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unfold this. We have seen him as the Author and Finisher of holiness in the soul-beginning the great work, carrying it forward, strengthening it when feeble, reviving it when drooping, and thus meetening the believer for the “inheritance of the saints in light.” Closely connected with this part of his work is, his sealing operation. As various opinions have obtained respecting the nature of the Spirit's sealing ---and, as it is a subject of a highly spiritual and practical tendency, and, to an enquirer after a more perfect knowledge of the truth, of much importance, we enter upon the discussion of the subject the more readily, and, we trust, with earnest prayer for his divine assistance in unfolding it.
What do we understand by the sealing of the Spirit?—What does the word of God teach upon the subject? There are various passages in which the same figure is employed, but which do not convey the idea we ascribe to his present operation. For example,-there is a sealing spoken of in 2 Tim. ii. 19: “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his.” We think it clear that, the seal here alluded to, has respect to the Father's sealing his people in election, with the seal of his foreknowledge, which, of course, is an operation anterior to the existence of faith in the soul, and is within himself, and not upon them. It is, so to speak, his secret designation of his people, known especially and only to himself.
There is also a sealing spoken of in Song Sol. viii. 6. “ Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death.” Equally clear is it that this cannot refer to the work of the Spirit, but to Christ's strong and unchangeable love to his people. They are set as a seal upon his heart, the dwelling-place of love, and upon his arm, the instrument of power,-unchangeable love and omnipotent power being pledged to their eternal security. As a seal set upon his heart, and worn upon his arm, they are precious to, and valued by, him.
Nor, are we to interpret the sealing under consideration to mean the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit; for, it is a remarkable fact, already alluded to,—and it speaks solemnly to those who are forming a higher estimate of gifts than of graces,—that the Corinthian church, the most distinguished for its possession of the gifts of the Spirit, was at the same time most remarkable for its lack of the sanctifying graces of the Spirit. It was the most gifted, but unholy community gathered and planted by the apostles.
The question still recurs,—what are we to understand by the sealing of the Spirit? It is that act of the Holy Spirit, by which the work of grace is deepened in the heart of the believer, so that, he has an increasing and abiding conviction of his acceptance in Jesus, and his adoption into the family of God. It is a clearer and more undoubted manifestation of Christ to the soul, -a larger degree of the sanctifying, witnessing, and anointing influences of the Holy Ghost,-evidencing itself in a growing holiness of character. Let us not be misunderstood. We speak not of some peculiar and sudden impulse on the mind,-of some immediate suggestion or revelation to the soul,--some vision of the night, or voice in the air.* No: we speak of a growth in a knowledge of Christ,-in sanctification of heart,-in holiness of life,—in an increasing and abiding moral certainty of the believer's “calling and election.” “In whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise.” The Holy Spirit is both the seal and the sealer; even as Jesus was both the sacrifice and the priest. He deepens the work of grace in the heart—he witnesses to the believer that he is born of God-he seals the soul to the day of redemption—and, by his indwelling and anointing influences, enables him to say, “I know in whom I have believed He hath loved me and given himself for me.” With this brief and simple definition of the nature of the sealing of the Spirit, we proceed to unfold the manner in which it is effected.
* We would suggest to those afflicted with this or a like infirmity, that, “ Edwards' on the Religious Affections,” has been signally honoured of the Spirit in exploding sentiments so contrary to the word of God, and so disastrous in their influence upon the mind. It should be read with much prayer, and “looking unto Jesus."
It is sometimes a sudden work of the Spirit. A soul may be so deeply sealed in conversionmay receive 'such a vivid impression of divine grace—such an enlarged communication of the Divine Spirit, as it never afterwards loses. It is sealed “unto the day of redemption.” And that too, in the most simple way; in the hearing of a single sermon, the reading of a single chapter of God's word, some promise brought with the power of the Holy Ghost and sealed upon the heart, in a moment the soul is brought into the full assurance of understanding and of faith. Take, for example, that one precious promise which the Spirit has sealed, never to be effaced, upon many a poor sinner's softened heart, — " him that cometh unto me, I will in nowise cast out.”. O what a sealing is this! God speaking to a poor, distressed, and disconsolate soul, assuring it of a cordial welcome and of a free pardon,--that, though no tongue can express its vileness and
poverty, and no imagination conceive its deep sorrow, yet, coming to Jesus just as it is, it shall in nowise be cast out? Is not this an impressioni of the seal in the hands of the great Sealer, which is unto the day of redemption?
Sometimes it is as the Holy Spirit unfolds to the anxious soul that great truth, that, Christ is the Saviour of a sinner. You have been long waiting for some reward, some gift, some price with which to come.-long lingering on the margin of the fountain, waiting for some preparation to enter;—in other words, for it amounts to this waiting to feel less vile, less unworthy, in order that you may be more welcome. And now, the blessed Spirit opens to your mind that great and precious truth, that, “ Christ died for the ungodly,"—that, he is the mighty and the willing Saviour of a sinner,—that, no gift, no price, is asked, -no previous fitness or self-preparation is necessary,—that, the more vile and unworthy, the more fit and the more welcome;-0 what an impression of the seal is this upon a wounded heart! When the glorious announcement is brought home to the soul-a full aud free pardon for a poor sinner—the blood of Jesus cleansing from all sin,-is it any marvel that, no change of time or circumstance can ever obliterate the impression or the remembrance of that moment,