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The second is, when men entirely renounce Christ and his doctrine wilfully and with a deliberate mind, out of pure. malice and hatred, without being forced to it either through weakness or fear, against the conviction of their own conscience, not only after they have known the truth, but also after they have publicly professed it, and afterwards even add persecution to their apostasy. This is that species of sin, which the Apostle St. Paul chiefly had in view in those two passages which I have already quoted, and which, as I have before observed, was but too common in the early ages of Christianity...
The third way of committing sin against the Holy Ghost is, when men fall into an universal corruption of manners, and give themselves up to every species of wickedness, though at the same time they make a profession of Christianity; þut yet, having cast off all fear of God, trample religion under their feet, and do despite to the spirit of grace. These are probably they, of whom St. Peter says,
“ They speak evil of things they under6.stand not, and therefore shall utterly 66 perish in their own corruption;" and of whom St. Jude says, “ There are certain
men crept in unawares, who were be“ fore of old ordained to this condemna
tion; ungodly men, turning the grace 6 of God into lasciviousness, and denying 66 the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus 66 Christ." ... iu
Having now pointed out from some plain texts of scripture in what the sin against the Holy Ghost consists, I shall detain you no longer at present on the subject than whilst I briefly explain why it is called blasphemy; and particularly blasphemy against the Holy Ghost..
· assi! " .i lorii! i si Now it is called blasphemy, because they who commit any 'species of this sin clearly incur that guilt, which is denoted by the word blasphemy: for blasphemy, in its proper and strict sense, is a sort of calumny or detraction, by which we last cribe to God and his word such things as are injurious to and unworthy of him, or,
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by which we depreciate or undervalue his: divine perfections; by which we not only deny God, but also insult and mock him. Thus, if, we consider the manner in which the sin against the Holy Ghost was committed by the Pharisees, it will appear to be a most plain and horrid blasphemy. For what can be a greater act of blasphemy than to ascribe to the devil that which is the effect of an almighty power?
If again we consider it as a renunciation of the truth of the gospel, accompanied with such circumstances as I have already mentioned, is it not the height of blasphemy to renounce a doctrine, which we have once acknowledged as divine, to traduce it as false and fictitious, and to reject and condemn it, notwithstanding it bears the evident marks of truth and divinity? What is this but to speak evil of the Deity; since every slander and affront we cast upon his word and doctrine strikes at the divine authority, and reaches the throne and person of God himself. If again, we betieve a religion to be divine, and yet trample it under our
feet by a total depravation of morals, we are no less guilty of blasphemy: for this is surely as much as to despise and undervalue it as if we thought it false, and wished it to be regarded as such by those who are witnesses of cur actions; and it would clearly be more ingenuous at once to renounce it, than to acknowledge the truth of its precepts with our tongues, whilst we flagitiously violate and blaspheme them in our actions.
Lastly, this sin is not only called blasphemy, but particularly blasphemy against the Holy Ghost. Not that this sin is more offensive to the Holy Ghost than to the other sacred persons of the Trinity; but because it more immediately acts in contradiction to the peculiar operations of the Holy Spirit, whose property it is to enlighten us; since it either extinguishes, or renders useless, that light of truth, which the Holy Ghost kindles in the heart of every true believer.
And in this way every man clearly acts against the operations of the Holy Ghost,
who opposes a religion, of the truth of which he cannot doubt; or, again, when he forsakes and persecutes a religion, of whose divine origin he is fully convinced; or lastly, when he tramples it under foot by a total and wilful depravation of morals : since in all these cases he obstructs the powers of the Holy Ghost, he quenches the spirit of God, and tacitly accuses him of falshood and imposture. :
- How far those novel teachers are guilty of this crime, who deny both the divinity of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, and who have established separate congregations for inculcating these impious notions, I will not take upon me to determine; since it is impossible for man to say on what motives or grounds of conviction they may act. But sure I am of this, that it well behoves them to be very clear on what ground they stand in a matter of so great importance; the penalties of which extend, not only to the present short life, but to all eternity. For the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall never be forgiven, neither in this