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which we expect to receive an answer to our prayers. His is the kingdom, and therefore we are encouraged to believe, that as the sovereign of the universe He will so arrange its affairs as to bring about the establishment of His kingdom of grace in this world, and that He will take to Himself His great power and reign upon the earth. His is the power, and with Him, therefore, all things are possible. He is able to overcome all opposition, and to fulfil the highest expectations and desires of His people. His is the glory, and therefore we may rest assured that He is ready to manifest that glory in the hearing and answering of this prayer, a prayer which involves in the highest sense the establishment of His kingdom, the exercise of His power, and the display of His glory.
The Lord's prayer finally closes with the solemn Amen, a word which denotes that we earnestly look for the answer of our prayer, so let it be; and that we firmly believe that it shall in God's good time be answered, so shall it be.
Such is a rapid view of that solemn and emphatic which Christ hath left on record for the use of all his disciples. It is an admirable guide in all our devotions, both public and private, a model of prayer at once simple, beautiful, and sublime.
Having ended the prayer, the Redeemer returns to expound an important thought which had occurred in the course of it. To the fifth petition he had ap
pended the clause, " as we forgive our debtors," and He adds, to explain, and further to impress the intimate and invariable connection between the reception of God's forgiving mercy, and the exercise on our part of a forgiving disposition towards our fellow
Vv. 14 and 15, "For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." This sentiment is expressed with perhaps additional power by Mark xi. 25 and 26, "And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any; that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses." The duty here inculcated is one to which our Lord gives a very prominent place throughout the whole of his Sermon on the Mount. In the passage before us, it is exhibited both in a positive and in a negative form, namely, that a forgiving disposition is connected with pardon, and an unforgiving disposition with condemnation. We must beware, however, of imagining that our blessed Lord meant to teach that forgiveness shown to man is a meritorious act which deserves forgiveness from God. No such doctrine is taught in the Bible. We can do no truly
meritorious acts. To the merits of Christ alone we are indebted for pardon, acceptance, and every blessing. "By grace we are saved, through faith” in the Lord Jesus.
And this salvation is complete in all its parts. It is a salvation at once from the guilt and the punishment, and the power of sin. It includes the pardon of all our sins, and it includes also the reception of a new heart. These two blessings are inseparable, and the existence of the one is a sure evidence of the existence of the other. If a man is truly forgiven of God, he is brought under the power of an endless life, and one of the most prominent fruits of the Spirit will be, a long-suffering, meek, gentle, placable disposition. "For the wisdom that cometh from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy, and of good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy." "The servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle, patient toward all men." "Charity suffereth long, and is kind, is not easily provoked, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things." A disposition of this nature is a portion of the image of Him that created us, that image which He stamps anew on the souls of all His people. The grace of love can animate no bosom save that in which dwells the God of love, and the love which can forgive the injuries of our fellow-men, and freely, fully, frankly return their injuries with kindness, such
a love as this can only spring from the extension of God's forgiving mercy to our own souls. If we feel that we have been forgiven much, it is surely a natural return that we should love much; and how can we better manifest our love to a forgiving God, than by seeking-O how faintly!-to resemble Him in this feature of His character. Thus shall we most effectually show that we know something of the value of the forgiveness we have experienced. Our offences against a holy God are too numerous, too aggravated, too heinous to be compared for a moment with the weightiest offences we may have sustained at the hands of our fellow-men. And if God has passed by all these transgressions, if He has cast them for ever into the depths of the sea, O surely it is but a small matter that we should pass by the trifling and unimportant injuries that are committed against us. If, then, we hope for the divine forgiveness, let us freely forgive those that trespass against us, and should their injuries be ever so numerous and ever so irritating, let us forgive them, not only "until seven times, but until seventy times seven."
Such, reader, is the spirit of the gospel: is it the spirit that animates your heart? Have you ever known what it is to have found mercy of God? Have you ever tasted and seen that He is gracious? Or does not that envious, malicious, revengeful temper, manifest but too plainly that you are a stranger
to vital godliness, that with all your profession you have never known its power? Come then to the fountain which has been opened in the house of David, for sin and for uncleanness. Wash and be clean. But O, never imagine that you have been buried with Christ in his death, unless you have risen with Him unto newness of life.
MAT. VI. 16-18.
The three great Christian duties in which the Pharisees of our Lord's time chiefly abounded, were Alms-giving, Prayer, and Fasting. Our blessed Lord in this discourse treats of them in regular order, showing, that in each and all of them the same unhallowed feeling was at work-a desire to be seen and applauded of men. If they gave alms to the poor it was in the most public and ostentatious manner; if they engaged in the solemn exercise of prayer it was in the most open places, the synagogues, and the corners of the streets; and if they fasted, the exercise partook of the same character.
V. 16. "Moreover, when ye fast, be not as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure