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that God will not permit the sin of ingratitude and unforgiveness to go unpunished.
The parable was introduced in the following manner: Jesus had been giving directions to his apostles how they should proceed in the cases of those who trespassed against them. Vers. 15—17. After this instruction had been delivered, Peter came to Jesus, and said, "how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?" 21. The reply of Jesus was, "I say not unto thee, until seven times, but until seventy times seven," i. e. without any limits,-a proverbial expression. And thus the Saviour introduces the parable. The dealings of God with men, in the kingdom of the gospel, are like those of a certain king, who would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him who owed an immense sum-ten thousand talents. But because he could not pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. This part of the parable is founded on an ancient Hebrew custom, of selling a man, and his family, to make payment of his debts. Exod. xxii 3. Lev. xxix. 39, 47. 2 Kings iv. 1. The servant fell down, and entreated his lord to have patience and he would pay him all, whereupon the lord was moved with compassion and forgave him the debt. Here was a lesson which ought not to have been lost upon him. The king granted his request; i. e. for the present he forbore to demand the payment, and put it off to a future time. This was all which the servant desired, vers. 26, 32, and all which is represented as being done, ver. 34. But instead of following the compassionate example of his master, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him
an hundred pence, a trifle to what he owed his lord, and he took him by the throat, and demanded payment. His fellow servant made the same request of him, that he had made of his lord, and which had been granted him; but he refused to grant it, and imprisoned him, till he should pay the debt. This act of injustice and ingratitude was reported to his lord, who called him, and said unto him, "O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: shouldst not thou also have had compassion on thy fellow servant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him." Jailors, in that age, used torture to obtain the confession of crime, or the payment of debts, if the debtor was supposed to have any property concealed; and sometimes, by the cruelty, to induce the relations of the prisoner to pay the debt for him. "So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts, forgive not every one his brother their trespasses;" i. e. God will punish you justly, for ingratitude and for a want of forgiveness. Cruelty is a greater sin in those who feel and know that they have had much forgiven, and such deserve a severer retribution, than those who are not sensible of the benefits which have been confered on them. We are not to suppose however, that Jesus meant that the conduct of the divine being towards the unforgiving, was, in all respects, like that of the lord who thrust his servant into prison, and delivered him to the tormentors, i. e. we are not from this to attribute any cruelty to God. For first, nothing is more foreign to his nature; and second, nothing is more foreign to the nature of Christ, the author of the parable;
and third, this would be charging upon God the very conduct which was so highly disapproved in the unforgiving servant. The great sin charged on him was, that he refused to forgive, and treated his debtor with cruelty; and from this to charge the same conduct on God, would be to subvert the very design of the parable, which was to inculcate the virtue of forgiveness.
It is plainly to be perceived, that Jesus'intended, by this parable, to make the divine charac'er the great foundation of human rectitude, and to shew men what they ought to do, by refering them to the conduct of the divine being. When he inculcated the duty of benevolence, in his sermon on the mount, he predicated the obligation of men to exercise this spirit towards one another, of the fact that God exercised the same spirit toward all mankind. See Matt. v. 44-48 and Luke vi. 32-36. He exhorted men to love their enemies, to bless such as cursed them, to do good to such as hated them; and to encourage them in such a course of conduct, he pointed to the dealings of God with men. “He maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." "He is kind unto the unthankful and to the cvil." And to shew that he made the divine conduct the foundation or criterion of human rectitude, he closed that beautiful moral lesson by saying, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect." The object of the parable before us, was to teach that men ought to reflect on the dealings of God with them, and discharge their obligations for his kindness to them, by a tender and compassionate conduct towards their fellow creatures. This parable Jesus carried out, and ended, according to the prevalent habits and cus
toms; but not with any design, as we have said, to represent any cruelty in the divine administration, since that would charge on God, the very conduct condemned in the servant. The great truth is made sufficiently plain, that a want of forgiveness in those who are sensible they have been forgiven, is doubly sinful, and shall not escape an adequate punishment.
It is of the first importance, that we notice here, that men should never ascribe any disposition, conduct or attribute to God, which they would regret to see in man. The character of God is the standard of perfection. "Be ye perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect." Whatever is right in God, is right in his creatures. Whatever is justice in him, is justice in us. Whatever is mercy in him, is mercy in us. Whatever is wrong in us, would be more highly wrong in him, and whatever unjust in us, would be more highly unjust in him Hence God enjoins it upon us, to be holy, for he is holy. The holiness of God is such a holiness as we need; and therefore a right state of mind is called a conformity and a reconciliation to him. How important a lesson is this to those who ascribe to God a disposition and purposes which would disgrace mankind. Cruelty and partiality are the distinguishing characteristics of much of the divinity of the present age; and we are sorry to say, that the conduct of those who have maintained this divinity, has too often conformed to it. The gospel breathes the spirit of "peace on earth, and good will to men;" and those who have imbibed this gospel, will find it operating on their hearts, to induce them to "love their enemies," and to "be kind to the unthankful and to the evil."
Parable of the Good Samaritan.
LUKE X. 30-35.
"A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow, when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again I will repay thee."
THE Occasion which called forth this parable, will be seen in the passage which immediately precedes it. It seems that a certain lawyer came, with no very good motives, to the Saviour, and put this question; Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?' In return Jesus said to him, 'what is written in the law? how readest thou? The lawyer replied with a quotation from the law'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.' Jesus informed him that he had answered correctly, and added, 'this do, and thou shalt live.' It occurred to the lawyer prohably, that he might be suspected by Jesus of having violated that part