Luke 11:4
And forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.'"
Sermons
A Confession Before PardonJ. H. Wilson, M. A.Luke 11:4
A Forgiving SpiritG. Spring, D. D.Luke 11:4
An Intercessory PetitionWashington Gladden, D. D.Luke 11:4
An Unforgiving SpiritJ. N. Norton, D. D.Luke 11:4
And Forgive UsS. Coley., Dr. Parker.Luke 11:4
And Lead Us not into TemptationG. D. Boardman, D. D.Luke 11:4
But Deliver Us from EvilT. Watson.Luke 11:4
But Deliver Us from EvilG. D. Boardman, D. D.Luke 11:4
Called Aboard AgainArchdeacon King.Luke 11:4
Deliver Us from EvilJ. M. Ludlow, D. D.Luke 11:4
Deliver Us from EvilW. Hetherington.Luke 11:4
Deliver Us from EvilW. Dodsworth.Luke 11:4
Deliver Us from EvilA. Farindon.Luke 11:4
Deliver Us from EvilJ. H. Wilson, M. A.Luke 11:4
Deliverance from EvilH. R. Reynolds, D. D., A. W. Hare.Luke 11:4
Deliverance from EvilC. H. Spurgeon.Luke 11:4
DevoutArchdeacon King.Luke 11:4
Enmity is Incompatible with Profitable PrayerWashington Gladden, D. D.Luke 11:4
Fear of TemptationJ. H. Wilson, M. A.Luke 11:4
Forgetting and ForgivingLuke 11:4
God's Mercy is Operative as FireW. Gouge.Luke 11:4
God's Mind Toward UsW. Gouge.Luke 11:4
In What Sense We May Pray Against TemptationBishop Harvey Goodwin.Luke 11:4
Judgment Without MercyJ. N. Norton, D. D.Luke 11:4
Lead Us not into TemptationC. H. Spurgeon.Luke 11:4
Lead Us not into TemptationJ. . M. Ludlow, D. D.Luke 11:4
Lead Us not into TemptationLuke 11:4
Lead Us not into TemptationArchdeacon King.Luke 11:4
Meeting TemptationsArchdeacon King.Luke 11:4
No Venal SinsArchdeacon King.Luke 11:4
Of Duties Required in the Last PetitionW. Gouge.Luke 11:4
Of Duties Required in the Last Petition in Regard to OtheW. Gouge.Luke 11:4
Of Duties to be Observed Because Every Sin is MortalW. Gouge.Luke 11:4
Of Leading IntoW. Gouge.Luke 11:4
Of the Fifth Petition in the Lord's PrayerLuke 11:4
Of the Force of This Particle As in the Condition Annexed to the Fifth PetitionW. Gouge.Luke 11:4
Of the General Points for Which We are Taught to Pray in the Last PetitionW. Gouge.Luke 11:4
Of the Many Debts Wherein We Stand Bound to God's JusticeW. Gouge.Luke 11:4
Of the Many Ways of Delivering from EvilW. Gouge.Luke 11:4
Of the Particulars for Which Thanks is to be Given by Virtue of the First Part of the Last PetitionW. Gouge.Luke 11:4
Of the Particulars for Which Thanks is to be Given by Virtue of the Last Part of the Last PetitionW. Gouge.Luke 11:4
Of the Things for Which We Ought to Give Thanks in the LaW. Gouge.Luke 11:4
On the Forgiveness of SinMatthew Henry.Luke 11:4
Our DebtsArchdeacon King.Luke 11:4
Our Father's ForgivenessG. D. Boardman, D. D.Luke 11:4
Parental FollyJohn Ruskin.Luke 11:4
Prayer Against TemptationC. H. Spurgeon.Luke 11:4
Prayer for ForgivenessLuke 11:4
Prayer the Only ProtectionArchdeacon King., Archdeacon King.Luke 11:4
PresumptionArchdeacon King.Luke 11:4
Pretences for not ForgivingW. Gouge.Luke 11:4
Revenge is a Kind of FireW. Gouge.Luke 11:4
Sins OursA. Farindon.Luke 11:4
TemptationG. W. Field, D. D., A. W. Hare.Luke 11:4
Temptation and DeliveranceBishop Hopkins.Luke 11:4
Temptation DeploredG. Spring, D. D.Luke 11:4
Temptation May be Advantageous to UsW. R. Williams, D. D.Luke 11:4
Temptation to be AvoidedNewman Hall.Luke 11:4
The Danger of Self-Sought TemptationsW. R. Williams, D. D.Luke 11:4
The Devil Lights His TemptationsArchdeacon King., Archdeacon King.Luke 11:4
The Devil's Chief ServantsDr. Talmage.Luke 11:4
The Dread of SinG. Spring, D. D.Luke 11:4
The Forgiveness of SinsBp. Hopkins.Luke 11:4
The Forgiveness of SinsJohn Whitty.Luke 11:4
The Forgiving GraceWashington Gladden, D. D.Luke 11:4
The Great DeliveranceThe Weekly PulpitLuke 11:4
The Great SalvationWashington Gladden, D. D.Luke 11:4
The Prayer for Deliverance from EvilW. R. Williams, D. D.Luke 11:4
The Prayer for ForgivenessJ. H. Evans.Luke 11:4
The Reach and Worth of Christian IntercessionF. D. Maurice, M. A.Luke 11:4
The Sixth PetitionJohn Whitty.Luke 11:4
The Sixth Petition in the Lord's PrayerLuke 11:4
The Temptations that Surround UsW. R. Williams, D. D.Luke 11:4
The Test of Our Spiritual StateW. R. Williams, D. D.Luke 11:4
To ParentsWashington Gladden, D. D.Luke 11:4
To the YoungWashington Gladden, D. D.Luke 11:4
Unwillingness to Acknowledge GuiltW. R. Williams, D. D.Luke 11:4
We Must Forgive, If We Would be ForgivenLuke 11:4
Lessons on PrayerR.M. Edgar Luke 11:1-13
The True Service of the Lord's PrayerW. Clarkson Luke 11:2-4
It is a very painful and pitiful thing that words which came from the lips of the great Master of the spiritual and the living should have been allowed to degenerate into an unspiritual and lifeless form. That this has been the case to a large extent with the "Pater-noster" is a lamentable fact. It is very doubtful whether Jesus Christ ever intended these words which he gave to his disciples to be a permanent formula for the Christian Church. It is clear that the true obedience to his Word is not found in a number of correct and regular repetitions of the phrases, but in the devotion which is rendered in the strain and spirit of the "prayer." The true service to be gained from "the Lord's Prayer" is to gather from it the way in which to draw nigh to God, not only in the worship of the sanctuary, but in the quiet, unseen fellowship of the chamber. What Christ would say to us is this, that in our prayer to God -

I. WE SHOULD GIVE A PROMINENT PLACE TO THE PROGRESS OF HIS SPIRITUAL KINGDOM. Out of six petitions the first three are devoted to the growth of the glory and the kingdom of God. This is surely a very significant fact. It rebukes all selfishness and short-sightedness in the presence of God. It invites us, and indeed it summons us, to make the object of our first and deepest solicitude the cause of Jesus Christ, the exaltation of our Divine Father in the minds and in the lives of men. It suggests to us the consideration whether we are as much concerned as our Master would have us be for this great issue. How much do we care that God's Name is profaned as it is, his will left undone and violated as it is, his claims disregarded as they are, by the irreverent, by the disloyal, by the disobedient children of men? In prayer our mind should turn readily and frequently to this theme.

II. THAT WE SHOULD ASK FOR GOD'S HELP IN THE CONDUCT OF OUR TEMPORAL AFFAIRS. "Give us day by day our daily bread" is a petition that not only warrants, but requires, that we make our bodily necessities and all matters pertaining to our world-life the subject of prayer. It is right to ask for strength and skill, for wisdom and guidance, that we may discharge our daily duties and earn our livelihood honestly in the sight of all men. It is wrong to leave this out of our daily devotion. Jesus Christ would have us look to God for the supply of temporal needs, and ask his blessing and aid in securing it. We shall work all the more worthily, honourably, uprightly, through the day for asking God's guidance at its commencement; we shall make a better use of what we earn it' we continually seek strength of God to earn it.

III. THAT WE SHOULD SEEK EARNESTLY FOR THE DIVINE FAVOUR. "Forgive us our sins," etc. It should be a matter of vital interest to us that we are walking in the light of God's loving favor, our sins forgiven, and ourselves regarded as his beloved children, reconciled to him in Jesus Christ. God's abiding favor should be the very sunshine of our soul, the presence of which makes all things bright, the absence of which throws everything into dark shadow.

IV. THAT WE SHOULD PRAY FOR DIVINE HELP IN OUR SPIRITUAL STRUGGLE. "Lead us not," etc. We should be daily recognizing the fact that our condition here is that of men that are fighting a hard battle against powerful enemies; that we need continual deliverance from evils which beset us; that the worst foes that assail us are those which would lead us into sin and down to shame and death. In this supreme struggle we need the arm of the Almighty on our side. If he be on our side, we shall conquer; if not, we shall be defeated. Therefore let us seek daily help from our heavenly Father for the daily conflict through which we pass on our way homeward.

V. THAT THERE ARE TWO SPIRITUAL CONDITIONS under which alone we can expect to find favor with God.

1. That we breathe a forgiving spirit in our relations with our fellow-men (ver. 4).

2. That we shun the path where perilous temptation lurks; for how can we ask God to "lead us not" thither, when we deliberately walk into it? - C.







And forgive us our sins.
I. THAT OUR SINS ARE OUR DEBTS.

1. HOW we come to be in debt to God, how this debt is contracted, and what is the ground of the action. That I may keep to the comparison, not forcing it, but fairly following it, you shall see that we fairly run in debt to God, as the children of men run in delft to one another.(1) We are in debt to God, as a servant is indebted to his master, when he has neglected his business, and wasted or embezzled his goods.(2).We are indebted to God, as a tenant is indebted to his landlord, when he is behind of his rent, or has committed waste upon the premises.(3) We are indebted to God, as a borrower is indebted to the lender.(4) Our debt to God is, as the debt of a trespasser to him upon whom he has trespassed.(5) Our debt to God is, as the debt of a covenant breaker, who entered into articles, and gave bond for performance, but has not made good his agreement, and so has forfeited the penalty of the bond, which is recoverable as far as the damage goes, by the non-performance of the articles.(6) Our debt to God is, as the debt of a malefactor, to the law and to the government, when he is found guilty of treason or felony, and consequently the law is to have its course against him. As the corruption of our nature makes us odious to God's holiness, so our many actual transgressions make us obnoxious to His justice; and thus we are debtors to Him.(7) To make the matter yet worse, there is a debt we owe to God, which is as a debt of an heir-at-law upon his ancestor's account, of a son who is liable for his father's debts, as far as what he has by descent will go, and as far as he has any assets in his hand.(8) There are debts of ours, likewise, which are as the debt of a surety upon account of the principal. I mean the guilt we have contracted by our partaking of other men's sins.

2. Having opened to you the several ways how we come into this debt to God, let us next inquire what kind of debt sin is.(1) It is an old debt, it is an early, nay, it is an hereditary, encumbrance upon our nature. The foundation of this debt was laid in Adam's sin, we are in debt for the forbidden fruit he ate, so high does the account begin, and so far back does it look.(2) It is a just debt, and the demand of it highly equitable.(3) It is a great debt, more than we imagine.(4) It is a growing debt; a debt we are still adding to, as a tenant who is behind of his rent, every rent-stage makes the debt more; till we return by repentance, we are still running further upon the score; still taking up upon trust, and treasuring up unto ourselves guilt and wrath against the day of wrath.

3. Having seen what kind of debt sin is, let us next see what kind of debtors sinners commonly are; and we shall find them like other unfortunate debtors, that are going down in the world, and have no way to help themselves.(1) Bad debtors are oftentimes very careless and unconcerned about their debts; when they are so embarrassed and plunged that they cannot bear the thought of it, they contrive how to banish the thought of it, and live merry and secure; to laugh away, and drink away, and revel away the care and sorrow of it. Thus sinners deal with their convictions, they divert them with the business of the world, or drown them in the pleasures of sense.(2) Bad debtors are commonly very wasteful, and when they find they are in debt more than they can pay, care not how much further they run into debt. How extravagant are sinners in spending upon their lusts!(3) Bad debtors are commonly very shy of their creditors, and very loth to come to an account. Thus sinners care not how little they come into the presence of God, but rather say to the Almighty, "Depart from us."(4) Bad debtors are sometimes timorous; and though they strive to cast off all care about their debts, yet, when they are threatened, their hearts fail them, they are subject to frights, and are ready to think every one they meet is a bailiff. Thus sinners carry about with them a misgiving conscience, which often reproaches them, and fills them with secret terrors, and a bitterness which their own heart only knows.(5) Bad debtors are apt to be dilatory and deceitful, to promise payment this time and the other, but still to break their word, and beg a further delay. It is so with sinners; they do not say they will never repent, and return to God, but not yet.

4. To affect you the more with the misery of an impenitent, unpardoned state, having showed you what your debt is, I shall next lay before you the danger we are in by reason of this debt. Many who owe a great deal of money, yet are furnished with considerations sufficient to make them easy, but they are such as our case will not admit.(1) An exact account is kept of all our debts.(2) We are utterly insolvent, and have not wherewithal to pay our debts.(3) We have no friend on earth who can or will pass his word for us, or be our bail.(4) We are often put in mind of our debts by the providence of God, and by our own consciences.(5) Death will shortly arrest us for these debts, to bring us to an account.(6) A day of reckoning will come, and the day is fixed.(7) Hell is the prison into which those debtors will at length be cast, who took no care to make their peace, and there are the tormentors to which they will be delivered.

II. The sins we are to repent of, being our debts to God, THE MERCY WE ARE TO PRAY FOR IS THE FORGIVENESS OF THESE DEBTS.

1. Let us inquire what is included in this mercy of the forgiveness of sin as a debt, and what steps God graciously takes therein toward us, when we repent, and return, and believe the gospel. He acts as a merciful and compassionate creditor toward a poor debtor who lies at his mercy.(1) He stays process, and suffers not the law to have its course. Judgment is given against us; but execution is not taken out upon the judgment.(2) He cancels the bond, vacates the judgment, and disannuls the handwriting that was against us.(3) He gives an acquittance, and delivers it by His Spirit into. the believer's hand, speaking peace to him, filling him with comfort, arising from a sense of His justification, and the blessed tokens and pledges of it.(4). He condescends to deal with us again, and to admit us into covenant and communion with Himself.

2. Having seen how much is included in God's forgiving us our debts, because it is so great a favour, that we may be tempted to think it too much for such worthless unworthy creatures as we are to expect, let us next inquire what ground we have to hope for it? How is it that a God infinitely just and holy should be thus readily reconciled to a guilty and polluted sinner upon his repenting?(1) We may ground our expectations upon the goodness of His nature.(2) We are to ground our expectations upon the mediation of our Lord Jesus.

3. What is expected and required from you, that you may obtain this favour, and that your debts may be forgiven? Christ, as a surety for us, has made satisfaction; but what must we do that we may have an interest in that satisfaction?(1) We must confess the debt, with a humble, lowly, penitent, and obedient heart.(2) We must acknowledge a judgment of all we have to our Lord Jesus, who has been thus kind to satisfy for our debt. This is one proper act of faith.(3) We must give to Christ the honour of our pardon, by relying entirely on His righteousness as our plea for it; acknowledging that other foundation of hope can no man lay, and other fountain of joy can no man open.(4) We must study what we shall render to Him who has loved us, who has so loved us.(5) We must engage ourselves for the future, that we will render to God the things that are His, and be careful not to run in debt again.(6) Our forgiving others is made the indispensable condition of our being forgiven of God. Concluding exhortations:

1. Do not delay to come to an account with your own consciences, but search diligently and impartially, that you may see how matters stand between you and God.

2. Be thoroughly convinced of your misery and danger by reason of sin; see process ready to be taken out against you, and consider what is to be done.

3. Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are in the way with him; make your peace with God, and do it with all speed. You need not send to desire conditions of peace; they are offered to you, if you will but accept of them; and they are not only easy but very advantageous.

4. In order to the making of your peace with God, make sure your interest in Jesus Christ, and make use of Him daily for that purpose: retain Him of counsel for you in this great cause on which your all depends, and let Him be not only your plea but your pleader, for that is His office.

5. Renew your repentance every day for your sins of daily infirmity, and be earnest with God in prayer for the pardon of them. Lastly, let those to whom much is forgiven, love much.

(Matthew Henry.)

I. Notice the connection and dependence. Having prayed for our daily bread, we are next taught to pray for pardon. And this method is, indeed, most wise and most rational. For —

1. The guilt of sin many times withholds from us those earthly comforts we stand in need of.

2. Without pardon of sin, all our temporal enjoyments are but snares and curses unto us.

II. The words themselves.

1. The petition.(1) What our evangelist calls sins, St. Matthew calls debts. We stand indebted to God, both as we are His creatures, and as we are offenders. By the one, we owe Him the debt of obedience; and, by the other, the debt of punishment.(2) Now here to excite thee to a fervency in praying for the forgiveness of thy debts, consider —(a) The infinite multitudes of thy debts.(b) That God, who is thy creditor, is strict and impartial.(c) That the least of all those thy debts makes thee liable to be cast into the prison of hell, and to be adjudged to eternal death and punishments.(d) Consider, thou canst never pay God, nor discharge the least of thy debts for ever.(3) And, now that I have showed you our misery by reason of our debts, and you have seen the black side of the cloud which interposeth between God and us, so give me leave to represent to you our hopes and consolation, in God's free grace and the Divine mercy in dissolving this black cloud, that it may never more appear. And here let us —(a) Consider what the pardon of sin is.(b) The pardoning grace of God, in respect of us, is altogether free and undeserved.(c) The pardoning grace of God is not free, in respect of Christ; but it cost Him the price of blood. Let us consider unto whom this petition for pardon is directed. And that is, as all the rest are, to our Father, whose laws we have violated, whose justice we have offended, whose displeasure we have incurred, and to whose vengeance we have made ourselves liable and obnoxious, to Him we sue for pardon and remission. Hence we may collect this note: That it is the high prerogative of God alone to forgive sins.If, then, it be the prerogative of God alone to pardon sin, hence we may, for our abundant comfort, be informed —(a) That our pardon is free and gratuitous.(b) It is God that pardons, therefore our pardon is full and complete.(c) Is it God that pardons? Then, for thy comfort, know that He can as easily forgive great and many sins, as few and small.(4) NOW, in this petition we pray not only for the pardon of sin, but likewise for all things that are antecedently necessary to obtain it. As —(a) We pray that God would discover to us the horrid odious nature of sin.(b) We pray that God would humble us under the sight and sense of our manifold transgressions; that, as our sins have made us vile in God's eyes, so they may make us vile in Our own, to loath ourselves in dust and ashes for them.(c) We pray that God would give us His Spirit, to enable us to confess our sins cordially, and sincerely to pour forth our hearts before Him, and to acknowledge our manifold provocations with shame and godly sorrow, upon which God promised to grant us pardon and forgiveness.(d) We beg a more clear understanding of the sacrifice and atonement made by Jesus Christ, through which alone all pardon is purchased and procured; to know both what it is and why ordained; and, likewise, the knowledge of God's rich and free mercy; and the conjunction of this sacrifice and mercy together, in the great mystery of the freeness of Divine grace, and the satisfaction of Jesus concurring to the remission of our sins and the salvation of our souls.(e) We pray that we may have a high esteem of Christ, and may hunger and thirst more after Him and His righteousness, through whom alone pardon of our sins is to be obtained.(f) We pray that we may be brought over to close with the Lord Jesus Christ by a lively faith; that His righteousness thereby may be made ours, and we, by that righteousness, may obtain pardon of our sins, and an inheritance among them that are sanctified.

2. The condition or plea annexed to this petition.(1) The act: forgive.(2) The object: debtors.(3) The limitation of this object: our debtors.(4) The proportion or resemblance, in particle "as." Our forgiving of others must have these qualifications —(a) It must be unfeigned and cordial from thy very heart and soul; for so thou wouldst have God forgive thee.(b) Thou art obliged likewise to forgive freely, without any recompense or satisfaction from others.(c) We must forgive others fully and completely; for God doth so.

(Bp. Hopkins.)

I. SINS ARE TRESPASSES AGAINST GOD.

1. Against the perfections of God.

2. Against the authority of God.

3. Against the express commandments of God.

4. Against the counsels and exhortations of God.

5. Against His warnings and threatenings.

6. Against His grace revealed to us in the gospel.

7. Against His patience.

II. GOD IS WILLING TO FORGIVE US THOSE TRESPASSES, though very great, and daily repeated. This we may conclude —

1. From God's natural goodness and love to mankind.

2. From the declarations He has made of Himself, His mercifulness, and unwillingness that any should perish.

3. From His express promises.

4. From examples of His wonderful mercy recorded in the Scripture, for the encouragement of all truly humble penitents, though their guilt may be exceeding great, and they may have been sinners above others.

5. from the covenant made with Christ the Redeemer, that He should see the fruit of the travail of His soul, and justify many by bearing their iniquities. And as Christ the Redeemer was faithful to Him that appointed Him, and bare our sins, according to the counsel and command of the Father; so the Father will be Truthful to Him: and whosoever believeth on Him shall be justified from all things, and shall never come into condemnation, never perish, but have everlasting life.

III. QUALIFICATION OR DISPOSITIONS which must be found in all such as receive the forgiveness of sin.

1. In order to the forgiveness of sin, there must be repentance towards God, a confession of sin, and forsaking it; otherwise we have no ground (from anything that is written in the Scripture) to hope for mercy.

2. God requires, in order to a reconciliation, that we must believe in His Son whom He hath sent.

3. Our Saviour here mentions our forgiving those that trespass against us, as a qualification or disposition necessary to be found in us who hope to receive the forgiving grace of God to ourselves for our trespasses against Him: "Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors."Practical reflections:

1. Let us seriously consider and admire the condescension and goodness of God, in proposing to be reconciled to us, when He can gain nothing by such a reconciliation, but all the advantage is ours.

2. Let us pray for the forgiveness of our daily trespasses.

3. If we would receive the remission of sin, let us pray, and labour, that we may have those dispositions which are found in all such as receive a pardon from God.(1) Let us labour to obtain, and pray earnestly to God for true repentance, a deep humiliation and godly sorrow for sin.(2) Let us pray for that great and absolutely necessary qualification for pardoning grace, faith in Christ Jesus; true, sincere, evangelical, justifying faith, by which we may be united to Christ, and made partakers of Him and His righteousness.(3) Let us forgive those that trespass against us; not seeking revenge; entertaining in our hearts no malice against them; doing them no harm, nor wishing them any; praying for them, and willing to serve them, and to do them good. Now, to close all —(4) Let us bless God for Jesus Christ, through whose blood we receive the forgiveness of sins; convinced and assured, that without an interest in Him, the wrath of God abideth on us, and will to eternity.

(John Whitty.)

If left to our own proud blindness, how loth are we to acknowledge our guiltiness before God, and to sue in His courts for the boon of pardon, in the deep sense of our spiritual poverty and moral unworthiness. There was, in the early ages of the Christian era, a lying magician and philosopher, Apollonius of Tyanea, whom some of the ancients tried to set up as a rival, in wisdom and might and miracles, with our blessed Saviour. One of the speeches attributed to this Apollonius by his biographer is, "O ye gods, give me my dues." Instead of holding himself indebted to heaven, he regarded heaven as debtor to him, for what he supposed his blamelessness and eminent virtue. There bleated out the proud and impious folly of the unrenewed heart. But, as Coleridge beautifully said, in the later and more Christian years of his life, the men who talk of earning heaven by their own merits, might better begin by earning earth. Who of us really has deserved what he in daily enjoying of good, even chequered as that good may be, in this sublunary state, with mingling sorrow and joy? But, surely, in our more sober and meditative hours, even the unregenerate feel, more or less distinctly, their own guiltiness. This it is that makes solitude dreadful, and diversion so necessary, in order to kill time and drown thought. This it is that clothes death with terrors, and renders the image of a God — holy and the hater of sin — so irksome and formidable an idea to us. But how do men strive to lessen this irksome, yet inevitable, consciousness, by vain pleas and extenuations and criminations of their fellows, as these last have been their tempters, abettors, and accomplices. How do they seek to obliterate the record against them by flattering, and at times by bribing heaven. But can our richest gifts buy the All-rich, and our most lavish flatteries cheat the All-wise God? How can such a God be appeased, so that He shall efface the record of our moral indebtedness? We must recognize and confess our sin. And the devout mind, after every preceding petition in the Lord's prayer, prepares to drop in the utterance of the petition now before us, as into the dust of lowliest self-abasement. Is He our Father? this fatherhood has been spurned by His ingrate children. Is He in heaven, our native home and our proper end? We have lived as if we had sprung from earth and were ripening only for hell. His name, dread and pure, is it worthy, always stud by all, to be hallowed? How have our daring levity and defiance profaned it; and trailed its sacred honours, as in the mire of our scorn and our filth; and hung what is the dread blazonry of heaven over deeds and tempers sprung of the pit. Is His kingdom to be hailed and extended? How have we played, toward its glories and authority, the part of the rebel and the traitor. Is His will deserving of all obedience and study and conformity? How have we preferred to it our own will, and the will of the murderer and deceiver, Satan. Gives He still, kind and long-suffering, our daily bread? How have we "crammed and blasphemed our Feeder" I To subdue this sin, will it be sufficient to secure forgiveness for the past? Not — unless we staunch the fountain of evil, and provide against its out-gushings for the future. To this later work the succeeding petitions of the prayer refer. When Jesus came down to meet our debt, and to justify us by His righteousness and death, He also made provision and purchase of the Holy Spirit to renew and to sanctify.

(W. R. Williams, D. D.)

God calls us to a daily and domestic scrutiny. We do not show a forgiving and generous spirit, in order that thus we may earn heaven; but we are warned that the indulgence of a contrary spirit necessarily forfeits heaven. We test our spiritual condition, not by asking how our feelings are towards the dead — to our best friends — or towards angels. The Pharisees could praise dead saints, and canonise prophets, when once safe and mute in their graves. But we ask, What are my feelings towards the living prophets and witnesses of heaven — to my living neighbour, and rival, and enemy? When our Saviour healed the sick man of his long and sore infirmity, and bade him take up his bed and walk; the poor man's lifting of his couch and flinging its light weight on his rejoicing shoulders, was not the means of his cure, or the condition of his healing. It was the evidence, tangible and visible to himself and others, in the streets along which he passed, and in the home he re-entered, that he had encountered a great Prophet, and had received a miraculous healing. And so, when the leper, purged of his leprosy, was bidden to go and show himself to the priest, as he bared the skin now clear and white to the glance of the Levite, he was not fulfilling a condition of the cure, but receiving an authentication, a public and unimpeachable and official endorsement of it. And even thus is it, in this prayer. It is not our placability that purchases for us remission. Had the imperturbable countenance which Talleyrand was accustomed to wear, even when insulted, been the index of as imperturbable a soul, free from all malicious remembrances, it would not in itself have merited eternal blessedness. But God would furnish, as it were, in the forgiving spirit of His people, a portable crucible, so to speak, in which to try and purge daily the fine gold of our own heavenly hopes. To arm us against the selfishness which Be clings to us, this petition, like all those preceding it, is not for the solitary suppliant. He asks not for himself, though like the prophet's penitents he "mourns apart"; but he implores in unison and sympathy with the absent. He says not, Forgive me, but forgive us. And then going beyond all the other petitions, he makes reference not to the absent only, but to the alienated — the injurious — the hostile.

(W. R. Williams, D. D.)

We want from God a full and free forgiveness, that has mingled with it no grudges and no coolnesses; a forgiveness that blots out our transgressions, that takes away all our iniquity, and receives us graciously and loves us freely; and that mercy which we want from Him we must be ready to show to others. We stultify ourselves by asking our Heavenly Father to extend to us a measure of forgiveness that we are not willing to extend to our brother. Such a prayer is mockery, and we know that it is when we offer it. What is more, we cannot receive the fulness of the Divine forgiveness until we are ready ourselves freely to forgive — even to give ourselves for — those who have wronged us. The trouble is not with the phraseology of the prayer, but with the facts of the case. You say that the desert is a desert because no rain falls upon it; but that is only half the truth. No rain falls upon it because it is a desert. The heated air rushing up from its arid surface disperses the vapours that would descend in rain. Some moisture there must be on the earth, else there cannot be rain from heaven. So in your heart this forgiving disposition must be, else you cannot rejoice in the fulness of God's forgiving grace. The pardon may wait in the sky above you, but it cannot descend to you until that mind is in you which was also in Christ Jesus.

(Washington Gladden, D. D.)

You have seen enmities and jealousies and grudges growing up between neighbours and brethren in the Church; and in every such case you have noticed that the spiritual life of these quarrelling Christians grew feeble and fruitless; that there was no fervour in their prayers, no joy in their praises, no sign of heavenly influence in all their holy convocations. And then you have seen a better mind take possession of them; mutual confessions and reconciliations followed; those who had been long estranged came together and forgave each other, and renewed the old bonds of charity and brotherhood. And then, how quickly, to the assemblies so long frigid and forlorn, the warmth of holy love and the consciousness of the Divine presence returned; how the pulse of the Church was quickened; and the new life from above issued in abundant fruits I Every great religious awakening is preceded by such works of reconciliation; and no wise servant of Christ expects any real spiritual growth or progress among those who are divided by petty feuds and contentions. It is not till we are ready to forgive that we find any profit in our prayers.

(Washington Gladden, D. D.)

What would you think of one who prayed, "O Lord, forgive me the many sins which I have committed against Thee; but I will not forgive my fellow-creature who has offended me"? An unforgiving spirit will stand in the way of any one being pardoned who indulges it. While the good remember kindnesses, and forget injuries, the bad practise the opposite. There are too many who, even when they claim to have forgiven others with their lips, cherish in their hearts the spirit of the old Highland chief, in the days when clan met clan in deadly feud. A man of God, who visited him on his death bed, and urged him to make peace with his enemies, in order that he might receive the forgiveness of God, at last so far prevailed, that the word passed his reluctant lips. Then, as if the death-chamber had been a stage, and the old chieftain an actor, who, having played his part, throws off the mask which he has for the time assumed, he turned his cold gray eye on one of his stalwart sons, and said, "I leave you a father's bitterest curse if you ever forgive them!"

(J. N. Norton, D. D.)

Between a mother and her daughter there had sprung up a serious quarrel. One house could not hold them. At length filial affection triumphed over pride, and the daughter repaired to her early home. No welcome met her at the door. She humbled herself to her mother — on bended knees imploring her forgiveness. She appealed to the bosom that had nursed her; but might as well have knocked on a coffin; there was no response. Nor — though imploring her by the mercies of God, and entreating her to forgive as she desired to be forgiven — could I, called in as a peacemaker, bend that stubborn will. By and by to this lonely house came another visitor. Death, who would not be denied admittance, arrived, summoning her to a bar where they shall have judgment without mercy who have shown no mercy.

(J. N. Norton, D. D.)

Prince Bismarck was once asked by Count Enzenberg to write something in his album. The page on which he had to write contained the autographs of Guizot and Thiers. The former had written, "I have learnt in my long life two rules of prudence. The first is, to forgive much; the second is, never to forget." Under this Thiers had said, "A little forgetting would not detract from the sincerity of the forgiveness." Prince Bismarck added, "As for me, I have learnt to forget much, and to ask to be forgiven much."

During the Middle Ages, when the great lords were always at war with each other, one of them resolved to take signal vengeance upon a neighbour who had offended him. On the very evening when he had formed this bloody purpose, he heard that his enemy would pass near his castle, with only a few attendants, and this seemed an excellent opportunity for gratifying his revenge. He mentioned the plan in the presence of his chaplain, who tried in vain to persuade him to give it up. The clergyman said much about the sinfulness of revenge; but it was like talking to the wind. Seeing that his words had no effect, he added, "Well, my lord, since I cannot persuade you to give up this plan of yours, will you at least consent to come with me to the chapel, that we may pray together before you set off?" The duke agreed; and the two kneeled down before the altar. "And now," said the chaplain, "please repeat with me the prayer which our Lord Jesus Christ taught to His disciples." "I will do it," answered the duke. The prayer was said without hesitation until they reached the petition, "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us." Here the duke was silent. "Will you be so good as to continue to repeat the words after me?" asked the chaplain. "I cannot," replied the duke. "Well, God cannot forgive you, for He has said so. You must, therefore, give up your revenge, or give up the use of this prayer. To ask God to pardon you as you pardon others, is to ask Him to take vengeance on you for all your sins." The iron will of the duke was broken, and he hastily exclaimed, "I will finish my prayer. My God, my Father, pardon me!" For the first time in his life he understood the Lord's prayer.

At this point of the Lord's prayer we get the first use of the conjunction, and there is a great deal of beauty in that word, "and forgive us." What was the former petition, and what is the use of the conjunction? "Give us our daily bread." This verbal link is itself a beautiful representation of the mysterious bond that actually unites body and soul. A man who simply had bread would be a poor creature indeed, who simply had the comforts of this life. It is quite right that you should pray to have bread; but the prayer must be conjoined to a prayer for some spiritual blessing.

(S. Coley.)There are two things which this text cannot mean.

1. It cannot mean that sinful man is to set an example by which the Divine administration is to be conducted.

2. It cannot mean that God's forgiveness of man is a mere equivalent for something that man himself has done. In suggesting an interpretation of this prayer, let it be observed that this is not the first petition in the prayer. Who are the men who can say, "Forgive us," etc.? They are the men who have said —

1. "Our Father."

2. "Thy kingdom come."

3. "Thy will be done on earth.

(Dr. Parker.)

"And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors" (Matthew 6:12). Before I speak strictly to the words I shall take notice —

1. That in this prayer there is but one petition for the body — "Give us our daily bread"; but two petitions for the soul — "Forgive us our trespasses," "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." Hence observe, that we are to be more careful for our souls than for our bodies; more careful for grace than for daily bread; more desirous to have our souls saved than our bodies fed. In the law, the weight of the sanctuary was twice as big as the common weight, to typify that spiritual things must be of far greater weight with us than earthly. The excellency of the soul may challenge our chief care about it. It it be well with the soul, it shall be well with the body; if the soul be gracious, the body shall be glorious, for it shall shine like Christ's body. Therefore it is wisdom to look chiefly to the soul, because in saving the soul, we secure the happiness of the body.

2. From the connection in the text, as soon as Christ had said, give us "daily bread," He adds, "And forgive us." Christ joins this petition of forgiveness of sin immediately to the other of daily bread, to show us, that though we have daily bread, yet all is nothing without forgiveness. If our sins he not pardoned we can take but little comfort in our food. As it is with a man that is condemned, though you bring him meat in prison, yet he takes little comfort in it without a pardon; so, though we have daily bread, yet it will do us no good unless sin be forgiven. Daily bread may satisfy the appetite, but forgiveness of sin satisfies the conscience.

Use 1. It condemns the folly of most people. If they have daily bread, the delicious things of this life, they look no further, they are not solicitous for the pardon of sin; if they have that which feeds them, they look not after that which should crown them.

Use 2. Let us pray that God would not give us our portion in this life, that He would not put us off with daily bread, but that He would give forgiveness. This is the sauce that would make our bread relish the sweeter. Daily bread may make us live comfortably, but forgiveness of sin will make us die comfortably. In what sense is sin the worst debt?

1. Because we have nothing to pay; if we could pay the debt, what need we pray, "Forgive us"?

2. Sin is the worst debt, because it is against an infinite majesty. Sin wrongs God, and so it it an infinite offence.

3. Sin is the worst debt, because it is not a single, but a multiplied debt — forgive us "our debts;" we have debt upon debt. We may as well reckon all the drops in the sea, as reckon all our spiritual debts; we cannot tell how much we owe. A man may know his other debts, but we cannot number our spiritual debts.

4. Sin is the worst debt; because it is an inexcusable debt in two respects.(1) There is no denying the debt; other debts men may deny. God writes down our debts in His book of remembrance, and God's book and the book of conscience do exactly agree, so that this debt cannot be denied.(2) There is no shifting of the debt; other debts may be shifted off. We may get friends to pay them, but neither man nor angel can pay this debt for us; if all the angels in heaven should go to make a purse, they cannot pay one of our debts. In other debts men may get a protection, so that none can touch their persons, or sue them for the debt; but who shall give us protection from God's justice?(a) Other debts, if the debtor dies in prison, cannot be recovered, death frees them from debt; but if we die in debt to God, He knows how to recover it; as long as we have souls to strain, God will not lose His debt. Not the death of the debtor, but the death of the surety, pays a sinner's debt.(b) In other debts men may flee from their creditor, leave their country, and go into foreign parts, and the creditor cannot find them; but we cannot flee from God.

5. Sin is the worst debt, because it carries men, in ease of non-payment, to a worse prison than any upon earth.Wherein have we the properties of bad debtors?

1. A bad debtor doth not love to be called to an account. There is a day coming when God will call His debtors to account.

2. A bad debtor is unwilling to confess his debt, he will put it off, or make less of it; so we are more willing to excuse sin than confess it.

3. A bad debtor is apt to hate his creditor; debtors wish their creditors dead; so wicked men naturally hate God, because they think He is a just judge, and will call them to account. The debtor cloth not love to see his creditor. We would think it strange if writs or warrants were out against a man, or a judgment granted to seize his body and estate, yet he is secure and regardless, as if he were unconcerned. God hath a writ out against a sinner, nay, many writs, for swearing, drunkenness, Sabbath-breaking, yet the sinner eats and drinks, and is quiet, as if he were not in debt; what opium hath Satan given men?If sin be a debt —

1. Let us be humbled. The name of debt, saith St. , is grievous.

2. Let us confess our debt.

3. Labour to get your spiritual debts paid, that is, by our surety Christ. "And forgive us our sins, for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us" (Luke 11:4).What forgiveness of sin is?

1. By opening some scripture.phrases —(1) To forgive sin, is to take away iniquity — "Why dost Thou not take away my iniquity?" (Job 7:21.)(2) To forgive sin, is to cover sin "Thou hast covered all their sin." This was typified by the mercy-seat covering the ark, to show God's devoting of sin through Christ.(3) To forgive sin, is to blot it out — "I am He that blotteth out thy transgressions."(4) To forgive sin, is for God to scatter our sins as a cloud — "I have blotted out as a thick cloud thy transgressions."(5) To forgive sin, is for God to cast our sins into the depths of the sea; which implies God's burying them out of sight, that they shall not rise up in judgment against us. God will throw them in, not as cork that riseth again, but as lead that sinks to the bottom.

2. The nature of forgiveness will appear by laying down some Divine aphorisms or positions. Every sin is mortal, and needs forgiveness; I say, mortal, that is, deserves death. It is God only that forgives sin. To pardon sin is one of the royal prerogatives. That God only can forgive sin, I prove thus: — No man can take away sin unless he is able to infuse grace; for, as Aquinas saith, with forgiveness is always infusion of grace; but no man can infuse grace, therefore no man can forgive sin. He only can forgive sin who can remit the penalty, but it is only God's prerogative royal to forgive sin. But the Scripture speaks of the power committed to ministers to forgive sin "Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them." Ministers cannot remit sin authoritatively and effectually, but only declaratively. They have a special office and authority to apply the promises of pardon to broken hearts. As it was with the priest in the law, God did cleanse the leper, the priest only did pronounce him clean, so it is God who, by His prerogative, doth forgive sin; the minister only pronounceth forgiveness to the sinner, being penitent. Power to forgive sin authoritatively in one's own name was never granted to mortal man. Forgiveness of sin is purely an act of God's free grace. Forgiveness is through the blood of Christ. Free grace is the inward cause moving. Christ's blood is the outward cause meriting pardon — "In whom we have redemption through His blood."But if Christ laid down His blood as the price of our pardon, then how can we say, God freely forgives sin? If it be by purchase, how is it by grace?

1. It was God's free grace that found out a way of redemption through a mediator.

2. It was free grace moved God to accept of the price paid for our sins; that God should accept a surety; that one should sin, and another suffer; this was free grace. In forgiveness of sin, God remits the guilt and penalty. What is that remorse and sorrow which goes before forgiveness of sin? It is a holy sorrow, it is a grieving for sin, as it is sin, and as it is a dishonoring of God, and a defiling of the soul. The greatest sins come within the compass of forgiveness. Zaccheus, an extortioner; Mary Magdalene, an unchaste woman, out of whom seven devils were east; Manasseh, who made the streets run with blood; yet these had pardon. Some of the Jews who had a hand in crucifying Christ were forgiven. God blots out not only the cloud, but "the thick cloud"; enormities as well as infirmities. When God pardons a sinner, He forgives all sins — "I will pardon all their iniquities": "having forgiven you all trespasses." The mercy-seat covered the whole ark; the mercy-seat was a type of forgiveness, to show that God covers all our transgressions. They whose sins are forgiven must not omit praying for forgiveness — "Forgive us our trespasses."Believers who are pardoned must be continual suitors for pardon. Sin, like Samson's hair, though it be cut, will grow again. We sin daily, and must as well ask for daily pardon as for daily bread.

1. From this word, "forgive," we learn that if the debt of sin be no other way discharged but by being forgiven, then we cannot satisfy for it. Sin being forgiven, clearly implies we cannot satisfy for it.

2. From this word "us," "Forgive us," we learn that pardon is chiefly to be sought for ourselves. What I will another's pardon do us good? Every one is to endeavour to have his own name in the pardon. In this sense, selfishness is lawful, every one must be for himself, and get a pardon for his own sins — "Forgive us."

3. From this word "our," "Our sins," we learn how just God is in punishing us. The text says, "Our sins"; we are not punished for other men's sins, but our own. Sin is our own act, a web of our own spinning; how righteous therefore is God in punishing us? When we are punished, we but taste the fruit of our own grafting.

4. From this word "sins," see from hence the multitude of sins we stand guilt), of. We pray not forgive us our sin, as if it were only a single debt, but sins, in the plural. So vast is the catalogue of our sins, that David cries out, "Who can understand his errors?" Our sins are like the drops of the sea, like the atoms in the sun, they exceed all arithmetic. If pardon of sin be so absolutely necessary, without it no salvation, what is the reason that so few in the world seek after it?If they want health, they repair to the physician; if they want riches, they take a voyage to the Indies; but if they want forgiveness of sin, they seem to be unconcerned, and do not seek after it; whence is this?

1. Inadvertency, or want of consideration; they do not look into their spiritual estate, or cast up their accounts to see how matters stand between God and their souls — "My people do not consider."

2. Men do not seek after forgiveness of sin, for want of conviction.

3. Men do not seek earnestly after forgiveness, because they are seeking other things; they seek the world immoderately. When Saul was seeking after the asses, he did not think of a kingdom. The world is a golden snare. You would judge that prisoner very unwise, that should spend all his time with the cook to get his dinner ready, and should never mind getting a pardon.

4. Men seek not after the forgiveness of sin, through a bold presumption of mercy; they conceit God to be made up all of mercy, and that He will indulge them, though they take little or no pains to sue out their pardon.

5. Men seek not earnestly after forgiveness, out of hope of impunity.

6. Men do not seek earnestly after forgiveness through mistake; they think getting a pardon is easy, it is but repeating at the last hour a sigh, or a "Lord have mercy," and a pardon will drop into their mouths. But, is it so easy to repent, and have a pardon? Tell me, O sinner, is regeneration easy? Are there no pangs in the new birth? Is mortification easy?

7. Men do not look after forgiveness through despair. My sins are huge mountains, and, can they ever be cast into the sea? Despair cuts the sinews of endeavour; who will use means that despairs of success?Having answered this question, I shall now come to press the exhortation upon every one of us, to seek earnestly after the forgiveness of our sins.

1. Our very life lies upon the getting of a pardon; it is called "the justification of life."

2. There is that in sin may make us desire forgiveness. Sill is the only thing that disquiets the soul.(1) Sin is a burden, it burdens the creation; it burdens the conscience. And should not we labour to have this burden removed by pardoning mercy?(2) Sin is a debt — "Forgive us our debts"; and every debt we owe God hath written down in His book — "Behold it is written before Me," and one day God's debt-book will be opened — "The books were opened." There is no way to look God in the face with comfort but by having our debt either paid or pardoned.

3. There is nothing but forgiveness can give ease to a troubled conscience. There is a great difference between the having the fancy pleased, and having the conscience eased. Worldly things may please the fancy, but not ease the conscience; nothing but pardon can relieve a troubled soul. Suppose a man hath a thorn in his foot which puts him to pain; let him anoint it, or wrap it up, and keep it warm; yet, till the thorn be plucked out, it aches and swells, and he hath no ease; so when the thorn of sin is gotten into a man's conscience, there is no ease till the thorn be pulled out; when God removes iniquity, now the thorn is plucked out.

4. Forgiveness of sin is feasible; it may be obtained. Impossibility destroys endeavour; but, "There is hope in Israel concerning this." The devils are past hope; a sentence of death is upon them, which is irrevocable; but there is hope for us of obtaining a pardon — "There is forgiveness with Thee."

5. Consideration, to persuade to it: Forgiveness of sin is a choice eminent blessing; to have the book cancelled, and God appeased, is worth obtaining; which may whet our endeavour after it. That it is a rare transcendent blessing, appears by three demonstrations.(1) If we consider how this blessing is purchased, namely, by the Lord Jesus. There are three things in reference to Christ, which set forth the choiceness and preciousness of forgiveness.(a) No mere created power in heaven or earth could expiate one sin, or procure a pardon; only Jesus Christ — "He is the propitiation for our sins." No merit can buy out a pardon.(b) Christ Himself could not procure a pardon, but by dying; every pardon is the price of blood.(c) Christ, by dying, had not purchased forgiveness for us if He had not died an execrable death; He endured the curse.(2) Forgiveness of sin is a choice blessing, if we consider what glorious attributes God puts forth in the pardoning of sin.(a) God puts forth infinite power; when Moses was pleading with God for the pardon of Israel's sin, He speaks thus, "Let the power of my Lord be great." God's forgiving of sin is a work of as great power as to make heaven and earth, nay, a greater; for, when God made the world, He met with no opposition; but when He comes to pardon, Satan opposeth, and the heart opposeth.(b) God, in forgiving sins, puts forth infinite mercy — Pardon, I beseech Thee, the iniquity of this people, according to the greatness of Thy mercy."(3) Forgiveness of sin is a choice blessing, as it lays a foundation for other mercies. It is a leading, mercy. .(a) It makes, way for temporal good things. It bring, s health. When Christ said to the palsied man, "Thy sins are forgiven," this made way for a bodily cure — "Arise, take up thy bed and go into thine house." The pardon of his sin made way for the healing of his palsy.(b) It makes way for spiritual good things. Forgiveness of sin never comes alone, but hath other spiritual blessings attending it. Whom God pardons, He sanctifies, adopts, crowns. It is a voluminous mercy; it draws the silver link of grace, and the golden link of glory after it.

6. Consideration: That which may make us seek after forgiveness of sin is, God's inclinableness to pardon — "Thou art a God ready to pardon." We are apt to entertain wrong conceits of God, that He is inexorable, and will not forgive — "I knew that Thou art an hard man." But God is a sin-pardoning God.

7. Consideration: Not to seek earnestly for pardon is the unspeakable misery of such as want forgiveness; it must needs be ill with that malefactor that wants his pardon.(1) The unpardoned sinner that lives and dies so, is under the greatest loss and privation.(2) The unpardoned sinner hath nothing to do with any promise.(3) An unpardoned sinner is continually in danger of the outcry of an accusing conscience. An accusing conscience is a little hell.(4) All the curses of God stand in full force against an unpardoned sinner. His very blessings are cursed — "I will curse your blessings."(5) The unpardoned sinner is in an ill case at death. Luther professed there were three things which he durst not think of without Christ; of his sins, of death, of the day of judgment. Death to a Christless soul is the "King of terrors." But I am discouraged from going to God for pardon, for I am unworthy of forgiveness; what am I, that God should do such a favour for me? God forgives, not because we are worthy, but because He is gracious — "The Lord, the Lord merciful and gracious." "Free grace doth not find us worthy, but makes us worthy." Therefore, notwithstanding unworthiness, seek to God, that your sins may be pardoned. But I have been a great sinner, and sure God will not pardon me. David brings it as an argument for pardon; "Pardon mine iniquity, for it is great." When God forgives great sins, now He doth a work like Himself. The desperateness of the wound doth the more set forth the virtue of Christ's blood in curing it. The vast ocean hath bounds set to it, but God's pardoning mercy is boundless. God can as well forgive great sins as less; as the sea can as well cover great rocks as little sands. God counts it His glory to display free grace in its orient colours — "Where sin aboundeth grace did much more abound." When sin becomes exceeding sinful, free grace becomes exceeding glorious. God's pardoning love can conquer the sinner, and triumph over the sin. Let us labour to have the evidence of pardon, to know that our sins are forgiven. A man may have his sins forgiven, and not know it; he may have a pardon in the court of heaven, when he hath it not in the court of conscience. The evidence of pardon may not appear for a time, and this may be —

1. From the imbecility and weakness of faith.

2. A man may be pardoned and not know it, from the strength of temptation. But why doth God sometimes conceal the evidence of pardon?Though God doth pardon, yet He may withhold the sense of it a while —

1. Because hereby He would lay us lower in contrition.

2. Though God hath forgiven sin, yet He may deny the manifestation of it for a time, to make us prize pardon, and make it sweeter to us when it comes.How then shall we know by the word whether our guilt is done away, and our sins pardoned?

1. The pardoned sinner is a great weeper. Have we been dissolved into tears for sin? God seals His pardons upon melting hearts.

2. We may know our sins are forgiven by having the grace of faith infused — "To Him give all the prophets witness, that whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins." In saving faith there are two things, renunciation, and recumbency.

3. The pardoned soul is a God-admirer — "Who is a God like Thee, that pardoneth iniquity?"

4. Wherever God pardons sin, He subdues it — "He will have compassion on us, He will subdue our iniquities." Where men's persons are justified, their lusts are mortified.

5. He whose sins are forgiven is full of love to God. He whose heart is like marble, locked up in impenitency, that doth not melt in love, gives evidence his pardon is yet to seal.

6. Where the sin is pardoned, the nature is purified. Many tell us, they hope they are pardoned, but were never sanctified; yea, but they believe in Christ; but what faith is it? A swearing faith, a whoring faith; the faith of devils is as good.

7. Such as are in the number of God's people, forgiveness of sin belongs to them — "Comfort ye My people, tell them their iniquity is pardoned." He whose sins are forgiven, is willing to forgive others who have offended him — "Forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." A king may pardon a traitor, but will not make him one of his privy council; but whom God pardons, He receives into favour. Forgiveness of sin makes our services acceptable; God takes all we do in good part. A guilty person, nothing he doth pleaseth God. Forgiveness of sin is the sauce which sweetens all the comforts of this life. As guilt embitters our comforts, it puts wormwood into our cup; so pardon of sin sweetens all; it 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.If sin be forgiven, God will never upbraid us with our former sins. Where God pardons sins, He bestows righteousness. With remission of sin goes imputation of righteousness — "I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness." 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 hath lost his sting. Death, to a pardoned sinner, is like the arresting a man after the debt is paid; death may arrest, but Christ will show the debt-book crossed in His blood. Now follow the duties of such as have their sins forgiven. Mercy calls for duty. Be much in praise and doxology.

1. "Bless the Lord, O my soul, who forgiveth all thine iniquities." Hath God crowned you with pardoning mercy? set the crown of your praise upon the head of free grace.

2. Let God's pardoning love inflame your hearts with love to God.

3. Let the sense of God's love in forgiving make you more cautious and fearful of sin for the future. O Christians, do you not remember what it cost you before to get your pardon I

4. If God hath given you good hope that you are pardoned, walk cheerfully — "We joy in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have received the atonement." Who should rejoice, if not he that hath his pardon?

5. Hath God pardoned you? Do all the service you can for God — "Always abounding in the work of the Lord." Let your head study for God, let your hands work for Him, let your tongue be the organ of His praise. The pardoned soul thinks he can never love God enough or serve Him enough. The last thing is to lay down some rules or directions, how we may obtain forgiveness of sin.We must take heed of mistakes about pardon of sin.

1. That our sins are pardoned, when they are not. Whence is this mistake? From two grounds.

(1)Because God is merciful.

(2)Because Christ died for their sins, therefore they are forgiven.

2. That pardon is easy to be had; it is but a sigh, or, "Lord have mercy." "As we forgive our debtors;" or, "As we forgive them that trespass against us" (Matthew 6:12). I proceed to the second part of the petition, "As we forgive them that trespass against us." "As we forgive." This word, "as," is not a note of equality, but similitude; not that we equal God in forgiving, but imitate Him.How can I forgive others, when it is only God forgives 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, so we may forgive. Let it persuade us all, as 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."

1. Herein we resemble God. He is "ready to forgive," He befriends His enemies, He opens His hands to relieve them who open their mouths against Him.

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. It makes a great metamorphosis; it sweetens the heart, and fills it with love and candour. When a scion is grafted into a stock it partakes of the mature and sap of the tree, and brings forth the same fruit; take a crab, graft it into a pepin, it brings forth the same fruit as the pepin; so he who was once of a sour crabby disposition, given to revenge, when he is once ingrafted into Christ, he partakes of the sap of this 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." This is a good certificate to show for heaven.

3. The blessed example of our Lord Jesus; He was of a forgiving spirit.

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?

5. God hath tied His mercy to this condition; if we do not forgive, neither will He forgive us — "If ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Heavenly Father forgive your trespasses." A man may as well go to hell for not forgiving, as for not believing.

6. The examples of the saints who have been of forgiving spirits.

7. Forgiving and requiting good for evil is the best way to conquer and melt the heart of an enemy. 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 doth not only make a show of forgiveness, and keep our sins by Him, but doth really forgive; He passeth an act of oblivion.

2. God forgives fully; He forgives all our sins. Hypocrites pass by some offences, but retain others. Would we have God deal so with us 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.

(T. Watson.)

"And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors" Matthew 6:12). "And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us" (Luke 11:4). Ponder, first, the prayer for forgiveness — Forgive us our debts. This word" debts" first claims our attention. There are two senses in which man may be said to be a debtor to the Heavenly Father. First: Man is a debtor in the sense of dutifulness: a dutifulness unconditional, complete, unbroken, ceaseless, absolute; and this because God is Father, and he God's son. Of course, from a debt like this no son, so long as he remains loyal, can ever expect or even wish to be released. To owe the Father in heaven immortal obedience, thanks, trust, love, is man's blessedness and glory. But there is a second and terrible sense in which man may be said to be a debtor to his Heavenly Father: he owes Him arrears, or the debt of default in dutifulship. And this second debt is beyond the possibility of payment. And now, if Gabriel with all his spotless innocence and celestial strength is unable to outrun his duty or do work of supererogation, what shall be said of poor, fallen, miserable man? A child of dust, conceived in sin and brought forth in iniquity, by nature, in the very fact of birth, a child of wrath, talking of making amends to God for past failure!

"O Judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts,

And men have lost their reason!"

As well might the thief claim the watch he has stolen as the reward due to his knavery, or the assassin the love and esteem of the dead man's friends as the reward due to his deed of blood. But will God answer the prayer? Can He, will He, forgive our debts? Most certainly He can and He will; and this precisely for the reason that He is what He is, our Heavenly Father. Were He something else, were He simply a Creator, or a Monarch, or a Judge, He might coldly say, "No! My Government must be maintained. Justice must be satisfied. The law must take its course. Or, if I forgive, it can only be in view of a consideration, the payment of an equivalent." But precisely because God is something more than this, precisely because He is Father as well as Creator and Monarch and Judge, He says nothing of the kind. Overcoming us by a love so infinite that it must vent itself in a cross, He recreates our characters by subduing us into penitence, amendment, loyalty, sonship; and so He transfigures us from bankruptcy into sonhood. This is the way in which our Heavenly Father forgives us for His Son's sake our debts. And now let us ponder, secondly, the standard of forgiveness: "As we forgive" (or, as it probably should read, as we have forgiven) "our debtors." And, first, what does it mean to forgive our debtors? Precisely what forgiveness means when our Heavenly Father forgives us our debts. And you know how He forgives us, at least those of us who have accepted His forgiveness; for His pardon, as we have seen, does not really go into operation till we have actually accepted it. Recall, then, how the Heavenly Father has forgiven us. He has forgiven us freely, without stipulation or compensation. He has forgiven us fully, every one of our debts, and they are as countless as earth's sands: He has forgiven us infinitely more than we can ever be called upon to forgive others. He has forgiven us sincerely, from the depths of His own infinite Heart. He has forgiven us everlastingly, world without end. Most wonderful of all, He Himself has taken the initiative, offering us His forgiveness in advance of our even asking for it. And as He has forgiven us, so we are to forgive one another. Take, then, the initiative in forgiving thy brother. But while it is true that our Father's forgiveness of us is the model for our forgiveness of our brothers, yet this is not the point which the Lord sets before us in the pattern prayer. Elsewhere in Holy Scripture forgiveness begins in heaven and descends to earth; here forgiveness begins on earth and ascends to heaven — "Forgive us our debts, as we have forgiven our debtors." Not that there is any merit in our forgiving one another. No, our Father does not forgive us our debts because we have forgiven our debtors; but our having forgiven our debtors is a condition of our Father's forgiving us our debts (Matthew 6:14, 15; Luke 11:4; Mark 11:25; James 2:13; 1 John 4:20). For he shall have judgment without mercy that hath showed no mercy. Again: our forgiving our brother is not only a condition of our Father's forgiving us; our forgiving our brother is also, so to speak, the standard or measure of our Father's forgiving us: Forgive us our debts, as, in the same spirit that, we have forgiven our debtors. It would be difficult to find in history, or in philosophy, or in Holy Writ, a more pregnant or more affecting sign of man's greatness than this little phrase, "As we forgive our debtors." Elsewhere in the Word we are taught to regard God as the standard of man's action; but here we are taught to regard man as the standard of God's action. Here is a man who has been bitterly wronged by another; he says to him, "I forgive you this, but I cannot forget it." He enters his closet and prays: "Father, forgive me, as I have forgiven him! Say to me in words that Thou forgivest me, but do not forget my offences! Blot them not out of the book of Thy remembrance! Do to me as I do to him!" Oh, how often does this prayer, if offered sincerely, mean a curse! Once more: our forgiving our brother is not only the standard or measure of our Father's forgiveness of us; not only a condition of His forgiving us; it is also a sign of our having been ourselves forgiven by our Father. In other words, our feelings towards those who have wronged us furnish us with a decisive test of our standing before our Father in Heaven. As a forgiving state implies a forgiven, so an unforgiving state implies an unforgiven. Ah, this is the meaning of these human relations of ours: this is the final cause of the incorporation of us into human society. The feelings we secretly cherish, as in the discharge of our daily duties we mingle among our fellows — these are the best interpreters of Christ's doctrine of forgiveness. Let us not waste our time in judging ourselves by theoretical, distant, shadowy tests. Let us deal with our own hearts as directly and practically as Christ's tests require.

(G. D. Boardman, D. D.)

I. A CONFESSION. That naturally comes first. With God as with man, the confession must go before the pardon. But, more particularly, as bringing out the alarming nature of these debts, notice these things regarding them:

1. The countless numbers of them.

2. They are always increasing. If they were lessening, however slowly, there would be hope. But, so far from diminishing, they are growing.

3. They are all taken account of. God's eye sees them all.

4. They are all to be reckoned for.

5. We can do nothing to meet them.

II. A PRAYER — "Forgive us our debts." The word "forgive" means remit, discharge, send away. The word is touchingly suggestive. About this forgiveness, and as a help to our asking it, I may make these three remarks.

1. It is free and gracious.

2. This forgiveness is complete; it takes in "all sin." It does not merely lessen it; it removes it, and leaves none remaining. I was once sent for, in great haste, to see a man who reminded me, more than any one I ever saw, of Bunyan's "man in the iron cage." He had at one time been on board a slave ship, and had taken part in the cruelties perpetrated against the poor, and as the spectacle of their sufferings rose up before him, he was in utter despair. When I was shown into his room, he was dashing his clenched hands against the wall at the back of his bed, crying out, "Oh my sins I my sins! hundreds I thousands! If ye would but take away the half of them I could bear it. I've been worse than ever Paul was, and he said he was the chief of sinners," &c. I never felt more the blessedness of having God's free, immediate, complete pardon to offer, as I told him that God never pardoned the half of any man's sins, that His way was to pardon all or none, that He Himself had put the prayer into the sinner's lips, "Take away all iniquity," and that He offered him now this present and full pardon for the sake of His dear Son.

3. This forgiveness is everlasting: the sins, the debts, never come back. They are cancelled. They are covered. This is an intercessory prayer, that is, a prayer for others. "Forgive us our debts." We come now to look at another element in this petition of the Lord's prayer, which I stated thus:

III. AN ENCOURAGEMENT, AND A PROMISE OR OBLIGATION — "As we forgive our debtors"; "for we also forgive."

1. It may be regarded as an encouragement to ask for. giveness from God. "Forgive us, as we forgive": "for we forgive." In so far as there is anything good in us, it was God who put it there. In this respect, God has made us like Himself. If I might so speak, it is a little bit of God's image in us. On a May morning, as you are crossing a field, you see a little bit of glass, or a little drop of dew on a blade of grass, shining like a little sun. That reflection of it gives you some idea of what the sun is.

2. We may regard this clause as containing a promise, or obligation, under which we come when we pray this prayer. It is more than a promise, but it has that wrapped up in it. It is a declaration that we have forgiven all who have wronged us, for the verb is in the past tense — "as we have forgiven our debtors." I am not fit to be forgiven, — I am not capable of receiving forgiveness, if I am unforgiving. If a child has his hand filled with a stone, and you offer him gold, or food, or ought else that is desirable, he cannot receive the one without casting away the other. His hand cannot take it in. It is indispensable, in the very nature of things, that he part with the stone, in order to be able to take the gold, without attributing any merit to/he casting away of what filled his hand before. And so, where an unforgiving spirit takes possession of any one — enters into and fills any heart — that heart cannot take in God's forgiveness. There is not the power to receive forgiveness. The unforgivingness must be cast out, that pardon from God may be a possibility.And after what fashion is it that this forgiveness must be exercised?

1. Heartily. It is of no use merely to say it in words. "If ye from the heart forgive not," says Christ.

2. Universally — entirely. What kind of wrongs am I to forgive? Every kind; not only the lesser, but also the greater,

3. Habitually. Not only now and then, but constantly. Few things touch us more to the quick than unkind and abusive letters. Some Christian people have been sorely tried by these. The late Dr. Cotton Mather received many of them. After his death, they were found among his papers, tied up in a packet, with these words written on the cover, "Libels — Father, forgive them."

(J. H. Wilson, M. A.)

1. The most superficial view of the nature and objects of prayer cannot fail to teach us that such a request as this should be offered with great seriousness of mind. We would not go into the presence of an earthly prince, even though it were to solicit an ordinary favour, without forethought and preparation; much less would we come as culprits to his throne to beg the interposition of royal prerogative in the exercise of the pardoning power, without respect and reverence.

2. There is also an honesty of intention, a simplicity and godly sincerity, in the man who offers this request, without which he may not hope to find access. A cold, formal, listless mind when the transgressor pleads for mercy, is in ill keeping with the object of his prayer.

3. There is earnestness in the man who, touched with his lost condition as a sinner, comes in sober verity to the foot of the throne, to crave pardon from a forgiving God, that bespeaks the struggles that are within.

4. To be offered either in seriousness or in sincerity, this request must also be offered in penitence.

5. It is a delightful thought, too, that associated as this request is with the name of Christ, it is offered in hope. Despair cannot pray.

Our task is comparatively easy, therefore, as we proceed to show why the spirit of forgiveness in men is made a revealed condition of their obtaining forgiveness from God. The reason why a man of unforgiving spirit cannot obtain forgiveness is, that he is destitute of all true and genuine piety. The force of this remark may perhaps be the better perceived by something like the following observations.

1. Such a man has no true sense of his own sins.

2. Nor do we see how such a man can have any true sense of the Divine mercy.

3. It is equally true that a man of an unforgiving spirit has no love to God in his heart.

4. Nor may we overlook the thought, that where the spirit of forgiveness is wanting, there can be no honest regard for the interests of human society. The laws of Christ's kingdom do not allow any man to live for himself alone. History furnishes an affecting illustration of the need of a spirit of forgiveness, in order to the retaining of our evidence of forgiveness from God. There was in the Church at Antioch, in the third century, a minister by the name of Sapricius, and a layman by the name of Nicephorus, who after long intimacy had fallen into an unhappy quarrel, and carried it so far that they would not speak to each other when they met. After a while Nicephorus relented, and took every measure for reconciliation, but in vain. He even threw himself at the feet of his former friend, and entreated forgiveness for the Lord's sake, but without effect. About this time, a new storm of persecution arose, and Sapricius was marked out as one of the victims. The magistrates ordered him to obey the Emperor, and sacrifice to the heathen god. But he appeared ready to witness a good confession, and replied in an expression of his higher allegiance to the King of kings, "Perish idols, which can do neither harm nor good!' The torture was applied, and he bore it firmly. The magistrate then commanded him to be beheaded, and while he was led out to execution, Nicephorus followed him, entreating his forgiveness. But it was in vain; Saprieius's unforgiving temper remained to the last. At this juncture did the Saviour make good His word, "If ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Heavenly Father forgive your trespasses." For at this trying period, all Sapricius's firmness forsook him; the fear of death overpowered him, he recanted, and saved his life, while seemingly on the point of seizing the crown of martyrdom. While at the same time the Saviour's faithfulness was remarkably expressed towards the individual who had manifested a forgiving spirit. Nicephorus, annoyed at so unexpected a change in Sapricius, exhorted him to adhere to the faith, but in vain. And then himself flaming with zeal for the Christian cause, so dishonoured, turned to the executioners and said, "I believe in the name of the Lord Jesus, whom he has renounced." This was reported to the Emperor, and Nicephorus received the crown of martyrdom! We cannot rely upon the Divine mercy for ourselves while indulging an unforgiving and unchristian spirit towards others.

(G. Spring, D. D.)

1. First, of them that shift the guilt of their sins upon Adam, and allege original corruption for an excuse of their transgressions.

2. But now, in the next place, if we cannot shift our sins upon Adam and that original weakness which we derived from his loins, we may perhaps upon the serpent, upon the devil.

3. We come now to the last complaint; which is most unjust of all, as being put up against the justice and goodness of God, "who giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not" (James 1:5).

4. And now, in the last place, as they are only ours, so they are fully and totally ours; and if we strive to make a defalcation, we add unto their bulk, and make them more mountainous than before. And as we do minuendo numerum augere, "by seeking to make our sins fewer than they are, sin more, and so increase their number"; so, by attempting to make them less, we make them greater.

(A. Farindon.)

Thus you see, like men set on shore for refreshment and provision of some necessaries for their voyage, we are called aboard again; Christ did only land us upon the world's shore in that middle petition, to refresh us in the midst of our travels, but He purposed not to afford us any long stay; for you may see man's meditations here embarked for the furthest point of life's voyage. For the clearing of which passage to his last home he uses all diligence in these three last petitions, which are, as it were, His harbingers to remove all impediments which might retard Him in the course of His future beatitude. See in this, man making his peace with God and the world, compounding with his creditor, God, and with his debtors, men, at one and the same rate — "Forgive us," &c., as "we forgive them," &c. There is nothing more dangerous to a Christian than to slight or diminish an offence.

(Archdeacon King.)

The smallest leak which is sprung at sea may, if neglected, let in water to drown the tallest ship. Therefore, if the tide of sin have washed, though never so lightly, over thy bank, if a temptation have floated in upon thy soul by any of thy five ports, thy senses, make up the breach betimes, lest a tide or two more overwhelm, and lay thee quite under water. Despise not the smallest sin, for even that is a step to a greater. Remember thou mayest multiply pence till they come to a talent, so thou mayest link sin to Sin, till they make a chain long enough to drag thee into perpetual bondage with the prince of darkness, long enough to reach from earth to hell, till the multiplication of those acts grow into a habit, become great and strong, and heavy enough to sink thee into the bottomless pit. Remember too, that as the least coins, even to the farthing, have their value, so also the least sins shall have their punishment.

(Archdeacon King.)

There is not so naked, so penurious a thing as man. "Naked was he born, and naked shrill he return," divested of all but his sins. We have no peculiar but this, nothing that we can call ours, but only our faults. Except that luckless patrimony, I know not what we can lay claim to, either that is without us, or in us. Bona Fortunce, wealth acknowledgeth no sovereign but fortune, we are not masters of it; and though it abide with us as a hireling, perhaps till the end of our days, then it surely takes leave, often before that, becoming any one's save his whose it it last was. Nothing of all we had goes along with us but our winding sheet; for other things we have gathered, the Psalm says, "We know not who shall enjoy them"; sure we are, we shall not. And for that form which makes so many enamoured of themselves, can any call it theirs? when all the Parget's art hath invented are not able to coat it against the violence of time and weather, nor by all their fillings to repair those decays and bleaches which sickness hath wrought upon it. The breath we draw, is that ours? Is it not sucked and borrowed from the next air? Our best part, the soul, is it any more than a loan, deposited for some years with the body, after whose expiration it reverts to I-lira that gave it. And, lastly, for our body, is it anything else but a lump of walking clay, a little earth inanimated; the certain restitution whereof we owe unto the dust from whence it was taken. What is there, then, of our whole selves which we can call ours, unless our sins? These are effects springing from our own depraved nature, the fruits of a vicious crooked will, our true legitimate issue, though born against all law, both human and Divine. They are nostra, "ours," by many assurances, curs by all titles both of right and possession.

(Archdeacon King.)

The knowledge of the nature of every sin, and of the due desert thereof, ought to make us diligent in searching into the law of God, that thereby we may know what is sin, for "by the law is the knowledge of sin." And knowing sin, carefully and consciously to avoid it; for "the wages of sin is death." And no way make ourselves accessories to the sins of others, for so we bring the blood of others upon our own heads. And if we have committed sins ourselves, or made ourselves accessory to the sins of others, not to soothe our consciences with the smallness thereof, and thereupon remain secure, not caring to repent thereof. "Except ye be born again ye shall perish." To work the more thorough repentance we ought thoroughly to search ourselves, and from time to time strictly to examine our thoughts, words, and actions. And as we discern any transgressions or alterations in any of them, instantly to crave pardon for them. Yea, because we cannot be ignorant that many sins unawares pass from us, to desire a general discharge of all other sins (which two points are expressly noted in this fifth petition). As we crave pardon for all sins past, so ought we to be watchful over ourselves for the time to come, even so watchful as to "abstain from all appearance of evil." Not regarding the common scoffs against preciseness, as the world termeth Christian, careful and conscionable watchfulness over a man's self. Commonly the wickeder sort do most justify themselves, and the upright most judge themselves. The upright use to judge themselves for their very ignorances and negligences. And surely sins of ignorance or negligence were better be judged, that they may be destroyed, then excused that they should be nourished. For "every thing must be brought to judgment," and "of every idle word that men shall speak they shall give an account in the day of judgment." Let not therefore the small sins be slighted. Floods are made with small drops. Water soaketh through small chinks, the ship is therewith filled, and if the pump be not plied the ship is drowned.

(W. Gouge.)

1. Our souls will be the more wounded and humbled for them. The benefit whereof will be that God will be the more moved with pity and compassion towards us.

2. Our desire of discharge will be the more fervent. Whereby the Lord will the rather be moved to grant our desire.

3. The long-suffering of God in bearing with so many sins, so many ways committed against Him, and from time to time heaped one upon another will be the better discerned.

4. The riches of God's mercy in forgiving not a few pence, nor yet a few talents, but "many thousand talents" will be the more admired and magnified; and He Himself the more loved.

(W. Gouge.)

which if it be not presently quenched, will soon prove unquenchable. Nay, it is a deadly poison, which if it once seize on the soul will soon destroy it. No fire, no poison of a more increasing nature than revenge. Did men know what a wolf, what a tiger, what a viper wrath and revenge were, they would at the first sight thereof be startled, and get themselves as far from it as they could. If scorpions and apes were in men's houses, what pains would they take to cleanse their houses, that they might dwell securely? But they keep anger, wrath, malice, hatred, revenge, which are so many scorpions and serpents, and cleanse not the house of God, which is their heart. Yea, such a perverse disposition have many, as they use all the means they can to retain and nourish revenge, and to keep it in mind and memory. By oath, by imprecation, and other ways they will bind themselves not to forgive. They forbear not to say, "I may forget the wrong, but I will never forgive it." Hereby they provoke God to keep their sins in perpetual memory, and to bind Himself to execute vengeance on them.

(W. Gouge.)

This note of resemblance, therefore, is not here used as it was in the third petition, for —

1. There that from whence the resemblance is taken is more eminent. Here much meaner, It is there taken from those that are in heaven. But here from us on earth.

2. There it noteth a pattern for doing. Here, an evidence of doing.

3. There it is used for direction, to show what we should do.

(W. Gouge.)

1. He that hath wronged me is a base fellow. What more base to thee, than thou art to God?

2. The wrong done is unsufferable. What! more unsufferable than thy sins against God?

3. It is not the first time that he hath wronged me. Didst thou never but once sin against God?

4. He may wrong me again and again if I put it up. Why dost thou think so uncharitably of thy brother? But mayest thou not sin again and again against God?

5. It beseemeth not my place and honour to put up wrongs. Is God so accounted for bearing with sins? If God do thus, why art thou so much incensed with wrath, when any doth any wrong to thee? Thou shouldest rather behold thyself, how thou hast carried thyself against God. If anything will make thee forgive, surely this will.

(W. Gouge.)

Learn hereby how to know God's mind towards thee. Thou needest not to climb up to heaven there to behold the face of God, whether He frown or smile, whether love or anger be seated in His eyes, but dive into thine own heart, and there observe what is thy mind towards thy brother. No looking-glass can give a truer representation of thy face than thine own heart a demonstration of God's heart towards thee. "We love, because He first loved us," and we forgive because He first forgave us.

(W. Gouge.)

It warmeth that heart in which it abideth, and worketh mercy therein. Where, therefore, no mercy to man can be found, there is just cause to suspect no mercy of God hath been showed. The soul of an unmerciful man is no fit receptacle of the mercies of God. It abuseth, it perverteth them.

(W. Gouge.)

I. Let us consider THAT GOD IS THE SOURCE OF ALL FORGIVENESS. This is His right. It belongs to Him; it is His property; and He is jealous of it. "To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses." "It is God that justifieth; who is he that condemneth?" But not only is it the right and prerogative of God: it is His glory. It floweth out of His mercy. Forgiveness is but the stream, and it ariseth from the goodness and the mercy of God. And the reason why I lay stress on this, and I do it often, is because I see so frequently, and find so often in my own heart, this principle — a sort of harsh principle as it regardeth God; a loving principle as it regardeth Jesus, but some stem view as it regardeth the Father; whereas the glory of the gospel is, that if we have free forgiveness, it floweth out, like the bubbling stream from the overflowing fountain; it cometh forth from His glory; it is His glory. And yet it flows in a pure and unsullied channel; if you and I love God as we ought to love Him, we should say, I would not have mercy at the expense of Thy holiness. I want no exhibition of God's goodness upon the ruins of His holiness; I do not want to see the wreck of God's holy law, in order that He may exhibit His forgiving love. It emanates forth from the glory of God; and gloriously does He exercise it. It is indeed a bubbling fountain, ever full and ever running over. Hast thou ever seen the honeycomb drop honey out of its fulness? Did any argument of thine persuade it to drop? Why did it drop? Because it was full of honey. And why doth God forgive? Because He is God; and that which He doeth, He doeth like Himself, gloriously. Oh! yes, what God doth, He doth as God; and when He forgiveth, He forgiveth as God. And when one asks what are those sins that He forgives, see how the Holy Ghost describes them: sins deep as scarlet, and red as blood.

II. HE LEADS THEM TO PRAY FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF THEIR SINS — "Forgive us our sins." And there seems, too, I think, involved in this petition, an imploring of God for all the blessings that spring out from forgiveness.

III. THE PLEA WHICH OUR LORD PUTS INTO THE HEARTS OF HIS DISCIPLES — "For we also forgive every one that is indebted to us."

(J. H. Evans.)

And lead us not into temptation
I. WHAT SUGGESTS SUCH A PRAYER AS THIS?

1. Watchfulness.

2. Next, it seems to me to be the natural prayer of holy horror at the very thought of falling again into sin. I remember the story of a pitman who, having been a gross blasphemer, a man of licentious life and everything that was bad, when converted by Divine grace, was terribly afraid lest his old companions should lead him hack again. He knew himself to be a man of strong passions, and very apt to be led astray by others, and therefore in his dread of being drawn into his old sins, he prayed most vehemently that sooner than ever he should go back to his old ways he might die. He did die there and then. Perhaps it was the best answer to the best prayer that the poor man could have offered. I am sure any man who has once lived an evil life, if the wondrous grace of God has snatched him from it, will agree that the pitman's prayer was not one whit too enthusiastic. It were better for us to die at once than to live on and return to our first estate and bring dishonour upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. He who has once been caught in the steel trap carries the scars in his flesh and is horribly afraid of being again held by its cruel teeth.

3. The third feeling, also, is very apparent; namely, diffidence of personal strength. The man who feels himself strong enough for anything is daring, and even invites the battle which will prove his power. "Oh," says he, "I care not; they may gather about me who will; I am quits able to take care of myself and hold my own against any number." He is ready to be led into conflict, he courts the fray. Not so the man who has been taught of God and has learned his own weakness; He does not want to be tried, but seeks quiet places where he may be out of harm's way.

4. This prayer seems to me to arise also somewhat out of charity. We should not be too severe with those persons who have done wrong, and offended us; but pray, "Lord, lead us not into temptation."

5. This prayer breathes the spirit of confidence in God. Of course He will lead me, now that I am His child. Moreover, now that He has forgiven me, I know that He will not lead ms where I can come to any harm. This my faith ought to know and believe, and yet for several reasons there rises to my mind a fear lest His providence should conduct me where I shall be tempted. Is that fear right or wrong? It burdens my mind; may I go with it to my God? May I express in prayer this misgiving of soul? May I pour out this anxiety before the great, wise, loving God? Will it not be impertinent? No, it will not, for Jesus puts the words into my mouth and says, "After this manner pray ye."

II. WHAT ARE THESE TEMPTATIONS WHICH THE PRAYER DEPRECATES? or say rather, what are these trials which are so much feared.

1. Men may be led into temptation by the withdrawal of Divine grace.

2. Another set of temptations will be found in providential conditions.

3. There are temptations arising out of physical conditions. Diseased livers, palpitating hearts, and injured brains are hard things to struggle against.

4. Mental conditions often furnish great temptations.

5. There are temptations arising out of personal associations, which are formed for us in the order of providence.

III. LESSONS.

1. Never boast your own strength.

2. Never desire trial.

3. Never go into temptation.

4. Do not lead others there.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. WHAT TEMPTATIONS ARE. Temptation, according to the proper signification of the word, is no other but a trial or probation. And this may be of two kinds — exploratory, or suasory. There is an exploratory temptation; to search out and to discover what is in man, what his graces and corruptions are. There is a suasory or enticing temptation, that inclines the will and affections to close with what is presented to them.

1. Now, in general, we may observe five several sorts of temptations: whereof some are of the former, others of the latter kind.

(1)Some, whereby one man tempts another.

(2)Some, whereby we tempt ourselves.

(3)Some, whereby we tempt God.

(4)Some, whereby God tempts us.

(5)Some, whereby the devil tempts us.Now among these many various kinds of temptations which have been reckoned up, those temptations which we are to pray against are of three sorts — such as proceed from our own lusts and corruptions; such as proceed from other men's persuading us, either by motives or examples unto that which is evil; or, lastly, such as proceed from the devil. Or, else, they may be reduced to these two heads — the temptations which proceed from our own inbred lusts and corruptions and those which proceed from the devil; for, indeed, wicked men are but his agents and instruments, when they tempt us to that which is evil.

2. Now, that our Saviour Christ should make it the great matter and object of our prayers to beg of God that we may not be led into temptation, we may observe that it is a Christian's duty, not only to keep himself from sin, but also to endeavour to keep himself from temptation to sin. For —(1) It is a very ill sign of a rotten and carnal heart to be content to lie under a temptation, although it doth not consent to the commission of sin.(2) If you suffer a temptation to lodge in your hearts, you are in imminent danger of being prevailed upon by it.(3) Consider that, as all temptations are dangerous, and that we have great reason to fear lest, in the end, they should prevail upon us to commit the sin to which we are tempted; so most of them are not only temptations, but sins also.

II. How GOD MAY BE SAID TO LEAD MEN INTO TEMPTATION.

1. God is said to lead us into temptation when He providentially presents outward objects and occasions which do solicit and draw forth our inward corruptions.

2. God is said to lead us into temptation when He withdraws the influences of His grace from us, and leaves us under the power of a temptation.

3. God is said to lead men into temptation when He permits Satan and wicked men his instruments to tempt us — yea, sometimes He gives them commission as well as permission; and appoints and sends them to do it.(1) He leaves these Canaanites to molest us, to teach us the wars of the Lord; to make us continually watchful; to breathe and exercise our graces; to administer matter for our conquest, and occasion for our crown and triumph.(2) To convince us of our own utter inability to stand of ourselves, without His help and assistance; thereby engaging us to depend upon His arm, and to call for Divine supplies and succours.(3) To glorify both His justice and mercy. His justice, in giving up wicked men to the rage of temptations; to be hurried by them from sin to sin, till at last they put an end to the succession of their sins in eternal damnation. And His mercy, in succouring of and supporting and delivering His children out of all their temptations.(4) God permits His own children to be tempted, that, by their victory over temptations, He may confound the malice of Satan, and commend the excellency of His own ways and service.

III. DELIVERANCE FROM EVIL.

1. The thing here prayed against.(1) Satan.(2) All other evils are here meant; whether they be of sin or sorrow; whether they be transgressions or punishments; and that either temporal punishments, in those judgments which God inflicts upon sinners here, or eternal judgments, such as He hath threatened to inflict upon them hereafter. From all these we pray to be delivered — but the greatest of all these is sin. For —(a) It is greatest in the nature of it, as being the only thing that is contrary to the greatest good, even God.(b) It is the greatest evil, in the effects and consequences of it.

2. And whereas we are taught by our Saviour to beg this of God our Heavenly Father, we may observe that it is only the almighty power of God that can keep us from sin.

3. It now remains to show you the ways and methods that God takes to do it.(1) God delivers us from evil, by His restraining providence — putting a hook into men's nostrils, and a bridle into their jaws; and, by a powerful hand, reining them in when they are most fiery and furious.(2) God preserves from sin by His restraining grace. Now this restraining grace is that which is common, and vouchsafed to wicked men as well as good. Indeed, God by it deals in a secret way with the very heart of a sinner; and though He doth not change the habitual, yet He changeth the present actual disposition of it; so as not only by external checks laid upon men's lusts, but by internal persuasions, motives, and arguments, they are taken off the prosecution of those very sins which yet remain in them unmortified and reigning.(3) God hath another method of keeping men from sin, and that is by His special and sanctifying grace. And this is proper only to the children of God who are really sanctified and made gracious. Now, whatever sin God doth thus preserve any from, He doth it by exciting the inward principle and habit of grace to the actual use and exercise of it. There is a twofold grace always necessary to keep the best Christians from sin; habitual and exciting — and God, by the one, quickens and stirs up the other, which else would lie sluggish and dormant.Now that which we pray for in this petition is —

1. That if it shall please God to lead us into temptation, yet that He would not leave us under the power of temptation; but, with every temptation, "He would make a way for us to escape, that we may be able to bear it."

2. That if, at any time, temptation should get the upper hand, and prevail over us to the commission of sin, yet that God would not leave us under the power of that sin; but raise us up again, by true repentance and godly sorrow, that so, at last, we may he delivered from the great and soul-damning evil of obduration and impenitency.

3. That God would not only deliver us from gross and self-condemning impieties; but from every evil way and work, and preserve us blameless to the heavenly kingdom of His Son.

4. That He would be pleased not only to deliver us from that which is in itself evil, but from all the occasions and all the appearances of evil — for these also are evil, if not in effect, yet in tendency.

(Bishop Hopkins.)

I. THE MEANING OF THIS PETITION. Keep us from all occasions of sin, such objects as would prevail upon us to commit it. Suffer us not to yield to temptation, and to fall into the sin to which we are enticed — let us not be left to ourselves when we are tempted. Permit us not to be brought into any temptation or snare. Suffer us not to be entangled in any dangers and difficulties which may not be easily supported by us. That God will give us a way of getting out of any temptation that befals us. That we may not be overcome by temptation; or that we may be kept from any such combat in which there would be great danger of our being vanquished. Such a request we are encouraged to offer up to God by these words in 1 Corinthians 10:12, 13, "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." It is our duty to watch and to take heed; this is required of us — but the grace of God alone is sufficient to keep us from falling.

II. WHAT THIS PETITION SUPPOSES AND INCLUDES.

1. A real sincere belief of the particular providence of God, and especially towards His faithful servants.

2. Trust in God, His care, His wisdom and goodness to direct us.

3. Deliberate, firm, steadfast resolutions to follow the Divine conduct.

4. Fear of offending God, and of backsliding, and falling into a loose, careless way.

5. Watchfulness against temptations.

6. Courage to resist it, even the strongest temptation, such as falls in with our greatest infirmity, attacks us on our weakest side, such am promises us pleasure or worldly gain.

7. Fortitude to support us under troubles, to enable us to bear affliction for Christ's sake, and to suffer for Him rather than deny Him.

III. WHAT GROUNDS WE HAVE to hope that God will answer this request, and not suffer us to be tempted (if we take proper care of ourselves, and do not provoke Him to forsake us, and leave us to ourselves; which we may do, and which is actually too often done); or, that if we must fall into temptations and snares (which is unavoidable in the present life), God will concern Himself for our confirmation and establishment under all such trials of our faith and patience. The grounds of hope of a gracious audience and acceptance, in our humble petitions of this kind, are such as the following —

1. That God is able to strengthen, stablish, and settle us, to deliver us from evil, and to secure us under the greatest dangers.

2. That there are some promises in the Word of God which encourage us (such at least as desire to be faithful) to hope that He will vouchsafe us this grace.

3. That we find in reading the Scripture, that such grace has been granted; and why may not God be favourable to us, as well as to others, if we are not negligent and careless ourselves?

4. You may derive hope (such of you as are the children of God, give me leave to use the Scripture style, you may derive hope) from your filial relation to God, that He will not suffer you to be seduced entirely from Him by any temptation that may befal you.

5. The intercession of Christ gives you such hope. Does He direct you to pray, "Lord, lead us not into temptation?" He Himself makes such intercession for you, "Father, keep through Thine own name those whom Thou hast given Me. I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou wilt keep them from the evil."

6. You may go boldly to the throne of grace with this petition, because you are commanded to do it.

IV. PRACTICAL SUGGESTIONS.

1. Let us pray that we may not be tempted above what we are able (by the grace of God with us) to bear; that we may never enter into temptation, and — for our boldness and adventurousness, and want of a just sense of our own weakness, and a due fear of God — be there left; left to ourselves, to the devil and his instruments to seduce us, and to lead us into sin and ruin. And let this petition in our prayer proceed from faith and trust in God.

2. Let us watch, as well as pray, against temptation.

3. When we are tempted to sin, and commit it, let us not say we are tempted of God; either externally, by His putting us into such circumstances as to necessitate our sinning; or internally, by corrupting our minds, raising sinful thoughts in us, and exciting us to sinful practices: this, I observed, is the devil's work, not God's.

4. When we pray that God will not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil, and the evil one, and not suffer the devil to lead us captive, let us not tempt one another. This would be no other than to be the instruments and servants of the grand enemy of mankind, the great seducer, who was the occasion of the first breach between God and man, and has found some to promote his interest ever since.

5. When we fall into temptation, let us with steadfast resolution resist it, and endeavour to keep ourselves from the evil to which we are tempted.

5. Let us succour them that are tempted, by good instructions, and serious advice and earnest persuasion; so you may be instruments of delivering others from evil, and perhaps of saving them from death. All Christians should be like their Lord, and have compassion on them that are out of the way, or going out, seduced by temptation, and do what they can to prevent their error.

(John Whitty.)

I. DOES GOD LEAD ANY ONE INTO TEMPTATION?

1. God allows temptations which are devoid of the strictly moral element: trials (James 1:2).

2. God allows temptations which have in them some sinful suggestion, for the sake of our moral discipline. Job. 's natural passions kept pressing him even after conversion, but drove him to hide himself more completely in God. A Christian lady was noted for the serenity of her disposition; no one heard from her a complaint in whatever trial she might have been. She confessed to a naturally irritable temper which the Lord never took from her. She was so afraid of giving way that she ceaselessly prayed for restraining grace. It was the Divine peace that we saw, which descended about her like a halo sent down from heaven.

3. God allows sinful temptations to come against us as a consequence, and thus a punishment, for past transgression. But at the same time He saves all who call upon Him from their own undoing.

III. OBSERVE THE CLOSE CONNECTION BETWEEN THIS AND THE FORMER PETITION, "Forgive us our debts." Only when the guilt of sin has been discharged at the Cross does the sanctifying influence follow. This will account for the failure of many of our cries, "Lead us not into temptation." We have not established a basis for help, because we have not yet been forgiven.

IV. WE ARE SAVED FROM TEMPTATION BY USE OF THE PRAYER. It would be a grand thing to withstand sin if we could do it in our own strength; but it is a grander thing to stand in God's strength, and to know that we have His and not our own keeping.

(J. . M. Ludlow, D. D.)

If we walk without care and without vigilance, if we acknowledge not God in our ways, and take counsel at Ekron, and not at Zion — leaving the Bible unread and the closet unvisited — if the sanctuary and the Sabbath lose their ancient hold upon us, and we then go on frowardly in the way of our own eyes, and after the counsel of our own heart, we have reason to tremble. A conscience quick and sensitive, under the presence of the indwelling Spirit is like the safety-lamp of the miner, a ready witness and a mysterious guardian against the deathful damps, that unseen but fatal, cluster around our darkling way. To neglect prayer and watching, is to lay aside that lamp, and then though the eye see no danger and the ear hear no warning, spiritual death may be gathering around us her invisible vapours stored with ruin, and rife for a sudden explosion. We are tempting God, and shall we be delivered? And if this be so with the negligent professor of religion, is it not applicable also to the openly careless who never acknowledged Christ's claims to the heart and the life? With an evil nature, and a mortal body, and a brittle and brief tenure of earth, you are traversing perilous paths. Had you God for your friend, your case would be far other than it is. Peril and snare might still beset you; but you would confront and traverse them, as the Hebrews of old did the weedy bed of the Red Sea — its watery walls guarding their dread way, the pillar of light the vanguard, and the pillar of cloud the rear-guard of their mysterious progress — the ark and the God of the ark piloting and defending them. But without God's blessing, and committed blindly to Satan's guidance — returning prayerless from a prayerless sanctuary to a prayerless home, and seeking a prayerless couch at night, and beginning on Monday a prayerless week, which is to find on Saturday evening its still prayerless end — you are like a presumptuous and unskilful traveller, passing under the arch of the waters of Niagara. The falling cataract thundering above you — a slippery, slimy rock beneath your gliding feet — the smoking, roaring abyss yawning beside you — the imprisoned winds beating back your breath — the struggling daylight coming but mistily to the bewildered eyes — what is the terror of your condition, if your guide, in whose grasp your fingers tremble, be malignant and treacherous and suicidal, determined on destroying your life at the sacrifice of his own! He assures you that he will bring you safely through, upon the other side of the fall. And SUCH IS SATAN.

(W. R. Williams, D. D.)

But you may say that if temptation is thus the lot of all men, we ought not to pray as in the text, "Lead us not into temptation." This does not follow: sickness is the lot of our race, and yet we may pray to God for health, and God will send it to us so far as He sees it to be good for us; indeed we may pray for all things, if only we use the proviso which our Saviour added to His prayer, "Nevertheless, not My will but Thine be done!" and thus we may pray against temptation, because it is a dangerous thing, and a thing painful to endure, even though we should come off victorious in the end. But after all, I conceive the spirit of the prayer against temptation is to pray quite as much for grace to withstand temptation as for freedom from it, quite as much for strength when tempation comes as for the happiness of its not coming at all: the man who prays against temptation, who fears to encounter Satan, who is always alarmed lest he should find his enemy at his elbow enticing him to sin, this man will in his prayer most certainly include another for grace and strength; he prays against temptation, at the same time he knows that it is not likely that he will be exempted from that which falls to the lot of all, and therefore he trusts that he may by God's grace be found ever ready for the conflict, armed with the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit; he prays that no temptation may come upon him greater than he has strength to bear, but that God will make a way for him to escape that he may be able to bear it, and that however strong that enemy of his soul may be, there may he ever with him one stronger than the strong, even the Holy Spirit of God

(Bishop Harvey Goodwin.)

We carry about us an internal enemy, in that heart "deceitful above all things and desperately wicked," a traitor not plotting without and at the gates, but in the inmost citadel, cherishing even there his proneness to backslide from Shaddai to Diabolus, and but too eager to sell afresh the town of Mansoul to its old tyrannous usurper. We are surrounded by evil influences and ensnaring examples in the world which hems our path. "Ill-speech" is not only shouting his proclamations at "Ear-gate"; but in the frivolous and foul literature of our times, this orator and herald of Diabolus is sending his letters missive to "Eye-gate" as well, in ceaseless profusion. Then, let us remember the accursed alchemy of sin in us and in our tempters, both the visible and invisible — that hellish heart of corruption which can make God's works and choice gifts occasions of temptation to us, and render our very blessings a curse. Thus, a mother's kindness may injure the child on whom it is lavished. Friendship and kindred, and home and love, all may ensnare us. Wealth, in itself God's gift, how often is it made, by man's coveting, "filthy lucre." Knowledge, the food of the soul, how may it become the poisonous and baleful fruit of the forbidden tree; and worldly honour and worldly power, what crimes have they incited, and palliated, and protected. Life, may become — as in the case of many of the antediluvians it seems to have done — though its every hour throughout its long centuries were a new favour of Heaven — may become, in consequence of the treachery of man's heart misinterpreting its lessons, a fresh and stronger temptation to persevere in sin; and its extension may but serve to foster the hopes of prolonged impunity in wickedness. Our Bibles, and Sabbaths, and sanctuaries, and religious privileges, may be all so used or relied upon as to become but a seal of aggravation to our guilt, and of hopelessness as to our final conversion. The prophets' tombs, and Abraham for an ancestor, helped to make the Pharisees the more the children of hell. Social progress may become the watchword of revolt against revelation and God — liberty be perverted into an occasion of licentiousness — and the very ordinances and creeds of Christianity be transmuted into a veil and den for Antichrist. The power of immoral transmutation, of turning good into evil, possessed by our fallen nature, is most tremendous and appalling. Aye, the blood of a scorned Saviour, may be made, by your unbelief and mine, the deadliest element in our present sin and in our coming woe. Despite done to the Spirit of grace may convert His benign ministerings and proffered comfortings into the foundation of the sin that hath no remission before God, and no hope for all eternity. And in no scene of earth — in no condition — are we exempt from the incursions of temptation. If we flee to the desert, and brook not the sight of our fellow-creature's face, we bear thither the fiend within; we cannot build out or bar out the indwelling devil. The gratings of the monastery cannot exclude the wings of the fallen seraph, nor solitude sanctify the unregenerate heart. In the garden or the grove, the palace or the hermitage, the crowded city or the howling wilderness, sin tracks us, and self haunts us. If the poor is tempted to envy and dishonesty; the rich, as Augur testified, is equally endangered by pride and luxury. If the man of ten talents is puffed up with self-confidence and arrogant impiety; the man of one talent is prone to bury slothfully the portion intrusted to him in the earth, and then to quarrel with its Holy Giver. The great adversary has in every scene his snares, and varies his baits for every age and variety of condition and character. Each man and child of us has his easily besetting sin.

(W. R. Williams, D. D.)

Temptations drive the Christian to the grace and throne of Christ. And the victory of the plaintive, and feeble, and mortal disciple over the proud, and subtle, and mighty, but fallen archangel — notwithstanding all that archangel's talents and resources — illustrates to all worlds the wisdom, and faithfulness, and goodness of God. According to promise, "the worm Jacob" is made a brazen "flail to thresh the mountains." Our twining, pliant, and vine-like weakness, becomes in God's hand, rigid, piercing, and irresistible strength. Even here, we can see Paul profiting by the messenger of Satan, the thorn in his flesh, sent to buffet him. We see Luther towering into new boldness of faith, and shooting as from the pinnacles of temptation to a loftier height the rocket of his testimony; as, in Christ's strength, he goes to encounter the temptations of worldly wrath and Satanic hate, at the city of Worms, though, as he says, the devils he may meet there be many as the tiles on the roofs of its houses. You see Cranmer, out of the coil of the temptation that had once pinioned and thrown him, rising to a noble martyrdom, and thrusting resolutely into the blaze the guilty hand that had once denied his Lord's truths. And, as Luther said, such discipline, rugged and keen as it may for the time be, is necessary to Christian usefulness. "Prayer, meditation, temptation," said that reformer, make the true minister of Christ. Men learn the source of their strength, and the might of their Helper, and the love of their Heavenly Father; and "that the way of man is not in himself," but that our sufficiency is of God.

(W. R. Williams, D. D.)

This petition recognizes the fact that every man has his weakness and limitations, and that it is safer" for him to be surrounded with good influences than with evil influences; that character grows better in a congenial than in an uncongenial atmosphere. We must encounter evil, our daffy duty will bring us often face to face with it; but some paths are safer than others, some associations are less hostile to virtue than others; and the prayer is that God will lead us into those paths where the danger is least; that, so far as it is consistent with duty, His kind providence will keep us out of associations where our virtue will be assailed. To ask God that He will not lead us into such exposures is not to imply that He is likely to do this, and must be besought not to do it; it means, simply, lead us out of and away from temptation. The petition contains something like what the logicians call a negative pregnant, in which the negative of one thing implies the affirmation of the opposite.

1. The petition implies that God will lead us if we ask His guidance.

2. It also implies that if we will follow Him, He will lead us into safe places, and away from the snares that are set for our feet.

3. It expresses our desire to be kept, so far as may be without neglecting duty, from exposure to the allurements of vice and sin; to be surrounded with virtuous rather than with vicious influences.

4. It confesses our faith that God will so keep us if we put our trust in Him.

(Washington Gladden, D. D.)

When you offer the Lord's prayer, do not forget to let your desire rest firmly and fervently on this petition. Ask the Lord to keep you away from bad company; from the society of those who are vicious, and corrupt, and profane; from association with those whose minds are filthy, and whose talk is vile; from all communion with evil minds, and, so far as possible, from all knowledge of evil things. People talk about seeing the world, about getting their eyes opened, and all that; but do you see just as much of the good of the world as you can, and just as little of the evil. Get your eyes open as wide as you can to behold the truth of nature and the beauty of the Lord, but shut them tight upon visions of sin and shame. I tell you, young people, that familiarity with evil words and evil ways bring no gain to you — nothing but loss and sorrow. There is one kind of ignorance you need never blush for — ignorance of the names, or of the arts, of vice and crime. If your too knowing associates jeer at you for such verdancy, thank God that you are not proficient in such knowledge. The less you know of the things that you are ashamed to speak of, the better for you. If by any possibility you have learned such things, forget them as soon as you can. And always remember, that, except as you seek to overcome evil with good, the safest way is to shun the evil.

(Washington Gladden, D. D.)

We must not overlook the plural form of this petition. It is not only a personal request, it is an intercessory petition. "Lead us; deliver us." Our thought takes in others besides ourselves; the shelter and deliverance that we implore for ourselves, we ask for all our fellow-men. And surely if we ask the Lord to keep our neighbours out of temptation, we shall be careful how we ourselves do anything to place temptation in their way; we shall do all that we wisely can to make the surroundings of their lives helpful, and not corrupting, to their virtue.

(Washington Gladden, D. D.)

When we pray that our children may not be led into temptation, let us do what we can to choose for them a place to live, and a manner of life in which they shall be exposed to the least possible temptation. Many a man prays at the family altar, "Lead us not into temptation," and then rises from his knees, packs his movables, and goes with all his family, where Lot went, straight down to Sodom.

(Washington Gladden, D. D.)

In modern days the first aim of all Christian parents is to place their "children in circumstances where the temptations (which they are apt to call "opportunities') maybe as great and as many as possible; where the sight and the promise "of all these things" in Satan's gift may be brilliantly near, and where the act of "falling down to worship me" may be partly concealed by the shelter, and partly excused as involuntary, by the pressure of the concurrent crowd.

(John Ruskin.)

I have read in history that two men were condemned to die as martyrs in the burning days of Queen Mary. One of them boasted very loudly to his companion of his confidence that he should play the man at the stake. He did not mind the suffering, he was so grounded in the gospel that he knew he should never deny it. He said that he longed for the fatal morning even as a bride for the wedding. His companion in prison in the same chamber was a poor, trembling soul, who could not and would not deny his Master; but he told his companion that he was very much afraid of the fire. He said he had always been very sensitive of suffering, and he was in great dread that when he began to barn the pain might cause him to deny the truth. He besought his friend to pray for him, and he spent his time very much in weeping over his weakness and crying to God for strength. The other continually rebuked him, and chided him for being so unbelieving and weak. When they both came to the stake, he who had been so bold recanted at the sight of the fire and went back ignominiously to an apostate's life, while the poor trembling man whose prayer had been, "Lead me not into temptation," stood firm as a rock, praising and magnifying God as he was burnt to a cinder.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

"Lead us not into temptation." O strange and mysterious privilege, that some bedridden woman in a lonely garret, who feels that she is tempted to distrust the love and mercy of Him who sent His Son to die for the helpless, should wrestle with that doubt, saying the Lord's prayer; and that she should be thus asking help for those who are dwelling in palaces, who scarcely dream of want, yet in their own way are in peril great as hers; for the student, who, in his chamber, is haunted with questions which would seem to her monstrous and incredible, but which to him are agonizing; for the divine in his terrible assaults from cowardice, despondency, vanity, from the sense of his own heartlessness, from the shame of past neglect, from the appalling discovery of evils in himself which he has denounced in others, from vulgar outward temptations into which he had proudly fancied that he could not fall, from dark suggestions recurring often, that words have no realities corresponding to them, that what he speaks of may mean nothing, because to him it has often meant so little. Of all this the sufferer knows nothing, yet for these she prays — and for the statesman who fancied the world could be moved by his wires, and suddenly finds that it has wires of its own which move without his bidding; for her country under the pressure of calamities which the most skilful seek in vain to redress; for all other countries in their throes of anguish which may terminate in a second death or a new life. For one and all she cries, "Lead us not into temptation." Their temptations and hers, different in form, are the same in substance. They, like her, ate tempted to doubt that God is, and that He is the author of good, and not of evil; and that He is mightier than the evil; and that He can and will overthrow it, and deliver the universe out of it. This is the real temptation, there is no other. All events, all things and persons, are bringing this temptation before us; no man is out of the reach of it who is in God's world; no man is intended to be out of the reach of it who is God's child. We must not crave quarter from the enemy: to choose for ourselves where we shall meet him, is to desert that guardianship in which is all safety. But we may cry, "Lead us not into temptation," and praying so we pray against ourselves, against our evil tendencies, our eagerness for that which will ruin us. Praying so, that which seemed to be poison becomes medicine; all circumstances are turned to good; honey is gathered out of the carcase; death itself is made the minister of life.

(F. D. Maurice, M. A.)

Dr. Talmage once stood on an anniversary platform with a clergyman who told this marvellous story: "Thirty years ago two young men started out to attend Park Theatre, New York, to see a play which made religion ridiculous and hypocritical. They had been brought up in Christian families. They started for the theatre to see that vile play, and their early convictions came back upon them. They felt it was not right to go, but still they went. They came to the door of the theatre. One of the young men stopped and started for home, but returned and came up to the door, but had not the courage to go in. He again started for home, and went home. The other young man went in. He went from one degree of temptation to another. Caught in the whirl of frivolity and sin, he sank lower and lower. He lost his business position. He lost his morals. He lost his soul. He died a dreadful death, not else star of mercy shining on it. I stand before you to-day," said that minister, "to thank God that for twenty years I have been permitted to preach the gospel. I am the other young man."

1. It is not implied in the petition that God is our tempter. But —

2. It does imply that, in some way, God has a control over the influences or the powers that tempt us.

3. The petition implies on the part of us who offer it —(1) That we feel our weakness;(2) That we shall be watchful against the circumstances and conditions in which temptation is likely to find us;(3) That we shall keep ourselves mindful of our particular weaknesses;(4) That we shall quicken ourselves to watchfulness by keeping mindful of the sad results that can come from yielding to temptation;(5) That we keep ourselves aware of the fact that temptation usually comes in some fair disguise;(6) That we are watchful against the first approaches of sin, the first steps in evil.

(G. W. Field, D. D.)We must not flatter ourselves that this petition will be granted in its full extent. We must not flatter ourselves that God will enable us to go through life without being exposed to any sort of temptation. For this world is a place of trial and discipline. Now without some kind of temptation we should have no trials, and no opportunity of exercising several of the Christian graces. It is only in war and in battle that the soldier — and the Christian, remember, is God's soldier — can learn his duty thoroughly. He may learn to handle his arms in peace; but the coolness, the quickness, the watchfulness, the caution, the steady, unbending courage, which distinguish the veteran from the recruit, are only to be gained on actual service. So it is only by actual service against God's enemies, it is only by passing through temptations and trials, that the Christian can be trained to his work. He needs to be taught the lesson of his own weakness. He needs to be taught to watch and guard against the surprises and stratagems of the foe. He needs to be perfected in faith and patience. How is all this to be done, if he is kept, like a plant under a glass, from every breath and touch of temptation? No; we shall assuredly be led into temptation whether we pray against it or not; because there is no earthly road to heaven but has its own pitfalls and its own snares. This is a sad but certain truth; and I should only deceive you were I to tell you otherwise.

(A. W. Hare.)

— "Lead us not into temptation." Doth God lead- into temptation? God doth permit sin, but doth not promote it. He who is an encourager of holiness cannot be a patron of sin. God doth not tempt to that which He hath an antipathy against. What king will tempt his subjects to break those laws which he himself hath established? But is it not said, God tempted Abraham? Tempting there was no more than trying. God tried Abraham's faith, as a goldsmith tries gold in the fire; but there is a great deal of difference between God's trying His people's grace, and exciting their corruptions. Whence do temptations come? From ourselves. The heart is the breeder of all evil. The heart is a perfect decoy.

2. Temptations come from Satan. He is called "the tempter"; he lies in ambush to do us mischief, "he is always ready for battle"; the devil lays a train of temptation to blow up the fort of our grace. A saint's whole life, saith Austin, is a temptation. That we may see in what danger we are of Satan's temptations — consider(1) his malice in tempting. Satan envies man's happiness; to see a clod of dust so near to God, and himself, once a glorious angel, cast out of the heavenly paradise, this makes him pursue mankind with inveterate hatred. Consider(2) Satan's diligence in tempting — "he walketh about." He neglects no time; he who would have us idle, yet he himself is always busied. Like Marcellus, a Roman captain Hannibal speaks of, whether he was conquered, or did conquer, he was never quiet. More particularly, Satan's diligence in tempting is seen in this.(a) If he gets the least advantage by temptation, he pursues it to the utmost. If his motion to sin begins to take, he follows it close and presseth to the act of sin.(b) Again, Satan's diligence in tempting is seen in this, the variety of temptations he useth. He doth not confine himself to one sort of temptation, he hath more plots than one. He will tempt them to leave off ordinances; he will pretend revelations. Error damns as well as vice; the one pistols, the other poisons. Consider(3) Satan's power in tempting. He is called "the prince of the world," and the "strong man." He is full of power, being an angel; though Satan hath lost his holiness, yet not his strength. The devil's power in tempting is seen several ways.(a) He, as a spirit having an intellectual being, can convey himself into the fancy, and poison it with bad thoughts.(b) Satan, though he cannot compel the will, yet he can present pleasing objects to the senses, which have a great force in them.(c) The devil can excite and stir up the corruption within, and work some inclinableness in the heart to embrace the temptation; thus he stirred up corruption in David's heart, and provoked him to number the people. Satan can blow the spark of lust into a flame.(d) Herein lies much of his power, that he being a spirit, can so strangely convey his temptations into our minds, that we cannot easily discern whether they come from Satan, or from ourselves; whether they are his suggestions, or the natural births of our own hearts. A bird may hatch the egg of another bird, thinking it is her own; often we hatch the devil's motions, thinking they come from our own hearts.(e) Satan's power in tempting appears by the long experience he hath gotten in the art; he hath been a tempter well nigh as long as he hath been an angel. Who are fitter for action than men of experience? Who is fitter to steer a ship than an old experienced pilot?(4) Consider Satan's subtlety in tempting. He hath several sorts of subtlety in tempting.(a) The devil observes the natural temper and constitution. The devil doth not know the hearts of men, but he may feel their pulse, know their temper, and so accordingly can apply himself. As the husbandman knows what seed is proper to sow in such a soil, so Satan finding out the temper, knows what temptations are proper to sow in such a heart. That way the tide of a man's constitution runs, that way the wind of temptation blows; Satan tempts the ambitious man with a crown, the sanguine man with beauty, the covetous man with a wedge of gold. He provides savoury meat, such as the sinner loves.(b) Satan chooseth the fittest season to tempt in. As a cunning angler casts in his angle when the fish will bite best; the devil can hit the very joint of time when a temptation is likeliest to prevail. There are several seasons he tempts in. In our first initiation and entrance into religion, when we have newly given up our names to Christ. The devil tempts when he finds us idle, unemployed. When a person is reduced to outward wants and straits, now is the devil's tempting time. Satan tempts after an ordinance. Why cloth Satan choose this time to tempt in, after an ordinance? One would think this were the most disadvantageous time, for now the soul is raised to an heavenly frame. Malice puts Satan upon it. The ordinances that cause fervour in a saint, cause fury in Satan. As after a full meal, men are apt to grow drowsy, so after we have had a full meal at an ordinance, we are apt to slumber and grow secure, and now Satan shoots his arrow of temptation, and hits us between the joints of our armour. Satan tempts after some discoveries of God's love. Satan, like a pirate, sets on a ship that is richly laden; so when a soul hath been laden with spiritual comforts, now the devil will be shooting at him to rob him of all. Satan tempts when he sees us weakest. He breaks over the hedge where it is lowest. A subtle policy of Satan in tempting is, he baits his hook with religion; the devil can hang out Christ's colours, and tempt to sin under pretences of piety. Now he is the white devil, and transforms himself into an angel of light. Subtlety of Satan is, to tempt to sin gradually. The old serpent winds himself in by degrees, he tempts first to lesser sins, that so he may bring on greater. Satan's policy is to hand over temptations to us by those whom we least suspect. Some, like the spunge, suck in Satan's temptations. There are five sorts of persons that Satan cloth most fit for brooding upon by his temptations.

1. Ignorant persons. The devil can lead them into any snare; you may lead a blind man any whither.

2. Satan tempts unbelievers. An unbeliever will stick at no sin; luxury', perjury, injustice.

3. Satan tempts proud perseus; these he hath more power of. None is in greater danger of falling by a temptation than he who stands high in his own conceit.

4. Melancholy persons. Melancholy is a black humour, seated chiefly in the brain. Melancholy clothes the mind in sable; it doth disturb reason; Satan doth work much upon this humour. Subtlety of Satan is, to give some little respite, and seem to leave off tempting a while, that he may come on after with more advantage. Satan, by feigning a flight, and leaving off tempting a while, causeth security in persons, and they think they are safe, and are become victors, when on a sudden, Satan falls on, and wounds them. Subtlety of the old serpent is, either to take men off from the use of means, or to make them miscarry in the use of means. Satan endeavours to discourage from duty by objecting want of success. Satan knows duties done superficially were as good to be left undone. That prayer that doth not pierce the heart will never pierce heaven. Satan can colour over sin with the name and pretence of virtue. The next subtlety of Satan is, he labours to ensnare us by lawful things. More are hurt by lawful things than unlawful, as more are killed with wine than poison; gross sins affright, but how many take a surfeit and die, in using lawful things inordinately? Subtlety of Satan is to make the duties of our general and particular calling hinder and justle out one another. Subtlety of Satan in tempting is, to misrepresent true holiness, that he may make others out of love with it. He paints the face of religion full of scars, and with seeming blemishes, that he may create in the minds of men prejudice against it. Subtlety of Satan in tempting is, to draw men off from the love of the truth to embrace error, "that they should believe a lie." Satan is called in Scripture not only an unclean spirit, but a lying spirit. As an unclean spirit, so he labours to defile the soul with lust; and as a lying spirit, so he labours to corrupt the mind with error; and indeed this is dangerous, because many errors do look so like the truth, as alchemy represents true gold. Satan thus beguiles souls. Another subtlety of Satan is, to bewitch and ensnare men, by setting pleasing baits before them: the riches, pleasures, honours of the world "all this will I give thee." How many doth Satan tempt with this golden apple! Subtlety of Satan in tempting is, to plead necessity. The tradesman pleads a necessity of unlawful gain, else he cannot live; another pleads a necessity of revenge, else his credit would be impaired; thus Satan tempts men to sin, by telling them of the necessity. Subtlety of Satan in tempting is, to draw men to presumption. Presumption is a confidence without ground; it is made up of two ingredients, audacity and security; this temptation is common. Subtlety of Satan in tempting is, to carry on his designs against us under the highest pretences of friendship; he thus puts sugar upon his bait, and dips his poisoned pills in sugar. Subtlety is, when Satan hath tempted men to sin, he persuades them to keep his counsel; like them that have some foul disease, they will rather die than tell the physician. Subtlety of Satan is, to make use of fit tools and engines, for the carrying on of his work; that is, he makes use of such persons as may be likely means to promote his tempting designs. Subtlety of Satan in tempting is, he, in his temptation, strikes at some grace more than others; as in tempting, he aims at some persons more than others, so he aims at some grace more than others; and if he can prevail in this, he knows what an advantage it will be to him. If you ask, what grace is it that Satan in his temptations doth most strike at? I answer, it is the grace of faith; he lays the train of his temptations to blow up the fort of our faith. "Fight neither with small nor great, save only with the king." So faith is, as it were, the king of the graces; it is a royal, princely grace, and puts forth the most majestic and noble acts, therefore Satan fights chiefly with this kingly grace.

1. Because this is the grace doth Satan most mischief; it makes the most resistance against him — "whom resist steadfast in the faith." No grace doth more bruise the serpent's head than faith.

2. Satan strikes most at our faith, and would weaken and destroy it, because faith hath a great influence upon the other graces; faith sets all the graces a-work. Like some rich clothier, that gives out a stock of wool to the poor and sets them all a-spinning, so faith gives out a stock to all the other graces, and sets them a-working. Subtlety of Satan in tempting is, in broaching those doctrines that are flesh-pleasing. Satan knows the flesh loves to be gratified, it cries out for ease and liberty; it will not endure any yoke unless it be lined and made soft. The devil will be sure so to lay his bait of temptation as to please and humour the flesh. He who sells cheapest shall have most customers; the devil knows this is a cheap easy doctrine, which will please the flesh, and he doth not doubt but he shall have customers enough. Subtlety of Satan in tempting to the act of sin is, the hope of returning out of it by speedy repentance. Subtlety of Satan in tempting is, to persuade men to delay their repenting and turning to God. He saith, "the time is not come." Subtlety of Satan in tempting is, to infringe and weaken the saints' peace. If he cannot destroy their grace, he will disturb their peace.By what arts and methods doth Satan, in tempting, disturb the saints' peace?

1. Satan slily conveys evil thoughts, and then makes a Christian believe they come from his own heart. The cup was found in Benjamin's sack, but it was of Joseph's putting in; so a child of God often finds atheistical, blasphemous thoughts in his mind, but Satan hath cast them in.

2. Satan disturbs the saints' peace, by drawing forth their sins in the most black colours, to affright them, and make them ready to give up the ghost.From this subtlety of Satan in tempting, let me draw three inferences.

1. It may administer matter of wonder to us how any soul is saved.

2. Is Satan subtle? See then what need we have to pray to God for wisdom to discern the snares of Satan, and strength to resist them. Why doth God suffer his saints to be so hurried and buffeted by Satan's temptations?The Lord doth it for many wise and holy ends.

1. He lets them be tempted to try them. "Temptation is the touchstone of sincerity." By temptation God tries our love.

2. God suffers His children to be tempted that they may be kept from pride. The thorn in the flesh was to prick the bladder of pride; better is that temptation that humbles me, than that duty which makes me proud.

3. God lets His people be tempted, that they may be fitter to comfort others who are in the same distress; they can speak a word in due season to such as are weary. A man that hath rid over a place where there are quicksands, is the fittest to guide men through that dangerous way.

4. God lets His children be tempted to make them long more for heaven, where they shall be out of gunshot; there they shall be freed from the hissing of the old serpent.What rocks of support are there, or what comfort for tempted souls?

1st That is not our case alone, but hath been the case of God's eminent saints.

2nd Rock of support, that may comfort a tempted soul, is, that temptations, where they are burdens, evidence grace.

3rd Rock of support or comfort is, that Jesus Christ is near at hand, and stands by us in all our temptations.

1. Christ's sympathy in our temptations.

2. Christ's succour in temptation. Christ's agility in succouring. How and in what manner doth Christ succour them that are tempted? Several ways:(1) Christ succours them, by sending His Spirit, whose work it is to bring those promises to their mind, which are fortifying.(2) Christ succours them that are tempted by His blessed "interceding for them."(3) Christ succours His people by taking off the tempter.

4th Rock of support. The best man may be most tempted.

5th Rock of support. Satan can go no farther in tempting than God will "give him leave"; the power of the tempter is limited.

6th Rock of support. It is not the having a temptation makes guilty, but the giving consent.

7th Rock of support. Our being tempted is no sign of God's hating us.

8th Rock of support. Christ's temptation was for our consolation.

9th Rock of support. The saints' temptation shall not be above their strength. The lutenist will not stretch the strings of his lute too hard.

10th Rock of support. These temptations shall produce much good. See in what continual danger we are. See man's inability of himself to resist temptation. Here is matter of humiliation, that there is in us such an aptitude and proneness to yield to temptation. See hence, a Christian's life is no easy life; it is military. Exhortation: Let us labour that we be not overcome by temptation.

1. Avoid solitariness.

2. If you would not be overcome of temptation, beware of the predominancy of melancholy.

3. If you would not be overcome of temptation study sobriety; "be sober, because your adversary walketh about."

4. Be always upon your guard; watch against Satan's wiles and subtleties.

5. Beware of idleness; Satan sows most of his seed in fallow ground.

6. Make known thy case to some godly friend; the hiding a serpent in the bosom is not the way to be safe.

7. Make use of the Word. This the apostle calls "the sword of the Spirit"; a fit weapon to fight against the tempter.

8. Let us be careful of our own hearts that they do not decoy us into sin.

9. If you would not be overcome of temptation, flee the "occasions of sin." Occasions of sin have a great force in them to awaken lust within.

10. If you would not be overcome by temptation, make use of faith — "above all things take the shield of faith."

11. If you would not be overcome of temptation, be much in prayer.

12. If you would not be overcome of temptation be humble in your own eyes: such are nearest falling who presume of their own strength.

13. If you would not be foiled by temptation, do not enter into a dispute with Satan.

14. If we would not be overcome of Satan, let us put on Christian fortitude.

15. If we would not be overcome of a temptation, let us call in the help of others.

16. If we would not be overcome of temptation, let us make use of all the encouragements we can.

(J. Watson.)

I. This, then, is the meaning of life: it is a probation. The real problem of every man's existence is his own character, what it is and how it shall issue. And to this end everything is probing him. Adversity is probing him; prosperity is probing him; and not only life in its generals, but life in every one of its details, is probing him: Every influence he feels, whether of the Holy Spirit, or of the angels, or of his fellow-men, or of demons, probes him.

II. Observe now, that our heavenly Father, in His wise love, is sometimes pleased to subject us to unusual temptation, testing, probing. This is implied in the petition which His Son, our Lord, has taught us to offer: "Father, lead us not into temptation!" There is in this word "lead" a distinct, emphatic recognition of the Father's administration, or, as we say, providence. Our circumstances in life are not the result of chance on the one hand, or of fate on the other. Thus He led Abraham when He commanded him to offer up Isaac. It came to pass that God did tempt, i.e., try, prove, Abraham. And all this explains the prayer which our Lord bids us repeat: "Father, lead us not into temptation." It is the prayer of genuine humility and profoundest self-distrust.

III. Observe now, that each one is to offer this prayer not only for himself, but also for the whole world. Human society is a brotherhood of peril; let it therefore also be a brotherhood of intercession and sympathy and mutual help. In drawing our meditation to a close, let me beseech you to keep away from temptation as well as to pray against being led into it. And yet our heavenly Father, for purposes of testing us, of revealing us to ourselves, of developing, fortifying, and perfecting our characters, of animating others by the example of our steadfastness, may deem it best not to grant the petition which His own Son has taught us: "Lead us not into temptation." "Prayer, meditation, temptation, make the theologian," said the great ; and, let us add, not the theologian only, but also the Christian. Nothing so buttresses character as a great victory over a great foe.

(G. D. Boardman, D. D.)

All the changes that men meet with are trials of their character. was a very different man while the pupil of Seneca from what he was as the emperor of Rome. was a very different man in the early part of his reign from what he was in those voluptuous periods of his history during which he brought such reproach upon the throne. Men do not know themselves. Hazael the subject was a very different man from Hazael the prince. Who would have thought the youthful Mary, the Queen of England, the translator of the Gospels, would ever have deserved the appellation of the "bloody Mary"? Who would have supposed that Robespierre, once so sensitive to the sufferings of his fellow-men that he resigned a lucrative office under the government rather than condemn a culprit to the scaffold, would have filled Paris with blood; or that William Dodd, once so celebrated for his usefulness as a minister of Christ, would have been executed at Tyburn for forgery? Sometimes a mere change Of place, an unexpected conflict with an individual or a party, an unhappy alliance in business, or an unlooked-for alteration in public affairs, proves a touchstone to the character, before which truth and integrity wither, and gives a blow to the spirit of self-confidence, which is never so renewed that the sufferer can lift up his face before the world. Sometimes these very incidents result in a well-tested integrity and honour, prepare those who endure the trial for still severer conflicts, and furnish them for exemplary toil and sacrifices. They had this effect upon Abraham, Joseph, Nehemiah, Job, Jeremiah, Daniel, Paul, and thousands of others in later times.

1. The man who offers this request with a becoming spirit contemplates his exposure. The world is full of those who have been led away by temptation, who, before they were led astray, would have said that it could have had no influence upon them. Most of the boasting among men proceeds from the want of being tried. It should never be forgotten that a pardoned sinner is not past all peril. "Watch and pray," says the Saviour, "that ye enter not into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." This exposure to sin arises principally from the following sources: In every human being this side the grave there is a melancholy tendency to evil. There is a great deceiver, too, who is not only permitted to have the power, but is long practised in the arts of seduction.

2. This petition more especially contemplates as great an exception from this exposure as is consistent with the designs and will of God. While the petition, "lead us not into temptation," therefore, does not contemplate an entire exemption from temptation, it contemplates as great an exemption as is consistent with the will of our Father who is in heaven.

(G. Spring, D. D.)

Our English maketh a manifest difference betwixt "unto" and "into," which is worth the noting in this place. The latter implieth a degree further than the former. A man that cannot swim may be led unto a deep pool, and yet be safe enough; but if he be led into it he is in great danger of drowning except he be pulled out again. They who translate it, "Cast us not into temptation," do well express the sense.

(W. Gouge.)

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