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thou hast left thy first love." But wouldest thou be recovered? “ Remember from whence thou hast fallen, and repent, and do thy first works.” I wish I might not say, that Christ hath a somewhat against us, even this, that in these days of ours we have lost our former love, love unto one another. But would we be recovered, reclaimed? Oh, let us remember from whence we are fallen, repent and bewail our divisions, declinings in love, and do our first works. What are those? Times were heretofore, when you, that are of different judgments now, would have met together, prayed together, yea, fasted, prayed, and have wept together. So let us do again: we meet now and dispute together, we meet now and we wrangle together, but we shall never dispute ourselves into love. If we would love one another now, as we have done before, then let us do as we did before, meet and pray together, as before. The living fish swims against the stream, the dead fish is carried down with the tide; so a living christian swims against the tide of the times, a dead professor is carried down with all. And which
but against love? great oppositions that are made to love. Now then, as we desire to be counted living christians, let us make it our work and business to heal and reconcile things. It is in regard of graces, as in regard of ordinances; when any ordinance of God is decried, then it is our duty, and we are called to it, for to cry it up; so when any one grace is opposed, then is our time, and then we are called to advance it most. And when ever was this grace of love among professors so much opposed as it is now ? Now therefore, if ever, is our duty to abound in love, and to walk in this excellent way,
But you desire gifts, yea, and your gifts are great ; I know where I speak, in this great and famous city of London, where gifts and parts grow alone, even in your streets; yet let me tell you this, though you or I should have all gifts and parts, yet if we want love, we should be but as sounding brass and as a tinkling cymbal. But you desire gifts, the gift of teaching, exercising, that ye may be able to do good to others; and you do well therein, for the way of gifts is an excellent way: oh, but the way of love is a more excellent way. You desire gifts, the gift of prayer, the gift of conference,
that you may speak a word in season unto them you
shall meet with ; and you do well therein, for this way
of gifts is an excellent way; yet saith the apostle, “ Behold I shew you a more excellent way.” As for all our gifts and parts, they will leave us when we must go in to our Father. Do ye, therefore, any of you desire gifts ? desire them still, yea, covet earnestly the best gifts: but yet shew I you (saith the apostle) a more excellent way:" and ye have heard what that way is; in general, the way of grace, holiness, and of the power of godliness; in particular, the way of love. “ Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead the Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of our souls, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect (in this great work of love), working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever." Amen.
OF THE SIN AGAINST THE HOLY GHOST.
Wherein is shewed,
1.-What This SIN AGAINST THE HOLY Ghost is? II.-How AND IN WHAT RESPECT THIS SIN AGAINST THE Holy Ghost
IS ABOVE ALL OTHER SINS THE UNPARDONABLE Sin.
PREACHED AT STEPNEY, December 29, 1650.
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.
And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of Man shall be forgiven ; but whosoever speaketh a word against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.”—Matt. XII. 31, 32.
Here are two great arguments laid before you in these words :
First, The largeness of God's heart in forgiving sins unto the children of men: every
sin : “ All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men."
Secondly, You have here the unpardonableness of the sin against the Holy Ghost : “ But the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.”
I would rather choose to speak unto the former argument, but if I should do so at the first, possibly some poor soul would say, Though God's heart be very large in forgiving sins, yet there is one sin that shall never be forgiven, the sin against the Holy Ghost; and I fear I have committed that.
That I may therefore take away this obstruction, and make your way plain and easy to the forgiving mercy of the Lord, I shall at this time speak unto the last of these two arguments; but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven. “Whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.”
For the opening of which words two questions must be answered.
The first is, Whether these Jews, that our Saviour spake these words unto, did then sin against the Holy Ghost?
I answer, Some think, no; but I rather conceive that these pharisees did sin this sin against the Holy Ghost; for if you look into Mark iii., ye shall find that our Lord and Saviour spake this because of some words that they had spoken against him: he had cast out devils, and they said, “ He cast out devils by the prince of devils,” verse 22. Whereupon our Saviour reasoned with them, and at last he saith, at verse 28, “ Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies : (verse 29) but he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost shall never be forgiven.” And the reason of this speech is given at verse 30: “ Because they said He hath an unclean spirit.” And indeed if these men did not sin the sin against the Holy Ghost, our Lord and Saviour Christ should tell us that there is an unpardonable sin, and not tell us what it is; for unless it be in this scripture, you shall not find, either in the gospel or in the epistles, that the sin against the Holy Ghost is any where mentioned in express words. Now our Lord and Saviour would not tell us that there is an unpardonable sin, and not tell us what it is : but he saith expressly, that “whoever doth blaspheme or speak against the Holy Ghost shall never be forgiven." And he chargeth those Jews, that they blasphemed and spake against the Spirit of God, or that work which was done by the Spirit; and therefore, without doubt, they did then sin the unpardonable sin, the sin against the Holy Ghost.
But again, Why is it here said, that he that sinneth this sin shall never be forgiven, either in this world or in the world to come; is there any forgiving of sins in the world to come ?
Chrysostom saith, As men are punished in this world, and in the world to come ; so they are pardoned in this world, and in the world to come: pardoned in this world, when any temporal affliction for sin is removed. So I also understand that parable in Matt. xviii. at the latter end; and pardoned in this life when a man is justified, Rom. iv., pardoned and forgiven in the world to come. So saith the apostle in Acts
iï. 19, “ That your sins may be blotted out in the day of refreshing.” Which day of refreshing, compared with the speech which you have in Heb. ii. speaking of the world to come, shews that the day of refreshing is the time of the vorld to come. But it is an usual phrase with Scripture, noting the eternity of misery; and therefore if you look again into Mark iii., you shall find, that whereas here in Matthew the words run thus: “ Shall not be forgiven, either in this world, or in the world to come;" Mark hath it thus, “ He shall never be forgiven,” that never being the explication of this, “ not in this world, nor in the world to come.”
The words being thus far opened, the doctrine then will presently be this:
That the sin against the Holy Ghost is the unpardonable sin; that whosoever sins against the Holy Ghost, shall never be forgiven, either in this world, or in the world to come.
For the opening of this great truth, which I shall the rather desire you to hearken unto, because as it lies out of the ordinary road, so it makes your way clear to the laying hold of the former words of God's mercy. I say, for the opening of this truth, we must inquire into two things.
First: What this sin against the Holy Ghost is, for people are very ignorant of it.
Secondly: How and in what respect this sin against the Holy Ghost, is above all other sins the unpardonable sin,
First: If you ask, what this sin is ?
Negatively. It is not that sin, whereby men do barely deny the personality, or the deity of the Holy Ghost. Possibly a man may deny the personality or the deity of the Holy Ghost, and yet not sin the sin against the Holy Ghost. For as Chrysostom observes,* in his time there were divers heretics, that did deny the personality and the deity of the Holy Ghost, and yet afterwards repented, and were received into the bosom of the church. And ye do not find that these pharisees, who are here charged with this sin, did either deny the personality or the deity of the Holy Ghost. So that plainly then, the sin against the Holy Ghost doth not
* Πολλοι γαρ των ταυλα ειρηκοτων επιστευσαν, υστερον
δε παντα αυToiç apeun.Chrysostom in Math. x.