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"Now, this kind of sin is usually accompanied with so much obstinacy, and such wilful opposing the truth of God, and the known truth, that men who are guilty of it, are seldom or never converted; and, therefore, are never forgiven, because they will not repent. Otherwise, there is no sin which God cannot, or will not forgive to such as sincerely repent." Here, it is plainly stated, by a Roman Catholic writer, that there is no sin which cannot be forgiven cn repentance; and this remark he makes in especial reference to the conclusion to which many of the very best orthodox writers have come, that all manner of sin and blasphemy is more easily forgiven than the sin against the Holy Ghost; but then even this sin may be forgiven, if duly and sincerely repented of.
2nd. We were to inquire, in the second place, in what did the sin against the Holy Ghost consist? Here, again, we cannot reply in any better language, than that of the Doway translator. The sin here spoken of, is that blasphemy, by which the Pharisees attributed the miracles of Christ, wrought by the Spirit of God, to Beelzebub, the prince of devils." The sin against the Holy Ghost is one particular sin; and that sin consisted in attributing the miracles of the Lord Jesus to Beelzebub, the prince of devils, which he wrought by the power of Jehovah. To this conclusion any one will be led, who will read from the 22d to the 32d verse of Matt. xii. Jesus cast out a demon from a man who was both blind and dumb, or, in other words, he healed him of his blindness and dumbness. The people were amazed; and the Pharisees, his enemies, who could not deny that the miracle had been wrought, attributed the working of it to the spirit of Beelzebub. Now this was a sin against the Holy Spirit, by which the miracle was actually wrought; and, accordingly, the Saviour went on to speak of the difficulty of forgiving and over coming this sin. The Pharisees rejected the highest evidence, that of an open miracle; and it was, of course, vastly more difficult to overcome and forgive
this sin and unbelief, than any other. No person can commit the sin against the Holy Ghost now, unless he admits, in the first place, that Christ actually wrought a miracle; and then alleges that he did it by a league with the devil, and through the devil's assistance, for this was the ground taken by the Pharisees.
3d. But, third, we are to inquire, what is meant by the phrase, hath never forgiveness," Mark iii. 29, or "shall not be forgiven, neither in this world, neither in the world to come." Matt. xii. 32. These phrases are synonymous. The passage in Mark stands thus ; "hath not forgiveness is tov «iora," that is, unto the age. It does not mean, hath never forgiveness, as the translators have rendered it; but literally, "hath not forgiveness unto the age." The expression was an indefinite one among the Jews, and must be understood according to the subject to which it is applied. The language used by Matthew is, "shall not be forgiven, neither in this world, nor the world to come. But it is very certain, that Matthew was not speaking of the mortal and immortal states of being, when he spoke of this world, and the world to come. No, he had no reference to the immortal state of being in any way. Let the Bible explain itself. Let one sacred writer elucidate another. Paul says, Heb. ix. 26, "Now, once, IN THE END OF THE WORLD, hath Christ appeared, to put away sin, by the sacrifice of himself.” What world was that? Answer, it was the world which came to an end when Christ appeared. Paul was speaking of an event which had already transpired, not of one which was then future. The world of which he was then speaking, had already come to an end. It was the Jewish world, or AGE, at the end of which Jesus introduced his Gospel, and brought "life and immortality to light." We will give another passage. 1 Cor. x.
"Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples; and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come." What! another world come to an end! Yes, more than that ;
for the original word here is in the plural form, as follows: " upon whom the ends of the WORLDS are come. How many of these worlds had then come to an end, we do not know. Under this view of the subject, we ask the candid reader to decide, whether the passage in Matthew furnishes any proof of endless punishment?"Shall not be forgiven, neither in this world," or age, which ended when the Gospel age be"neither in the world," or age, "to come," that gan; is, the age which succeeded it. Let us not be wise above what is written. Let us be willing to stop where the Bible stops. But there is one matter of revelation not to be forgotten here. It is recorded in Eph. ii. 7. "That in the WORLDS (plural) TO COME, he might show the exceeding riches of his grace, in his kindness towards us through Christ Jesus." Now, although the sin against the Holy Ghost was not to be forgiven neither in the then existing age or world, nor in the age or world which succeeded it, yet (mark reader) in the WORLDS TO COME [for it is the same Greek word in Ephesians which you find in Matthew] God will show the exceeding riches of his grace. Exceeding, is a word of comparison. Exceeding what? We reply, exceeding every display of his grace which had been before made. In these latter days, or ages, God shows us the exceeding riches of his grace, which outshine all former exhibitions, as the rising sun outshines the morning stars, that are lost in the flood of light he pours upon the world. The sin against the Holy Ghost may be cancelled by the exceeding riches of God's grace in the AGES to come, although it was not to be forgiven neither in the age when Christ spake, nor in the age which succeeded it.
We refer those who desire to look further into this subject, to Ballou's "Lectures," Ed. of 1832, pp. 117-131; Balfour's "Second Inquiry," pp. 291299. Paige's "Selections," Sect. XXI., in which the opinions of commentators of the highest note are
given; and the "Universalist Expositor," Vol. II. pp.
XIV. "But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment." Matt. xii. 36.
For an explanation of this passage, see the remarks and references under Sect. IX., on Matt. x. 15. See also Paige's "Selections," Sect. XXII.
Matt. xii. 41, 42.
See the references in Sect. XII.
XVI. "He answered and said unto them, he that soweth the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; the enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of Man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom, all things that offend and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire; there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth, as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear." Matt. xiii. 37-43.
For a critical exposition of this passage, we refer the reader to "Notes and Illustrations of the Parables," pp. 94–104.
We offer only the following suggestions in this place:
To what time did Jesus refer by "the harvest," which he declared was the "end of the world"? In the style of the sacred writers, any consummation, when men may be said to be ripe for any purpose, is called the harvest. (Thus Jer. viii. 20; Joel iii. 13 ;) "Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe; come, get you down, for the press is full, the fats overflow; for the wickedness is great," &c. (Matt. ix. 37, 38; also Rev. xiv. 15.)
By the answer to this question, it is settled whether the events of this parable refer to the future existence of mankind, or whether it had its proper fulfilment at the time of the destruction of the Jewish state. The
phrase rendered "end of the world" is σvrtikula tov alvos, and signifies literally, the conclusion of the age. The same expression occurs Heb. ix. 26, where we read that Jesus appeared, at the conclusion of the age, to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. As Christianity may be said to have begun when the Jewish religion ended, so Christ is said to have appeared at the end of the Jewish age. The apostle Paul stated, that the end of the age had happened in his day, "Upon whom the ends of the ages (τὰ τέλη τῶν αἰώνων) are come." 1 Cor. x. 11. The same subject is again spoken of, Matt. xxiv. 3, where we are informed, that the disciples asked the Saviour, what should be the sign of his coming, and of the conclusion of the age, (συντέλεια τοῦ αἰῶνος.) He speaks of the end of that age, in verses 6, 13, 14, of the same chapter, and after pointing them to such signs as would infallibly enable them to discern its approach, he adds, (ver. 34,) "Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled." On the strength of this testimony, plain, clear, and incontrovertible, we say that the "harvest" took place at the conclusion of the Mosaic age; and we add, that there is not an instance in the New Testament, in which the Greek phrase, rendered "end of the world," in the passage on which we are remarking, has any other signification. It never should be forgotten, that "the end of the world," (vers. 39, 40,) at which the harvest was to take place, was not the end of xóouos, the world said to be the field, but the end of air, the age, and unquestionably referred to the conclusion of the Jewish state.
"The reapers are the angels." What did Jesus intend by the angels? Familiar traditions have confined the application of this word almost exclusively to superhuman beings; but the attentive reader of the Bible needs not to be informed that the term angel is synonymous with messenger, and that it is applied not only to mankind, but even to inanimate objects. Jesus always represented himself, when coming to destroy the Jewish