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17. “Now, therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord's sake.' What can the debtor do, who is not able to pay? He must plead to be forgiven, or he is a ruined man. And it is to free forgivenness that the saints do all turn, Psal. cxxx. 3, 4. fore. cited. And it is a forgiving of the debt to us, though Christ merited it; for we can do nothing to procure it to ourselves, Our pardon indeed stood dear to Christ, but it cost us nothing, Rom. iii. 24.
• We are justified freely by bis grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ.'
Now, the pardon which the saints are taught here to desire daily, is to be considered agreeably to the state of the parties for whom it is desired.
1. Pardon of the guilt of eternal wrath, is desired for those who are yet out of Christ, and in an unjustified state. Not for the saints themselves, who being already justified can never be more actually liable to eternal wrath, Rom. viii. 1. forecited. They are not under the law, but under grace, the threatenings of which extend no farther than rods, &c. Psal. lxxxix. 30. &c. forecited. It is one thing, what a saint may pray for, apprehending himself liable to eternal wrath, and another what Christ bids him pray for.
2. Pardon of the guilt of temporal strokes, is desired for the saints themselves. For under that guilt they may fall: and being duly considered, it is dreadful, as comprehending all miseries consistent with the love of God.
3. Declarative pardon is also desired for themselves, that they may be delivered from doubts, and fears of eternal wrath, Psal. iv. 6. 'Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us.'
Secondly, Let us consider the argument backing the petition, as we forgive our debtors. This is not put in our mouths, to move God to forgive us, but to move ourselves to believe that our prayer shall be heard, and so to encourage
Here I shall shew, 1. Who are meant by our debtors. 2. What is meant by forgiving them. 3. What is meant by our forgiving as we forgive. 4. What encouragement one can draw from his forgiving cthers, to hope that God will give the forgiveness desired.
First, Who are meant by our debtors ?. All such as have sinned against, or wronged us any manner of way, 1 Sam. ii. 25. For sin may reach both God and man at once ; and in respect of the injury done to us by the sin of others, they are our debtors, owing us a reparation of the injury, which many times they either cannot or will not do.
Secondly, What is meant by our forgiving them? It is our hearty forgiving them the injury done to us, (to forgive the injury against God is not in our power), entertaining no ha. tred or malice against them, but loving them with a love of good-will, heartily wishing their good, and being ready to do them good, Matth. v. 44, 45. “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you;
that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven, for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.' But it does not extend to a love of complacency and delight in them, in whom there appears no ground for". that, either as men or as Christians, Psal. xxvi. 4. • I have not sat with vain persons,' says David, neither will I in with dissemblers.'
Thirdly, What is meant by forgiving as we forgive ?
1. It does, not denote the desire of a perfect equality or likeness betwixt God's forgiving and ours, for at best ours is but lame, and is neither so free nor full as we would desire of God. But the reality of our forgiveness, that it is real and sincere, though imperfect (Matth. xviii, ult.), for which we can appeal to God.
2. It denotes our forgiving to go before the forgiveness here asked of God for ourselves, Luke xi. 4. • Forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us.' And this ademonstrative proof, that the forgiveness thesaints here ask for themselves is only the pardon of the guilt of fatherly anger, and the manifestation of pardon, and not the pardon of the guilt of eternal wrath, which concerns their state. For till this last be obtained, one cannot sincerely forgive others, Matth. xviii. 32, 33. Then his Lord, after he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desired me : Shouldst not thou also have had compassion on thy fellow-servant, even as I had pity on thee?' No man can sincerely forgive his
brother, who does not so love him; and none can love his brother, but he who loves God; and none loves God, but he who is forgiven of God Luke, vii. 47. Her sins, which are inany, are forgiven ; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven the same loveth little.'
Fourthly, What encouragement can one draw from his forgiving others, to hope that God will give the forgiveness de
1. What we find that we who are such evil and malignant creatures, so hateful and ready to hate one another, are by the power of God's grace enabled to forgive those who have injured us, we have ground to hope that the most gracious God will förgive the injury against himself, even to those who are under the guilt of eternal wrath, it being easier for him to forgive a talent, than for us to forgive a mite.
2. From our disposition to forgive, we may confirm our confidence in God as our God, and therefore firmly believe that our feet shall be washed, where our whole body has been washed before,
I shall conclude with some inferences.
Inf. 1. Beware of sin, as ye would be of contracting a debt which ye are unable to pay; and make sure your interest in the great Cautioner in time, lest
; lest ye be arrested ere ye are 4ware.
2. See your debts, and mourn over them, and apply to the blood of Christ for the pardon of thein all, your imputed, your inherent, and your actual sins.
3. Pretend not to pay your debt by your good hearts, works, 'mourning, repentance, &c. but betake yourselves to free grace for forgiveness. If ever ye obtain pardon, it will be in the way of free gracę.
4. An unforgiving irreconcileable disposition, and revengeful spirit, unfits men for praying. Forgive, if ye would be forgiven. And so it unfits for other duties, and particularly for the Lord's supper, the seal of forgiveness.
Lastly, Come to God through Christ for pardon. He is a forgiving God. Why does he teach us to pray for pardon to ourselves and others, but that there is a fulness of mercy for pardon with him?
THE SIXTH PETITION.
Matth. vi. 13.–And lead us not into temptation, but deliver
us from evil.
THIS is the second of those petitions which concern our souls
, and it relates to temptation, for warding off that great evil, as the former for the enjoyment of a great good, the pardon of sin. Thus all that we are to seek for our per sonal, spiritual good, is deliverance from sin, from the guilt of it, petition fifth ; and from the power of it, petition sixth. For these being obtained, the soul is happy, since nothing can hurt us but sin.
In discoursing from this subject, I shall shew,
I. The connection of this petition with the former, in the particle and.
II. The petition itself,
I. I am to shew the connection of this petition with the former, in the particle and. This teaches us, that,
1. No man can with a good conscience sue to God for pardon, nor will he obtain it, who is not resolved to fight against sin in time coming, and to beware of it, Psal. Ixvi. 18. There are two things frightful to a penitent, the guilt of
past sin, and the power of sin for the future. He is equally concerned for justification and sanctification. They who separate them, act hypocritically, and therefore cannot come speed at the throne of grace. They are unreasonable, in that they would be saved from death, and yet lie under the power, of the disease. Unchristian, in that they would make Christ, the minister of sin, and his pardon a sconce for a sinful life.
2. A pardoned sinner is not past danger. He is in a sickly, country; and though he be recovered he is in danger of a relapse. He is still in the field of battle; and though he is cured of one wound, he will be fair to get another, if the Lord do not shield him. Therefore he is to pray, Forgive our debts; And lead us not into temptation, &c. Nay, Satan will be most apt to bait the pardoned sinner, Acts xiii. 8.
II. Let us consider the petition itself, in which we pray, $ That God would either keep us from being tempted to sin, or support and deliver us when we are tempted. It con. sists of two parts.
I. The first is for preventing grace, Lead us not into temptation.
II. The second is for assisting grace, But deliver us from eril.
The FIRST is for preventing grace, Lead us not into temptation,
Here I am to shew,
First, What is meant by temptation? In general, it is a trial made on a man to see what is in bim, and what he will do; and so the matter it is designed to bring forth may be good as well as evil. Thus God did tempt Abraham *,
* The author, in his manuscript treatise on Genesis, of which several extracts have been already given, thus renders and comments on these words: • The God himself; he tried, Abraham ;' i. e. the true God, and no other, the God who had made him the promise of Isaac, and fulfilled it, who had promised to establish the covenant with him, and had declared, that in him only, Abraham should be called a feed; even he tried Abraham, and tried him exquisitely, by calling him to sacrifice, that his son, thereby discovering him, and, as it were, opening him out like a banner displayed to public view, whereby his most firm faith in God, and absolute refignation unto him, were laid open to the view of all, to whose knowledge ibis his trial might at any time come. The word by which the trial is expressed, doth never; so far as I have observed, fignify to entice unto fin. Neither was the thing Gin which Abraham was by the trial carried to the very point of ac. complishing of; fince he had thereto the call of God, who was absolute Lord of the life of Isaac, as of all other men; and might vest whom he would with authority to take it away, as he has vested magiftrates in other cases. But the matter was so suspicious like, that the infinitely boly Author of the trial is, by the sacred peoman indicated in the Atrongest terms, for to cut off all suspicion of delusion in the case. He tells us, it was the GOD, i. e. the true God; and that word is in effect doubled, 4. d. the true God, even the true God. And after all there is au emphatical stop after it, the GOD; he, &c. So that, with good reason, the force of that term is, with Jumus and Tremellius, thus exprefled, God himself, to the esclusion of all other. Moreover, that term looks backward, q. d. the farne who had made so great promises with reference to lsaac; all which