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13 September, 2013

Avail Ourselves For the Performance of This Duty

Excerpt from Forgiveness of Injuries By John Angell James



......There are some things to be AVOIDED. We must not allow ourselves to be influenced by the incitements and persuasions of others. Forgiveness is not a palatable doctrine with the world, nor is it held in general esteem, and those who cannot practise it themselves, will hinder us from it if they can.

We must not brood over the offence, but endeavor as far as possible to forget it; every look at it, like a glance at a forbidden object, will excite our passions, and exasperate our feelings. Nor must we talk to other people of the injury we have received; for nothing is more likely to inflame our resentment than the recital of our wrongs. The man who is forward to tell of an injury, will ever remain backward to forgive it. The people to whom he relates the affair will generally have some similar tales of their own to tell, and in accompanying them with descriptions of the manner in which they received them, will propose, and with too much success, their own bad example for imitation.

2. There are some things to be CONSIDERED. For lack of consideration, duties are neglected, sins are committed, souls are ruined. We should all be holier and happier if we would but consider. It is a momentous word, CONSIDER.

We must consider that forgiveness must be practiced. We have no option; there is no room for doubt or dispute about it. It is not a matter we may or may not take up. We can no more with propriety refuse to forgive, than we can refuse to be chaste or honest.

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We must consider that we must do it. "Forgiveness," we must say, "is not only the duty of all, but it is my duty. I am the man who must practise it." We are very apt to shift obligation from ourselves as individuals, to the multitude. We lose ourselves in the crowd.

We must consider that it can be done-it is not impossible. Many have done it. The most irascible tempers have (by great pains) been controlled, and the most inexorable minds softened into meekness-and what others have done, we can do.

We should consider it to be an immediate duty; a duty in reference to the point in hand. Many who will read this tract are while they read it in a state of hostility against someone who has injured them. They have been insulted or wronged. You who are in this situation, you are the person to whom this duty applies. That very matter which now grieves, vexes, and irritates you, is the subject of the duty. You are to forgive that enemy, to pardon that offence. Now, at once you are to do it. You are to begin immediately. You are to lay down this tract and set yourself directly to the business of forgiveness. You are not to wait for the next offence-by taking proper steps to bring the offender to a right sense of the one already committed, you may prevent a repetition of it. You are not to wait until some future time. You may die without forgiving the offender, or he may die without confessing and lamenting his sin. Procrastination in this, as well as in every other duty, is likely to render its performance more difficult and more precarious.

3. There are some things to be DONE. The next time you go into your closet, (and you should go there for the very purpose), open your Bible, and read very solemnly and seriously the parable of the merciless creditor in Matthew 18. Pray to God before you begin, to give you grace to understand its meaning, and to see whether it applies to your case. When you have read it once, pause and say, "Can I now forgive?" If you can, fall down and give God thanks, and ask for grace to fulfill your purpose. If you cannot, read it over again, and say a second time, "Can I now forgive?" Read it again and again, until it has subdued you.
But if this fails, take with you this tract into your closet. Read it alone; read it through; read it with prayer-and when you have finished it, lay it down and say, "Can I now forgive?"

If your resentment is not yet subdued, then, "Commune with your own heart upon your bed and be still." At the night-time, when you are removed from the hurry of business; when the noise of the world is hushed; when the darkness of your chamber, which enwraps the outer man, contrasts with the light of God's presence in which your soul stands; then bid your passions be silent, and let your conscience speak. There talk with and to yourself about this duty. There when you have perhaps asked God before you ventured to lie down upon your bed to forgive you your offences, ask whether you can indeed forgive those of a brother.
But in addition to all this there must be much deep, solemn meditation upon God's love in forgiving you. Professing Christian, can it be possible that you need all this expostulation to induce you to forgive others, you who have had so much forgiven? Meditate, meditate intently, upon your multiplied transgressions, your sins before conversion, and your sins after conversion; all, all, blotted out, not one, even the most aggravated, excepted. Think of the means by which this pardon of yours has been obtained.

 Go, go, to Calvary-behold Jehovah giving up the Son of his love to all the agony, degradation, and horrors of crucifixion-hear the piercing cry of the holy and patient sufferer. "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me;" and ask why was this scene of blood and torture; and you shall hear a reply in the language of Scripture, "In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace." Can you gaze upon that scene of love's wondrous triumphs, can you leave that spot where you hope your own pardon is thus sealed, and not feel even happy at the opportunity given you of expressing your gratitude, by forgiving your brother? You often sit and sing at the sacramental table,........