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St. MATTHEW vi. 12, 13. And forgive us our debts, as’ we forgive our debtors; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
I SUPPOSE you all remember, that I am now employed in explaining the Lord's Prayer to you, that is, in telling you what it means, and what you pray to God for, when you use it. I trust and hope, that you do make use of it, every morning and every night, and that you use it, not with your lips only, but with your hearts. For God regards the heart, and he expects that, in all your services to him, you will let your hearts go along with your lips. And, unless you understand what you say, or try to understand it, you will only be ,
mocking the Almighty God of Heaven and earth. I hope, therefore, you have paid the greatest attention to all that I have said to you, and will continue to pay it, for I have your good only in view, and I should be sorry, extremely sorry to see, that you slight this or any other opportunity given to you of knowing more and doing better than has been the case hither
to with you.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. My friends, we owe to Al
mighty God the service of our whole lives, de net and if we dot pay it to him, every such sin
is a debt. We therefore pray to God lo forgive us our debts or sins against him, as we forgive our debtors or them that sin against us. On this account, another writer of our Lord's life, in giving this prayer to us, says, trespasses instead of debts, and we use the prayer in the same manner and say, Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass
ugainst us. It makes little difference which words we use, as they amount to the same thing: the meaning of them is the same.
You find what a stress is laid by our Lord on our forgiving each other. Nay, we cannot be forgiven ourselves by the Almighty, unless we forgive each other. This is our own request: we pray to be forgiven as we forgive. You cannot, therefore, pút' up this prayer to Heaven with an unforgiving thought, if you do, you say as much as this, we cannot forgive others, and therefore, we do not expect to be forgiven by God. The Bible, my friends, excels all other books, and our blessed Saviour all other teachers in this instance. Other books have many good things in them: Other teachers have said many good things; but no book and no teacher make it such a point with us to forgive them who do us any wrong, as the Bible and Jesus Christ insist on us to
forgive them. Nay, by putting this in his prayer, our Lord meant to shew us that whenever we say these words, we must drive from our hearts all thoughts of illwill, anger, and malice ;-must put on, as the elect of God, bowels of kindness, mercy, and long-suffering, forbearing and forgiving one another, if any man hatha done an evil towards us, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven us.
You see what a good religion the Christian religion is—that religion, in which I am instructing you, and which I am endeavouring to make you all acquainted with. For 'take my word for it, that nothing makes people so unhappy and so wicked, as the doing of spiteful things to one another, revenging ourselves upon others, keeping malice and anger in our hearts, and venting them on those who offend us, in our words and our actions.
And lead us not into temptation. The
Bible tells us,
that God cannot be tempted of evil, neither tempteth he any man.
But every man is teinpted, when he is drawn away by his own lust and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin, and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. God, therefore, cannot lead us into sin and wickedness :
: our own lusts and the devil lead us into it. When we pray to God not to lead us into temptation, we beg him not to pat us in such situations, or expose us to such trials, as may be too much for our poor feeble natures, and if he does suffer us to fall into them, that he would give us his grace to save us in the evil day, and prevent us from ruining and destroying our souls. I will give you an instance or two, which will make you understand the thing better. A wise man, in the Bible says, in a prayer to God, remove far from me poverty, lest it make me steal, and take the name of my God in vain. Poverty leads many into crimes, that is, it