« הקודםהמשך »
The Jews first trusted in Christ, for to them the gos. pel was first sent. But the Greeks in Ephesus discovered a disposition no less honest and commendable ; for, when they heard the word of salvation, they also believed ; and, having believed, they were sealed with the holy spirit of promise,
There are three things observable in these words.
I. The object of the faith of these Ephesians. The word of truth and the gospel of salvation,
II. The forwardness, and yet the reasonableness of their faith. They trusted in Christ after they heard the word.
III. The happy consequence of their faith. After they believed, they were sealed with the holy Spirit, &c.
1. The gospel, which the Ephesians believed, is called the word of truth, and the gospel of salvation.
It is the word of truth. It contains all that truth which concerns our present duty and our future glory. It declares the whole coursel of God, relating to the recovery of our fallen race. Christ himself came to bear witness to the truth, that all men by him might believe ; and the Apostles were sent forth to make a more full discovery of all things, which Jesus began to do and to teach.
The gospel comes attended with demonstrations of its own divinity : In this sense it is the word of truth. When Paul taught in Ephesus," he persuaded the things concerning the kingdom of God. And “ by his hands God wrought special miracles” for the confirmation of the doctrine which he preached. The spiritual nature, benevolent design and holy tendency of the gospel; the miracles which attended its first publication ; its support and propagation in the world against all the attempts made to destroy it ; the accom. plishment, which in every age has been made, and still is making, of the prophecies contained in it, are undeniable evidences of its heavenly original.
It is called the gospel of our salvation. The design of it is to bring salvation to our guilty race. It discovers to us our ruined, helpless condition ; the mercy of God to give us salvation ; the way in which it is procured for us ; the terms on which we may become interested in it; the evidences by which our title to it must be ascertained ; and the glory and happiness which ít comprehends.
II. The second thing observable in the text is the commendable disposition, which these Ephesians discovered when the gospel was preached to them. They trusted in Christ, after they heard the word of truth. They acted as honest and rational men : They did not trust before they heard it, nor refuse to trust after they heard it. They did not take the gospel upon the cred. it of other men, without examination ; nor did they re. ject it, when they had an opportunity to examine it for themselves.
While Paul preached in the city, Jews and Greeks came and heard the word. The miracles which he wrought in healing diseases and casting out evil spirits, gave such full demonstration of a divine power attend. ing him, that, though divers were hardened, many be. lieved, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. The example of the believers at Ephesus teaches us, in what manner we should hear the word. While we guard against a blind credulity, which receives for truth whatever is agreeable to our humor, or is recommended by popular opinion ; we must be careful not to fall into an obstinacy and perverseness, which believes nothing, unless it agrees with our preconceived notions, or favors our worldly interest. The Ephe. sians did not believe the gospel, because some others believed it, nor did they reject it, because divers were hardened and spake against it ; but they judged for themselves. They heard -as they had opportunity, attended to the evidence set before them, and, after they had heard, they believed. Their faith stood not
in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. I proceed,
III. To consider the happy consequence of their faith in Christ. In whom, after ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession.
The subjects of this sealing are believers. After ye believed, ye were sealed. The sealing here spoken of is not a common effect of the gospel on all who hear it, but a special consequence of it to those who receive it.
This sealing is a work of the Spirit, as a Spirit of holiness, promised to believers. Ye were sealed with the holy Spirit of promise. It must therefore be some holy effect produced in the hearts of Christians by the Spirit operating with the word of truth ; and such an effect as corresponds with that holy design, for which the Spirit was promised. , The Spirit promised to be. lievers dwells in them, as“ a Spirit of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. The fruit of the Spirit is all goodness, and righteousness, and truth.”
The Spirit, in consequence of this sealing, is to be. lievers an earnest of their inheritance, till the redemp. tion of the purchased possession—till the redemption of the body from the grave to a state of immortality.
So that the general sense of the words is, that the Ephesian believers, in consequence of their faith be. came partakers of such a divine influence, as sanctified them to a meetness for heaven, and thus evidenced their title to it.
We will distinctly attend to these two metaphors, the scaling, and the earnest of the Spirit.
1. The sealing of the Spirit. The same metaphor is again used, chapter iv. 30. Grieve not the Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed to the day of redemption, And 2 Cor. i. 22. He who hath anointed us is God, who hath also sealed us.
Sealing literally signifies the impression of the image or likeness of one thing upon another. Job speaks of “ the clay as turned to the seal.” A seal impressed on wax leaves there its own image. Instruction is said to be sealed, when it is so impressed on the heart, as to have an abiding influence. So the sealing of believers is their receiving on their hearts the divine image and character, by the sanctifying power of the holy Spirit. The word of truth is here considered, as the seal; the believing heart, as the subject; the holy Spirit, as the agent or sealer ; and the effect produced, as a divine likeness. True Christians, by the sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth, are transformed into the image of God, assimilated to the precepts of the gospel, and wrought into that temper which is the fruit of the Spirit. Accordingly, they who know the truth as it is in Jesus, are said * to have put off the old man-to be renewed in the spirit of their mind—to be created after the image of God in righteousness and true holiness--to be made partakers of a divine nature—and, beholding the glory of the Lord, to be changed into the same image.
By a like metaphor, Christians are represented as cast in the mould of the gospel. The Apostle says to the Romans, “ Ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart, that form of doctrine which was delivered to you." Or as it is in the margin, “ Yc have obeyed that form of doctrine, into wbich ye were delivered.” It is a metaphor taken from casting metals into a mould. Ye are in your hearts conformed to that type, or mould, into which ye have been cast. The hearts of believers correspond with the word of truth, as metals take the figure of the mould into which they are received, and as wax bears the image of the seal impressed upon it.
The same idea is conveyed by the metaphor of writing the word on the heart. The Apostle says to the Corinthians, “ Ye are the epistle of Christ ministered
by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in the fleshly tą. bles of the heart." And on this account he calls them " the seal of his Apostleship in the Lord.”
If then your hearts are transformed into the temper of the gospel-if you are governed by the doctrines and subjected to the precepts of it if you possess those holy dispositions which are the fruits of the Spirit, you are sealed by the holy Spirit of promise.
This work of sanctification is called sealing, because it consists in a correspondence between the temper of the soul, and the word of truth; as sealing implies a correspondence between the image on the seal, and the impression left on the wax : And it is ascribed to the Spirit, because it is by his gracious influence, that the word is made effectual to sanctify the soul. Having illustrated the sealing, we proceed,
2. To consider the earnest of the Spirit.
The Spirit, having sealed believers, or sanctified them after God's image, becomes an earnest of their in. heritance. The same sentiment often occurs in Paul's writings. He says to the Corinthians, “God hath an. ointed us, and sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.He who hath wrought us to this thing," the desire of immortality, "is God, who hath also given us the earnest of the Spirit ; we are confident therefore and willing to be absent from the body, and present with the Lord.” What he here calls the earnest, he, in the 8th chapter to Romans, calls the first fruits of the Spirit. “We, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of the body."
It appears from these passages, that the earnést, ard the first fruits of the Spirit, are some kind of evidence, which the Spirit gives believers, of their title to a hap. py immortality. The first fruits were pledges of the ensuing harvest : Earnest money in a contract, is a pledge of the fulfilment of it. So the graces and com