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but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him ; but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.” Also, Mark iii, 28, 29."
Verily I say unto you, all sins shall be forgiven unto the song of men, and all blasphemies wherewithsoever they shall blaspheme; but he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost, hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation.” „And I John v. 16. “ If any man see his brother șin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death; I do not say he shall pray for it." From each of these places, it is manifest, that he that is guilty of blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, shall surely be damned, without any deliverance from his punishment, or end to it. The various expressions that are used, serve much to certify and fix the import of others. In Matt. xii. 31, it is said, “ The blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.” The negative is general, and equally respects all times. If this sin should be forgiven at a remote time, it would be as contrary to such a negative, as if it were forgiven immediately. But, to determine us that Christ has respect to all times, even the remotest, and that he means to deny that he shall be forgiven at any time whatsoever, in Mark it is said, “ He shall never be forgiven ; or, hath never forgiveness ;' and, lest this never should be intexpreted to mean, never as long as he lives, or never in this world, it is said in Matt. xii. 32. “It shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, nor in the world to come." And lest it should be said, that although he never is forgiven, yet that does not hinder but that there may be an end to his punishment; because he may suffer all he deserves in suffer, ing a temporal punishment, or punishment of a limited, long duration; and he that is acquitted in paying all his debt, is not said to be forgiven his debt: another expression is used in Mark, which shows, that he shall ever suffer damnation, and never have deliverance from his misery, whether by forgiveness or without it. Hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation." And the forementioned expressions, " He shall never be forgiven;" “ He hath never forgiveness ;" 56 Shall not be forgiven in this world, nor the world to come," show the meaning of the word eternal here, to be such as ab. solutely excludes any period, any time of favour, wherein condemnation and punishment shall have ceased. And what the apostle John says of those who commit the unpardonable sin, confirms the whole, and proves, that he that has committed this sin remains under no dispensation of mercy, and that no favour is ver to be hoped for from God; and therefore it is VOL. Vii.
not our duty to pray for such favour. 6. There is a sin unto death, I do not say he shall pray for it;" or, I give you no direction to pray for them that sin this sin unto death,
§ 17. Thus it is evident, that all wicked men will not have an end to their damnation ; but when it is said, they are in danger of eternal or everlasting damnation, the word eternal is to be understood in the strictest sense. The same terms are used concerning all impenitent sinners, that they shall be sentenced to eternal punishment, and shall go into everlasting punishment, &c.—That their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched ; and they shall be tormented for ever and ever; and such terms are used after this world comes to an end ; and also when they who have committed the unpardonable sin, and others, shall be sentenced all together to an everlasting fire, in the same terms. It is unreasonable to suppose that the punishment of some will be everlasting, in an infinitely different sense from others jointly sentenced ; and that the duration of the punishment of one shall be perfectly as nothing, compared with the duration of the punishment of the other, infinitely less than a second to a million of ages. And it is unreasonable to suppose such a difference, also on this account, that there cannot be such a difference in the demerit of them, that commit the unpardonable sin, and the demerit of the sins of all other wicked men, some of whom are exceedingly, and almost inconceivably wicked. There cannot be a truly infinite difference in their guilt, as there must be a properly infinite difference between the dreadfulness of those torments that have an end, however long continued, and how. ever great, and the torments of a truly and strictly everlasting fire.
§ 18. If the damned in hell shall all finally be saved, they shall be saved without Christ. It is manifest, that Christ's saving work will be at an end at the day of judgment; for, as Christ has a twofold office, that of the Saviour of the world, and the Judge of the world: so, the business of the latter office properly succeeds the former. It is not fit in the nature of things, that he should come into the world, and appear openly in the character of universal Judge, to decide men's state-in consequence of the trial there has been for making their state better by salvation-till that trial is over, and all its effects completed, when no more is to be hoped as to altering their state for the better by his salvation. Therefore Christ, at his first coming, appeared in order to save men from condemnation, and a sentence of eternal misery; and not to judge them, as he tells us, John xii. 47. “If any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came, not to judge the world, but to save the world.” See, also, chap. ii. 17. and viii. 15. But the great business he will come upon at his second coming, as is abundantly declared, is to judge the
world. And it is also exceedingly plain, that Christ's saving work will be at an end at the day of judgment; because we read, (2 Cor. xv.) that, at the end of the world, he will deliver up his kingdom; he will resign his commission : which proves that the work of salvation, which is the design of it, will be at an end, when all his enemies, all that rejected him, and would not have him to rule over them, and so have failed of his salvation, shall be made his footstool, shall be condemned and destroyed. Instead of being the heirs of salvation, he shall come in flaming fire, to take vengeance on them that know not God, and obey not the gospel of Jesus Christ, who shall be punished with everlasting destruction, &c. When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and admired in all them that believe; 2 Thess. i. 8, 9, 10.
$ 19. If the damned, after they have suffered a while, are to be delivered, and to have eternal life, then the present dispensation of grace and life to the fallen children of men, that was introduced by Christ and his apostles, is not the last; but another is to be introduced after this has proved unprofitable and ineffectual. But, that a new dispensation of grace should thus be introduced, because that which was brought in by Christ and his apostles, proves weak and unprofitable through men's corruption, and there appears to be need of one which shall be more effectual, is not agreeable to the Scripture. For this dispensation is spoken of as the last and most perfect, wherein perfection was reached, Heb. vii. 19. “For the law made no- . thing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did." And chap. xi. 40: “God having provided some better thing for us, that they, without us, should not be made perfect." The ancient dispensation is spoken of as that which God found fault with, in proving ineffectual through the corruption of men ; and so he introduced a new administration, that should not be liable to exception, and, therefore, should not wax old, or be ever liable to vanish away and give place to another. Heb. viii. 6. to the end. So he speaks of the things of that ancient dispensation, as things which were liable to be shaken and removed; but of the things of the new dispensation then introduced, as those that could not be shaken, but should remain · for ever; Heb. xii. 25. to the end; and 2 Cor. iii. 11. The dispensation of the New Testament, is often spoken of in the prophecies of the Old Testament as an everlasting dispensation; Jer. xxxi, 31, 32. chap. xxxii. 40; Isa. Ixi. 8; Ezek. xxxvii. 26.
§ 20. To suppose that, after all the means of grace that are used in this world, Moses and the prophets, Christ and the gospel, the warnings of God's word, and the exhibitions of glorious gospel grace, have been despised and obstinately withstood, so as to make the case desperate as to their success, God has other means in reserve, to be used afterward, to make men holy, that will be more powerful, and shall be effectual ; is not agreeable to Scripture. Particularly, Luke xvi. 27. to the end : “ Then he said, I pray thee, therefore,
, Father, that thou wouldest send hini to my father's house : for I have five brethren ; that he may testify to them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them. And he said, Nay, Father Abraham, but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.
And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” And this is especially manifest, from Rev. xxii. 10, 11, 12. " And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book : for the time is at hand. He that is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he that is filthy, let him be filthy still. And behold I come quickly, and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be."
I think the meaning must be either, The time is quickly com. ing, when every man's state will be fixed, inasmuch as I am quickly coming to judgment, to fix every man's state unalterably, according as his work shall be ; and after that there will be no alteration, nor any means or endeavours in order to it; but he that is unjust, let him be unjust stiil; and he that is filthy let him be filthy still: and if this be the meaning, it makes it evi. dent, that Christ will not immediately proceed to the use of the most powerful and effectual means of all, to change the state of the unjust, and filthy, to purify them and make them holy, and fit them for etemal glory, with infallible success.-Or, the mean. ing must be this, which seems to be much the most probable : Christ, having given this last revelation to his church to be added to the book of Scripture, with which the canon was to be shut up and sealed by the instrumentality of the apostle John, who lived the longest of the apostles, and wrote this book after all the rest were dead; orders John (ver. 10.) to publish this book wherein such great future judgments are revealed as coming on the wicked, and such an affecting declaration of the future glory of the saints, to enforce the rest of God's word and means of grace ; and then intimates, that no more revelations are to be expected, no more instructions and warnings are to be added to the word of God, as the steady means of grace, any further to confirm and enforce the rest ; that the next revelation that is to be expected, and that Christ will make of himself to the world, is to be his immediate appearance in judgment, to fix unalterably every man's state according to his works, according to the improvement he shall have made of those past revelations, instructions, and warnings ; and therefore, those lhat will not be purified by those means, are not to expect that better, or other
means, will ever be used with them ; but he that is unjust must remain so still, and he that is filthy must be filthy still, and he that is righteous shall be righteous still, and he that is holy shall be holy still. Thus Christ takes leave of his church till his last coming, warning them to improve the means of grace they have, and informing them that they are never to have any other : q. d. They have Moses and the prophets ; and, in the writings of the New Testament, they have more glorious, powerful, and efficacious revelations of me, Those writings I now finish and seal. Let them hear these, and make a good improvement of them: for these are the last means I shall ever use to change man's state. This is inconsistent with his reserving his greatest and most powerful means, with a determined certain success, to be used after the day of judgment.
$ 21, They who suppose the damned are inade to suffer the torments of bell for their purification, suppose, that God is herein prosecuting his grand design of benevolence to his creatures; yea, benevolence to the sufferers; and that he does not use these severe means but from necessity for their good, because all gentie remedies prove ineffectual. Now, it is unreasonable to suppose, that God is under any necessity of inflicting such extreme torments upon them for so long a time, in order to their being brought to repentance; and that,
1. If we consider the nature of things : torments inflicted have no tendency to bring a wicked man to repentance directly and properly, if by repentance we mean an 'alteration of the disposition, and appetites, and taste of the mind. We know by experience, that pain inflicted for gratifying an appetite, may make men afraid to gratify the appetite, but they do not change the inclination, or destroy the appetite. They may make men willing to comply with external exercises ; of which they have a distaste, and to which their heart, in its relish and inclinations, is averse ; yet not from love to the things complied with, but from hatred of pain, and love of ease. So that the man complies in some sense: but his heart does not comply. He is only driven, and as it were forced ; and an increase of pain alters not the nature of things. It may make a man more earnestly to desire freedom from pain ; but still there is no more to be expected from it, than is in the tendency of pain, which is not to give a new nature, a new heart, or a new natural relish and disposition. It is not granted, that even long continued pains arid practice will gradually raise an habitual love to virtue. The pains of the damned being great and long continued, may more and more convince them of the folly of their negligence and fearlessness in sin, and may make them willing to take some pains, but will not show them the beauty of holiness, or the odiousness of sin, so as to cause them to hate sin on its own account.