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then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless, my loving kindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulfulness to fail,' Psal. lxxxix. 30,-33. So the children of God, who are beyond the reach of eternal wrath, are oft-times liable to temporary fatherly wrath, which they need a pardon for, as the child needs the father's pardon. And upon their fresh application to the Lord Jesus Christ they obtain it.
3. A declarative pardon, which is the pardon manifested to the soul, a sense of pardon, Luke vii. 47, 48. Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. And he said unto her, thy sins are forgiven.' She was a pardoned sinner before, for that is evident from her love to Christ; but now the pardon is intimated to her. The debt is not only forgiven, but the debtor gets the discharge of it.
This threefold pardon is here meant, and each of them is given for Christ's sake, and we obtain them by faith apprehending his obedience and death, Eph. i. 6, 7. Therefore the sea of glass is represented as betwixt the throne and the elders, Rev. iv. 6. See Zech. xiii. 1.
Fifthly, Let us consider the import of this petition. This we take up in these three things.
1. A confessing of debt. The saints own theinselves and all others God's debtors, Dan. ix. 5. "We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts, and from thy judgments. They will not deny the debt, nor mince if. They see that God is spoiled of his honour by themselves and others, and that they are bound to a reparation. They confess their folly with shame and sorrow.
2. A pleading poverty, and utter inability to pay the debt, Psal. cxxx. 3, 4. If thou, Lord, shouldst mark iniquities, O Lord who shall stand? But there is forgivenness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.' Who among all the sons of Adam is able to repair God's honour taken away by sin? There is an infinite evil in the least sin, which no creature is able to expiate, far less Adam's broken family, where the party has nothing to pay, whether he be owing ten talents or ten thousand.
3. A desire of free forgivenness, for Christ's sake, Dan ix. VOL. III.
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. forecited. 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 his 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 ethers, 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 hatred 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 go 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 the saints 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 many, 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 desired?
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 forgive 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 ye be arrested ere ye are
2. See your debts, and mourn over them, and apply to the blood of Christ for the pardon of them 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 grace.
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.
HIS is the second of those petitions which concern our TH 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. lxvi. 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