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Thirdly : It takes away the instinctive repugnance we feel in stepping through those gates. “It delivers those who through fear of death are all their lifetime subject to bondage.” It takes the sting of death away, &c.
My young brethren, you, like our young friend, * must soon pass through these gates. You are very near them now. “What is your life? A vapour," &c.—the flitting rays of a meteor. With the first breath you drew you took a step towards those gates, and thither you have been wending ever since.
“ Your hearts, like muffled drums,
I would not lessen the pleasures of young life. I would not cool your blood, nor throw one shade over those bright and glowing prospects which imagination pictures ; but I would have you take life as it is, and enjoy it for what it is worth. Enjoy it, as I have often enjoyed on my native mountains the setting of a summer's sun. The streaks of glory which played upon the western sky, as the great orb went down in blazing splendor, kindled within me unutterable emotions of delight, yet I felt as I admired, that the magnificent scene would soon vanish, and all above and below would be darkness.
“Time, is a Prince, whose resistless sway
• This discourse was delivered on the occasion of the death of a pious young lady who was a teacher in the Stockwell Sabbath School. The Young Man occupied in Thinking of his Father's House :
The Crisis in Depravity.
(CONTINUED FROM PAGE 95.) “ And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's bave bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants." -Luke xv. 17-19.
Analysis of Homily the Four Hundred and Thirty-first. We have followed this young man through three stages of his history ; discontented with his father's home ; departing from his father's home ; and far away from his father's home; we have now to look upon him in another, and for some reasons, the most interesting stage of his history,—inasmuch as it is the crisis, the turning point of his destiny. Imagination may picture him driven to the last extremity of want, sitting down under the shadow of some old tree, emaciated, desolate, depressed, with the past beginning to rise on his memory, and the future growing more and more terrible to his eye. He comes to himself. “Now,” says Trench,“ the crisis has arrived, the TI EPITÉTELA of this soul's tragedy.” In sketching this soulcrisis I shall notice three mental states suggested by the text:—The return of reason—The commencement of thoughtThe formation of purpose.
I. THE RETURN OF REASON. “He came to himself.” The sinner is morally mad; he is a subject of fearful aberration.
Two thoughts are here suggested :
First: Moral distance from our father is moral distance from ourselves. “ To come to oneself,” says Trench, "and to come to God are one and the same thing...... He being the true ground of our being, when we find ourselves, we find Him." The sinner lives away from his moral self—the ego of his being. He is not at home; he is in the material, &c. In other words, he is mad on moral subjects. This is no figure. A maniac is a living picture of the sinner. Mental insanity is marked by two things : (1) Monstrous misconceptions of some particular subjects. The maniac though a beggar fancies himself a monarch, though a pigmy, a Hercules, and regards his best friends as his foes. On some subjects too he may be sane enough, though monstrously mad on others. In this sense, is not the sinner mad ? How monstrous his misconceptions of true dignity, happiness, the end of life, and the character of God! (2) Earnest actions agreeing with these monstrous misconceptions. The maniac who considers himself a prince, a warrior, a pauper, or whatever else, ever acts in desperate earnestness accordingly. He is consistent. So with the sinner, who thinks that happiness and dignity are to be found in the world, &c. The maniac who threw himself into the fire and then into the water, whom our Saviour cured, when He came down from the mount of Transfiguration, is a representation of sinners. Solomon considered himself mad, so did Paul.
Another thought here suggested is :
Secondly: That trial often drives men home. I cannot here deny myself the pleasure of allowing the illustrious Robertson to speak my meaning. “The renegade came to himself when there were no more husks to eat. He would have remained away if he could have got them ; but it is written, 'no man gave unto him.' And this, brethren, is the record of our shame. Invitation is not enough; we must be driven to God. And the famine comes not by chance. God sends the famine into the soul—the hunger and thirst, and the disappointment, to bring back His erring child again. Now, the world fastens upon that truth, and gets out of it a triumphant sarcasm against religion. Men tell us that just as the caterpillar passes into the chrysalis, and the chrysalis into the butterfly, so profligacy passes into disgust, and disgust into religion. To use their pbraseology, when people become disappointed with the world, it is the last resource, they say, to turn saint. So the men of the world speak, and they think they are profoundly philosophical and concise in the account they give. The world is welcome to its very small sneer. It is the glory of our Master's Gospel that it is the refuge of the broken hearted. It is the strange mercy of our God that He does not reject the writhing of a jaded heart. Let the world curl its lip if it will when it sees through the causes of the prodigal's return. And if the sinner does not come to God taught by this disappointment, What then ? If affections crushed in early life have driven one man to God ; if wretched and ruined hopes have made another man religious ; if want of success in a profession have broken the spirit; if the human life, lived out too passionately, has left a surfeit and a craving behind which end in seriousness ; if one is brought by the sadness of widowed life, and another by the forced desolation of involuntary single life ; if when the mighty famine comes into the heart and not a husk is left, not a pleasure untried, then, and not till then, the remorseful resolve is made, ‘I will arise and go to my Father ;' Well, brethren, What then? Why this, that the history of penitence, produced as it so often is by mere disappointment, sheds only a brighter lustre round the love of Christ, who rejoices to receive such wanderers, worthless as they are, back into His bosom. Thank God the world's sneer is true. It is the last resource to turn saint. Thanks to our God that when this gaudy world has ceased to charm, when the heart begins to feel its hollowness, and the world has lost its satisfying power, still all is not yet lost, if penitence and Christ remain, to still, to humble, to soothe the heart which sin has fevered.”
II. THE COMMENCEMENT OF THOUGHT. " He said to himself.” Reason having returned, he began to commune with his own heart. “How many hired servants of my
father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!” If you analyse his thought you will discover two things :
First: His thought was directed to his own miserable condition. “I perish with hunger.” My gnawing appetite, my feverish pulse, and tottering limbs, show me that I am dying with hunger. Thus thought turned back upon his miserable self. Thus it ever is with the sinner. His first serious thought refers to his own sad state ; as “poor, miserable, blind, and naked.”
Secondly: His thought was directed to his own miserable condition in relation to his own past conduct. Why am I in this miserable condition? It is not from a stern necessity; it is my own fault; I have no one to blame but myself : even my father's servants have bread enough and to spare, while I perish with hunger.” We cannot but think that there were two things that would mingle with his reflections now, and give them a soul-heaving power. (1) The tender relationship which he had wickedly violated. “My father's," &c. My father! How would the memory, the utterance, of that magic name evoke the horrid ghosts of his filial crimes ! He still thought of him as a father; not as an enemy, not even as a master. The sinner who thinks of God as the Almighty Creator, as the Indignant Sovereign, as the Inexorable Judge, will feel his soul driven away in horror from Him. No! Though we are prodigals, and rebels, God is still our Father; and as such let us think of Him, that our hearts may be graciously touched. The other thing which probably mingled with his reflections now was, (2) The rich patrimony which he had foolishly renounced. My father, whose mansion I left, has plenty ; even his servants have bread enough and to spare, while “ I perish with hunger.” What a fool I have been! The sinner in his misery has only to look around him to see on every hand perennial sources of enjoyment; and even the lowest creatures, the hired servants, having "bread enough and to spare." There is no reason in the Great Father or in His wealthy universe why we should be miserable.
III. THE FORMATION OF PURPOSE. Such thoughts would so act upon the emotions as to produce the “ I WILL.” “I will arise and go to my Father,” &c.
The purpose included three things :