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The Law of Forgiveness.

The Law of Forgiveness.

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Published by glennpease

St. Luke vii. 50.

St. Luke vii. 50.

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Published by: glennpease on Apr 17, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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THE LAW OF FORGIVEESS.BY REV, H. S. HOLLAD, M.A.St. Luke vii. 50.The act of Divine forgiveness is an act of re-creation.We are new-begotten by the Father, through thewaters of regeneration. In Christ, Who is our forgive-ness, we are born again ; we receive a new manhood,we are made new creatures. From first to last this isthe language in which the ew Testament expressesthe nature of our pardon; and all its language is anecho of the words with which the Lord opened Hismission in Jerusalem : " Yerily, verily, I say unto you,ye must be born again. Unless ye be born of waterand of the Spirit, ye cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven."What does this imply ?It means, that all our forgiven life dates itself froman act of God — an act orio^inative, antecedent, fertile.God begins the work. The sickness of sin had madeus powerless to begin the recovery. This was ourconfusion, our paralysis, our misery, our despair, that,sorry as we might be, sick as we might feel, neverthe-less not all our sorrow nor all our sickliness couldpersuade us to love righteousness as once we loved it.2 20 Conversion,nor to hate iniquity as only the unfallen spirit canhate it. Do what we would, it remained sadly clearthat we were not at our old level ; our standards hadsunk, and we could not restore them to their formerforce ; the influences in us that made after holiness wereimpoverished ; and we, out of ourselves, had no meansof replenishing them. o; we cannot begin. Wecannot beget ourselves. That is the prime and fataldifficulty. It is the new start that has become soimpossible ; and yet it is the new start which is sovital a necessity for us.
God must begin, if we are ever to be rescued. Hereis the very key of Christian theology, and the verycore of Christian faith. Until we have laid hold of this interpretation, the language of the Epistlesand the fabric of the Church remain hopelesslyunintelligible.God must begin. This is the secret that burnsthrough all the strong appeals of St. Paul and St.John, as they reiterate their conviction that nothing of our own enters into the primary movement of our justifi-cation. o goodness at all of ours drew out a responsefrom the co-operating favour of God. It was ourbadness, not our goodness, that drew it from Heaven.It was pity for our perishing that moved the Father tosend His Son to save the world. While we were yetsinners, Christ died for the ungodly. ot becausewe loved God, but because we could not love Him,did His love for us break oat over us in His Son. Godfirst loved us while still we loved sin rather thanholiness, in order that, by loving us. He might restoreThe Law of Forgiveness. 221to us the lost power of loving Him. The heat of His love alone it is which wakes up in our cold heartsthe forgotten love for Him.We cannot begin until God has begun. To doubtthis is to be " under the Law." It was, in St. Paul'slanguage, "the Law," which said, "Keturn ye. Mypeople, and then I will return to you." This is thelaw of works — the law of work and wages: it said,"If only you will prove our repentance, if only youwill turn again into the old ways, God will forgive,God will be merciful ! " The despair of the law of works lay in the discovery that this preliminary efforton our part was just the last effort that it was possiblefor us to make. ay; if we are to be recoveredand recalled, we must wait for a stronger Hand thanours. We have no part in it. God must anticipateour beginning. He must take the first step ; He mustdo something to relieve the dilemma. He must arriveto succour, before we deserve anything; He must
forgive, before we have ceased to sin ; He must justify,while still we lie guilty.You recognise the language I am using. It recallsa theology which has isolated the particular truthconveyed by these terms until, in its isolation, it hasbecome grotesque, unreal, deceptive, — yes, and morallyperilous. But it is here, as in so many other cases,the isolation of the terms, not the terms themselves,which are at fault. Justification by faith, itself aparadoxical expression, which can never hold itself together against the analysis of a solvent and penetra-ting logic, has yet a most valid signification in that2 2 2 Conversion.deep region where the secret of life runs back, behindlogic, into paradox. It is the assertion of our absoluteexclusion from the creative act by which God acquitsus ; in that act we have no more part or lot than inthe act of our first begetting. God forgives us withoutour helping Him. We are justified, we are acquittedfor and by nothing at all of our own, not even by ourfaith.But how, then, is it rational ? How is it intelligible ?Forgiveness is hope. How can God have hope of menwho have proved themselves hopeless? Forgivenessis favour. How can holiness show favour to thatwhich has proved itself irredeemably corrupt ? For-giveness is love. How can purity love the impure?Impossible ! Yet that is what forgiveness must mean.If God has forgiven sin, then God's repugnance hasbeen changed into attraction. What can so changeHim?ot anything, again we say, of ours. We, in our-selves, are as yet unchanged. o ! But the act bywhich God forgives, carries with it, out of Heaven,the power to work the change in us, which will justifyGod in forgiving. God's forgiveness goes out fromHim in such a form that it makes us, it enables us,it obliges us, to become that which we should be if 

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