Conditional Forgiveness? Notes on Matt 6:12-15, 18:35

This doctrine is cleared and confirmed by a parable, the scope whereof is to show that except we be willing to forgive and do forgive particular injuries done to us, however often our brother shall desire pardon, we cut ourselves off from being pardoned of God, against whom we do sin oftener than any man can do against us. According then to the scope of the parable we are taught: [I.] that our sins against God are more, and more heavy, than any which our brethren commit against us, for men’s injuries against us are but pennies in comparison, but our faults against God are thousands of talents. [II.] God is readier to forgive us our greater sins than we are ready to forgive our brethren their petty offences against us. [III.] The consequences of Good’s mercy toward us should move us to be merciful one toward another. [IV.] He who will not forgive his brother his trespasses and that from the heart sincerely, the Lord will not forgive that man his sins, but will cast him into hell till he pay for all his sins, and that shall never be. To dispute here of the recalling of remission of sins is without ground, and not to the purpose, for the scope is fulfilled in this, that as the wicked servant who did not forgive his fellow servant got not forgiveness but was cast into gaol, and into the tormentors’ hands, so neither should any get forgiveness from God who did not forgive men their trespasses.

Source: Dickson (1651)

“For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses,” Matt. 6:14-15

This is a reason of the clause eked to the fifth petition of forgiving men their trespasses when we crave God to forgive us our trespasses; not that our forgiving wrongs done to us is the cause of God’s forgiving wrongs done by us to him, but because giving forgiveness to men and receiving forgiveness from God are graces inseparably conjoined, so that the having or wanting of the one may prove the having or wanting of the other. DOCTRINE: [I.] Who so have gotten grace in the fear of God to forgive men their trespasses may assure themselves of God’s gracious forgiving them their trespasses, and althouugh the remission of their sins be not intimate to them for the present, yet they shall be sure to have it manifested, for so says the text. [Note: the prayer is for assurance / manifestation, not for meeting a condition.]

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