And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
This request, or counsel, or caution, or precept, or what ye will call it, of the Apostle's, is sure very reasonable; 'The Holy Ghost, by Whom we are sealed to the day of redemption, that we would not grieve Him.'
Not 'the Holy Ghost.' He is the Spirit of the great and high God; and so, for His dignity's sake. Not Him again, as by Whose means we have our signature against the 'day of redemption;' and so, even for His benefits; sake. These two, 1. For His greatness, or 2. for His goodness--greatness in himself, goodness to us; either of these, or for both of these, we would be so respective of Him as 'not to grieve Him.'
'Not to grieve Him.' He might well, and as one would think, should rather' have said, yield Him all cause of joy and contentment; it had been but reason so. Now that He doth not move--only this; that we would not minister unto Him any cause of grievance. And what could He say less? To such a person, and for such a benefit, it is but even a small [201/202] pleasure. If not rejoice Him, yet 'grieve Him not.' And it is so reasonable, I see not how well it can be denied Him.
Now then as we see it is but reasonable, this request, so is it exceeding fit for this time. It is for the Holy Ghost, and this is the Holy Ghost's feast, It mentioneth His sealing, for a reason; and this is, as I may call it, His first sealing. This the day on which the Spirit of God first set His seal upon the Fathers of our faith, the blessed Apostles. On which He then did, and on which He ever will, though not in like manner yet in like effect, it being His own day, visit us from on high, if by some grievance or other we disappoint Him not, and so drive Him away.
So, what easier request than this, Nolite contristari? And what fitter time to move for the Holy Ghost, than upon His own feast and upon His sealing day? And this is the sum.
The part fall out evidently two: 1. The party, for whom this request is preferred; 2. And a duty, or (it is not worth making a duty) rather a common ordinary courtesy to be done Him. 1. The party, 'The Holy Spirit of God, by Whom we are sealed to the day of redemption.' 2. The duty, or what ye will call it, Nolite contristari.
In the party, two motives there be: 1. His Person, and 2. His benefit. 1. His Person in these: 'The Holy Spirit of God.' 2. His benefit in these: 'By Whom ye are sealed to the day of redemption.' His Person set forth in the original with very great energy, such as our tongue is not able to express it fully enough. For it is not Pueàma ¥giou Qeoà, but with greater emphasis; but three words, and three articles, every word his several article by itself, tÕ Pueàma. tÕ ¥giou toà Qeoà. 'The Spirit,' not a Spirit; and not Holy, but 'The Holy;' nor of God, Qeoà, but of _ QeÕj, 'The God,' the only, living, and true God. All thes, never an a among them.
Then, His bounty or benefit vouchsafed us: 'By whom we have our sealing to the day of redemption.' Wherein these four points come to be weighed: 1. 'Of redemption.' First, what and how it is. 2. Then, that it has a day, 'The day of our redemption.' 3. That against that day we are to be 'sealed.' 4. That 'The Holy Ghost' keepeth that seal, and His office it is to pass it to us. This is the benefit.
[202/203] Now, either of these is a motive of itself. 1. His Person: Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God'--and there stay, for that of itself is reason enough. 2. Or, leave out His Person, set that by and say, but even, Him Who seals unto you so great a favour as to save you at the great day; Him, be He what He will, God or man, Spirit or flesh, Holy or common 'grieve Him not.' This is reason enough too; grieve Him not for His own--if not for His own, yet not for His seal's sake.
The duty followeth. To this Person great, and of great bounty beside, to speak as Naaman's servants did to him, Si rem grandem dixisset Apostolus, 'if the Apostle had enjoined us some great piece of service,' we ought not to have thought much of it. How much more then, when he saith but this, 'Do not grieve Him,' and there is all, which is no positive or actual piece of service, of pains or of peril, only a privative of disservice, as they call it, which is ever as little as can be required: Non contristari.
Non contristari; or at least, Nolite contristari, for there be two degrees: 1. That we do it not; 2. That willingly we do it not. That we have a will not to do it. Which reading 'offers more grace.' For much depends upon our willingness or not willingness to it.
In both which, we have 1. First to weigh, whether we can grieve Him, or He be grieved; that so we may understand the phrase, and take it right. 2. Then, how it is we do it, and what those grievances be; that so we may take notice of them, and be careful to avoid them.
Last of all, the fitting it to the time and showing it seasonable. For, by occasion of 'the day of redemption,' the day of sealing also will fall in, and the intended action with it. Which, as we shall show, is itself a kind of signature. Do it not, this time do it not; it is His own feast now, it is His sealing day, this; now then Nolite contristari. Thus lie the parts. Of which, that what shall be spoken, &c.
Two sorts of Persons there be that, if we be well advised, we would be loath to grieve: 1. Great Persons, 2. and such as carry the reputation of being good. Not great, in regard of their power, they may do us a displeasure:--the motive of fear. Not good, in regard of their bounty. Others are, and [203/204] we may be, the better for them:--the motive of hope. If He be great, though He seal us nothing, though otherwise He be not great, for His favour's sake favour Him so much as, Grieve Him not. Either of these available; but where they meet, there is vis unita. Specially, if we add, in Quo vos, that our parts be in it; and signati estis, that either He already hath, or is ready to do it for us;--the motive of love, and of the greatest love, the love of ourselves. Then it comes home indeed. These three meet all in this party. 1. He is tÕ Pueàma tÕ ¥giou toà Qeoà. 2. Sigillum habet. 3. In Quo vos.
I begin with quantus, 'how great.' He is 'the Spirit of God.' And were it but the Spirit of man, our own spirit, sins of the greater size would be forborne, as for divers, so even for this reason, that they be gravamina spiritus, 'grievances against our own spirit,' which every one feels, whose conscience is not seared. And if the Apostle had said, Eschew them, for that they breed singultum et scrupulum cordis, 'the upbraiding or vexing of the heart;' as Abigail excellently termeth it; or, as Solomon, vulnus spiritus, 'the wound or gall of the spirit;' or, as Esay, compunctionem, 'the prick or sting of conscience;' or, as our Saviour Himself, 'a worm which' once bred 'never dies,' nor never leaves gnawing; he had said enough. But this even the heathen could have said too.
The Apostle doth like an Apostle; tells us truly, there is a greater matter belongs to it than so. There is a far higher spirit than ours, that any in man--our spirit is nothing to it 'the Spirit of God:' they be grievances against it.
To speak then of the Spirit of God: God is a Spirit, and God hath a Spirit. Hath many, created in His power, and at His command; but has one, one above all, uncreated, intimum substantiae, 'of His own substance;' known ever, by the article tÕ as St. Basil observeth, 'the Spirit,' the sovereign Spirit. Styled ever, with this addition, His own Spirit; the Spirit not of any saint, in concreto or in abstracto, but even of God Himself.
Our Saviour Christ teacheth us to take notice of Him, as we do of the wind, by His effect. For the wind, it is a body of air, so thin and subtle as it is next neighbour to a [204/205] spirit. We see foul rule here in the world sometimes, houses blown down, trees blown up by the roots. When we see this, we know straight, this cannot be done without some power. And that power, we are sure, cannot subsist of itself, it is an accident--must, needs have his inherence in some substance. That substance if it be visible, we call it a body; if invisible, a spirit. So our Saviour tells us, spiritus est qui spirat. It is the wind did this, blew all these down.
And even so of the Spirit of God, when as upon this day they who could scarcely speak one tongue well on a sudden were able perfectly to speak, to every nation under heaven, every one in his own tongue, this we know could not come to pass but by some power. And sure we are, that power must have for his subject some substance; and not any visible or bodily. Then, some spirit it must be; and no spirit in the world could effect this; and so, the Spirit of God.
But the relation of these tongues depends upon St. Luke's credit. There was after a more strange and famous operation, which in all stories we find. The temples of idols blown down all the world over; yes, the world itself blown quite about, turned upside down, as it were, from paganism, and the worship of heathen gods to the truth of Christian religion. And that, maugre, the spirit of the world, which blustered and bent itself against it, totis viribus. This we find; and for certain, this work and this power could not come from any other spirit but the Spirit of God only. Thus we take notice of Him by His effects; and of His greatness, by the greatness of His effects.
'The Spirit of God,' and 'the Holy Spirit:' what needs this? To make Him great, as the world goes, what needed 'Holy?' Or, if a title must be added to that end there were other styles many, in the eye of flesh more magnificent and likely to show Him for great, than this of holiness. The spirit of principality, of courage, power, government; divers others. And all these are from Him too, He the fountain of all. So the Apostle tells us. And though the Spirit be all these, yet choice is made of none of all these, but only of this one, 'Holy,' from among them all, TÕ ¥goiu. And His title is not the High and Mighty; or, the Great [205/206] and Glorious, but only 'the Holy Spirit.' Nor do the Seraphim and powers of heaven cry, Magnus or Celsus or Fortis, thrice, but Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, 'Holy and thrice Holy,' to God Himself; making choice, I doubt not, of His sovereign attribute, to laud and magnify His glorious name by. Which teacheth us a lesson, if we would learn it; that it is the attribute of God, which of all other He does, and which of all other we should most esteem of. And by virtue of this, if we kept right, places and times, and persons and things sacred, should be in regard accordingly. For this we may be sure of: were there in God's titles a title of higher account, the Spirit of God should have been styled by it. But in God, 'Holy, Holy,' is before 'Lord of Hosts.' His Holiness first, His Power after.
Thus have we two reasons de non gravando: 1. First, were He but the Holy Spirit, for that He would be spared. For without all question, He is the more to be set by by reason of that attribute. It is God's chief, as ye may see, in the High Priest's forehead; as ye may hear, out of the Angels' mouths.
2. Then again, that He is God's and not a Spirit, but 'the Spirit of God;' we will forbear Him somewhat, I trust, for His sake Whose He is. Put these two together.
And to these two for a surplusage join, that He is not only Dei, but Deus, 'of God,' but 'God' also; and then we have our full weight for this part, for His greatness.
And this we shewed last feast. We are baptized into Him, we believe in him, we yield Him equal glorifying, we bless by Him, or in his Name, no less than of the other two: so in the Deity He is. And a person He is; for to 'seal,' which He is said here to do--to 'seal' is ever an act personal. Thither then I now come, even from His greatness to His goodness.
For He is not great, as the Great Chan but He is good withal. And great and good withal, that carries it ever. If in Quo vos come to it, that this goodness reach to us.
And sure, this Party, His greatness set apart, is to us the author of many a benefit. No person of the Three hath so many, so diverse denominations as He; and they be all to show the manifold diversity of the gifts He bestows on us. They count them. 1. His jPjdm. or 'agitation,' which [206/207] maketh the vegetable power in the world. 2. His jyj fpn. 'spirit or soul of life,' in the living creatures. 3. His jmfn. 'heavenly spirit of a double life' in mankind. 4. Then that in Bezaleel, that gave him excellency of art. 5. That in the seventy elders, that gave them excellency of wisdom to govern. 6. That in Balaam and the Sibyls, that gave them the word of prophecy, to foretell things contingent. 7. That of the Apostles, this day, that gave them skill to speak all tongues. All these are from Him. All these He might, but does not reckon up any of them. And that because, though they be from 'the Holy Spirit of God,' yet not from Him as holy; but as the Spirit of God only, without eye or reference to this attribute, 'holy,' at all.
But from the Holy Spirit, or the Spirit as He is holy, cometh the gratum faciens, the gift of gifts, the gift of grace, which He bestows on His saints and servants, and makes them such by it. We waive all the former, all the gratis data, and take ourselves only to this. And here again there come in upon us as many more. 1. The grace reproving and checking them within, when they are ready to go astray; spiritus reflans, 'the wind against them,' not suffering them to go into Asia or Mysia, when they will do no good there, but making them even wind-bound as it were. 2. Spiritus efflans, 'the wind with them,' 'guiding them,' and giving them a good pass 'into all truth.' 3. The grace, teaching them what they knew not, and calling to their minds that they did know and have forgot. And so, spiritus difflans, 'blowing away and scattering,' as it were, the mists of error and forgetfulness. 4. The grace, quickening them and stirring them up, when they grow dull, and even becalmed. 5. The grace, inspiring and inditing their requests, when they know not what or how to pray. 6. The Spirit breathing, and 'shedding abroad His love in their hearts;' which makes them 'go bound in the Spirit,' and as it were with full sail to Jerusalem, when it is for His service. 7. And last, the Spirit 'sealing' them an assurance of their estates to come; which is the most sovereign of all the seven, as that which doth sanctify, that is, sever and set us apart from the rest of the world, and proprios dicare, 'make us His own peculiar.'
Now this benefit we find here, woven and twisted with [207/208] another, for two are mentioned, 1. Redeeming, 2. Sealing. We must look to suum cuique. Both are not the Holy Ghost's, one belongs to Christ. His, the office to redeem, and that day, 'the day of redemption,' His. The other, to 'the Holy Ghost.' The seal is His, and His the day of sealing. We are to pass both these offices. To be redeemed, questionless; but take this withal, it is not enough that, to be redeemed, if by this seal also it be not passed to us.
Of these briefly. 1. 'Redemption ' there is. 2. That hath 'a day.' 3. Against that day, we to be 'sealed.' 4. 'The Holy Ghost hath that 'seal;' He is to do it, that office is His.
Christ's is first: we must then go a little from the Holy Spirit; we shall come to Him again straight.
Oft we have heard, in redemption there is emption, a buying, and re, that is back; a buying back of that, which formerly hath been lost or made away.
It is of two sorts: 1. real, and 2. personal. Redemption real, of our estates, lands or goods; redemption personal, of our selves, souls and bodies. This in the text seemeth to be personal: in Quo vos, 'by whom you,' you yourselves--there is no mention of any possessions. And ever of the twain this is the greater. You know who said 'skin for skin, all that a man hath' to redeem himself. But indeed upon the matter, this redemption is of both. For Christ's redemption is not of one half, but a total entire redemption both of persons and estates.
Now, men's persons come to need redeeming by captivity; and in that case, there must be a ransom. Men's estates come to need it, upon a sale outright; and in that there needs a new purchase.
We were gone both ways. Both are in the seventh to the Romans. At the twenty-third verse, 'there is a law in our members leading us captive;' when either we are taken, and carried away by strong hand, with a temptation, or overwrought by the sleights of the enemy. At the fourteenth verse there is a sale, 'carnal and sold under sin;' when, for some consideration as we think, but many times scarce valuable, we make away our estates by our own voluntary act.
Christ redeems us from both. His 'ransom' ye shall find, [208/209] ¢utilutrrou. And His 'purchase,' redemptionem perripoi»sewj that is 'of purchase.' plain. His purse went not for either, but His person. His death, as the high priest's, freed us from captivity; His blood, as the blood of the covenant, was the price that cleared our estates from all former bargains and sales.
This 'redemption' hath 'a day.' But by this reckoning, that day should be past. The day of His passion was the day of that payment, and that is past; how can we be sealed against it then? But, if you mark it well, lightly there are more days than one go to a full redemption--two at least; and till the second come, the redemption is not complete.
In the real, there is one day of 1. paying the money; another, of 2. putting in possession, ever. That lightly is not the same day, but sometimes a good while after.
In the personal: 1. One day, when concerning a prisoner, a condemned man, it is graciously said by his Majesty, he will not die. 2. Another, when this put under seal, and brought to the prison for his release; and possibly, a good distance between these.
I know, all is counted as good as done, when the money is paid, or the word spoken; but the prisoner lies by it still, and the possession is out of our hands till the second day comes: so that is 'the day of redemption' consummate.
And even so stands it with us. 'The ransom' was paid down, the sentence reversed, the day of His passion. The putting up in possession, the perfect setting us free, that has another day not yet come. For out of possession we are as yet, and in a kind of prison we are still. The first day, the pay-day, is past; we hold a memory of it, of all days, on Good Friday. But Himself tells us of another day after that, the day of His second appearing; and when that comes, then He bids us 'lift up our heads' and look up cheerfully, for then 'our redemption draws nigh' is even hard at hand; that is our full, perfect, plenary redemption indeed. And till that come, for all 'the first fruits of the Spirit' we 'groan' still, as subject to vanity and corruption; our prison-irons as it were, and all the creatures together with us do the like. Thus far redemption and the day of it; and thus far Christ's office.
Now between these two redemption days, the first and the [209/210] second, cometh in the seal. And, against that second day come, which is in truth the very day of full redemption, it will stands us in hand to provide we be sealed, and have this mark of separation. It is exceeding material. No claim of redemption without it. In vain shall we say we are redeemed, unless we then have this seal to show. Therefore, not to rest upon redemption with a blank, or the conceit of that, but know there is a further matter still, even obsignati estis, and look to that. For when that day comes, all will go by it. In very deed, upon the point, the day itself goes by it, for if sealed, then a day of redemption; if otherwise, then no day of redemption, but a day of utter desolation.
Ye have a type of this in the Old Testament. Six fellows came forth with axes, to make havoc and destroy. There goes one before, and makes a Tau in the foreheads of some certain persons. They, and none but they, spared: the rest hewed in pieces, every mother's son.
The like again, in the New Testament. The four Angels hold the four winds, ready to destroy the earth. But first goeth one with a seal, and a proclamation there is to make stay, 'till we have sealed' some; and that done, as for the rest, destroy them and spare not. As much to say: these with the seal are they to whom the redemption shall be applied, and for whom only it is available. Pass over these; these are mine, I see my seal upon them. The rest, nescio eos; I find not my mark, 'I know them not;' do with them what ye will.
And, because I spake of passing over, in the Passover it was so; both acts there. The Lamb slain--there is redemption; the posts stricken with hyssop dipped in the blood--there is the signature. Answerable to these two, with us: redemption by the Son of God at Easter; and the sealing by the Holy Ghost at Whitsuntide.
But further yet. These with the seal, not only save them, destroy them not; but let them also 'enter into my rest,' my glory, 'my joy.' I did not only ransom their persons, but I redeemed also their estates; purchased an estate of bliss for them, and in their names. This was 'prepared' by the Father, redeemed by the Son, and now, the conveyance of it sealed by the Holy Ghost:--let them possess it.
And by this ye see how great matters, both personal and [210/211] real, depend upon this seal; how much it importeth us not to miss it. What reckoning we now make of it, how light, it skills not. The day will come, if we had the whole world to give we would, to be found with seal upon us.
This seal, which makes up all, and without which nothing is authentical, is in the dispensing and disposing of the Holy Ghost. We are therefore of necessity to pass His office also; that so all the Trinity may co-operate, and every Person have a hand in the work of our salvation. Remember, I have told you heretofore that Christ without the Holy Ghost is as a deed without a seal, as a testator without an executor. It is so. For all He has done, redemption or no redemption goes by this seal; all that Christ has wrought for us, by that Holy Spirit doth work in us. And the Apostle as he saith here, He the party by 'Whom ye are sealed to the day of redemption,' so he might have added, And without Whom you are left blank for the day of destruction. For by and from Him we have it, and by from any other we have it, and by from any other we have it not.
And if it be not to be had from any other, we may well think it excludes ourselves, and our own spirit. There were, I wot well, in the heathen, and may be in the Christian, other good moral virtues; but they will not serve to seal us against the day here specified. One may have them all, and be never the nearer at 'the day of redemption.' That which is then to stand us in stead--let us not deceive ourselves--we spin it not out of ourselves, as the spider does her web; it is of the nature of an inspiration, or of an impression. It is from without, as breathing and as sealing is. And it is the breath of this Spirit, the Spirit of God, and the print of His seal must do this. From without it comes, from the Spirit of God, not our own spirit. That we fancy not we may have it, some other way, from our own selves. 'It is He That hath made us, and not we ourselves'--God the Father. 'It is He That hath redeemed us, and not we ourselves'--God the Son. And it He That hath sealed us, and not we ourselves--God the Holy Ghost. That the glory may redound to the blessed Trinity, and he that rejoiceth may rejoice in the Lord.
This to end the point. 1. There is 'a day' in coming. 2. 'A day of redemption' to some it is, and may prove so to us. 3. To us it may, if we found 'sealed.' 4. Found 'sealed' [211/212] we cannot be but by the Holy Ghost's means, we must be beholden to Him; He keeps the seal, He sets it to. 5. To Him we shall be beholden, and He will set it to if we 'grieve Him not.' Why then, this brings us directly to the duty, nolite contristari, 'grieve Him not.'
This Party, whose favour may thus much stead us, and that against a time we shall so much stand in need of it, what can we say or do worthy of Him? We no doubt will rise straight in our magnifical lofty style, and say, What? Why work Him all possible joy and jubilee; and all too little. Sure it were so to be wished. But hear you, intermim, I would, saith the Apostle, we would but do thus much for Him, as not 'grieve' Him. Even as in another place touching God's name, we in our rising vein would say, God's name? What but glorify it, make it famous, renowned every where? Ye say well, saith he; in the mean time, I would His Name might not be evil spoken of by your means; let your lætificat and glorificat alone, and but even nolite contristari. The Apostle pleads but for that, that will content him; and I would He might not fail of that till the other come.
And that, I trust, He shall not fail of, Non contristari. We will never stand with Him for this. It is but a small matter this, but even rationabile obsequium, a request of great modesty; rather a courtesy than a duty, not to 'grieve.'
Not to 'grieve?' Why reason would, saith Solomon, we should not grieve any of our neighbours, seeing they dwell by us and do us no hurt. But, as I said, not the great, if there be any wisdom, nor the good, if there be either grace or good-nature in us.
Well, howsoever we deal with men here, high or low, good or otherwise, in any wise take heed of offering it to God. Why, saith Esay, 'is it enough for you to grieve men, but will ye grieve my God also?' 'Provoke we Him,' saith the Apostle, 'Are we stronger than He?' As if he should say, That were extreme folly.
But yet one step farther. I say, and Christ saith as much; if God, yet not 'the Holy Spirit of God' though, not that Person. Sins and grievances against the other two may and shall; sin against Him 'shall never be forgiven.' 'Grieve not' Him then at any hand.
[212/213] But I ask, can we 'grieve the Spirit of God,' that is, God? Can He be grieved? Indeed they be two questions: 1. can we, and 2. can He? I should answer somewhat strangely but truly to say, we can, and He cannot. For we may, on our parts, 'grieve,' that is, do what in us lieth to 'grieve' Him. And with Him the endeavour is all, and to do what we can habetur pro facto, though the effect follow not. This we can, so badly demean ourselves as, if it were possible by any means in the world that grief could be made to fall into the divine essence, let Him look to it, we would do that should provoke it in Him, that should even draw it from Him. Let Him thank the high supereminent perfection of His nature that is not capable of it: if it were, or any way could be, we would put Him to it.
Now I find in the gospel, from our Saviour's own mouth, 'He that looketh on a woman with lust after her, hath' on his part 'committed adultery with her,' the woman in the meanwhile remaining chaste, as never once thinking of any such matter. Then if the one party may be an adulterer, and the other, as I may say, not adultered; why not, in like sort, one grieve, and yet the other not grieved? Always this use we may make of it, ad exaggerandum peccati malitiam, to aggravate some sins, and shew the heinousness of some sinners, that do on their part all they can to do it, and that is all one as if they did it. This is Tertullian.
But God forbid it should lie in the power of flesh to work any grief in God; or that we should once admit this conceit, the Deity to be subject to this or the like perturbations that we be. And yet both this passion of grief and divers other, as anger, repentance, jealousy, we read them ascribed to God in Scripture, and as ascribed in one place, so denied as flatly in another. One where it is said 'it repented God He had made Saul king:' in the same place by and by after, 'the strength of Israel is not a man, that He can repent.' One where, 'God was touched with grief of heart;' another, 'there is with Him the fulness of all joy for ever,' which excludeth all grief quite.
How is it then? How are we to understand this? Thus; that when they are denied, that is to set out unto us the perfect steadiness of the nature Divine, no ways obnoxious to these our imperfections. And that is the true sound Divinity. [213/214] But when they are ascribed, it is for no other end but even humanum dicere, for our 'infirmity,' to speak to us our own language, and in our terms, so to work with us the better. Lightly, men do nothing so seriously as when they do it in passion; nor indeed any thing thoroughly at all, or, as we say, home, unless it be edged with some kind of affection. Consequently, such is our dull capacity, we never sufficiently take impression, God will do this or that to purpose, except He be so represented unto us as we use ourselves to be when we go through with a matter. In punishing, we pay not home unless we be angry: when God then is to punish, He is presented unto us as angry, to note to us He will proceed as effectually as if He were so indeed. We are not careful enough, we think, of that we love, unless there be with our love some mixture of jealousy: when God then would shew how chary He is of the entireness of our love towards Him, He is said to be 'a jealous God.' We alter not what once we have set done, but when we repent: when God then changeth his course formerly held, He is made as if He did repent--though so to do, were ever His purpose. And so here, we withdraw not ourselves from whom we have conversed with before, but upon some grievance: when the Spirit of God then withdraweth Himself for a time and leaves us, He is brought in as grieved; for that, if it were otherwise delivered, it would not so affect us, nor make in us the impression that this way it doth. So that 'Grieve Him not,' that is in direct terms; give Him not cause to do that which in grief men use to do, to withdraw Himself and to forsake you. If ye do, believe this, He will as certainly give you over as if He were grieved in earnest. This is from St. Augustine.
By this time we know how to conceive of this phrase aright. Now, how to have use of it. And of this humanum dicit, this use we may have. First, upon these places where we thus find affection upon ourselves which is put upon Him; to be jealous over ourselves, to be angry or grieved with ourselves for that, which is said to anger or to grieve God. And that upon this soliloquy with ourselves, that how light soever we seem to make of sin, yet in that it is said thus to 'grieve God's Holy Spirit,' it must needs be some [214/215] grievous matter certainly. And yet, methinks, it toucheth not the Spirit of God though; He will lose nothing by it. He needs not to grieve at it. Of the twain, it should rather seem to concern us; we may come short of our redemption by the means, and a worse matter than that, be cast into eternal perdition. The loss is like to be ours. And is this said 'to grieve the Holy Spirit of God,' and shall it not grieve us, whom it more nearly concerns? Shall we be said to grieve Him with it, and not ourselves be grieved for it? This or some to like effect.
Then it teacheth us, this phrase, withal, what in this case we are to do when it happeneth. Sure, even that which we would do to one grieved by us, whom we make special account of, and would be right loath to lose his favour; never to leave, but to seek by all means to recover him, by showing ourselves sorry and grieved for grieving of him, by vowing never to do the like more, by undertaking anything that may win him again. The only way to remedy it, is to take us to the same affection; as here, that it grieves us to do anything may turn Him to grief; or, if we have done it, never cease to be grieved with ourselves till we have recovered Him, His favour, and His grace again.
Now then, were it not well to take notice of these grievances, that we might avoid, not offer them; and so fulfil the Apostles's nolite contristari? Divers there be. But one of them we cannot but take notice of, this verse is so hemmed in with it on both sides. Our verse begins with 'And,' which couples it to the former. And the very same that is in the former, is repeated over again in the next after. And this is it: to set a seal upon our lips from foul language, bitterness, cursing, swearing without any sense at all. That these come not out of our mouths. That we leave these in any case: and then follows our verse, 'And grieve not the Holy Spirit,' as if He pointed us to these and said, These are such whereby we grieve 'the Spirit of God,' and all good men who hear them. And that is one special way to 'grieve the Spirit,' to grieve good men, in whom it is. His very coming, this day, in shape of tongues, sheweth He would have the print of His seal upon that part, upon the tongue; and His fire from heaven, breath, not this 'fire' from 'hell,' [215/216] thus sparkle from it. St. James makes short work: 'If any would be holden for religious, and refrain not his tongue from these, that man's religion is to be prized as little worth.' This from 'And,' the first word, the copulative to the bordering verse, which I could not avoid.
But I choose rather to hold myself to the point of sealing, within the text, and the grievances against it, which I reduce to these two. 1. either before, when we are not yet sealed, but are to be, when He offer to do it; 2. or after, when we already past His hand and His seal upon us. There are grievances both ways.
First, the Spirit of God doth come and offer to seal us: our part were to invite Him to come if He did not, but if He come to be glad of it; but in any wise to be willing withal. Otherwise, Ipsum nolle, contristari est. For if we be not willing, but refuse, and shift Him off still, is it not justum gravamen? But even as there were that, when Christ set His foot on land, and offered to come to them, 'entreated Him He would be gone again;' so when the Holy Ghost makes the like proffer, He hath His Gergesenes too, that can spare Him and seal both. Men are, I know not how, even loath, and as it were afraid; think it a disgrace to them, many--and that would be called men of spirit--that any seal or mark of holiness should be set upon them. Content with a label without any seal to it, all their live long. And of those label-Christians we have meetly good store. As the Spirit of God, they like Him well enough, to have their breath and life moving from Him--yes hearts and tongues too if He will; but as the Holy Spirit, not once to be acquainted with Him. And what is this plain, but their speech, 'Cause the Holy One to cease from us?' But yet I do not say, not all; for if He will come and seal them some quarter of an hour before they die, for that they will not stand with Him. But they desire to wear the signature of the flesh or of the world, of pride or of lust, as long as they are able to stand on their legs. Animales, all their life; and Spiritum habentes, at the hour of their death. Clinci Christiasni, 'beddered Christians,' as the Primitive Church calleth them; when the flesh leaves them, let the Spirit take them and seal them; then the seal, and you will, but not before. But this is an indignity, and [216/217] cannot be well taken. He will not endure thus to be trifled with and shifted off when He would; and if then He seals us not, when we would have our mends in our own hands.
But secondly, say we be willing He comes; is it not our part against He comes to dispose ourselves, and be ready wrought to receive the figure of His seal? Then, if either He find us so indurate in malice and desire of revenge, or sins of that sort, that as good offer Him, a flint to seal, which will take no print; or, on the other side, find us so dissolved as it were, and even molten in the sins of the flesh, that as good offer Him a dish of water to seal, that will hold no figure--both come to one: 1. not to suffer Him to do it,; 2. not to be in case to receive it; 1. not disposed to it, or 2. indisposed for it. And can He choose but reckon this as a second gravamen, and go His way, and leave us as He found us?
These two, before we be; two more, when we be sealed. For when we have well and orderly received it, then does it behove us carefully to keep the signature from defacing or bruising. If we do not, but carry it so loosely as if we cared not what became of it, and, where we are signati to be close and fast, suffer every trifling occasion to break us up, have our souls lie so open as all manner of thoughts may pass and repass through them; is not this a third? When one shall see a poor countryman, how solicitous he is, if it be but a bond of no great value, to keep the seal fair and whole; but if it be of higher nature, as a patent, then to have his box, and leaves, and wool, and all care used it take not the least hurt: and on the other side, on our parts, how light reckoning we make of the Holy Ghost's seal, vouchsafe it not that care, do not so much for it as he for his bond of five nobles, the matter being of such consequences; this contempt, must it not amount to a grievance? Yea, and that to a grave gravamen, 'a grievous one.' For this is even Margaritas porcis right.
But yet further. If having received this seal upon us, we so far forget ourselves as we brought to let Him aemulus, the fiends, the evil spirit, whom He can by no means endure, even to super-sigillare, 'set his mark over it,' seal upon seal; put his print, with his image and superscription, above and upon the Holy Ghost's, this is so foul a disgrace as He can never [217/218] brook it. And shall we once conceive but, upon so bad usage as this, He will do what men grieved used to do, say presently migremus hinc, away, here is no place to stay, and so leave us with our new image upon us.
And if so, a worse matter than all yet. For He no sooner gone, but in His place another will come, and, as he hath sealed us, so seize on us; and not alone neither, but company with him, `seven more worse than himself,' and the end of that man worse than his beginning, a thousand-fold. These they be then, these four; not to offer these is non contristari.
But then, if our hap be so evil as we do, that we remember Nolite, do it not willingly, have a will not to do it. If we fall into any of the former four: 1. neglect to receive Him when He cometh, 2. dispose not ourselves as we should against He cometh, happen to 3. bruise or mar our seal, yea 4. admit a sealing upon it, of the world upon God, the flesh upon the Spirit, profane upon holy; yet let not our will be to it, at least not our whole will, not our full consents. Let it but happen per accidens, as we say, either surprised with the violence, or wearied with the importunity of the temptation, or circumvented with the sleights of the serpent: but ever carry voluntatem, if it may be; or else, as in the schools they call it, velleitatem de non contristando. A great matter depends on this; for wilfully to do it, that is indeed to grieve, if it be not more, even 'to work despite to the Spirit of Grace.'
Now to draw to an end. This request so fit as on this day. For there is in the text a day of redeeming; and there is by like analogy, a day of sealing. As that Christ's, so this day the Holy Ghost's then, reciproce, the Holy Ghost's day. And not only for the originally so it was, but for that it is to be intended ever, He will do His own chief work upon His own chief feast; and opus diei, 'the day's work,' upon the day itself. So that now we are come about to our first grievance, not to refuse Him, not any time, but not as His own time; not then, when He sits in His office, and offers to set His seal on us.
[218/219] And that He now doth. For when we turn ourselves every way, we find not, in the office of the Church, what this seal should be but the Sacrament; or what print of it, but the grace there received, a means to make us, and a pledge or 'earnest ' 'to assure us that we are His.
The outward seal should be a thing visible, to be shown; and the sacrament is the only visible part of religion, and nothing subject to that sense but it. This I find, that the schoolmen, when they numbered seven, those seven were the seven seals; so for seals they have ever been reputed. But what doubt we? One of them is by the Apostle named a seal in express terms, 'the seal of righteousness.' And if one, then the other; both are of like natures. Only this difference between them, for which we have great cause highly to magnify the goodness of God; that where the one seal, the seal of baptism, can be set to but once, and never repeated more, this other should supply the defect thereof, as whereby, if we have not preserved the former figure entire and whole, we might be, as it were, new signed over again. And that not once alone and no more, but that it should be iterable; whereby it cometh to pass, that of this sealing there be many days, many days to seal us well, and make us sure against that one day, 'the day of redemption.' God therein providing for our frailties; as indeed without it a great many of us, I know not how we should have done.
This then is the seal. I add further, that it may be rightly called the seal of our redemption, as whereby the means of our redemption is applied unto us; the body and blood, one broken, the other shed, of Him Whom God sealed to that end, even to redeem us.
And by and with these, there is grace imparted to us; which grace is the very breath of this Holy Spirit, the true and express character of His seal, to the renewing in us the image of God whereunto we are created. And with grace, which serves properly pro tota substantia, to and for the whole substance of the soul, the two streams of it, one into the understanding part, the other into the seat of the affections. Into the understanding part, the assurance of faith and hope; into the part affective, the renewing of charity, the ostensive part of this seal, in quo cognoscent omnes, 'by which all men [219/220] may know,' and sine quo cognoscet nemo, without it no man, that we are sealed aright and are truly His.
This grace we are thus to receive there; only, that 'we receive it not in vain; be not wanting to it' after; 'neglect it not;' 'quench it not;' 'fall not far from it;' but 'stand fast,' and 'continue in it;' be careful 'to stir it up;' yes, 'to grow' and increase in it, more and more, even to the consummation of it, which is the glory--glory being nothing else but grace consummate, the figure of this stamp in His full perfection.
Resolve then not to send Him away, on His own day, and nothing done, but to receive His seal, and to dispose ourselves, as pliable and fit to receive it. And that shall we but evil do, no not at all, unless it please Him to take us in hand and to work ready for it. To pray Him then so to do, to give us hearts of wax that will receive this impression; and having received it, to give us careful minds withal well to look at it, that it take as little harm as our infirmity will permit. That so we may keep ourselves from this unkind sin of grieving Him Who has been, and is, so good to us. Which the God of mercy grant us, for His Son, and by His spirit, to Whom, &c.