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fied him; Father forgive them, for they know not what theytion do, Luke xxiii. 34. These examples are worthy of our imita-is n tion; and therefore we should reckon ourselves obliged to for-be 1 give those who have injured us.
Object. It will be objected by some, that the injuries done go them, are so very great, that they are not to be borne; and it an would be dishonourable for them not to take any notice there-ch of: Or, it may be, the ingratitude that is expressed herein, is fo such that it deserves the highest resentment; and if it should ne be passed over, it might be reckoned a tacit approbation of their crime, and give occasion to them, that have committed the i jury against them, to despise them, and do the like for th future.
Answ. To this it may be replied;
1st, That if the injury be great, it will be much more commendable, and a greater instance of virtue and grace to forgive than to resent it; for in this a man overcomes h..self, subdues his own passions, and thereby lets his enemy know. that he has a due sense of the divine command relating the unto, and that his spirit is sanctified and calmed by the por of divine grace. This is reckoned one of the greatest victories; as it is said, He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit, than he that taketh a city, Prov. xvi. 32.
2dly, As for our honour, which is pretended to be conc. herein, they who allege it, are very much mistaken. in toeir sentiments about true honour; since it is said, The discretion of a man deferreth his anger, and it is his glory to pass over his transgression, chap. xix. 11.
3dly, This does not, in the least, argue, that the person who forgives, approves of his crime, who has done him the injury, since this is not inconsistent with our charging it on his conscience, and endeavouring to bring him under a sense of guilt, as having not only injured us, but done that which is highly displeasing to God; and he may be given to understand, that hereby he has wronged his own soul more than us, and therefore has great reason to be humbled before God, and repent of his sin committed against us, which, as it is committed against God, he only can forgive; though we let him know, that we are disposed to forgive him, so far as the crime is directed against us.
4thly, As to the pretence, that forgiving injuries will make those who have done them grow bold, and be more hardened in their crimes; and that they will hereby take occasion to insult, and do the like injuries for the future: It may be replied, that this very seldom happens; but if it should, we must consider that the ungrateful abuse of a kind and generous ac
tion, or the possibility of this consequence ensuing thereupon, is no sufficient excuse for our not performing it. But if there be the least ingenuity of temper, or if it pleases God, by his grace, to succeed our kind behaviour toward them for their good, it will have a far different effect; as it is observed, A soft answer turneth away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger, chap. xv. 1. Thus concerning the obligation we are under to forgive the injuries that are committed against us: We are now to consider,
Thirdly, How this is an evidence, or may afford us ground of hope, that we shall obtain forgiveness from God, when we e praying for it. Here let it be observed, that forgiving injuries, may be considered barely as a virtue, proceeding from a goodness of temper, or the sense that persons have of the equity and reasonableness thereof, and from other motives which the light of nature may suggest, or, as it is recommended by Seneca, Epictetus, and other heathen moralists: And, indeed, it must be reckoned a very commendable quali
1 and a convincing evidence that a person is, in a great dego, master of his own passions; but we cannot from hence conclude, that such an one is in a state of grace; and nothing short of that can be evidence of our right to forgiveness: Therefore we must consider this disposition to forgive injues, as a Christian virtue, or as containing in it some ingredithat manifest it to be a gracę wrought in us by the Spirit, and a branch of sanctification, and, as such, having several other graces connected with; and accordingly,
1. When our forgiving injuries is an evidence of our having obtained forgiveness, we must do it out of a humble sense of the many crimes that we have committed against God; and therefore it is joined with, and flows from the grace of repentance.
2. It also contains in it several acts of faith; as hereby we do, in effect, acknowledge, that all we have is in God's hand, who has a right to take it away when he pleases; and if he suffers us to be deprived of our reputation and usefulness in the world, or our wealth and outward estate therein, by the injurious treatment we meet with from those, who, without cause are our enemies; we are sensible that this could not be done without his permissive providence, which we entirely acquiesce in. The injury or injustice we wholly lay to the charge of those who hate us, nevertheless, in obedience to our Saviour's command, we desire to express our love to them, in the most valuable instances thereof, and, at the same time, to acknowledge and bow down to the sovereignty and justice of God, in suffering us to be thus dealt with by men, hoping and trusting that he will over-rule this, and all other afflictive pro
vidences for our good; as David says, when he speaks of God's suffering Shimei to curse him: It may be, that the Lord will look on mine affliction, and that the Lord will requite me good for his cursing this day, 2 Sam. xvi. 12.
3. When we forgive those that have injured us, it is, with an earnest desire that God would give them repentance, that thereby his name may be glorified, and his interest promoted, whatever becomes of our name and usefulness in the world.When we are enabled to exercise such a frame of spirit as this in forgiving those that have injured us, we have ground to hope, that when we pray for forgiveness, the great God, who is the author of all that grace which we exercise in forgiving others, will grant us this invaluable privilege.
Having explained this petition, we shall now consider it as a directory, that so we may put up our requests to God, agreeable thereunto: Accordingly we are to cast ourselves before his footstool, with humble confession of sin, and imploring forgiveness from him, to this purpose: "We adore thee, O Lord,
as a God of purer eyes than to behold iniquity. Thou hast "commanded us to keep thy precepts, and hast revealed thy "wrath from heaven against all ungodliness, and unrighteous"ness of men: We acknowledge that we are, by our trans"gressions, become debtors to thy justice; our iniquities are "increased over our head, and our trespasses grown up unto "the heavens; and thereby we have deserved to be banished "out of thy sight, and cast into the prison of hell, without hope "of being released from thence. We are not able to stand in "judgment, and therefore we dread the thoughts of appearing "before thine awful tribunal, as an absolute God. If thou "shouldest contend with us, we cannot answer for the least sin "that we have committed; and it would be an injury to thy
justice, and an increasing of our guilt, to expect or desire, "that thou shouldest pardon our sins without receiving satis"faction for them, which we are sensible that we are not, nor "( ever shall be able to give thee. But we bless thy name, that "thou hast sent thy well-beloved Son into the world, who gave "his life a ransom for thy people; by which means thy justice "is satisfied, thy law fulfilled, and all thy perfections infinitely "glorified: He hath finished transgression, made an end of "sin, made reconciliation for iniquity, and brought in ever"lasting righteousness; which is to and upon all them that "believe. Thou hast therefore given us leave, and encouraged "us to come to thee by faith, to plead with thee for redemp
tion and forgiveness through his blood, according to the "riches of thy grace. In him thou art a God, pardoning the "iniquity, and passing by the transgressions of the remnant of "thine heritage: Therefore we pray for this invaluable privi
lege as those who humbly hope and trust that we have those graces wrought in us, which are an evidence of our having "Christ's righteousness imputed to us, for which we bless "thee; and, in particular, that thou hast enabled us to forgive
all the injuries that are done us by our fellow creatures; << which are very small and inconsiderable, if compared with "those affronts which we daily offer to thy Majesty. We be"seech thee, grant that this, and all other graces, may more " and more abound in us, that thereby our evidences of an "interest in Christ's righteousness may be more strong and "clear; that though we daily contract guilt by our transgres"sions, we may be enabled to conclude for our comfort, that "there is no condemnation to us, and that iniquity shall not "be our ruin."
QUEST. CXCV. What do we pray for in the sixth petition? ANSW. In the sixth petition, [which is, And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,] acknowledging that the most wise, righteous, and gracious God, for divers holy and just ends, may so order things, that we may be assaulted, foiled, and for a time, led captive by temptations, that Satan, the world, and the flesh, are ready, powerfully to draw us aside and ensnare us; and that we, even after the pardon of our sins, by reason of our corruption, weakness, and want of watchfulness, are not only subject to be tempted, and forward to expose ourselves unto temptations; but also, of ourselves, unable and unwilling to resist them, to recover out of them, and to improve them, and worthy to be left under the power of them; we pray, that God would so overrule the world, and all in it; subdue the flesh, and restrain Satan; order all things, bestow and bless all means of grace, and quicken us to watchfulness in the use of them, that we, and all his people may, by his providence, be kept from being tempted to sin; or, if tempted, that, by his Spirit, we may be powerfully supported and enabled to stand in the hour of temptation, or, when fallen, raised again and recovered out of it, and have a sanctified use and improvement thereof; that our sanctification and salvation may be perfected, Satan trodden under our feet, and we fully freed from sin, temptation, and all evil for ever.
UR Saviour having, in the foregoing petition, exhorted us to pray for forgiveness of sins, whereby the guilt of past crimes may be removed; in this he advises us to pray against temptation, lest being overcome thereby, we should
contract fresh guilt, and walk unbecoming those who hope for, or have obtained forgiveness from God. In order to our understanding of which it will be necessary for us to premise something tending to explain the meaning of the word Tempta tion. Accordingly it may be taken in a good sense: Thus God himself is sometimes said to tempt, or rather, which is all one, to try his people. This he does by the various dispensations of his providence, whether prosperous or adverse. And sometimes by his commands, when he puts us upon the performance of difficult duties, that he might prove us, whether his fear is before us: In this respect he is said to have tempted Abraham, proved his faith, and discovered his readiness to obey his command in offering Isaac; and, after he had tried his faith, he commends him, when he says, Now I know that thou lovest God, Gen. xxii. 1, 12. And sometimes he is said to tempt, or allue, to what is good, Hos. ii. 14. to invite his people to do those things which redound to his glory and their real interest; and in this sense we may and ought to tempt others, to persuade, and, as much as in us lies, engage their affections to the performance of what is good: Thus the apostle advises us to consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works, Heb. x. 24.
We are not to understand the word temptation in these senses in this petition; but it is to be taken for our being tempted to sin, in which respect God never tempts any one: Thus the apostle says, 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, James i. 13. neither ought we to tempt one another thereunto. This being premised, we come more immediately to explain this petition: In which we shall consider some things which are supposed; and also the subjectmatter thereof.
I. There are several things supposed, when we are taught to pray, Lead us not into temptation. As,
1. That man, in this imperfect state, is very much exposed to temptations. The world is always ready to present its alluring objects, which are suited to the corruption of our nature, and therefore too easily complied with: And this is farther promoted by Satan's suggestions, who is daily endeavouring to entangle us in the snare that is laid for us.
2. As we are daily tempted to sin, so we are in great danger of being overcome thereby; which arises not only from the methods used to draw us aside from God, and the many secret snares laid for us, that are not easily discerned, but principally from the treachery of our own hearts, which are deceitful above all things, and very apt to incline us to commit those sins which bring a great deal of guilt with them. It also pro