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Can it be possible there can be any higher advance in glory than this ? Yes ; there is yet another ! It is to a blessed faith's perception and enjoyment of the high and dignified relation which God hath given him in Christ Jesus. He is a son of God-an heir of God—a joint heir with Christ. If the two last-mentioned changings from glory to glory amaze him, how much more this? It made an apostle wonder exceedingly. “Behold ! what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us that we should be called the sons of God! Such honour have all the saints. As many as are led by the Spirit of God they are the sons of God.”
I am sure I have already outrun the patience and forbearance of the readers of our GOSPEL MAGAZINE. I must therefore conclude by simply remarking, in the fifth place, all this wondrous beholding, this changing into the same image from glory to glory, is by the Spirit of the Lord. Yes! it is all His blessed work, for by strength no man prevails. It is the blessed Spirit that, as Jesus said, leads and guides into all truth. All revelations of Jesus, and what we are in him, are by him. His work is to make room for Jesus in the heart, and form him there the hope of glory. He witnesses to the conscience its interest in him, so that “ we know the things that are freely given to us of God.” Oh, thrice-blessed Spirit! lead me and all thy quickened family more and more into heart-acquaintance with Jesu's precious love! set before the eye of our faith continually the blessed glass of thy Gospel, and by thy all-transforming power change us into the image of our Lord from glory to glory, for thy great mercies' sake.
THE FORGIVENESS OF ALL SIN EXCEPT THE SIN
AGAINST THE HOLY GHOST.
All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven.-Matt. xii. 31, 32,
(CONCLUDED FROM OUR LAST NUMBER.)
From the Extension, let us hasten to consider,
II. The Exception. “But the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.”
First- The Holy Ghost is personally distinguished from the person of Christ. There are individuals professing to worship God and to believe the Scriptures, who say the Holy Ghost is only an emanation, breath, or influence from God, and not a person ; surely, then, it is a marvellous thing that all manner of sin and blasphemy should be forgiven against the Father and the Son, and yet blasphemy against Him
whom men call only an influence, &c., should not be forgiven. Unless He was a person, He could not be sinned against. But the uniform testimony of Scripture setteth forth his Personality as one in the Divine Trinity, not existing separately, but united with the Father and the Son; and yet, by names, acts, offices, and operations, distinguished from the Father and the Son. See John, xiv. 16, 17—“I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter.” John, xiv. 26—“The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name,” &c.
Secondly–His Deity. If the Holy Ghost was not God, sin against Him could not be blasphemy; for blasphemy signifies to speak of God in terms of impious irreverence, and indignity offered unto his great name. How, then, can this sin be committed against the Holy Ghost if he be not God?
But the commission of the awful sin of blasphemy against the Holy Ghost proves his distinct Personality and proper Deity, which is fully confirmed by the account of Ananias, who, in lying to the Holy Ghost, is said to lie not unto men, but unto God (Acts, viii. 3, 4). Wherefore, if lying to the Holy Ghost is lying unto God, it is plain the Holy Ghost must be God; which is farther shown by 1 Cor. iii. 16, “ Ye are the temple of God," &c. “ Your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost" (1 Cor. vi. 19). “ To Him also are ascribed the works of creation” (Gen. i. 2 ; Job, xxvi. 13). “Providence (Is. xl. 13) and the Holy Scriptures” (2 Pet. i. 21). “ The human nature of Christ" (Matt. i. 20). “His anointing” (Is. xi. 1; John, iii. 34). “ His miracles” (Matt. xii. 28). “ His death (Heb. ix. 14) and resurrection" (Rom. i. 4).
As a divine person He is designated the Eternal Spirit-is worshipped with the Father and the Son in baptism. As the Lord he is acknowledged in directing the heart unto the love of God (2 Thess. iii. 5). He is the Spirit who searcheth all things ; yea, the deep things of God (1 Cor. ii. 10): and the Holy Ghost, who said, “Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them” (Acts, xiii. 2–4). And all gifts and grace for the whole of the ministry, the understanding of the Scriptures, spirituality in the church, the existence, growth in every grace, and the measure of success in the use of all appointed means, depend wholly upon the personal and effectual operation of the Holy Ghost, in concurrence with the Father and the Son ; and these Three are One (1 John, v. 7).
Thirdly—What is the blasphemy or unpardonable sin here spoken of? I feel this is a deep and solemn subject which, though it cannot be fully explained, yet, under the anointings of the Holy Ghost himself, some scriptural ideas may be formed thereon. The conviction of the text under consideration showeth that the Pharisees committed this sin when against the light of natural conscience, and the clearest evidence that Jesus was the Messiah answering to the description of him, and the numerous predictions and signs of his heavenly origin and divine mission. Yet, in maliciously, and with a desire to degrade his person and pour contempt upon his miracles, they said, “ This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub, the prince of the devils." And thus, by sinning in malice against light, they committed the unpardonable sin of blaspheming against the Holy Ghost ; to which Jesus referred in John, xv. 24-“If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin (that particular sin); but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.”
Fourthly– No child of God can ever commit this sin, because it is written in 1 John, v. 18, “Whosoever is born of God sinneth not.” It is true we have indwelling sin, outbreaking sin, and sin is mixed with all we do. “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves.” “In many things we all offend ; when I would do good," &c. But the unpardonable sin is that referred to in 1 John, v. 16; and here the line of distinction is drawn between sin not unto death, and that sin which is unto death. The work of Satan is to deceive and to destroy with eternal death ; but as he cannot accomplish this evil design upon any of God's elect, he will tempt them to sin, and often succeeds. Then he will allure, if permitted, into greater evils, until the child of God is brought into an awful state of backsliding. Then the enemy will turn accuser, witness against us, and endeavour to shut our mouths in prayer; stir up our evil passions in rebellion against God, and suggest the most blasphemous and unclean thoughts, words, and images to the mindtempting us to blaspheme God, &c., until we fear we have committed the unpardonable sin-are ready to sink in despair--are tempted to selfdestruction—and wish we had never been born. Yea, we may be charged with having been suffered to utter what was suggested to the mind. Yet, in all this, there is no trace of the unpardonable sin, which is composed of light in the judgment to know Christ as revealed in Scripture, and hatred to his person, &c. But, instead of this, all that we are tormented with are the stirring up of depraved nature, and the law in the members warring against the law in the mind, and indwelling sin opposing and clouding the work and evidence of grace. Two of the Lord's servants came very near to this sin, but no one born of the Spirit can ever fall into it. Saul, before his conversion, did breathe out slaughter, &c., and in the enmity of his heart did all he could against Christ; but he said, after his conversion, “I did it ignorantly and in unbelief; there was no light, for he verily thought he ought to do so" (Acts, xxvi. 9, 10, 11). Peter, through fear, with oaths and curses, denied his Lord, whom he knew, as the Christ of God by the Father's revelation to him. Yet, great as was his sin, it wanted one ingredient to make it unpardonable-namely, hatred and malice. Oh! blessed be God for these lines of instruction ; and though Peter had acted as a coward, yet (after Christ looked upon him) he wept bitterly ; and to show his love, he was early at the sepulchre ; and when Jesus said, “Lovest thou me?" Peter said sincerely, “ Yea, Lord.” And is not this the language of many who have feared lest they had committed the unpardonable sin ?
Finally—The Holy Ghost in the saints is the pledge and security against this unpardonable sin. He is the Spirit of truth to shield from error; the Spirit of grace to carry on his work in the church ; and the
Spirit of glory to perfect in heaven that which he begins on earth. Therefore we conclude that none who are led by the Spirit can take the scorner's chair, and mock and scoff at the person, glory, work, and wounds of Christ. Though, through ignorance and carnal reason, they may be confused in judgment, and speak erroneously of the Holy Trinity for a time; yet they cannot see in the light of Scripture this blessed doctrine, and in hatred and malice blaspheme the Holy Ghost.
Here permit me to say with praise to the Lord, that I esteem it one of my chief mercies that, during a period of nearly thirty years, the Deity and operations of the Holy Ghost have been prominent features in my ministry. And also from repeated arguments with men who first made light of the operations of the blessed Spirit, and eventually derided his Deity and Personality, I am fully persuaded that where these doctrines are not experimentally known, all is darkness, delusion, and death. But in their lowest state of mind, the children of God mourn and grieve because they cannot love and live to glorify him more. Oh, then, seek to know the Holy Ghost— to experience his indwelling-to worship under his unction---to abound in his fruits, &c. And may we have grace so to glorify Him, as never to perform any act of devotion without seeking his promised and essential operation, who is the great revealer of the love of God, the abiding testifier of Christ, the infallible expositor of Scripture, the earnest of eternal life ; yea, the one Spirit of life in all the saints-uniting and moving them to ascribe the whole glory of their salvation to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
“ The great Hallelujah from each shall resound,
When the saints in all things shall agree;
LOOKING UNTO JESUS. I would observe, in the first place, with regard to this expression and those with which it stands connected, that although they are given in the form of direction or exhortation, they do not imply any supposed power inherent in the exercised believer, by which he is enabled to obey and “ look unto Jesus ;" but they are intended as a testimony of the all-sufficiency of the Redeemer, our Great High Priest, and the necessity of looking to him, and with a hope, wish, prayer, and expectation, that the Holy Spirit may make them effectual to enable him so to do. The expression “looking to ” means relying upon ; as a man is said to “look to” another to fulfil the promises which he may have made, or a child to look to its parents for support.
It shall be my endeavour to point out some of the different stages, . states, situations, trials, and troubles, in which the soul is taught to look to Jesus, and the blessedness which arises from such looking. I will begin by noticing the look of the convinced sinner. No one ever looked to Jesus who was not convinced of sin, so as to feel its nature and power over his mind, the guilt which it brings on his conscience, and the consequent “ curse and condemnation ;' for no one but a sinner desires salvation, as none but the sick look for healing. The language of the heart in this state is, “ Woe is me-unclean, unclean ;' or he stands (like Joshua in Zech. iii.) self-condemned before the bar, and has not a word to say. God seems to “enter into judgment" with him, and he cannot justify himself nor answer him one of a thousand; not a word can he say, even in extenuation of his conduct. If he looks towards God's holy law, he perceives nothing but the thunder of his wrath and the lightning of his displeasure ; if he looks within, he can see nothing but sin and polluting filthy imaginations ; if repentance be required, he feels that his repentance is not deep enough, his faith is too weak. In this emergency, when he is ready to give up all for lost, the gracious Spirit enables him to put forth a strong cry to the blessed Jesus, and to come, naked, helpless, vile, and filthy as he is, and fall down before the cross, with “ Lord, save me, or I perish ;" “ Jesus, Master, have mercy on me.” And in God's blessed word, he sees that Jesus came on purpose to save and help such; he acquires, under that blessed Spirit's gracious teaching, the knowledge that Christ's salvation is for him. The eye of his faith is fixed on Jesus, and while it is kept there, the efficacy of the healing balm is felt and realized ; his heart beats high with new hopes : the spirit of praise is given in place of heaviness; joy, heretofore unknown, takes possession of his soul ; he is strong in the Lord : for although he looks through a glass darkly, he is transformed into the image of God's dear Son; he feels the life of Christ in his soul, thanks God, and takes courage. Oh the blessedness thus realized by the poor sinner in first coming to Jesus! the remembrance of it will never be effaced from his memory, but with life itself. But it is the aim, end, and design of Satan to mar the happiness and destroy the peace of God's little one ; and to this end he labours hard to divert his thoughts, and draw off his attention from the blessed Jesus : and many and various are his resources and plans for bringing about this end—as various as the different constitutions, habits, and circumstances of men. Before some he spreads the gilded bait of wealth ; others have pleasure's intoxicating cup held out to them ; against some he raises a storm of persecuting rage in their own families ; some are drawn into open sin; in others self-righteousness is nourished, or pride is fostered : and thus the active mind is drawn from Jesus, and looks elsewhere for its comfort and support. The end of this is leanness, and often deep distress; the individual being not yet established in the truth, considers these as so many testimonies that he is wrong in taking to himself the comforts and encouragements of God's blessed word, and that it would be presumption in him to look to Jesus, until he finds some more decided change in his own heart: which thoughts are the very essence of self-righteousness, and show how ready the heart of