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imagined; nor would it correspond with the illustration. The shepherd himself does not set a greater value upon the lost sheep than he does upon those that are safe; nor would he give up them to recover that which has strayed. But his joy for the moment, at the recovery of the lost sheep, is greater than he receives from all the rest, because he has regained that, and is sure of all the others. The whole, therefore, that was meant to be inculcated by this parable is, that God's parental tenderness extends to all, even to the sinner that goes astray, and that he rejoices at the conversion and recovery of the meanest individual, and of the most grievous offender. This is the very conclusion, and the only one which our Lord himself draws from the parable. “Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.” Such then being the mercy of the Almighty even to his sinful creatures, our Lord goes on to intimate to his disciples, Vol. II. H that that they ought also to exercise a similar lenity and forbearance towards their of. fending brethren. “If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone. If he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established; and if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church ; but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican.” In this passage there are evident allusions to the laws and customs of the Jews, who, for the conviction of any offender, required the testimony of at least two witnesses*; and in the case of notorious and obstinate of. fenders, reproved them publicly in their synagogues. But the obvious meaning in regard to ourselves is, that even against those who have ill-treated and injured us, we should not immediately proceed to

extreme Deut. xix. 15.

extreme severity and rigour; but first try the effects of private, and gentle, and friendly admonition ; if that fail, then call in two or three persons of character and reputation to add weight and authority to our remonstrances; and if that has no effect, we are then justified in bringing the offender before the proper tribunal, to be censured or punished as he deserves, avoiding all communication with him in future, except what common humanity may require even towards an enemy. These directions are evidently the dictates of that moderation, mildness, and benevolence, which characterize all our Saviour's precepts, and more particularly distinguish this chapter. . “Verily I say unto you,” continues our Saviour, “whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father H 2 which

which is in heaven; for where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” There is some difficulty and some difference of opinion with respect to the precise meaning of these verses; but they evidently have a reference to the case of the offender stated in the preceding verses; they are addressed exclusively to the apostles; and the most natural interpretation of them seems to be as follows: Whatever sentence of absolution or condemnation you shall in your apostolical capacity pronounce on any offender, that sentence shall be confirmed in heaven; and whatever even two of you shall ask in prayer for direction and assistance from above, in forming your judicial determinations, it shall be granted you; for where only two or three of you are gathered together in my name, and are acting under my authority and for my glory in any case of great importance, there am I in the midst of you by my Holy Spirit, to guide, direct, and sanction your proceedings. We We now come to one of the most interesting and most affecting parables that is to be found either in Scripture, or in any of the most admired writings of antiquity. In consequence of what our Lord had said in the course of his instructions on the subject of injuries, Peter came to him, and said, “Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him P till seven times?” an allowance which he probably thought abundantly liberal. Jesus saith unto him, “I say not unto thee, until seven times, but until seventy times seven ;” that is, this duty of forgiving injuries has no limits. However frequently you are injured, if real penitence and contrition follow the offence, a Christian is always bound to forgive. To illustrate and confirm this important duty, our Lord subjoins the following parable: “Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought to him which owed him ten thousand talents (that is, H 3 nearly

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