Ye are sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance.' In the two former places we are said to have the earnest of the Spirit, in the latter, the Spirit is said to be our earnest; of the Spirit, then, in the first place is, as we say,' genitivus materiæ;' denoting not the cause but the thing itself; not the author of the earnest, but the matter of it. The Spirit is our earnest, as in the last place is expressed. The consideration of what is meant by the Spirit, here, and what is meant by an earnest, will give some insight into this privilege, which we receive by the Comforter.
(1.) What grace, what gift of the Spirit is intended by this earnest, some have made inquiry, I suppose to no purpose. It is the Spirit himself, personally considered, that is said to be this earnest; 2 Cor. i. 22. It is God hath given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts : an expression directly answering that of Gal. iv. 6. God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son, into our hearts :' that is, the person of the Spirit, for nothing else can be called the Spirit of his Son: and in Eph. i. 14. he hath given the Spirit (ös for 8) which is that earnest. The Spirit himself of promise is this earnest. In giving us this Spirit he gives us this earnest.
(2.) An earnest it is, áppaßwv, neither the Greek, nor the Latin have any word to express directly what is here intended. The Latins have made words for it, from that expressed here in the Greek': 'arrha' and ' arrabo.' The Greek word is but the Hebrew herabon,'which as some conceive came amongst them by the Tyrian merchants, being a word of trade. It is
by some rendered in Latin, pignus,'a' pledge:' but this cannot be here intended. A pledge is that
A pledge is that property which any one gives, or leaves in the custody of another, to assure him that he will give him, or pay him, some other thing; in the nature of that which we call a pawn. Now the thing that is here intended, is a part of that which is to come, and but a part of it according to the trade use of the word, whence the metaphor is taken ; it is excellently rendered in our language, an earnest. An earnest is part of the price of any thing, or part of any grant, given beforehand to assure the person, to whom it is given, that at the appointed season he shall receive the whole that is promised him.
That a thing be an earnest, it is required,
[1.] That it be part of the whole, of the same kind and nature with it. As we do give so much money in earnest to pay so much more.
[2.] That it be a confirmation of a promise and appointment; first the whole is promised, then the earnest is given, for the good and true performance of that promise.
Thus the Spirit is this earnest. God gives us the promise of eternal life. To confirm this to us, he giveth us his Spirit, which is as the first part of the promise, to secure us of the whole. Hence he is said to be the earnest of the inheritance that is promised and purchased.
And it may be considered how it may be said to be an earnest on the part of God, who gives him, and on the part of believers who receive him.
Ist. He is an earnest on the part of God, in that God gives him as a choice part of the inheritance itself; and of the same kind with the whole, as an earnest ought to be. The full inheritance promised, is the fulness of the Spirit in the enjoyment of God. When that Spirit which is given us in this world shall have perfectly taken away all sin and sorrow, and shall have made us able to enjoy the glory of God in his presence, that is the full inheritance promised. So that the Spirit given us for the fitting of us for enjoyment of God in some measure, whilst we are here, is the earnest of the whole.
God doth it to this purpose, to assure us and secure us of the inheritance; having given us so many 'securities with
c Heb. vi. 17 ,18.
out us, his word, promises, covenant, oath, the revelation and discovery of his faithfulness and immutability in them all: he is pleased also graciously to give us one within us, Isa. lix. 21. that we may have all the security, we are capable of. What can more be done? He hath given us of the Holy Spirit; in him the first-fruits of glory, the utmost pledge of his love, the earnest of all.
2dly. On the part of believers, he is an earnest, in that he gives them an acquaintance with,
(1st.) The love of God; their acceptation with him makes known to them their favour in his sight; that he is their Father, and will deal with them as with children; and consequently, that the inheritance shall be theirs. He sends his Spirit into our hearts' crying, Abba, Father;' Gal. iv. 6. and what is the inference of believers from hence, ver. 7. ' Then we are not servants, but sons, and if sons, then heirs of God:' the same apostle again, Rom. viii. 17. 'If children, then heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.' On that persuasion of the Spirit, that we are children, the inference is, 'then heirs, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ.' We have then a right to an inheritance, and an eviction of it. This is the use then we have of it; even the Spirit persuading us of our sonship, and acceptation with God our Father. And what is this inheritance of glory? If we suffer with him, we shall be glorified together. And that the Spirit is given for this end is attested, 1 John iii. 24. "Hereby we know, that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.' The apostle is speaking of our union with God, which he expresseth in the words foregoing. He that keepeth his commandments, dwelleth in him, and he in him.' Of that union elsewhere. Now this we know from hence, even by the Spirit which he hath given us. The Spirit acquaints us with it; not that we have such an acquaintance, but that the argument is good and conclusive in itself. We have of the Spirit, therefore he dwells in us, and we in him, because indeed his dwelling in us, is by that Spirit, and our interest in him is from thence; a sense of this he giveth as he pleaseth.
(2dly.) The Spirit being given as an earnest, acquaints believers with their inheritance; 1 Cor. ii. 9. 10. As an earnest being part of the whole, gives knowledge of it, so doth the Spirit, as in sundry particulars might be demonstrated.
So is he in all respects, completely an earnest: iven of God, received by us, as the beginning of our inheritance, and the assurance of it. So much as we have of the Spirit, so much we have of heaven, in perfect enjoyment, and so much evidence of its future fulness. Under this apprehension of him in the dispensation of grace, do believers receive him, and rejoice in him: every gracious self-evidencing act of his in their hearts, they rejoice in, as a drop from heaven, and long for the ocean of it. Not to drive every effect of grace to this issue, is to neglect the work of the Holy Ghost in us and towards us.
There remains only that a difference be in a few words assigned between believers receiving the Spirit, as an earnest of the whole inheritance; and hypocrites, tasting of the powers of the world to come ;' Heb. v. 6. A taste of the powers of the world to come, seems to be the same with the earnest of the inheritance. But,
[lst.] That by the powers of the world to come in that place, is intended the joys of heaven, there is indeed no ground to imagine : they are no where so called ; nor doth it suitably express the glory that shall be revealed, which we shall be made partakers of. It is doubtless the powerful ministry of the ordinances and dispensations of the times of the gospel (there called to the Hebrews according to their own idiom), the powers or great effectual things of the world to come, that is intended. But,
[2dly.] Suppose that by the powers of the world to come,' the glory of heaven is intended; there is a wide difference between taking a vanishing taste of it ourselves, and receiving an abiding earnest from God : to take a taste of the things of heaven, and to have them assured of God, as from his love, differ greatly. A hypocrite may have his thoughts raised to a great deal of joy and contentment in the consideration of the good things of the kingdom of God for a season, considering the things in themselves, but the Spirit, as he is an earnest, gives us a pledge of them as provided for us in the love of God and purchase of his Son Jesus Christ. This by the way.
7. The Spirit anoints believers. We are anointed by the Spirit;' 2 Cor. i. 21. We have · an unction from the Holy One, and we know all things;' 1 John ii. 20. 27. I can