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verse I understand to be intended chiefly to explain the preceding. The blasphemy of the former is illustrated by speaking against in the latter; and the not being forgiven before asserted, is here still more emphatically expressed, as that which shall not be enjoyed in this world or that which is to come.*
It is further evident, that Jesus refers to the use of opprobrious language, from the reason assigned by Mark, why he made this declaration. After rehearsing the circumstances which occasioned the use of this language, that Evangelist tells us, this he said, “Because they said, He hath an unclean spirit.”+
If then the term blasphemy signifies the employment of calumnious or reviling language, under the influence of vindictive feeling, we are furnished with the correction of one of the most important errors, relative to the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. If it be the intentional and malevolent abuse of a particular object, with a direct view to bring his character or operations into discredit, which I contend it must be, if the words of Christ be properly interpreted, then it follows :-that the offence spoken of in the text, is not properly described by the expression, the sin against the Holy Spirit. Blasphemy does not consist in erroneous opinions — in wrong conduct-or even in the utterance of unguarded and improper language-in short, in any thing
which may constructively be regarded as an outrage against the Spirit of God. Every offence which a Christian commits, may be said to be, and actually is, a sin against the Holy Spirit. But that is not the language of Christ in the passage before us; nor is this species of offence ever declared to be unpardonable, Believers are represented in Scripture as “ grieving the Spirit,”
quenching the Spirit,”—“ rebelling against the Spirit.” But this, however evil, is never represented as incapable of forgiveness; and therefore cannot be regarded as the offence against which the Redeemer pronounces this awful condemnation. The persons who are most conscious of their vileness before God, and most instinctively alive to the danger of offending him, would shrink back with undescribable horror, from the enormity of calumniating and reviling the Holy One. Let not such, then, conceive that the offence in the text belongs to them.
Not attending to the fact, that it is the utterance of opprobrious language, dictated by a mind full of hostility and of malice, that constitutes the crime according to the doctrine of Scripture; and imagining that it may consist in thoughts suggested by the great enemy of all righteousness, or in conduct resulting from the ordinary depravity of our nature, for which deep sorrow and repentance before God are felt, some individuals have given themselves up almost to despair. At the very time that the divine mercy appears to them all that is necessary to happiness, and that they would gladly exchange
the world for its enjoyment, they are deliberately deciding that this mercy is not provided for them. Removed to the farthest possible distance from the crime of calumniating the heavenly Saviour, or his Holy Spirit, they yet conclude, contrary to the plainest declarations of the Gospel, that his forgiveness and favour are placed beyond their reach. While, with the amiable, but wretched, Cowper, they would not break a straw, were it to displease God; with him, they persuade themselves that they come under the exception to the divine rule of pardon, and are by determination and by law, excluded from the kingdom of God. In as far as this state of mind is not the effect of mental alienation, but of error or of satanic influence, we hope to disperse its darkness and its fears by the word of the Lord.
II. Some further light will be thrown on the subject, by attending to the circumstances in which our Lord was led to the employment of this language. In the context we are informed: “ Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb; and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw. And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David ? But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub, the prince of the devils. And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation;
and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand : And if Satan cast out Satan, be is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand? And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges. But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you. Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house. He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.”
Here we have an account of a most extraordinary miracle—the ejection of a demon from a man blind and dumb; and in consequence of whose ejection the man both spake and saw. The situation of this unfortunate individual must have been the most wretched we can well conceive. He was not deaf and dumb, but blind and dumb; and the latter, probably, in consequence of being deaf. To him, therefore, the universe of God was little better than a dreary blank. On his eye no vision of glory ever fell; on his ear the melody of the human voice never produced any kindly emotion ; every avenue to the external world being shut, and all the powers of communication and social enjoyment being closed, he must have presented the most piteous claims to sympathy and compassion.
But, alas! what could human pity do in such forlorn circumstances. He who created the ear
could alone unseal it; He who formed the eye alone could open it; and He who declares the tongue to be the glory of our frame, could alone unlock it, that it might give utterance to his praise. Touched with divine compassion, Jesus pitied this helpless object. He said, Let light be, and light was ;-he exclaimed, “ Ephatha-be opened,” and the dumb began to sing and the eye that first saw the light of heaven, , blessed its Benefactor, while it beheld his glory.
A miracle so benevolent, displaying such power, and producing effects so delightful and astonishing, ought to have commanded the admiration of all, and should have led them to exclaim, "Thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel.” Had difficulties existed before, those difficulties ought to have been dissipated. Had an unkindly feeling pervaded any human breast, that ought to have been removed -- and with one heart and mouth, we might have expected that they would give glory to God. This, indeed, was something like its effect on the people; they said, “Is not this the son of David ?" But the enemies of Jesus, instead of sympathizing in this feeling, actually put an infernal construction on his conduct and benevolence, and said with a horrible malignity, “This fellow doth cast out devils, by Beelzebub, the prince of the devils."
Farther than this, it was scarcely possible for diabolical enmity to proceed. The miracle is not questioned, nor is its benevolent effect disputed; but the motive and agency from which it proceeded