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comes out of a youthful mouth-when looking down into any of our families, He sees some little one growing up in this particular, into the likeness of its Saviour, shewing already in tender years something of that guiltlessness, that straight forwardness and honesty, that unshrinking avowal of the truth, which marked so eminently the character of the Perfect Man.
Pleasant, I say, must it be to God above thus to behold one really truthful, truth-loving child. Surely at the sight there is joy in the presence of the angels. “Far within ” the voice is heard—This is a chosen vessel unto Me... In such I am well pleased !
TWENTY-SECOND SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY. FORGIVENESS.
EPHESIANs IV. 32.
Be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.
THIs verse out of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians, is a fit commentary on that beautiful parable of his Master, which comes before us in the Gospel for this Sunday—the parable of the unmerciful servant.
In that parable, as in my text, we have the most perfect teaching on the subject of forgiveness. Therein is it made clear that we are to put no limit to the exercise of this most truly Christian grace.—We are not to sky, I will forgive the man who wrongs me—once, twice, or even the seventh time, but to be ready always and at all times, on his seeking it of us, to grant pardon. And this teaching is, moreover, made binding upon us, by its being based upon the dealing of Almighty God with ourselves. It is because God is rich in mercy towards us, that we are to shew mercy to one another. It is because He for Christ's sake hath forgiven us, that we are required in our dealings with an offending brother to be kind, tender-hearted, forgiving one another. This is the subject before us to-day~why we must abound in this grace of forgiveness. Let us at once proceed to observe how it is enforced in the parable which we have already heard.
The opening of the parable exhibits the largeness of God's mercy towards us, the readiness with which He forgives us our trespasses-as set forth in the dealing of a king with his debt-bound servant. -The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon one was brought unto him which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife and children and all that he had and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him and forgave him the debt.
Now every word of this tells with wonderful force upon our own condition as guilty sinners before God. The servant owing that vast sum of ten thousand talents the sum at which Haman in the Book of Esther rates the wealth of all the Jews in the land-about half a million of our money-may well stand for the type of each individual amongst us. When God—for He is the King in the parable—begins to reckon with us : when He awakens our conscience, and sets our sins before our face,-calls to our mind the innumerable offences of which we have been guilty from our youth upwards— the bad words we have spoken—the bad deeds we have done-our sins of commission, and our sins of omissionwhen God thus reproves us, and sets before us our doings, how are we in a better plight than was the convicted man in the parable? The greatness of our debt is overwhelming—we cannot deny it or excuse it. It were nothing but justice if that happened to us which was threatened him. God might give orders for us to be dealt with according to our sins. He might lay on us the terrible penalty of His violated law.
And note, further, another point of likeness between ourselves and the servant in the parable. His cry was, Have patience with me and I will pay thee all! It was an impossibility, but in his agony he was ready to promise it.
And so it is with ourselves, brethren. “ This," says Luther-and he spoke that which he knew, and testified out of his own deep inward experience " this—is the torment of all consciences when sin comes and gnaws them, they run hither and thither, seek help here and there, and presume still to do a great deal in order to pay God !”
Yes,“ in order to pay God!” As if He were to be bought off! As if we could ever wipe away by our imperfect efforts the guilt of past sin!
And yet how common the error is.—The monk by his penance--the priest by his treasure of other men's merits, what is it that these propose but compensation to the Almighty ? Their cry is the same as this—Have patience with me and I will pay thee all !
Now, brethren, let us put this notion utterly out of you in earnest ever sought this necessary array ? have you studied to prepare yourselves against the day when you and your Lord must meet face to face at the Judgment? If you have not, be warned, I beseech you, by what is here revealed ! Look at that man who had not on the wedding garment as a type of yourselves—as representing your condition in that day—hear the Lord’s question addressed to you through him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment 2 and see in his silence your own confusion. You cannot, any more than he could, cloke or excuse your neglect. You cannot say that you were ignorant of what God required of you. Has He not shewn it to you again in the Lesson for this evening? (Micah vi.) Judge yourselves, brethren; and, if need be, give sentence against yourselves. Better that you should see now and acknowledge your danger—your backwardness to make preparation, your weak faith, your imperfect practice, your careless indifference to the future—while the time allows of a change, than that you should go on in false security, hoping for heaven, but being at no pains to attain unto it, till at length, when it is too late, your self-deceit is unveiled, and you stand dumb and confounded before the all-searching eyes of your God and Judge While, then, you have time, make yourselves ready. Shew that you have indeed been taught the Gospel—the truth as it is in Jesus—by putting off the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, dying daily