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doing. Yet so little were the Jews sensible of this enmity between Christ and Beelzebub, that on the contrary they charged them with being friends and confederates. They said, 5. This fellow doth not cast out devils but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.” The answer of our Lord to this was decisive and satisfactory to every reasonable mind. “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation ; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand. And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself, how shall then his kingdom stand ?" His argument is this: How absurd and preposterous is it to suppose that Satan will act against himself, by expelling his own ministers and agents whom he has sent to take possession of the minds and bodies of men ; and that by assisting me to establish my religion, he will contribute to diffuse virtue and happiness throughout the world, which it is his great object to destroy, and to introduce vice and misery in their room. This must clearly end in his ruin, and the overthrow of his empire over mankind. It is evident then that it is not by his assistance, but by the power of God, that I cast out devils; and if so, it is clear to demonstration that I am commissioned by heaven to teach true religion to mankind.
I cannot quit this subject of miracles without observing, what a remarkable difference there is between the sentiments of modern infidels and those of the first enemies of the Gospel respecting the miracles of Christ. The former assert, that our Saviour wrought no real miracles; that miracles are in their own nature incredible and impossible; and that no human testimony whatever can give credit to events so contrary to experience, and so repugnant to the ordinary course of nature. But go to those unbelievers who lived in the earliest ages of the Gospel, and even to those who were eye-witnesses to our Lord's miracles, and they will tell you a very different story. They assert, that Jesus did work miracles; they acknowledge that he did expel evil spirits out of those that were possessed. They ascribed the miracle indeed to the power of Beelzebub, not of God. But this we know to be absurdity and nonsense. The fact of the miracus lous cure they did not dispute; and this at once establishes the divine mission of our
Lord. To which then of these two descriptions of infidels shall we give most credit, to those who lived near eighteen hundred years after the miracles were performed, or to those who saw them wrought with their own eyes; and though they detested the author of them, admitted the reality of his wonderful works? · Our Lord then, continuing his conversation with the Pharisees, addresses to them, in the 31st verse, these remarkable words: 1
66 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, it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.”
Our Lord's meaning in this obscure and alarming passage seems to be this; there is no other sin or blasphemy which argues such a total depravation of mind, but that it may be repented of and forgiven. Even he that speaks against me, the Son of God, and is not
convinced by my preaching, may yet be af. terwards converted by the power of the Holy Ghost, by the miracles which he enables me and my disciples to work, and may obtain remission of his sin. But he that shall obstinately resist this last method of conviction (that of miracles wrought before his eyes) and shall maliciously revile these most evident operations of the spirit of God, contrary to the reason of his own mind, and the dictates of his own conscience, such an one has no further means left by which he may be convinced and brought to repentance, and therefore can never · From this interpretation, which is, I believe, generally admitted to be the true one, it appears that there is no just ground for the apprehensions sometimes entertained by pious and 'scrupulous minds, that they may themselves be guilty of the sin here declared to be unpardonable, the sin against the Holy Ghost; for we see that it is confined solely and exclusively to the case before us, that is to the crime of which the Pharisees had just been guilty, the crime of attributing those miracles to the agency of evil spirits, which were plainly
wrought by the spirit of God, and which they sáw with their own eyes. .
What confirms this interpretation is, that this crime is here called, not as is generally supposed, the sin against the Holy Ghost, but blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, which evidently refers not to actions but to words; not to any thing done, but to something said against the Holy Ghost. This being the case, it is clear that as miracles have long since ceased, and this blasphemy against the Holy Ghost relates solely to those who saw miracles performed with their own eyes, it is impossible for any one in these times to be literally guilty of this impious and unpardonable kind of blasphemy in its full extent. · Our Lord then addresses himself more directly to the authors of this spiteful calumny:
Either make the tree good and his fruit good, or else make the tree corrupt and his fruit corrupt; for the tree is known by its fruit;" that is, be uniform and consistent with yourselves. If you pretend to holiness and sincerity of heart, suffer not your mouths to utter these blasphemies; or if you persist in such behaviour, lay aside all claim to religion,