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Ghost, than against either of the other persons in the sacred Trinity. In the twelfth chapter of Matthew we read, “They brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw. And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David? But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils but by Beel. zebub the prince of devils. And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them—Wherefore, all manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.” Our Savior wrought miracles, by the power of the Holy Ghost; and accord, ingly he considers the Seribes and Pharisees as blas. pheming the Holy Ghost, by aseribing a miracle wrought by his divine influence, to the power and ageney of the devil. And he repeatedly declares, that their sin was unpardonable, not because it was pointed against himself, but against the Holy Ghost. “Whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him, but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him.” And to make the distinction plainer still, he says, “All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy of the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.” According to this infallible descrip. tion of the sin unto death, it is always directly pointed against the Holy Ghost.
2. The sin, which shall never be forgiven, is a sin of the Tongue. This appears from the express declara
tions of Christ. In the twelfth of Luke, he says, “Whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphémeth against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be for. given.” And in the third of Mark, he conveys the same idea, in plainer and stronger terms; “Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: but he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness.” The evangelist adds, “Because they said, He hath an uncléan spirit.” Though they had inwardly felt the keenest malice against Christ, yet, if “they had not said, he hath an unclean spirit,” they would not have blasphemed the Holy Ghost, by whom he wrought miracles, nor consequently have been guilty of the unpardonable sin. Blasphemy properly consists in evil speaking, and can be committed only in words. Though there is a multitude of ways of dishonoring the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; yet there is but one way of blaspheming these divine Persons, and that is by speaking reproachfully of them. And since our Savior expressly says, that the sin unto death consists in blaspheming the Holy Ghost, we may safely conclude, the unpardonable sin is always a sin of the tongue This leads me to observe,
3. That the sin, which shall never be forgiven, is a public and not a secret sin. Some sins can be committed only in public. The sin of slander, for instance, is of a public nature. One man cannot slander another in secret. The essence of slander consists in one man's speaking falsely of another, with a view to injure his character. But no man can injure another's character, without speaking against it in public: or at least so as to be heard by somebody besides himself. So blas
phemy against the Holy Ghost is a public and not a secret sin. When the Scribes and Pharisees committed this sin, they spake against the Holy Ghost before a multitude of people, with a malicious design of sink. ing his character and miraculous operations, in the view of the world. And no man, at this day, can be guilty of the unpardonable sin, without blaspheming the Holy Ghost in public, or speaking against his peculiar operations, in the hearing of others. The Apostle, in our context, cautions christians against praying for those whom they know to be guilty of the sin unto death. “If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he 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.” This caution, in this connexion, plainly supposes, that the sin unto death is an open, public sin, which is known to others, as well as to the guilty person.
4. The sin unto death cannot be committed, without knowledge of a certain kind. Some suppose, that high attainments in human learning, and high degrees of divine illumination, are necessary to render men capable of committing the unpardonable sin. But there seems to be no ground for this supposition. For, the Scribes and Pharisees, who charged Christ with having an unclean spirit, and blasphemed the Holy Ghost, by ascribing his operations to the power and agency of the devil, appear to have been no other than the most ignorant and stupid sinners. And it is, indeed, much easier to conceive, that the most ignorant and stupid sinners should be guilty of committing the sin under death; than to conceive, that the most enlightened and convinced sinners should openly and directly blaspheme the ever blessed Spirit.
There is, however, a certain kind of knowledge, without which the unpardonable sin cannot be committed; I mean the knowledge of the Holy Ghost and of his peculiar operations. In the economy of redemption, it is the peculiar office of the Holy Spirit, to bestow spiritual gifts, and to produce holiness or gracious affections in the human heart. Accordingly we read, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness.” And again we are told, “To one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kind of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues. But all these worketh that one and self same Spirit, dividing to every man severally, as he will.” Now, a person must know these peculiar operations of the Holy Ghost, in order to be capable of committing the unpardonable sin. For the unpardonable sin consists in ascribing any of these peculiar effects of the divine Spirit, to the power and operation of the devil. The Scribes and Pharisees committed the sin unto death, by ascribing the supernatural effect of the Holy Ghost to an unclean spirit contrary to the knowledge and conviction of their own minds. And it seems as though nothing but ignorance prevented Paul from committing the sin unto death. He was actually guilty of blasphemy. This he freely acknowl. edges; but he says, “I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly, in unbelief.” Had he, contrary to his own knowledge, called Christ an impostor, and ascribed his miracles, or the miracles of his Apostles, to the power and influence of Satan, he would have blasphemed the Holy Ghost, and put himself beyond the reach of pardoning mercy. No person can ignorantly com
mit the unpardonable sin. He must have the knoreledge of the Holy Ghost and of his peculiar operations, in order to be capable of committing the sin, which shall never be forgiven. I may add,
5. The sin unto death always springs from sensible enmity against the truth and spirit of christianity. The external sin of blasphemy has its origin in a corrupt and malignant heart. Hence our Lord declares, that “out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies." We cannot conceive, that any person should knowingly blaspheme the Holy Ghost, by ascribing his peculiar operations to the agency of the devil, unless he felt sensible enmity of heart against the Holy Ghost and his holy operations. But we can easily conceive, that sinners should feel such enmity of heart against the truth and spirit of christianity, as knowingly and maliciously to blaspheme the Holy Ghost. Elymas the sorcerer, whilst he withstood the Apostles, and endeavored to turn away the Deputy from the faith, felt a maligoant opposition to the truth and spirit of the gospel. This appears from his own conduct, and from that severe and pointed reproof, which was given him by Paul. “Then Saul (who is also called Paul) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes upon him, and said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness; wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?” Since we have no account of what Elymas did or said, we cannot determine, whether he did, or did not, commit the unpardonable şin; but this we may certainly conclude, that his heart was malignant enough, to blaspheme the Holy Ghost. Though mere malignity of heart does not amount to the unpardonable sin; yet nothing but malignity of