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phemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto
32. "And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come."
Our Lord here warns the Pharisees of the danger they were incurring. These miracles were done by the Holy Spirit. To attribute them to Satan, was blasphemy, and such blasphemy as must lead to eternal condemnation. Blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. We plainly see why this is declared. Without repentance, no sin can be forgiven. But the Holy Spirit alone can lead to repentance. And the Holy Spirit will not convert one who denies His power. Therefore blasphemy against the Holy Ghost takes away all hope of repentance and pardon, because it closes up that channel through which alone repentance and pardon can be conveyed..
On the other hand, it is mercifully_said, Whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him. There might be errors and unbelief relating to Christ, which might afterwards be repented of and pardoned. As in the ensuing chapter, some ask, "Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brethren, James and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? Whence then hath this man all these things? And they were offended in Him." Others cavilled at our Lord's manner of
conversation: "Behold a man gluttonous, and a wine-bibber, a friend of publicans and sinners." These errors might be cleared up, these hard speeches repented of, and then, like sin repented of, forgiven. And no doubt many then, and many since, who had once been offended in Christ Jesus, have afterwards laid aside their prejudices, and partaken of His mercy.
Concerning blasphemy against the Holy Ghost we may justly observe, that there have been instances of repentance and conversion, even in such as might otherwise have been supposed guilty of that sin. We might have supposed this, for instance, of Paul himself, had he died whilst he was "a blasphemer and a persecutor, and injurious," "breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of our Lord."* There is reason, therefore, to believe that the unpardonable blasphemy alluded to must have been confined to that age, and to the particular offence which gave occasion to our Lord's words -the ascribing to Satan the miracles of mercy which He was daily performing.
Scoffers and infidels, however, have need to beware and tremble. Scoffers and infidels do what the Pharisees were doing: they mock at the grace of God, and reject the remedy for sin which He has prepared. But let no meek and contrite heart be dismayed at this sentence. It cannot possibly apply to them. Theirs is the very state which God has promised to receive:
1 Tim. i. 13. Acts ix. 1.
"To this man will I look, saith the Lord, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word." The very fears of the humble and meek are a proof that the Holy Ghost has not forsaken them, but is striving with them. They have rather a title to derive comfort from the merciful assurance; All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men, through that blood which God has vouchsafed to accept as " a full, perfect, and sufficient satisfaction." "If we confess our sins, He is just and faithful to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." " "If the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die."" For "the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin." 8
THE RELAPSING DEMONIAC.
MATT. xii. 43-45.
43. "When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places,' seeking rest, and findeth
'Isa. lxvi. 2. 1 John i. 9. 7 Ezek. xviii. 21. 1 John i. 7. Dry places. The idea is suited to an Eastern country, and is taken from the case of one wandering in a sandy desert, where, through want of water, all is waste and barrenness.
44. "Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out: and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished.
45. "Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other
spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation."
THIS sad description is applicable either to the case of an individual or of a nation. Our Lord, however, on this occasion, alludes more particularly to the Jewish people, speaking of them as of one man. They had been growing worse and worse, in spite of many advantages. They had been purified by the Babylonish captivity: the power of Satan had been weakened for a time: the unclean spirit might be supposed to have gone out: but any reformation which had followed this chastisement had been transient: no sign of it remained; they were again corrupt, exceedingly corrupt, as a people; and they were now signally showing their corruption by rejecting the Messiah.
This state is here traced to Satan as its cause. Any individual, or any national reform, is a conquest over the power of that unclean spirit. He may be expelled for a time, or he may go out; relax his temptations "for a season;" but we know that he will not lose his victim without a struggle; he will watch his opportunity: he will find no rest all places will be dry and unrefreshing to him, till he return, if possible. As we read in the history of Job, "The Lord
saith unto Satan, whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the Lord and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it." And St. Peter acquaints us with the object of this restlessness, saying, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour."
When then, thus "going to and fro in the earth," he finds a house which he had left, empty, swept, and garnished; that is, when he finds a heart prepared for his reception, unprotected by divine grace, unfortified by sound principles, and made ready for him by remaining evil habits, he returns again with increased power, as if seven, or many, wicked spirits were present instead of one; and the last state of that man is worse than the first.
This was, undeniably, the case with the Jewish nation. 66 Light had come into the world." But they had shown that they "loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." They "would not come to the light, lest their deeds should be reproved."
We may say the same of Judas, as an individual. As an apostle, he must have worn the outward appearance of a religious character. He must have "done many things," as Herod once did, in the way of obedience and duty; and we can hardly suppose that he had not felt many strong compunctions. Still the heart was