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§ 163. Blasphemy against the Holy Ghost and against the Son of Man. (Matt., xii., 32.)

Christ, having thus shown to the Pharisees the emptiness of their charge, and the absurdity of the assumption which formed its basis, then assumed the offensive, and pointed out to them the ground of their coming to utter such a self-refuting accusation. It was because the disposition of their hearts ruled and swayed their decision; what aggravated their guilt was, that they suppressed the consciousness of God and of truth, to whose strivings in their minds their very accusation bore testimony. “Because you cannot really believe that I work with the power of the Spirit of Evil, but, on the other hand, could readily have satisfied yourselves that I could do such works only by the power of the Holy Ghost, therefore, I say unto you, it is one thing with those who stumble at the human form of my manifestation, and are unable to recognize the Son of God in the veil of flesh, with those who, through prejudice or ignorance, blaspheme the Son of Man because he does not appear, as they expected the Messiah would, in earthly splendour;431431   There were some such among the Jews, led away by prejudice and ignorance, rather than by evil dispositions, to blaspheme what they did not understand. These were not beyond the reach of Divine impressions and convictions, if presented at more favourable periods. Many who then stumbled at the Son of Man in the form of a servant were afterward more readily led to believe by the operations of the Spirit proceeding from the glorified Son of Man. But what clearness and freedom of mind, what elevation above all personal influences, did Christ display in thus distinguishing, in the very heat of the battle, the different classes of his enemies! The distinction thus drawn by Christ is applicable to the different opponents of Christianity in all ages. and quite another thing with you, who will not receive the revelation of the Holy Ghost that comes towards you, who suppress the conscious truth within you, declaring that to be the Evil Spirit’s work which you feel yourselves impelled to recognize as the work of the Holy Ghost” (v. 31-33).

Where the root in the heart is not corrupted, where the sense of truth is not stifled—as in the case of those who blaspheme the Son of Man not known as such—there Christ finds a starting-point for repentance, and access for forgiveness. But where the Spirit of Lies has taken full possession, says he, there can be no room for repentance, and, consequently, no forgiveness. It is not clear, however, whether he meant to charge upon the very individuals in question this total suppression of truth and submission to the Spirit of Lies, thus utterly excluding them from repentance and pardon; or whether, by drawing this distinct line of demarcation, he wished to show them how precarious a footing they held, far from the first class, and near to the second. In fact, the Spirit of Lies, which permits no impressions of 244the Good and the True, held a high degree of dominion over these Pharisees.

Christ further told the Pharisees (in close connexion with his exposure of their evil disposition of heart) that, in their moral condition, they could not speak otherwise than they had done: “O generation of vipers! how can ye, being evil, speak good things?” Their decision upon his act bore the impress of their ungodly nature. “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh;” and therefore it is—because the evil nature can express itself outwardly in words as well as deeds—that Christ attaches so much import to their words. The judgment of God, which looks only at the heart, will visit words no less than works: “I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment; for by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words shalt thou be condemned.”432432   This announcement was directly opposed to the Pharisees’ doctrine, according to which morality was judged by the standard of quantity.

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