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would it be to them to be delivered at once from their dangers and fears, which hold them under a spirit of bondage ! Open to Christ, and thou art in the way to such a deliverance : Come unto me and I will give you rest, saith Christ, Matt. 11:28, 29..
(3.) This sealing of the Spirit which follows believing, will establish the soul in Christ, and settle it in the ways of God, which is an unspeakable privilege : “Now he which establisheth us with you in Christ, is God; who hath also sealed us.” 2 Cor. 1:21, 22. Mark how establishment follows sealing. Temptations may come, great persecutions and sore afflictions may come, but how well is that soul provided for them all, that has the sealing of the Spirit unto the day of redemption. Yea, though that soul should for the present be under new darkness, temptations, and fears, the former sealing will give establishment and relief, when the thoughts go back to the sealing day, and the man remembers how clear God once made his title to Christ. Well then, open to Christ, if ever you expect to be sealed to salvation. If you continue to reject the tenders of Christ in the gospel, while others who embrace him are sealed to the day of redemption, your unbelief and final rejection of Christ will seal you to the day of damnation.
5. We read in the Scriptures of the earnest of the Spirit; this is three times mentioned : “Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession.” Eph. 1:14. The apostle Paul joins it with the former privilege of sealing: “Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts," 2 Cor. 1:22; and again, “He that hath wrought us for the self-same thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.” 2 Cor. 5:5. The word is originally Syriac; the Greeks are supposed to have got it from the Phenician merchants with whom they traded, and it denotes a part paid in hand to confirm a bargain for the whole. An earnest is part of the sum, or inheritance : if it were a contract for a sum of money, it was a small part of a greater amount; if for an inheritance, the earnest is taking a twig, or turf, as a part of the whole. The Spirit of God chooses this word to signify two great things to his people.
(1.) That the comforts communicated by the Spirit to believers, are of the same kind with the joys of heaven, though in a far inferior degree. They are called, “ Joy unspeakable, and full of glory,” i Pet. 1:8; and, “The first-fruits of the Spirit.” Rom. 8:23. The first-fruits, and the harvest, are one in kind; there is something of heaven, as well as hell, tasted by men in this world : hell is begun here in the terrors of some men's consciences, and heaven is begun here in the peace and comfort of other men's consciences.
(2.) As an earnest is part of the sum or inheritance, so the use of it is confirmation and security; as much as to say, take this in part till the whole be paid-take it for thy security that the whole shall be paid. Believers have a double pledge or earnest for heaven: one in the person of Christ, who is entered into that glory for them, John 14:2, 3; the other in the joys and comforts of the Spirit, which they feel and taste in themselves. These are two great securities, and the design of God in giving us these earnests and foretastes of heaven, is not only to settle our minds, but to increase our industry, that we may long more earnestly and labor more diligently for the full possession. The Lord sees how apt we are to flag in the pursuit of heaven, and therefore gives his people a taste, or earnest of it, to excite their diligence in its pursuit. God deals with his people in this case, as with Israel : they had been forty years in the wilderness ; many sore temptations had they there encountered; at last they came upon the very borders of Canaan, but then their hearts began to faint; there were Anakims, giants in the land, and Israel feared they should
not stand before them: but Joshua sent spies into the land, who brought the first fruits of Canaan to them, whereby they saw what a goodly country it was; and then the fear of the Anakims began to vanish, and a spirit of courage to revive in the people. Thus it is even with the borderers upon heaven : though we are near that blessed land of promise, our hearts are apt to faint on a prospect of the sufferings without us, and the conflicts with corruptions within us; but one taste of the first-fruits of heaven, like the grapes of Eschol, revives our spirits, rouses our zeal, and quickens our pursuit of blessedness. For these reasons, God will not have all heaven reserved till we come thither. And now tell me, you that have tasted these first-fruits of the Spirit,
Is there not something of that glorified eye, in faith, by which the pure in heart see God in heaven? Matt. 5:8. O that eye of faith-that precious eye, which comes as near to the glorified eye as any thing in this imperfect state can do : “Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” 1 Pet. 1:8. • Is there not something of that glorified love felt in an inferior degree by the saints in this world? What else can we make of that transport of the spouse : “Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples; for I am sick of love ?" Sol. Song 2:5. Our love to God in heaven will be much more fervent, pure, and constant; yet these high-raised acts of spiritual love have a taste and relish of it.
Is there not something here of that heavenly delight wherewith the glorified rejoice in God? As the visions of God are begun on earth, so heavenly delights are begun here also. Some drops of that delight are let fall here : “In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul.” Psa. 94:19. David's heart had been full of sorrow; a sea of gall and wormwood had overflowed his soul : God lets fall but a drop or two of heavenly delight, and all is turned into sweetness and comfort.
Is there not something here of that transformation of the soul into the image of God, which is complete in heaven, and a part of the glory thereof? It is said, “We shall be like him ; for we shall see him as he is.” 1 John, 3 : 2. This is heaven, to have the soul moulded into full conformity with God: something thereof is experienced in this world ; O that we had more! “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord.” 2 Cor. 3 : 18.
Is there not something felt here of the sweetness of God's presence in ordinances and duties, which is a faint shadow, at least, of the joys of his glorious presence in heaven? There is certainly a felt presence of God, a sensible nearness to God at some times and in some duties of religion, wherein his name is as ointment poured forth, Sol. Song 1:3—something that is felt above all the comforts of this world.
In a word, the joys of heaven are unspeakable joys; no words can make known what they are. When Paul was caught up into paradise he heard unspeakable words, 2 Cor. 12:4; and are there not times, even in this life, wherein the saints do feel that which no words can express? 1 Pet. 1:8; Rev. 2:17.
Now, if such earnests of the Spirit come with believing, if opening the soul to Christ bring it unto these suburbs of heaven, who would not receive Christ into his soul, and such a heaven upon earth with him? Thus I have showed you what are some of those heavenly joys which Christ gives to believers upon earth, the fulness of which is reserved for heaven, and hereby secured to the opening or believing soul.
IV. We shall show THE REASONS Why Christ thus feasts and refreshes the soul that receives him.
1. This he does to express the great joy he has in the faith and obedience of sinners. We read of the travail of Christ's soul, and the satisfaction he has in the fruit and issue thereof: “He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied.” Isa. 53:11. O what pleasure and satisfaction doth it give him to behold the eternal counsels of God and the travails of his soul brought to such a result; there is no pleasure like it to the soul of Christ in this world. As it is satisfaction to a man to see a design upon which he has laid out many thoughts and much cost, at last happily finished ; or as it is to a woman to behold the fruit of her womb, to embrace and smile upon the child she travailed for ; so, and much more, it is to Christ : and therefore, as the Father of the prodigal manifested the joy of his heart for the return of his son by a feast and music, so does Christ here manifest the satisfaction of his soul by entertaining the believer with these foretastes of heaven; it is the soul's welcome home to Christ.
2. This Christ does to relieve distressed souls who have endured so many fears and sorrows from the time of their first conviction until the day of their union with Christ by 'faith. The way of faith is a very humble way; there is much painful work in previous convictions and humiliations, sad nights and days with many poor souls; and these things bring them low : they see the law broken by sin, wrath hanging over them in the threatenings, the bitterness thereof they have in their consciences; they have dealt with fears and horrors a long time, and they need support, which the Lord Jesus now gives them, lest the spirit fail before him. Isa. 57 : 16. He delights to comfort them that are cast down. 2 Cor. 7:6. Christ is of a compassionate nature ; he is as ready as able to succor them that are tempted. Heb. 2:18. The word which we render succor, signifies to run in by way of help at the cry of one in distress. Many emphatical cries have gone up to heaven from the distressed soul; these the compassionate Jesus hears, and now comes