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LUKE VII. 41, 42, 43.
There was a certain creditor, which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty.
And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?
Simon anfwered and faid, I fuppofe that he to whom he forgave moft. And he faid unto him, Thou haft rightly judged.
HESE words are a parable proposed by our Lord, to difplay the riches of forgiving grace, and the love it raises in the hearts of thofe that obtain it; the greater degree of love, the larger and greater the debt is, which is forgiven and cancelled by it.
The creditor spoken of, represents the great
By the debtors are set forth offending finners, among men.
Among these there is a difference, as fome owe more than others. Some may be faid to owe five hundred pence to God, others, comparatively,
but fifty but they agree in this, that they are equally infolvent, and have nothing wherewith to pay.
The creditor's dealing with them, is reprefented as most kind and endearing: He frankly forgave them both. But his eminent and abounding grace fhewn forth by difcharging fuch as are by far the greateft debtors, calleth and leadeth them to fhew greater love to him, than can ordinarily be expected to be fhewn by fuch as are keffer debtors, for their gracious discharge.
From the whole, we may obferve these fix things.
1. That finners are in debt to God, as having violated his law, and fo laid themselves open to the punishment threatened: The wages of fin is death.
2. Some have contracted greater guilt, and fo are more in debt to God than others, as having laid themselves open to greater punishment: front the greater advantages they have enjoyed, and abufed, they have more to answer for, and more to fear.
3. It is the common condition of finners indebted to God, that they have nothing to pay, nothing to fatisfy divine juftice, or redeem themfelves from deserved wrath. The redemption of the foul is precious, and for any thing that we can do, must ceafe for ever.
4. God is able and ready to forgive the greateft debt and debtors, as well as the leaft, those that owe five hundred pence, as well as those that owe fifty. The bible is full of this doctrine 'tis a faithful faying, and worthy of all
acceptation, that Chrift Jefus came into the world to fave finners.
5. Whom God forgives, he forgives freely: not excluding the fatisfaction of Chrift, but upon the account of it; which is fo far from leffening the freeness of that grace that forgives us, that it greatly exalts it: for, it was God himself that found the ranfom, and gave his Son to be the propitiation for our fins, wherein he commendeth his love to us.
6. Such as God has freely forgiven are bound to love him, and to love him the more, the greater the debt is which is forgiven them.
Under this our work will be to fhew,
I. That fome who have ran far in debt to God, have been forgiven.
II. What there is in forgiving grace, to be an argument for love in thofe to whom it is fhewn.
III. How God's grace, as freely forgiving greater debts, fhould lead the forgiven foul to love him the more.
I. Some who have ran far in debt to God, have been forgiven.
Manaffeb in the Old Teftament, and Paul, and Mary Magdalene, and fome of the Corinthians in the New, are inftances of this. And the order and invitation is ftill in force, Ifaiah lv. 7. Let the wicked forfake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. It may seem strange that a holy God should bear fo long with provoking finners, who fo many ways de
clare their enmity against him by their wicked works: but,
1. Thus he magnifies his patience, and proves it divine, the patience of God, and not of a creature, much lefs of a man. After God had reckoned up Ephraim's fins, and read the charge, when it might have been expected that fentence fhould follow, he declares, Hof. xi. 9. I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim; for I am God, and None but God, who is one of infinite patience, could bear with the multiplied injuries done in the world. But the more fin is multiplied, the more the patience and long-suffering of God is magnified.
The apostle Paul calls himself the chief of finners, and then adds, as to the patience exercifed towards him, 1 Tim. i. 16. Howbeit for this caufe I obtained mercy, that in me first Fefus Chrift might fhew forth all long-fuffering for a pattern, &c. What adorable patience is God able and vouchfafes to exercise towards provoking finners.
2. Some whose iniquities have abounded have been forgiven, for the greater exaltation of grace. It is the glory of man to pass by a tranfgreffion, Prov. xix. II. And it is the name God proclaims himself by, as his glory, that He is the Lord, the Lord God merciful and gracious, longJuffering and abundant in goodness and truth. He Fardoneth iniquity, tranfgreffion and fin.
Grace is thus exalted and glorified,
(1.) In its fulness; that fo where fin hath abounded, grace may much more abound. From VOL. II.
God's forbearance finners take the boldness to run deep on fcore, and when having nothing to pay, inftead of cafting them into prifon; be frankly forgives them all. Now what riches of grace muft it argue, to pardon and remit not only a few pence, but thousands of talents?
As to the forgivenefs of fins, and mens apprehenfions concerning the greatness of the grace of it, God declares, that as far as the heavens are higher than the earth, fo are his ways higher than their ways, and his thoughts than their thoughts, Ifaiah Iv. 9. The gofpel is intitled goodwill towards men, from affuring them of forgiveness with him for iniquity, tranfgreffion and fin. He keeps mercy for thousands in readinefs to deal it out, and cafteth their iniquities behind his back; and where fins are multipled, he has mercy in ftore to multiply to pardon. It is over and over repeated to a finful people, Jer. xxxiii. 8. I will cleanse them from all their iniquity, whereby they have finned against me, and I will pardon all their iniquities whereby they have finned, and whereby they have tranfgreffed against
(2.) Herein grace fhines in its freeness: which, that it may be regarded, it is God's method, before he makes the offer of pardon, to fum up what finners have been and done. See Ifaiah xliii. 22, 23, 24. But thou haft not called upon me, O Jacob, but thou hast been weary of me, O Ifrael. Thou haft not brought me the Small cattle of thy burnt-offerings, neither haft thou honoured me with thy facrifices, &c. Thou hast bought me. no fweet cane with money, neither haft thou filled