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proved) must be fatal to them : so far at least, as our imperfect reason can be permitted to judge at all, of Divine things.
The conclusion, which I would press upon your minds, my brethren, from the whole is this. The ignorance of the Jews, under which may be included their doubts, and conflicting opinions, respecting a future state, is sometimes made by our Saviour and his Apostles, an apology for their inveterate obstinacy and deplorable wickedness. But nothing of this kind can be offered for us, if we are wavering in our faith, or vicious in our conduct. In particular, upon the great doctrine in question, the Gospel which has cleared up every difficulty, has left us absolutely without excuse, if we do not regulate our lives
the firm belief of that awful dispensation. If upon any one point more exactly than another, reason and Revelation coincide, surely, it is upon this, at once consoling, yet alarming expectation. Consoling, if we so discipline our minds, and order our actions, that our hearts condemn us not, but allow us to have confidence towards God. Alarming, if through unbelief, we reject the means of salvation, and yield ourselves to the intluence of
any of those evil passions, whose results even here, are but too often indicative of what they may deserve hereafter. That such may not be our fate, may God of his infinite mercy grant, through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom with the Father and the Holy Spirit, &c.
Acts ii. 4.
And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began
to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
The miracle described in these words, which upon this day we annually commemorate, may be regarded as the key-stone of the arch upon which our religion is built. We can conclude no less from the language employed by our Saviour himself with reference to it. He describes it as the last great effort, which would be made by the Almighty, to establish the true faith in the hearts of men. For such is the most probable meaning of that singular declaration, that blasphemy against the Holy Ghost should not be forgiven unto men, neither in this world nor in that to come. All other sins he represented as comparatively venial, even that of speaking against himself in his human capacity, as the Son of Man.But to attribute the miracles which he wrought by the Holy Ghost, to the power of Satan; and still more to vilify or to disregard the visible and manifest agency of that Divine Spirit, whose mission seems to have depended upon our Lord's previous departure from the world, and to have been intended to crown and consolidate all the labours of his ministry, was declared to be an unpardonable offence. All other sins admitted of forgiveness upon repentance and amendment. That was the leading principle of his doctrine. A doctrine not more worthy of the wisdom and goodness of God, than adapted to the infirmity and the wickedness of man.
But here was a sin which absolutely precluded repentance. For it was nothing less than obstinately to refuse to be convinced by the power
of God himself directly exerted for that purpose, to quench and to grieve his Holy Spirit, when actively employed for the redemption and the salvation of the world.
If we who are living under different circumstances, and receiving our religion in a different manner, are (as we may be permitted to hope) ) incapable of committing a sin of this enormity: still it becomes us well to consider, what
approach we can make to it; whether the evidence we have of our faith is inferior to that of the first Christians, and consequently whether we are more excusable in our incredulity than they were or could be ? And I am much mistaken, if we shall not find that our situation in this respect is more perilous, than many persons perhaps imagine it to be; that we have in fact stronger evidence of the truth of our religion than is commonly supposed, and therefore stronger grounds for believing it, and more powerful motives for practising it. I cannot suppose
that I am addressing any persons who do not profess to believe it : but can it be true, that there may be those whose profession, however constant, is not sincere and well-founded? This is a most important question, which it well becomes every man to examine in his own case, with the most rigorous impartiality. The heart, has been truly said by one of the sacred writers, to be deceitful above all things : and I fear, that in the matter of religious belief, there will be found no exception to this humiliating position.That in that as in every thing else, we are liable to practise, and do in fact frequently