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SUBJECT :- The Young Man Reinstated in His Father's
Home :—The Heavenly Banquet Commenced.
Inalysis of Homily the Four Hundred and Eightieth. TAE sumptuous banquet is spread, the restored son is robed in splendid costume, and the festivities to celebrate the joyous event have commenced; they have “begun to be merry." Mirth is joy in high excitement, joy filling the soul to an overflow, and running into hilarity and glee. Let us look at this new joyousness in three aspects :
I. IN RELATION TO THE FATHER. When it is said that “they began to be merry," the father is included in that they. “Let us eat," he says, “and be merry.” First: He originated the joy of the hour. Had it not been for his loving and forgiving heart, the son would never have been reinstated, the feast would never have been spread, the notes of gladness would never have woke their music. To him all is due. Secondly: He participated in the joy of the hour. There was no one more happy than he. His happiness was the fountain of which theirs was but streams. He was happy because he had received a priceless treasure which had long been "lost ;”— a beloved child whom he had regarded as “ dead.” “This my son was dead and is alive again, was lost and is found.”
Thus it is with the Heavenly Father in receiving penitents. He originates the joy on the occasion, and He participates in it too. He rejoices over every penitent soul. What was the joy of the poor widow of Nain think you, when at the bidding of Christ, her dead son, who was being borne to his grave, sprung to life and returned to her bosom and her home? It is only the dimmest reflection of that unbounded delight which the Infinite Father experiences on the return of sinners to Himself.
Let us look at this joyousness :
II. IN RELATION TO
Would not his heart be overflowing with gladness First: The gladness of unbounded gratitude. As he compared the abundance of his present possessions with the utter destitution he experienced in the "far country," and the wonderful kindness of his father, with his own just demerits as a rebellious and cruel son, he would feel his soul borne away in transports of gratitude and praise. Gratitude is joy. Praise for mercies swells the anthems of Eternity.
“Uuto him that loved us," &c. Secondly : The gladness of conscious forgiveness. How long had the sense of his guilt in relation to his father rested as a dark thunder-cloud over his conscience, under which he groaned with sad foreboding ! But now that cloud was gone, and his nature was under the bright smiles of his reconciled father. Thirdly : The gladness of filial admiration. How his whole nature would exult in those attributes of princely generosity, social love, and parental tenderness, which his aged father now exhibited to the admiration of all. Admiration is an element of joy. Fourthly : The gladness of bright hopes. Henceforth all the wealth and love of that father were at his service. His own love would bind him ever to that father now. Hope is an element of joy.
Now all this is true of every penitent soul that has been received by the Infinite Father. Whenever the sinner really returns, he begins to be merry. There is no real mirth for man but in the father's house. The joy of the saved is ever the joy of unbounded gratitude, conscious forgiveness, filial admiration, and ever-heightening hopes.
Let us look at this joyousness :
III. IN RELATION TO THE DOMESTICS. The servants and all the members of the household are included in this “they."* Their happiness would arise mainly from sympathy. Sympathy first with the delight of the father, and secondly with the restored position of the son. It is a benevolent law
* The elder son who "would not go in” has engaged our attention before. See “Homilist,” Vol. II.
of all moral minds that the happiness of those we love makes us happy. We rejoice with those of the loved ones that rejoice. All connected with the great family of God experience happiness in the restoration of a lost soul. The redeemed ones above, amongst whom will be, perhaps, the sainted minister, author, father, mother, brother, sister, or some other dear one who loved them on earth, and earnestly sought their salvation, would join, of course, in the rapture of that hour. Angels, too, would strike their harps in strains of deeper melody, " for there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.” Ask why should those lofty ones in the creation take such interest in an event on earth, which its conventionally great men would not pause to notice or deign to mention. The answer is, They see things not as they appear to men, but as they are in God's universe and God's thoughts. In the conversion of one soul they see not only the uprooting of an upas which distils poison through its sphere, but the planting of a germ that shall grow into a tree whose fruit will bless the nations. They see not only a destroying demon smitten to death and they celebrate the obsequies, but a new angel of truth and benevolence born into the universe, and they hail with rapture the blessed advent. “ There was music and dancing.” We
may call humanity as a whole a prodigal son. Let it be restored to the Father's house, and then the whole of His great family throughout the universe, will, in a sense, begin to be merry.
It will peal through all its immeasurable districts with more loud and swelling melodies of transporting bliss. Blessed prospect for the good !
“O loose this frame, this knot of man untie,
That my free soul may use her wing,
O show thyself to me,
SUBJECT :-God's Friendship and Satan's Enmity.
• Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful."-Prov. xxvii. 6.
Homily the Four Hundred and Eighty-first.
TRUE friends are scarce. The old cynic who went about in broad daylight with a lighted lantern in search of a man, would have had like difficulty in finding a true friend. True friendship often assumes a rough garb; enmity may clothe itself in the stolen dress of love. Men like flattery, better than the rebuke of the faithful friend. The truthspeaker often inflicts pain. Applying Solomon's proverb in a special sense, to our best friend on the one hand, and on the other to our worst enemy, it may be remarked :
I. GOD'S FRIENDSHIP Out of the depths of His loving heart, God summonses the prodigal sinner to return. If he returns he must expect a weary journey. He has wandered far into the foreign land. It is a toilsome path, that rugged one of repentance. God wounds the soul with the “gword of the spirit,” man finds it to be no mimic weapon, but two-edged ; it strikes deep, it wounds, it cuts asunder. When the heart's affections are entwined around simple things, and God says, “Set your affections on things above,” and they have to be unloosened, the heart perforce must bleed. Whatever God does for us as sinners, ere He pardons, is accompanied with pain. If He convinces of sin, we suffer the pain of conscious guilt; if of judgment, we feel the “powers of the world to come. If we renounce sin, it is with paio ; soon, it is true, displaced by joy which is full of glory. All the true earnest ambassadors for God, have, by fulfilling their mission, inflicted pain. The prophets, as they opened out the revelation of God's fiery indignation -John the Baptist, as he sounded the trumpets of the law
Christ Himself, as He plainly revealed to men their own hearts, and asked, “How can ye escape the damnation of hell ?"-all these, arousing conscience, inflicted pain; proving by their mode of preaching the truth, that remorse must come before peace, sorrow and pain be endured, ere the calm of the soul's acceptance with God can reign, where passion had angrily ruled. It may be remarked :
II. SATAN'S ENMITY IS OFTEN DISGUISED DECEITFUL OFFERS OF JOY. An enemy, he deals in pretences of love, and deceives with a kiss. When Satan tempted Christ, he came as it were with kisses, that is, with bribes. Is it not ever so ? Sin wears the garb of friendship without its reality, and men are slaves to appearances. Sin comes smiling and bowing, offering men poison in a golden cup.
The truly wise man best shows his wisdom by detecting the embraces of an enemy, the false promise, the lying lips. In short, by discriminating between the faithful friend who wounds, and the deceitful enemy who comes with a kiss—a proffer of love. Oh! that men would be wise to prefer safety, though with pain and trouble, to damnation with ease. Surely, the rough bracing wind of the spring day is better than the deceitful calm before a storm.
Reflections :-Jesus Christ, God's ambassador on earth, is the true friend of sinners. He is nigh us when most needed. Just as He came to call sinners, and not the righteous to repentance," so He came to be the friend of the friendless and forlorn. As the true physician, He can heal all the wounds the sword of the Spirit inflicts, – -can cure the soul it pierces; nay, heal all diseases, even those which issue from the deceit of man's chief enemy.
He has a never-failing remedy for the leprosy of sin, the deadly stupor of indifference, and the raging violence of passion. And when, as a faithful friend, He breaks our hearts with the hammer of His law, He can bind up the wounds of the broken-hearted. Faithful are His wounds, and He is faithful who hath promised, as a good Shepherd to take care of His sheep. “He is a