THE Sin against the Holy Ghost: Or, The Sin unto Death Briefly discours'd of

  • I. Proving what this Sin is. And,
  • II. That all other Sins, how Great and Hei­nous soever, may be forgiven unto Men; but the Blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall never be forgiven, neither in this World, nor in the World to come.

To which is added, Some Instructions how a Man may walk and not commit this unpardonable Sin.

Mat. 12 31.

That all manner of Sin and Blas­phemy shall be forgiven unto Men, except it be the Sin against the Holy Ghost.

By Mr. Robert Russel

EDINBURGH, Printed by James Watson, for John Crossby 1700.

Of the Unpardonable Sin AGAINST THE HOLY GHOST: Or, The Sin unto DEATH.

1 John V. part of Vers. 16.

There is a Sin un­to Death.

THere is no meer Man since the Fall, that can live without Sin, for all are Sinners: But yet there are De­grees of Sin; some Sins in their own Nature are small, others are more great and heinous. Many Sins there are that are great, yet pardonable, and one Sin there is unpardonable; and whosoever commits that one Sin shall have no forgiveness, but must for ever bear the weight and punishment, both of that and of all his other Sins. There is such a Sin as St, John speaks of here in my Text; that this is a Sin unto Death. And now I come to the Explication of the Words; from whence I shall raise this Point of Doctrine:

Doct. That amongst other Sins committed by fal­len Mankind, there is only one Sin that is a Sin [Page 4]unto Death, & whosoever committeth that, he hath no Forgiveness, neither in this World, nor in the World to come.

Now for my further proceeding on this Sub­ject I shall lay open to you,

  • First, What the Sin unto Death is?
  • Secondly, That all our Sins, how great and heinous soever, may be forgiven.
  • Thirdly, That this sin alone shall never be forgiven.
  • Fourthly, The reason why that Sin alone is unpardonable. And then,
  • Lastly, I shall conclude all with a few words of Application.

I shall begin first with the Description of this unpardonable Sin; where I shall endea­vour to make as plain a Description of it, as possible I can; and in doing of it, I shall I. shew you Negatively, what is not this Sin. II. I shall shew you positively what it is.

I. I shall shew you Negatively, what is not this Sin unto Death; or in what Degree a Man may Sin, and yet not commit that un­pardonable Sin against the Holy Ghost.

1. It is not every quenching of the motions of the spirit that is that sin, it is true when the Holy Ghost comes with a still Voice & knocks at the Doors of Sinners hearts for Entrance, he often comes & strives with them, and secretly Wooes & beseeches them to leave their Sins, & be converted; yet they quench and stifle all his Motions and bear up their Hearts against him and will not be obedient to his Heavenly Calls, now such sin grievously against the Holy Ghost: [Page 5]But yet this alone is not the unpardonable sin against the Holy Ghost, for many who have stood it out a long time, & have often quenched and grieved the Holy Spirit, yet at last they have been wrought upon unto sincere Conversion.

2. A Man may commit many heinous & cry­ing Sins, & yet not be guilty of the unpardonable Sin against the Holy Ghost. A Man may be an Idolater, a Whoremonger, a Furnicator, a Murderer, and work Witchcraft, and sin with a very high hand; nay he may live in all man­ner of Filthineness and Lewdness, and yet not be under the Guilt of unpardonable Sin against the Holy Ghost. Thus we read 2 Chron. 23. that Manasses sinned with a very high Hand; he was an Idolater, an Inchanter, and work­ed Witchcraft, and dealt with Familiar Spirits, and wrought much evil in the Sight of the Lord. And Mary Magdalen had Seven Devils cast out of her, Luke 8.2. and yet both were pardoned.

3. A Man may sin presumptuously against great Light and Knowledge, and yet not com­mit this Sin unto Death: For Peter, when he de­nied Christ, he did it against great knowledge of Christ, he knew Christ to be his Lord and Saviour, he was one of Christ's beloved Dis­ciples; and for all that how strongly he denied Christ, and that with an Oath too; and yet for all that, Christ looked upon him with a merci­ful Eye, and that he repented and was forgiven.

4. It is not every Malicious Sin that is the unpardonable Sin against the Holy Ghost; for St: Paul certainly had great Malice in his heart [Page 6]when he went on so furiously to persecute the Church of God; and yet was converted, and became a Preacher of the Gospel of Christ, which before he persecuted.

5. And lastsy, It is not final Unbelief, nor final Impenitence, that is the unpardonable Sin against the Holy Ghost, tho some be of Opnion, that it is because that Sin is unpar­donable; and Christ himself hath said, Mat. 12.31. That all manner of Sin and Blasphemy shall be forgiven unto Man, except it be the Sin against the Holy Ghost. But you are to take the words of our Saviour in their true sense and mean­ing; it is all manner of Sin and Blasphemy com­mitted within the compass of a Man's Life, that shall be forgiven, except the Sin against the Holy Ghost; for the Sin of final impeni­tency, and final Unbelief, is not compleated untill the very Moment of a Man's Death; and then you all know, that there is no Repentance and consequently no Pardon after Death, for Christ saith, He that Sins against the Holy Ghost, hath no forgiveness, neither in this World, nor in the World to come. Now, why should Christ say, in this World, if there be no space to be forgi­ven in, in this World? But a Man may com­mit the unpardonable Sin against the Holy Ghost even many years before his Death. Be­sides there are many thousands that die in Im­penitency and Unbelief, and are damned, and yet never committed the unpardonable Sin a­gainst the Holy Ghost:

[Page 7] Thus have I shewed you Negatively, what is not this unpardonable Sin, none of these Sins in particular is that Sin.

II. I come now to shew you positively what this Sin unto Death is, and wherein this un­pardonable Sin against the Holy Ghost doth consist. Now there are several Opinions in the World about it; some hold one thing, some another: But I have not time nor room to dis­pute concerning others Opinions about it, but I will endeavour, through God's help, to lead you to the plain sight of it, by the Light of the Holy Scripture.

Now in the first place you must know, that there are two sorts of People that cannot com­mit this unpardonable Sin.

1. The true Believer cannot commit it, tho many times for their Trial, God suffers them to fall foully into many grievous Sins; yet they being rooted into Christ, they are up­held by free Grace and Mercy, that they cane not fall into this unpardonable Sin,

2. The grosly ignorant cannot commit it, because it is a Sin against great Light and Knowledge. Indeed the greatest part of the World shall be damned; yet amongst the great­er part, there is but few of them that can com­mit that unpardonable Sin against the Holy Ghost.

Some have both Light and Grace, these shall not commit the unpardonable Sin. Again, some have neither Light nor Grace, these cannot commit it. But there are some again that [Page 8]have Light and no Grace, these are they that are liable to commit the unpardon­able Sin again the Holy Ghost. Now there must be two ingredients to make up this un­pardonable Sin; that is Light in the head, and Malice in the heart; without these two the Sin against the Holy Ghost cannot be committed: For to sin against great light and knowledge, is not that Sin alone; nor yet to sin ignorantly, out of that Malice, is not that Sin but they must joyn both together, to make up this unpardon­able Sin. This we see by the example of St. Peter and St. Paul, Peter he denied Christ, and forswore himself too, and that grievously against Light and knowledge; for he knew Christ to be the only begotten Son of God, and he knew God in him; he was one of Christ's Disciples, & one of his beloved Disciples too; he was taught of Christ, and had experimental Knowledge of his Love and Favour, and yet he wickedly with an Oath denied him. Now if Peter had done his out of Malice and Spight then he had com­mitted that Sin unto Death, for which there is no Forgiveness: But Peter had no Malice in his Heart all this while, even at that time when he denied Christ; as you may see Mat. 29. when Christ told him, Before the Cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. He answered, If I should die with thee, I will not deny thee. And then denying him thro' Infirmity, and Weakness of the Flesh: When he considered what he had done, he went out and weept bitterly, V. 75. And Paul, he had great Malice and Spight against the ways and [Page 9]People of God; as you may see Acts 9.1. Now here was a great Rage and Malice in Saul, a­gainst the Ways and People of God; but doing it ignorantly he at last hearing a Voice saying, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And receiv­ing of a Light from Heaven, that it was Jesus that he persecuted, he was pricked at the Heart and trembling and astonished, said, Lord what wilt thou have me to do! Now by these two places of Scripture, you may plainly see, that Peter sinned against great Light. And Paul out of great Malice, yet none of them both committed the unpardonable Sin again the Holy Ghost. But whensoever Light and Malice meet together in one Man, then there is a Sin against the Holy Ghost. Now as all other Sins, so this Sin a­gainst the Holy Ghost may be committed in Thought, Word, or Action.

1. In Thought, that is, when a wicked Man against his clear Light and Knowledge, doth but conceive a malicious Thought, or Purpose towards persecuting the Gospel of Christ, or of the Saints of Christ to hinder the Work of the Holy Ghost in them.

This Sin is to be thought, was the Sin of the lost Angels; for which Cause they were lost without all Hopes of Pardon. Now some dis­pure whether their Sin was a Sin of the thought; but I say with all likelihood it was: For the Angels being only Spirits, without Bodies, and so have no use of bodily Tongues, it could not be committed in Word; nor yet could they commit it in Action, because they were cast [Page 10]out of Heaven, before they could bring it in­to Practise, therefore it must be a Sin of the Thought.

Now their Sin was this, Their Habitation being in the highest Heavens, next. under God himself, they had exceeding great light, and Knowledge; they had more knowledge than all the Men in the World ever had, and were happy above all other Creatures; but when not being contented with this Estate, they thought to be as high as God himself; therefore maliciously sought to make War a­gainst the Son of God, and put him out of his Throne; for which Cause they were immedi­atly thrust out of Heaven, never more to see the Face of Mercy: Thus their Sin being of the same Nature with the Sin against the Holy, Ghost they were excluded all hopes of Pardon.

2. This may be committed in Word too; that is, when a Man speaks blasphemously and maliciously of Christ and his holy way: This was the Sin of the Scribes and Parisees, Mark, 3.22. Therefore saith Christ unto them, Ver. 28.29.

Now the Reason of this Speech of our bles­sed Saviour, is shewed in Vers. 22. because they said, He hath an unclean, spirit; which plainly shews, that these Scribes had spoken Blasphe­my against the Holy Ghost. These Scribes were great learned Men, and they could know no other but that Christ was the Son of God, and they knew that he cast out Devils by the Spirit of God; and yet but of spite to Christ [Page 11]maliciously and blasphemously said, That he cast ut Devils by Belzebub the Chief of Devils. Thus these Scribes committed the unpardonable Sin against the Holy Ghost: And, that in a Word.

3. This Sin may be committed in Action too, that is when a Man being once through­ly enlightned, and entered upon a holy course of Life, and tasted the Comforts of God's spi­rit, and had some forettaste of the Joys of Heaven, and not only makes Profession of the Gospel, but teaches it to others; he at last takes a dislike of these holy Courses, and thro' spite and malice, utterly forsakes, opposes and per­secutes those good ways of God, which he before profest and taught. But to sum up this Point: This unpardonable Sin against the Holy Ghost is fully described by the Apostle to the Hebrews, Chap, 10.29.27.28. Likewise, Heb. 6.4.5, 6.

Now the Sin against the Holy Ghost is brief­ly this: It is a wilful and malicious Opposing of the known Truth.

1. This Sin unto Death is an opposing Sin; now to oppose a thing. is to contradict it, or gain say; when a Man says so, and so denies it. and says it is not so; when a Man says a thing must be done, he says again it must not, nor shall not be done; but a Man may be an op­posing Man, and yet cannot commit this sin: Therefore:

2. It is the Truth that we must oppose; that is, we must utterly oppose and reject Christ, who said, I am the Truth John 14.6. [Page 10] [...] [Page 11] [...] [Page 12]He opposeth all his Threatnings, and will not believe his promises, and counts him to be a Seducer of the People, and counts the Blood of the Covenant to be an unholy thing; nay he also opposes the Spirit of Christ, who is the Spirit of Truth: So that he will not obey his Motions, and will not be led nor guided by him; but a Man may oppose the truth, and yet do it ignorantly: Therefore,

3. It must be the known truth thatheopposeth he must be once enlightned: But you must know, that it is not only a Notional Know­ledge and Humane Learning. He may know much of God, and of his will in the Letter of the Word, and yet not capable of committing this unpardonable Sin: But he must be so far enlightned, as to see the Evil that is in Sin, and the Excellency of Christ; he must taste of the Heavenly Gift, and be made partaker of the Holy Ghost, and taste of the good Word of God, and the Powers of the World to come, and by the Blood of the Covenant, which he counts as an unholy thing, he is in part san­ctified and cleansed from many Sins; he must have sweet Comunion with God in his Word and Sacraments; he must have some Taste of the Love and Favour of God, and Comforts of his Spirit, and be refreshed by it, and taste of the Love and Favour of God, and Comforts of his Spirit and taste of the Joys of Heaven, and have some Fore-taste of the Happiness of the World to come.

4. He must oppose the known Truth will­fully, he must willfully fall away, after he [Page 13]hath received the Knowledge of the Truth: Other sins are committed through Infirmity, but this sin is wilfull, the Will is the chief Actor in it: And to compleat and make up this un­pardonable Sin, there is,

5. Malice in the Heart; without this, this sin cannot be committed; it must be a malici­ous opposing of the known Truth.

Now a Man having gone thus far, he comes in the last place to be an Apostate: Now for such a one willfully, spitefullly, and malici­ously to fall away, he so falls, as never to rise more. It is true the Children of God fall and that often, and yet riseth again; but when they fall through Weakness of infirmity, and not willfully and maliciously; but these wicked Wretches fall wilfully and maliciously, and so fall finally. Against such, the Door of Mer­cy is ever shut: Concerning such, St. Peter saith 2 Pet. 2:21, 22. There is such another dreadfull Place of Scripture against these Apo­states; that is, Heh. 10 26.

Object But what is the reason then that this Sin cannot be forgiven.

The Reason arises from the Nature of this Sin; for this Sin, by whomsoever it is com­mitted, hardens the heart and fears the Consci­ence; so that there is no place for Repentance to be wrought, neither for that or any other Sin. This Sin is called the sin against the Ho­ly Ghost, because it is a sin against the Person of the Holy Ghost, so is all sin against his Per­son, but it is called the sin against the Holy [Page 14]Ghost. because it is against the Office and Work of the Holy Ghost. Now every one of the Three Persons have their par­ticular Work: The work of the Father is to cre­ate; the Work of the Son is to redeem lost Sin­ners; and the Work of the Holy Ghost is to enlighten, convince, sanctifie and convert them. Now a Man committing this unpar­donable Sin against the Holy Ghost, rejects all this Work, of the Spirit. Now for a Man to be throughly enlightned by the Holy Ghost that he comes to know the evil of Sin, and of his lost and undone Condition without Christ; and that none but the Merits of Christ can save him, then for him wilfully and maliciously to oppose him, and the Work of his Spirit and Will not be beholding to him for Salvation, now for such one to be forgiven, is utterly impossible.

Object. But why is it impossible? Nothing is impossible with God.

A Man through ignorance may deny Christ and maliciously fall from the Profession of the Truth into all Wickedness, as did Saint Paul, and the Jews that Crucified Christ, and yet not falling against Light and Knowledge, there is room for the Holy Ghost to work upon him, to enlighten him, and to convince him of his Folly, and so makes way for Conversion. And besides, a Man after he hath been en­lightned, and yet falls back thro' Infirmity, and the weakness of the Flesh, as Peter did, [Page 15]and doth not fail willfully and maliciously, then the Holy Ghost, may work upon him, and work in him a deep sorrow, for abusing so much Love and Mercy, and so carrie on his good Work unto Salvation. But for a man when he is once enlightned by the Holy Ghost, and has had some taste of Gods love and fa­vour, and some fore-taste of the Joys of Hea­ven, and then at last utterly opposing this Illu­minating Work of the Spirit, and willfully and maliciously to fall away, and so to reject the Spirits renewing Work. Alas then the Holy Ghost has done, he has nothing more that he can work in him; for this wretched Creature, has utterly rejected him; his enlightning Work his convincing Work, his sanctifying Work, he has utterly rejected Christs. Pardon, Hea­ven and all. Now this poor Wretch is past all Hopes of Mercy, all hopes of Pardon; nay, for such a one we are forbidden to pray; as you see in the Verse, wherein my Text is apart. Now Christ praved for them who malicious­ly crucified him, Luke 23.34. Saying, Father, forgive them for they know not what they do. Alas they knew not what they were doing, for had they known it they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory, 1 Cor. 2 8. But if they had known & yet crucified him, Christ would not have spent his breath to pray for them; for it would have been utterly in vain: For when a Man has committed this unpardonable Sin; neither the Prayers in Heaven nor Earth, can do him any good; for as the Text saith, There is a Sin unto Death.

[Page 16] I shall conclude with a few words of Ap­plication.

I. Watch very diligently against all sin; but above all, take special heed of those sins that come near to the sin against the Holy Ghost; and they are these: Hypocrisie, taking only the outward Profession of Religion, and so dissembling and mocking of God, sinning will­fully against Conviction of Conscience, and against great Light and Knowledge; sinning presumptuosly, and with an high hand: These Sins, tho' none of them are the direct sin a­gain the Holy Ghost, yet they will come very near to it; therefore take especial heed of them, lest they in time, should bring you to the com­mitting of that unpardonable Sin. And,

II. Labour to be sincere in Religion, and by a true Faith ingraft your selves into Christ; for they that be with Christ, can never commit this unpardonable sin: For know this, that a­mongst all the sins committed by fallen Man­kind, there is one sin, that is a Sin unto Death, which is the unpardonable Sin against the Ho­ly Ghost, which whosoever commits it, hath no Forgiveness, neither in this World nor in the World to come:

I desire you for to take your Bibles and search the places of Scriptures here cited, And the Lord give you understonding in all these things.

FINIS.

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