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properly speaking, a skilful person-a man who has travailed in religion himself, and learnt the benefit of God's corrections—will frequently in his mind congratulate his friend while he feels for him, when passing through an operation. During the operation, he may feel most keenly; yet, when he . sees the benefit produced, he will thank God for the affliction. Either in his own case, or in that of any friend, health is his object.
My Dear Hearers, let us adopt the maxim of Luther: “ Burn, Lord! cut-do anything--only save!” Whatever be the means, only, if by any means, let me be saved!
3. Since godly sorrow worketh repentance unto salvation, you see that THE CHURCH IS A VINEYARD, WHICH depends NO LESS ON CLOUDY DAYS THAN ON SUNSHINE, for its growth and improvement.
I must confess, that my own experience and observation lead ine to prefer, in the preaching of the Gospel, the sun shining on the wall to nourish the fruit; yet, we see among us persons of a heady and obstinate disposition, calling for continual cordials. They think that they obtain no benefit from a sermon, unless they get comfort.
66 I did not profit,” say such persons: “ I got no good by the sermon;" when it was, perhaps, the design of God to set before them their plain duty, and the nature of their trials; and to shew them how to glorify him in their trials, and to escape the snares that are laid for their feet: but they got no comfort, therefore no good!
What sort of a patient would that be, who would say to a physician,
“ Your medicine was not pleasant. There was a bitterness in it. I cannot take a medicine which is not cheering to my spirits ?” What sort of a patient is such an one?
Let us remember, therefore, that the Church depends on its cloudy and rainy days, as well as on its days of sunshine.
Suppose a man had looked at the Church of Corinth. “What indignation !” says he: “ what fear. Is this a flourishing church?”—“ Yes,” says the Apostle, “it is: these are symptoms of health: these Christians hereby shew themselves to have feeling and life.” A man, that feels caustics applied, is not mortified, but alive.
Let us endeavour, Brethren, thus to possess a sound and substantial religion: then it will be spiritual and experimental,
You pass through an orchard; and, when the wind is high, you hear a rustling of the leaves-great motion in the boughs: but, when you come to examine the tree, there is no fruit! But, says the Psalmist, Blessed is the man, that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly—but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates in his law day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season: his leaf also shall not wither, and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper,
THE SEALING OF THE SPIRIT.
EPHESIANS i. 13, 14.
Ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the
earnest of our inheritance.
HERE is a blessed character of the righteous —to be sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise-to have an earnest of their inheritance before they obtain it. My Dear Hearers, I pray not that you may be people of rank or of fortune; for that might prove your ruin: but I earnestly pray God, that every one of you may be sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, and have the earnest of your inheritance in your hearts, while here on earth ; and that you may enter the grave without fear, and not be ashamed when Christ cometh!
1. Let us EXPLAIN this high privilege; and consider what it is to be sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, and thereby to have the earnest of the inheritance.
2. Let us make some REMARKS on the subject.
I. We shall EXPLAIN what it is to be sealed with the Spirit of Promise, and to have the earnest of the inheritance.
It cannot mean an extraordinary gift of the Holy Spirit; such as the working of Miracles : for the gift of miracles was not the earnest of the future inheritance. But this sealing of the Spirit is connected with our having an earnest; something in hand; something assured to us previous to that which is greater and better.
Nor can it mean the gift of Faith; however that may be the root of other graces: because it is said, After that ye believed ye were sealed.
It will be proper to consider the image here employed. What is sealing? Sealing is a common act among men, to ascertain a right and title to some property: as when a man writes his name on his property, it is as much as to say,
• This is mine.” It is common in deeds, to assure or ascertain a title to property or inheritance. It is common in commerce: merchants set their seals as a mark of their property. Thus, in Rev. vii. it is said that the servants of God had his seal in their foreheads : and, in the ixth of Ezekiel, it is said to the men that went forth with the slaughter weapons in their hands, Go ye through the city, and smite—but come not near any man upon whom is the mark: touch not any that are sealed.
Now, as in the sealing of wax, for instance, it is first softened to render it impressible: so God
says, by Ezekiel, I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and will give you a heart of flesh: that is, a soft and impressible heart. .And we find, in fact, that this work of softening and impressing is carried on in a Christian as long as he lives.
In sealing, also, there is an impression left, corresponding to the seal.
The figure implies, therefore, “ After that ye believed, it pleased God to stamp a character on you—to leave an impression-corresponding to the seal of the Spirit set on your hearts, After that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise. When ye became men, ye put away .childish things : your will chose the better part: your affections were set on higher objects. When God, therefore, seals a man, he impresses on his heart a character: he impresses on his understanding, his will, and his affections, a character distinct from that which he once had.
Now, as a seal, in order to impress its image, must have a hand to use it; so the Holy Spirit of promise is this agent; he was promised by the prophets, he was promised by Christ, to this very end, that he should soften and make impressible by the application of his word to the heart-suggesting truth—elevating the soul to grasp at the things promised-enlarging the mind, and enliven ing it in duty-sanctifying, satisfying, melting it; till, at length, the man shall say, I sat down under