« AnteriorContinuar »
ishment due to it, and the unspeakable torments which await hypocrites and unbelievers, he has been greatly, alarmed; and in hearing or reading discourses which described the happiness of saints, their distinguishing privileges, and the joys they shall be put in possession of, he has found his passions greatly moved, his affections wonderfully raised, and his mind astonishingly elevated; he is apt to consider himself the subject of a gracious change, and thinks he is entitled to comfort. But these impressions, being like the morning cloud and early dew, soon he finds from their transitory nature, and from what he criminally indulges and perpetrates in secret, that there is nothing of genuine religion in them. When his hopes of happiness from that quarter are cut off, and no expectation arises from any thing he has done or resolves to do, he is miserable in his mind beyond what language can express, or fancy imagine, and frequently wishes he had never been born, or that he had been any thing but a rational creature.
Should it be asked, What then is the hypocrite's end in making a profession of religion, and what are his principles and motives of action? It
be answered, self-interest, or applause, or both. The following observations may, perhaps, solve the question. It is either to obtain the name of a Christian, or, if he passes for one, to preserve that name; to rise higher in the esteem of the people of God, or to hush the clamors of a guilty conscience. The hypocrite is a base person, and acts from base principles. All his religion originates in self, and terminates in self. He acts from no better principle than self, and has not in view a more exalted end. He reads, he studies, he prays, or, it may be, even preaches about religion, with no other design than to secure the good opinion that Christians have formed of him. And as he appears to the best advantage in these religious exercises when he has a crowd about him, who admire his gifts and apparent graces (for he has no taste for secret prayer and self-examination, so the good opinion of others confirms his good opinion of himself. If compliments are paid him on account of his abilities, (for there are some Christians weak enough to tell a Christian brother, or minister, how much they are edified by his conversation or preaching; how much they covet his gifts and graces,) decency, or good manners teaches him to reply, “that it is out of character to praise a man in his hearing." But, O! how he is inwardly pleased, how he is secretly gratified with the encomiums passed upon him! He says to himself, “If they admire me for this, I will give them greater reason to do it." He sets to work, reads, meditates, and commits to memory in private what he intends to say in public, merely to gain the applause of professors, and to ingratiate himself into their favor. If this end be not gained, 0 how he is mortified! how he is disappointed! Moreover, the hypocrite is a wicked person. Whilst he makes a splendid profession, and is apparently fired with ardent zeal for God and godliness, he always cherishes some diabolical lust, and gratifies it whenever he has an opportunity. And the sin in which professors of this description generally land, is that of uncleanness. In fine, as a pleasing and evangelical author observes,* he is that in the church which a knave is in the state: The one is not fit for civil soci
ety, nor the other for Christian communion. Were he to appear in his real colors, men would clap their hands at him, and hiss him out of the place. He paints his face, therefore, like Jezebel, with the varnish of good words, sanctified looks, and actions seemingly benevolent and devout. He is like the rainbow, whose glorious colors are reflected from a dark vapor only when the sun shines. He is sometimes discerned and despised of men, but always by God. From what has been observed, we conclude, that a real hypocrite in religion must know that he is one.
The answer to the second query, Whether the person be a hypocrite who is afraid that he is one, and wishes not to be, seems to be more easy. Let attention be paid to the following things. If the person's dread of being a hypocrite, and his wishes not to be one, proceed from fear of punishment in this life, and eternal torments in that to come, it is possible he may be the character he wishes not to be. Because, in this case, his fears and wishes arise, not from a conviction of the atrocious nature of sin, and its hatefulness in the sight of God, but merely from selfish motives. On the other hand, if the person be convinced of the odious nature of hypocrisy, loathe it, and himself on account of it, and his inclination to it, as there is too much of this leaven in the best of characters, if he can pray sincerely to be delivered from it, and seeks its destruction, root and branch, as an evil exceedingly offensive to God, and pernicious to the soul, the writer of this is fully persuaded, that such a person is not a hypocrite, but is a real Christian.
NOSPMIS. VOL. III.
ON THE UNPARDONABLE SIN.
What is blasphemy against the Holy Ghost? And what
is the meaning of Heb. vi. 5, 6.
The forgiveness of sin is doubtless one of the most interesting subjects to a sinful creature; and if there be one sin upon which the Divine Being has thought fit to set a mark of peculiar displeasure, by declaring it unpardonable, it is worthy of the most serious inquiry, to determine what it is. Perhaps the most likely method of coining at the truth, will be by first taking a view of those passages of scripture where it is explicitly or implicitly conveyed, and then making a few remarks upon them.
There is no express mention of the sin against the Holy Ghost under the former dispensation; it seems to me, however, that there was a period in the lives of Cain and Saul,and perhaps of some others,when they were given up of God to inevitable destruction. The first or rather the only express mention that we have of it, is in the Evangelists, where it is applied to the Pharisees on occasion of their blasphemously asserting, “This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils," Mat. xii. 31, 32. Mark iii. 28-30. and Luke xii. 10. Dr. Whitby thinks these passages were only designed to warn them of the sin; but that it was not possible to be actually committed till the pouring out of the Holy Ghost in the day of Pentecost; and assigns this as a reason, that Christ afterwards prayed for those very persons, Luke xxiii. 34. But those for whom Christ prayed, "knew not what they did;" they
were in the same situation with Saul while a persecutor; they “did it ignorantly, and in unbelief.” But this was not true of all his murderers. Those who made answer to Judas, who confessed that he had betrayed innocent blood, “See thou to that,” could not, I am afraid, have this plea alledged on their behalf. It is true, the multitude did it ignorantly, and many of their rulers, as St. Peter candidly acknowledged; but this, I should think, is more than could be said of them all. It is pretty evident that some of them acted upon the principle suggested by our Lord; “This is the heir let us kill him.” It is no objection to this, that it is said, “If they had known him, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory;" for knowledge is not here put for a mere conviction that he was the Messiah, but for that spiritual discernment which is possessed only by believers, being “revealed to them by the Spirit, who searcheth the deep things of God,” i Cor. ii. 7. 10. pears to me that some of the Pharisees were guilty of the unpardonable sin. See John ix. 41. and xii. 42, 43.
Perhaps the next intimation that is given of this sin, is in Peter's address to Simon Magus: “Repent of this thy wickedness, and pray God, IF PERHAPS the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee," Acts viii. 22. . It does not appear that the apostle considered the sorcerer as having certainly committed the unpardonable sin; but it seems he considered it as a matter of doubt, and therefore, with a view to impress upon his mind the greatness of his wickedness, and the danger he was in, expressed himself in that doubtful manner, which he was not used to do in ordinary cases.