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SERMON XX.

GRIEVING THE HOLY SPIRIT.

EPHESIANS iv. 30.

AND GRIEVE NOT THE HOLY SPIRIT OF GOD, WHEREBY YE ARE

SEALED UNTO THE DAY OF REDEMPTION.”

That any man should heedlessly wound a friend whose faithfulness and affection had never failed him, and deliberately invite the company of an enemy, whose malice and subtlety he had often experienced, implies a degree of infatuation almost incredible. In the affairs of common life instances of such folly rarely occur; it is in religion alone that men act as if they were bereft of reason. Human friendships are duly valued, and an earthly enemy is readily suspected. But there is a friend whose affection is disregarded, and we have an enemy of whose fearful machinations we are too heedless. We often wound our friend, and yield ourselves easy victims to our enemy—though our friend is no less than the Holy Spirit of God, and our enemy is the devil ! Hence it is that the apostle in the passage before us so earnestly exhorts believers “not to grieve the Holy Spirit of God, whereby they are sealed unto the day of redemption,” neither “to give place to the devil.”. While we are considering this important topic, may it please that Holy Spirit to assist and bless our meditations; that henceforth we may not only not grieve him, nor drive him from us, but may yield ourselves up willing captives to his gracious influences !

Let us therefore learn from the words of the text, I. THE BELIEVER'S PRIVILEGE; “he is sealed by the Holy Spirit unto the day of redemption :” and, II. THE BELIEVER'S DUTY; he must be careful not “ to grieve that Holy Spirit.”

1. Among the many gracious offices which the Holy Spirit fulfils for the people of God, that which is revealed in the text is not the least remarkable: he is said " TO SEAL THEM UNTO THE DAY OF REDEMPTION.” This expression, in its more general import, denotes appropriation and dedication to some particular purpose. In this sense it is applied to himself by the Son of God; “him hath God the Father sealed."* It also conveys the idea of security and protection ; as in the remarkable vision of Ezekiel; wherein he beheld “one clothed in linen, with a writer's inkhorn by his side;" and he received a commission to go forth and “set a mark” (or seal) upon

* John vi. 27.

the foreheads of the men that sighed and that cried for all the abominations that were done in the midst of Jerusalem ;"* and they were to be secure in the day of the Lord's judgments.

BELIEVERS. ARE SEALED IN THE COUNSELS OF HEAVEN. FROM ALL ETERNITY. They are written in the Lamb's book of life:" " for whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate, to be conformed to the image of his Son."| "They are bound in the bundle of life;" “their life is hid with Christ in God;"Ş “according as he hath chosen them in Christ before the foundation of the world that they should be holy and without blame before him in love: having predestinated them unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.")

“Predestination to life,” saith our church in her seventeenth Article, “is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby (before the foundations of the world were laid) he hath constantly decreed by his counsel, secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation those whom he hath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation, as vessels made to honour."

* Ezek. ix. 2-4.

+ Rom. viii. 29. * 1 Sam. xxv. 29.

§ Colos. iii. 3. || Eph. i. 4, 5. See also ver. 9, 11. VOL. II.

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But “the sealing of the Spirit” refers more particularly in the text to THE EXPERIENCE OF BELIEVERS, whereby the knowledge of their election is communicated to them. This is a truth which “ the natural man cannot receive”-and which none can understand but those to whom “the secret of the Lord” is revealed, and to whom “ he shows his covenant. To them it is that

new name," of which the exalted Saviour himself speaks to one of the seven churches of Asia ; “ To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, WHICH NO MAN KNOWETH SAVING HE THAT RECEIVETH IT."* The Holy Spirit “takes of the things of Christ and shews" them unto his people. All personal and practical application of the word of God to the soul is the sealing of the Spirit. “No man can say that Jesus is Christ but by the Holy Ghost;" that is, no one can experimentally and spiritually know Christ as his Saviour, and his Lord, but by the power of the Spirit of God enabling him. " It is the Spirit itself that beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God.” † All individual application of the written or preached word is the work and fruit of the Spirit; and by his healing, consoling, sanctifying influences, felt and perceived in our hearts, we are assured of our interest in Christ, and gain a well* Rev. ii. 17.

+ Rom. viii. 16.

grounded hope of eternal life. As it is written, “Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; who hath also SEALED us, and GIVEN THE EARNEST OF THE Spirit in our hearts.”* And again, “In whom,” that is, in Christ,“ in whom also after that ye

believed, ye were sEALED with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is THE EARNEST of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession.”+ In all these passages the “sealing of the Spirit” is identified with “the earnest of the inheritance; and it is clear that the expression denotes that personal knowledge and enjoyment of salvation which is the pledge and foretaste of its completion in heaven; whereby believers “acquaint themselves with God,” ascertain their interest in Christ, hold converse with him, and attain such well-grounded confidence of his favour and love, that they are said to have “ made their calling and election sure;” and “ TO KNOW," beyond all doubt, “ their election of God." These truths have ever been esteemed by the world enthusiastic and presumptuous; but they are, nevertheless, revealed for the comfort and edification of those who are “born of God,” and “ who desire the sincere milk of the word that they may grow thereby.” It is true that this sealing of the Spirit * 2 Cor. i. 21, 22. + Ephes. i. 13, 14. # 1 Thess. i. 4.

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