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vidences for our good; as David says, when he speaks of God's suffering Shimei to curse him: It may be, that the Lord will look on mine affliction, and that the Lord will requite me good for his cursing this day, 2 Sam. xvi. 12.
3. When we forgive those that have injured us, it is, with an earnest desire that God would give them repentance, that thereby his name may be glorified, and his interest promoted, whatever becomes of our name and usefulness in the world.When we are enabled to exercise such a frame of spirit as this in forgiving those that have injured us, we have ground to hope, that when we pray for forgiveness, the great God, who is the author of all that grace which we exercise in forgiving others, will grant us this invaluable privilege.
Having explained this petition, we shall now consider it as a directory, that so we may put up our requests to God, agreeable thereunto: Accordingly we are to cast ourselves before his footstool, with humble confession of sin, and imploring forgiveness from him, to this purpose: "We adore thee, O Lord,
as a God of purer eyes than to behold iniquity. Thou hast "commanded us to keep thy precepts, and hast revealed thy "wrath from heaven against all ungodliness, and unrighteous"ness of men: We acknowledge that we are, by our trans"gressions, become debtors to thy justice; our iniquities are "increased over our head, and our trespasses grown up unto "the heavens; and thereby we have deserved to be banished "out of thy sight, and cast into the prison of hell, without hope "of being released from thence. We are not able to stand in "judgment, and therefore we dread the thoughts of appearing "before thine awful tribunal, as an absolute God. If thou "shouldest contend with us, we cannot answer for the least sin "that we have committed; and it would be an injury to thy "justice, and an increasing of our guilt, to expect or desire, "that thou shouldest pardon our sins without receiving satis"faction for them, which we are sensible that we are not, nor "ever shall be able to give thee. But we bless thy name, that "thou hast sent thy well-beloved Son into the world, who gave "his life a ransom for thy people; by which means thy justice "is satisfied, thy law fulfilled, and all thy perfections infinitely "glorified: He hath finished transgression, made an end of
sin, made reconciliation for iniquity, and brought in ever"lasting righteousness; which is to and upon all them that "believe. Thou hast therefore given us leave, and encouraged "us to come to thee by faith, to plead with thee for redemp"tion and forgiveness through his blood, according to the "riches of thy grace. In him thou art a God, pardoning the "iniquity, and passing by the transgressions of the remnant of thine heritage: Therefore we pray for this invaluable privi
"lege as those who humbly hope and trust that we have those graces wrought in us, which are an evidence of our having "Christ's righteousness imputed to us, for which we bless "thee; and, in particular, that thou hast enabled us to forgive "all the injuries that are done us by our fellow creatures; "which are very small and inconsiderable, if compared with "those affronts which we daily offer to thy Majesty. We be"seech thee, grant that this, and all other graces, may more " and more abound in us, that thereby our evidences of an "interest in Christ's righteousness may be more strong and "clear; that though we daily contract guilt by our transgres❝sions, we may be enabled to conclude for our comfort, that "there is no condemnation to us, and that iniquity shall not "be our ruin."
QUEST. CXCV. What do we pray for in the sixth petition? ANSW. In the sixth petition, [which is, And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,] acknowledging that the most wise, righteous, and gracious God, for divers holy and just ends, may so order things, that we may be assaulted, foiled, and for a time, led captive by temptations, that Satan, the world, and the flesh, are ready, powerfully to draw us aside and ensnare us; and that we, even after the pardon of our sins, by reason of our corruption, weakness, and want of watchfulness, are not only subject to be tempted, and forward to expose ourselves unto temptations; but also, of ourselves, unable and unwilling to resist them, to recover out of them, and to improve them, and worthy to be left under the power of them; we pray, that God would so overrule the world, and all in it; subdue the flesh, and restrain Satan; order all things, bestow and bless all means of grace, and quicken us to watchfulness in the use of them, that we, and all his people may, by his providence, be kept from being tempted to sin; or, if tempted, that, by his Spirit, we may be powerfully supported and enabled to stand in the hour of temptation, or, when fallen, raised again and recovered out of it, and have a sanctified use and improvement thereof; that our sanctification and salvation may be perfected, Satan trodden under our feet, and we fully freed from sin, temptation, and all evil for ever.
UR Saviour having, in the foregoing petition, exhorted us to pray for forgiveness of sins, whereby the guilt of past crimes may be removed; in this he advises us to pray against temptation, lest being overcome thereby, we should
contract fresh guilt, and walk unbecoming those who hope for, or have obtained forgiveness from God.. In order to our understanding of which it will be necessary for us to premise something tending to explain the meaning of the word Temptation. Accordingly it may be taken in a good sense: Thus God himself is sometimes said to tempt, or rather, which is all one, to try his people. This he does by the various dispensations of his providence, whether prosperous or adverse. And sometimes by his commands, when he puts us upon the performance of difficult duties, that he might prove us, whether his fear is before us: In this respect he is said to have tempted Abraham, proved his faith, and discovered his readiness to obey his command in offering Isaac; and, after he had tried his faith, he commends him, when he says, Now I know that thou lovest God, Gen. xxii. 1, 12. And sometimes he is said to tempt, or allure, to what is good, Hos. ii. 14. to invite his people to do those things which redound to his glory and their real interest; and in this sense we may and ought to tempt others, to persuade, and, as much as in us lies, engage their affections to the performance of what is good: Thus the apostle advises us to consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works, Heb. x. 24.
We are not to understand the word temptation in these senses in this petition; but it is to be taken for our being tempted to sin, in which respect God never tempts any one: Thus the apostle says, Let no man say, when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted with evil; neither tempteth he any man, James i. 13. neither ought we to tempt one another thereunto. This being premised, we come more immediately to explain this petition: In which we shall consider some things which are supposed; and also the subjectmatter thereof.
I. There are several things supposed, when we are taught to pray, Lead us not into temptation. As,
i. That man, in this imperfect state, is very much exposed to temptations. The world is always ready to present its alluring objects, which are suited to the corruption of our nature, and therefore too easily complied with: And this is farther promoted by Satan's suggestions, who is daily endeavouring to entangle us in the snare that is laid for us.
2. As we are daily tempted to sin, so we are in great danger of being overcome thereby; which arises not only from the methods used to draw us aside from God, and the many secret snares laid for us, that are not easily discerned, but principally from the treachery of our own hearts, which are deceitful above all things, and very apt to incline us to commit those sins which bring a great deal of guilt with them. It also pro
ceeds sometimes from a want of watchfulness; whereby the enemy comes upon us undiscovered, and we are overcome before we are aware of it; the temptation offers itself, and we are unable, but willing, to resist it. And, if fallen by it, this tends still more to weaken us, so that we cannot recover ourselves from the pit into which we are plunged; we also find it very difficult, if God is pleased, at any time, to suffer us to fall by temptations, to improve them aright to his glory and our own good.
3. It is farther supposed, that God may suffer his people, though their sins are pardoned, and their souls sanctified, to be tempted, and sometimes even foiled and led captive for a time; which may give us occasion to consider,
(1.) In what sense he may be said to tempt, or lead his people into temptation. This he does, though without being the author of sin, (a)
(a) In our day and country there are some worthy men, who without fear, or scruple, affirm, that God is the author, and cause of sin; which words they soften to avoid the blasphemy, which they contain. We have in a note, I. vol. p. 530. given the sentiments of the late Dr. Williams, on the origination of sin. Being a proficient in the study of the human mind, he has philosophized a little on, but not essentially differed from the representation of the subject, as it is found in the writings of sound protestant divines. As some American writers advocate with considerable address, such divine causality, and publicly affirm it to have been taught by Luther, Calvin, &c. and to have found its place in our standards in the words-" foreordained whatsoever comes to pass" it is proper to resort to the ipsissima verba of some of the European protestant theolo gians, as a test of such allegations.
The Westminster divines, no doubt, entertained the same views of sin, which will be found in the following extracts. In their definition of sin, they not obscurely shew, that they did consider it not more a transgression of, than a want of conformity unto, the law. The former is the translation of avo in I. John iii. 4. which is rather privatio, defectus, or declinatio than transgressio legis. Also the Greek word aap, and the Hebrew on signify non consecutio scopi. H they viewed sin as a qualitas adventitia, a quiddam non positivum, a simplex privatio, a quiddam actioni inhærens, they could not have viewed it the proper sub. ject of a decree or purpose, but only as foreseen and permitted.
The following quotations are given in the authors' own words, for the satis faction of those who may not possess the works from which they are taken.
"Natura peccato corrupta est..-Aversio quædam voluntatis secuta est, ut homo nihil eorum velit aut faciat, quæ Deus vult et præcipit. Item quod nescimus, quid Deus, quid gratia, quid justitia, denique quid ipsum peccatum sit, Hi sunt profecto horribiles DEFECTUS, quos, qui non intelligunt; nec vident, talpa cœciores sunt." Mart. Lutheri Loc. Com. p. 23.
"Hæc Regula certa et vera est; Deum esse natura bonum, ideo nihil a Deo proficisci, nisi quod bonum est, mors autem est mala, peccatum etiam est malum, &c. Non igitur a Deo proficiscuntur mala hæc, &c. Peccati porro qua causa sit, si roges, sacræ literæ ostendunt, id ex Sathana esse, cui contra verbum Dei assenserunt nostri parentes, a Deo inobedientes facti, incurrerunt in horribiles panas. Nam per peccatum illud non solum corpora nostra sic infirmata sunt, ut ex immortalibus mortalia fierent, sed etiam mens depravata est. Amisit enim homo veram Dei notitiam, et voluntas quoque tum admodum est depravata, ut nihil quam malum appetat." Mart. Lutheri Loci Com. p. 22.
[1.] Objectively; when his providential dispensations, which, in themselves, are holy, just, and good, offer occasions of sin;
"Eant nunc qui Deum suis vitiis inscribere audent, quia dicimus naturaliter vitiosos esse homines. Opus Dei perperam in sua pollutione scrutantur, quod in integra adhuc et incorrupta Ada natura requirere debuerant. A carnis ergo nostræ culpa, non a Deo nostra perditio est, quando non alia ratione periimus, nisi quia degeneravimus a prima nostra conditione."-" Dicimus ergo naturali hominem vitiositate corruptum, sed quæ a natura non fluxerit. A natura fluxisse negamus, ut significemus adventitiam magis esse qualitatem que homini acciderit, quam substantialem proprietatem quæ ab initio indita fuerit. Vocamus tamen naturalem, nequis ab unoquoque prava consuetudine comparari putet, quum hæreditario jure universos comprehensos teneat." Calvini Institut. lib. II. cap. 1. sect. 10, 11.
"Sed cum nihil contingat in mundo, aut contingere possit sine justissima et sapientissima Dei providentia, annon, peccati author et causa dici potest? Absit, quippe qui illud odit, vetat, & punit, ut quod cum summâ ipsius bonitate pugnet." Bucani Theolog. p. 165.
"Deus non infundit malitiam in volentates malorum, sicut infundit bonitatem in corda piorum, nec impellit aut allicit voluntates ad peccandum; sed tantum malas voluntates, seu peccantes, quales invenit ex corruptione quæ sequuta est aversionem diabolorum et hominum a Deo, movet, ciet, flectit, inclinat, dirigit, sapienter, juste, potenter, ubi, quando, quomodo, et quousque vult, sive mediate, sive immediate, ad objecta vel persequenda, vel fugienda, ut impleant (quibus tale nihil propositum est) quod manus et consilium Domini decrevit. Bucani Theol. p. 153.
"Éstne peccatum originis Substantia an accidens?-Non est substantia; esset enim anima vel corpus. Jam vero corpus et anima quoad substantiam, sunt bonæ Dei creaturæ, quæ etiamnum creantur a Deo. Ergo non sunt peccatum. Nec substantialis est proprietas, aut aliquid substantiale in homine : sed est adventitia qualitas, quæ tamen naturalis dicitur, non quod à natura fluxerit (quatenus creata est) sed quia hæreditario jure ut dicitur, suos comprehensos tenet, et in ipsa hominis natura, viribus, et facultatibus naturalibus inhæret, et ipsi homini innata est." Bucani Theol. p. 174.
"Est-ne peccatum aliquid Positivum an Privativum?-Peccatum non est positivum, id est, quiddam subsistens a Deo conditum, nec est simpliciter et pura privatio, sicut mors est privatio vitæ, aut tenebræ sunt privatio lucis; sed est defectus seu destructio rei positiva, videlicit operis et ordinis divini in subjecto, quod culpam sustinet sua depravationis, aversionis a Deo, ut ruina in domo, cocitas et amissio visus in oculis." Bucani Theol. p. 167.
"Permissio est gubernatio Dei, quâ homines vel diabolos, ad peccandum pronos, a peccato non retrahit, sed gratiæ suæ auxilio negato vel subtracto, in peccata ruere sinit, ita tamen ut ipsorum impetum ad judiciorum suorum executionem flectat, et quæ pessimo ab ipsis concilio suscipiuntur, in fines optimos dirigat."
1. Deus in permissione mali culpo seu peccati, non est otiosus spectator, sed potens, justus, et sapiens judex: Itaque.
(1.) Efficax gratiæ suæ auxilium, sine quo non possunt non peccare in pecca tis mortui homines, negat vel subtrahit.
(2.) Homines vel diabolos ad peccandum natura et consuetudine pronos, sæpissime a peccatis non retrahit, quos tamen facillimè posset retrahere: sed in peccata ruere sinit.
(3.) Peccatum animis ipsorum susceptum, seu peccandi impetum ita moderatur, ut non in quævis objecta eum ferri patiatur, sed flectat et dirigat ad ejus modi objecta, vel homines, quos punire, castigare, vel explorare vult.
(4.) Quæ ab impiis hominibus, vel diabolis, malo fine, perpetrantur, in fines optimos dirigit.