The Lord's Prayer by Thomas Watson File 22 (... continued from file 21) (10) Forgiveness of sin makes our services acceptable. God takes all we do in good part. A guilty person does nothing that is pleasing to God. His prayer is 'turned into sin;' but when sin is pardoned, God accepts his offering. We read of Joshua standing before the angel of the Lord: 'Joshua was clothed with filthy garments,' that is, he was guilty of divers sins; now, saith the Lord, 'Take away the filthy garments, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee;' and then he stood and ministered before the Lord, and his services were accepted. Zech 3: 3, 4. (11) Forgiveness of sin is the sauce which sweetens all the comforts of this life. As guilt embitters our comforts, and puts wormwood into our cup, so pardon sweetens all, and is like sugar to wine. Health and pardon, estate and pardon, relish well. Pardon of sin gives a sanctified title and a delicious taste to every comfort. As Naaman said to Gehazi, 'Take two talents,' so says God to the pardoned soul, Take two talents; take the venison, and take a blessing with it; take the oil in the cruse, and take my love with it; 'Take two talents.' 2 Kings 5: 23. It is observable that Christ joins these two together, 'Give us our daily bread, forgive us our trespasses,' as if Christ would teach us there is little comfort in daily bread unless sin be forgiven. Forgiveness perfumes and drops sweetness into every earthly enjoyment. (12) If sin be forgiven, God will never upbraid us with former sins. When the prodigal came home to his father, the father received him into his loving embraces, and never mentioned his former luxury, or spending his estate among harlots; so God will not upbraid us with former sins - nay, he will entirely love us; we shall be his jewels, and he will put us in his bosom. To Mary Magdalene, a pardoned penitent, after Christ arose, he first appeared. Mark 16: 9. So far was he from upbraiding her, that he brought her the first news of his resurrection. (13) Pardoned sin is a pillar of support in the loss of friends. God has taken away thy child, thy husband; but he has also taken away thy sins. He has given thee more than he has taken away; he has taken away a flower, and given thee a jewel. He has given thee Christ and the Spirit, and the earnest of glory. He has given thee more than he has taken away. (14) Where God pardons sins, he bestows righteousness. With remission of sin goes imputation of righteousness. 'I will greatly rejoice in the Lord: he has covered me with the robe of righteousness.' Isa 61: 10. If a Christian can take any comfort in his inherent righteousness, which is so stained and mixed with sin, oh, what comfort may he take in Christ's righteousness, which is a better righteousness than that of Adam! Adam's righteousness was mutable; but suppose it had been unchangeable, it was but the righteousness of a man; but that which is imputed is the righteousness of him who is God. 'That we might be made the righteousness of God in him.' 2 Cor 5: 21. Oh, blessed privilege, to be reputed in the sight of God righteous as Christ, having his embroidered robe put upon the soul! This is the comfort of every one that is pardoned, he has a perfect righteousness; and now God says of him, 'Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee.' Cant 4: 7. (15) A pardoned soul needs not fear death. He may look on death with joy, who can look on forgiveness with faith. To a pardoned soul, death has lost his sting. Death, to a pardoned sinner, is like arresting a man after the debt is paid; it may arrest, but Christ will show the debt-book crossed in his blood. A pardoned soul may triumph over death, 'O death! where is thy sting? O grave! where is thy victory?' He who is pardoned need not fear death: it is not to him a destruction, but a deliverance; it is a day of jubilee or release; it releases him from all his sins. Death comes to a pardoned soul as the angel did to Peter, when he smote him, and beat off his chains, and carried him out of prison; it smites his body, and the chains of sin fall off. Death gives a pardoned soul a quietus est [he is at rest], it frees from all his labours. Rev 14: 13. Felix transitus a labore ad requiem [Happy is the passage from toil to rest]. Bernard. As it will wipe off our tears, so it will wipe off our sweat. It will do a pardoned Christian a good turn, therefore it is made a part of the inventory in I Cor 3: 22; even death is yours. It is like the waggon which was sent for old Jacob, that came rattling with its wheels, but it was to carry Jacob to his son Joseph; so the wheels of death's chariot may rattle and make a noise, but they are to carry a believer to Christ. While a believer is here, he is absent from the Lord. 2 Cor 5: 6. He lives far from court, and cannot see him whom his soul loves; but death gives him a sight of the King of Glory, in whose presence is fulness of joy. To a pardoned soul, death is transitus ad regnum [a passage to the kingdom]; it removes him to the place of bliss, where he shall hear the triumphs and anthems of praise sung in the choir of angels. No cause has a pardoned soul to fear death, what needs he fear to have his body buried in the earth who has his sins buried in Christ's wounds? What hurt can death do to him? It is but his ferryman to ferry him over to the land of promise. The day of death to a pardoned soul is his ascension-day to heaven, his coronation-day, when he shall be crowned with those delights of paradise which are unspeakable and full of glory. These are the rich consolations which belong to a pardoned sinner. Well might David proclaim him blessed. 'Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven;' in the Hebrew it is in the plural, blessednesses. Psa 32: 1. Here is a plurality of blessings. Forgiveness of sin is like the first link of a chain which draws all the links after it; it draws these fifteen privileges after it; it crowns with grace and glory. Who then would not labour to have his sins forgiven? 'Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.' Use 5. Now follow the duties of those who have their sins forgiven. (1) Be much in praise and doxology. 'Bless the Lord, O my soul, who forgiveth all thine iniquities.' Has God crowned you with pardoning mercy? set the crown of your praise upon the head of free grace. Pardon of sin is a discriminating mercy, a jewel hung only upon the elect, which calls for acclamations of praise. You give thanks for 'daily bread,' and will you not much more for pardon? You give thanks for deliverance from sickness and will you not for deliverance from hell? God has done more for you in forgiving your sin than if he had given you a kingdom. That you may be more thankful, do but set the unpardoned condition before your eyes. How sad is it to want a pardon! All the curses of the law stand in full force against such a one. The unpardoned sinner dying drops into the grave and hell both at once; he must quarter among the damned; and will it not make you thankful that this is not your condition, but that you are 'delivered from the wrath to come'? (2) Let God's pardoning love inflame your hearts with love to God. For God to pardon freely without any desert of yours; to pardon so many offences; to pardon you and pass by others; to take you out of the ruins of mankind, of a clod of dust and sin, and make you a jewel sparkling with heavenly glory; will not this make you love God much? If of three prisoners that deserve to die the king pardons one, and leaves the other two to the severity of the law, will not he that is pardoned love the prince who has been so full of clemency to him? How should your hearts be endeared in love to God! The schoolmen distinguish a twofold love, amor gratuitus, a love of bounty - that is, God's love to us in forgiving; and amor debitus, a love of duty - that is, our love to God by way of return: We should show our love by admiring God, by sweetly solacing ourselves in him, and binding ourselves to him in a perpetual covenant. (3) Let the sense of God's love in forgiving make you more cautious and fearful of sin for the future. 'There is forgiveness with thee that thou mayest be feared.' Psa 130: 4. Oh, fear to offend the God who has been so forgiving to you. If a friend has done us a kindness, we shall not disoblige him or abuse his love. After Nathan had told David, 'The Lord has put away thy sin,' how tender was his conscience! How fearful was he of staining his soul with the guilt of more blood! 'Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God.' Psa 51: 14. When men commit gross sins after pardon, God changes his carriage towards them, he turns his smile into a frown; they lie, es Jonah, in the 'belly of hell;' God's wrath falls into their conscience as a drop of scalding lead into the eye; the promises are as a fountain sealed, not a drop of comfort comes from them. O Christians, do you not remember what it cost before you got your pardon? how long it was before your 'broken bones' were set? and will you again venture to sin? You may be in such a condition that you may question whether you belong to God or not. Though God does not damn you, he may give you a taste of hell in this life. (4) If God has given you good hope that you are pardoned, walk cheerfully. 'We joy in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.' Rom 5: 11. Who should rejoice, if not he that has his pardon? God rejoices when he shows us mercy; and should not we rejoice when we receive mercy? In the saddest times, a pardoned soul may rejoice. Afflictions have a commission to do him good; every cross wind of providence shall blow him nearer to the haven of glory. Christian, God has pulled off your prison- fetters, and clothed you with the robe of righteousness, and crowned you with lovingkindness, and yet art thou sad? 'We rejoice in hope of the glory of God.' Rom 5: 2. Can the wicked rejoice who have only a short reprieve from hell, and not they who have a full pardon sealed? (5) Has God pardoned you? Do all the service you can for God. 'Always abounding in the work of the Lord.' I Cor 15: 58. Let your head study for God; let your hands work for him; let your tongue be the organ of his praise. When Paul got his pardon, and could say, 'I obtained mercy,' it was as oil to the wheels, it made him move faster in obedience. I Tim 1: I6. 'I laboured more abundantly than they all.' I Cor 15: 10. Paul's obedience did not move slowly, as the sun on the dial; but swiftly, as the sun in the firmament. He did spend, and was spent for Christ. The pardoned soul thinks he can never love God enough, or serve him enough. Use 6. Some rules or directions, how we may obtain forgiveness of sin. (1) We must take heed of mistakes about pardon of sin; as the mistake that our sins are pardoned when they are not. Whence is this mistake? From two grounds.  Because God is merciful. God's being merciful shows that man's sins are pardonable. But there is a great deal of difference between sins pardonable and sins pardoned; thy sins may be pardonable, yet not pardoned. Though God be merciful, yet whom is God's mercy for? Not for the presuming sinner, but the repenting sinner. Such as go on in sin, cannot lay claim to it. God's mercy is like the ark, which none but the priests might touch; none but such as are spiritual priests, sacrificing their sins, may touch the ark of God's mercy.  Because Christ died for their sins, therefore they are forgiven. That Christ died for remission of sin is true; but that all have remission is false, for then Judas would be forgiven. Remission is limited to believers. 'By him all that believe are justified;' but all do not believe; some slight and trample Christ's blood under foot. Acts 13: 39; Heb 10: 29. Notwithstanding Christ's death, all are not pardoned. Take heed of this dangerous mistake. Who will seek after pardon that thinks he has it already? Another mistake is, that pardon is easy to be had; it is but a sigh, or, Lord, have mercy; but how dearly has pardon cost those who have obtained it? How long was it ere David's broken bones were set! Happy are we if we have the pardon of sin sealed, though at the very last hour; but why do men think pardon of sin so easy to be obtained? Their sins are but small, therefore venial. The devil holds the small end of the perspective glass before their eyes. But there is no small sin against Deity. Why is he punished with death that clips the king's coin or defaces his statue, but because it is an abuse offered to the person of the king? Little sins, when multiplied, become great, as a little sum when multiplied, comes to millions. What is less than a grain of sand, but when the sand is multiplied, what heavier? Thy sins cost no small price. View them in the glass of Christ's sufferings, who veiled his glory, lost his joy, and poured out his soul an offering for the least sin. Little sins, unrepented of, will damn thee, as well as greater. Not only great rivers fall into the sea, but little brooks; not only greater sins carry men to hell, but less; therefore do not think pardon easy, because sin is small. Beware of mistakes. (2) The second means for pardon of sin is to see yourselves guilty. Come to God as condemned men. 'They put ropes on their heads and came to the king of Israel.' I Kings 20: 32. Let us come to God in profound humility; say not, Lord, my heart is good, and my life blameless. God hates this. Lie in the dust, be covered with sackcloth: say as the centurion, 'Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof;' I deserve not the least smile from heaven. Matt 8: 8. This is the way for pardon. (3) The third means for pardon is, hearty confession of sin. 'I said, I will confess my transgressions, and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.' Psa 32: 5. Would we have God cover our sins, we must uncover them. 'If we confess our sins, he is just to forgive us our sins.' I John 1: 9. One would have thought it should have run thus, If we confess our sins, he is merciful to forgive them. Nay, but he is just to forgive them. Why just? Because he has bound himself by a promise to forgive humble confessors of sin. Cum accusat excusat. Tertullian. When we accuse ourselves, God absolves us. We are apt to hide our sins, which is as great a folly as for one to hide his disease from the physician; but when we open our sins to God by confessing, he opens his mercy to us by forgiving. (4) Another means for pardon is sound repentance. Repentance and remission are put together. Luke 24: 47. There is a promise of a fountain opened for washing away the guilt of sin. Zech 13: 1. But see what goes before: 'They shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him.' Zech 12: 10. 'Wash you, make you clean;' that is, wash in the waters of repentance; and then follows a promise of forgiveness, 'Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.' Isa 1: 16, 18. It is easy to turn white into scarlet, but not so easy to turn scarlet into white: yet, upon repentance, God has promised to make the scarlet sinner of a milk-like whiteness. Think not, however, that repentance merits pardon, but it prepares for it. We set our seal on the wax when it melts; so God seals his pardons on melting hearts. (5) The next means for pardon is faith in the blood of Christ. It is Christ's blood that washes away sin. Rev 1: 5. But this blood will not wash away sin, unless it be applied by faith. The apostle speaks of the sprinkling of the blood of Christ. I Pet 1: 2. Many are not pardoned, though Christ's blood be shed, because it is not sprinkled; now it is faith that sprinkles Christ's blood on the soul, for the remission of sin. As Thomas put his hands into Christ's sides, so faith puts its hands into Christ's wounds, and takes of the blood and sprinkles it upon the conscience, for the washing away of guilt. John 20: 27. Hence in Scripture, we are said to obtain pardon through faith. 'By him all that believe are justified.' Acts 13: 39. 'Thy sins are forgiven.' Luke 7: 48. Whence was this? 'Thy faith has saved thee.' 5: 50. O let us labour for faith. Christ is a propitiation or atonement to take away sin; but how? 'Through faith in his blood.' Rom 3: 25. (6) The last means is to pray much for pardon. 'Take away all iniquity.' Hos 14: 2. 'The publican smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.' Luke 18: 13. And the text says, he went away justified. Many pray for health, riches, children; but Christ has taught us to pray, Dimitte nobis debita nostra, 'Forgive us our sins.' Be earnest suitors for pardon; consider what guilt of sin is; it binds one over to the wrath of God; better thy house were haunted with devils than thy soul with guilt. He who is in the bond of iniquity, must needs be in the gall of bitterness. Acts 8: 23. A guilty soul wears Cain's mark, which was a trembling at the heart, and a shaking in his flesh. Guilt makes the sinner afraid, lest every trouble he meets with should arrest him and bring him to judgement. If guilt be so dismal, and breed such convulsion fits in the conscience, how earnest should we be in prayer, that God would remove it, and so earnest as to resolve to take no denial! Plead hard with God for pardon, as a man would plead with a judge for his life. Fall upon thy knees, say, Lord, hear one word. God may say, What canst thou say for thyself, that thou shouldest not die? Lord, I can say but little, but I put in my Surety, Christ shall answer for me; O look upon that blood which speaks better things than that of Abel; Christ is my priest, his blood is my sacrifice, his divine nature is my altar. As Rahab was to show the scarlet thread in the window, that when Joshua saw it he might not destroy her, so show the Lord the scarlet thread of Christ's blood, for that is the way to have mercy. Josh 2: 18, 21; 6: 22, 23. God may say, Why should I pardon thee? Thou hast nowise obliged me. But, Lord, pardon me, because thou hast promised it; I urge thy covenant. When a man is about to die by the law, he calls for his book; so say, Lord, let me have the benefit of my book, thy word says, 'Let the wicked forsake his way and our God will abundantly pardon.' Isa 55: 7. Lord, I have forsaken my sins, let me therefore have mercy; I plead the benefit of the book. But, for whose sake should I pardon? Thou canst not deserve it. Lord, for thy own name's sake; thou hast said, thou wilt blot out sin, for thy own name's sake. Isa 43: 25. It will not eclipse thy crown; thy mercy will shine forth, and all thy other attributes ride in triumph, if thou shalt pardon me! Thus plead with God in prayer, and resolve not to give over till thy pardon be sealed. God cannot deny importunity; he delights in mercy. As the mother, says Chrysostom, delights to have her breasts milked, so God delights to milk out the breast of mercy to the sinner. These means being used will procure this great blessedness, the forgiveness of sin. IV. The last part of this petition is the condition: 'As we forgive them that trespass against us.' This word, As, is not a note of equality, but similitude; not that we equal God in forgiving, but imitate him. The great duty of forgiving others, is crossing the stream; it is contrary to flesh and blood. Men forget kindnesses, but remember injuries. But it is an indispensable duty to forgive; we are not bound to trust an enemy; but we are bound to forgive him. We are naturally prone to revenge. Revenge, says Homer, is sweet as dropping honey. The heathen philosophers held revenge lawful. Ulcisci te lacessitus potes [When provoked you may avenge yourself]. Cicero. But we learn better things from the oracles of Scripture. 'When ye stand praying, forgive.' Mark 11: 25. 'Many man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.' Col 3: 13. How can we forgive others, when God only can forgive sin? In every breach of the second table, there are two things: an offence against God, and a trespass against man. So far as it is an offence against God, he only can forgive; but so far as it is a trespass against man, we may forgive. When do we forgive others? When we strive against all thoughts of revenge; when we will not do our enemies mischief, but wish well to them, grieve at their calamities, pray for them, seek reconciliation with them, and show ourselves ready on all occasions to relieve them. This is gospel- forgiving. But I have been much injured and abused, and to put up with it will be a stain to my reputation. (1) To pass by an injury without revenge, is not eclipsing our honour. The Scripture says of a man, 'It is his glory to pass over a transgression.' Prov 19: 11. It is more honour to bury an injury than to revenge it. Wrath denotes weakness; a noble heroic spirit overlooks a petty offence. (2) Suppose a man's credit should be impaired with those whose censure is not to be regarded; consider the folly of challenging another to a duel. It is little wisdom for a man to redeem his credit by losing his life, and to run to hell to be counted valorous. But the wrong he has done me is great. But thy not forgiving him is a greater wrong. In injuring thee he has offended against man, but in not forgiving him thou offendest against God. But if I forgive vile injury, I shall occasion more. If the more injuries you forgive, the more you meet with, it will make thy grace thine the more. Often forgiving will add more to the weight of thy glory. If any say, I strive to excel in other graces, but as for this forgiving, I cannot do it, I desire in this to be excused, what becomes of other graces? The graces are inter se connexae, linked and chained together; when there is one, there is all. He that cannot forgive, his grace is counterfeit, his faith is fancy, his devotion is hypocrisy. But suppose another has wronged me in my estate, may I not go to law for my debt? Yes, else of what use were law courts? God has set judges to decide cases in law, and to give every one his right. It is with going to law, as it is with going to war; when the just rights of a nation are invaded, it is lawful to go to war; so when a man's estate is trespassed upon by another, he may go to law to recover it. But the law must be used in the last place; when no entreaties or arbitrations will prevail, then the chancery must decide it. Yet this is no revenge, it is not so much to injure another, as to right one's self; which may be, and yet we may live in charity. Use 1. Here is a bill of indictment against such as study revenge, and cannot put up with the least discourtesy. They would have God forgive them, but they will not forgive others. They will pray, come to church, give alms, but, as Christ said, 'One thing thou lackest.' Mark 10: 21. They lack a forgiving spirit, they will rather want forgiveness from God than they will forgive their brother. How sad is it, that, for every slight wrong, or disgraceful word, men should let malice boil in their hearts! would there be so many duels, arrests, murders, if men had the art of forgiving? Revenge is the proper sin of the devil; he is no drunkard or adulterer, but this old serpent is full of the poison of malice: and what shall we say to those who make a profession of religion, but instead of forgiving, pursue others despitefully? It was prophesied, the 'wolf shall dwell with the lamb.' Isa 11: 6. But what shall we say, when such as profess to be lambs become wolves? They open the mouths of the profane against religion who will say these are as full of rancour as any. O whither is love and mercy 'deaf? If the son of man come, will he find charity on the earth? I fear but little. How can those who cherish anger and malice in their hearts, and will not forgive, pray, 'Forgive us, as we forgive others'? Either they must omit this petition, as Chrysostom says some did in his time, or they pray against themselves. Use 2. Let us all be persuaded, if ever we hope for salvation, to pass by petty injuries and discourtesies, and labour to be of forgiving spirits. 'Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another.' Col 3: 13. (1) Herein we resemble God. He is ready to forgive. Psa 86: 5. He befriends his enemies; he opens his hands to relieve those who open their mouths against him. It was Adam's pride to resemble God in omniscience; but it is lawful to resemble God in forgiving enemies; this is a God-like disposition; and what is godliness, but God-likeness? (2) To forgive is one of the highest evidences of grace. When grace comes into the heart, it makes a man, as Caleb, of another spirit. Numb 14: 24. It makes a great metamorphosis, it sweetens the heart, and fills it with love and candour. As a scion grafted into a stock, partakes of the nature and sap of the tree, and brings forth the same fruit, so he who was once of a sour crabby disposition, given to revenge, when ingrafted into Christ, partakes of the sap of the heavenly olive, and bears sweet and generous fruit; he is full of love to his enemies, and requites good for evil. As the sun draws up many thick noxious vapours from the earth, and returns them in sweet showers, so a gracious heart returns the unkindnesses of others with the sweet influences of love and mercifulness. 'They rewarded me evil for good; but as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth, I humbled my soul with fasting.' Psa 35: 12, 13. This is a good certificate to show for heaven. (3) The blessed example of our Lord Jesus teaches this. He was of a forgiving spirit; his enemies reviled him, but he pitied them; their words were more bitter than the gall and vinegar they gave him, but his words were smoother than oil; they spat upon him, pierced him with the spear and nails, but he prayed for them, 'Father, forgive them.' He wept over his enemies, he shed tears for those that shed his blood. Never was there such a pattern of amazing kindness. Christ bids us learn of him. Matt 11: 29. He doth not bid us learn of him to work miracles, but he would have us learn of him to forgive our enemies. If we do not imitate Christ's life, we cannot be saved by his death. (4) The danger of an implacable unforgiving spirit. It hinders the efficacy of ordinances; it is like an obstruction in the body, which keeps it from thriving. A revengeful spirit poisons our sacrifice; our prayers are turned into sin. Will God receive prayer mingled with this strange fire? Our coming to the sacrament is sin if we come not in charity, so that ordinances are turned into sin. It were sad if all the meat we eat should turn to poison; but malice poisons the sacramental cup, men eat and drink their own damnation. Judas came to the passover in malice, and after the sop, Satan entered into him. John xui 27. (5) God has tied his mercy to the condition, that if we do not forgive, neither will he forgive us. 'If ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.' Matt 6: 15. A man may as well go to hell for not forgiving as for not believing. How can they expect mercy from God whose bowels are shut up and are merciless to their trespassing brethren? 'He shall have judgement without mercy that has showed no mercy.' James 2: 13. 'I cannot forgive,' said one, 'though I go to hell.' (6) The examples of the saints who have been of forgiving spirits. Joseph forgave his brethren, though they put him into a pit and sold him. 'Fear not; I will nourish you and your little ones.' Gen 50: 21. Stephen prayed for his persecutors. Moses was of a forgiving spirit. How many injuries and affronts did he put up with! The people of Israel dealt unkindly with him; they murmured against him at the waters of Marah, but he prayed for them. Exod 15: 25. 'He cried unto the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet.' When they wanted water, they chided with him. 'Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us out of Egypt to kill us with thirst?' Exod 17: 3. As if they had said, 'If we die, we will lay our death to thy charge.' This was enough to have made Moses call for fire from heaven upon them; but he passes by this injury, and, to show he forgave them, he became an intercessor for them, and drew water from the rock for them; ver 4, 5, 6. The prophet Elisha feasted his enemies: he prepared a table for those who would have prepared his grave. 2 Kings 6: 23. Cranmer was famous for forgiving injuries. When Luther had reviled Calvin, Calvin said, Etiamsi millies me diabolum vocet: 'Though he call me a devil a thousand times, yet I will love and honour him as a precious servant of Christ.' When one who had abused and wronged a Christian asked him what wonders his Master Christ had wrought, he said, 'He has wrought this wonder, that though you have so injured me, I can forgive you and pray for you.' (7) Forgiving and requiting good for evil is the best way to conquer and melt the heart of an enemy. When Saul had pursued David with malice and hunted him as a partridge upon the mountains, David would not do him mischief when it was in his power. David's kindness melted Saul's heart. 'Is this thy voice, my son David? And Saul lifted up his voice and wept, and said, Thou art more righteous than I, for thou hast rewarded me good.' I Sam 24: 16, 17. Such forgiving is heaping coals which melt the enemy's heart. Rom 12: 20. It is the most noble victory to overcome an enemy without striking a blow, to conquer him with love. When Philip of Macedon was told that one Nicanor openly railed against him, instead of putting him to death, he sent him a rich present, which so overcame the man, and made his heart relent, that he went up and down to recant what he had said against the king, and highly extolled the king's clemency. (8) Forgiving others is the way to have forgiveness from God, and is a sign of that forgiveness.  It is the way to have forgiveness. 'If ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.' Matt 6: I4. But one would think other things should sooner procure forgiveness from God than our forgiving others. No, surely nothing like this to procure forgiveness; for all other acts of religion may have leaven in them. God forbade leaven in the sacrifice. Exod 34: 25. One may give alms, and there may be the leaven of vainglory in it. The Pharisees sounded a trumpet, when they gave alms, to gain applause. Matt 6: 2. One may give his body to be burned, yet there may be the leaven of false zeal in this; but to forgive others that have offended us can have no leaven in it, no sinister aim. It is a duty wholly spiritual, and is done purely out of love to God; hence God annexes forgiveness to this rather than to the highest and most renowned works of charity which are cried up in the world.  It is a sign of God's forgiving us. It is not a cause of God's forgiving us, but a sign. We need not climb up into heaven to see whether our sins are forgiven: let us look into our hearts, and see if we can forgive others. If we can, we need not doubt but God has forgiven us. Our loving others is the reflection of God's love to us. Oh, therefore, by all these arguments, let us be persuaded to forgive others. Christians, how many offences has God passed by in us! Our sins are innumerable and heinous. Is God willing to forgive us so many offences, and cannot we forgive a few? No man can do so much wrong to us all our life as we do to God in one day. But how must we forgive? As God forgives us. (1) Cordially. God not only makes a show of forgiveness, and keeps our sins by him; but he really forgives, he passes an act of oblivion. Jer 31: 34. So we must not only say we forgive, but do it with the heart. 'If ye from your hearts forgive not.' Matt 18: 35. (2) God forgives fully; he forgives all our sins. He does not for fourscore write down fifty. 'Who forgiveth all thine iniquities.' Psa 103: 3. Hypocrites pass by some offences, but retain others. Would we have God so deal with us as to remit only some trespasses, and call us to account for the rest? (3) God forgives often. We run afresh upon the score, but God multiplies pardon. Isa 55: 7. Peter asks the question, 'Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not until seven times, but until seventy times seven.' Matt 18: 21, 22. If he say, 'I repent,' you must say, 'I remit.' But this is one of the highest acts of religion; flesh and blood cannot do it; how shall I attain to it? (1) Let us consider how many wrongs and injuries we have done against God. What volume can hold our errata? Our sins are more than the sparks in a furnace. (2) If we would forgive, let us see God's hand in all that men do or say against us. Did we look higher than instruments, our hearts would grow calm, and we should not meditate revenge. Shimei reproached David and cursed; but David looked higher. 'Let him alone, and let him curse, for the Lord has bidden him.' 2 Sam 16: 11. What made Christ, when he was reviled, revile not again? He looked beyond Judas and Pilate, he saw his Father putting the bitter cup into his hand. As we must see God's hand in all the affronts and incivilities we receive from men, so we must believe God will do us good by all, if we belong to him. 'It may be the Lord will requite me good for his cursing this day.' 2 Sam 16: 12. Quisquis detrahit famae meae addet mercedi meae. Augustine. He that injures me shall add to my reward; he that clips my name to make it weigh lighter, shall make my crown weigh heavier. Well might Stephen pray for his enemies, 'Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.' Acts 7: 60. He knew they did but increase his glory in heaven, every stone his enemies threw at him added a pearl to his crown. (3) Lay up a stock of faith. 'If thy brother trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent, thou shalt forgive him.' Luke 17: 3, 4. The apostles said to the Lord, 'Increase our faith,' as if they had said, 'We can never do this without a great deal of faith; Lord, increase our faith.' Believe God has pardoned you, and you will pardon others; only faith can throw dust upon injuries, and bury them in the grave of forgetfulness. (4) Think how thou hast sometimes wronged others; and may it not be just with God that the same measure you mete to others should be measured to you again? Hast thou not wronged others, if not in their goods, yet in their name? If thou hast not borne false witness against them, yet perhaps thou hast spoken falsely of them; the consideration of which may make Christians bury injuries in silence. (5) Get humble hearts. A proud man thinks it a disgrace to put up with an injury. What causes so many duels and murders but pride? 'Be clothed with humility.' I Pet 5: 5. He who is low in his own eyes will not be troubled much though others lay him low; he knows there is a day coming when there shall be a resurrection of names as well as bodies, and God will avenge him of his adversaries. 'And shall not God avenge his own elect?' Luke 18: 7. The humble soul leaves all his wrongs to God to requite, who has said, 'Vengeance is mine.' Rom 12: I9. Use 3. For comfort. Such as forgive, God will forgive them. You have a good argument to plead with God for forgiveness. Lo, I am willing to forgive him who makes me no satisfaction, and wilt not thou forgive me who hast received satisfaction in Christ my surety? The Lord's Prayer by Thomas Watson (continued in file 23...) ---------------------------------------------------- file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-09: watlp-22.txt .