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the recovery of man, all hands were set to work (so to speak) The Father acts his part in chusing a certain number of the lost race to be partakers of his glory, giving them unto his Son for a people, and him to them for a Redeemer. The Son takes on their nature, and redeems them with his blood, and purchases eternal salvation for them. The Holy spirit applies that purchase unto them, renewing their natures, quickening them, and knitting them to Christ as the Head of vital influences. O! should we not admire this great and glorious work?
8. Let the Lord himself have the glory of the conversion of souls. If it be by the Spirit that redemption is applied, then it is the Spirit himself, and not man, that makes himself to differ from others. It is not that one uses his free. will better than another, but that the free Spirit looses the bands from off the will in one, and not in another.
9. Lastly, We may hence learn the nature of the sin unto death; which, because it does in a special manner run cross to the operation of the Spirit, tending to the application of Christ's redemption to a sinner, is called the sin against the Holy Ghost;' and may be thus described:
It is a rejecting, opposing, and blaspheming, of Christ and the way of salvation through him, after a man hath been clearly convinced of the truth, and tasted the goodness thereof, by the inward operation of the Holy Ghost, and that deliberately, and wilfully, and avowedly, out of malice and despite against Christ and his Holy Spirit. Here observe,
1. The object which this sin is conversant about. It strikes against the main part of the gospel, namely, Christ and the way of salvation by him. Hence they are said to 'crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame,' Heb. vi. 6. · Therefore, while one does not fly in the face of the way of salvation through Christ crucified, he cannot be thus guilty, though his sin be otherwise ever so heinous.
2. The actings of this forlorn sinner.
(1.) He rejects Christ, and the way of salvation through him. He will not be saved that way; he will rather run the risk of damnation than be obliged to Christ, or take him for his Saviour. Though he should die of his disease, he will not have Christ's redemption applied to him. If he has not pro-, fessed that way in time past, he downright refuses it for the
time to come, Matth. xii. 24. Said the Pharisees to Christ, * This fellow doth not cast out devils but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils; intimating they would have no more to do with him then, but stand off from him, as one would from the prime agent of the prince of the devils. Or if they have professed that way, they renounce it, they, ' fall away,' Heb. vi. 6. not partially, but totally, quite given up with that way of salvation. Hence no person that does not quite renounce and refuse to be saved by Christ, can be guilty of this sin. . ; (2.) He does not only reject it for himself, but opposes it for others, using all his endeavours to root out the gospel from the earth by word and deed, pleading against that way, and persecuting it, as he has opportunity. As did the Pharisees, and those mentioned Heb. vi. 6. They crucify the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.' They would do it to him personally, and actually do it to him in his members. And so those who are not arrived at this height, cannot be guilty of this sin.
(3.) He not only rejects and opposes it, but blasphemes it, reproaches and rails against Christ, and the way of salvation through him. Hence it is called blasphemy, Matth. xii. 31. and speaking against the Holy Ghost, ver. 32. So that neither are they guilty of this sin, that do not reproach and rail against the way of religion.
Now, this is horrible guilt; yet I must tell you, that a man may do all this, reject, oppose, and blaspheme Christ, and the way of salvation through him, and yet not be guilty of the sin against the Holy Ghost, though indeed they are fearful advances in the way to it. For Paul did all this before his conversion, yet obtained mercy, because he did it ignorantly in unbelief. See Matth. xii. 31. • All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men. Therefore observe,
3. The qualifications of the party to whom this sin is in cident. He is one that has been clearly convinced of the truth of the gospel, and has had a taste of the goodness of it by the inward operation of the Spirit. He plainly fights in this against his own conscience, and the witness of the Holy Spirit manifested unto him. Hence it is called 'speaking against the Holy Ghost, Matth. xii. 32. not so much against his person, as against and over the belly of his enlightening
operation, not in others, but in himself. This our Lord, who knows men's hearts, discovered concerning those Pharisees mentioned Matth. xii. And Heb. vi. 4, 5, 6. is plain to this purpose.
Hence those who remain under common ignorance of the truths of the gospel, and have never had an enlightening work on them, wherein, by the inward operation of the Spirit on their souls, the gospel-way of salvation has been particularly manifested to them, both in the truth and good ness thereof; those, I say, are not capable of this sin. .
But for a man thus qualified to reject and blaspheme Christ, is horrible; and yet even this will not conclude a person under the guilt of this sin. For some of the saints were by Paul, when a persecutor, compelled to blaspheme,' no doubt against the clear light within their breasts, Acts xxvi. 10, 11. Yet there sins were pardoned, as all the sins of the saints are. And hence we may conclude, that the blasphemies which poor souls are driven into by the horrible injections of, tossings and harrassings they have from the devil, in his hour and power of darkness, cannot be the sin against the Holy Ghost, nor unpardonable. Therefore we must take in,
4. Lastly, The properties of these actings of this forlorn singer. All this is done, Christ and the way of salvation are rejected, opposed, and blasphemed, by this sinner.
(1.) Deliberately and wilfully, Heb. X. 26. If we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins. It is done out of choice, not unadvisedly, rashly, and in the hurry of a temptation, from fear or constraint. Therefore no sin of indeliberation, or weakness, or that one is hurried into against his will in any measure, or ere he is aware, can be this unpardonable sin, however heinous otherwise it may be. For so Peter denied Christ, and these saints aforesaid blasphemed.
(2.) Avowedly. This forlorn sinner comes to the light with his sin; he does not commit it secretly within his own breast, but openly in the view of the world. It is an overt speech, act, or deed; as is manifest from Matth, xii. 24.
They said, this fellow casteth not out devils but by Beel. zebub the prince of the devils ; 'ver. 32. "Whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him.'
Heb. vi. 6. «They put him to open shame. Hence it is manifest, that no thought, how horrible soever, that passeth through the heart, which one is ashamed of, and sorrow for,
and cannot avow, can be this sin; for that cannot be a put- ting Christ to open shame.' And, .
(3.) Maliciously. He does not this out of base fear, love to the world, or some such like motive; but out of pure malice against Christ his Spirit, and the way of salvation ; Heb. vi. 6. They crucify him, and put him to an open shame.' And x. 29. "Who hath trodden under foot the Son of God,--and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace.' He is one that is downright obstinate against the Lord, maliciously rejects the way of salvation, refuses contemptuously any benefit by Christ's blood, despitefully sets himself against the Spirit in his operations for application of Christ's redemption to him. In one word, he behaves like a desperate wounded man, who tears away the plaister from his wound, and throws it at the face of the surgeon who applied it, chusing rather to bleed to death, than be saved from death by him that made it, or applied it. This is the unpardonable sin, and the unpardonable sinner, whose case is absolutely hopeless.
Hence whatever your sin be, yet if you be grieved for it, and would be content to have mercy through Cnrist, or de sire the application of his redemption, you are not guilty of this sin. · And thus you may see how this sin becomes unpardonable, and how it is impossible to renew such again unto repentance; namely, that as the case of the sick manis desperate, who rejects the remedy, and sets himself maliciously against the physician ; so that soul's case must be utterly hopeless, which maliciously, wilfully and avowedly, rejects, opposes, and blasphemes Christ the only sacrifice, and the Holy Ghost the only Sanctifier. For if one will by no means have Christ, he must needs perish, for there is no other sacrifice if they despitefully refuse his Spirit, there is no other Sanctifier. How then can they be pardoned, or brought to repentance? If one sin against the Father, as a Lawgiver, the satisfaction of the Son can take away that sin ; if one sin against the Son, by unbelief or otherwise, the Holy Spirit can by his grace cure him of that ; but if one will needs do despite to the Spirit of grace, and maliciously set
and so not trutor sanctificati potency to good. red, as to con
himself against his application of Christ's redemption, there is no more hope; since there is not another person in the Godhead to cure this.
Use II. Of trial. Ye may try by this, whether ye be partakers of Christ's redemption or not, namely, if the Spirit has effectually applied it unto you. For there is no other way of partaking of it; and this never misgives. I shall give you the following marks of the Spirit's application.
Mark 1. Where the Spirit applies Christ's redemption. the wound is fully opened, and then Christ's redemption is fully applied, Luke vi. 48. 1 Cor. 1. 30. Where the work is not carried through by the Spirit, either the soul's wound is so laid open that the sinner despairs, and there is no appli. cation of Christ, as in the case of Judas; or else it is not enough opened and laid out, sins of the heart, and particularly the sin of one's nature, are not so discovered, as to con. vince the soul of its utter impotency to good. Hence Christ is not applied for sanctification, as well as for justification, and so not truly applied at all. But where the wound is laid open sufficiently, both in point of guilt, which the soul sees it can by no means remove, and in point of utter natural corruption, which the soul sees it cannot help; and withal the soul is brought to Christ both for righteousness and sanctification, to close with him, and depend on him for both; there the Spirit has applied Christ's redemption (1 Cor. i. 30.), laying the plaister to in the full breadth of the sore.
Mark 2. Where there is a begun delivery from the power of sin, the reign of it is broken, it has not the soul at its beck as before, Rom. vi. 14. It is true sin may prevail, because the power of it is not entirely broken, the application not being yet perfect. But the heart is habitually loosed from sin, longing to be rid of it, and endeavouring to be freed of the bonds, as the captive casting off his chains when he is coming forth of the prison, and Lazarus raised leaving his dead-clothes, Rom. vii. 24.
Use III. Of exhortation, in two branches.
First, Be deeply concerned for the application of Christ's redemption unto yourselves. Seek it, and be not satisfied without it. Make it your greatest care to be partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ. To press this, I offer the following motives.
Mot. 1. Consider what a great redemption it is, Heb ii. 3.