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the people flocking about him, and filled with wonder, he said, 'Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? Or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?' Acts iii. 12. Here, in like manner, when the dreadful punishment of Ananias was about to follow his words, he puts himself and his brethren quite out of the question, and speaks of them as no way concerned in the business, which he represents as transacted between the all-knowing God only on the one side, and Ananias on the other, without the least intervention of a third party. His meaning cannot be rationally taken in any other light; and, therefore, we may thus exactly paraphrase his words. You cannot but be convinced, O Ananias, by the variety of languages we illiterate men can speak, and the miracles which persons so impotent in themselves, as we are, can perform, that the Holy Ghost is with us. How comes it to pass then, that the devil should have prevailed on you to lie, not to us, who are nothing in an affair of this nature, but to the Holy Ghost, who, you see, is with us, and who, you know, or ought to know, is God?' This is a true, an honest representation of the apostle's meaning, whose words are so clear, that had not our adversaries attempted, by a violent strain on the words, to confound the sense of St. Peter, I should have been ashamed to give another dress to expressions, which strike the understanding sufficiently with their own native light. These bold and artful interpreters tell us, St. Peter spoke of the Holy Ghost as the representative of God, and that therefore lying to him, was lying to God, in the same sense as, 'He that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God,' 1 Thess. iv. 8. This bishop Pearson hath answered incomparably well: If, says he, the apostles would have aggravated the sin of Ananias with the full propriety and iniquity, in the sense of these expositors, he must have said, Thou hast not lied unto men, nor unto the Spirit of God, but unto God.'
David, with his last breath, 2 Sam. xxiii. 2, 3, in plain, positive, and direct terms, set forth the divinity of the Holy Ghost: The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, the God of Israel said.' Surely, if nothing else can do it, this may satisfy our adversaries, who are so ready to ask us for a plain and positive proof on our side, while they give us none on
their own, but deductions and implications, haughtily expecting to pass them on us for convincing arguments, although nothing ever invented by man can be more disingenuous or perverse. Blame me not, my brethren, for this and the like instances of warmth. I have always thought, that to be cool and indifferent in a case of this nature, and to let practices so base, so unbecoming the profession of Christianity, go unstigmatized, is to betray its cause, and to sink the value of truth, like sceptics, in a promiscuous disregard for that and falsehood, as if it were no great matter, whether the one or the other were preferred.
The last proof I shall offer for the divinity of the Holy Spirit, is found in the twelfth chapter of the gospel according to St. Matthew, where our Saviour, on hearing those miracles, which he had wrought by the Spirit of God,' ver. 28, ascribed through malice, directly in the teeth of conviction, to the devil, says, ver. 31, 32, 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, nor in the world to come. God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved;' John iii. 17. It was peculiarly the office of the Son to suffer, that he might save; and therefore forgiveness of injuries, although ever so cruel, made a necessary part of his amiable character. But as it is the office of the Holy Ghost to dictate the truth, and fully evidence the same by miracles, that all may believe, so it is an awful part of that office to convince the world of sin because they believe not in Christ,' John xvi. 8, 9. He is the giver of light and grace; but if they are despised, and thereby despite is done to him, what then remains, but that 'fiery indignation which shall devour the adversaries?' Heb. x. 27.
I have given you this short, but clear, view of the unpardonable sin, that you may the better perceive the force of the proof contained in it for the divinity of the Holy Spirit. The two great aggravations of this sin are, first, that it is a wilful, a malicious, and contemptuous, offence against light; and secondly, that it sets the devil in the
place of God. So far as it is a malicious offence against light, it is an immediate insult upon God, who is light, and who, in the office of our illumination, affording us a plentiful and irresistible light by such wisdom as none but he could utter, and such miracles as none but he could work, is, at one and the same time, acknowledged by the conviction of conscience, and blasphemed by the pride and malice of the tongue. You cannot but be sensible, this aggravation of the sin derives its very essence from this consideration, that God is the immediate object of it; for no creature could give that miraculous evidence, which is thereby resisted and-despised. And so far as this sin sets the devil in the place of God, it carries with it a degree of wickedness peculiar to itself, and far exceeding the heinousness of all other sins. But this is not all; while it gives the honour of God's most holy truths, revealed for the reformation of mankind, and of his glorious miracles, wrought for their relief and cure, to the devil, it ascribes to God the infamy of an opposition to so good a work, and consequently puts him in the place of the devil. The inconceivable blackness of this blasphemy, we see, consists in calling him, who performed the miracles, that is, the Spirit of God, a devil. Now, suppose him but a creature, and the sin, you perceive, immediately discharged of all its diabolical rebellion and presumption, dwindles to the size of other sins. Were it possible to commit a sin of the same nature against the Father, or the Son, I confess it would be equally unpardonable; because each is God. But, considering the part the Holy Ghost had to act, which was to dictate the doctrines of our religion, to work the miracles in evidence of those doctrines, and inwardly urge the force of the one, and the excellency of the other, both on the understanding and heart, it seems impossible the divinity could be equally vilified by any resistance given to the person of the Father, or the Son, who throughout the whole dispensation, whenever the minds of men were to be wrought on, acted by the intervention of the Holy Spirit. To him therefore, directly, immediately, was this blasphemous insult offered, which could not be offered to any other, and that by men, who either knew him, or by our Saviour's supposition, had sufficient reason for knowing him, to be God.
Far be it from me to say, that any man, at this distance of time from what was then done, either is, or can be, guilty of this horrible sin. But this I will be bold to say, that a very high degree of pride, of self-sufficiency, and of presumption, in resisting the evidences of divine truth, which the Spirit of God still affords, partakes in the nature of that sin, and approaches nearer to its utmost guilt, in proportion to the measure of those infernal qualities, as well as to the degrees of sense and knowledge, wherewith they happen to be accompanied. This may be truly said of every attack on the truths conveyed to us in those sacred writings whereof the Holy Spirit is author, but of none more truly, of none so immediately, as of those made on the divinity of his person, and the efficacy, I should rather say, the reality, of his grace. That presumption at large is the worst disposi tion the heart of man can be cursed with, we may learn of David: Keep back thy servant,' says that royal prophet, 'from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, then shall I be innocent from the great transgression:' Psal. xix. 13, for which no sacrifice was allowed in the law. But of all kinds or degrees of presumption, there is none so horrible in itself, or so pernicious in its effects, as that species of presumption, which will not suffer God to speak for himself, nor call himself God; but sets up to prompt him with its own detestable conceits. That in what I have this day delivered, I have not incurred the guilt of this frightful crime, I can honestly and confidently appeal to my own heart; and the Scriptures I have quoted will, I hope, satisfy those who hear me, that I have not laboured the point without reason. As to what our adversaries will be able to offer to God, or their own consciences, in justification of their dealings with his word, let them look to it. But I yet can see no other fruits of what they have done, than a growing contempt for the authority of the Scriptures, and a proportionable indifference to their blessed author.
May God, of his infinite goodness, be pleased, by his divine grace, notwithstanding the contempt in which it is held by many, to remedy this greatest of evils, for the sake of Christ Jesus, our blessed Saviour! Amen.
THE DOCTRINE OF THE HOLY TRINITY VINDICATED.
JOB XI. 7.
Canst thou by searching find out God? Canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection?
HAVING formerly proved, that there is but one God, and that no new God can be produced by adoption, by generation, by creation, or delegation; and having also proved, that Christ and the Holy Ghost are each of them, that one God; what now is left to be done by us as Christians, but to believe what God hath told us concerning himself? Is there any room left for our own speculations on the awful subject of the Trinity? God alone knows himself; and we neither know, nor can know, any thing of him, but what he hath been pleased to reveal. No man knows the Father, but the Son; nor can any man impart to us that share of this knowledge we are capable of, but the Son. Hear his own words, Matt. xi. 27, No man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.' He must be infinite, who perfectly knows the Infinite. Christ alone is equal to this. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father,' John x. 15. For this reason he saith, John xvii. 25, O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee; but I have known thee.' Well therefore might Zophar say to Job, in the words of my text,' Canst thou by searching find out God? Canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection? It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than hell; what canst thou know? The measure thereof is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea.'
From hence a reasonable, a modest, a pious, man would conclude that God is incomprehensible to our minds; and that we cannot go a hair's breadth farther in the knowledge of him, than he is pleased to lead us by the light of reve