Matt. 6:14-15 (Part 1)

6:14ff CLEMENT OF ROME: Let us therefore, brethren, be of humble mind, laying aside all haughtiness, and pride, and foolishness, and angry feelings; and let us act according to that which is written (for the Holy Spirit says, “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, neither let the rich man glory in his riches; but let him that glories glory in the Lord, in diligently seeking Him, and doing judgment and righteousness,”) being especially mindful of the words of the Lord Jesus which He spoke, teaching us meekness and long suffering. For He spoke: “Be merciful, that you may obtain mercy; forgive, that it may be forgiven to you; as you do, so shall it be done to you; as you judge, so shall you be judged; as you are kind, so shall kindness be shown to you; with what measure you mete, with the same it shall be measured to you.”  By this precept and by these rules let us establish ourselves, that we walk with all humility in obedience to His holy words. For the holy word says, “On whom shall I look, but on him that is meek and peaceable, and that trembles at My words?” First Epistle to the Corinthians, 1.8.

POLYCARP: If then we entreat the Lord to forgive us, we ought also ourselves to forgive; for we are before the eyes of our Lord and God, and “we must all appear at the judgment-seat of Christ, and must every one give an account of himself.”  Let us then serve Him in fear, and with all reverence, even as He Himself has commanded us, and as the apostles who preached the Gospel to us, and the prophets who proclaimed beforehand the coming of the Lord have alike taught us. Let us be zealous in the pursuit of that which is good, keeping ourselves from causes of offense, from false brethren, and from those who in hypocrisy bear the name of the Lord, and draw away vain men into error. Epistle to the Philippians, 1.34.

IGNATIUS: Not that I know there is anything of this kind among you; but I put you on your guard, inasmuch as I love you greatly, and foresee the snares of the devil. Therefore, clothing yourselves with meekness, renew yourselves in faith, that is the flesh of the Lord, and in love, that is the blood of Jesus Christ. Let no one of you cherish any grudge against his neighbor. Epistle to the Trallians, 1.69.

HERMAS: If our God and Lord, who rules over all things, and has power over all His creation, does not remember evil against those who confess their sins, but is merciful, does man, who is corruptible and full of sins, remember evil against a fellow man, as if he were able to destroy or to save him? The Shepherd of Hermas, 2.51.

HERMAS: “The Lord dwells in men that love peace, because He loved peace; but from the contentious and the utterly wicked He is far distant. Restore to Him, therefore, a spirit sound as you received it. For when you have given to a fuller a new garment, and desire to receive it back entire at the end, if, then, the fuller return to you a torn garment, will you take it from him, and not rather be angry, and abuse him, saying, ‘I gave you a garment that was entire: why have you rent it, and made it useless, so that it can be of no use on account of the rent which you have made in it?’ Would you not say all this to the fuller about the rent which you found in your garment? If, therefore, you grieve about your garment, and complain because you have not received it entire, what do you think the Lord will do to you, who gave you a sound spirit, which you have rendered altogether useless, so that it can be of no service to its possessor? For its use began to be unprofitable, seeing it was corrupted by you. Will not the Lord, therefore, because of this conduct of yours regarding His Spirit, act in the same way, and deliver you over to death? Assuredly, I say, he will do the same to all those whom He shall find retaining a recollection of offenses. Do not trample His mercy under foot,  He says, but rather honor Him, because He is so patient with your sins, and is not as you are. Repent, for it is useful to you.” The Shepherd of Hermas, 2.54.

TATIAN: If you forgive men their wrongdoing, your Father which is in heaven will forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, neither will your Father pardon your wrongdoing. The Diatessaron, 9.58.

CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: For it is in the power of God alone to grant the forgiveness of sins, and not to impute transgressions; since also the Lord commands us each day to forgive the repenting brethren. “And if we, being evil, know to give good gifts,”  much more is it the nature of the Father of mercies, the good Father of all consolation, much pitying, very merciful, to be long- suffering, to wait for those who have turned. And to turn is really to cease from our sins, and to look no longer behind.

Forgiveness of past sins, then, God gives; but of future, each one gives to himself. And this is to repent, to condemn the past deeds, and beg oblivion of them from the Father, who only of all is able to undo what is done, by mercy proceeding from Him, and to blot out former sins by the dew of the Spirit. “For by the state in which I find you will I judge,”  also, is what in each case the end of all cries aloud. So that even in the case of one who has done the greatest good deeds in his life, but at the end has run headlong into wickedness, all his former pains are profitless to him, since at the catastrophe of the drama he has given up his part; while it is possible for the man who formerly led a bad and dissolute life, on afterwards repenting, to overcome in the time after repentance the evil conduct of a long time. But it needs great carefulness, just as bodies that have suffered by protracted disease need regimen and special attention. Thief, do you wish to get forgiveness? Steal no more. Adulterer, burn no more. Fornicator, live for the future chastely. You who have robbed, give back, and give back more than you took. False witness, practice truth. Perjurer, swear no more, and completely destroy the rest of the passions, wrath, lust, grief, fear; that you may be found at the end to have previously in this world been reconciled to the adversary. It is then probably impossible all at once to eradicate inbred passions; but by God’s power and human intercession, and the help of brethren, and sincere repentance, and constant care, they are corrected. Who is the Rich Man that Shall be Saved?, 2.602.

TERTULLIAN: He commands you to forgive your brother, should he trespass against you even “seven times.”  But that surely is a small matter; for with the Creator there is a larger grace, when He sets no limits to forgiveness, indefinitely charging you “not to bear any malice against your brother,”  and to give not merely to him who asks, but even to him who does not ask. For His will is not that you should forgive an offense, but forget it. Against Marcion, 3.407.

TERTULLIAN: For what sort of deed is it to approach the peace of God without peace? the remission of debts while you retain them? On Prayer, 3.685.

CYPRIAN: Thus, also, when He gave the law of prayer, He added, saying, “And when you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”  And He calls back from the altar one who comes to the sacrifice in strife, and bids him first to agree with his brother, and then return with peace and offer his gift to God: for God did not have respect to Cain’s offerings; for he could not have God at peace with him, who through envious discord did not have peace with his brother. What peace, then, do the enemies of the brethren promise to themselves? What sacrifices do those who are rivals of the priests think that they celebrate? Do they deem that they have Christ with them when they are collected together, who are gathered together outside the Church of Christ?
The Treatises of Cyprian, 5.425.

CYPRIAN: He has clearly joined herewith and added the law, and has bound us by a certain condition and engagement, that we should ask that our debts be forgiven us in such a manner as we ourselves forgive our debtors, knowing that that which we seek for our sins cannot be obtained unless we ourselves have acted in a similar way in respect of our debtors. Therefore also He says in another place, “With what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again.” And the servant who, after having had all his debt forgiven him by his master, would not forgive his fellow-servant, is cast back into prison; because he would not forgive his fellow-servant, he lost the indulgence that had been shown to himself by his lord.  And these things Christ still more urgently sets forth in His precepts with yet greater power of His rebuke. “When you stand praying,” He says, “forgive if you have anything at all against anyone, that your Father which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive you your trespasses.”  There remains no ground of excuse in the day of judgment, when you will be judged according to your own sentence; and whatever you have done, that you also will suffer. The Treatises of Cyprian, 5.453-454.

CYPRIAN: Love those whom you previously had hated; favor those whom you envied with unjust disparagements. Imitate good men, if you are able to follow them; but if you are not able to follow them, at least rejoice with them, and congratulate those who are better than you. Make yourself a sharer with them in united love; make yourself their associate in the alliance of charity and the bond of brotherhood. Your debts shall be remitted to you when you yourself shall have forgiven. Your sacrifices shall be received when you shall come in peace to God. Your thoughts and deeds shall be directed from above, when you consider those things which are divine and righteous, as it is written: “Let the heart of a man consider righteous things, that his steps may be directed by the Lord.”  The Treatises of Cyprian, 5.496

THEONAS OF ALEXANDRIA: Do no one an injury at any time, and provoke no one to anger. If an injury is done to you, look to Jesus Christ; and even as you desire that He may remit your transgressions, also forgive them theirs. The Epistle of Theonas, Bishop of Alexandria, to Lucianus, the Chief Chamberlain, 6.161.

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