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heart, can ever prompt any person knowingly and maliciously to blaspheme the Holy Ghost, by ascribing his holy and supernatural operations to the agency of Satan.
Having described the sin unto death, I proceed to inquire,
II. Why it is unpardonable.
That the sin we have described is unpardonable, there is not the least reason to doubt; since the Apostle calls it the sin unto death; and since our Savior says, it shall not be forgiven, neither in this world, neither in the world to come. We have only to inquire, therefore, why this sin in particular shall never be forgiven.
Here it is natural to observe, in the first place, that blasphemy against the Holy Ghost cannot be unpardonable, on account of any deficiency in the atonement of Christ. The Scripture represents Christ as a complete and all-sufficient Savior. He is said to "taste death for every man.” He is said to be “the lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.” He is said to be “the propitiation for the sins of the whole world.”, And it is said, that “his blood cleanseth from all sin.” By dying the just for the unjust, he made a complete atonement for all mankind, and rendered it consistent with the character and government of God, to forgive the greatest as well as the smallest sinners. Though one sin may be greater than another, and though blasphemy against the Holy Ghost may be the greatest of all sins; yet the blood of Christ is as sufficient to cleanse from this, as from any other sin. This sin, therefore, cannot be unpardonable, on account of any deficiency in the atonement of Christ. And it is no less evident, in the next place, that it can. not be unpardonable, on account of any insurmount
able difficulty in the way, of bringing the guilty person to repentance. It is true, some sinners are more hardened than others, and, perhaps, blasphemers are, of all sinners the most hardened and obstinate; yet there is no reason to imagine, that God is unable to conquer the stoutest human heart. He subdued the malignant heart of Manasseh. He softened the hard heart of the murmuring Jews in Babylon. He cleansed the foul heart of Mary Magdalene. And, what is still more striking, he awakened, convinced, and converted Paul, who had been an injurious persecutor, and a profane blasphemer. God is able, in the day of his power, to make any sinner willing to repent. If he saw fit to pardon blasphemers against the Holy Ghost, he could and would bring them to unfeigned repentance. It is not, therefore, in the least degree owing to any peculiar or insurmountable difficulty in the way of God's bringing blasphemers to repentance, that the sin against the Holy Ghost is unpardonable.
But if the atonement of Christ be sufficient for the pardon of the greatest sins, and if God be able to bring the greatest sinners to repentance, why is the particular sin of blasphemy against the Holy Ghost unpardonable? I answer, Because it hath pleased God, by a positive determination, to make it so. And though we may not be able to comprehend all the reasons, which moved him to make this determination; yet there appears to be one plain and sufficient reason, for his absolutely refusing to pardon any person, who blasphemeth the Holy Ghost. It is the natural tendency of ascribing the peculiar operations of the Holy Ghost, to the power and agency of Satan, to prevent the spread of the Gospel, and the conversion of sinners. То
say, that Christ, who had the Spirit without measure, wrought all his miracles by the influence of Satan,
had a direct tendency to destroy his religion, and to make him appear, in the eye of the world, as a vile and odious impostor. To say, that the Apostles, who went forth, under the influence of the Holy Ghost, to preach the gospel and to work miracles, were instigated and assisted, by the power of the Devil, had the same tendency to defeat their whole design; for they had no higher credentials of their divine mission, thàn the miraculous gifts of the Spirit, and the efficacy of the Gospel upon the hearts of men.
To say at this day, when there is a great effusion of the Spirit, and a great revival of religion, that these effects are owing to the power and delusion of Satan, is directly calculated to prevent the spread of christianity and the salvation of sinners. And to ascribe the peculiar operations of the Spirit to the influence of the Devil, in any future period, must equally tend to subvert the evidence and design of the Gospel. Therefore, to keep the world in awe, God has set a dreadful mark of distinction upon blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, and made it DEATH, without reprieve!
1. It appears from the description, which has been given of the unpardonable sin, that the two noted passages, in the sixth and tenth of Hebrews, have no reference to it. To make this appear, it is necessary to recite these texts at large, and consider them distinctly. The first is this, “For it is impossible for those that 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 unto repentance; seeing they crucify unto themselves the son of God afresh, and put him to an
open shame.” The second, which follows, is very sim. ilar. "For if we sin wilfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses. Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hate done despite to the Spirit of grace.
These texts have often been supposed to be descriptive of the unpardonable sin; and in this view, they have given great distress to awakened sinners, laboring under a deep sense of their own vileness and the divine displeasure. But there appears to be no reason to understand these passages in this sense. There is a very great dissimilarity between the sins here described, and that which has been described in this discourse. The sins here described appear to be secret sins; but the unpardonable sin can be committed in public only. The sins here described appear to be sins of the heart; but the unpardonable sin is a sin of the tongue. The sins here described appear to consist in internal oppo. sition to truth and holiness; but the unpardonable sin consists in nothing but blasphemy directly pointed against the Holy Ghost. In short, there is no mention, nor description of the unpardonable sin in these passages, and therefore, there is no ground to suppose, that the Apostle is here speaking to sinners, and warning them against the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Ghost; which consists in ascribing his peculiar operations to the power and agency of Satan.
of Satan. But on the other hand, the Apostle appears to be speaking to
saints, and warning them against the guilt and danger of final apostasy. This is the sin, which he expressly mentions, and which is peculiar to saints. Though sinners may quench the Spirit, stifle convictions, and run to the greatest excess in wickedness; yet they cannot irrecoverably fall away, this side of eternity. Manasseh, Mary Magdalene, and many other loose and abandoned sinners, have been converted from the error of their ways, and brought to genuine repentance. But if real saints should be guilty of falling away from the faith and practice of christianity, they would sin beyond repentance and pardon. Accordingly the persons, whom the Apostle addresses in these passages, appear to be real saints; for none but such ever arrived at those high attainments, which he expressly mentions. It is peculiar to saints, “to receive the knowledge of the truth; to be divinely enlightened; to taste of the heavenly gift, to be parbakers of the Holy Ghost; to taste the good word of God and the powers of the world to come.” Persons of this character, may be properly warned of the danger of falling away. It is the language of both the Old and New Testament, that if real saints should renounce religion, they would be infallibly lost. The Prophet Ezekiel says, “When the righteous man turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in the sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die.” Our Lord says, “If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered: and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” And Paul says, “I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection, lest by any means, when