In whom you also trusted, after that you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that you believed…
Whoever longs for a feeling of security — whoever sighs for a fuller certainty of God's love — to that man it will be a pleasant thought that one of the offices of the Holy Spirit is to "seal." And it will make it the more happy for every Christian to receive this "seal," if he recollect, for a moment, that his Master Himself had it — for Christ testified it, concerning His own person and His own work — "Him hath God the Father sealed" — which word, "sealed," we are to understand to refer, first, to His baptism, when "the water," and "the voice," and "the dove," all designated His grace and mission; next, to His miracles — those witnesses of His power and His truth — but still more to His own infinite perfections, and His spotless reflection of the Father's character — through all which Christ was stamped, for His vast enterprise. Though we can only have in small measure, what He had "without measure," still the very same "sealing"; in baptism — grace — good works — and God's own likeness. Now, in this "sealing," the first, and I might say only, requisite — for God will take care of the rest — is to have a soft and an impressible heart. And, thank God, the "Sealer" is the Softener — for He prepares His own work! Why, the great end, brethren, of half which happens to you in life — inwardly and outwardly — is to turn the iron of nature into the wax of grace. Here is the ecstasy of childhood — here is the immense importance of yielding to early drawings. Who can tell the hardening influence, day by day, upon the man, who is daily leading a worldly life? Who can tell the callousness, which one allowed sin is always depositing upon a man's life? And what is the consequence? There is an end to "sealing." The heart cannot take an impression. It is when one is able to say, "My heart is like melted wax," that the "sealing" begins. The handle of "the seal" may be what God pleases. It may be a promise — it may be a word — it may be the Bible — it may be a sacrament — it might be my preaching at this moment. But the actual "seal" is beautifully described by St. Paul to Timothy. It has two sides. The one is God's own electing love; the other is personal holiness. What stamps any man a child of God? First, God's free choice and favour. What next? The sanctifying of the Holy Ghost — in him and on him. And thus God puts the two together, and sums it up — "Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are His. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ, depart from iniquity." This, then, is "the seal" — exactly what you would have expected it to be — His own sovereignty, side by side with His own image. Now, the effect of this "sealing of the Spirit" will be threefold. First, in its very nature it unites; and to be fastened, indissolubly fastened, to Christ — we in Him, and He in us; we in Him for our justification, and He in us for our sanctification — is exactly the first thing a poor sinner needs. This fastening the soul to Christ, the Spirit does. And He does it thus: He brings us near; first, Christ to us, and then us to Christ; He makes Him attractive, pleasant, precious, necessary, to a man's soul: and then the man's soul confiding, communing, all-abandoning to Christ. Then He draws the two closer ant closer, till He rivets, with thousands of acts of love downwards, and thousands of little thoughts of gratitude upwards — passing and repassing — till He binds all — with His own Omniscience and with His own Omnipotence — and "the seal" is made. Secondly, it is a man's credential, that he has the Lord authorizing him and empowering him. It is a man's credential to himself. Is there the conscience within a man which will tell him when he is a Christian? Will there be a voice, and may a man believe that voice? Assuredly. How could it be otherwise? Can the great Presence of God be in a man and not speak? It tells a man; and, while it is telling him, it awakens a voice within the man, to repeat it to himself. "The Spirit itself also beareth witness with our spirits" — the voice of the echo — "that we are the children of God." But not to ourselves only. Do not you know, brethren, that every one — who is a believer — is an epistle, to be "known and read of all men"? and that God has sent you out, like a letter; and that the letter is directed to the whole world — that the whole world may "read" you. And the world will "read" you. Whatever else the world may choose to "read," or not "read," they will "read" you. And to this very end the Spirit has "sealed" you, and set you apart by "the sealing" — that all men may "read Christ" in you; and that you, having His name and His likeness, may go, accredited, to all men, and that you may carry Him — His love — His work — His glory — into every society wherever you go. Therefore go — go, as a man who has a royal mark — go, as a man who is made for one purpose — go, as a man who has authority given him to speak! And thirdly, "the seal" is for safe keeping and holy preservation.
(J. Vaughan, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,