Matthew 18

* The importance of humility. (1-6) Caution against offences.

(7-14) The removal of offences. (15-20) Conduct towards

brethren, The parable of the unmerciful servant. (21-35)

1-6 Christ spoke many words of his sufferings, but only one of

his glory; yet the disciples fasten upon that, and overlook the

others. Many love to hear and speak of privileges and glory, who

are willing to pass by the thoughts of work and trouble. Our

Lord set a little child before them, solemnly assuring them,

that unless they were converted and made like little children,

they could not enter his kingdom. Children, when very young, do

not desire authority, do not regard outward distinctions, are

free from malice, are teachable, and willingly dependent on

their parents. It is true that they soon begin to show other

dispositions, and other ideas are taught them at an early age;

but these are marks of childhood, and render them proper emblems

of the lowly minds of true Christians. Surely we need to be

daily renewed in the spirit of our minds, that we may become

simple and humble, as little children, and willing to be the

least of all. Let us daily study this subject, and examine our

own spirits.
7-14 Considering the cunning and malice of Satan, and the

weakness and depravity of men's hearts, it is not possible but

that there should be offences. God permits them for wise and

holy ends, that those who are sincere, and those who are not,

may be made known. Being told before, that there will be

seducers, tempters, persecutors, and bad examples, let us stand

on our guard. We must, as far as lawfully we may, part with what

we cannot keep without being entangled by it in sin. The outward

occasions of sin must be avoided. If we live after the flesh, we

must die. If we, through the Spirit, mortify the deeds of the

body, we shall live. Christ came into the world to save souls,

and he will reckon severely with those who hinder the progress

of others who are setting their faces heavenward. And shall any

of us refuse attention to those whom the Son of God came to seek

and to save? A father takes care of all his children, but is

particularly tender of the little ones.
15-20 If a professed Christian is wronged by another, he ought

not to complain of it to others, as is often done merely upon

report, but to go to the offender privately, state the matter

kindly, and show him his conduct. This would generally have all

the desired effect with a true Christian, and the parties would

be reconciled. The principles of these rules may be practised

every where, and under all circumstances, though they are too

much neglected by all. But how few try the method which Christ

has expressly enjoined to all his disciples! In all our

proceedings we should seek direction in prayer; we cannot too

highly prize the promises of God. Wherever and whenever we meet

in the name of Christ, we should consider him as present in the

midst of us.
21-35 Though we live wholly on mercy and forgiveness, we are

backward to forgive the offences of our brethren. This parable

shows how much provocation God has from his family on earth, and

how untoward his servants are. There are three things in the

parable: 1. The master's wonderful clemency. The debt of sin is

so great, that we are not able to pay it. See here what every

sin deserves; this is the wages of sin, to be sold as a slave.

It is the folly of many who are under strong convictions of

their sins, to fancy they can make God satisfaction for the

wrong they have done him. 2. The servant's unreasonable severity

toward his fellow-servant, notwithstanding his lord's clemency

toward him. Not that we may make light of wronging our

neighbour, for that is also a sin against God; but we should not

aggravate our neighbour's wronging us, nor study revenge. Let

our complaints, both of the wickedness of the wicked, and of the

afflictions of the afflicted, be brought to God, and left with

him. 3. The master reproved his servant's cruelty. The greatness

of sin magnifies the riches of pardoning mercy; and the

comfortable sense of pardoning mercy, does much to dispose our

hearts to forgive our brethren. We are not to suppose that God

actually forgives men, and afterwards reckons their guilt to

them to condemn them; but this latter part of the parable shows

the false conclusions many draw as to their sins being pardoned,

though their after-conduct shows that they never entered into

the spirit, or experienced the sanctifying grace of the gospel.

We do not forgive our offending brother aright, if we do not

forgive from the heart. Yet this is not enough; we must seek the

welfare even of those who offend us. How justly will those be

condemned, who, though they bear the Christian name, persist in

unmerciful treatment of their brethren! The humbled sinner

relies only on free, abounding mercy, through the ransom of the

death of Christ. Let us seek more and more for the renewing

grace of God, to teach us to forgive others as we hope for

forgiveness from him.
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