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than quick and forward to forgive us all trespasses. And so, thinking about Him, we ourselves become binders and exactors.—We do not feel—as we ought to feel—that such conduct is in opposition to the will of God.
Surely with juster views of God we should come to treat one another differently. Surely were our hearts once deeply touched with a sense of God's exceeding goodness—did we once realize the truth of those words, He hath not dealt with us after our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities—we should be more tolerant, less harsh and exacting in the intercourse we have with one another. We should feel that freely we have been forgiven, that we might freely forgive. It would be a reproach to us to be caught-were it only by the guard within our breasts—at any moment acting in the spirit of the servant in this parable-seeking only our ownshewing to our brother no forbearance-implacable-unmerciful!
And now, in the last place, let us note the solemn lesson with which the parable concludes.
The fellow servants saw with sorrow the conduct of their companion, and they went and told their lord all that was done. Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, 0 thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt because thou desirest 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 tormentors till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise—and this, remember, is our Lord's own application of the parable—so likewise shall my heavenly Father
do also unto you if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.
Here we may see that God's forgiveness-His ready, full, and free forgiveness, is not wholly without a condition. Here we may see that the remitted payment of former sins still hangs over our heads.
The servant in the parable had been forgiven everything-he had gone out of his lord's presence a free man. But because he abused that forgiveness, because his own harsh nature was unchanged by it, the Lord, as we have seen, recalled his pardon, and required full satisfaction at his hand. He who had shut out love, was now in turn shut out from love! — He had judgment without mercy, who had himself shewed no mercy!
And this, remember—though done in a parable—is the very image of that treatment which we have to look for from our God. He sets it before us for our warning. Now, beforehand—while yet we may learn wisdom from it-He declares on what terms we, sinners as we are in His sight, and heavy laden with trespasses, may find mercy. Forgive, and ye shall be forgiven-retain, i. e. hold back your forgiveness, and your sins are retained.
And, brethren, if our sins are retained—if God, vexed at our uncharitableness, cast over us again the cord that was unloosed—if He again bring us into judgmentwhat hope can there yet be? who is he that shall deliver us any more out of His hand ?
We see, then, by this parable, that the question put by St. Peter, and to which it was the answer—How oft shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? is a question no longer to be asked. We see that such a question implies forgetfulness of God's mercies towards ourselves.
Let us cherish, then, more and more, the longer we live, a forgiving and forbearing temper. Let us make it our aim through life to be merciful as our Father in heaven is merciful. Let us be sure of this, that nothing so becomes a Christian,-nothing so stamps a man as a follower of Christ, as the power to forgive from the heart a wrong.
And as our chief aid towards the acquiring of this power, look at the recommendation of our Lord, in another part of the Gospel, When ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have aught against any. Yes! in those solemn moments when we come as it were more immediately into our Maker's presence—when we enter into our closet and shut to the door, and lay bare to God's All-seeing Eye the secrets of our burdened soul
—when we open out before Him all our weaknesses, all our unworthiness—when one by one we reckon up our sins, till they seem a great mountain ready to fall upon us and cover us—when our only hope to having the load removed, rests upon the boundlessness of His mercy--then-ere we venture to invoke that mercy, let us search well our spirit, and see whether we are in perfect charity with all men—whether there lurk in us one spiteful, one revengeful thought towards any of our neighbours. Let us not approach the living God with the offering of a resentful heart!
Go thy way, first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. When ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have aught against any: that your Father which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses !
TWENTY-THIRD SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY.
THE UNFINISHED TOWER.
ST. LUKE XIV. 28, 29, 30.
For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and
counteth the cost, whether he hath sufficient to finish it ? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it, begin to mock him, saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.
We must all of us have noticed-and it is an apt illustration of the last of these three verses—a sight, which may commonly be seen on the outskirts of large towns, viz., an unfinished house–a house from which the builders have been taken off—the scaffold poles removed, the ground about it boarded up, the whole work evidently at a stand still.
Sometimes we see it remain in this condition for years. And the house left thus unfinished, without windows, without doors, perhaps without a roof, soon begins to suffer from the weather. The mortar perishes, the bricks get loose, and by little and little, the whole building becomes a ruin.