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mentors, until the whole should be paid. Christ declares that this is the manner in which God will deal with those who do not forgive every one his brother their trespasses.
The parable was an answer to an inquiry made by St. Peter, who asked, “ Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him ?” Man, in his measure of forgiveness, would have thought seven a great many times to forgive; for human forbearance is, indeed, but short-lived forbearance, and human endurance does not continue long. Peter, who soon, so soon, needed a great pardon from Christ, here found it an exceedingly difficult thing to learn to forgive his brother; and when he thought he had an idea of forgiveness, such as would be fit to bring for approval before Jesus, he asked, shall I forgive him so often as seven times ? as if he had said, shall I not be a very forbearing man to forgive him seven times : if
brother should come and repent his offence seven times, one after another, and each time I forgive him, Lord, will that be sufficient? How often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him: until seven times?" It is well for us that the measure of the Divine forgiveness is not to be estimated by the conjectures of human forbearance. Well for us is it that the long-suffering, and goodness, and gentleness of Christ is not to be measured by the short-suffering, the want of gentleness, and the want of forbearance, even of Christ's people. It was not a heathen man, nor was it an unin. structed Jew, but it was a converted man, of whom Christ had said, “ Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona," that asked this question of our Lord, and knew not the right measure of Christian forbearance and forgiveness, And Jesus said unto him, “I say not unto thee, till seven times, but until seventy times seven.”
When we re
member who was the apostle that asked this question of Christ, there is still greater beauty in the answer, and deeper instruction in the incident. It was he who was so soon to need forgiveness; he who was so soon to stand in the presence of that very Saviour in the hour of his Master's tribulation, and make those forgiving ears of Christ to hear those words of blasphemy in which he began to curse and to swear, saying, “I know not the man.”
Little did Peter know, when he was about to ask this question of Jesus, little did he know how soon he should need a better forgiveness than that which should be measured by seven times; and little did he think of the forgiveness and goodness of our blessed Saviour, who had provided this incident as a token of mercy, as a lesson of comfort, to his Christ-denying servant. Here was he who could see into the future, and doubtless had before his mind at this very moment the then future scene in the palace of the high-priest. He who could picture to himself all that took place on that fearful night, when there was the high-priest and the servants in bitter hatred; and when there was the apostle afraid to acknowledge his Master, and denying that he knew anything about him. And here we have Jesus providing light for such a time of darkness as that, reminding Peter that seventy times would be still but a short measure of the forgiveness of our holy Redeemer : I said not unto thee till seven times, but till seventy times seven."
It is indeed most instructive to see that in the parable before us Christ gives an apparent lesson of great severity, when he intended to teach us a lesson of the greatest mercy. In true love there is the quality of severity as well as the quality of tenderness. He who
loves much, hates much. * Ye who love the Lord,” says the psalmist,“ hate well ;” and that very quality of mind that makes us love holiness, makes us hate sin just in proportion to the depth and truth of our love of holiness. And He who has made us, just in proportion to his love of innate holiness, has also his tremendous hatred of that which is sinful and unholy. And we find in the Scriptures, that those places which speak most sweetly of the love of Christ, speak most fearfully of the judgments of Christ; that those lips of our blessed Saviour that said, “ Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” are the very lips that said,
“Woe unto you, scribes and pharisees, hypocrites; ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how shall ye escape the damnation of hell ?” Heavendescended love, therefore, is not that soft feeling which cannot speak a rebuke, which cannot give a warning, which cannot put to pain; while it is indeed that blessed feeling that can pardon times without, number. does not say unto us until seven times, but until seventy times seven ; and yet, if we reckon our own multiplied forgivenesses from our blessed Redeemer, it would be ten thousand times ten thousand these seventy times seven.
This subject is of so great importance, and of so great a variety of aspects, that it would be impossible for me to deal with it in one sermon. I shall, therefore, this morning only consider one feature of our Lord's teaching here, and that is the government and judgment of God the Father. We stand in a peculiar relation to God :
I. As our Creator;
said, cannot cease, although it may for a time be modified, and is modified by the introduction of the Gospel of forgiveness, and forbearance, and grace.
As our Creator, God has, therefore, an inalienable right over every one of us, as our Creator and sustainer he is our moral governor; and as his nature could not change, the laws of government which came from the Divine nature cannot change, and therefore that God must reward virtue and must punish vice belongs to the unchangeable nature of God. He could not do otherwise ; for if he did, he would cease to be God. And if God be also good in the necessity of his goodness, so far as we may presume to reason upon them, he could not do otherwise than provide a remedy for his fallen creatures. Not that there was a higher being to necessitate him to do so. The only necessity under which God acts is the necessity of being himself, and of acting in conformity with himself. If he be holy, he must act holily; if he be good, he must act kindly; if he be just, he must act justly; and if he be forbearing, he must manifest forbearance. God is no negative, passive being; all that he is, that he is in the energy of his power and activity; and, therefore, he who has revealed himself to us as our Creator and Sustainer, manifests himself to us also as the sinpardoning and soul-cleansing God, yet so manifests himself as not to destroy or neutralize those other attributes of God's nature exhibited in his government. The feature, therefore, in which God presents himself as our Creator towards sinful beings is that he has given over the government of the world for a season to his own
and that it is to his incarnate Son, God and man, that God has given the government of this world for a season ; and not only of this earth, upon which human
beings are dwelling, but that he has put all the angels of heaven under the incarnate Son of God, that in his human and Divine nature he may be the administrator of the Divine government for a season.
In the 5th chapter of St. John our Saviour says, in the 22nd verse, For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment to the Son.” We have the Father and the Son united in creation and providence in this chapter, where Christ says, in the 19th verse, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, the Son can do nothing of himself but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.” Here is co-operation between the Father and the Son in the work of grace, and in the work of providence. In that of judgment the Father is represented by Christ as standing aside, and committing the work of judgment unto the Son : For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son, that all men should honour the Son even as they honour the Father: He that honoureth not the Son, honoureth not the Father which hath sent him." And in the 27th verse, the Father “hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.” Here, therefore, we have the Father as creator, as supreme, committing or delegating all judgment unto the Son, and that not only as the Son of God, but as the Son of
Christ, therefore, is now administering the government of the universe in the name of the Father, and by the power of his own Divine and human nature. In that government of Christ, the apostle Peter tells us in his First Epistle, 3rd chapter and 22nd verse, that " He is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God, angels, and authorities, and powers being made