« PreviousContinue »
request the food that is essential to the preservation of the body, we implore that forgiveness of our sins, without which our souls must perish everlastingly. How are we entitled to this forgiveness? What plea have we to offer in support of our claims upon the Divine clemency? He who came to publish the glad tidings of salvation, and through whose merits we alone dare hope for forgiveness, has encouraged us to hope for it upon such conditions as will, if duly considered, be seen as a proper test of the sincerity of our repentance. He has taught us to ask of God to forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
Surely it cannot be in vain that 'Ihis duty of forgiveness is thus repeatedly enforced upon us. In a point on which so much depends, it behoves us to ascertain with accuracy the precise meaning of the terms we make use of. Our Saviour has so well explained it, as to leave no room for subterfuge or evasion. It is not only errors of judgment or sins of inadvertency that we here bind ourselves to forgive, but offences of whatever nature that have been committed against us. We are not merely to forgive them in words, but we are to forgive them from the heart, which must be so purified from every feeling of malice and resentment, as to retain no desire of revenge, no personal ill-will against those who have done or wished us evil. Until we have effected this, we cannot say we forgive as we hope to be forgiven; nor while we petition the throne of mercy for pardon, on conditions which we dfe not fulfil, can we hope to escape the punishment we so vainly with our lips attempt to deprecate.
While our intercourse with society is bounded within the precincts of friendship and affection, we are perhaps more likely to be led from the path of duty by our partialities than our resentments. There are who have passed on to a late stage of life, unconscious of having ever received a wilful injury from any human being; and who, from having their hearts perpetually exercised by the delightful emotions of gratitude and cordial regard, contract habits of universal goodwill and implicit confidence. Under such circumstances, what room is there for the operation of the vindictive passions? Bat even under such circumstances it is necessary to ** keep the heart with all diligence," since this very unsuspecting confidence, should it ever be by treachery abused, will give to the crime of the offender so deep a colouring as to i 6 enhance
enhance the difficulty of forgiveness.
incompatible, We must take care that the spirit which is in us be the spirit of love, of charity, and peace! Such affections will be accompanied by humility; and humility, conscious of the weakness and frailty of human nature, will earnestly implore not to be led into temptation.
To beseech our heavenly Father to exert his almighty power to preserve us from temptation, while we resolve on our parts to run into every temptation that offers, and not only so, but to solicit temptations from which we might have been by our situation exempted, is such palpable absurdity, as, did we reflect upon it, would render us contemptible in our own eyes. Can it then escape condemnation from God? Let us not flatter ourselves by such delusive hopes. If we entreat God to preserve us from tempta