Page images
PDF
EPUB

ed, though alas ! many eat it chearfully. Like the rich man, Luke xii. they eat, they drink joyfully, while the sword of justice hangs over their head by a hair. It is because they fee it not. The looks of an angry judge, the frowns of a Fa. ther, in giving the bread to us, will make it very fapless, to thofe who difcern them. A pardon is the best seasoning to any meal, Eccl. ix. 7. Compare Acts ii. 37. 46.

11. Let us consider the petition itself, wherein we pray, " that God, for Christ's fake, would freely pardon all our fins; "s which we are the rather encouraged to ask, because by his

grace we are enabled from the heart to forgive others." In which we may speak of two things.

1. The thing petitioned. 2. The argument backing it.

FIRST, Let us confider the petition itself, Forgive us cur debts. This is the petition ftriétly speaking. Upon which I am to inquire,

1. What is meant by debts.
2. What is meant by our debts.
3. Who' are meant by us.
4. What is meant by jorgiveness.
5. What is the import of this petition.

First, What is meant by debts ? Sins are the debts here prayed to be forgiven, Luke xi. 4. the worit debts in the world. ,!! Why is fin called a debt?

Not because it is a non-payment of God's dues, a non-performance of duty, as fomc lay; these things answer not the notion of debt : far less because we owe it to God. But fin is calied debt, because it is a taking away from God fomething for which we owe him an equivalent, an as-good, Plal. Ixix. 4. Then I rejt red that which i took riot away. This notion is the common notion of debts. Sin is a robbing God of his honour, and an owing him a reparation.

Su in sin as a debt four thing are to be considered. (1.) The debtor, which is the finner. Every finner is a debtor, owing more than he is able to pay. (2.) The creditor is God, aç whose mercy the finner les. (3.) The valuable thing which the finger has got away from God for his own use or rather abule, is God's honour. (4.) The as good which the finner owes on that account to God, is the reparation of God's honour.

2. What fort of a debt is fin? (..) It is a drowning debt, a debt fo great as no mortal is

The cre.

able to pay, Matth. xviii. 24. 25. And all mankind bad died in it, if a cautioner able to pay it had not been found, Píal. lxxxix. 19

(2.) It is a disheartening debt for the presence of God. As an intolvent debtor has no will to come in bis creditor's sight; to the finner has no will to come into God's fight till he be brought, Matth. xviii 24. This is the .eason why madyotherwife jovial and merry, when they come into God's pre-: fence in dutie., are quite heartlets.

(3.) It is a debt shat the finner is very ready to count down, Luke xvi. 6. As he is unable to pay, so naturally he is un. willing to confess it, and make faii count.

(4.) It is a debt that in end will be fairly and exactly stated, and not the leait article forgotten or miscounted. citor has give!, his oarn upon it, Anios viii. 7. The Lord hath sworn by the excellency of Jacob, Surely, I will never forget any of th.ir works. And the debtor, nill be will be, thau be convinced of the juiincis of the accounts.

(5-) It is a debt that must be paid one way or other. The : debtor has but three choices, Pay, Find a cautioner, or Go to prison, Matth. v. 25.

None
can pay,

few will, employ the cautioner, therefore most go to prison.

(6.) It is a growing debt. While ii is not taken course with, the intereft runs on, and the great sum to-day becomes greater. tomorrow, Rom. ii 5.

Lastly, When it is pursued, it is pursued on the debtor's ex, pence. The pursuit is at the finner's coft, and he is made to bear the weight of it.

Secondly, What is meant by cur debts, or fins ? All lins which we are any manner of way chargeable with, and account, able for before the Lord. Now, fin becomes ours four ways,

1. By imputation. So Adam's fin is our fin, Rom. v. 19 and therefore must be pardoned to us, otherwile we will be ruined by it, as the heir is ruined by his father's debt.

2. By inhesion in us. So the fin of our nature conveyed to us from Adam, cunfisting in a bent to evil, and backwardoess to good, is our fin as subjećied in us, Ptai li. 5. This will ruin us also, if it be not forgiven as to the guilt of it; for the wages of fin is death, Rom. vi. 23.

3. By personal omission or commiflion, Jer. xvi. 10. Thus all our omission or duties, and commission of fins, are our fins, which we absolutely need to be forgiven, as treatcn personally done by us against the King of heaven.

4. By accesfion any manner of way to the fins of others, 1 Tim. V. 22. Thus other mens fins which we become acceflory, to by cominanding, counselling, approving, and the

like, become our fins, and involve us in guilt, which we need to be forgiven,

Thirdly, Who are meant by us, for whom forgiveness is asked ?

1. Ourselves ; for every man is in the first place to be concerned for his own pardon. Yet not ourselves only;

2. But others also ; not only those who are already of God's family, but all sorts of men living, 1 Tim. ii. 1. those only excepted who have finned the sin unto death, 1 John v. 16. The faints are daily orators at the throne of grace, for the rest of the world, and are concerned for pardon to those who are not concerned for it to themselves. Thus our Lord cast the copy, Luke xxiii. 34. Father, forgive them ; for they know not what they do. And Stephen the first martyr followed it, Acts vii. 60. Lord, lay net this fin to their charge.

Fourthly, What is meant by forgiveness or pardon? It is the removal of guilt, which is an obligation to punishment. Guilt is twofold; the guilt of eternal wrath, and the guilt of temporary fatherly anger. Guilt is removed two ways, formally and declaratively. Pardon is threefold.

1. Pardon of the guilt of eternal wrath. Thus every soul, upon its first closing with Jetus Christ in the gospel, is pardoned, Rom. v. 1. The cordemning fentence of the law, binding them over to vindi&tive justice, to go to the prison of hell, and lie there till they have paid the utmost farthing of their own debt, is removed, Rom. viii. ]. There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jefus,

2. Pardon of the guilt of temporary strokes and fatherly anger, 2 Kings xxiv. 4. The law of grace says, If his chil. dren forsake my law, and walk not in my jurgements; if they break my fiatutes, and keep not my commandments: then will I visit their transgreffion with the rod, and their iniquity with firipes. Nevertheless, my loving-kindniss will I not interly take from him, nur suffer my faithfulness to fail, Pfal.lxxxix. 30.-33. So the children of God who are beyond he reach of eternal wrath, are oft times liable to temporary fatherly wrath, which they need a paidon 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 foul, a sense of pardon, Luke vii. 47. 48. Wherefire 1 say unto thee, Her fins, u hich are meny, are forgiven ; for be loved much : but to uhom littie is forgiven, the same loveth little. Aid be said unto her, Thy fins are forgiven. She was doned finner 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 fake, and we obtain them by faith appre. hending his obedience and death, Eph. i. 6. 7. Therefore the sea of glass is represented as betwixt the throne and the el. ders, 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 confefling of debt. The faints own themselves and all others God's debtors, Dan. ix. 5. We have finned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts, and from thy judgements. They will not deny the debt, nor mince it. 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, an utter inability to pay the debt, Pfal. cxxx. 3. 4. If thou, Lord, foculdst mark iniquities; 0 Lord, who shall fad? But there is forgiveness with thee; that thou mayst be feared. Who among all the fons of Adam is able to repair God's honour taken away by fin? There is an infinite evil in the least fin, which no creature is able to ex piate, 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 forgiveness for Christ's fake, Dan. ix. 17. Now therefore, o our God, hear the frayer of thy fervant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy fanctuary that is defolate, for the Lord's fake. 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 forgiveness that the faints do all turn, Pfal. cxxx. 3. 4. forecited. And it is a forgiving of the debt to us, tho' Chris merited it; for we can do nothing 10 procure it to ourfelves. Our pardon indeed stood dear to Christ, but it costs us nothing, Rom. iii. 24. We are justified frecly by his grace, thro' the redemption that is in Jesus Chrift.

Now the pardon which the saints are taught here to defire daily, is to be considered agreeably to the state of the parties for whom it is.defired.

J. Poudon of the guilt of eternal wrath, is defired for those who are yet out of Christ, and in an unjustified itate. Not for the faints themselves, who being already justified can never be more actually liable to eternal wrath, Rom. viii. 1. forccited. They are not under the law, but under

grace,

the seatenings of which extend no farther than rods, &c. Pfal.

on us.

lxxxix. 30. &e. forecited. It is one thing, what a faint may pray for apprehending himself liable to eternal wrath, and another what Christ bids him pray for.

2. Pardon of the guilt of temporal ftrokes is desired for the saints themselves. For under that guilt they may fall; and being duly considered it is dreadful, as comprehending all' miferies 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, Pfal. iv. 6. Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance up

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 us.

Here I shull 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 others, to hope that God will give the forgiveness desired.

First; Who are meant by our debtors ? All such as have finned against, or wronged us any manner of way, I Sam. ii. 25. For fin may reach both God and man at once; and in respect of the injury done to us by the fin 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-wil, hearuiy wishing their good, and being ready to do them good, Matth. v. 144. 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 be maketh his fun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeih rain on the just and on the unjut. 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, Pfal. xxvi. 4. I have not fat with vain perfons, says David, neither will I go in with diffemblers.

Thirdly, What is meant by forgiving as we forgive??

1. It does not denote the defice of a perfect equality or likencss betwixt God's forgiving and ours, for at belt ours is but

1

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »