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II. The arguments with which he enforced them
Men in general are averse to hear any thing of the terrors of the Lord But St. Paul insisted on them in order to persuade men--And our Lord himself frequently urged them on his hearers as inducements to obedience-The arguments with which he enforced his precepts in the text are most solemn and weighty
1. God will surely deal with men hereafter according to their conduct in this life
[This truth is not merely asserted, but assumed in the text as incontrovertible and undoubted-Nor is there any truth whatever, that is more agreeable to reason, or more abundantly confirmed by the sacred oracles –And can any thing be a stronger argument for self-denial-Surely if eternal happiness or misery must be the issue of our conduct, we should dili-gently consider our ways, and put away the accursed thing that would ruin our souls- If we had no future account to give of our conduct, we might say, “Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die”-But, if we believe the scriptures, we shall rather labour to act with a view to the future judgment-].
2. Heaven, notwithstanding all the trials we may endure in our way to it, is infinitely better than hell, whatever we may enjoy in our way thither :
[It is certain that the mortification of sin is often painful like the cutting off of a member from the body-But it is no less certain that that pain is followed by much peace and joy
But supposing the road to heaven were ever so thorny, will not eternal glory be a sufficient recompence for our toilAnd supposing the gratifications of sin to be without alloy (though it will be found that the delicious draught is mixed with much gall) will they not be dearly purchased with the loss of the soul?--Will not the torments of hell be greater than the pleasures of sin?-The worms that may feed upon the body will die when our flesh is consumed; and the fire that may consume our body will be extinguished at last for want of fuel-But “the worm that will gnaw our conscience will never die; nor will the fire of God's wrath be ever quenched,” because we shall be preserved as food for the one . and fuel for the other to all eternity- What can sin offer us that can compensate for such a doom?-Surely then this argument should induce us to mortify our most beloved lustsOur Lord repeats it thus frequently, that it may the more deeply impress our minds-Let us then weigh it with the
f Rom. viii. 13. Gal. vi. 7, 8.
attention it deserves; and act as those who feel its force and
[Men will persuade themselves that they are in the way to heaven, even while they are neglecting many duties, and committing many actual sins—But can they derive much encouragement from the words of our text?-O that they did but credit the declarations of our Lord!-Shall they, who retain only one bosom lust, be in danger of “hell-fire," and they be safe who live in the allowed commission of many sins? Have they no reason to dread the worm that dieth not, and the fire that is not quenched?-Shall they set up their idols in their heart, and God not answer them according to the multi- tude of their idols. Would to God that we could weep over such poor deluded creatures; that “our head were waters, and our eyes a fountain of tears to run down for them day and night!”—May God give them just views of the eternal word!--And may they be so persuaded by these terrors of the Lord, as to flee immediately from the wrath to come, and to lay hold on eternal life! -] .
2. What need have the professors of religion to watch over their own hearts!
[It is no easy thing to know whether we be freed from our besetting sin—We have many pleas to urge in extenuation of its guilt, and many specious names whereby to conceal its malignity_How were even the disciples themselves led captive by ambition and revenge, when they were least aware of their subjection to such evil principles!h_Thus it may be with us also-How then should we search and try our hearts to find out our besetting sins! And how should we cry to God,“ Search me, O God, and try the ground of my heart, &c.!"-Let all then who name the name of Christ be jealous of themselves-And " laying aside every weight, and the sin that doth most easily beset them, let them run their race with patience”-]
3. What reason have we to be thankful for the covenant of grace!
(Whatsoever God requires of us, he has also promised to us in the covenant of grace-Has he commanded us to part, with every sin, however precious or profitable it may be? He has also promised, that "sin shall not have dominion over us.”k_He has pledged his word not only to forgive the sins
of the penitent, but to “ cleanse them from all unrighteousness”!--Let those then who tremble at the injunctions in the text, look up to Jesus for help-Let them plead the promises which he has made-And doubtless they shall find his " grace sufficient for them"-" They shall do all things through Christ strengthening them”—This is the portion of all who embrace that covenant, which " is ordered in all things and sure”m_ Let every believer then rejoice in that covenant; and “hold fast the beginning of his confidence stedfast unto the end”-]
Matt. xviii. 32-35. Then his lörd, after he had called him,
said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellow-servant, even as I had pity on 'thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tor* mentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.
MEN in general think themselves sufficiently instructed in morality
But, for the most part, their views of it are very partial and defective
The duty of forgiving injuries is universally acknowleged
But few are aware to what an extent it is required of them
Peter, though a good man, needed must instruction on this head
He thought the limits he assigned to this principle were generous and ample
But our Lord rectified his judgment by an explicit declaration :
And pointed out the grounds of his duty in an instructive parable
From the words before us we are led to consider the extent, the reasonableness and the necessity of Christian forgiveness
I. The extent .....
[It does not forbid the execution of human laws, since magistrates are appointed of God on purpose to enforce them
Nor does it prohibit the just exercise of authority in parents or masters
But it must extend to all offences, however numerous, however henious - And proceed from a heart wholly divested of malice or resentment
We need not indeed restore to our favour one who continues unworthy of it .
Or forbear to punish him while he continues to merit our displeasure
But we must pity the offender while we punish the offence
And seek, in inflicting punishment, both his and the public good
We must feel towards him as an affectionate parent towards an offending childe
We must feel disposed to pray for him, and to cover, rather than expose, his faults
And we must earnestly desire to behold in him such a disposition, as may open a way to perfect reconciliation with him-]'. II. The reasonableness
Every man owes to God a debt that exceeds all calculation
Nor can the debt which any fellow-creature owes to us, bear any proportion to that which we owe to Gods
Yet we all hope to obtain of God a free remission and forgiveness
Yea, provided we believe in Christ, our debt is already cancelled
Should not then a sense of mercy received, incline us to shew mercy?
Should we “take a fellow-servant by the throat,” when the great Lord of all has spared us?-
Should we rigorously exact a few pence, when we have received a remission of ten thousand talents?
It would be base indeed not to act towards an offending
a Rom. xiii. 4. bor Seventy times seven.” c Proy. xxiv. 29. d Luke xvii. 3, 4. • 6 from your hearts." Prov. xxiv. 17. 18.
& Ten thousand talents amount to above four millions sterling; whereas an hundred pence are somewhat less than three guineas. Doddr. in loc.
brother, as God has acted towards us, when we were enemies and rebelsb-] III. The necessity · [There is an intimate connexion between the exercise of God's mercy to us, and ours to others
Though our forgiving of others cannot merit forgiveness from God, yet it will certainly be followed by it
On the other hand, an unmerciful disposition towards others · will be the certain means of excluding us from God's favouri
It will cut us off from the enjoyment of the mercy we seemed to have obtainedk
In uttering the Lord's prayer, we shall even seal our own condemnation
Let us then, if we desire to find mercy in the day of judgment, forgive others, as we hope to be forgiven ] Let us LEARN from hence
1. How to obtain forgiveness for our own offences .
[We must not merely ask for patience in hopes of discharging our own debt
We must rather acknowledge our inability to pay one single mitem
And implore at God's hands a free and complete forgiveness
We must not however conclude from the parable, that there is no need of the mediation of Christ
It is through him alone that we can derive any blessings from God
But we must ask for mercy as a gift, instead of attempting to make any compensation for our own iniquities-] 2. How to obtain a forgiving temper towards others
[If we know not what we ourselves merit at God's hands, we shall be ready to think much of any injuries which we receive from others
But if once we become sensible of the greatness of our debt to God, and of the obligations he has laid us under by the free offers of his mercy, we shall feel no difficulty in exercising forbearance and forgiveness
Resentment cannot long dwell in the bosom of one who has tasted redeeming love
b The Jubilee commenced on the day of atonement, to shew that men are then especially bound to exercise mercy, when they themselves have received mercy. Lev. xxv. 9.
i Matt. vi. 14, 15. Jam. ii. 13.
k The parable must not be understood to say, that God revokes his mercy, when he has once really pardoned us. See Rom. xi. 29. Heb. viii. 12. | Matt. vi. 12,
m Col. iii. 12, 13.