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found to be free from, will argue your acceptance of the Gospel, in virtue of which its forgiveness is made sure to you. And it is a sin, which, if found on that day to adhere to you, will argue your tinal refusal of this same Gospel, in virtue of which your forgiveness is impossible--because you are out of the only way given under heaven whereby men can be saved. So that this sin, looked upon by many as the sin of one par. ticular age, or, if possible to realize it in the present day, as only to be met with in a few solitary instances of enormous and unexpiable transgression, is the very sin upon which may be made to turn the condemnation and the ruin of the existing majority of our species.” pp. 346, 347.
While perfectly satisfied that this view of the subject is incorrect, I quite agree with Dr. Chalmers, that the final rejection of the Gospel must bring the same consequences upon those who are guilty of it: and also that there is no sin of which, if there is repentance and faith in the Son of God, the pardon is impossible. I most cordially adopt his language.“ The blood of Christ cleanseth from all sin ; and there is not a human creature, who, let him repent and believe, will ever find the crimson inveteracy of his manifold offences to be beyond the reach of its purifying and its peace-speaking power. And tell us if it detract, by a single iota, from the omnipotence of this great Gospel remedy, that there are many sinners in the world who refuse to lay hold of it. To the hour of death it is within the reach of all, and of any who will. This is the period in the history of each individual, at which this great act of amnesty expires,—and to the last minute of his life, it is competent for me, and for every minister of the Gospel, to urge it upon him, in all the largeness and in all the universality which belongs to it-and to assure him, that there is not a single deed of wickedness with which his faithful memory now agonizes him, not one habit of disobedience that now
clothes his retrospect of the past in the sad colouring of despair, all the guilt of which, and all the condemnation of which, the blood of the offered Saviour cannot do away.”
Note [B]. page 6.
Blasphemy is one of the untranslated Greek words which occur in our version of the Scriptures; for which no very satisfactory reason can be assigned : as there are plenty of English terms which perfectly convey its meaning. The derivation is somewhat uncertain, some deducing it from Blattely TNV onunv, to hurt the reputation ; others fronı Ballelv tais onuais, to smite with reports or words; others from Blaž, impions, and onue, I hurt, or wound a person's reputation by evil reports. It does not occur often in the Greek version of the Old Testament; but when it, and its de. rivatives do occur, they are usually employed for Hebrew words which signify to reproach, revile, despise, or treat with contempt. In all cases in which it occurs in the Scriptures, it is easy to trace the radical idea-calumny, detraction, abusive language, defamation. Dr. Barrow defines blasphemy, as it is commonly used in the New Testament, to be “ to vent words concerning any person which do signify in us ill opinion, contempt, anger, hatred, enmity conceived in our minds towards him ; which are apt in him to kindle wrath, and breed ill blood towards us; which tend to beget in others, ill conceit, or ill will towards him; which are much destructive of his reputation, prejudicial to his interests, productive of damage or mischief to him." Sermon on Tit. iii. 2.
When God is the object, the word is used in the same sense as when men are the objects; the offence in that case
being of the most aggravated nature. In a few cases, an ex. tension seems to be given to the application of the word. The Jews accused Christ of blasphemy, when he forgave sins, claimed equality with the Father, and spoke of coming in the clouds of heaven. Matt. ix. 3 ; John X. 33; and Matt. xxvi. 65. On these occasions, nothing reviling or calumniating was said or done by Jesus, but he was understood to say what detracted from the divine honour, or arrogantly to assume a prerogative, which, by exalting the creature, would degrade the Creator. This was a species of constructive blasphemy, which the Jews were fond of attributing to Jesus, to make him odious among the people. Whether this be a proper or improper use of the word, it seems very plain from the phraseology associated with it, that the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is nothing of this inferential nature, but direct and intentional hostility to the dispensation of the Holy Spirit.
Agreeing, as I do in the main, with Dr. Campbell, in his able dissertation on this subject, I think he does not allow sufficiently for this conventional use of the term under certain circumstances. His views of its common acceptation, however, are correct and judicious. On the subject discussed in the discourses, he remarks :-“ This blasphemy is certainly not of the constructive kind, but direct, manifest, and malignant. First, it is mentioned as comprehended under the same genus with abuse against man, and contra-distinguished only by the object. Secondly, it is further explained by being called speaking against in both cases. The expressions are the same in effect, in all the Evangelists who mention it, and imply such an opposition as is both intentional and malevolent. This cannot have been the case of all who disbelieved the mission of Jesus, and even decried his miracles; many of whom, we have reason to think, were afterwards converted by the apostles. But it is not impossible, that it may have
been the wretched case of some, who, instigated by worldly ambition and avarice, have slandered what they knew to be the cause of God, and, against conviction, reviled his work, as the operation of evil spirits.”—Ninth Prelim. Dis.
Dr. Campbell's translation of our text and the following passage is this: “ Wherefore I say unto you, though every other sin and detraction in men is pardonable, their detraction from the Spirit is unpardonable: for whosoever shall in. veigh against the Son of Man may obtain pardon ; but whosoever shall speak against the Holy Spirit, shall never be pardoned, either in the present state or the future.”
His notes on the verses are these :
" 31. Detraction. The Greek word denotes injurious expression, a detraction in the largest acceptation, whether against God or man. When God is the object, it is properly rendered blasphemy. It is evident, that in this passage both are included, as the different kinds are compared together, consequently the general term ought to be employed, which is applicable alike to both; whereas the term blasphemy, with us, is not used of any verbal injury that is not aimed directly at God.
“ In men is pardonable, apeOngetal Tois avOpWTOLS. As the Hebrew has no subjunctive or potential mood, the future tense is frequently made use of for supplying this defect. This idiom is common in the Septuagint, and has been thence adopted into the New Testament. It is evidently our Lord's meaning here, not that any such sin shall actually be pardoned, but that it is in the divine economy, capable of being pardoned, or is pardonable. The words in connexion suffi. ciently secure this from being interpreted venial, as it sometimes denotes. The words remissible and irremissible, would have been less equivocal, but are rather technical terms than words in common use."
I am not altogether satisfied either with this translation or
with the notes in support of it. Detraction is too feeble a word in this connexion, where it has both God and man for its object. If blaspheme is too strong to apply to men, detract is too weak to apply to God. Perhaps defame, or evil speaking, would be the preferable term. I agree with Dr. Campbell in his adoption of the phrase “ is pardonable,” in preference to “ shall be forgiven,” for the reason he has assigned; but he ought to have put it in the future tense, or the potential mood, as that would have conveyed the distinction which I think our Lord had in his mind, more clearly than the Doctor's version. May be pardoned,” would be the more correct translation. I object to rendering TOIS avɔow Tous, in men ; by which he either translates ambiguously, or conveys the idea of their being the subjects of the sin, instead of their being the objects of the forgiveness. In consequence of his adopting this rendering, he employs the phrase but once, which occurs twice in the sentence. I object also to the use of the word “ inveigh,” in the 32nd verse, and “ speak against,” in the corresponding branch of the sentence; Loyov, I suppose, is understood after the second Elten, as it occurs after the first. I submit the following version as an improvement upon our own and Dr. Campbell's translation :
66 Wherefore I say unto you, all sin and evil speaking may be forgiven men; but speaking evil of the Spirit shall not be forgiven men; and whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man may be forgiven; but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Spirit shall never be forgiven, neither in the present nor the future state.”
Although it is no part of my object in these discourses to discuss the general subject of blasphemy, some of the sentiments and observations have an obvious bearing on it. Constructive blasphemy, like constructive treason, is a very untenable and dangerous doctrine. The Jews evidently adopted it to serve