It is therefore necessary that we should inquire whether we really forgive them; for our hearts are so deceitful that we are apt to imagine we forgive, when we still harbor a grudge against an offending brother. What then are the signs of having really forgiven an offender? When we have heartily forgiven him, we cease to indulge the thought of his offence, and we take no pleasure in speaking of it. When we have heartily forgiven him, we neither wish evil to befall him, nor feel glad if it do befall him; but, on the contrary, wish all manner of good to happen to him.
Is it an easy thing thus to forgive? No! it is impossible to nature, and can only be done through the Holy Spirit working in our hearts a sense of our own unworthiness, filling us with love to God for his mercy towards us, and then with love to our fellow-creatures.Though thousands offer this prayer of our Lord every day, it is only accepted from those whose hearts are renewed by grace. Before our prayers are accepted, we ourselves must be accepted. Cain's sacrifice was not accepted by God, because he himself was not accepted. Abel's sacrifice was accepted, because he himself was accepted.
But let no penitent sinner be discouraged by these declarations. We may come with our sins to Christ, if they are a grief and a burden to us, for it is He alone who can forgive them, and it is He alone who can subdue them. His Holy Spirit will make us hate our sins, help us to strive against them, and enable us to overcome them+