And God has prepared us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a pledge of what is to come.
2 Corinthians 1:22 and Romans 8:1-11). Observe that the Holy Spirit is presented to us under many aspects and figures; no one representation of his Divine mission can exhaust his relations to us. We must see his work on one side after another, and be willing to learn from all She figures under which it is presented.
I. WHAT IS MEANT BY AN "EARNEST"? It is something offered as a pledge and assurance that what is promised shall surely be given. But it has been well pointed out that an "earnest" materially differs from a "pledge." A pledge is something different in kind, given as assurance for something else, as may be illustrated by the sacraments; but an earnest is a part of the thing to be given, as when a purchase is made and a portion of the money is paid down at once. The idea of the "earnest" may be seen in the "firstfruits," which are a beginning of, and assure the character of, the coming harvest.
II. WHAT IS THE SPIRIT AS "EARNEST" TO US NOW? St. Paul's one point here is that it is an assurance of the final victory of the higher life over the lower. We have indeed that higher life now, in its initial and rudimentary stages, in having the Spirit dwelling in us.
III. WHAT FUTURE IS PLEDGED IN OUR HAVING THE SPIRIT NOW? Precisely a future in which the spiritual life shall be victorious and supreme, and our vehicle of a body simply within the use of the Spirit. That is full redemption, glory, and heaven. - R.T.
Now He that hath wrought us for the self-same thing is God.
I. GOD'S PURPOSE IN ALL HIS WORKING.
1. What is that "self-same thing"? The apostle has been speaking about the instinctive reluctance that even good men feel at the prospect of "putting off the earthly house of this tabernacle." He distinguishes between three different conditions in which the human spirit may be — dwelling in the earthly body, stripped of that, and "clothed with the house which is from heaven"; and this last and highest state is the very thing for which God has wrought us — i.e., the highest aim of the Divine love in all its dealings with us is not merely a blessed spiritual life, but the completion of our humanity in a perfect spirit dwelling in a glorified body.
2. That glorified body is described in our context.
II. THE SLOW PROCESS OF THE DIVINE WORKMAN.
1. The apostle employs a term which conveys the idea of continuous and effortful work, as if against resistance. Like some sculptor with a hard bit of marble, or some metallurgist with rough ore, so the loving, patient, Divine Artificer labours long and earnestly with somewhat obstinate material, by manifold touches, here a little and there a little, and not discouraged when He comes upon a black vein in the white marble, nor when the hard stone turns the edge of His chisels. Learn, then —(1) That God cannot make you fit for heaven all at a jump, or by a simple act of will. He can make a world so, not a saint. He cannot say, and He does not say, "Let there be holiness," and it comes. Not so can God make man meet for the "inheritance of the saints in light." And it takes Him all His energies, for all a lifetime, to prepare His child for what He wants to make of him.(2) That God cannot give a man that glorified body of which I have been speaking unless the man's spirit is Christlike. By the necessities of the case it is confined to the purified, because it corresponds to their inward spiritual being. It is only a perfect spirit that can dwell in a perfect body. Some shall rise to glory and immortality, some to shame and everlasting contempt. If we are to stand at the last with the body of our humiliation changed into a body of glory, we must begin by being changed in the spirit of our mind.
2. Consider the three-fold processes which, in the Divine working, terminate in this great issue.(1) God has wrought us for it in the very act of making us what we are. Human nature is an insoluble enigma if this world is its only field. Amidst all the mysterious waste of creation, there is no more profligate expenditure of powers than that which is involved in giving a man such faculties and capacities if this be the only field on which they are to be exercised. All other creatures fit their circumstances; nothing in them is bigger than their environment. They find in life a field for every power. But we have an infinitude of faculty lying half dormant in each of us which finds no work at all in this present world. What is the use of us if there is nothing except this poor present? God, or whoever made us, has made a mistake; and, strangely enough, if we were not made, but evolved, evolution has worked out faculties which have no correspondence with the things around them. Life, and man, is an insoluble enigma except on the hypothesis that this is a nursery-ground, and that the little plants will be pricked out some day, and planted where they are meant to grow.(2) Another field of the Divine operation to this end is in what we roughly call "providences." What is the meaning of all this discipline through which we are passed if there is nothing to be disciplined for? What is the good of an apprenticeship if there is no journeyman's life to come after it, where the powers that have been slowly acquired shall be nobly exercised upon broader fields? Life is an insoluble riddle unless the purpose of it lie yonder, and unless all this patient training of our sorrows and our gladnesses is equally meant for training us for the perfect life of a perfect soul, moving a perfect body in a perfect universe. And who can think of life as anything but a wretched fragment unless he knows that all which begins here runs upwards into the room above, and there finds its explanation and its completion?(3) So in all the work and mystery of our redemption this is the goal that God has in view. It was not worth Christ's while to come and die if nothing more was to come of it than the imperfect reception of His blessings and gifts which the noblest Christian life in this world presents. The meaning and purpose of the Cross, the meaning and purpose of all the patient dealings of His whispering Spirit, is that we shall be like our Divine Lord in spirit first, and in body afterwards.
3. And everything about the experiences of a true Christian spirit is charged with a prophecy of immortality. The very desires which God's good Spirit works in a believing soul are themselves confirmations of their own fulfilment.
III. THE CERTAINTY AND THE CONFIDENCE.
1. "He that hath wrought us for the self-same thing is God." Then we may be sure that, as far as He is concerned, the work will not be suspended nor vain. This Workman has infinite resources, an unchanging purpose, and infinite long-suffering. In the quarries of Egypt you will find gigantic stones, half-dressed, and intended to have been transported to some great temple. But there they lie, the work incomplete, and they never carried to their place. There are no half-polished stones in God's quarries. They are all finished where they lie, and then borne across the sea, like Hiram's from Lebanon, to the temple on the hill.
2. But it is a certainty that you can thwart. It is an operation that you can counter-work. Oh! do not let all God's work on you come to naught, but yield yourselves to it. Rejoice in the confidence that He is moulding your character, cheerfully welcome the providences, painful as they may be, by which He prepares you for heaven.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
I. The first of these is the DIVINE CALL, by which we are excited and urged to seek salvation.
II. The second step in the preparation of the soul for heaven is DIVINE ILLUMINATION.
III. The spiritual illumination of the inner man is followed by REPENTANCE.
IV. And this conducts us to the fourth step in the process of religion — namely, FAITH IN CHRIST.
V. The final step in the method of salvation is the SANCTIFICATION OF THE SOUL.
(J. A. Sartorius.)I. THE WORK OF PREPARATION.
1. It is almost universally admitted that some preparation is essential. Whenever death is announced, you will hear the worst-instructed say, "I hope, poor man! he was prepared."(1) Men need something to be done for them.(a) God declares that we are enemies to Him. We need, therefore, that some ambassador should come to us with terms of peace, and reconcile us to God.(b) We are debtors also to our Creator — debtors to His law. Some mediator, then, must come in to pay the debt for us, for we cannot pay it, neither can we be exempted from it.(c) In addition to this, we are all criminals — condemned already; in fear of execution unless some one come in between us and punishment. Say, then, has this been done for you? Many of you can answer, "Blessed be God, I have been reconciled to Him through the death of His Son; my debts to God are paid; I have looked to Christ, my Substitute, and I am no longer condemned" (Romans 8:1). Come, let us rejoice in this, that He hath wrought us for this self-same thing.(2) Something must be wrought in us.(a) We are all dead in trespasses and sins. Shall dead men sit at the feasts of the eternal God? Only the Jiving children can inherit the promises of the living God, for He is not the God of the dead, but of the living.(b) By nature we are all worldly. We "mind earthly things"; the world's maxims govern us, its fears alarm us, its hopes and ambitions excite us. But we cannot go to heaven as worldly men, for there would be nothing there to gratify us. The joys and glories of heaven are all spiritual.(c) We are unholy by nature; but in heaven they are "without fault before the throne of God." No sin is tolerated there. What a change, then, must come over the carnal man to make him holy? What can wash him white but the blood of Christ? That a great change must be wrought in us even ungodly men will confess, since the Scriptural idea of heaven has never been agreeable to unconverted men. When Mahomet would charm the world into the belief that he was the prophet of God, the heaven he pictured was a heaven of unbridled sensualism. Could a wicked man enter into heaven, he would be wretched there. There is no heaven for him who has not been prepared for it by a work of grace in his soul.
2. If we have such a preparation, we must have it on this side of our death. As the tree falleth, so it must lie. While the nature is soft it is susceptible of impression, stamp what seal you may upon it; once let it grow cold and hard, you can do so no more; it is proof against any change. We have no intimation in the Word of God that any soul dying in unbelief will afterwards be converted. "He that is holy, let him be holy still; he that is filthy, let him be filthy still." Moreover, we ought to know, for it is possible for a man to know whether he is thoroughly prepared. Jesus Christ has not left us in such a dubious ease that we always need to be inquiring, "Am I His, or am I not?" He tells us that "he that believeth and is baptised shall be saved." If we have obeyed these commands we shall be saved, for our God keepeth His word. We need not harbour endless questionings.
3. Mast how many put off all thoughts of being prepared to diet They are prepared for almost anything except the one thing needful. "Prepare to meet your God."
II. THE AUTHOR OF THIS PREPARATION FOR DEATH. Who made Adam fit for Paradise but God? And who must make us fit for the better Paradise above but God? That we cannot do it ourselves is evident. We are dead in trespasses and sins. Can the dead start from the grave of their own accord? The dead shall surely rise, but because God raises them. Conversion, which prepares us for heaven, is a new creation. The original creation was the work of God, and the new creation must likewise be of God. Think of what fitness for heaven is! To be fit for heaven a man must be perfect. Go, you who think you can prepare yourselves, be perfect for a day. Man's work is never perfect. God alone is perfect, and He alone is the Perfecter.
III. THE SEAL OF THIS PREPARATION. "The earnest of the Spirit." Masters frequently pay during the week a part of the wages which will be due on Saturday night. God gives His Holy Spirit, as it were, to be a part of the reward which He intends to give to His people when, like hirelings, they have fulfilled their duty. So God gives us His Holy Spirit to be in our hearts as an earnest of heaven. Have you received the Holy Spirit? Do you reply, "How may I know?" Wherever the Holy Spirit is, He works certain graces in the soul, such as repentance, patience, forgiveness, holy courage, joy, etc. This gift, moreover, will be conspicuously evidenced by a living faith in Christ.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)I. WHAT "THIS SELF-SAME THING" IS FOR WHICH WE ARE "WROUGHT." Studying the context, we find it to be a certain state of mind in regard to many things. We must go back to chap. 2 Corinthians 4. to understand this fully. And I think it must be allowed that it is a very great and heroic attitude. He who can take up the language of a passage like this, and honestly adopt it as the description of the state and feeling of his mind, is a -very king, and must be among the happiest of men. We have around us here and now the world — God-denying and anti-Christian — which was around the Apostle Paul. It is not changed! The apostle seems to have lived in a tough house, and yet a house that, after years of toil and hardship, became worn out and frail. If it was a great thing for him to triumph over bodily suffering, and to face death, must it not be a great thing for afflicted and suffering people to do the same now? And is it not a great thing, in these times, to be able to look to that "beyond" in faith and confidence, to cast anchor of thought and faith, as well as of desire and hope, in another life? While atheism spreads blackness over the universe, while materialism drags men down to the dust, while heartless philosophies and flippant literatures tell us "it does not matter" — in times like these it is a great thing to stand on the old watch-tower, and to look by faith clearly beyond the visible into the invisible, declaring, "Yes, I see it. I know that if the earthly house of this tabernacle," etc.
II. IT IS WHOLLY THE RESULT OF A DIVINE PROCESS. It is not a natural development. If it were so, the apostle might have said, "He who created us, when we were born, for this self-same thing is God"; or, "He who gave us life, and gave us power to mould and renew our own nature till we rise into all goodness, is God." But his words take another line. "He who hath wrought us" — created us anew in Christ Jesus — "wrought us," as the block of marble is wrought into the shape of the fair figure. So are we "wrought" by God. His work is marvellous. He must have wrought a great work in Stephen before he could stand up fearlessly, with an angel face, amid the shower of deathdealing stones. He works always along main lines, amid infinite variety of circumstance, but always with a view to the "self-same thing," and therefore in some degree along the same road to reach it; and this is the road (Romans 8:29, 30).
III. ALL THIS IS MADE SURE TO US, NOT ONLY IN DIVINE PROMISE, BUT BY "THE EARNEST OF THE SPIRIT." That is to say, this "self-same thing" means not merely a hope that something good and great is coming by and by, but that it is in part matter of experience now. There are estates in this world which you can enter by crossing a river, or going over a chain of hills. You are then in the estate, and if you know the proprietor, and he accounts you his friend, you have some feeling of safety as you travel on over moor and moss, through gloomy forest and dark defile; but if you are going to the mansion — that is twenty or thirty miles distant, perhaps, and many adventures may come to you by the way. Still, if you walk well, and walk right on — not stopping for every dog that barks, or sheltering from every shower that falls, but pressing always on — why, then, just about sunset, perhaps, the western sky all gold, sweet evening breathing peace over the earth, you will see the towers of the castle whither you are going. And the landscape will begin to soften and glow; the grass is greener now; the trees are more select; the road — how smooth it is, compared with some of the first miles you trod! And then you pass the great iron gate, and lo! yonder in the doorway is your friend who has sent for you, and who is lord of all the way by which you have come. Such is our heavenly way. Every step of it is on King's ground. We are in heaven when we begin to live to heaven's King. But it is a wide estate, and looking, and longing, and praying as they travel; and this is "the earnest of the Spirit" this is the witness in the man himself that he has "passed from death unto life," and that he shall win the life immortal at length.
(A. Raleigh, D. D.)
I. GOD'S WORK IS SEEN IN CREATING IN US DESIRES AFTER BEING "CLOTHED UPON WITH OUR HOUSE WHICH IS FROM HEAVEN."
1. The Christian is the most contented man in the world, but he is the least contented with the world. He is like a traveller, perfectly satisfied with the inn as an inn, but his desires are ever towards home. He is like a sailor, well content with the good ship for what it is, but he longs for harbour.
2. What is it that makes the Christian long for heaven?(1) A desire for the unseen. The carnal mind is satisfied with what the eyes can see, etc., but the Christian has a spirit within him which the senses cannot gratify.(2) A yearning after, holiness. He who is born again of incorruptible seed finds his worst trouble to be sin. What bliss to be without the tendency or possibility to sin!(3) A sighing after rest, which we cannot, find here.(4) A thirst for communion with God. Here we do enjoy fellowship with God, but it is remote and dark.
3. This desire is above ordinary nature. All flesh is grass, and the grass loves to strike its root deep into the earth; it has no tendrils with which to clasp the stars. Man by nature would be content
to abide on earth for ever.
4. While they are contrary to the old nature, such aspirations prove the existence of the new nature. You may be quite sure thai you have the nature of God in you if you are pining after God.
5. Note the means by which the Holy Spirit quickens these desires within our spirits.(1) They are infused in us by regeneration, which begets in us a spiritual nature, and the spiritual nature brings with it its own longings — viz., after perfection and God.(2) They are further assisted by instruction. The more the Holy Ghost teaches us of the world to come, the more we long for it.(3) They are further increased by sanctified afflictions. Thorns in our nest make us take to our wings; the embittering of this cup makes us earnestly desire to drink of the new wine of the kingdom.(4) They are increased by the sweets as well as the bitters. Communion with Christ sharpens the edge of our desire for heaven. And so does elevation of soul. The more we are sanctified and conformed unto Jesus, the more we long for the world to come.
II. THE FITNESS FOR HEAVEN WHICH IS WROUGHT IN US.
1. Who fits us.(1) God the Father, by adopting us into His family, by justifying us through Christ, by preserving us by His power.(2) God the Son, by blotting out our iniquities, by transferring to us His righteousness, by taking us into union with Himself.(3) The Holy Spirit, by giving us food for the new nature, instruction, etc.
2. In what this fitness consists.(1) In the possession of a spiritual nature. The unregenerate would not by any possibility be able to enjoy the bliss of heaven. They would be quite out of their element. A bee in a garden is at home, and gathers honey from all the flowers; but admit a swine, and it sees no beauty in lilies and roses, and therefore it proceeds to root, and tear, and spoil in all directions.(2) In a holy nature. If a man has no delight in God he has no fitness for heaven.(3) In love to the saints. Those who do not love the people of God on earth would find their company very irksome for ever.(4) In joy in service.(5) In conformity to Christ. Much of heaven consists in this.
3. The unfitness of unrenewed souls for heaven may be illustrated by the incapacity of certain persons for elevated thoughts and intellectual pursuits. Alphonse Karr tells a story of a servant-man who asked his master to be allowed to leave his cottage and sleep over the stable. What was the matter with his cottage? "Why, sir, the nightingales all around make such a "jug, jug, jug" at night that I cannot bear them." A man with a musical ear would be charmed with the nightingales' song, but here was a man without a musical soul, who found the sweetest notes a nuisance.
III. THE LORD HAS GRACIOUSLY GIVEN TO US AN EARNEST OF GLORY. An earnest is unlike a pledge, which has to be returned when the matter which it ensures is obtained; it is a part of the thing itself. So the Holy Spirit is a part of heaven. His work in the soul is the bud of heaven.
1. His very dwelling in our soul is the earnest of heaven. If God Himself condescends to make these bodies His temples, is not this akin to heaven's honours?
2. When He brings to us the joys of hope, this is an earnest. While singing some glowing hymn our spirit shakes off all her doubts and fears, and anticipates her everlasting heritage.
3. When we enjoy the full assurance of faith, and read our title clear to mansions in the skies; when faith knows whom she has believed, and is persuaded that He is able to keep that which she has committed to Him — this is an earnest of heaven.
4. Heaven is the place of victory, and when the Holy Spirit enables us to overcome sin we enjoy an earnest of the triumph of heaven.
5. When through the Spirit we enjoy fellowship with Christ, and with one another, we have a foretaste of the fellowship of heaven.Conclusion: If these things be so, believers —
1. Be thankful. Remember these things are not your own productions; they have been planted in your soul by another hand, and watered by a superior power.
2. Be reverent. When a scholar knows that all he has learned has been taught him by his master, he looks up from his master's feet into his master's face with respectful esteem.
3. Be confident. If the good thing had been wrought by ourselves we might be sure that it would fail before long. Nothing of mortal man was ever perfect. But, if He that hath begun the good work be God, there is no fear that He will forsake or leave His work undone.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)I. IN GOD'S ECONOMY THIS LIFE IS A PROCESS OF DISENTANGLING FROM ITS OWN CONDITIONS. Mortal life is a getting loose.
1. Note the imagery of the context. We mortals are as dwellers in a tent. This tent is being gradually "loosened down." The same word was used by our Lord of the stones of the temple at Jerusalem, and indicates a gradual destruction, stone after stone. So in striking a tent. Paul has a like figure in Philippians, where he desires to "depart," or, literally, "to break camp." This gradual loosening, this detachment, is a familiar fact of our life. We are breaking up, and God hath wrought us for this very thing. One of the most puzzling things about the world is that such superhuman ingenuity, such perfect finish of workmanship, will crumble to dust. How exquisite is the structure of a bee or of a butterfly, and yet how short-lived they are.
2. These are familiar facts. What is our attitude toward them?(1) The average man ignores them. He strikes out the tabernacle from the text, and substitutes a building. He lives and plans as if both he and the world were eternal. The earlier stages of life are occupied with amassing instead of throwing off. The love and intimacy of the family circle are taking the boy deeper into themselves. Then his social nature is throwing out tendrils and attaching itself to school and college friends. Then comes social and business or professional life. The bonds multiply; more and more the man is getting wrapped round and tied up. Domestic life encircles him. Business becomes engrossing. So the world winds round him, coil after coil. If the house of his earthly habitation is a tent, it is a substantial tent, or so it seems. It has stood a good many hard blasts. The man himself, too, has been all along growing. All is increase, enlargement of range.(2) But as time goes on you notice a change. The man has reached his altitude. The cords on the rear of the tent begin to slacken. A father or a mother dies. Brothers and sisters form homes for themselves, and their interests and his diverge. The old circle of kindred begins to break up. It goes on quietly, like the undermining of a bank. And as time goes on the connections with his own generation gradually break. The push of younger, fresher life crowds him back or on one side. Some day he realises that almost all his old comrades are gone. The break is heading towards the centres of life. He has lost some ambition. He is not so ready for the undertakings which make a drain on nerve and strength. He gives up more easily than of yore. And so the final stage sets in; physical wreck, mental feebleness, complete withdrawal from the busy world. Let it go on its way. He cares no longer. The tent, with its loosened cords, flaps and strains, then collapses. The earthly house of this tabernacle is dissolved; and yet He that wrought us for this very thing is God. God meant this.
3. This is a very sad picture if this is all. Nay, it is an insult to common sense to ask us to believe that this wondrous frame of nature and of man are made merely to be destroyed. God did not make us for death, but for life. If He has appointed a tent for our sojourn, He has reared a building for our dwelling. Moses, in Psalm 90., voices the truth. There is nothing eternal but God. There is no warrant of man's eternity but God. There is no eternal home for man but in God.
II. And so we turn to the other side of our text. GOD HAS MADE US FOR THE TENT, BUT HE HAS ALSO MADE US FOR THE BUILDING.
1. The important point is that we should see these two things as part of one economy — the tent and the building as related to each other. Even if sin had never entered the world, I doubt whether this human life and body would have been any more than a temporary stage of existence through which men would have passed into a purely spiritual life. Because I find that this is according to the analogy of God's working elsewhere. God's plans unfold. They do not flash into consummation. They involve progressive stages. The line of His purpose runs out to eternity, but it runs through time.
2. Thought has tended too much to the violent separation of the mortal life from the eternal life — has tended to set them in contrast and opposition instead of in harmony. For instance, we draw the line sharply between life and death; and yet many a scientist will tell you that death is the beginning of life, and Christ and Paul tell you that in unmistakable terms. And what we want clearly to apprehend is that this mortal, transitory tent-life has a definite relation to the permanent spiritual life of the future; that it serves a purpose of preparation and development toward that life; that it furnishes a soil in which the seeds of the spiritual life are sown; and that, therefore, instead of being despised and neglected because it is temporary and destined to dissolution, it is to be cultivated as the effective ministrant of the eternal life. "He that wrought us for this very thing is God."
3. We have in nature a great many illustrations and analogies of this. Take, e.g., the soil. Existence underground, in the dark, is a low form of life, and yet the seed must be cast into the ground, and remain there for a time, before the beauty and fruitfulness and nourishment of the fruit or grain can become facts. And that stage ministers directly to the higher form of life. So in animal life. What a delicate and beautiful structure is the egg of the fowl! It is made, as we all see, to be broken, and an egg-shell is a synonym for something worthless. And yet there have been lodged in that frail and temporary thing forces which minister to life. So the worm rolls himself up in the cocoon, but within the cocoon the purple and golden glories of the butterfly are silently elaborating themselves. Even so it is God's intent that the immortal, the spiritual life should be taking shape under the forms of the mortal life — that in the tent man should be shaping for the eternal building.
4. This feature of our mortal life is intended to show itself early. The average human life, as we have seen, tends to become more and more enveloped in the wrappings of this world, and to consider nothing else; and many practically reason that attention to the interests of the next world may be deferred until the process of detachment from the things of time has fairly and consciously set in. On the contrary, the life should be shaped for eternity from the beginning. The ministry of the soil begins with the very first stage of the seed-life. The world to come does not appeal merely to manhood and old age. It is the child that is most inquisitive about the sky, to whom the stars are a wonder. Why not the same fact in spiritual life? Why should not heavenly aspirations characterise childhood? Why should not the child-life be touched and quickened by contact with heaven? Within and under the life of society, the life of business, the domestic life, an eternal, spiritual manhood may be outlining itself.
5. When men have undertaken to shut themselves out as much as possible from the contact of this life, they have not seen that He that hath wrought us for this very thing is God.
6. For years, as the traveller on the Rhine came in sight of Cologne, the first object which greeted his eye was the unsightly mass of scaffolding around the cathedral spires. It is all gone now, and the twin spires soar heavenward from their base, and cut the horizon with their clean, sharp lines of stone. Yet the scaffolds were necessary to the building. Whether this life is to be more than scaffolding depends on the man who lives — depends on whether or not he mistakes scaffolding for building. If the cocoon is all that the worm comes to, poor worm! Worthless cocoon! If business, politics, social life, fame, are all the man comes to, poor man! The tent will fall. Shall you be left uncovered? Beware, beware of these same wrappings. They are folding you in closely. Detachment may mean for you victory and immortality. God hath wrought you for the eternal building in the heavens no less than for the frail, perishing tent on earth.
(M. R. Vincent, D. D.)
Who also hath given unto us the earnest of the SpiritI. WHAT IS GIVEN BY WAY OF EARNEST.
II. THE NATURE OF AN EARNEST.
1. An earnest supposeth a bargain and contract. The right to eternal life cometh to believers in a way of covenant; they resign themselves to God by faith, and God bindeth Himself to give them forgiveness of sins.
2. Earnest is given when there is some delay of the thing bargained for. As soon as we enter into covenant with God we have a right; but our blessedness is deferred, not for want of love in God, but partly that in the meantime we may exercise our faith and love (Philippians 3:21; Romans 8:23), and partly that the heirs of salvation may glorify Him here upon earth (Matthew 5:16; 1 Peter 2:12).
3. An earnest is part of the whole bargain, though but a little part. So the saving gifts, graces, and comforts of the Spirit are a small beginning, ors part of that glory which shall then be revealed. Grace is begun glory, and they differ as an infant and a man. Regeneration is an immortal seed, a beginning of eternal life.
4. Earnest is given for the security of the party that receiveth it, not for him that giveth it. There is no danger of breaking on God's part; but God "was willing more abundantly to show to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel"; because of our frequent doubts and fears in the midst of our troubles and trials, we need this confirmation.
5. It is not taken away till all be consummated, and therein an earnest differeth from a pawn or pledge. A pledge is something left with us, to be restored or taken away from us; but an earnest is filled up with the whole sum. So God giveth part to assure us of obtaining the whole in due season (Philippians 1:6; 1 Peter 1:9).
III. THE USE AND END OF AN EARNEST IS —
1. To raise our confidence of the certainty of these things. There is some place for doubts and fears, till we be in full possession, from weakness of grace and greatness of trials.
2. To quicken our earnest desires and illustrious diligence. The firstfruits are to show how good, as well as earnest how sure.
3. To bind us not to depart from these hopes.
(T. Manton, D. D.)
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