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against the Holy Ghost, closes against himself that door which could alone be opened to receive and save him: deprives himself of that influence which alone could bring him to repentance, and therefore to forgiveness.

For a like reason St. Paul pronounces it“ impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,—if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance." The reason is the same. There is but one way of salvation; and if a man having been once brought into that road, deserts it, and takes a different path, he must come to the end to which it carries him: he cannot obtain salvation, when he has renounced the only author of salvation; “ has crucified the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.”

Suppose the case of a physician, who possessed a remedy for some fatal disease, and was offering it to all who needed. Some enemy of the physician appears, and says, He is to be avoided, not consulted; he is a deceitful man, and his object is not to cure, but to poison: that man could never be healed, because he had put himself out of the way of cure.

And this is what the Scribes and Pharisees were doing. This man's works, they say, proceed from an evil source. He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casteth he out devils. The Holy Spirit softened the heart of David,

• Heb. vi. 4-6.

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who "acknowledged his transgression, and whose sin was ever before him.”

So Manasseh, “ when he was in affliction,” besought the Lord, and prayed unto Him, and came to “ know that the Lord, He was God:"6 and it was for this that Peter urged Simon to pray that “none of the things which he dreaded might come upon him.”? But could a like mercy be exercised towards those who blasphemed the power which was to heal them? who ascribed to the prince of the devils the works of mercy and pity which God was performing! This was to revile Him on whom repentance depends, and on whom, therefore, forgiveness must depend.

If this unpardonable sin can be committed by any in the present day, it is committed by those who speak against the Gospel, misrepresent the religion of Christ, and neither enter into the kingdom of heaven themselves, nor suffer others to enter in. These incur the woe, which the prophet pronounces against those who “ call evil good, and good evil ; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness ; that put bitter for sweet, , and sweet for bitter." 8 There may be scoffers who have so hardened their hearts against the fear of the Lord, and so resisted the Holy Ghost, that repentance is as far removed from them as it was from Pharaoh, of whom God foresaw, “I am sure that the king of

5 Ps. li. 2. o 2 Chron. xxxiii. 12, 13. 7 Acts yiii. 24.

8 Isa. y. 20.

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to say,

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Egypt will not let you go, no, not by a mighty hand.” But if we find one who, like David, has grace

Against Thee, O God, have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight: that Thou mightest be justified when Thou speakest, and clear when thou judgest :” then we have indisputable proof that this penitent has not so blasphemed against the Holy Ghost, as to be in danger of eternal damnation. His self-condemnation, if sincere and real, is certain evidence that he is not condemned of the Lord. He

may be unable to enjoy the assurance of hope; he may " walk in darkness and have no light; " but his pardon depends not on his sense of forgiveness, but on the word of God promising it; and the word of God has said, “ Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him: and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.”ı

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9 Exod. iii. 19.

i Isa. lv. 4.

LECTURE XXV.

DIFFERENT TREATMENT OF THE DISCIPLES AND

THE PHARISEES.

MARK iv. 1-12.
(Matt. xiii. 1-17. Luke viii. 4-15.)

1. “And He began again to teach by the sea side : and

there was gathered unto Him a great multitude, so that He entered into a ship, and sat in the sea ; and the whole

multitude was by the sea on the land. 2. “And He taught them many things by parables, and

said unto them in His doctrine, 3. “Hearken ; Behold, there went out a sower to sow : 4. “ And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the

way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it

up. 5. “And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much

earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no

depth of earth: 6. “But when the sun was up, it was scorched ; and be

cause it had no root, it withered away. 7. "And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up,

and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. 8. “ And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that

sprang up and increased ; and brought forth, some thirty,

and some sixty, and some an hundred. 9. “ And He said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let

him hear. 10. " And when He was alone, they that were about Him

with the twelve asked of Him the parable. 11. “And He said unto them, Unto you it is given to know

the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables :

12. “That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and

hearing they may hear, and not understand ; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.”

THERE must be a reason for this difference, which at first sight appears contrary to the usual dealings of God with man. There is here a “respect of persons.” To those who were about Him with the twelve apostles, our Lord says, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God; but to others, to them that are without, all these things are done in parables : they see, but they do not perceive the meaning of what they see: they hear, but they do not understand : so that the effect of hearing and understanding does not take place, they are not converted or healed.

St. Matthew in his report of this same discourse adds the reason,' * In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand ; and

1; seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive. For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.”

The different treatment, therefore, of them that were without, and of the apostles and others who were about Him, corresponded with the dif

Matt. xiii. 14, 15. Isa. vi. 9, 10.

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