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only what can be called a direct attack, not such as is made out by implication, upon the perfections of the Lord of the universe, and what' clearly displays the intention of lessening men's reverence of him, that is blasphemy, in the meaning (I say not of the rabbies, or of the canonists, but) of the sacred code. In short, such false and injurious language, and only such, as, when applied to men, would be denominated reviling, abusing, defaming, is, when applied to God, blasphemy. The same terms in the original tongues are used for both ; and it would perhaps have been better, for preventing mistakes, that in modern tongues also, the same terms were employed. Indeed, if we can depend on the justness of the accounts which remain of the oldest sectaries, there were some who went greater lengths in this way than even Marcion.
$ 17. BEFORE I finish this topic, it will naturally occur to inquire, What that is, in particular, which our Lord denominates blasphemy against the Holy Spirit 5' ? It is foreign from my present purpose, to enter minutely into the discussion of this difficult question. Let it suffice here to observe, that this blasphemy is certainly not of the constructive kind, but direct, manifest, and malignant. First, it is mentioned as comprehended under the same genus with abuse against man, and contradistinguished only by the object. Secondly, it is further explained,
39 Matth, xii. 31, 32. Mark, iii. 28, 29, Luke, xii. 10.
by being called speaking against, in both cases. Ος αν ειπη λογον κατα τα υιε τε ανθρωπε,
ος δ' αν ειπη κατα τα πνευματος τε αγιε. The expressions are the same, in effect, in all the Evangelists who mention it, and imply such an opposition as is both intentional and malevolent. This cannot have been the case of all who disbelieved the mission of Jesus, and even decried his miracles; many of whom, we have reason to think, were afterwards converted by the Apostles. But it is not impossible, that it may have been the wretched case of some who, instigated by worldly ambition and avarice, have slandered what they knew to be the cause of God, and, against conviction, reviled his work as the operation of evil spirits.
s 18. A LATE writer, more ingenious than judicious, has, after making some just remarks on this subject, proceeded so far as to maintain that there can be no such crime as blasphemy. His argument (by substituting defamation for blasphemy, defame for blaspheme, and man for God) serves equally to prove that there is no such crime as defamation, and stands thus : • Defamation presupposes malice ; where there is malice, there is misapprehension. Now the person who, misapprehending another, defames him, does no more than put - the man's name,'(I use the author's phraseology) 'to his own misapprehensions of him. This is so.
'far from speaking evil of the man, that it is not ' speaking of him at all. It is only speaking evil of a wild idea, of a creature of the imagination, and existing nowhere but there 61. From this clear manner of reasoning, the following corollary, very comfortable to those whom the world has hitherto misnamed slanderers, may fairly be deduced. If you have a spite against any man, you may freely indulge your malevolence, in saying of him all the evil you can think of. That you cannot be justly charged with defamation, is demonstrable. If all that you say be true, he is not injured by you, and therefore you are no detractor. If the whole or part be false, what is false does not reach him. Your abuse in that case is levelled against an ideal being, a chimera to which you only affix his name (a mere trifle, for a name is but a sound), but with which the man's real character is not concerned. - Therefore, when you have said the worst that malice and
61 That the reader may be satisfied that I do not wrong this author, I shall annex, in his own words, part of his reasoning concerning blasphemy. “As it is a crime that implies malice
against God, I am not able to conceive how any man can 66 commit it. A man who knows God, cannot speak evil of 6 him. And a man who knows him not, and reviles him, does " therefore revile him, because he knows him not. He there. “ fore puts the name of God to his own misapprehensions of “ God. This is so far from speaking evil of the Deity, that “ it is not speaking of the Deity at all. It is only speaking " evil of a wild idea, of a creature of the imagination, and exista
ing nowhere but there."
resentment can suggest, you are not chargeable with defamation, which was the point to be proved. Thus the argument of that volatile author goes further to emancipate men from all the restraints of reason and conscience than, I believe, he himself was aware. He only intended by it, as one would think, to release us from the fear of God; it is equally well calculated for freeing us from all regard to man.
Are we from this to form an idea of the liberty, both sacred and civil, of which that author affected to be considered as the patron and friend; and of the deference he professes to entertain for the Scriptures and primitive Christianity? I hope not; for he is far from being at all times consistent with himself. Of the many evidences which might be brought of this charge, one is, that no man is readier than he to throw the imputation of blasphemy on those whose opinions differ from his own 62.
02 In the dedication of the book to the lower house of convo. cation, the author advises them to clear themselves from the im. putation of maintaining certain ungodly tenets, by exposing the blasphemies of those of their own body: in No. 23, we are told that false zeal talks blasphemy in the name of the Lord; in No, 24, that persecutors blasphemously pretend to be serving God; and in No. 27, that it is a kind of blasphemy to attempt to persuade people that God takes pleasure in vexing his crea. tures. More examples of the commission of this impracticable crime might be produced from that author, if necessary,
The next term I proposed to examine critically was oxioua, schism. The Greek word frequently occurs in the New Testament, though it has only once been rendered schism by our translators. However, the frequency of the use among theologians has made it a kind of technical term in relation to ecclesiastical matters; and the way it has been bandied, as a term of ignominy, from sect to sect reciprocally, makes it a matter of some consequence to ascertain, if possible, the genuine meaning it bears in holy writ. In order to this, let us, abstracting alike from the uncandid representations of all zealous party-men, have recourse to the oracles of truth, the source of light and direction.
§ 2. As to the proper acceptation of the word oxiqua, when applied to objects merely material, there is no difference of sentiments amongst interpreters. Every one admits that it ought to be rendered rent, breach, or separation. In this sense it occurs in the Gospels, as where our Lord says, No man putteth a piece of new cloth to an old garment: for that which is put in to fill it up, taketh