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The Young Man discontented with his Father's Home,
Apostacy in Sentiment. “A certain man had two sons: and the younger of them said to his father, Father give me the portion of goods that falleth to me.” -Luke xv. 11.
Analysis of Homily the Four Hundred and seventh. In the unbecoming, ungraceful, and impertinent, attitude of this young man in relation to his father, we trace depravity to its very spring, and discover :
I. A FAILING OF THE TRUE SPIRIT OF THE FILIAL RELATIONSHIP. The true filial spirit is ever marked—(1) By gratitude ;-a practical recognition of the immense obligation under which the kindness of the loving parent lays his child. (2) By affection ;-confiding, reverencing, admiring affection. (3) By well-wishing ;-an earnest desire to gratify the heart and promote the comforts of the instrumental author of our being and loving guardian of our childhood. But in the request of the prodigal there was not the slightest symptom of this spirit. Supposing that, under the Jewish law, he had, as seems to have been the case, (Deut. xxi. 17.) a legal right to a certain amount of property from his aged Father, this true filial spirit would have waived the mention of it on such terms. Love would never urge legal claims; it is above such miserable technicalities. Had he possessed the true spirit in relation to this legal claim, and had to refer to it at all, he would have said ; "Father, the claim that law gives me to a portion of what you possess, is a trifling fraction compared with the long accumulating debt of gratitude I owe you for your unnumbered favors; I shall, unless you wish me to take it, leave it in your hands, to promote your comfort in old age; and should it not be sufficient, I will work day and night to make it more.” This would have been the true filial spirit. Now in the decay of the true filial spirit all sin against the Infinite Father begins. Apostacy starts from this point. It was so with our first parents. The “Yea hath God said” weakened the filial spirit, and struck the beam of the soul's balance in favor of wrong. II. AN UNDUE INFLUENCE OF SELF-LOVE IN DETERMINING CONDUCT. The claims of the father and the comforts of the family all vanished in the presence of the self that was now rising. “Give me the portion of goods that falleth to me.” Self is up now, and fills his horizon. He now makes himself the centre and circumference of all his actions. The undue influence of self leads him to three fatal mistakes :First: A mistake about liberty. Freedom from obedience and parental restraint he evidently deems to be liberty. But all experience shows it to be delusion. Liberty consists not in serving self, but in serving those we love, with a true affection. Liberty is the action of disinterested love. Secondly: A mistake about independence. He wished to be his own master. There is an independency which is proper in children, - an independency which, from love and right feeling, will not allow them to live upon their parents. This however, was not the prodigal's independency. He wished to be his own master. Self-serving is self-degradation, Thirdly: A mistake about pleasure. His idea of pleasure was animal gratification. To be away out of his father's sight indulging his carnal nature. This was his foolish idea, and this idea selfishness always originates. Here then is the first stage of sin. Our progenitors desired to “be as gods.” The spirit of holiness says, “Into thy hands I commit my spirit;" the spirit of sin says, "Give me the portion of goods that falleth to me.” The one commits everything to God, the other wishes to take everything from Him. The Young Man departing from his Father's Home.
Apostacy in Action. " And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country.” Luke xv. 12, 13.
Analysis of Homily the Foar Handred and Eighth. In this scene there are three things which strike our attention. I. THE CONCESSION GRANTED TO THE WRONG. The request, “Give me,” &c., though wrong in spirit, is granted. “The father divided unto them his living.” This is an emblem of God's conduct with sinners. He concedes to them the means of gratifying their selfish wishes. He gives them their portion of goods. The miser, the voluptuary, the ambitious, the vain ;-to all, however corrupt, He gives “the portion,” &c. “He allows power to steal, murder, blaspheme,” &c. This Divine conduct shows :—first, The responsibility thrown upon man. He has what he seeks, and he cannot find fault, and will, therefore, reap at last "the fruits of his own labor." It shows :-secondly, The high probability of future retribution. It cannot be that this concession will always continue, II. THE CONNEXION OF CONDUCT WITH FEELING. “Not many days after he gathered all together and departed.” Probably he turned the fortune he had received into ready money, jewels, or other valuables, which he could easily carry with him. The change of feeling towards his father showed itself “not many days after” in his conduct. It is ever 60. The apostacy of the life is sure to follow the apostacy of the heart. Let the spirit of religion decay and “not many days after” it will appear in the conduct. “Keep your heart therefore with all diligence, &c. III. THE POWER OF SIN TO DENATURALIZE OUR LIVES. The dictates of natural reason, affection, and conscience, would urge the son to remain in loving fellowship with, and obedience to, such a father. His departure was unnatural. It is common to speak of sin as the natural state of man, but it is not correct. It is unnatural. It is against the law of reason to prefer error to truth,—the law of conscience to follow the wrong in preference to the right,—the law of our entire nature to love the creature more than the Creator, and to subject conscience to the body.
Theological Notes and Queries.
[The utmost freedom of hallowed thought is permitted in this department. The reader must therefore use his own discriminating faculties, and the Editor must be allowed to claim freedom from responsibility.]
At the beginning of the second year of our Theological Notes and Queries, a word retrospective and prospective may be in place. The large number of queries may be fairly regarded as a proof of the interest, and even excitement of our readers generally. That in some there is neither excitement nor interest, and that to such the Notes and Queries appear dry, is credible. “Dry light,” however, is sometimes needful It was neither promised nor intended that this de. partment should be adorned with the flowers of oratory, or that solidity and the profit of the thoughtful should be postponed in favor of “clap-trap.” The bloom and beauty of the complete body are more attractive to the eye than is the underlying skeleton ; yet, were this wanting, we can imagine that the corporeal structure might suffer somewhat in firmness and activity. The earth may be less inviting when bound in wintry chains and clad in white; but reflection tells us these are preparations needful for the blossom, the fruit, and the grain. So in mind. Unless you have a solid basis of knowledge, vain is the play of imagination. Encouraged but not satisfied by the past, and confident, good readers, in the understanding between us, we hopefully enter on another year of friendly discussion, of enquiry and response.
BLOOD OF ABEL.
Abel's blood, but Abel himself
who is here described as speaking. REPLICANT. In answer to Quer- In Heb., xi. 4, Abel is said “beist No. 46, p. 637, vol. viii. Heb. ing dead, yet to speak.” But xii. 24. The word “ blood” is not this is a point of confessedly found in the original,and the literal small consequence. If we take translation of the clause would run xii. 24, and xi. 4, together, it will thus · the blood of sprinkling become manifest that Abel which speaketh better than Abel.” speaks, after his death, by his So De Wette. The word " Abel” blood-his own blood. · Gen. iv. moreover, is, according to many 10 : "The voice of thy brother's authoritative manuscripts, not in blood crieth unto me from the the genitive, but the accusative, ground.”. Some, as Knatchbull, case. So that, precisely, it is not think indeed that the blood of the sacrifices which Abel offered 1st.—Does the passage embrace is intended. But this opinion the inferior animals ? If so, how appears to us to be groundless do verses 19 and 20 apply? 2nd. and opposed to the natural mean- -If the application of the words ing. In no other passage is it be only to man (which we think) said that the blood of Abel's then, how, or in what sense, can sacrifices spoke. Yet the writer the Gentile world or unbelievers of this epistle is evidently refer- be said to wait with earnest exring to a familiar fact. Besides, pectation “for the manifestation were the blood of the sacrifices of the Sons of God," and for to speak, it would be of the same deliverance “from the bondage of things as Christ's, though by ob- corruption into the glorious liberty scure anticipation. That Abel's of the children of God”? blood cried for vengeance, and
W. H. COLLIN. that the blood of Christ cries for
3.-Referring to the query of pardon, is, we think, the obvious
U.T., No. 43, may I submit anoand only admissible sense ; and
ther, bearing much upon the this, moreover, is the sense set
same point, but perhaps of a more forth by all the ancients.
probing character ?
Has any individual, whoso. Queries to be answered in our next ever he may be, a right to expect Number.
or require any act from another 1.-What are the best argu
which he would not perform himments against the sceptical as
self ? My enquiry applies equally sertion that conscience is only the
to acts physical, social, political, result of education ?-P.M.H. or moral. For instance, should
any consistent advocate of capital 2.– Will the Editor, or some punishments, object or refuse to one of the numerous readers and carry out by his own hands the correspondents of the Homilist, last penalty of the law ? And favor me with an exposition of assuming that capital punishRom. viii. 19-23 ?
ments are in harmony with ChrisI am acquainted with the more tian ethics, is not the odium now exact rendering of the passage than attaching to the Sheriff's assist. that of the common version, and ant, who takes so prominent a also with the meaning ascribed part in the legal tragedy, most to it by Tholuck and others ;- illogical ? who believe the whole material Again can any rightly or conworld to be included in the terms; sistently advocate war who is not and that the deliverance spoken himself ready or prepared forthof has reference to the future re- with to take up arms and shed novation of the earth--the pro- blood ? duction of the new heavens and The query of U.T. taken genenew earth; (which reading I re- rally is a most important one, esject) and I am also familiar with pecially in these days when so the explanation given in “The much is done by the united Homilist,” No. 3, New Series. efforts of men, and is conducive
But the passage still seems to to the exposure of the widespread need further elucidation, and fallacy, that man in a corporate perhaps further light may be capacity acquired moral rights given by a reply to the following and immunities which he cannot questions :
possess in his individual capacity.