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The Spirit an earnest, and how.
Thirdly, Again, the Holy Spirit, as thus communicated unto us, is said to be an “earnest.” Ἀῤῥαβών, the word in the original, is nowhere used in the New Testament but in this matter alone, 2 Cor. i. 22, v. 5; Eph. i. 14. The Latin translator renders this word by pignus, a pledge; but he is corrected therein by Hierom on Eph. i. “Pignus,” saith he, “Latinus interpres pro arrhabone posuit. Non id ipsum autem arrhabo quod pignus sonat. Arrhabo enim futuræ emptioni quasi quoddam testimonium, et obligamentum datur. Pignus vero, hoc est ἐνέχυρον pro mutua pecunia apponitur, ut quum ilia reddita fuerit, reddenti debitum pignus a creditore reddatur.” And this reason is generally admitted by expositors; for a pledge is that which is committed to and left in the hand of another, to secure him that the money which is borrowed thereon shall be repaid, and then the pledge is to be received back again. Hence it is necessary that a pledge be more in value than the money received, because it is taken in security for repayment. But an earnest is a part only of what is to be given or paid, or some lesser thing that is given to secure somewhat that is more or greater in the same or another kind. And this difference must be admitted if we are obliged to the precise signification and common use of pledges and earnests among men, which we must inquire into. The word is supposed to be derived from the Hebrew עֵרָבוֹן; and the Latins make use of it also, arrhabon and arrha. It is sometimes used in other authors, as Plutarch in Galba: Ἐφθάκει προειληφὼς ἀῥῥαβῶσι μεγάλοις τὸν Ὀβίνιον. He prepossessed Obinius with great sums of money, as an earnest of what he would do afterward. Hesychius explains it by πρόδομα, a gift beforehand. As to what I apprehend to be the mind of the Holy Ghost in this expression, I shall declare it in the ensuing observations:—
First, It is not any act or work of the Holy Spirit on us or in us that is called his being an “earnest.” It is he himself who is this earnest. This is expressed in every place where there is mention made of it: 2 Cor. i. 22, Δοὺς τὸν ἀῤῥαβῶνα τοῦ Πνεύματος· — “The earnest of the Spirit,” — that earnest which is the Spirit, or the Spirit as an earnest, as Austin reads the words, “Arrhabona Spiritum.” Chap. v. 5, “Who hath also given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.” The giving of this earnest is constantly assigned to be the act of God the Father, who, according to the promise of Christ, would send the Comforter unto the church. And in the other place, Eph. i. 14, it is expressly said that the Holy Spirit is the “earnest of our inheritance.” 408Everywhere the article is of the masculine gender, ὅς ἐστιν ἀῤῥαβών and Πνεῦμα, the Spirit, is of the neuter. Some would have it to refer unto Christ, verse 12. But as it is not unusual in Scripture that the subjunctive article and relative should agree in gender with the following substantive, as ὅς here doth with ἀῤῥαβών, so the Scripture, speaking of the Holy Ghost, though Πνεῦμα be of the neuter gender, yet having respect unto the thing, — that is, the person of the Spirit, — it subjoins the pronoun of the masculine gender unto it, as John xiv. 26. Wherefore, the Spirit himself is the earnest, as given unto us from the Father by the Son. And this act of God is expressed by giving or putting him into our hearts, 2 Cor. i. 22. How he doth this hath been before declared, both in general and with respect in particular to his inhabitation. The meaning, therefore, of the words is, that God gives unto us his Holy Spirit to dwell in us, and to abide with us, as an earnest of our future inheritance.
Secondly, It is indifferent whether we use the name of an earnest or a pledge in this matter, and although I choose to retain that of an earnest, from the most usual acceptation of the word, yet I do it not upon the reason alleged for it, which is taken from the especial nature and use of an earnest in the dealings of men; for it is the end only of an earnest whereon the Holy Ghost is so called, which is the same with that of a pledge, and we are not to force the similitude or allusion any farther. For precisely among men, an earnest is the confirmation of a bargain and contract made on equal terms between buyers and sellers or exchangers. But there is no such contract between God and us. It is true, there is a supposition of an antecedent covenant, but not as a bargain or contract between God and us. The covenant of God, as it respects the dispensation of the Spirit, is a mere free, gratuitous promise; and the stipulation of obedience on our part is consequential thereunto. Again; he that giveth an earnest in a contract or bargain doth not principally aim at his own obligation to pay such or such a sum of money, or somewhat equivalent thereunto, though he do that also; but his principal design is to secure unto himself that which he hath bargained for, that it may be delivered up unto him at the time appointed. But there is nothing of this nature in the earnest of the Spirit, wherein God intends our assurance only, and not his own. And sundry other things there are wherein the comparison will not hold nor is to be urged, because they are not intended.
The general end of an earnest or a pledge is all that is alluded unto; and this is, to give security of somewhat that is future or to come. And this may be done in a way of free bounty as well as upon the strictest contract; as if a man have a poor friend or relation, he may, of his own accord, give unto him a sum of money, and 409bid him take it as a pledge or earnest of what he will yet do for him. So doth God, in a way of sovereign grace and bounty, give his Holy Spirit unto believers, and withal lets them know that it is with a design to give them yet much more in his appointed season; and here is he said to be an earnest. Other things that are observed, from the nature and use of an earnest in civil contracts and bargains between men, belong not hereunto, though many things are occasionally spoken and discoursed from them of good use unto edification.
Thirdly, In two of the places wherein mention is made of this matter, the Spirit is said to be an “earnest,” but wherein, or unto what end, is not expressed, 2 Cor. i. 22, v. 5. The third place, affirms him to be an “earnest of our inheritance,” Eph. i. 14. What that is, and how he is so, may be briefly declared. And, —
1. We have already manifested that all our participation of the Holy Spirit, in any kind, is upon the account of Jesus Christ, and we do receive him immediately as the Spirit of Christ; for “to as many as receive Christ, the Father gives power to become the sons of God,” John i. 12. “And because we are sons, he sends forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts,” Gal. iv. 6. And as we receive the Spirit from him, and as his Spirit, so he is given unto us to make us conformable unto him, and to give us a participation of his gifts, graces, and privileges.
2. Christ himself, in his own person, is the “heir of all things.” So he was appointed of God, Heb. i. 2; and therefore the whole inheritance is absolutely his. What this inheritance is, what is the glory and power that is contained therein, I have at large declared in the exposition of that place.
3. Man by his sin had universally forfeited his whole right unto all the ends of his creation, both on the earth below and in heaven above. Death and hell were become all that the whole race of mankind had either right or title unto. But yet all the glorious things that God had provided were not to be cast away; an heir was to be provided for them. Abraham when he was old and rich had no child, and complained that his steward, a servant, was to be his heir, Gen. xv. 2–4; but God lets him know that he would provide another heir for him of his own seed. When man had lost his right unto the whole inheritance of heaven and earth, God did not so take the forfeiture as to seize it all into the hands of justice and destroy it; but he invested the whole inheritance in his Son, making him the heir of all. This he was meet for, as being God’s eternal Son by nature; and hereof the donation was free, gratuitous, and absolute. And this grant was confirmed unto him by his unction with the fulness of the Spirit. But, —
4. This inheritance, as to our interest therein, lay under a forfeiture; 410and as unto us it must be redeemed and purchased, or we can never be made partakers of it. Wherefore, the Lord Christ, who had a right in his own person unto the whole inheritance by the free grant and donation of the Father, yet was to redeem it from under the forfeiture, and purchase the possession of it for us; hence is it called “The purchased possession.” How this purchase was made, what made it necessary, by what means it was effected, are declared in the doctrine of our redemption by Christ, the price which he paid, and the purchase that he made thereby. And hereon the whole inheritance is vested in the Lord Christ, not only as unto his own person and his right unto the whole, but he became the great trustee for the whole church, and had their interest in this inheritance committed unto him also. No man, therefore, can have a right unto this inheritance, or to any part of it, not unto the least share of God’s creation here below, as a part of the rescued or purchased inheritance, but by virtue of an interest in Christ and union with him. Wherefore, —
Fourthly, The way whereby we come to have an interest in Christ, and thereby a right unto the inheritance, is by the participation of the Spirit of Christ, as the apostle fully declares, Rom. viii. 14–17; for it is by the Spirit of adoption, the Spirit of the Son, that we are made children. Now, saith the apostle, “If we are children, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ.” Children are heirs unto their father; and those who are children of God are heirs of that inheritance which God hath provided for his children, “heirs of God.” And all the good things of grace and glory which believers are made partakers of in this world or that which is to come are called their “inheritance,” because they are the effects of free, gratuitous adoption. They are not things that themselves have purchased, bargained for, earned, or merited, but an inheritance depending on and following solely upon their free, gratuitous adoption. But how can they become “heirs of God,” seeing God hath absolutely appointed the Son alone to be “heir of all things,” Heb. i. 2; he was the heir, unto whom the whole inheritance belonged? Why, saith the apostle, by the participation of the Spirit of Christ we are made joint heirs with Christ. The whole inheritance, as unto his own personal right, was entirely his by the free donation of the Father, all power in heaven and earth being given unto him; but if he will take others into a joint right with him, he must purchase it for them, which he did accordingly.
Fifthly, Hence it is manifest how the Holy Spirit becomes the “earnest of our inheritance;” for by him, that is, by the communication of him unto us, we are made “joint heirs with Christ,” which gives us our right and title, whereby our names are, as it were, inserted into the assured conveyance of the great and full inheritance 411of grace and glory. In the giving of his Spirit unto us, God making of us co-heirs with Christ, we have the greatest and most assured earnest and pledge of our future inheritance. And he is to be thus an earnest “until” or unto “the redemption of the purchased possession;” for after that a man hath a good and firm title unto an inheritance settled in him, it may be a long time before he can be admitted into an actual possession of it, and many difficulties he may have in the meantime to conflict withal. And it is so in this case. The “earnest of the Spirit” given unto us, whereby we become co-heirs with Christ, whose Spirit we are made partakers of, secures the title of the inheritance in and unto our whole persons; but before we can come unto the full possession of it, not only have we many spiritual trials and temptations to conflict withal in our souls, but our bodies also are liable unto death and corruption. Wherefore, whatever “first-fruits” we may enjoy, yet can we not enter into the actual possession of the whole inheritance, until not only our souls are delivered from all sins and temptations, but our bodies also are rescued out of the dust of the grave. This is the full “redemption of the purchased possession;” whence it is signally called the “redemption of the body,” Rom. viii. 23.
Thus as the Lord Christ himself was made “heir of all things” by that communication of the Spirit unto him whereby he was anointed unto his office, so the participation of the same Spirit from him and by him makes us co-heirs with him; and so he is an earnest given us of God of the future inheritance. It belongs not unto my present purpose to declare the nature of that inheritance whereof the Holy Spirit is the earnest; in brief, it is the highest participation with Christ in that glory and honour that our natures are capable of.
And in like manner we are said to receive ἀπαρχὴν τοῦ Πνεύματος, Rom. viii. 23; that is, the Spirit himself as the first-fruits of our spiritual and eternal redemption. God had appointed that the first-fruits, which are called רֵאשִׁית and בִּכּוּרִים, should be a תְּרוּמָה, an offering unto himself. Hereunto ἀπαρχή answereth, and is taken generally for that which is first in any kind, Rom. xvi. 5; 1 Cor. xv. 20; James i. 18; Rev. xiv. 4. And the “first-fruits of the Spirit” must be either what he first worketh in us, or all his fruits in us with respect unto the full harvest that is to come, or the Spirit himself as the beginning and pledge of future glory. And the latter of these is intended in this place; for the apostle discourseth about the liberty of the whole creation from that state of bondage whereunto all things were subjected by sin. With respect hereunto, he saith that believers themselves having not as yet obtained a full deliverance, as he had expressed it, Rom. vii. 24, do groan after its perfect accomplishment. But yet, saith he, we have the beginning of it, the 412first-fruits of it, in the communication of the Spirit unto us; for “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty,” 2 Cor. iii. 17: for although we are not capable of the full and perfect estate of the liberty provided for the children of God whilst we are in this world, conflicting with the remainders of sin, pressed and exercised with temptations, our bodies also being subject unto death and corruption, yet where the Spirit of the Lord is, where we have that first-fruit of the fullness of our redemption, there is liberty in the real beginning of it, and assured consolation, because it shall be consummated in the appointed season.
These are some of the spiritual benefits and privileges which believers enjoy by a participation of the Holy Ghost as the promised comforter of the church. These things he is unto them; and as unto all other things belonging unto their consolation, he works them in them; which we must in the next place inquire into. Only, something we may take notice of from what we have already insisted on; as, — 1. That all evangelical privileges whereof believers are made partakers in this world do centre in the person of the Holy Spirit. He is the great promise that Christ hath made unto his disciples, the great legacy which he hath bequeathed unto them. The grant made unto him by the Father, when he had done all his will, and fulfilled all righteousness, and exalted the glory of his holiness, wisdom, and grace, was this of the Holy Spirit, to be communicated by him unto the church. This he received of the Father as the complement of his reward; wherein he “saw of the travail of his soul, and was satisfied.” This Spirit he now gives unto believers, and no tongue can express the benefits which they receive thereby. Therein are they anointed and sealed; therein do they receive the earnest and first-fruits of immortality and glory; in a word, therein are they taken into a participation with Christ himself in all his honour and glory. Hereby is their condition rendered honourable, safe, comfortable, and the whole inheritance is unchangeably secured unto them. In this one privilege, therefore, of receiving the Spirit, are all others inwrapped; for, — 2. No one way, or thing, or similitude, can express or represent the greatness of this privilege. It is anointing, it is sealing, it is an earnest and first-fruit, — every thing whereby the love of God and the blessed security of our condition may be expressed or intimated unto us; for what greater pledge can we have of the love and favour of God, what greater dignities can we be made partakers of, what greater assurance of a future blessed condition, than that God hath given us of his Holy Spirit? And, 3. Hence also is it manifest how abundantly willing he is that ‘the heirs of promise should receive strong consolation in all their distresses, when they flee for refuge unto the hope that is set before them.
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