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this world, nor in that to come; St. Mark, that such an one hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation; and St. Luke positively saith, it shall not be forgiven: and to confirm the matter still more, if possible, St. Paul saith, “ For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come; if they shall fall away, (or, and have fallen away) to renew them again to repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. For if we sin wilfully, after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgement, and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses's law, died without mercy, by the mouth of two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?” Heb. vi. 4, 5, 6. x. 26, 27, 28, 29. And the same Apostle directs us, saying;“Looking diligently, lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled: lest there be any fornicator, or profane persons, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterwards, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected; for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it with tears." Hebrews xij. 15, 16, 17.
And St. John the beloved disciple, says; “If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it." 1. John v. 16.
Now here is a sin for which there is no torgiveness, neither in this world (or age) or in that to come; which shall not be forgiven at all; he that committeth it hath never forgiveness, is in danger of eternal damnation; he cannot be renewed again to repentance, because he hath crucified Christ to himself afresh, and hath put him to an open shame; having sinned wilfully and maliciously, after receiving the knowledge of the truth, to such no more sacrifice for sins remaineth: judgement and fiery indignation are his certain portion, he is an adversary, and must be devoured; a sorer punishment than death without mercy awaits him, of which he is worthy, for that he hath trodden under foot the Son of God, the only Saviour, and hath counted the precious blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, and which alone is able to cleanse from sin, an unholy thing; and hath done despite to the Spirit of grace, which is only able to renew the heart, and therefore the case of such must be desperate; for is such an one like Esau, should wish to repent and gain what he had lost, it could not be, for he would find no place for repentance, though he might seek it carefully with tears; for having commit
ted the sin unto death, for which no prayer is to be made, no intercession offered up, he is bound over to the second death, the lake of fire and brimstone, and must bear the punishment of his sins for ever and ever!!! What say you to this?
Minister. As when Nebuchadnezzar told Daniel his dream, he was astonished for one hour at the greatness of the punishment which he saw would inevitably come upon the King; much more must all those be, who read and consider these dreadful threatenings which must surely come upon all those who have sinned in the manner described! I shall make a few observations
these most terrible passages of Scripture; partly to prevent feeble minds from falling into despair, that may see them collected in one striking view; partly to cure proud minds of presumption; and partly to shew that the doctrine of the Restoration may be defended, notwithstanding
1. We are sure that the scribes and Pharisees of our Saviour's time, who blasphemously ascribed his miracles to the power of the devil, did, in the most direet and undeniable manner, commit that sin, and some are doubtful whether it can be committed by any in these days.
2. It is generally acknowledged, that the Hebrews were in danger of committing that sin, by openly and wilfully apostatizing from Christianity, and publicly renouncing Christ and his salvation, and blaspheming against the Holy Ghost after having been partakers of its extraordinary gifts.
3. It cannot be committed by ignorant persons, nor without a considerable degree of malice prepense; light in the understanding, and malice in the heart, are necessary ingredients of this dreadful crime; and it appears to me, it must be committed openly, and that it cannot be committed in thought only.
4. Under the Levitical dispensation there were many unpardonable sins-crimes that could not be forgiven or overlooked, and for which no atonement could be 'made, and which were punished with death, without mercy; other crimes, unless sacrifices were offered, and 'repentance took place, subjected the parties to death also: but under the gospel, there is but one crime that is properly unpardonable, and that absolutely subjects the person guilty of it to the second death; yet many other sins are threatened with the same punishment conditionally, but they may be forgiven, and not punished at all; but this one must as certainly be punished with the second death, as murder or any other crime, was by the law of Moses punished with the death of the body without mercy or forgiveness. Forgery is the unpardonable sin of England; people frequently suffer death for other crimes, as well as this; but other offences are sometimes forgiven, but this never; it is always punished with death. This circumstance may illustrate my meaning. The sin against the Holy Ghost is an offence of that kind, that, either owing to its uncommon malignity(as is most likely) or some other cause, exposes the guilty persons to the age of judgement, from which he cannot escape by repentance, pardon, and sprinkling of the blood of Christ as other sinners may: neither can he be at present born -of the Spirit, to which he hath done despite; nor can he be reclaimed by any possible means, in this age, or in the age that is to succeed this, but is inevitably bound over to suffer the inconceivable torments of the second death, or lake of fire and brimstone after the day of judgement.
5. There is no kind of dispute between us, respecting the certainty of the punishment of such; in this we both agree: He that sinneth against the Holy Ghost, is in danger of eternal damnation, or judgement, or the second death:--The question is, shall there ever come a time, when the second death, or lake of fire, shall no more exist? If this can be proved, the conclusion will be evident, viz. that not one shall remain under the power thereof to all eternity: Upon this, and this alone, depends the solution of this awful, interesting, and most important question; and I consider all other answers as mere quibbles, compared with this. And if it cannot be proved that a time will come when all that bears the name of death shall be destroyed, those who commit the sin unto death, must at least be allowed to stand as exceptions to the general rule: and, I am apt to think, the rule itself will be overthrown. I shall therefore labor this point a little; and if I should be so happy as to prove to your satisfaction the total destruction of death, it will answer many other objections as well as this. My only refuge is scripture; if that fails me, I shall not presume to pursue the subject farther.