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own seal, bearing testimony with the believer's spirit that he is a child of God. Every child of God has this seal set upon him some time or other, When it is most for his advantage, and most for God's glory, then the Spirit gives him this earnest of his inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession.
But, perhaps some person may inquire, how shall I know that I am sealed by the Spirit of God? You may know it by these scripture marks. First, have you been deeply convinced of sin, and of Christ's power to save you from sin ? Have you been conyinced of your damnable estate without faith, and have you been asking faith of God? and has he en. abled you to rely upon the word of promise, which offers you free and full salvation, and are you verily persuaded that God cannot break his word to you, who are relying upon it? And have you been wait ing for the seal of the Spirit, hoping he would give you the inward witness of your adoption? All this is right. This is the previous work of the Holy Spirit, by which he prepares the heirs of promise for his seal; and if this be your experience you need not doubt but the witness is from heaven, when the Spirit of God beareth witness with your Spirits, that ye are the children of God. For, secondly, in the act of bearing witness with your spirits, he will give sufficient evidence that it is his testimony, both for his own glory and for the assurance of your faith. He comes to bear witness to a matter of fact, that there may be no more doubt concerning it in the court of the believer's conscience. The fact is this, “thou art now a child of God, through faith in Christ Jesus.” He seals this testimony upon the heart with his own seal, that it may be authentic and lasting, and then doubts and fears vanish, conscience is assured that all cnmity is now slain, and that God is a loving, reconciled Father, upon which the soul is led out into acts of praise and thankfulness, and with an holy triumph can say, “my beloved is mine, and I am his.”
But some may think it is an easy matter to be deluded in this case. No, there will be no room for delusion, if your experience, before the testimony of the Spirit, was such as I have been mentioning, and if you attend, thirdly, to what follows after it. Does the witness abide? . Is conscience at peace? Is your heart grateful ? Is your faith lively and active? Not perhaps in so high a degree as when the Spirit did bear his testimony, but still in some good degree. In this case there can be no delusion; because that which has thus drawn your heart up to God did certainly come from God. If the seal had not been from the Holy Spirit, how could this fruit of the Spirit have been produced ? The impression which was left demonstrates it was made by a divine hand : for when the Holy Spirit seals the soul, he not only seals it for Christ's property, but he also stamps the image and likeness of Christ upon it, which appears outwardly by its love to Christ, and by the acts of love. The soul is in love with the person, and with the of fices and excellencies of Christ, and evidences this love by its love to his life and to his example, following and pressing close after them, and by its love to his graces, desiring strength from God so to walk even as Christ walked. This constant love to Christ proves the soul to be sealed by his Spirit, and the person thus sealed to be an heir of promise: for now he lives by faith upon Christ, and believes that all the promises made in Christ shall be made good to him. He has the earnest of their completion in his heart, and he has some of them fulfilled to hiin every day for a daily pledge of the perfect completion of the rest.
This is the character of the heirs of promise; and if any of you are thinking with yourselves, some part of this character is agreeable to our experience, but not the whole of it, and therefore we doubt whether we are heirs of promise or not, you should remem, ber, that the heirs of promise grow up to this cha. racter by several steps and degrees, and if any part of it be yours you ought to press on to the attainment
of the other parts. _The fathers in Christ were once babes in Christ. The Spirit begins his work with conviction of sin, which is necessary to put the sinner upon seeking the promised mercies of the gospel. If you are seeking, that is another step towards your reliance upon God's word, and believing him faithful to fulfil his promises to your soul. And if you can rely upon his word, you have advanced one step farther towards the assurance of faith and the seal of the Spirit: so that if any part of this character be yours, , doubt not but the rest will be yours also-only press you on to the attainment of what is yet before. Let what has been done in you encourage you to proceed. You have some evidences of your inheritance, endeavour to get more, looking up to him who has begun, and praying him to carry on his own work, and fear not but you shall be brought to know that Christ is yours, and that all the promises made through him are yours also. And
this consideration stir you up to press forward, that what you are seeking is of inestimable value, and the happy possession of it will be eternal ! When you are once heirs of promise you will be heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ, born to inherit the riches of grace and the riches of glory. All the blessedness which God has promised to give his children in time and in eternity is yours. You are heirs to the exceeding great and precious promises, and this brings me to the
Third general head of discourse, under which I was to treat of their exceeding greatness and preciousness. They are great in quantity, containing the greatest blessings which God has to give, yea, exceedingly great, beyond all description, and they are as good as great; they are exceeding precious, containing every thing truly valuable in earth or heaven. The greatness of the promises might be proved from many considerations. I shall mention at present but three or four. And the First is, the state from which the promises offer to helpless bondage, and to the worst of enemies, and none but an almighty arm can deliver him. Before the promise is brought to him he is a transgressor of the law, under the curses of it, liable to be cut off every moment, and to suffer them in everlasting torments. And when justice comes to inflict the curses of the law upon him, what satisfaction can he make? What has he to plead, why sentence should not be immediately executed ? He is silent. His mouth is stopped. He is self-condemned, and owns the sentence to be just which assigns him over to the tormentors, to suffer with them the vengeance of eternal fire. This is the desert of every son and daughter of fallen Adam. Sin has made them subject to all this misery, and has left them totally helpless; they can no more save themselves from the second death than they can from the first. While the long suffering of God bears with them in this mortal life, he sends them his promises; in wbich he offers to save them from guilt and misery, to cleanse them from the pollutions, and to heal them of the wounds of sin. And are not these great promises, which engage to see such an almighty work performed ? Surely they are exceeding great, since it requires the arm of the Lord God omnipotent to fulfil them by saving poor, guitty, helpless man from sin and Satan, from death and hell. 'Must not that be an exceeding great promise which engages to save man from exceeding great misery? And this greatness appears evidently in the
He is fallen into a most miserable and
sa ve man.
(2.) Next place, from what the promises offer to bestow upon the sinner. They not only engage to save him from all evil, but also to bestow upon him all good. They offer him a free pardon, that his sins may be forgiven, and he may be justified by faith and reconciled to God, and may have the love of God shed abroad in his heart, and may walk as an adopted son of God, worthy of his high calling, unto all well pleasing And in this holy walking heaverwards, the Lord promises him every grace and blessing which shall be needful for him; yea, he has
engaged to make all things, sickness, reproach, persecution, trials and troubles of every kind, work together for his good. Are not these great promises which engage to bestow pardon, justification, peace with God, adoption, sanctification, and grace to profit under every dispensation of providence ? yea, are not these exceeding great promises, which offer the sinner such exceeding great blessings ? · And offer them to him,
(3.) Upon the greatest motive that possibly can be, even the free grace of God. Deliverance from the evils of sin, and the bestowing of the blessings of salvation, is all of grace, proceeding wholly from the unmerited love and mercy of God. He is the sovereign Lord of heaven and earth. All creatures are his, bound to obey his holy will, and in case of disobedience bound to suffer the threatened punishment; and when man had disobeyed he had a right to nothing but punishment, and if it was remitted, yea, but for a day, this was an act of grace; but how much greater an act was it to pardon the sinner, to put honour upon him, and to restore him to a better state than he was in before he fell! If a friend bestow upon you a free gift, you acknowledge yourselves to be under a greater obligation than if he was to pay you the same sum for a just debt. How much then are you indebted to God? For he had no motive, but mere love, to induce him to make you any promise. Consider this motive, consider the promises, consider from what a state of misery to what a state of happiness God offers to raise you, and then admire and praise the greatness of that love which led God to snake you such great promises. Well might the apostle call upon us to behold what manner of love it is : for it passeth knowledge, it is so exceeding great. The blessings which his free grace has promised surpass all understanding. Even the souls of just men made perfect, who are now inheriting the promises, cannoi adequately set forth the greatness of them: for they are eternale And this is another