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The Guilt of Unbelief.

The Guilt of Unbelief.

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Published by GLENN DALE PEASE
BY REV. ERSKINE MASON, D.D.,


" He that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not
believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." ST. JOHN iii.
18.
BY REV. ERSKINE MASON, D.D.,


" He that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not
believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." ST. JOHN iii.
18.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Sep 03, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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08/04/2014

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THE GUILT OF UBELIEF.BY REV. ERSKIE MASO, D.D.," He that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath notbelieved in the name of the only begotten Son of God." ST. JOH iii.18.THE peculiarity of the text which. I have justplaced before you, is found, as every one perceives,in the prominence which it gives to unbelief inChrist as man s greatest guilt, and the only groundof his condemnation under the gospel. It seems toturn away our attention from every other positionhe may occupy, and direct it exclusively to the relation he sustains to the Saviour, making the question of his life or death, his acceptance or condemnation under the divine government, hinge entirelyupon the attitude he occupies as a believer, or anunbeliever, in " the record which God has given of his Son."I am not mistaken in supposing that there issomething here, not only aside from men s usualtrains of thought, but contrary to their ordinaryapprehensions. They can perceive how humancharacter may be determined, and human destinyfixed from man s relation to the simple code of theten commandments, because they can see the right-THE GUILT OF UBELIEF. 81eousness, and feel the binding force of the morallaw. They can understand that idolatry is a sin,that blasphemy is a sin, that the violation of anyof the statutes which define our social duties is asin, and that a man may be justly condemned for
 
every or any one of them. They may apprehend,moreover, how a man who has sinned may besaved through the acceptance of an offered pardon ;there are sufficient analogies in human things to illustrate this point. But here comes the gospel of Jesus Christ ; and it loses sight, apparently, of allother sins, however numerous they may have been,however great they may have been, in view of thegreater, the more monstrous, the overwhelmingguilt of unbelief. With regard to all other sins, itslanguage is, "Though they be as scarlet they shallbe white as snow, though they be red as crimson they shall be as wool ;" but the sin of unbelief persisted in knows no forgiveness, and entails consequences from which there is no redemption. Itwould be perfectly intelligible to say, that it ismerely negative in its destructive influence, as shutting its subject out from all interest in the promisedpardon, and leaving him precisely where he shouldhave been had no offer of forgiveness ever beenmade ; but vastly different from this is the representation given upon the sacred page. Here unbelief in Christ is represented as a positive crime, acrime with which, in point of enormity, no otherform of human sinfulness can be compared ; a crimewhich not only fastens upon its subject the guilt,and binds him over to the penalty of all his other682 THE GUILT OF UBELIEF.sins ; but which is itself the most striking and fullest development of enmity against God and opposition to his government, which can possibly bepresented.Sure I am that men do not feel, if indeed theyapprehend this truth. To other forms of criminal
 
ity, conscience may be sensitive, and administerits painful and forceful rebukes, in view of thetransgression of any precept of the decalogue ;but how many of the hearers of the truth, think you, my brethren, feel when they go away from anoffer of eternal life through Jesus Christ, which hasbeen presented to them, and from an appeal of thegospel, which has been ministered to the conscienceand the heart, refusing the one and resisting theother, or careless and indifferent about either, thatthey are then and there presenting to the eye of God, and of every being who understands theirspiritual relations, an exhibition of character, to beexceeded by none in the insult which it puts uponthe authority and the contempt it pours upon thelove of God ; an exhibition, which concentrates initself the elements of all sin, and which justifies theheaviest sentence recorded in the book of Godagainst human transgression. How few believe it ;and yet this truth is written in lines of light uponevery page of the Bible. Of this it is the especialprovince of the Holy Spirit to convince men, whenaccording to the promise and in the words of theSaviour, he comes to " reprove the world of sin,because they believe not on me." And this truthevery one must understand and feel, before he isTHE GUILT OF UBELIEF. 83brought into the life, and light, and liberty of thegospel. Be it mine then to-day, to put the doctrinein such a light, and to give of it such illustrationsas shall commend it to the mind and conscience of every one who hears me.And here, possibly, I may in the very beginningdivest the subject of not a little of its mysterious-ness, by calling attention to the new circumstances

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