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cause we faint not ; but, though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day; verse 16: for our lighi affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; verse 18. "To the full possession whereof, the God, that hath ordained us, graciously bring us, for the sake of the Son of his Love, Jesus Christ the Righteous: To whom, with the Father, and the Holy Ghost, Three Persons, and One Glorious God, be given all praise, honour, glory, and dominion, now and for evermore.
THE SEALING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT TO THE
DAY OF REDEMPTION.
A SECOND SERMON IN PROSECUTION OF THE SAME TEXT, PREACHED
AT ST. GREGORY'S CHURCH IN NORWICH, JULY 21, 1644.
BY JOSEPH, BISHOP OF NORWICH.
EPH. iv. 30.
And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed to the
day of redemption. We have done with the Dehortation itself: and, therein, with the Act forbidden, Grieve not; and with the Title of the Subject, the Holy Spirit of God.
We descend to the Enforcement of the Dehortation, by the great merit of the Spirit of God; whereby ye are sealed to the day of redemption.
Those, that are great and good, we would not willingly offend; though mere strangers to us : but, if they be, besides, our great friends and liberal benefactors, men that have deserved highly of us, we justly hold it a foul shame and abominable ingratitude, wilfully to do ought, that might affront them. It is therefore added, for a strong dissuasive from grieving the Spirit of God, that by him we are sealed to the day of redemption. All the world shall in vain strive to do for us, what our great Friend in Heaven hath done: our lothness therefore to grieve him, must be according to the depth of our obligation to him.
Cast your eyes then a little upon the wonderful Benefit here specified: and see, First, WHAT THIS DAY OF REDEMPTION IS; Secondly, WHAT IS THE SEALING OF US TO THIS DAY; and, Thirdly, WHY THE SEALING OF US TO THIS DAY SHOULD BE A SUFFICIENT MOTIVE TO WITHHOLD US FROM GRIEVING THE HOLY SPIRIT OF GOD. These three must be the limits of my speech and your attention.
I. REDEMPTION signifies as much as a Ransom: a ransom implies a Captivity or Servitude.
1. There is a threefold CAPTIVITY from which we are freed: of Sin, of Misery, of Death.
For the First; IVe are sold under sin; saith our Apostle. No slave in Algiers is more truly sold in the market under a Turkish pirate, than we are naturally sold under the tyranny of sin: by whom we are bound hand and foot, and can stir neither of them towards God; and dungeoned up in the darkness of our ignorance, without any glimpse of the vision of God.
For the Second; the very, nature of captivity implies misery enough. What outward evil is incident into a man, which bondage doth not bring with it? Woe is me! there was never so much captivity in this land since it was a nation, nor so woeful a captivity as this, of brethren to brethren. Complaints there are good store, on both sides; of restraint, want, ill-lodging, hard and scant diet, irons, insultations, scorns, and extremities of ill-usage of all kinds: and what other is to be found in the whole course of this wretched life of ours, the best whereof is vanity, and the worst infinite vexations?
But, Thirdly, if some men have been so externally happy, as to avoid some of these miseries; for all men smart not alike: yet never man did or can avoid the third; which is obnoxiousness to death: By the offence of one, saith the Apostle, judgment came upon all men to condemnation; Rom. v. 18. Sin hath reigned unto death; verse 21.
It is more than an ordinance; a statute law, in heaven: Slatutum est, &c. It is enac!ed to all men once to die; Heb. ix. 27.
2. This then is our Bondage or Captivity: now comes our REDEMPTION from all these at once; when, upon our happy dissolution, we are freed from Sin, from Misery, from Death; and enter into the possession of glory. Thus our Saviour; Lift up your heads, for the day of your redemption draweth nigh. Thus saith St. Paul; The creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption, unto the glorious liberty of the sons of God; Rom. viii. 21.
It is the same condition of the members of Christ, which was of the head; that they overcome death by dying: when, therefore, the bands of death are loosed; and we are fully freed from the dominion of the first death, and danger of the second; and, therein, from all the capacity, not only of the rule and power of sin, but of the life and in-dwelling of it, and from all the miseries both bodily and spiritual that attend it; and when, in the same instant, our soul takes possession of that glory, which shall once, in the consociation of its glorious partner, the body, be perfectly consummated: then, and not till then, is the Day of our Redemption.
Is there any of us, therefore, that complains of his sad and hard condition here in the world; pains of body, grief of mind, agonies of soul, crosses in estate, discontentments in his family, suffering in his good name? let him bethink himself where he is: this is the time of his captivity; and what other can be expected in this case? Can we think there is no difference betwixt liberty and bondage? Can the slave think to be as free as his patron? Ease, rest, liberty must be looked for elsewhere; but, while we are here, we must
make no account of other than these varieties of misery. Our Re demption shall free us from them all.
But now, perhaps, some of you are ready to say of the Redemption, as they did of the Resurrection, That it is past already: and so indeed it is, one way; in respect of the price laid out by the Son of God; the invaluable price of his blood for the redemption of man: but so, that it must be taken out by, and applied to, every soul in particular, if we will have the benefit redound to us. It is His redemption, before: it is now only Our redemption, when it is brought home to us.
Oh then, the dear and happy day of this our final redemption; wherein we shall be absolutely freed from all the miserable sorrows, pains, cares, fears, vexations which we meet withal here below: and, which is yet more, from all the danger of sinning, which now every day adds to the fearfulness of our account: and, lastly, from the woeful wages of sin; Death, bodily, spiritual, eternal! Here is a Redemption worth our longing for; worth our joying in.
When Joseph was fetched out of Pharaoh's gaol, and changed the nasty rags of his prison for pure linen vestures, and his iron fetters for a chain of gold, and his wooden stocks for Pharaoh's second chariot Gen. xli. 42, do we not think he must needs be joyfully affected with it? When Peter was called up from betwixt his Leopards, as that Father terms them; and had his shackles taken off, and was brought through the iron gates into the free and open street: or, when Daniel was called out of the lion's den to the embracements of Darius; could he choose but rejoice in the change? when Lazarus was called, after three days' entombing, out of his grave; and saluted his mourning sisters, and walked home with his friends; could there be ought, but the voice of joy and gladness among them? But, alas, all these are but slight resemblances of the Blessed Redemption which is purchased for us, who are thus ransomed from sin and death.
Rather, if we could imagine the soul of a Trajan, fetched out of hell by the prayers of Gregory; or of a Falconella, by Tecla; according to the bold legends of lying fablers; and now freed from those intolerable and unconceiveable torments; we might apprehend, in some measure, what it is, that is wrought for our souls
, in this merciful redemption; and what is the favour of that deliverance, which we must long to have fully perfected.
But, alas, what shall I say to us? We are enslaved and fettered, and we are loth to be free: we are in love with our bonds, with our miseries, with our sins; and, when death comes, like a good Ebedmelech, to drag us up out of our dungeon, we are unwilling to put the rags under our arm-pits, and to lay hold of that our sure and happy conveyance to the light and liberty of the saints. Oh our wretched unbelief, that is guilty of this slackness of our desires ; whereas, if we were what we profess ourselves, we would think the time long till it be accomplished; and say, Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly ; even so, come Lord Jesus, coine quickly; and make up our
full redemption from misery, from sin, from death; and bring us into that glorious liberty of the sons of God.
II. This, for the Day of our Redemption: now, secondly, let us see what this SEALİNG is to the Day of Redemption.
1. I find in God's book THREE USES OF A SF.AL: for Secrecy; for Peculiar Designation; for Certainty and Assurance.
(1.) For Secrecy first. So God, speaking of the condition of Israel, Deut. xxxii. 34. Is not this laid up in store, and sealed up among my treasures? So Isaiah, speaking of a vision of his; It shall be as a letter of a book sealed; whereof one shall say, Read this, the other shall answer, I cannot, for it is sealed; Isaiah xxix. 11. Yea, this sealing argues a long reservation and closeness: Go thy way, Daniel; for the words are closed up, and sealed to the time of the end; Dan. xii. 9: and, thereupon it is, that John is forbidden to seal up the book of his prophecy; Rev. xxii. 10. for the time is nigh at hand. So we are wont to do, in ordinary practice: that closet, which we would have nobody go into, we seal up: that bag, which we would not have opened; and that letter, which we would not have seen by others; we seal up, and think it a great violation of civility to have it opened. Hence is that sigillum confessionis, “the seal of confession,” amongst the Romish Casuists, held so sacred; that it may not, in any case whatsoever, be broken up: insomuch as their great doctor, Martinus Alphonsus Vivaldus, goes so far as to say, Si penderet salus vel liberatio totius mundi ex revelatione unius peccati, non esset revelandum, etiamsi totus mundus esset perdendus; “That if the safety of the whole world should depend upon the revealing of one sin, it is not to be revealed, though all the world should be destroyed." and adds, Imo propter liberationem omnium animarum totius mundi, non est revelandum; “Though it were for the freeing of all the souls of the whole world, it is not to be revealed;" in his Candelabrum aureum: De sigillo; number the 11th. A strange height of expression, to give the world assurance of the close carriage of their Auricular Confession! and that not without need; for, were it not for this persuasion, their hearths might cool, and men would keep their oiyn counsel. And, surely, not to meddle with their tyrannical impositions upon the conscience, in their forced confessions, which we do justly call carnificinum conscientiæ; I should hold and profess, that if a man should come in the anguish of his soul for some sin, to unload his heart secretly to the bosom of his Minister, of whom he looks for counsel and comfort, it in such a case that Minister should reveal that sin to any other whosoever, no death were torment enough for such a spiritual perfidiousness: all secrets are at the least sub sigillo fidci, “under the seal of fidelity;" and, therefore, not to be revealed.
(2.) For Peculiar Designation. Thus our blessed Saviour, speaking of himself, the Son of Man, adds, For him hath God the Father sealed; John vi. 27: that is, hath designed bim to the special office of his mediatorship. So Rev. vii. 5. Of the tribe of Judah were sealed twelve thousand; and so the same number of the several VOL. V.