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neither will your father which isin heaven forgive your trespasses.” Language could not be more pointed, than that used in these texts, to prove that unless we forgive, we cannot be forgiven. And it is astonishing that any person, whatever be his profession, can for a single moment, after reading or hearing these texts, entertain a hope of salvation, while he refuses to forgive all who have offended him.
The necessity of forgiveness, and the fatal consequences of an unforgiving temper, are further taught and enforced by our Saviour in the 18th Chapter of Matthew. Peter had asked him, “ Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him ? till seven times ? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, until seven times : but until seventy times seven.” Christ then spake a parable to illustrate and enforce the doctrine of forgiveness. A certain king reckoned with his servants. Among them was found one which owed him ten thousand talents, a debt which he was totally unable to pay. His lord moved with compassion forgave him the debt. Mark now the conduct of this servant who had been forgiven so much, towards his fellow-servants. 66 The same servant went out, and found one of his fellow-servants, which owed him an hundred pence, and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, pay me that thou owest.” His fellow-servant entreated “have patience with me and I will pay thee all. And he would not; but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.” Such is thy conduct, Ô man or woman, who refuseth to forgive thy fellow creature, who has offended thee! You expect God to forgive you ten thousand talents, or your numerous and aggravated sins against him, and yet refuse to forgive your brother an hundred pence, or the comparatively trifling offences, which he has committed against you. In the sequel of the parable you may hear your doom. When his lord heard what the unforgiving servant had done, he“ called him, and said unto him, 0 thou wicked ser. vant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desi. redst me.
Shouldst 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,” added our Saviour. “ shall my heavenly Father do
also unto you, if ye from your heart forgive not every one his brother their trespasses."
I shall now conclude this discourse with a word of application. This subject concerns us all, whether we profess religion or not. It is peculiarly inconsistent and criminal in professors of religion, to indulge these passions ; but in all, they are highly displeasing to God, and exclude from the kingdoin of heaven. "Ifthen eternal life be important, it is important, that we put away these hateful passions, and live in peace and love. Are there any present, whether they profess religion or not, who hate others, who maintain malice in their hearts towards any one, and desire and seek revenge, and would rejoice in their injury ? Are there any present, who are at variance with their neighbour, and have not sought reconciliation, or have refused and continue to refuse to be reconciled, and have not from the heart forgiven those who have offended them? Let them seriously reflect on this subject. Your character is directly contrary to the image of God, to which it is your duty and your glory to be conformed.Your temper and conduct are totally unlike the perfect example of Christ, which it is your duty to imitate; and also of that cloud of witnesses who through faith and patience have inherited the promises. Your conduct is totally inconsistent with your expectations from God. You hope that God will forgive you, your repeated and aggravated offences against him, and yet you refuse to forgive and love your brother. You act in direct opposition to the will of God most clearly made known in his word. And such a temper as you maintain is inconsistent with the christian character, and excludes from the kingdom of heaven. These may be hard sayings to corrupt nature; but they make a part of the whole counsel of God which I am to declare to you. If you hate your
brother you are in darkness. If you hate your brother and still say that you love God, you deceive yourselves, the Scriptures declare in plain terms that such are liars. If you hate your brother, you are a murderer, and no murderer bath eternal life. Have any offended you, and do you refuse to forgive them ? be assured God will not forgive you. And have you even pronounced their forgiveness with your lips; but still does hatred keep possession of your hearts ? be assured God will not forgive you; for
he has declared he will not, unless you from the heart forgive. Brethren this is an important subject. We have reason to fear that many persons fatally deceive themselves on this point, by entertaining a hope of salvation, while they habitually maintain hatred and an unforgiving temper towards others. On the authority of the word of God, I solemnly declare to such, that they bearthe marks of the children of Satan, as really as does the drunkard or the profane swearer; and they have no more right to hope that they are in a state of salvation.
Such are exhorted to repent of these sins. Put away allanger, hatred, malice, wrath, and revenge. If you are at variance, with any man, whether he be the offending party or not, seek to be reconciled-seek it without delay.Let not the sun go down upon your wrath. If your neighbour refuses to be reconciled, you then have discharged your duty. And if there be any that have offended you, without delay forgive them, and be at peace with them. I know this is hard to the selfish nature of corrupted
But remember it is an essential part of true relig. ion, that we deny ourselves. How can we look to God to be reconciled unto us, to forgive us our numerous and aggravated offences against him, and to love us, while we refuse to be reconciled to our neighbour, forgive, and love him! To conclude brethren, the matter is plainly reduced in the word of God, to this plain simple proposition, we must forgive and love our brother, or we must eternally perish.
THE SEVENTH COMMANDMENT:
EXODUS Xx. 14.
“ Thou shalt not commit adultery.".
This commandment respects our own, and our neigh. bour's chastity. The commandment, like most of the others in the decalogue, is expressed negatively; but in all the commandments, where a sin is forbidden, the contrary duty is implied and required. The word adultery, in the text, is evidently used as a generick term, embracing every species of unchastity, and every thing which has a tendency to lead to it. All these are prohibited by the seventh commandment, and the contrary duties are required. The law of God regards the speech as well as the actions ; and therefore this commandment forbids unchaste conversation, and requires chastity in our speech, And,“ the law is spiritual”--whatever is forbidden in the outward conduct, is also prohibited in thought, and desire, and intention. Therefore the seventh commandment forbids, not only overt acts of unchastity, and obscene conversation ; but also impure thoughts, and desires, and intentions, and requires the contrary:
The duties required, and the sins forbidden in this commandment, are excellently stated in our Catechism. We shall consider each distinctly.
I. The duties required. These we have pointed out in our Catechism, in the answer to the seventy first question.
“What is required in the seventh commandment ?
The seventh commandment requireth the preservation of our own, and our neighbour's chastity, in heart, speech and be haviour."
The seventh commandment requires us to preserve our own chastity. In doing this, we are to maintain a purity of conduct, and avoid all overt acts of unchastity. "Thte
is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: that every one of youshould know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour: not in the lust of concupiscence;" i Thes. iv. 3—5. We are to maintain a purity of conversation, and to suffer no obscene language to pass our lips. “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying ;" Eph. iv. 29. And we are to keep our hearts from all impure thoughts, desires, and intentions ; for God looketh at the heart ; and as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he, in the divine estimation. And when such thoughts and desires arise in the mind, if we would preserve our own chastity, we must not harbour or indulge them ; but on the contrary resist, and endeavour to banish them.
To maintain in ourselves, that púrity, in heart, speech, and behaviour, which is required by this commandment, we ought to avoid and guard against every thing, which may prove a temptation to the sin forbidden. We ought to resist the first desires towards it in our hearts. We ought to watch over our senses, and turn our eyes away from objects which may excite unchaste desires, stop our ears against lascivious discourse, and refrain from such touches or dalliances, as may excite and inflame the lustful pas. sions. In regard to objects which were calculated to tempt him to this sin, Job made a covenant with his eyes, that he would not look upon them ; Job xxxi. 1. We ought also to shun all light and lewd company, which may prove a snare to draw into this sin ; as Solomon exhorted. “Remove thy way far from her, and come not nigh the door of her house;" Prov. v. 8. We ought to be diligent in business, and temperate in the use of meat and drink ; for industry and temperance are favourable to chastity ; while their opposites, idleness and intemperance, have a tendency to pamper and inflame those passions, the indulgence of which is forbidden by the seventh commandment. We ought also to pray to be kept from temptation to a breach of this commandment; and to have grace to resist when we are tempted. And we ought as the best preservative of our own chastity, to nek, and cultivate, and maintain the fear of God in our its, and a sense of his constant presence, and notice,
our accountability to him. This would lead us to