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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
small 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 ; 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
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.”
« How many
II. THE COMMENCEMENT OF THOUGHT. “ He said to himself.” Reason having returned, he began to commune with his own heart.
hired servants of
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 :
First: A determination to go to his father. "I will arise and go,” &c. I will stay in my present condition no longer ; the remains of my unwasted energy shall be expended in one concentrated effort, and that shall be to take me to my father. I will try nothing else ; I will go to no one else, I will go at once and directly to my father.
He is still my father, nearest of all beings to me ;-to him I will go.
Secondly: A determination to confess to his father. “I will say unto him,”——not that I have been unfortunate, not that I have been the victim of temptation, the creature of impulses over which I had no control ; I will offer no apology, for I have nothing to palliate my offence. “I will say unto him”-say it because I feel it—“ I have sinned against Heaven,” &c. Such a sincere confession as this implies (1) A consciousness that he had been perfectly free in his conduct, and (2) A consciousness of the utter moral wrongness of his conduct.
Thirdly: A determination to humbly serve his father. “ Make me as one of thine hired servants.” I dare not hope for restoration as a son, make me as a servant, let me be employed by thee, and thus have an opportunity of showing the depth and genuineness of my repentance.
SUBJECT :-Good Triumphing over Evil.
66 Where sin abounded, grace doth much Romans v. 20.
Analysis of Homily the Four Hundred and Thirty-second.
Sin and grace are little words, but expressive of stupendous realities—the laws of all souls, the fountains of all history. Each word is used scripturally in two different senses.
The word "sin” sometimes is used to designate an act—“sin is the transgression of the law;" and sometimes it designates a principle of action. Thus we read of “a law of sin"--a disposition of the mind to take a wrong direction. In this sense it is often used to designate evil in general as a real force in the world. In the widest sense it always implies four things : law; opportunity of knowing law; capacity to obey or transgress law; and an actual deviation from law. The last idea, namely, that of principle is, I conceive, the idea to be attached to it here. The word “ grace” has also two meanings—the religion of Christ in the heart as the life of heavenly love ; and the system of Christ in the world, as a system of divine mercy.
I attach the latter idea to it here. The words therefore designate two great forces in our history.
In this chapter there are several things stated about these forces :
First : That they are actually in our world. Sin is in the world. This is a dark fact everywhere seen. Sin is a force here turning men in the wrong direction. Grace is here too, as a corrective and restoring force. The truth of the fact stated by Paul, no candid man, whatever his creed, can deny. Human actions here result from two opposite principles. You cannot trace all history to sin, nor can you trace all to grace. In both, you find a solution of all its phenomena.
Here then is a fact-it is a fact that sin is in this world -sin is not in heaven. It is a fact that grace is in this world-grace is not in hell.
Secondly : These two forces came into our world through the agency of man. Sin came by Adam; grace by Jesus Christ, the “second Adam." There was a time when sin was not ; no cloud on the sun, no discordant note in the music, no stain on the pure garments of the soul. All was holy. There was a time when there was no grace—the world needed none.
Thirdly: That these two forces exercise an immense influence upon the race. (1) The sin of Adam made“ many sinners,” the grace of Christ made “many righteous.” Paul does not
Men have speculated about the mode. Some have said by imputation, some by physical transmission, and some by moral imitation. We are not going into this controversy. We know that one man can make others sinners ; and the certainty therefore is that the first sinner must have influenced