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debtors,” this is not to be understood in the ordinary, but in a spiritual sense; since no one would suppose that a faithful Christian is obliged to remit all his debts out of pure love. Our Lord merely enjoins us to forgive those injuries done to our well-being and honour, the forgiveness of which is essential to love; but it is by no means inconsistent with fraternal charity, that one man should be debtor to another, unless when extreme necessity, or oppressive circumstances, would even here raise an exception. When, however, there is no debt which really calls for restitution, but merely some other injury, such as of honour, here the important • as' steps forward, and prescribes to the Christian a peaceful magnanimity, where, in common and earthly views, revenge would be inculcated.
In the history of St. Christopher it is related, that when brought before the Prætor to give an account of his faith, one of the attendants struck him on the face. St. Christopher, possessed of no less courage than strength of body, cast a significant look at the cowardly man, and said threateningly, ‘Were I not a Christian.' These words need no comment. Were I not a Christian, were I not bound by the commands of Christ, well would I teach you, miserable creature, to strike me again. And, truly, how is it possible that anger and a desire of retaliation should not be excited by an injury? This is a natural feeling. And who can despise a Christian for not seeking revenge? Were I not a Christian, I would be revenged. And if I were not a Christian, what should I be? A child of wrath, a slave of dark
“ He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness even till now.” Were I not a Christian, I should be without an atonement, without joy, without a hope of light or life, without counsel, without grace, without a way to God.
But I AM A CHRISTIAN, and therefore belong to Christ, and follow His holy precepts, His living example, in order that, by forgiving, I may enter into His merit, and find eternal forgiveness.
And lead us not into Temptation.
ETWEEN the promises of
Scripture which are affirmative, and those which are ne
gative, there exists this great and essential difference, that the latter are universal ; whereas the former are limited, and are to
be understood in a restricted and conditional sense.
Thus there is the promise, “He who believeth and is baptised shall be saved,” and this is affirmative. It is also written, “ He that believeth not shall be condemned,” which sentence is negative. Is it, then, without exceptions ? He who is truly a Christian can here raise no objection ; for without faith salvation is impossible. Yet we cannot presume to decide whether Divine love does not avail itself of many means whereby to call him who is, without fault, an unbeliever, in the last moments of his life, into the bright region of faith, into the bosom of His Church, and unto happiness ; and therefore it is not here said,
He who believeth not, and is not baptised,' but only, “He who believeth not ;' for besides the ordinary baptism, there is also one in desire. But in the affirmative promise it is very different : “He who believeth and is baptised” shall be saved. An essential condition is here implied—the condition of perseverance in the life-giving faith, and of compliance with all the duties to which man is bound by faith and baptism. · And thus it is with regard to the important truth contained in the fifth petition. When announced negatively it is universal. “ If you forgive not men their offences, neither will your heavenly Father forgive you your offences.” But in an affirmative form it is different : If you forgive men their offences, your heavenly Father will forgive you also your offences. For this condition is by no means the only one, the fulfilment of which will secure to us eternal forgiveness. There are also other conditions which must necessarily be ob. served. In vain shall we pardon our enemies, unless we persevere in holiness of faith, of morals, and of action.
The more we consider the greatness of our manifold duties, the more sensibly do we feel the difficulty of their fulfilment, and the numerous occasions of transgression or neglect, and consequently of new offences, which present themselves. Hence to the “and of the fifth petition—"and forgive us our trespasses”—we add another and ;' and assist us that we fall not into sin : “ and lead us not into temptation.”
And what is that which will particularly strike us in this petition ? The preceding petitions are all affirmative: “Hallowed be Thy name,” &c., as is also the last, “ Deliver us from evil.” This alone is in the negative form ; as though we here petitioned for something which God should not perform, or as if we wished to
avert something which He was about to perform. Does not the Apostle declare, “God is true; in Him there is not yes and no, but all His promises are yes." (2 Cor. i.) We do not indeed pray, ' Lead us not into error;' for God is truth, and cannot lead into error. Neither do we pray, 'Lead us not into darkness—lead us not into misery;' for how can we ascribe this to the Light and Blessedness itself ? But we petition that we be not led into temptation. Thus we arrive at the inquiry, what is temptation ? especially in as far as it concerns man; and secondly, why does God lead us into temptation, and in what sense do we pray that He would not lead us ?
As it would be a vain and unbecoming endeavour to seek the answer to these inquiries, and the signification of the entire petition, without some previous reflection, we will first ask, what is it to tempt a person ? It is to place him in such circumstances, that, by their influence upon him, and his corresponding influence upon them, we may discover his dispositions and mind. Thus the chemist tries or tempts minerals and stones by submitting them to the fire, to acids, or to other dissolving powers, to discover what metal is contained in them, and also its proportion. One man is also tried by another, when he is placed in circumstances and difficulties whereby his prudence, his uprightness, and his whole mind are discovered.
Does God, then, apply to the human soul these means of discernment? To this the Scriptures bear evidence, when, in their figurative language, they so often declare, that the Lord conducts His chosen through fire and water ; that He tries them in the furnace of