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2 Cor. i. 21, 22. — ow he which hath anointed us is Gody loho hath also sealed lis^ and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts. SoiiE expositors would restrict the application of these statements to the apostles and other ministers of the word, who were endowed with peculiar gifts and graces of the Holy Ghost. This does not, however, appear to be required by the context, and has nothing to support it in the general teachings of Scripture. In the confirmation which is named in connexion with the particulars here recited, the apostle expressly joins the Corinthian Christians with himself, as the subjects of it, and then proceeds, "without any change of construction, to say that the same God who had ' ' established' ' him with them in Christ, had anointed, and sealed, and given the earnest of the Spirit in their hearts. And* while the structure of the passage favours, and even seems to demand this comprehension of all believers, the members, not less than the ministry of the church, as recipients of the grace described, our minds may be relieved of all doubt, by the fact that every one of these forms of spiritual influence
XV. ] THE SPIRIT A U CTIO , A SEAL. A D A EAR EST. 235 is spoken of in other places, and some of them very often, as Christian characteristics and Christian privileges — an honour put on " all the saints," a blessing bestowed on the heirs of salvation. A true minister of Jesus Christ, while he firmly maintains the order of Grod's house, is not so jealous of his official prerogatives as to envy the gifts and graces of the laity, or to grieve over good accomplished by other than apostolical and ministerial
hands. If devils are cast out in the name of Jesus, by those who follow not with him, or are not invested with official robes, he will say with the Master — "Forbid them not," and with Moses, when one told him that, contrary to usage and order, Eldad and Medad were prophesying "in the camp," and not with the rest of the elders "round about the tabernacle" — " Enviest thou for my sake? Would God that all the Lord's people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his Spirit upon them!" What "Moses, the man of God," desired for the Israel of his day, is the devout prayer of all who have more zeal for the glory of Christ than for their own influence and distinction. In this description of the Christian's character and relation to God, there is a harmonious blending of dignity, and duty, and privilege ; and the unity of the text consists in the common relation which all these particulars sustain to God as their author, to the Holy Spirit as their instrument, and to the soul of the believer as the subject in which they meet and blend : and the topic we have for consideration is the Holy Ghost, viewed in the threefold relation of an unction^ a sea?, and an earnest. " ow he which hath anointed us is God, who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts. ' ' I. We are, in the first place, to consider Christians as the subjects of a Divine unction — as God's anointed ones ; and in
236 TRUTH I LOVE. [Ser. the outset, let me warn you against the mistake of emptying this language of its high and precious signifioance, by regarding it as a figure of speech. The thing declared is an experimental fact, and a Divine reality — far more so than if, as in former ages, a holy ointment, with form and ceremony, were poured upon the head. The meaning of the language, however, can only be obtained by reference to this ancient usage. The call and investiture of prophets, priests, and kings, was accompanied and symbolized by anointing them with oil. Thus Samuel anointed Saul and afterwards, the son of Jesse, to be
king of Israel. In the ritual of the Jews, which prescribed the method of ordaining Aaron and his sons to the priesthood, we read of a "holy anointing oil," compounded with rare and costly spices ; which was poured on the head of the priests, " to sanctify" them, as it is said. The meaning of the ceremony was obviously that of consecration to a particular office or function. It carried with it authority and obligation to serve God, and men as well, in a manner expressly indicated. Kings, priests, and prophets thus set apart, were spoken of as "the Lord's anointed," and on this account were treated with respect and veneration. In Jesus Christ, all the prophetic, regal, and priestly functions, which before had been divided amongst different persons, were united, and he, above all the sons of men, is the Lord's Anointed. Most of you, perhaps, well know that his name of Christ means one that is anointed. The Hebrew Messiah of the Old Testament, is the Grreek Christ of the ew ; and the title is suggestive of the consecration he received to the niighty work of human salvation, in the triple character of prophet, priest, and king. A priest on his throne "after the order of Melchisedek. " He received his ordination immediately from the hands of God, and was "anointed with the
XV. ] THE SPIRIT A U CTIO , A SEAL, A D A EAR EST. 237 oil of gladness above his fellows, ' ' when the Holy Ghost without measure was poured upon him. The oil of Aaron's consecration was but the symbol of an inward and effectual unction of God's Spirit, which both authorized and qualified Jesus, "to preach good tidings unto the meek. ' ' Descending and remaining upon him, it prepared him for the ministry of labour and suffering to which he was appointed, and thus fulfilled the prophecy, that " the Spirit of the Lord should rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and*of the fear of the Lord. ' ' After he had run his earthly course and
returned to his glory, the author of the book of Acts records it as a matter of simple history, that " God" had "anointed Jesus of azareth with the Holy Ghost. ' ' In the light of these remarks, we may see the nature of that anointing which the apostle attributes to believers. As from Christ, they have their new life and new character, so from him they have their "new name" of Christians, or, Anointed ones. And their anointing, like that of the apostle and high priest of their profession, is by the Holy Ghost. That they have the Spirit is a truth which shines throughout the Scriptures. He dwells in them, consecrating their bodies and souls as the living temple of his perpetual residence ; but the peculiar truth which is here announced is, that they have the Spirit in the nature of an "unction," calling them to a special work and a holy vocation; separating them from the outlying and common world of mankind, and appointing them to stand, like Israel of old, in a sacred relation to God — a " peculiar people, a kingdom of priests." In our lowly sphere, and at an infinite remove from the glorious Head from whom we
238 TRUTH I LOVE. [Ser. have our spiritual nature, name, and mission, it is nevertlieless true, that Christians are actually and visibly conformed to the image of Him who is the first-born among them all, and in a modified sense, perform the same functions and. do the same works. Like him they execute the ofiice of a prophet, declaring to men the will of Grod for their salvation. If he proclaims himself "the light of the world" did he not say to them, "Ye are the light of the world?" — "As the Father hath sent me into the world, so send I you. " If in his priestly character, he draws nigh to God, and ofiers before the throne his intercessions for men, and by the merit of his sacrifice, secures the acceptance of their services and persons, are they not also intercessors ; "a holy priesthood to ofi"er up spiritual sacrifices,
acceptable to God?" Paul, on the ground of his agency in the conversion of the Gentiles, represents himself as performing a priestly service in presenting them as an ofiering to God. And if it be dif&cult in the present condition and character of Christians to" see the evidences and attributes of kingly dignity and power, it is to be remembered that the believer's "glory," like that of Jesus, is to be enjoyed in heaven and not on earth. It is the subject of a promise and the object of hope, waited for with " earnest expectation." For the present, we have a more direct and practical concern with the prophetic office of teaching and the priestly duty of praying for men, and this, we take to be the essential idea and main purpose of that anointing which God bestows on all his people. It separates them to his service in all the sacred duties of religion, and in all those good works and holy charities which tend to the salvation of souls and the improvement of the world. If the hands of some man of God, like Moses, had been laid upon you, as they were on Joshua ; or if a Divine voice like that which startled the child Samuel on
XV. J THE SPIRIT A U CTIO , A SEAI^ A D A EAR EST. 239 his bed, had fallen on your ear ; or, if the Son of God, revealed in dazzling brightness, had appeared to you, as he did to Saul of Tarsus, your call to a special service would have been no more distinct, nor would have carried with it any higher authority than that which came to you in " the still small voice," with the soft breathing, and effective anointing of the Holy Spirit, when he opened your eyes to see, and your ears to hear, and your heart to embrace "the glorious gospel of the blessed Grod. ' ' In every form of external call and ordination, by which men are set apart to the special service of Grod, there is the possibility of mistake ; and, in point of fact, manj^ recede the imposition of human hands, who bear no credentials from Heaven. The unction of the Spirit has this grand peculiarity, that it qualifies as well as authorizes those who receive it, to serve Grod as prophets and priests in liis holy and gracious kingdom. It enlightens, and sanctifies, and strengthens, and imparts courage, and endows even babes in Christ with a deeper
discernment than "the wise and prudent" "disputers of this world' ' possess. The apostle John ascribes it to those whom he calls, ' ' little children, ' ' and speaks in most emphatic terms of its effect on the mind and heart. If others apostatized, and were led away with the error of the wicked, he was sure they would not, ' ' for, ' ' said he, ' ' ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things," and "the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you ; but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him. ' ' As with respect to worldly vocations, the question whether an individual has a call to pursue any particular trade, or business, or profession, is determined mainly by his aptitude, his genius, or his taste for it. So in the
240 TRUTH I LOVE. [Ser. department of those high spiritual relations and duties to which the followers of Christ are called. The nature of the qualification imparted, indicates that of the service to which they are appointed. With eyes enlightened to see the glory of Christ, and with hearts renewed after his likeness, and filled with the sweet sense of his love and the joy of his salvation, their mission to be the instrumental saviours of those who are yet in sin, is written in the work of the Spirit in their own souls, and is sure to be sought and found by those who feel the power of this most blessed unction. And this suggests, that the manner of life wt lead,*and the place which the salvation of men and the honour of Christ's kingdom hold in our thoughts and labours, is the criterion by which the question of our ever having received the anointing of the Spirit, is to be decided. If we allow the Spirit to lead us in paths of righteousness, and of holy benevolence, and of self-denying labours, we have the highest evidence possible, of that " holy calling," which, coming from God, leads to God, and is unto salvation. If we "walk after the flesh," and love the world, and are profoundly indifferent to the conversion of sinners, and the spread of vital religion and the gracious kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, we are "sensual,"
and "have not the Spirit;" and "if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. ' ' II. And this shows how close and vital the relation is between the Spirit as an unction^ and the Spirit as a seorZ, which is the second form of truth presented in the text. If we have the Spirit in our souls as an effectual anointing that consecrates us in heart and life to the service of God, we have consciously stamped upon our inward being the seal of God. Though it is not so expressed in the text, we learn from other places of Scripture that believers are " sealed" by the Spirit. The apostle re-
XV.] THE SPIRIT A U CTIO , A SEAL, A D A EAR EST. 241 fers to it as an experimental fact in the case of the Ephesians, that "after they believed, they were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise," and exhorts them not to "grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom they were sealed unto the day of redemption. " The Spirit in the soul is therefore the seal with which Grod designates his people : and the question arises whether the reference is to any special and peculiar influence and eifect of the Spirit, or to his whole work in the sanctification of believers. There is no reason that we are aware of for restricting the language to any single aspect of the Spirit's work ; and by extending it to the whole of what he does within a regenerate heart, we avoid the danger of a fanatical dependence on sudden impulses and superficial emotions, which may or may not proceed from his saving and gracious operation. Profoundly mysterious though it be, with respect to its manner, likened to the wind, of which we cannot tell whence it cometh or whither it goeth, its effect on the character is not at all mysterious, but an actual and real thing — an object of consciousness, and even of observation. The seal of the Spirit is the soul's sanctification ; it is faith, and love, and joy, and peace ; it is deadness to the world, and delight in God ; it .is the spirit of prayer, and self-denial, and consecration to the Lord Jesus Christ. It is that image of the invisible God which is stamped
upon the spirit and reflected in the life of all true Christians. The Spirit is the die, the soul the metal, and the likeness of God the character and the inscription imparted : and this precisely is what the Scriptures mean when they speak of the Spirit's seal, in so far as its substance is concerned. The peculiar lesson of the subject lies in the reasons why this work of the Spirit should be named a seal. Among men, and in the relations of common life and the transactions of business, a seal is used for 21
242 TRUTH I LOVE. [Ser. a variety of purposes, which, however, have a general resemblance. It indicates proprietorship, it authenticates as genuine and trustworthy the instrument to which it is attached, and it preserves safe and inviolate whatever it is appended to. Thus, in this last sense, we seal our letters ; and, for a like purpose, the stone laid upon the sepulchre of Jesus was " sealed." Every one of these ideas and uses is embraced in the sealing of Christians by the Spirit of Grod. It is the stamp by which he claims them as his; the sign manual which authenticates them to the world and to themselves as his true children ; and the sacred defence which preserves them unto his kingdom and glory. Such a comprehensive interpretation is fully sustained by a collation of the passages where the figure occurs. If nominal Christians fall away to perdition, those upon whom Grod hath set his mark shall not — ^for "the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal; the Lord knoweth them that are his." In the visions of John, he saw an " angel having the seal of the living God," who was sent forth to "seal the servants of God in their foreheads, ' ' with an evident view to their preservation from the calamities which impended over the church and the world. The same idea is expressed when Christians are spoken of as " sealed unto the day of redemption." The Spirit in our
souls, with all his fruits in heart and in life, is therefore God's mark, by which the claim of everlasting love and redeeming grace is asserted, and from which the world may know, and we may know, thft relation existing between the God of mercy and ourselves. The writing of our names in the book of life is an act of God, not open for our inspection, nor possible to be known in any other way than as it is followed up by the impression of the Spirit's seal upon our hearts. "Because ye are sons, God
XV. ] THE SPIRIT A U CTIO , A SEAL, A D A EAR EST. 243 hath sent forth the Spu'it of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father." This seal of God is possessed of a quaHty that does not belong to earthly and human seals, and in which its value essentially consists. It is incapable of being counterfeited, and is therefore infallible. However curious and elaborate the workmanship on a material plate or die may be, some ingenious counterfeiter will make a pattern of it so exact that common observers can perceive no difference between the genuine and the false, and even experts may be deceived. And so, in the sphere of morals and religion, there are acts and characteristics which may bear a close resemblance to that which is true, and saving, and divine, and yet be the offspring of an unsanctified heart, or even come of the working of Satan. The magicians of Egypt, in successive instances, mimicked the miracles of Moses, and seemed to have the seal of Heaven affixed to their performances : and Jesus forewarned his disciples that false Christs would arise, showing such signs and wonders that, " if it were possible, they would deceive the very elect. ' ' And in the region of inward experience and outward relations to the visible kingdom of God, there are deceptive tests of a gracious state and false grounds of confidence, but we may safely affirm that the seal of God's Spirit may be certainly distinguished from them all: and whoever has the Spirit, is in possession of the highest possible evidence of being an object of God's peculiar love.
A more rooted prejudice and error was never overcome by evidence, than that of the apostle Peter, in reference to the admission of Gentile converts directly into the Christian church. With all his brethren, Peter had thought that ' ' sinners of the Gentiles" must make two steps or stages before they could reach a state of salvation ; first becoming Jews, and then Christians.
244 TRUTH I LOVE. [Sei*. He thouglit tliat a believing heathen, must, Hke Abraham of old, "receive the sign of circumcision, for a seal of the righteousness of faith," and could not think otherwise, till he saw that Grod himself gave the higher seal of the Holy Spirit. Then he yielded, saying — "What was I that I should withstand God," and not baptize them that "have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?" If this one fact be surely settled, that the Spirit of holiness has been given us, we need look no further for the proofs of our acceptance with God: but lacking this, it is a ruinous mistake to build on anything else. If we could speak with the tongues of men and angels, and understood all mysteries and all knowledge, and if in all social relations our character were adorned by every virtue and courtesy which unaided nature, in its most faultless development, ever attains ; and though at the baptismal font we had received that sacramental washing which symbolizes and seals the Spirit's purifying grace, and at the table of the Lord had drunk of that cup which " is the new covenant in his blood ; ' ' these outward seals of a visible church would attest nothing at all in our favour, if the Spirit of God had never descended upon us as a baptism of fire, consuming the dross of our corruptions, and sanctifjang our souls and bodies to the Lord. "Sealing ordinances," as the sacraments of the ew Testament are sometimes called, do not seal the salvation of any but believers, and believers are they who have the Spirit. Without the indwelling Spirit of God as the sanctifier of our nature, it is a fatal error to rest our hope on any other foundation ; with the Spirit, we need not concern ourselves about anything else, whether it be the mode of baptism, or the figment of apostolic succession, or those minute points of doc-
trine in reference to which Christians of equal enlightenment and piety may, and do, differ in opinion. Recognizing the
XV.] THE SPIRIT A U CTIO , A SEAL, A D A EAR EST. 245 Spirit as the seal which God impresses upon his chosen and redeemed people, it is a matter of deepest interest to us all, to know whether it is consciously and really stamped upon ourselves. It is implied in the nature of a seal, that it is capable of being discerned. Visibility belongs to its very idea. Its impression may be less or more distinct and deep, and on the surface of our sinful hearts, like characters traced on the sands, continually obscured and effaced by the overflowings of evil. But certainly we cannot but know the fact, if the Spirit un vails to us at times the glory of Christ, and fills the heart with a sweet sense of his awe, and inspires intense hatred of sin and godly contrition for our offences ; and with groanings which cannot be uttered, makes intercession for us at the mercy-seat. "What! know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Grhost, which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?" III. The Spirit dwells in all Christians anointing them to the service and sealing them to the salvation of God, and in so doing becomes " an earnest!^ of their future and eternal redemption. The same God who anointed them, and sealed them, hath given the "earnest of the Spirit in their hearts." Of this again we may say that it does not describe any new or specifically different work of the Spirit, but only views his whole gracious influence and operation in a particular aspect. It asserts the connexion between what God does for his people on earth, and what he will do for them hereafter and in heaven. The Spirit of grace and holiness which he gives them now, is the earnest — the pledge, prophecy, and part of what he has purposed to give them when grace expands into glory, and the dim light of earth brightens into the effulgence of an eternal day. "Earnest-money" is the sum advanced to bind the contract, and
to ensure full payment at the time appointed; the "first-fruits" 21 *
246 TRUTH I LOVE. [Ser. which ensure, in due time, the ingathering and consecration of all the harvest. Such is the sense of the term — ^the meaning of the figure — such the precious doctrine it announces. The Spirit of Grod in our hearts is the beginning of salvation, and is given to be the earnest of its eternal fulness ; or, as the apostle elsewhere expresses it, " the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession." What this "possession' ' is, we gather from a comparison of Scriptures, and find it to be a blessed immortality, including the resurrection of the body, and the unspeakable and endless felicity and glory of our whole redeemed nature. Depicting ' ' the house not made with hands," to which the freed spirit of the Christian goes at death, Paul calls the work of grace wrought of Grod in the heart, an earnest of that blessed life ; and writing to the Romans, the same apostle says, that "we who have received the first-fruits of the Spirit, are waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. ' ' The resurrection of Christ from the dead is the pledge that all who are " Christ's at his coming" shall rise to glory, because of their union with him by the bond of his Spirit. " ow is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first-fruits of them that slept." "But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised ^up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. ' ' Here is a well of consolation. As certainly as God has given you his Spirit as a Comforter who enlightens, helps, sanctifies, and leads you in paths of holiness and peace, so certain is it that he will take your ransomed spirit to his presence in death ; and in the morning of the resurrection will give you a body spiritual, immortal, glorious, like that of Christ. And while the Spirit within is thus "the pledge of joys to
XV^.] THE SPIRIT A U CTIO , A SEAL, A D A EAR EST. 247 come," it is, at the same time, the foretaste of them, and gives the truest conception of heaven that is possible to dwellers in the j&esh. It is not a figure of speech, but the plain statement of a fact, to say that the "earnest of the Spirit" is "heaven begun below," for it is part of that same experience, service, and salvation, which will constitute the joy of "the spirits of just men made perfect, ' ' when they go to the presence of Jesus and the bosom of God. It is not the pearly gates, and golden streets, and crowns of gold, the river of life, and the trees of paradise, that tell us most of celestial bliss, but the adoring reverence, and grateful love, and the holy joy, and the delight in God which the Spirit inspires when we muse of Jesus over the memorials of his passion, looking back to his cross and up to his throne. The gorgeous imagery of the Apocalypse may excite the imagination and move the sensibilities of those who never wept for their sins, and have no ' ' meetness for the inheritance of the saints in light. ' ' The question is : Have you the earnest of the Spirit in his holy fruits of "love, joy, and peace?" And there is this other consoling thought, that while the earnest foreshows with infallible certainty a future blessing, it belongs to the nature of the case, and the idea of the thing, that there is an immense disproportion between the two. An earnest is a little, given as the pledge of much. One is the dawn struggling with the darkness of the night: the other a glorious day, without a cloud, and without a decline. The one is a secret fountain of living waters opened in the heart : the other is the river of life proceeding from the throne of God, and irrigating ' ' the wide extended plains' ' of the better country. Precious as the foretaste is, it is almost nothing to that which "remains for the people of God." " ow are we the sons of God," and we have the seal of his adoption in our hearts, " but it doth not
248 TRUTH I LOVE. [Ser. yet appear what we shall be' ' in the day of our coming manifestation. Thus, my brethren, I have endeavoured to set before you one of the great mysteries of experimental religion, in showing you the Spirit of Grod in the threefold character and relation of an unction^ a sea?, and an earnest. And the fitting close of our discourse is the apostolic exhortation — "Grieve not the Holy Spirit." "Quench not the Spirit." Welcome his visitation ; seek his influence ; follow his guidance. Walk in the Spirit. Be filled with the Holy Ghost. Come from the four winds, breath ; anoint, seal, and keep us to eternal life.
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