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5. It has been made a question which deserves a remark, whether the unpardonable sin is one act of “rare, monstrous and specific iniquity;" or whether it is the accumulated obduracy and hardness of half, or even more than half a life-time. The proper reply, in accordance with what has now been said, is, that it comprehends both. The sin is one act ; but it is an act for which no one is competent who has not had some previous drilling in the art of opposition. The very first act of resistance to the promptings of the Spirit, and the claims of religion, is one step towards it. Every successive act of that sort brings the individual nearer and nearer to the great turning point; until at length one single act proves to be a sin for which there is no forgiveness in time or in eternity. Every step in the course is sin, and great sin; but it is this one act at this particular time, which forever scals the rebel's doom. It is not at all a sudden outburst of passion. It does not spring upon the soul with the suddenness of surprise. It is something in which habit is greatly concerned--a thing of deliberate calculation. It requires numerous steps in the direction of the fatal line before it can be crossed; but it is a single step which crosses it. That fatal step does not differ materially in its nature from those going before it. Its fatal character depends upon its relations. It is the fatal step, because it is the step which turns the scale. The moment an individual takes it, he enters upon a different territory.-He from that instant begins to breathe the atmosphere of death. No dew of mercy can any more descend upon his soul. He stands among the beings who surround him like the oak that lifts up its head, only that the lightnings of heaven may make it their plaything, and then rive it to its roots. He cannot repent. He cannot even wish to repent. He is lost, and he does not know it.
6. It has also been made a question whether this unpardonable sin may be committed at the present day. To this inquiry it may be answered, that the unpardonable sin cannot be committed at the present day under precisely the same circumstances in which many committed it in the early days of christianity. Nor can it be committed by those poor heathen who have never heard of Christ, or had his Gospel presented to them for their acceptance. But did I declare that it cannot at all be committed at the present day, I would frustrate the whole design of the text, and do away the sig. nificance of the whole argument. Limiting then my remarks to the
nations of christendom, I unhesitatingly affirm that it may be committed now, and that it is committed every year by hundreds and thousands of
obstinate wretches who shall never--never be forgiven. For though our relations to a former dispensation and to other institutions are not precisely those of the Jews, yet our relation to the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the same. The same word that was preached unto them, is preached unto us. The same duties which were required of them, are required of us. The same Spirit which gave efficacy to that word and prompted to christian duty then, is in operation now. The laws of our nature and of the economy of grace are the same now as they were then.
And why then may not the same unpardonable sin be committed at the present day? It is true we have not the evidence of miracles performed in our own presence to resist. It is true we have no selfish and erroneous conceptions of an expected Messiah to lead us on to infidelity. But we have evidences equal if not superior to those against which the Pharisees sinned. They had the evidence of miracles, we have the accumulated evidence of centuries.
Again, all the essential circumstances connected with this sin, and all the indications which it furnishes we have every day exhibited to our senses. I believe that ministers and pious people often mistake in attributing a want of success in Gospel efforts in any particular community to some deficiency in pulpit performances. The fault may sometimes be there; but more frequently in the incorrigible tempers of those who attend them. The Gospel is not altogether omnipotent. Its success depends a great deal more upon the manner in which it is received, than the manner in which it is presented. I do not underrate wisdom and fidelity in the ministry. But I cannot resist the conviction, that the frequent and final apostasies of men who seemed to set out well in the christian course, and that heaven-daring and resolved suppression of religious feeling and determined and unconquerable opposition to the claims of God and of the soul shown by so many, exhibit all the features of the unpardonable sin. How frequently do we meet with men of honorable feelings and genteel deportment in all their worldly associations, who are characterized with a most incorrigible hardness as regards the claims of religion and the soul. We see them passing through the most trying and impressive scenes, without once being melted by the most moving exhibitions of Divine tenderness,
or the least alarmed at all that is appalling in the Divine judgments. Their hearts seem totally dead to all moral sensibility. If we hold up to their view the crimson wickedness of their natures and lives, they exhibit no relentings nor remorse. If we paint to their imaginations in all solemnity the horrors which await the impenitent in eternity, they pass it off with a smile. If we point them to the sunny land of promise and tell them of the joys of the ransomed, they sigh in consciousness that such are not their joys, but then turn away their eyes in utter forgetsulness. Nothing seems to seize upon their minds, or to wake up the least emotion in the dark chambers of their sullen hearts. All the enginery of truth plays upon them to no effect. And I have no doubt that every faithful minister in the land, or in the world, can testify to the existence of such characters. Upon what ground then is this sad state of things to be accounted for? Where is an explanation of this remarkable phenomenon to be found ? My hearers, the history of such men in their relation to the Gospel is obvious and uniform. They are themselves the monuments, the living records of their own conduct. Wherever you meet with one of them, lay it down as a thing decided without any further inquiry, that he has committed, or is on the verge of committing the unpardonable sin. The Gospel of Christ with every one of them has been the object of most decided opposition. They have opposed it until opposition to sacred things has become the prevailing bent of their nature. They have resisted the Spirit until all its influences are quenched. They have acted against the clear convictions of conscience, until conscience and their whole moral constitution has been blunted and is seared as with a hot iron.” You may see the Cain-like scowl upon
their brows which their own hands have set as the index of approaching perdition. They have given moral death a hold upon their vitals which can no more be broken. And just as dead bodies float in unconsciousness down a stream of water, so they now glide along the stream of time only to be aroused to the true sense of their condition as they sink into the vortex of eternity. And by running your recollection round the sphere of your own acquaintance, no doubt every one of you can single some individual whom you know to have encountered many a hard struggle with the Spirit of God, and to have received many a heavy arrow of conviction deeply into his heart; but who has carried on his opposition to
God and the light of his own conscience until he has no more feeling on the subject of religion than if his heart were carved of adamant. Whatever others may call this, I contend that it exhibits all the essential features of the unpardonable sin of which the Bible speaks, and proves beyond question that it may be committed even in our day.
There are yet a few other aspects of this subject which it would be interesting to consider. But with all the brevity with which I have been able to present what you have now received, a brevity too which I fear has done some injustice to the argument, I find that my hour is past. In conclusion then permit me to ask, what effect has the delivery of these truths produced upon your minds? Have they inspired you who still oppose the claims of religion upon your souls with the sentiment, that your depravity has not yet reached its highest pitch, and consequently you are yet safe for heaven? Have they led you in any shape to lay the flattering unction to your souls, that the unpardonable sin has not yet been added to the catalogue of your crimes? Do you still feel composed and serene? Is there this moment no agitation in your breasts? Have you no serious apprehensions that probably you have gone too far? I will not express a fear that any now before me have passed the bounds of forgiveness ; for such seldom have either interest or curiosity enough to enter the enclosures of the sanctuary. But I will say, in the name of the God who hears me and will finally judge me, if these awful truths do not make you serious or excite your fears, you have but one step more to take and your damnation will be inevitable! A few more insults to the Spirit--a few more suppressions of the voice of conscience—a few more resusals to repent and the conflict will be over but the victory forever lost! Already some of you can listen to all the touching scenes of the Savior's history without the kindling of a single emotion. Already can you listen to all the moving tenderness of a beseeching God without the slightest disposition to obey him. Already you can look the swelling judgments of the Almighty-the solemnities of death--the imposing realities of eternity directly in the face with an unflinching calmness. All this betokens that the precious harvest time of your salvation is near its close. One slender shred alone sustains your hopes of heaven. It is not the purpose of repentance at some future day. Your present conduct is to decide
the bliss or wo of your immortality? If you rush at once to the feet of your injured Savior, heaven shall yet be your home. If you yield and submit to him now, the barps—the robes—the palms --the crowns which glitter in the promises shall yet be yours. But if you resolve now again to postpone the matter, the Scriptures do not warrant me to say there is any hope for you. Then by all that is moving in tenderness—by all that is solemn in death and judgment—by all that is horrible in hell—by all that is glorious in heaven, I conjure you to repent-repent-Repent! Now!