Sibbes On The Sealing Of The Spirit

‘Who hath anointed us, and sealed us.’

Anointing and sealing go together. The same God anoints us doth also seal us. Both are to secure us of our happy condition. Now Christ is the first sealed: John 6:27, ‘Him hath the father sealed.’ God hath set Christ apart from others, hath distinguished him, and set a stamp upon him to be the Messiah by the graces of the Spirit, whereof he was richly beautified, and by many miracles, whereby he shewed that he was the Son of God; by his resurrection from the dead, by his calling of the Gentiles, and many other things.

Christ being sealed himself, he sealed all that he did for our redemption with his blood, and hath added for the strengthening of our faith outward seals, the sacraments, to secure his love more firmly to us.
But in this place another manner of sealing is to be understood. For here is not meant the sealing of Christ, but the sealing of us that have communion with him. The same Spirit that seals the Redeemer seals the redeemed.

Quest. What is the manner of our sealing by the Spirit?

Ans. (1.) Sealing we know hath divers uses. First of all, it doth imprint a likeness of him that doth seal. When the king’s image is stamped upon the wax, everything in the wax answers to that in the seal, face to face, eye to eye, body to body. So we are said to be sealed when we carry in our souls the image of the Lord Jesus; for the Spirit sets the stamp of Christ upon every true convert. There is the likeness of Christ in all things to be found in him. As the child answers the father, foot for foot, finger for finger in proportion, but not in quantity, so it is in the sealing of a believer. There is a likeness in the soul that is sealed by the Spirit to the Lord Jesus. There is understanding of the same heavenly supernatural truths; there is a judging of things as Christ judgeth, a loving of that which he loves, and a hating of that which he hates; a rejoicing to do that which he delights in, and a grief to commit anything that displeaseth his majesty. Every affection of the soul is carried that way that the affections of our blessed Saviour are carried, in proportion; everything in the soul is answerable to him in its degree.

There is no grace in Christ, but there is the like in every Christian in some measure. The obedience of Christ to his Father, even to the death, is to be found in every true Christian. The humility whereby Christ abased himself, it is in every renewed heart. Christ works in the soul that receives him a conformity to himself. The soul that believes that Christ hath loved him, and done such great things for him, is ambitious to express Christ in all his ways. Being once in Christ, we shall delight to be transformed more and more unto him. To bear the image of the ‘second Adam’ upon our breasts, to make it appear that Jesus Christ lives in us, and that we ‘live not to ourselves, but to him that died for us,’ 2 Cor. 5:15; to be meek and heavenly-minded as he was, talking and discoursing of spiritual things, going about doing good everywhere; active for God, fruitful in holiness, doing and receiving all the good we are able, drawing others from this world to meditate of a better estate, labouring for the advancement of God’s kingdom, and approving ourselves to him. This is one use of sealing, to imprint a likeness.

(2.) A second use of the seal is distinction. Sealing is a stamp upon one thing among many. It distinguisheth Christians from others, as we shall see after.

(3.) Again, it serves for appropriation. Men seal those things that are their own. Merchants, we see, set their stamp on
those wares which they have or mean to have a right unto. It pleaseth God thus to condescend unto us, by applying himself to human contracts. He appropriates his own to shew that he hath chosen and singled them out for himself to delight in.

(4.) Sealing further serves to make things authentical, to give authority and excellency. The seal of the prince is the authority of the prince. This gives validity to things, answerable to the dignity and esteem of him that seals.
These are the four principal uses of sealing; and God by his Spirit doth all these to his. He stamps his own image upon us; he distinguisheth us from others, even from the great refuse of the world. God by his Spirit appropriates us to himself; he makes us to be his, and shews that we are his. He likewise authoriseth us, and puts an excellency upon us, to secure us against all temptations. When we have God’s seal on us, we stand firm in the greatest trial. ‘Who shall separate us from the love of God?’ Rom. 8:35. We dare defy all objections of Satan, and accusations of conscience whatsoever. A man that hath God’s seal stands impregnable in the most tempestuous season; for it is given for our assurance, and not for God’s. The Lord knows who are his. He seals not because he is ignorant, but for our comfort and establishment.

—Richard Sibbes (1577–1635), The Complete Works of Richard Sibbes, ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart, vol. 4 (Edinburgh; London; Dublin: James Nichol; James Nisbet and Co.; W. Robertson, 1863), 132–33.

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