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times equally clear. Some travel on in a covert cloudy day, and get home by it, having so much light as to know their way; and yet do not at all clearly see the bright and full sunshine of assurance: others have it breaking forth at some times, and anon under a cloud: and some, more constantly. But, as all meet in the end, so all agree in this in the beginning, that is, the reality of the thing; they are made unalterably sure heirs of it, in their effectual calling1.
5. The scriptural expression, the seal of the Spirit, seems plainly to signify, that the soul of that Christian, upon whom it is impressed, bears as evident marks of conformity to the will of God, as the wax does of similarity to the seal by which it has been stamped 2.
By means of this resemblance, the Spirit beareth witness within our spirits that we are the children of God, thus infusing into our hearts the sweet balm of divine consolation.
1 Works, Vol. ii. p. 340.
2 See Bp. Hopkins's Works, p. 529. Bp. Andrews's Works, p. 654. 660. Bp. Hooper's Works, p. 581. Bp. Wilkins on Prayer, p. 226.
As the Christian clearly discerns, that there is a natural unfitness in the unregenerate soul to enter into the kingdom of heaven: so, in consequence of the change, which has taken place within him, he argues, that the regenerate soul, the soul which bears the impression of the seal of the Spirit, is also unfit for the society of the damned. However deeply he be conscious of his numerous deficiencies, yet he finds within himself a certain relish and affection for heavenly matters, which he knows is foreign to his nature, and which consequently must have been derived from some external influence. Of ourselves we can neither will nor do any thing that is good: he finds, that he does both will and do that which is good, though in a degree far inferior to his wishes: hence he concludes, that his sufficiency is derived, not from himself, but from God. He looks around him, and perceives that the bulk of mankind have no standard of action except their own inclinations. They consider not what is acceptable to God, but what is pleasing to themselves. Their own
gratification is the sole end of all their pursuits. On the contrary, he cannot avoid observing, though it be with the utmost humility, that his conduct is influenced by widely different principles. Self is daily mortified, and the sense of duty is daily strengthened. His lofty looks are humbled, and his haughtiness is bowed down: the Lord alone is exalted, and his honour alone is consulted '. Though he may perpetually fall short of his intentions; yet those intentions remain unaltered: and his fixed purpose is to do all things to the glory of God. When he considers what has been done for his soul, he is filled with gratitude and humility. His own vileness forms such a contrast with the mercy of his Redeemer, as fills him with astonishment: and he is constrained to acknowledge, that the whole is the Lord's doing.
Such is that blessed correspondence of our inclinations with the will of God, which Scripture denominates the Seal of the Spirit: such
Isaiah ii. 11.
are those strong consolations, which the Almighty alone is able to bestow upon us.
V. Nor does the title of Paraclete convey simply the idea of a comforter; it is also the office of the Holy Ghost, to suggest to us fit matter for our devotions, and to present our imperfect supplications before the throne of grace.
Of ourselves, we are unable to offer up a single acceptable prayer; for every good and every perfect gift cometh from above. Hence the Apostle declares, that the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities; for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered1. He is our advocate at the bar of heaven, where he continually pleads in our behalf the merits of our blessed Saviour with an eloquence, of which mortal tongues are incapable. To adopt the language of the pious Barrow, He reclaimeth us from error and sin; he supporteth and
1 Rom. viii. 26.
strengtheneth us in temptation; he adviseth and admonisheth, exciteth and encourageth, us to all works of piety and virtue. He guideth, and quickeneth, us in devotion: showing us what we should ask; raising in us holy desires and comfortable hopes; disposing us to approach unto God with fit dispositions of mind, love, and reverence, and humble confidence. He is also our intercessor with God; presenting our supplications, and procuring our good. He crieth in us, he pleadeth for us to God. Whence he is peculiarly called πaρáкληтоç, the advocate; that is, one, who is called in by his good word or countenance to aid him, whose cause is to be examined, or whose petition to be considered1.
VI. These are the benefits, which the Christian receives from the Holy Spirit, in the way of consolation and intercession.
In the midst of his troubles, he is not left comfortless; for he is perfectly assured and convinced, that God careth for him. A peace unknown to the wicked is diffused over his
Barrow's Works, Vol. ii. p. 505.