How true are the words, "Out of the mouth of babes," God has ordained strength. Many lessons can be learned from children, as the following story, which refers to the subject of forgiveness, will show.

No one is better able to speak of the forgiveness and grace of God, than the sinner who has been forgiven and saved by that grace. Therefore, I am emboldened to write this simple and true story, in the hope that it will be an encouragement to young Christians.

There are three people in the story: Mabel, aged five years and seven months, her daddy, and Charlie who used to work for Mabel's daddy, and afterwards served in the army.

It would be just after, six o'clock at night, when daddy was reading a Bible story to Mabel, who was tucked up in bed. The story was about forgiveness, and daddy explained to Mabel the difference between God's forgiveness and man's forgiveness.

One of the scriptures referred to, was in 1 John 1:9, where it says, "If we confess our sins, He (that is, God) is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." This explains clearly how God forgives us all our sins, and cleanses us from all unrighteousness.

In order to obtain God's forgiveness, we must feel and acknowledge that we have done wrong, and thus sinned against Him. He will surely make us feel this, and lead us by His Holy Spirit to acknowledge it, for He is our Saviour and is willing to save us from our sins. He will make us very unhappy and even miserable till we confess our sins to Him, so that He may forgive us those sins, and restore us to happy communion with Himself. Now God is always ready to forgive us our sins as soon as we confess them to Him. His Word tells us so in Psalm 86:5: "For Thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon Thee." Again in the same psalm, verse 15, "But Thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth."

We should distinguish between the forgiveness we receive when we first come to the Lord Jesus, and the forgiveness we receive from God when, as His redeemed children, we have sinned against Him through our carelessness, and foolishness, and perhaps our wilfulness. In the former case, we come as sinners, and receive from Him full and free forgiveness of all our sins; in the latter, we come as His children, not only to be forgiven, but to be restored to communion with Him, which we had lost through our sins. He is ever ready to forgive us our sins, when we confess them to Him, for He longs to have us near to Himself, in communion with Him, to enjoy all the fulness of His love.

What would life be, even to a Christian, were there no forgiveness? We would be living under a constant cloud of fear. Forgiveness renews life, for it removes the dark past, and gives hope of a happy future, by opening the door to new opportunities to those who have sinned. As for the sinner, in his sins, what would he do without forgiveness? Hell would yawn at his feet, ready to engulf him. Heaven would close its door on him, with its unapproachable holiness.

Now, it is most blessed to see how God forgives. How perfect is His forgiveness! How different from man's forgiveness. God forgives fully and freely, cleanses us from all unrighteousness, and never again recalls to mind the sins He has forgiven us. He says, speaking of the forgiveness He freely bestows on His people: "Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more" Hebrews 8:12. Man, on the contrary, when he forgives some wrong one may have done to him, says that he can never forget it. Forgiveness is not real if the one who forgives, remembers the wrong he forgives. Forgiveness of a wrong and remembrance of it, go badly together. But such is man's forgiveness. It is beyond him to forget the wrong, even though he may have forgiven it. Such is human frailty in this important matter. God never remembers the sins He has forgiven. How comforting this is to those who have and enjoy His forgiveness!

It is important for us, as Christians, to imitate God when anyone commits some wrong against us, and forgive the wrong even as God has forgiven us all the wrongs we have done to Him. In fact, He says, that if we do not forgive others, He will not forgive us. We have, therefore, to forgive, if we are to be forgiven. This is a perfectly just principle, and one which God has laid down, with reference to the conduct of His people.

We offend one another in many things. Perhaps nothing is so offensive as the tongue. This member of our body can cause great offence. We should read what is written in the epistle of James about the tongue (see James 3). It is a source of untold evil, and has done more harm than anything else in causing offence one to another. What need we have to control this unruly member, and watch continually against unkind words.

On the other hand, the tongue can be used for blessing. When our speech is gracious and kind, we can do much good to all those with whom we come in contact. Of the virtuous woman it is said, "In her tongue is the law of kindness" (Proverbs 31:26). If this could be said of us, how happy we should be! How happy too we could make others, by gracious and kind words.

Should others offend us by the tongue, through the nasty things they say, we should be ready to forgive them, and not harbour unkind things in our hearts. Should we offend others by our unkind words, we should confess to them the wrong we have done.

If we refuse to confess the wrong we have done to others, God may have to deal with us about it, and compel us to confess it. Unconfessed sin may be the cause of much sorrowful exercise of soul, as was the case with David, recorded in the Psalms. He said, when in great distress about unconfessed sin, "Day and night Thy hand (that is God's hand) was heavy upon me" (Psalm 32:4). This was how God spoke to him and made him feel his guilt, so that he might humble himself and confess his sin. After he did humble himself and confess his sin, he was able to say, "I acknowledged my sin to Thee (that is, to God), and my iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgression to the Lord, and Thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin" (Psalm 32:5). No doubt God searched him when he was trying to conceal his sin. God does this to all His children, for He knows all their thoughts and ways. Nothing is hidden from Him. Hence we read, "O Lord, Thou hast searched me and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and my uprising, Thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways." (Psalm 139:1-3).

We can now think of David, when he was forgiven of God, and happy in the sense of this forgiveness, He could say, addressing God, "Thou art my hiding place." Here he was safe from the voice of the accuser, and being freely forgiven and happy in his soul he could approach God. "Then will I go to the altar of God, to God, my exceeding joy." This is indeed, true joy, the blessed fruit of God's forgiveness.

Turning for a moment to see the ground on which God forgives sin, we can appreciate how He can remain righteous, and at the same time, forgiving. We might think that His righteousness would be compromised in forgiving, but this is not so. So efficacious is the death of Christ, and His atoning blood, that God can forgive sins and yet remain righteous in doing so. It is written in His word, "He is faithful and just (that is, righteous) to forgive us our sins." He is faithful, because He must act in the light of Christ's death, to put away our sins. He is a just God, and cannot exact two payments of one debt. He charged Christ with our sins, actually laid them on Him; hence He cannot charge us with them. So our debt is discharged by Christ in His death for us, as Scripture says that He died for our sins. We, therefore, the debtors, are discharged, being forever cleared of the debt. This is the true forgiveness, which God gives us, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Referring to David again, he felt the need of cleansing, when he prayed earnestly to God, saying, "Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow." With reference, to cleansing, Christ said of His disciples that they were "clean every whit." So we see, that we are forgiven and cleansed, in order that we may draw near to God, and have communion with Him. Moreover, we have a perfect standing before God, in His Son, the beloved Son of His bosom—"accepted in the Beloved." How this thought ought to fill us with joy! Isaiah speaks of our being "clothed with the garments of salvation" (Isaiah 61:10). All this proves how perfect is our forgiveness, our cleansing, our justification, by God.

We shall look, for a moment, at the story of Charlie. It helps to illustrate how God's forgiveness far surpasses human forgiveness. As we have said, Charlie worked in the factory owned by Mabel's Daddy. He fell in love with a young lady who also worked in the factory. After some time they were married, and all seemed to be going very well, till it came to light that Charlie had been stealing goods to the value of something like £100. The matter was in the hands of the police, so Charlie had to face a charge in court.

Before the trial, he and his wife came to see Mabel's daddy, to confess their sin, with real sorrow, and ask for forgiveness. He wanted another chance to continue his work in the factory after the case at court was over. This, of course, was a test. Was he to be forgiven? Was he to be allowed to return to his work? God's word made the decision. "Whoso confesses his sins, and forsakes them, shall have mercy." (Proverbs 28:13). If God says this is the way He treats those who sin against Him, that is, showing them mercy, it sets the example for us, in regard to our actions toward our fellow-men. If He shows us mercy, we ought to show our fellow-men mercy, should the occasion arise. God has a good deal to say to us about showing mercy, and acting in kindly spirit towards all men. He says, for instance, "Let not mercy forsake thee." Again the prophet says, "God has showed thee, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God." (Micah 6:8).

Mercy was shown to Charlie. He was forgiven, and told to return to his work, which he did, and continued in it for eighteen months, till he was called up for the army. It so happened, he was posted for training, about fourteen miles away from his employer. One day his employer met him on the road, and gave him a lift in his car; and not only that, he took him into his home and treated him kindly. This showed how real the forgiveness had been. Charlie was not, in any sense, a marked man, in any way shunned, but, on the contrary, most kindly treated, forgiveness had restored friendship and confidence.

Here is, however, the most important part. Although Charlie was forgiven, and kindly treated, as though the past had not been, his employer could not (through human infirmity) dismiss from his mind the memory of the matter which had been forgiven—yes, absolutely forgiven, so that there were no ill feelings left—yet in spite of this, memory refused to be silent.

When we were converted to God, we learned the preciousness of these words which He spoke to us: "Thy sins and iniquities I will remember no more". This is divine forgiveness, and how different it is from human forgiveness! God forgives, blots out the past, clears us of all the consequences of our sins, and makes us truly happy, to come to him, in order to enjoy His great love. How well it befits us to sing, as we enjoy, His forgiveness:

  I met a Stranger fair to see
  As walked I down life's rugged way;
  He spoke so sweet, so tenderly,
  He won me to Himself that day.

  It was the Man of Galilee
  Who whispered words of joy to me,
  Thy sins be all forgiven thee,
  Thy sins be all forgiven thee.

  And when that Stranger spoke to me
  My heart threw off its guilty load;
  I felt at once that I was free;
  I left my burdens by the road.

  I love that Stranger since that hour
  He talked to me in tender tone,
  A joy is mine, I feel its power,
  And Him as Lord I'm glad to own.

Now, should we have sinned, after our conversion to God, we have God's forgiveness, for He says, to us, His children, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins." Therefore, the precious thought for us to lay hold of is, that none of the sins, that we have committed, and afterward confessed to Him, will ever be remembered by Him, for they are forgiven and put away from memory. We can feel perfectly at home in His presence, knowing with absolute certainty, that He will remember our sins no more. God alone has the power to say that He will remember (sins) no more.

Even Mabel, though only a child of five years and seven months, could see the grandeur and blessedness of God's forgiveness, it was with an expression of wonder and delight that she exclaimed, "Isn't it lovely, Daddy dear!" These words made her Daddy think, more and more of the marvellous forgiveness of God. What a blessed and glorious word is forgiveness.

Now, those who have God's forgiveness stand in His favour, so that, when He looks on them, He neither sees, nor remembers their sins, but sees and remembers only the perfect work of Christ that put the sins away. Those who have been forgiven by God, have the best robe of righteousness, just like the prodigal son when he returned, for they are "made the righteousness of God in Christ." If by any chance, they should sin, (not willingly of course,) by reason of their weakness, they should be ready to confess, in order to be forgiven, and to walk again in the light of all God's favour, and enjoy His love. This is the great end of the Christian, to walk in the light, and enjoy God's love.

If, perchance, this tract should fall into the hands of a Christian who has sinned, and feels he has wrecked his life, and that there is no hope for him to right the wrong he has done; he feels, it may be, he cannot open his mouth to bear a witness for the Lord Jesus, and that he is unfit to take any part in Service for Him. Many there are in this state of soul. Well, let such a one know there is full and free forgiveness for him, if he will only confess his sins to God.

When the children of Israel, God's earthly people, had sinned against Him, and were truly ashamed of their sin, Samuel, the prophet, said to them, "Fear not, ye have done all this wickedness, yet turn not aside from following the Lord." (1 Samuel 12:20-24). We are also told in the Psalms, that if a good man fall, he shall not be utterly cast down, for the Lord upholds him with His hand. (Psalm 37:23-24.)

We may well take courage, for there is forgiveness with God. Peter denied the Lord three times, and this with an oath, but when he repented, and wept bitterly, the Lord forgave him, and restored him.

In conclusion, we might well urge every Christian, who is happy in the sense of God's forgiveness, to "arise, therefore, and be doing, and the Lord be with thee." This was what David charged Solomon, his son, so let us, as Christians, arise and serve the Lord. We have this wonderful privilege, so let us take full advantage of it.

Walter Jameson, "Shalom," Cottage Place, Chelmsford, Essex.