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MATTHEW xii. 31.

Wherefore I say unto you, all manner of sin and

blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men : but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.

The simple reading of this passage is sufficient to impress every individual, who respects the word of God, with a deep sense of the importance and solemnity of the subject which it announces. Difficulties of a peculiar nature attach to the examination of such a topic; and none of the least of these difficulties arises from the apprehension and awe with which the mind is naturally filled when engaged in examining it. Few, perhaps, who have thought with earnestness on the concerns of another world, who have been desirous of obtaining a satisfactory reason for the cherished hope of eternal life, and whose minds have been directed to the Scriptures for the ground of that hope, have not at some time indulged serious fears lest they might be comprehended in the fearful predicament referred to in the text.



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In proportion to the sensitiveness of an individual's conscience, and to the correctness of his views of the demerit of sin, and of the purity and faithfulness of God, will this state of feeling prevail; and in the same proportion, perhaps, will the difficulty be found of his arriving at entire satisfaction. Fear when it exists in excess, when it is improperly directed, is exceedingly injurious to the right exercise of the judgment. It deranges or paralyzes its powers; it dims the clearness of its perceptions, and destroys its satisfaction in the most cogent and convincing arguments. While it would be wrong to repress the exercise of holy jealousy and apprehension, or to encourage a rash and fearless confidence ; it is necessary that the Christian should be reminded that he is a child, and not a slave; and that the word of God is addressed to him, not to make him the victim of a cheerless despondency, but the subject of a life-giving and joyful hope. It is his duty to examine the Scriptures, not in the expectation, that he will find chiefly matter of distress and condemnation : but in the full belief, that he will find all things, which are contained in them, conducive to his spiritual and eternal good.

It is the exclusive prerogative of God to make known the desert of sin to his creatures; to determine the nature of its punishment, or the ex

nt and method of that forgiveness which he may be pleased to exercise. His determinations must be according to the purest equity, and will

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