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ed from their bondage. Miracles were a demonstration of divine authority. This visible display of divine authority was opposed and rejected by Pharaoh ; and of course, his heart was hardened. This was the way, in which Christ hardened the hearts of the Jewish priests and rulers. He spake as never man spake; and he wrought many miracles. In resisting these testiinonies of the divinity of Christ, they became, at last, utterly hardened and reprobate. Without remorse, they could crucify the Lord of glory. Thus, speaking of the elect and non-elect, Paul draws the conclusion, " Thierefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth." 66 The elect hath obtained it.” hath obtained salvation," and the rest were blinded.?' In this sense, though not, perhaps, in the highest sense of the word, all the non-elect are called reprobate. Accordingly, the Apostle Paul, having exhorted professing christians to self-examination, adds, Know ye not your own selves how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates ? i.e. ripening for destruction.
The non-elect are called the vessels of wrath, fitted to destruction ; which implies as real a purpose of divine wrath respecting them, as the purpose of divine mercy respecting the vessels of mercy.
Such are the instructions of the scriptures, respecting that reprobation of the non-elect, which is considered as a counterpart to the salvation of the elect. Reprobation, considered as a judicial act of the Deity, remains to be considered.
In connection with the great and important doctrines of Election and Reprobation, it may not be improper to attempt an explanation and improvement of the very alarming doctrine of the unpardonable sin. 66 There is a sin unto death,” says the Apostle: and it appears to be in consequence of this sin, that God, by a judicial act, gives men up to uncleanness, through the lusts of their own hearts; gives them up to vile affections. It is added, that, “ As they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient, being filled with all
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unrighteousness." The Apostle, to the church of Thes . salonica, speaking of the man of sin, the son of perdition, meaning the papal Antichrist, who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God or that is worshipped ; even him whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all power and signs, and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish, because they received not the love of the truth that they might be saved ; observes, that " for this cause, God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie, that they all might be damned, who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." We read of those who are reprobate concerning the faith ; and of those who are abominable, disobedient, and to every good work, reprobate. These several passages of scripture suggest to us the doctrine of an actual reprobation of heart; and an abandonment of God, to the commission of sin with greediness. Awful indeed must be that sin, which involves the whole soul and body in the slavery of Satan and of ungodly lusts.
We now come directly to the enquiry, in what the unpardonable sin consists ? And we find, that a grand peculiarity of this sin is, that it is a sin against the Holy Ghost. Although every sin is offensive equally to the Triune God; yet certain crimes may be committed more directly against one person of the Godhead than the others. Unbelief, for instance, is a more direct affront to Christ; who is the faithful and true witness, than to the Father, or the Holy Ghost. Also, when sinners abandon themselves to all kinds of immorality, and to the open violation of the divine law; they offer a more particular affront to God the Father, who is our lawgiver, and to whom we are strictly bound to yield obedience and honor. But when mankind, with great audacity, oppose and vilify the special work of Divine grace, in the conviction and conversion of sinners, this is a more particular opposition and affront to the Holy Ghost, who is the Spirit of all grace. In this consists the sin unto death." It is a sin particularly against the Holy Ghost.
Again we observe, It is an overt and external sin sin which cannot be committed merely in the heart. It is a blasphenny, or something equal to blasphemy against the Holy Ghost. Some have supposed that it must be az sin of the tongue, and cannot be committed by any other means but evil speaking. But Paul, who so narrowly escaped the sin unto death, was not only a blasphemer, but also a persecutor, and injurious; and it is intimated, that in all his wicked opposition to the church, and to the glorious work of divine grace, he approximated to the unpardonable sin. When he stood by, and consented to the death of Stephen, and when he punished Christians oft, in every synagogue; and when he made havoc of the church, and, entering into every house, haled men and women, and committed them to prison; and when they were put to death, gave his voice against them; and when he received a commission and authority from the chief priests and rulers, to go to Damascus, to bind and imprison and destroy all that called on the name of the Lord; it was his general line of conduct, and not simply his evil speaking, which exposed him to the sin unto death. It is a just maxim, that actions speak louder than words. The unpardonable sin is doubtless, an external sin committed with great malice of heart; but not limited to the tongue.
We observe further; it is a sin against great light; and against the clear dictates of a well informed conscience." This is the condemnation," said the Saviour to the reprobate Jews,“ that light is come into the world, and men love darkness rather than the light, because their deeds are evil.” To sin perversely, against a clear conviction of gospel truth, and against the knowo and acknowledged operations of the Holy Spirit, is the most presumptuous and desperate wickedness, of which we are capable. When the Saviour pronounced, respecting the enlightened and perverse Jews, that they had no cloak for their sins," the meaning was, that they were reprobate ; or judicially hardened.
One thing further respecting the unpardonable sin, is, that it is the fruit and effect of great malice of lieart;
and especially in view of the sovereignty of divine grace, in the conversion, only of the elect. How great and desperate must be the malice of the heart, to induce a man, in open and daring defiance of the conviction of his own conscience; and in the full expectation of working out his own damnation; to blaspheme against the Holy Ghost! There is doubtless, in all impenitent sinpers, a strong opposition of heart to God, to his government, and to the dispensation of his grace. Through the ignorance that is in them, because of unbelief, and the blindness of their hearts, many sinners, like the persecuting Saul of Tarsus, strenuously and zealously oppose, even the work of the Holy Spirit. They declaim against awakenings, and revivals of religion ; and even persecute the zealous advocates for the work of grace. These, however, may be far from a state of final reprobation. Only let their eyes be opened, to see and realize the truth, as it is exhibited in the scriptures ; and to see the awful depravity of their hearts; and they feel, as Paul did when the commandment came. 6. When the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.” Small and feeble is the malice of the common enemies of Christ, compared with that of the desperado, who commits the unpardon. able sin, by doing violence to his own conscience.
We have now, in a way of explanation of this capital sip, found, that it is a sin particularly against the Holy Ghost-that it is an overt and actual sio, consisting in blasphemy or something equally malignant—that it is a sin against great light and conviction of the truth; and that it is the fruit and effect of great malice of heart.
Further light may be cast on this subject, by what Paul says respecting his own wicked conduct, before his conversion. His statement is, that he was a persecutor, a blasphemer, and injurious But, says he," I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief: Plainly implying, that, had e done the same things understand. ingly, and with a clear couviction, that, by opposing the wonderful work of divine grace, he was opposing the Holy Ghost, and sealing his own damnation, he could never have obtained mercy. His ignorance, though but
a slender excuse for his audacious conduct, was a palliation of his guilt, and rendered his sin pardonable.
Again; We have clear light and instruction respecting the sin unto death, from the reply of our Lord to the cavil of the chief priests and scribes, that he cast out devils by Beelzebub, the prince of devils.
In reply to this cavil, our Lord, by the most conclusive reasoning, convicted the malicious cavillers, even on their own principles; and pronounced them guilty of the unpardonable sin.. How can Satan cast out Satan? For a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand. And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out po By whom do the children or prophets of Israel, perform miracles ? By whom did Moses and the prophets perform miraculous, works, to attest to their divine authority. It is an established point, and justly taken for granted by you, and by all the Jews, that miracles are a sure testimony of divine power and authority. By miracles were all your scriptures authenticated. Accordingly, Nicodemus, one of your chief rulers, frankly made to me this concession, t. We know that thou art a teacher come from God; for no man can do the miracles that thou dost, except God be with him." You know that I establish my claims, and vindicate my cause, in the same way, and by the same means by which Moses and the prophets have established their claims, and vindicated their cause. Even ye yourselves, convened in solemn council, have been altogether non-plussed, and have been constrained to say one to another, “ What shall we do? for this man doth many miracles. If we let him thus alone all men will believe on him; and the Romans will indeed come, as he has prophesied, and take away both our place and nation.” It is a given point, according to your own principle, that all men ought to believe on me. You know, that your cavil about my miracles goes as far to destroy the authority of Moses and the prophets, as to destroy my author ity. You see the same evidence of the power and agency of God in my miracles, as in the miracles of Moses and the prophets. You allow and maintain, that all their