Dear Brother Beebe: - I see by some of the recent numbers of the Signs of the Times, that being asked, you have given your views on the "Sin against the Holy Ghost," and that your friend Mott, objecting to your views has also given his. From your mutual criticisms, each of the others views I am inclined to think that the readers of the Signs will think the subject is left about as much in the dark as before. For my own part, I think each of your criticisms just. According to your friend Mott's view of this sin, I am confident that many of the subjects of grace in their first exercises, as you showed, have committed it. I did, and Satan charged me with it on the spot, which threw me into a distress of mind, as nigh to absolute despair as I think a person could be in this world, which lasted me perhaps fifteen minutes, when I was relieved by a suggestion being applied to my mind with as much force as Satan had made the charge.
The suggestion was this, that if my exercises were from the teachings of the Holy Ghost, God had begun a good work in me, and, therefore, I could not be left to commit the unpardonable sin; and if it was not God's work, then I was correct in saying that my exercises were from the devil. Besides, I can see no reason from the Scriptures to suppose that a sin against the Holy Ghost, in His distinct relation, can be any more heinous than against the Father or the Word. God is holy, either as Father, as Word, or as Holy Ghost. As to your views, I have two objections to them.
First: God has certainly revealed Himself distinctly as Father, as Word, and as Holy Ghost; although I am not able to define these distinctions any farther than the Scriptures make them, yet they are there marked, though not as distinct persons. This marked distinction our Lord clearly makes in mentioning the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost as distinct from other blasphemy. This distinction you destroy by blending this sin as common with sin and blasphemy in general.
Second: According to your exposition of this text, you make, if I understand you, the ground of condemnation, rather, the final perishing of the wicked, different from what you and other Old School Baptists would make it on other occasions. I do not think we need to go beyond the law, and the transgression of it, as the ground of the sinners final condemnation. Where any have not the written law, they are a law unto themselves, Romans 2:6-16. But I think that persons will infer from your argument, whether you meant so or not, that the ground of the unpardonableness of the sins of the non-elect was that they were not born and expiated by Christ, and hence they will infer that these perish, not because of their transgressions of the law, but because they were not redeemed by Christ. But, my brother, I cannot see any special meaning or propriety to our Lord's words in this case, unless He meant to point out a special sin, a sin that is an exception to the all manner of sin and blasphemy spoken of in the connection. In giving my views on this sin, I may probably lay myself as liable to criticisms as you and your friend Mott have, yet as I have had for years fixed views on this subject, which I have not hesitated to declare, I will present them for your consideration and review.
First: I will say I have no objection to the idea which you ascribe to the learned, as involving in the committing of this peculiar sin, light in the head (not heart), and malice in the heart, when properly defined. But I do not believe that any but Jews, nor any but Jews of that generation, ever did or could commit this sin, that is, that no others were ever placed in circumstances to commit it. Christ, when. He came in the flesh, came peculiarly and exclusively to His own, to the Jews, as His national people. Hence, His disciples, in proclaiming His coming were not to go into the way of the Gentiles. In thus coming in the flesh, He came as pointed out by Moses, and the Jews, therefore, were subject to that injunction given by Him when He said: "The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a prophet from the midst of thee" &c. Deut. 18:15-19. Hence, because of their not hearing, God would require it of them. He came also in accordance with prophecies going before as spoken by inspiration of the Holy Ghost. And when He came, He performed by the Holy Ghost those miracles which incontestibly bore witness of Him that He was that prophet whom Moses spoke of, and that Messiah who was prophesied of. Hence, the people were constrained to say, "Is not this the Christ?" Hence, Stephen charges upon them, "Ye do always resist the Holy Ghost, as your fathers did, so do ye." See Acts 7:51-53. Hence, their rejecting Him was peculiarly a sin against the Holy Ghost. That this sin, in persuading the people to reject Jesus by representing that those miracles which He performed by the Holy Ghost He did by Beelzebub, was against light, is, I think, evident from the following Scriptures. Jesus testified, "The works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father has sent me." See John 5:31-36. Again He says, "If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin; but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father" John 15:24. In a preceding verse He says, "But now they have no cloak for their sins." Consequently, they must have known that the works He did proved Him to be the Messiah. So Nicodemus said, not I know, but, "We know that thou art a teacher come from God; for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him" John 3:2. So that it was against the clear light of the testimony of the Holy Ghost that they rejected Jesus. It must, therefore, have been because they hated Him when they saw Him, that is, from malice in their hearts. That this sin was confined to those who were eye-witnesses of the miracles of Christ is evident, not only from those texts above quoted, but also from the case of Paul. He speaks of himself as a blasphemer and a persecutor, &c., and then says, "I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief." I have never been able to reconcile this declaration of the Apostle with his doctrine that God will have mercy on whom He will have mercy, only as understanding him as speaking in reference to the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost. That is, instead of understanding him, as assigning his doing it ignorantly in unbelief as the cause of his obtaining mercy, he assigns it as a reason why notwithstanding his blasphemy and rage against Christ, he could consistently, with the declaration of our Lord concerning the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, obtain mercy. Paul was a native of Tarsus of Silicia, a province of Asia Minor, and although brought up in Jerusalem, at the feet of Gamaliel, that is, educated in his school, yet it is not likely that he saw any of the miracles of Christ, for he was a young man at Stephen's death, and not many of our Lord's miracles were done in Jerusalem. And being prejudiced by the Pharisees against Christ, he did not believe the reports concerning His miracles. So that he did it ignorantly in unbelief.
Besides, the only account we have of Paul's persecuting spirit was after Christ's kingdom was set up on the day of Pentecost, and, therefore, after He had finished His ministry under the law, and to the Jews as a nation. Persons are apt to lose sight of the peculiar relation in which Christ stood to the Jews as a nation, whilst He was a minister of the circumcision, and hence they try to find an application under the gospel, not only for our Lord's declaration concerning this sin against the Holy Ghost, but also for other declarations which were made with a peculiar reference to the Jews and to His disciples while they remained under the law previous to His death. But in reference to this sin against the Holy Ghost, or any other unpardonable sin, rest assured that from the gospel revelation we have no authority for believing that under the gospel there can be any such sin in itself considered. For we are assured that "the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin." And the declaration is that, "Through this man (that is through Christ) is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses." These views I leave at your disposal. Yours in love,
Centreville, Fairfax County, Virginia
Nov.19, 1857. S. Trott.
SIGNS of the TIMES: Vol. 25 (1857)