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ety, nor the other for Christian communion. Were he to appear in his real colors, men would clap their hands at him, and hiss him out of the place. He paints his face, therefore, like Jezebel, with the varnish of good words, sanctified looks, and actions seemingly benevolent and devout. He is like the rainbow, whose glorious colors are reflected from a dark vapor only when the sun shines. He is sometimes discerned and despised of men, but always by God. From what has been observed, we conclude, that a real hypocrite in religion must know that he is one.
The answer to the second query, Whether the person be a hypocrite who is afraid that he is one, and wishes not to be, seems to be more easy. Let attention be paid to the following things. If the person's dread of being a hypocrite, and his wishes not to be one, proceed from fear of punishment in this life, and eternal torments in that to come, it is possible he may be the character he wishes not to be. Because, in this case, his fears and wishes arise, not from a conviction of the atrocious nature of sin, and its hatefulness in the sight of God, but merely from selfish motives. On the other hand, if the person be convinced of the odious nature of hypocrisy, loathe it, and himself on account of it, and his inclination to it, as there is too much of this leaven in the best of characters, if he can pray sincerely to be delivered from it, and seeks its destruction, root and branch, as an evil exceedingly offensive to God, and pernicious to the soul, the writer of this is fully persuaded, that such a person is not a hypocrite, but is a real Christian.
ON THE UNPARDONABLE SIN.
What is blasphemy against the Holy Ghost? And what is the meaning of Heb. vi. 5, 6.
THE forgiveness of sin is doubtless one of the most interesting subjects to a sinful creature; and if there be one sin upon which the Divine Being has thought fit to set a mark of peculiar displeasure, by declaring it unpardonable, it is worthy of the most serious inquiry, to determine what it is. Perhaps the most likely method of coming at the truth, will be by first taking a view of those passages of scripture where it is explicitly or implicitly conveyed, and then making a few remarks upon them.
There is no express mention of the sin against the Holy Ghost under the former dispensation; it seems to me, however, that there was a period in the lives of Cain and Saul,and perhaps of some others,when they were given up of God to inevitable destruction. The first or rather the only express mention that we have of it, is in the Evangelists, where it is applied to the Pharisees on occasion of their blasphemously asserting, "This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils," Mat. xii. 31, 32. Mark iii. 28-30. and Luke xii. 10. Dr. Whitby thinks these passages were only designed to warn them of the sin; but that it was not possible to be actually committed till the pouring out of the Holy Ghost in the day of Pentecost; and assigns this as a reason, that Christ afterwards prayed for those very persons, Luke xxiii. 34. But those for whom Christ prayed, "knew not what they did;" they
were in the same situation with Saul while a persecutor; they "did it ignorantly, and in unbelief." But this was not true of all his murderers. Those who made answer to Judas, who confessed that he had betrayed innocent blood, "See thou to that," could not, I am afraid, have this plea alledged on their behalf. It is true, the multitude did it ignorantly, and many of their rulers, as St. Peter candidly acknowledged; but this, I should think, is more than could be said of them all. It is pretty evident that some of them acted upon the principle suggested by our Lord; "This is the heir let us kill him." It is no objection to this, that it is said, "If they had known him, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory;" for knowledge is not here put for a mere conviction that he was the Messiah, but for that spiritual discernment which is possessed only by believers, being "revealed to them by the Spirit, who searcheth the deep things of God," 1 Cor. ii. 7. 10. It appears to me that some of the Pharisees were guilty of the unpardonable sin. See John ix. 41. and xii. 42, 43. Perhaps the next intimation that is given of this sin, is in Peter's address to Simon Magus: "Repent of this thy wickedness, and pray God, IF PERHAPS the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee," Acts viii. 22. It does not appear that the apostle considered the sorcerer as having certainly committed the unpardonable sin; but it seems he considered it as a matter of doubt, and therefore, with a view to impress upon his mind the greatness of his wickedness, and the danger he was in, expressed himself in that doubtful manner, which he was not used to do in ordinary cases.
The apostle Paul seems to have had an eye to this sin, when, speaking of himself, he says, "I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly, and in unbelief." None will suppose that Saul's ignorance, much less unbelief, had any thing in it meritorious, which would induce the Divine Being to shew him mercy; on the contrary, it was sinful, and that for which he reckoned himself the chief of sinners: but it was not accompanied with such circumstances of aggravation, as to exclude him from an interest in Divine mercy: it was not the unpardonable sin.
In the epistle to the Hebrews there are several intimations of it, particularly in the following passages: "it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted 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 to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame," Chap. vi. 4, 5, 6. "For if we sin wilfully, after that 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's 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 hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?" Chap. x. 26-29.
Peter also describes the same characters: "For if af
ter they have escaped the pollutions of the world,through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it has happened unto them according to the true proverb, "The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed, to her wallowing in the mire," 2 Peter ii. 20-22. Lastly, It must be with reference to this sin that John writes in his first epistle, "If any man see his brother sin a sin not unto death, he shall ask and he shall give him life. There is a sin unto death; I do not say he shall pray for it. We know that whosoever is born of God, sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not," 1 John v. 16, 18.
The above are the principal, if not the only passages, in which reference is made to the unpardonable sin. From these, taken altogether, I shall offer the following remarks:
I. When the Scripture speaks of any sin as unpardonable, or of the impossibility of those who have committed it being renewed again unto repentance, we are not to understand it as expressing any natural limitation of either the power or the mercy of God, nor yet of the efficacy of the Savior's blood; but merely of a limitation, dictated by sovereign wisdom and right
II. It is not any one particular act of sin that denominates it unpardonable, but the circumstances under