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I think it necessary to take notice of one more passage, in the First Epistle of St. John, which seems to have a near affinity to those already quoted; it is this: " There is a sin unto death; I do not say “ that he shall pray for it.” What this sin unto death is, St. John hath not particularly mentioned. Some therefore have imagined, that he meant those crying sins of idolatry, murder, and adultery, which debarred obstinate and incorrigible offenders in them finally from the communion of the church, and were therefore called mortal sins, or sins unto death. But I rather incline to the opinion of the learned Beza, who imagines the sin unto death to mean a total apostacy from the Christian faith, joined perhaps with a malicious blaspheming against the Holy Ghost, as in the case of the Pharisees. And it is the more probable that St. John speaks of this, because we know that many of the Jews at that time were guilty of this very crime, by renouncing the faith they had once embraced, and relapsing into Judaism. However, in either sense, this passage will fall in with the propo1


sition before laid down, that they are guilty of sin not to be forgiven, who are either obstinate apostates, or remain hardened, deliberate, and incorrigible offenders in great and crying sins.

From what has been said it appears, that there are three sorts of sin against the Holy Ghost; or, to speak more accurately, three different ways of committing the same sin; which, having all the same object, may not improperly be called, though in very different degrees, the sin against the Holy Ghost.

The first and principal one is, by maliciously opposing a religion, which is built upon the strongest and most convincing proof, and supported by such miracles as we cannot disprove, and therefore chuse rather to ascribe to the devil, than own the author of them to be sent froin God, and embrace his doctrine; which was the sin of the Pharisees alluded to in the text, but cannot now be committed since the cessation of working miracles.

The 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; but 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, Vol. IV.





They speak evil of things they unders stand not, and therefore shall utterly

perish in their own corruption;" and of whom St. Jude says, 66 There are certain

men crept in unawares, who were be66 fore of old ordained to this condemnastion; ungodly men, turning the grace 6 of God into lasciviousness, and denying " the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus 66 Christ.”

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.

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 ascribe to God and his word such things as are injurious to and unworthy of bim, or,


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 believe a religion to be divine, and yet trample it under our

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