« ÖncekiDevam »
drew back. When troubles arise, many are offended ; so when it comes to a point of parting, they go back.
Now we come to speak one word of the sealing of the text. “ After that ye believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.” This sealing, which is a point of feeling, is a distinct thing of itself from faith; no part of faith. If I have faith, I am sure of life, though I never have the other : these are two seals. We put our seals to the counterpart that is drawn betwixt God and us.
The first seal is our faith. I have nothing but God's word, and indeed I have no feeling, yet I venture my salvation, and trust God upon his bare word. I will pawn all upon it; “Hes that hath received his testimony,” that is, in effect, he that believeth, saith John, “ hath set to his seal that God is true.” If men doubt, and trust God no further than they see him, it is not faith. But when God gives me a good word, though I am in as much distress as ever, yet I trust, though it be contrary to all sense, or outward seeming, yet I put to my seal, and trust him still.
Then comes God's counterpart. God being thus honoured, that I believe his word, though contrary to all sense and feeling, even his bare word; then God sets to his seal, and now the word comes to particularizing. Before it was in general, now it comes and singles out a man;
Sayh thou unto my soul, that I am thy salvation,” that is, as I did apply the generality of God's word unto mine own case to bear me up against sense, and feeling: then comes the Spirit of God, and not only delivers generalities, but saith unto my soul, “I am thy salvation.” This is called in Scripture a manifestation, when God manifests himself unto us ; as in Isaiah, chap. LX. ver. 16. “Thou shalt suck the milk of the Gentiles, and shalt suck the breast of kings, and thou shalt know that I the Lord am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer," that is, when we have made particular application by faith, God will put to his seal, that I shall know that God is my strength and my salvation: I shall know it; “ Hei that loveth me shall be loved of my father, and I will manifest myself unto him." Christ comes and draws the curtains, and looks on with the gracious aspect of his blessed countenance. When this comes, it cheers the heart, and then there are secret love-tokens pass betwixt Christ and his beloved. “Tot 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 knows, save he that receives it ;" that is, there is a particular intimation that I shall know of myself more than any other; more than all the world beside: “It is such a joy as the stranger is not made partaker of,” such joy as is glorious" and unspeakable, such peace as passeth" all understanding. One minute of such joy surpasseth all the joy in the world besides.
h Psalm 35. ver. 3.
8 John, chap. 3. ver. 33.
Now consider, sure there is such a thing as this joy, or else do you think the Scripture would talk of it, and of the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, “ byo whom we know the things that are freely given us of God." There is a generation in the world, that hath this joy, though you that know it not, do not, nor cannot believe it; there is a righteous generation that have it: and why dost thou not try to get it? do as they do, and thou mayest obtain it likewise; « The secrets of the Lord are revealed to them that fear him, and he will shew them his covenant." These are hidden comforts; do you think God will give this joy to those that care not for him ? No, the way is to seek God, and to labour to fear him. The secrets of the Lord are revealed to such, and such only as fear him; do as they do, and follow their example, and thou mayest have it likewise.
OBJ. Many have served Christ long, and have not found it.
Sol. It is long of themselves; you are straitened in your own bowels, or else, open your mouths wide, and God will fill them. No wonder that we are so barren of these
* Rev. chap. 2. ver. 17.
| Prov. chap. 14. ver. 10.
comforts, when we be straitened in ourselves. There is a thing wondrously wanting amongst us, and that is meditation. If we could give ourselves to it, and go up with Moses to the mount, to confer with God, and seriously think of the price of Christ's death, and of the joys of heaven, and the privileges of a Christian; if we could frequently meditate on these, we should have these sealing comforts every day, at least oftener. This hath need to be much pressed upon us; the neglect of this makes lean souls. He that is frequent in that, hath these sealing days often. Couldst thou have a parley with God in private, and have thy heart rejoice with the comforts of another day; even whilst thou art thinking of these things, Christ would be in the midst of thee. Many of the saints of God have but little of this, because they spend but few hours in meditation. And thus, as this hour would give leave, have we proceeded in this point.
1 COR. CHAP. II. VER. 29.
For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to
to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.
I have heretofore declared unto you the ground of our salvation, and have represented unto you, first, Christ offered for us, and secondly, Christ offered to us. Now it hath pleased Almighty God, not only to teach us this by his word ; but because we are slow of heart to believe and conceive the things we hear, it pleases his glorious wisdom, to add to his word his sacraments, that so what we have heard with our ears, we may see with our eyes, being represented by signs.
There is a visible voice whereby God speaks to the eyes : and therefore we find in Exodus, chap. IV. ver. 8. God bids Moses that he should use signs, saying, shall come to pass, if they will not believe thee, neither hearken to the voice of the first sign, that they will believe the voice of the latter sign.” Signs you know are the object of the eye, and yet see, they have, as it were, a visible voice, which speaks to the eye. Now God is pleased to give us these signs for the helping,
1. Of our understanding: The eye and the ear are the two learned senses as we call them, through which, all knowledge is conveyed into the soul: and therefore, that we may have a more particular knowledge of Christ, God hath not only by his ministery given us audible voices, but visible also in his sacraments, by which, as by certain glasses, he represents to us the mystery of Christ Jesus offered for us, and offered to us. And hence is it that
Paul calls the eyes to witness, as well as the ears : foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified amongst you!" That is, before whose eyes Christ hath been crucified, not by hear-say only, but evidently before your eyes, not in any foolish crucifix, with the papists, but in the blessed sacrament, wherein he is so represented, as if his soul were before our eyes poured out to death : so that by these sacraments, heavenly things are, as it were, clothed in earthly garments, and this is the first reason, viz. to help our understanding : but besides he doth it,
2. To help our memory; we are apt to forget those wonderful things Christ hath wrought for us. And therefore, verses 24, and 25. of this chapter, we are bid to eat his body, and drink his blood in remembrance of him. To take the signs as tokens of him; the sacrament is, as it were, a monument and pillar raised up, to the end, that whenever we see it, we should remember the Lord's death until he come.
It is said, that Absalom in his life time had taken, and reared up for himself a pillar, which is in the king's dale; for he said, “I” have no son to keep my name in remembrance.” He would fain be remembered, but he had no child, whereby he might live, after he was dead : therefore he raises it, and calls it after his own name, “ Absalom's place, as it is this day:" that so, as often as any came that way, they might remember him. Christ doth thus by his sacrament and erects it as a monument for the remembrance of his death, and, as it were, calls it by his own name, saying, “ This is my body, and this is my blood :" that whenever we see them, we may call to mind, Christ offered for us, and to us. But that I may apply this my doctrine to the ears also, know that,
3. These signs are for the strengthening of our faith, and therefore it is considered as a seal.
“ Abraham received the sign of circumcision, as a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had, yet being uncircumcised.”