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the evidence is incomplete, or that evidence imperfectly understood, something can be done, which may produce the desired effect. But when all is known that can be told, and all the evidence examined that can be brought forward, and the result is rejection and inveterate hostility, what more can be done or expected?
The man who sees nothing of glory in the truths which constituted the faith and hope of the patriarchs, may perhaps find something to attract in the Levitical institute. He who disregards both, may be attracted by the sublime visions and revelations of the prophets. If they do not satisfy, he may be influenced by the voice of one crying in the wilderness-—“Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight to behold the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world.” Should this fail, he has an opportunity of listening to the voice of incarnate Deity itself, and in the person of the beloved Son of the Father may hear and obey the divine call-to repent and be converted. Should all this fail, in the unveiled splendour of the apostolic ministry, he may be led to behold the glory of the Lord, and be changed into the same image as by the Lord the Spirit. But if these varied and combined testimonies produce not a saving impression, neither would such a man believe, though one rose from the dead. To him, no other intimation or warning shall be addressed, till the trump of God proclaim that the period of trial and forbearance has passed away for ever. For such a one,
" there remaineth nothing but a fearful lookingfor of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversary."
Consider for a moment what must be the state of that individual's mind, who deliberately and resolutely rejects the Spirit's dispensation of the mercy of Christ. I will not suppose that he has persuaded himself that it is a lie; for that I do not believe to be possible. In the Gospel, there is a matchless and overwhelming manifestation of the love of God. It surpasses all our anticipations and all our conceptions; but in that very surpassing greatness of its provision of recovery, is the highest proof of its divinity. Though infinitely beyond the desert of man, it is all worthy of its great Framer and Source. The splendour of its justice and holiness is not inferior to the charms of its benevolence. While it proclaims—“God is love;" it also proclaims, “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” While it declares“He that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him ;" it also declares—"He that saith, that he knoweth God, and walketh in darkness, is a liar, and the truth is not in him." Can these things be considered and hated, but by a heart full of all malignity and ungodliness, naturally fitting its possessor for an eternal exclusion from the fountain of purity and love?
Is the evil from which Christianity proposes to deliver us a trifle? or the good which it engages to bestow unworthy of our reception? Is sin the
malady of the soul, and the mortal source of all our wretchedness? then what so important as deliverance from it, and what so worthy of reception for this purpose, as a remedy provided by God himself? An eternity of suffering is surely to be deprecated, and an eternity of glory to be desired. If both are brought before us in the Gospel, and the way to escape the one and secure the other clearly pointed out; and if this discovery has all the stamp of truth and divinity upon it;-then I ask-What must be the infatuation and ungodliness of the man who either trifles with it, or with his eyes open resists all the claims on the gratitude which he owes to God, and on the regard which he owes to himself? He deliberately prefers living in enmity to a Being of infinite benevolence ; living in sin, which is death, to the enjoyment of holiness, which is life and peace; living under the frown of Omnipotence, to the possession of its favour and friendship; living in the daily and hourly danger of being cast into outer darkness, to the enjoyment of immortal and assured hope. In all this, there must be a combination of inconsideration, folly, and impiety, the monstrousness of which in regard to any thing else but religion, would excite the amazement and horror of
every creature. In proportion then as these things are known and assented to, and not productive of their personal and practical results, must be the criminality of the individual, and the justice of God in excluding him for ever from mercy and from life.
Such are some of the causes why pardon cannot be dispensed to him who rejects and reviles the dispensation of the Holy Ghost. They are founded not on arbitrary principles, but arise out of the very constitution of the divine plan of recovery, and the nature of man himself. It is impossible to derive benefit from a remedy which is loathed and rejected; to be grateful for an overture of pardon, which is not felt to be necessary, and seen to be suitable; to turn to any profitable account a hope in which we feel no interest, and which is considered to possess no attraction of glory. When the exclusive expedient of deliverance is detested and reviled, instead of being thankfully received, destruction-eternal destruction, must prove inevitable.
V. These views will be powerfully confirmed if we attend to a few of the passages, which bear some analogy to the text; and in which the same crime, or one closely allied to it, is supposed to be treated.
The first of these which I would notice, occurs in the Epistle to the Hebrews; -“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of 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, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and
put him to an open shame."* As it would be impracticable for me to enter into a critical disquisition on this passage, I can only at present advert to its bearing on the subject we have been considering. It is evidently not of the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit that the apostle is treating ; but of apostacy from the faith. He describes individuals who had gone almost every length in the profession of the Gospel; he intimates that it is possible, after all, for them to fall away from it; and, that in such cases, it is impossible for human instruments, even with divinely appointed means, to renew such persons to repentance. The reason he assigns for this is—that they insult and reject the great and last means provided by God for the salvation of sinners—they again, as it were, crucify and deride the Son of God. The turning point of their rejection therefore is, their rejection of Christ; the impossibility of their obtaining pardon, arises from the impossibility of their repenting; and they cannot repent, so long as they loathe the grand demonstration of the justice and the mercy of God. They are in the same situation, “not of the earth, which drinking in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringing forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: but of that which, bearing thorns and briers, is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing ; whose end is to be burned.”+
* Heb. vi. 4-6.
+ Heb. vi.7, 8.-See Note [H.]