« PreviousContinue »
ledge our dependence upon God is often deemed by the world a mark of hypocrisy; while to profane His holy name and openly to break His commandments is termed honesty. Such is the ascendancy which sin has obtained over mankind.
But further, God has given us His holy, just and good law for our benefit; and we owe to Him undoubtedly the most unreserved obedience. But we have transgressed His law, and incurred the penalty of disobedience; so that we are liable to be cast into the prison of hell, and to be delivered to the tormentors, till the vast debt be paid. This is a consideration that ought deeply to affect every one of us. The sentence of God has been pronounced, The soul that sinneth, it shall die ;61 and it cannot fail of being put in execution. By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. 62 Death is the penalty of sin; a debt which no sinner can avoid påying. In consequence of sin one generation passeth away, and another generation cometh.63 The world is continually changing its inhabitants, and every rank in society receiving a succession in office. No man hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit, no power in the day of death, to avert the stroke ; and there
61 Ezekiel xviii. 4.
62 Romans v. 12.
63 Eccles. i. 4.
is no discharge in that war, no possibility of avoiding the fatal blow. It is appointed unto men once to die, because man is a sinner, a transgressor of the law of God; and after death the judgment.65 That which makes death terrible is the account which must be rendered of the things done in the body before the tribunal of Him, “ to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid.” The debt demanded by Divine justice is a debt of ten thousand talents, of which all that man can say is, that he has nothing wherewith to pay it. And as there is no repentance in the grave, it remains only that the sentence denounced against transgression should be put in execution. That this may be averted, we are taught in the Lord's prayer to say, Forgive us our debts,66 or trespasses; for if they be not blotted out, there is no possibility of escape from the prison of hell, from whence there is no redemption. But the text makes mention,
Secondly, Of a delay in the execution of the sentence denounced against sin, of compassion being shown, of forgiveness being vouchsafed. This is the delightful announcement of the gospeldispensation. It declares to the sinful children of men, Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy to all people, that unto you is born a Saviour,
64 Eccles. viii, 8.
65 Hebrews ix 27.
66 Matthew vi. 12.
Christ the Lord,67 through whom is preached th forgiveness of sins to all them that believe in His name. It states that He became the surety for sinful man, and paid the debt contracted by sin; that He suffered the penalty due to transgression; that He fulfilled all righteousness in His own sacred person ; and that He is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth69 in His name. For God hath made His beloved Son, who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.70 The greatness of our debt, which we were unable to pay, brought the Lord Jesus from the throne of His glory to assume our nature, and to become the propitiation for our sins. In order to satisfy Divine justice, to magnify the law, and make it honourable, He gave His body to be broken, and His blood to be shed on the cross. He endured the wrath of God in His own person, that it might be removed from those whom He came to redeem. His love to man, His pity for our lost state, was the cause of His great humiliation. Let us meditate upon it with thankfulness.
Let us commemorate it, whenever the opportunity presents itself, with grateful hearts to the God of our mercies. Let us pray that the love of Christ may be shed abroad in our hearts by the
67 Luke ii. 10, 11. 68 Acts xii. 38. 69 Rom. x. 4. 70 2 Cor. v. 21.
the Holy Ghost," and may constrain us to every good word and work. The text shows us,
Thirdly, That it is incumbent upon those who have been made partakers of the compassion of Christ, and of His great salvation, to show kindness and compassion to their fellow creatures. The man whose heart has been humbled before God on account of his sins, and who has earnestly sought and obtained pardoning mercy, will be humble and kind in his deportment to all around him.
The proud and haughty, the angry and passionate, have great reason to question whether their own sins have been forgiven them. The spirit of Christianity is totally different from that of all other religions. Christianity alone can enforce its exhortations with the powerful motive for obedience which the Apostle Paul employs, Be ye kind one to another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, even as God, for Christ's sake, hath forgiven you. Who then that has received unmerited pardon, through faith in Christ, can be unkind, hard hearted, unforgiving? Surely, if such conduct be manifested by professors of Christianity, their profession is vain, or they are acting very inconsistently with it. If it be not the desire and aim of those who call themselves Christians, to act according to the Apostle's
71 Romans v. 5.
72 Ephesians iv. 32.
exhortation, from love to Christ, through whose merits and death alone sin is forgiven; they are yet in their sins, in an unpardoned state, whatever their profession may be; and they can have no good hope of eternal happiness. How can any sinners say, Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us,79 when they cannot and will not forgive their brethren their trespasses? What hypocrisy do they manifest in their daily prayers, while they discover such unchristian dispositions in their lives?
The design of this parable of our blessed Saviour seems then to be, to point out the close connexion that subsists between faith and practice in the Christian life. It testifies that they who have truly repented of their sins, who have humbled themselves before God on account of their transgressions of His holy law, and have obtained pardoning mercy through His compassion and grace, will prove their gratitude to Him by being imitators of His conduct. And it shows on the other hand, that those who, while they make a profession of believing the humbling doctrines of the gospel of Christ, do not exhibit the power of Divine truth in their life and conduct, have neither part nor lot in the salvation of Christ. The difference between those who have only the form of godliness,74 and
73 Matthew vi. 12. Luke xi. 4.
74 2 Timothy iii. 5.