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Holy Ghost, we shall be able easily to ascertain the precise nature of this crime.

It is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again to repentance : seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.

One consideration is sufficient to prove that this cannot be the sin against the Holy Ghost. The sin which the apostle here describes, evidently could be committed by none except those who were professors of the Christian religion, and who had enjoyed in a high degree the common operations of the Spirit : which surely was not the case with those pharisees whom the Saviour addresses in the text. Besides, in order to consummate the sin against the Holy Ghost, it is necessary that the tongue externally blaspheme; whereas the sin here described by Paul may be perpetrated by the heart, even though the tongue should be silent. The truth is, that the apostle is here speaking of a wilful and total apostacy, whether he refers to real or apparent Christians; and if to the former, how the supposition of their falling away can be reconciled with the doctrine of the saint's

perseverance, are subjects foreign from the present discourse.

Neither is the sin unto death, spoken of by John, the sin against the Holy Ghost. This apostle says, (1 John, v. 16) “ If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and [God] shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death : I do not say that he shall pray for it.

To understand this verse, you must recall some circumstances in the history of the primitive church,

which are frequently mentioned in the New Testament. At that period God frequently punished with sickness and disorders those who had violated their duty and fallen into sin. I need produce no other example of this than the Corinthian church, in which St. Paul teaches us many were sick, and many died, because of their profanation of the Lord's supper. Among the extraordinary gifts communicated to the primitive church, was the faith of miracles, which, in the person about to work the miracle, was a full assurance supernaturally infused, that God would be present with him, and enable him to perform it.

These well-known facts explain this text. Its meaning may be conveyed in the following paraphrase: • If any brother fall into a sin which is punished by a temporal disorder, and


discover by the gift of discerning spirits, and by the faith of miracles, that this disorder will not terminate in death,

for him; and God, in answer to the prayer of faith, will restore him to health. But if, when thus sick as a punishment for his sin, you have no such assurance that God will restore him, as will enable you to pray with miraculous faith, you must not ask for his restoration to health. You may pray that he may repent; you may pray for his salvation; but knowing (as in such a case you must know) that he has committed a sin unto temporal death, you must, in this respect, submit to the appointment of God.' This I suppose to be the import of this verse. From the many reasons which lead me to suppose that the sin unto death is unto temporal and not eternal death, I have time to select only a few. Unless we adopt this interpretation, we make the apostle give a direction which is useless as to all practical influence upon the conduct: since no man can be assured that another has committed the pardonable sin, and since we are bound to pray all men without exception. According to our int pretation, it was a direction suited and necessary the state of the church at that time, and which mig daily be a directory to their conduct.

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Again, the death here spoken of must be of the same kind with the life that was given in answer to prayer: according as this life is eternal, so must be the death. Now who does not know that God never gives eternal life merely in answer to the prayers oi another mortal; no man ever received it without personal piety, personal sanctification, and personal devotions. God has frequently given temporal life in consequence of the prayers of the pious. The life then here spoken of must be temporal, and so then must be the deathr. And finally, the phrase is thus used in several parts of scripture. In a variety of places in the Pentateuch, which we have translated “a sin worthy of death,” it is in the original, simply “ a sin unto death :" and in these places there can be no question that the death is a temporal one. This phrase then was familiar to the Jews, and when used by a Jew in the New Testament, we must annex to it that sense which it uniformly bears in the writings of his countrymen.

Laying aside then this verse as of no moment in the present inquiry, we find that the only passages in the scripture which speak of the sin against the Holy Ghost are, our text, with the parallel passages in Mark iii. 28, and Luke xii. 10. When we care. fully consider these texts, and attend to the circumstances in which they were uttered, we must, I think. conclude, that

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The sin against the Holy Ghost consists in ascribing the miracles wrought by Jesus Christ, through the power of the Holy Ghost, to the devil; while those who thus blasphemed were actuated by envy, malice, pride, and other malignant passions, or spoke against conviction and the light of their conscience.

This definition is calculated to afford relief to those timid consciences which are agitated with fear, lest they have committed this crime. They form false ideas of the nature of it, and then give themselves up to despair. Every gross sin committed against knowledge and conscience is not this sin, nor every denial of Christ's miracles, nor every denial of the divinity and personality of the Holy Spirit, nor every blasphemous suggestion of Satan, nor every sin against grace received, nor every malicious persecution of Christianity, nor every resisting, opposing, and quenching the motions of the spirit; for many thousand persons who have committed these sins have afterwards repented and been forgiven, . have become ornaments of the church on earth, and received the crown of glory beyond the grave. But why is this sin unpardonable? Not from

any defect of mercy in God, or merit in Christ; but partly from the nature of the sin, which precludes the possibility of repentance by rejecting the Holy Ghost, the only principle of penitence, and partly from the positive determination of God who, for reasons no doubt infinitely wise, has thought proper, as one expresses it, “ to set a dreadful mark of distinction on this blasphemy, and make it death, eternal death, without reprieve.”

What effect shall this subject have upon you? Shall it Aatter your pride? Shall it give you high ideas of your virtues, because you cannot recognise

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yourselves in the portrait which has been traced ? Will you boast that your corruption is not extreme, that there is one point of horror at which not arrived ? Because your wounds are not desperate, will you neglect them? Because your repentance is possible, will you wait till it be impracticable?

Who can be animated with this fury? What enchanted conscience can remain tranquil, because it has not committed this sin? Why is this sin so formidable? Because it casts into hell. So do others. But there is this difference: here it is without resource; there, there is a resource in conversion. Pause then, my brethren, in your career to misery, and repent. Stifle the convictions of conscience, resist the influences of the Spirit no longer. Fly to Jesus, and he will make your sins, which “ are as scarlet, white as snow."

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