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lows the former; that all hinderances being removed, we may the more clearly trust in the God of Love, for every manner of thing which is good.
Our trespasses. The word properly signifies our debts. Thus our sins are frequently represented in Scripture: every sin laying us under a fresh debt to God; to whom we already owe, as it were, ten thousand talents. What then can we answer when he shall say, "Pay me that thou owest?" We are utterly insolvent: we have nothing to pay: we have wasted all our substance. Therefore, if he deal with us according to the rigour of his law, if he exact what he justly may, he must command us to be "bound hand and foot, and delivered over to the tormentors."
Indeed we are already bound hand and foot, by the chains of our own sins. These, considered with regard to ourselves, are chains of iron and fetters of brass. They are wounds, wherewith the world, the flesh, and the devil, have gashed and mangled us all over. They are diseases that drink up our blood and spirits, that bring us down to the chambers of the grave. But considered as they are here, with regard to God, they are debts immense and numberless. Well, therefore, seeing we have nothing to pay, may we cry unto him, that he would frankly forgive us all.
The word translated forgive, implies either to forgive a debt, or to unloose a chain. And, if we attain the former, the latter follows of course; if our debts are forgiven, the chains fall off our hands. As soon as ever, through the free grace of God in Christ, we receive forgiveness of sins, we receive likewise "a lot among those who are sanctified, by faith, which is in him." Sin has lost its power: it has no dominion over those who are under grace, that is, in favour with God. As "there is now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus," so they are freed from sin as well as from guilt. "The righteousness of the law is fulfilled in them, and they walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit."
14. "As we forgive them that trespass against us." In these words our Lord clearly declares, both on what condition, and in what degree or manner we may look to be forgiven of God. All our trespasses and sins are forgiven us, if we forgive, and as we forgive others. This is a point of the utmost importance. And our blessed Lord is so jealous, lest at any time we should let it slip out of our thoughts, that he not only inserts it in the body of his prayer, but presently after repeats it twice over. "If," saith he, "ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But, if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses," ver. 14, 15. Secondly, God forgives us, as we forgive others. So that if any malice or bitterness, if any taint of unkindness or anger remains, if we do not clearly, fully, and from the heart, forgive all men their trespasses, we so far cut short the forgiveness of our own. God cannot clearly and fully forgive us. He may show us some degree of mercy. But we will not suffer him to blot. out all our sins, and forgive all our iniquities.
In the meantime, while we do not from our hearts forgive our neighbour his trespasses, what manner of prayer are we offering to God whenever we utter these words? We are indeed setting God at open defiance: we are daring him to do his worst. "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us!" That is, in plain terms, "Do not thou forgive us at all: we desire no favour at thy hands. We pray, that thou wilt keep our sins in remembrance, and that thy wrath may abide upon us. But can you seriously offer such a prayer to God? And hath he not yet cast you quick into hell? O tempt him no longer! Now, even now, by his grace, forgive as you would be forgiven! Now have compassion on thy fellow-servant, as God hath had, and will have pity on thee.
15. "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." And lead us not into temptation. The word translated temptation means trial of any kind. And so the English word temptation was formerly taken in an indifferent sense; although now it is usually understood of solicitation to sin. St. James uses the word in both these senses; first, in its general, then in its restrained acceptation. He takes it in the former sense when he saith, "Blessed is the man that endureth temptation; for, when he is tried, [or approved of God,] he shall receive the crown of life," chap. i. 12, 13. He immediately adds, taking the word in the latter sense, "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man. But every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust," or desire, eğeλxoμevos, drawn out of God, in whom alone he is safe, and enticed, caught as a fish with a bait. Then it is, when he is thus drawn away and enticed, then he properly enters into temptation. Then temptation covers him as a cloud: it overspreads his whole soul. Then how hardly shall he escape out of the snare? Therefore, we beseech God, "not to lead us into temptation," that is, (seeing God tempteth no man,) not to suffer us to be led into it. "But deliver us from evil:" rather, "-from the evil one,” απο τα πονηge. Ο Πονηρος is unquestionably the wicked one, emphatically so called, the prince and god of this world, who works with mighty power in the children of disobedience. But all those who are the children of God. by faith, are delivered out of his hands. He may fight against them; and so he will. But he cannot conquer unless they betray their own souls. He may torment for a time, but he cannot destroy; for God is on their side, who will not fail, in the end, to "avenge his own elect, that cry unto him, day and night." Lord, when we are tempted, suffer us not to enter into temptation. Do thou make a way for us to escape, that the wicked one touch us not.
16. The conclusion of this divine prayer, commonly called the doxology, is a solemn thanksgiving, a compendious acknowledgment of the attributes and works of God. "For thine is the kingdom;" the sovereign right of all things that are, or ever were created: yea, thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all ages. "The power:" the executive power whereby
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thou governest all things in thy everlasting kingdom, whereby thou dost whatsoever pleaseth thee, in all places of thy dominion. "And the glory;" the praise due from every creature, for thy power, and the mightiness of thy kingdom, and for all thy wonderous works which thou workest from everlasting, and shalt do, world without end, for ever and ever! Amen! So be it!
I believe it will not be unacceptable to the serious reader to subjoin
THE LORD'S PRAYER.
1 FATHER of all, whose powerful voice,
Through endless ages still the same:
2 In heaveh thou reign'st, enthron'd in light,
And hail Thee Sovereign Lord of All.
3 Thee, Sovereign Lord, let all confess,
In praise your every hour employ:
And shout, ye morning-stars, for joy.
4 SON of thy SIRE'S eternal love,
Take to thyself thy mighty power;
5 SPIRIT of Grace, and health, and power,
"Moreover, when ye fast, be not as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance; for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward.
"But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; "That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father who is in secret and thy Father who seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly," MATTHEW Vi. 16—18.
1. IT has been the endeavour of Satan from the beginning of the world, to put asunder what God hath joined together: to separate inward from outward religion, to set one of these at variance with the other. And herein he has met with no small success, among those who were "ignorant of his devices."
Many, in all ages, having a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge, have been strictly attached to the "righteousness of the law," the performance of outward duties, but in the meantime wholly regardless of inward righteousness, "the righteousness which is of God by faith." And many have run into the opposite extreme, disregarding all outward duties, perhaps, even "speaking evil of the law, and judging the law," so far as it enjoins the performance of them.
2. It is by this very device of Satan, that faith and works have been so often set at variance with each other. And many who had a real zeal for God, have, for a time, fallen into the snare on either hand. Some have magnified faith to the utter exclusion of good works, not only from being the cause of our justification (for we know that man is "justified freely by the redemption which is in Jesus") but from being the necessary fruit of it, yea, from having any place in the religion of Jesus Christ. Others, eager to avoid this dangerous mistake, have run as much too far the contrary way; and either maintained, That good works were the cause, at least the previous condition of justification; or spoken of them as if they were all in all, the whole religion of Jesus Christ.
3. In the same manner have the end and the means of religion, been set at variance with each other. Some well-meaning men, have seemed to place all religion, in attending the prayers of the