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within me, my repentings are kindled together. I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger.' Can you require more than these? Deep as your spiritual grief may be, you have "strong consolation in the hope set before you." Secondly. In what way is this blessing to be obtained? And here I come at once to the plain declarations of the gospel on this subject. Men may cavil at the doctrines of free grace, and reject the divine scheme of redemption, because of its unconditional freeness, but "nevertheless the foundation of the Lord standeth sure." The remission of our obligation to punishment is through the covenant of mercy, made with his beloved Son in " the council of peace." There was a specific system of types and shadows under the first dispensation, by which both the sinner's desert of death, and the salvation provided by the mercy of Jehovah, were prefigured. Accordingly the angels announced the incarnation with "good tidings of great joy which shall be unto all people." In the course of the Redeemer's conversation with his brethren, He occasionally gave an intimation of the special purpose of his mission, and the design to be accomplished by his "decease at Jerusalem." Thus He said, "The Son of Man is come, not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many." Thus, also, he declared, "And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me." So likewise, "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by me."§ And when he instituted the sacramental memorial of his sufferings and love, in the very act of presenting his brethren with the cup, into which he had poured the wine, he addressed them, "For this is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of It seems impossible for language itself to be more
Hos. xi. 7-9. † Mark x. 45. ‡ John xiv. 6. § John xiv. 6. || Mat. xxvi. 28.
express and conclusive, as to the influence of his death on the pardon of the guilty. And if He did not mean by these words, that the blood which He was just ready to shed on the cross, was to be poured forth in honour of the divine law, and for the benevolent intention of obtaining the remission of sin by making satisfaction to the justice of the Moral Governor of the world-it is not easy on the one hand to affix any meaning to the expressions, or on the other to acquit the blessed Saviour of obscurity of speech, adopted, it should seem, with the deliberate design of misleading his disciples! How unworthy such a conclusion! Passing along the line of events, we come down the stream of sacred history to Antioch. There St. Paul delivered a powerful and faithful discourse in the synagogue," preaching Jesus and the resurrection." Surrounded by the rulers of the place in which he stood, he declared, most distinctly, and firmly, and with an emphasis, which shows the importance of the doctrine asserted-" Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: and by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses."* The same apostle, writing to the Ehpesians, says," In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace."+ Peter testifies that he "suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us unto God."‡ And also that He "himself bore our sins in his own body on the tree: by whose stripes ye were healed."§ John assures us that the "blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin." And the redeemed above, "whose judgment must be according to truth," now they have reached the fountain-head of knowledge, and are recovered from every
Acts xiii. 38, 39. + Ephes. i. 7.
1 Pet. iii. 18.
§ 1 Pet. ii. 24.
vestige of human imperfection and ignorance, "sing a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.”* Do all these apostles, and "the spirits of just men made perfect," mean what they say, or do they not? Are these expressions fancy, and figure, and mere modes of speech, that intend nothing at all? Has not the Divine Being a right to dispense his mercies in any way which his infinite wisdom may choose? And does it become miserable sinners to foster their pride of intellect like the Sadducees of old, who made the most determined resistance to Christ, and his disciples, because their idolized reason was too feeble to receive the truth of God. Ah? my brethren, we must become "fools to be wise." Renounce, I affectionately entreat you, all high thoughts of your own understanding, and come as "little children" to this sacred volume to be instructed. Think it no degradation to your judgment to believe what the Scriptures teach you, although you cannot fully comprehend it,-the light of heaven will make all things clear. Blessed is the man, who, amidst schemes of enterprise and worldly honour-the love of science, and the discoveries of philosophy-the smiles of the noble, and the luxuries of affluence-solemnly avers, "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world."+
Thirdly. What is the qualification with which it is to be asked? "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors." As the much neglected duty of mutual forgiveness is distinctly mentioned by our Lord, immediately after the prayer which we are now considering; and as we shall
have an opportunity of examining it more fully in that place, I will not anticipate the discussion. Still it is necessary to endeavour to ascertain what is meant by the sentiment as it stands connected with our request for mercy in this passage. It is evident that the Saviour does not intend that we are to propose our forgiveness of others who have wronged us, as the absolute pattern for Jehovah to follow in the remission of the penalty attached to our offences. That would be most extraordinary indeed! But this I am disposed to consider the spirit of the petition or plea-Thou hast made it our duty to forgive such as have done us an injury, graciously condescend, therefore, to pardon us who have trespassed against thee. And as we are willing to pass by their offences, in like manner do thou pass by ours.* A similar duty is inculcated in the precept contained in the preceding chapter, where our Lord directs us "first to go and be reconciled to our brother, and then come and offer our gift." The sentiment is unpleasant and mortifying to the pride of man ; and, inasmuch as many who make a pretence to religion will not receive it, the truth is again adverted to and exhibited with all conceivable distinctness by Christ himself. But if we desire to be fully and freely forgiven, we must freely and fully forgive.
Having endeavoured to explain the moral nature of the petitions in the text, I proceed to offer,
III. A FEW PRACTICAL OBSERVATIONS SEVERALLY UPON THEM.
It is hardly possible to imagine a more effectual expedient to promote the forgiveness of injuries than this-of making it a part of our daily prayers, to ask such pardon from God, as we impart to our offending brother. For in this circumstance, every malicious purpose against him would turn this petition into an imprecation, by which we should, as it were, bind down the wrath and vengeance of God upon ourselves.Dr. Doddridge's note, in loco.
"Give us this day our daily bread." Does not this request remind us of our dependant condition? Sin has robbed us of our natural inheritance, as well as our moral beauty; and we, are, therefore, wholly at the disposal of the providence of God. In this case" the rich and the poor meet together, and the Lord is the Maker of them all." 66 By him all things consist, and he upholds all things by the word of his power." Are we sustained by food, clothed by raiment, and comforted by the fruits of the earth? They are his munificent gifts, and to Him the praise for all should be gratefully ascribed. It is his blessing that causes "the vallies to stand thick with corn," which fructifies the soil of the earth by the influence of the sun, and rain, and dew; and enables man to gather in the productions of the field for his support. And what is nature but the merciful arrangement of the Universal Parent of all flesh for their constant preservation? And does not the petition imply the use of lawful means for our daily maintenance ? Miraculous supplies were indeed granted to some of old for the preservation of life. In the wilderness, when the Israelites had no opportunity to obtain provision by manual labour, the Lord was pleased to "give them angels' food - He sent them bread from heaven. Moreover, He clave the rock in the wilderness, and the waters gushed out to give them drink." But in Egypt and in Canaan they were required to culture the soil, and sow their grain for their relief. The manna ceased when they reached the promised land. Properly understood, and fairly compared with other portions of scripture, we have here a lesson to employ every suitable method for the acquisition of the means of life. There are three ways in which these are commonly granted. These are, the ability to labour for them-the blessing of providence on such efforts, and the kind assistance of friends in the day of sickness and trouble. Now, in either of these