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On the Nature of the Unpardonable Sin

On the Nature of the Unpardonable Sin

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Dec 16, 2012
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On the Nature of the unpardonable SinBY REV. JAMES SAURINHebrews vi. 4, 5, 6,ft is impossible for those who were once enU2;hlened,and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were madepartakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted thegood word of God, and the powtrs of the world tocome ; if they shall fall away, to renew them, againunto repentance.[O W dreadful is this place I This is none other hutthe house of God, and this is the gate of heaven. Ona different occasion, there would have been nothingsurprising in tlie fears of Jacob. Had God revealedhimself to this patriarch in the awful glory of av ting-ing wrath, and surrounded with devouring fire, withdarkness and with tempest ; it would not have beensurprising that a man, that a sinner, and a believerof the earlier ages of the church, should have beenvanquished at the sight. But, at a period, whenGod approached him with the tenderest marks of love; when he erected a miraculous ladder betweenheaven and earth, causing the angels to ascend anddescend for the protection of his servant; when headdressed him in these consolatory words, Behold Iam with thee, 1 will keep thee in all places whither thouVOL, VHo 47370 The Nature of the unpardonable 6V«.goest, and I nill hring thee again into this land ; for Inill not leave thee ; that Jacob should tremble in sucha moment, is what we cannot conceive without as-tonisiiment. What! is the sjale of heaven dreadful ;and is the house of God an object calculated to striketerror into the mind ?My brethren, Jacob's fear unquestionably pro-ceeded from the presence of God, from the sinojular-ity of the vision, and the peculiar novelty of thediscovery, which struck his imagination. But letus further extend our thoughts. Yes, the gate of heaven is terrible, and the house of God is dreadful!and his favours should impress solemnity on theheart. Distinguished favours give occasion to dis-tinguished crimes, and from places the most exaltedhave occurred the greatest Aills. St. Paul, in thewords of my \e\U places each of the Hebrews,whom he addressed, in the situation of .Jacob. He
exhibits a portrait of the prodigies achieved in theirfavour, since their conversion to Christianity ; themiracles which had struck their senses; the know-ledge which had irradiated their minds; and the im-pressions which had been made on their hearts. Heopens to them the gate of heaven ; but, at the sametime, requires that they should exclaim. How dread-ful is this place ! From this profusion of grace, hedraws motives for salutary fear. // is impossible,says he, for those tvho ivere once enlighlenedy and havetasted of the hcavenlj/ gift, and were made partakersof the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers oj the world to come ; if the}}shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance.The Nature of the unpardonable Sin. 371St. Paul, after having pronounced these terrificwords, adds ; Beloved, ?ve are persuaded better things(if you. Happy apostle, who, while pronou oi £iigthe sentence of celestial vengeance, coukl rlaiterhimself that it would not fall on any of his audi-ence. But, my brethren, shall we say, Belovedywe are persuaded better things of you? The disposi-tion is worthy of our wish. May it l^e the effect of this discourse, and the fruit of our ministry !To have been enlightened — to have tasted theheavenly gift — to have been partakers of the HolyGhost — to have tasted the good word of God, andfelt the powers of the world to come — and to fallaway in defiance of so much grace, — such are theodious traits employed by the apostle to degrade acrime, the nature of which we shall now define. Theawful characteristics in the portrait, and the super-added conclusion, that it is impossible to renew themagain unto repentance, fully apprize us, that he herespeaks of the foulest of all offences; and, at thesame time, gives us a limited notion of its nature.Some have thought, that the surest way to obtaina just idea of the sin, was to represent it by everyatrocious circumstance. They have collected all thecharacteristics, which could add aggravation to thecrime ; they have said, that a man who has knownthe trulh, who has despised, hated, and opposed it,neither through fear of punishment, nor hope of re-ward, offered by tyrants to apbstacy, but from aprinciple of malice, is the identical person of whomthe apostle speaks ; and that in this monstrous asso-ciation of light, conviction, opposition, and uncoii-372 The Nature of the unpardonable Sin,
querable abhorrence of the truth, this awful crimeconsists.Others, proceedinsf further, have searched ancientand modern history for persons, in whom those cha-racteristics associate ; that, ?uj){^raddin£^ example todescription, they might exhibit a complete portraitof the sin, the nature of which we shall endeavour todefine. In the course of this sermon, we sliall en-deavor to draw, from their method, whatever maymost contribute to your instruction. But, first of all, we deem it our duty to make some previous ob-servations, and to derive the light from its source.In the discussion of a sin, solitary in its nature, theScriptures having excluded none from salvation, butthose who are guilty of this ofTence, it is of the lastimportance to review all those passages, which, it ispresumed, have reference to the ciime : we must in-quire in what they differ, and in what they agree,drawing from this association of light, that instruc-tion, which cannot be derived from any other source.Tlie task will not exceed our limits, there beingonly four texts, in which, it is presumed, the Scrip-lures speak of this sin. We shall begin with thewords of St. Matthew : 1 SQf/ unto you, all manner of sin and Idasphtmg shall he forgiven unto men; but thehlasphenuj against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgivenunlo men. And whosoever speaketh a word againstthe Son of man, it shall be forgiven him ; but whosoeverspeaketh against the Ilolj/ Ghost, it shall not be forgiv-en him, neither in this world, neither in that whieli is toeorne, Ttiis text, which Augustine deems the mostThe Nature of the unpardonable Sin. 373difficult in the scriptures, will become intelligible, if we examine the occasion, and weigh the words.The occasion is obvious to understand. .Tesus had just cured a demoniac. The Pharisees had attestedthe fact, and could not deny its divine authority :their eyes decided in favour of Jesus Christ. Butthey had recourse to an extraordinary method of de-faming Iiis character. Unable to destroy the forceof the miracle, they maintained that it proceededfrom an impure source, and that it was by the powerof the devil Jesus Christ healed this afflicted class of men. This was the occasion on which he pronounc-ed the words «e have recited.The import of the expressions is equally easy tocomprehend. Who is the Son of man 1 And who isthe Holy Ghost ? And what is it to speak against theone and the other ? The Son of man is .Tesus Christrevealed in human form. Without staying here to

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