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A great deal is revealed of the nature and providence of God, more of the one than impresses us with sentiments becoming his awful majesty, and more of the other than we are disposed to observe and obey. Whatever mysteries may shroud the Deity, and hide his essence from us, there is no darkness upon his will, -upon what he commands, and what we are bound to perform. He who came down to reveal his Father's will, gave us an unerring rule of conduct, and if we endeavour to be like him, we shall surely attain to the glory of God. Let us, then, receive with meekness the engrafted word, and fulfil with care the expressed injunction, and when the time shall come that we must appear in judgment, and the history of our lives is brought forth and scrutinized, it will not be objected to us that we did not understand all mysteries and all knowledge, but sincerity will be accepted in the place of wisdom, and a good life be regarded as the test of a right faith. Our blessed Lord declares, “They that have done good, shall come forth unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation."
THE SIN AGAINST THE HOLY GHOST.
MATTHEW xii. 31.
WHEREFORE I SAY UNTO YOU, ALL MANNER OF SIN AND BLAS
PHEMY SHALL BE FORGIVEN UNTO MEN : BUT THE BLASPHEMY AGAINST
THE HOLY GHOST SHALL NOT BE FORGIVEN UNTO MEN.
One of the most striking particulars in God's government of the world, is the inadequacy of the means which he employs to the ends he has in view. This is especially observable in his miraculous dispensations. The object of this course of administration, is, evidently, to impress upon the minds of men a devout sense of his immediate and actual agency, and to carry the thoughts at once above all subordinate instruments, to the source of all animation
This was particularly necessary in the early periods both of the Jewish and of the Christian dispensations. Unless it had been clearly shown, that the means made use of on certain occasions to produce striking and supernatural effects, were tirely incapable of producing such effects themselves, the spectators would have been led to ascribe to second causes, what was due to the first great Cause and Director of all.
In many of the miracles recorded in Scripture, the weakest instruments, and the most improbable methods, were employed to accomplish the greatest purposes. This naturally and obviously forced the attention upon God, for if the instrument itself was incapable of producing the work achieved, there was no other course left than that of attributing it to God.
It is a great proof of the weakness and vanity of the human mind, and shows the sad consequences of the fall, that it is exceedingly unwilling to ascribe any thing to God, which it can possibly account for on mere natural principles. There are men who pretend to show that every miracle may be traced to a natural source, and if this can be done, the visible agency of God in superintending the ordinary train of events, and the course of his providence on all extraordinary occasions, fall at once to the ground. It is not God, but nature, who then governs the world. But the pride and folly of this mode of accounting for all the supernatural and wonderful works of the Almighty, is opposed in so many ways, especially by the weakness of the instruments employed in effecting such works, that it has not been, and cannot be, generally entertained. When our Saviour restored the blind man's sight with a little common clay taken up from beneath his feet, infidelity itself must allow, that the healing virtue was not in the material employed, but in the invisible agency of God. This was still more evident, when, by a mere word, without any external application, he ejected evil spirits from the bodies of men, and restored to their right minds those who had long been in subjection to such diabolical influence. The Pharisees, who beheld these miraculous cures, like the contenders for natural philosophy in the present day, refused to attribute the power of performing them to a divine source, and, therefore, with a malignancy worthy of the hatred they bore to the benevolent Jesus, they ascribed them at once to the instrumentality of the devil. They could not deny a supernatural cause, but they made that cause to spring from the prince of the powers of darkness. Our blessed Lord met this base insinuation with an argument which was quite unanswerable, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand : and if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then shall his kingdom stand ? And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out ?”
- your righteous sons, the Prophets. “But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.
Or else how can enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house. Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. Because they said, He hath an unclean spirit.”-From this declaration of our blessed Lord we learn, that to deny the evidence of miracles as the works of God,
and to ascribe them to the influence of the devil, is, in the language of Scripture, to sin against the Holy Ghost.
In discoursing upon this subject I propose to consider,
First, The necessity of miraculous evidence for the truth of revealed religion.
Secondly, The reasons of men for disputing and denying it.
Thirdly, The character of the Sin against the Holy Ghost.
I. First, The necessity of miraculous evidence for the truth of revealed religion will be very apparent, if we consider the nature and properties of any revelation. If in the corrupt and degenerate state in which man is found, he required instruction from his Maker to teach him the duties of a religious and moral life, (and all men will admit this but the Deist ;) then it became necessary that the person to whom this instruction was conveyed for the benefit of others, should be able to prove to the satisfaction of the world, that he was in communication with God, and had received from the source of all being, the rules and regulations which he publicly taught. The mere words of a man affirming that he was guided by the Spirit of God, would not have entitled him to notice, however sublime and unexceptionable his discourses might have been. The philosophers of old taught many lessons of practical wisdom, but their writings