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for the inheritance, of which he had already given you an earnest.
2. Let me sUGGEST A CAUTION TO YOU WITH RESPECT TO THIS EARNEST.
A seal is not to be disputed, because it is not perfect. Take a case, which occurs almost daily. You receive a letter, or a bond: the seal has been affixed to it-the true seal: but the impression is not perfect. Do you doubt the reality of the seal, because the impression was not complete? No: you say, “ It might have been sealed better, but it is a true seal.” In a counterfeit seal, the impression may be strong and well defined; yet the seal is good for nothing—a counterfeit- it wants authenticity!
But, in the case before us, the Judge can neither deceive, nor be deceived. If you are led to God, and stamped with the character which God describes as belonging to his children; though it may be imperfect, though but little of the impression may appear, yet let us rejoice that it is a genuine impression. A man of integrity, whose heart is really affected, may well lament that he does not come nearer the true character; yet let him take heed how he despises the day of small things.
3. It appears from the text, that HÊ, THAT HATH THIS SEAL, MAY REST SECURE OF THAT INHERITANCE OF WHICH IT IS AN EARNEST. Which, says the Apostle, is the earnest of your inheritance.
Of his own will, God has made the impression. I cannot make it. Of all the means of speaking that I can devise, with all the consciousness that I have of the importance of the thing, I cannot make an impression on your hearts, and you are witnesses that I cannot. You know how longhow many years—some of you have heard these truths in this place, without any impression at all! You have lived like the rest of the world! Who then makes the impression where it is made?God:-that Holy Spirit of promise, who is to convince the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. Of his own will begat he us: he has impressed our hearts. Christ has purchased the possession, and the Holy Spirit applies it, and gives the earnest of it. If we are sealed, it is by his will.
God, therefore, by his prophet, seems to say, “ Lift up your eyes: look around: behold the starry heavens: they shall vanish like smoke: they shall wax old as doth a garment: they shall be folded together, and thrown aside, as a worne-out vesture. But my righteousness shall remain for ever: my salvation shall never be abolished. Every thing which you see shall pass away:
sealing shall never be destroyed.”
A theatre may charm the eye with the variety of its scenes; and, for the moment, a man may imagine himself on enchanted ground: but, if he feels that he has in his possession the earnest of some inheritance, on which he builds his hope and expectation for future life; if he has a pledge about him, however small, that such and such an estate is purchased for him and conveyed to him ; by that earnest he recollects himself, and says, “ These are pretty things-pleasing to the eye: but—but they are not like my pledge! They are things that have a glare, and seem to suit the senses for a moment or two; but they are not the solid property of which I am possessed. When gone by, therefore, I care not about them : the pledge, the earnest, is all my felicity!” That you and I may
feel thus toward our heavenly inheritance, and enjoy it in prospect in time, and in possession through eternity, may God grant for Jesus Christ's sake!
Ve have forgotten the Exhortation which speaketh unto you as
unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: for whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth ; and scourgeth every son, whom he receiveth.
AMONG the variety of subjects, on which a Minister is called to treat, many may suit particular cases; but, when he speaks of Affliction, he speaks of that which is sure to interest every one, at one period or other of their lives. When affliction comes, they will, perhaps, remember what has been said with reference to their case; for man is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward.
But it appears from the passage before us, that persons are perplexed in their afflictions, chiefly because they forget the exhortation which speaketh unto them as unto children. To Christians, more particularly, these words are addressed: God, treating them as his children, calls on them not to despise the chastening of the Lord, nor to faint when they are rebuked; and that, because it is his
common method of proceeding--the dispensation of the Christian—that, whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth ; and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
From the words of the text, without having any respect to the particular case of the Hebrew converts to whom they were addressed, we shall consider
1. That it is THE HIGH PRIVILEGE OF A CHRISTIAN, THAT HIS AFFLICTIONS, WHATEVER THEY MAY BE, ARE BUT THE DISCIPLINE OF A FATHER.
2. The Two DANGEROUS EXTREMES CONCERNING WHICH WE ARE ADMONISHED IN THE TEXT, and into which men are apt to fall under this parental chastisement: My son, DESPISE THOU NOT: and, My son, FAINT NOT under it.
I. We are to consider the high PRIVILEGE of a Christian: that his afflictions are but the discipline of a father.
The Apostle here states the common case of Christians. Every one of them is brought into the privilege of the sons of God, and treated as such. If ye are Christ's, says the Apostle, then are ye Abraham's seed. To as many as received him, to them gave he the privilege to become the sons of God. They are spoken of as having been chosen of old, received into the family of heaven, and