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separated Jew and Gentile; but, blessed be God, this middle wall of partition is broken down, and it has become evident, that we are what we always in fact were, the children of the same Father.
But the prodigal hath joined himself to a citizen of this far country! The citizen is at home, the grand adversary is free of this country; he is at home here, and has raised himself to great eminence, so that setting in the temple of God, which temple, says the Holy Ghost, Are ye; he affects to be as God, ruling and governing. He is the strong man, that holds his goods in safety, until one who is mightier than he, shall bind him and cast him out forever. But this catastrophe is reserved to futurity, while, in the mean time, the knowledge that he shall not always reign so greatly enrages him, that he descends amongst the inhabitants of this world, having great wrath. Yet, although this arch deceiver knows his power will continue but for a season, he labours indefatigably to persuade mankind, that he is through the wasteless ages of eternity ordained their tormenter.
But the prodigal being in want, assays to feed and fill himself with husks that are eaten by swine. Swine are mere sensualists. Cast ye not your pearls before swine, least they trample upon them, and mortified by their disappointment, turn again and rend you. The antitypes of these animals prefer the gratification of their sensual appetites, to the richest mental jewels which can be exhibited to their view; nay, they would feed upon husks, if they could be filled therewith. These husks resemble the corn; they are the shadow of good things, but not the substance. But human nature not being able to subsist on shadows, therefore suffered want, and determined on returning to the house of its father. The prodigal knew there was sufficient provision in his father's house. And when he came to himself, he resolved to return. When he came to himself? Then it seems he was beside himself, he was deranged. "Come," said the angel of God, in the seventeenth chapter of Revelations-“Come and I will show you the judgment of the great whore, with whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication:" the nations of the earth were drunk, were mad; "Even the spiritual man," says the prophet Hosea, ix. 7. “even the spiritual man is mad." In fact, there is no part of Revelation, which doth not in some sort tend to prove the authenticity of the gospel; all have sinned; all have gone
astray; all have joined the citizen; but all shall return; their agreement shall not stand; the restoration of all things shall gather them all home; in the seed of Abraham they are all blessed.
I repeat, I am delighted with this parable; I conceive God has blessed me with a knowledge of the truth which it contains, and I adore his distinguishing goodness. I cannot forbear expressing my astonishment at the views given of this memorable passage. The Jew, it is said, is the elder son. Yet to the elder son, who seemed displeased at the jubilee occasioned by the return of his brother, the father says, "Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine." Was this assertion applicable to the Jews, any more than to the Gentiles? Nay, it was abundantly less so, since the Jews verged upon the close of their dispensation, and the Gentiles, in the course of the divine economy, were about to take their place. Every created being is no doubt, at all times, present to the eye of Omniscience; but human beings are not conscious that they are always with God. Son, thou art always with me, said the Father; the angels who dwell in heaven are no doubt sensible that they do always dwell in the presence of their Creator, and they participate all which heaven can give-All that I have is thine. It was meet that we should make merry and be glad, for this thy brother was dead but is alive again, was lost and is found.
We are instructed to consider angels and men as brethren; see Revelations, xix. 10.
"When John fell at the feet of the angel to worship-see thou do it not," said the angel; "I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus; worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." And again, xxii. 9.
"Then saith he unto me, see thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: Worship God." Thus the angels and the human family, who are heirs of a blessed immortality, have but one origin. God is the Father, both of angels and of men.
But you will observe and ask, What is this but representing the angels as pointing out faults in Deity; Is it possible the angels in heaven should dare to censure their all-wise Creator?
I might content myself by observing, parables are not to answer in every particular; that this metaphor puts the expression of displeasure into the mouth of some unquiet spirit, and that we have no authority for believing even the angels without fault-but I
will further say, the language upon this occasion is extremely nat、 ural. As though this same elder brother had said, When our nature fell, you did not sacrifice even a kid, that I might make merry with my friends, and yet hath not my obedience been unremitted? Lo, these many years have I served thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandments, but as soon as this thy son hath returned, who scrupled not to devour thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf! But the gracious, the parental Deity, kindly passeth over this, I had almost said insolent language; he is still the Father, and the God. Son, thou art always with me, and all that I have is thine; and then, as if he would apologize for, or vindicate his conduct, he says, It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad, for this thy brother was dead and is alive again, was lost and is found.
We are told in the fourth chapter, and eighteenth verse of the book of Job, and the Temanite introduceth his information with a note of admiration, "Behold! God puts no trust in his servants; and his angels he chargeth with folly."
In fact, there is but one infinitely wise and perfect Being, and it is by communicating with this one, pure source of divine wisdom and goodness, that intelligent beings derive any thing virtuous, lovely, or desirable. Let this divine luminary withdraw the light of his countenance, and darkness results; nor saints nor angels possess independent excellence, if either the one, or the other, should be forsaken by their God; the most unthought-of enormities would succeed-Crimes, anguish, gnashing of teeth, and utter despair. No, certainly, there are no independent children in the family of God, either of heavenly or earthly origin. It would be well frequently to recur to this self-evident truth, lest we should err, not knowing the scripture. The Poet observes,
"Aspiring to be Gods the angels fell,
Error then is not only human, it is also angelic; and to forgive is the attribute of Divinity. The mercy of our God is boundless; he will have mercy, on whom he will have mercy. He will do in the armies of heaven, and amongst the inhabitants of the earth, as seemeth in his sight good, however his arrangements may appear to us. Parnel, in his beautiful Poem entitled the Hermit, piously
What strange events can strike with more surprise,
I confess there are many things in the sacred volume that I find too wonderful for me. So also in the book of nature, all that we can do is to search diligently the scriptures, assured of one fundamental truth, that the offices and complex character of the Redeemer is to the scriptures, what the soul is to the body; and that without this emphatic name of Jesus, the Bible would be like many other bodies of divinity, rather perplexing than pleasing, rather soul-harrowing than soul-satisfying.
Whatever view of scripture bears on its front the stamp of divinity, that is truth, yea and nay, no man in his senses can believe both the yea and the nay. Persons however dare not say they yield no credence to the word of God; they will listen to commentators anxious to be led into all truth. The grand difficulty is to learn what is to be believed. The only testimony mankind are condemned for not believing, is the testimony of God, which Abraham believed, and which was taught by all God's holy prophets from the beginning of the world, the truth of which is testified by all the scriptures; and to which, blessed be God, every creature on earth, and in heaven, shall ultimately bear witness. Blessed are the people who in this their day are made acquainted with this peace renovating sound, for they walk in the light of God's countenance, and are of course happy. But if we be wrong in the commencement of our career, every step we advance conducts us farther from the mark of the prize of our high calling. The first requisite in genuine religion is to gain an acquaintance with the proper object of religious worship. Acquaint now thyself, saith the Holy Spirit, Acquaint now thyself with God, and be at peace. Surely an acquaintance with God the Saviour will give peace : indeed were our benign Creator, what some of his unhappy children are taught to consider him, were our Maker our adversary, going about seeking to devour, the more acquaintance we had with him the more wretched we should be, and the farther from peace.
But eternal praises be to the God of all consolation, who is indisputably the best teacher, both as to precept and example; he is, and will continue to be the friend of mankind. I listen with rapture while he exhorts his disciples to do good to them from whom they VOL. II.
received evil; and with devout adoration I hear him say that by so doing they shall be the children of their Father who is in heaven, who is good to the evil, and to the unthankful. What is the conclusion which this view of an Omnipotent Lawgiver, who is almighty in power, in mercy, and in goodness, forces upon the mind: Shall we not say he will himself be bound by the perfect regulations which in infinite wisdom he hath made ?
This parable seems, in some respects, similar to that of the lost sheep; the ninety and nine are left by the owner who departeth from his habitation in pursuit of the one who had strayed from the fold, and when it is found he layeth it on his shoulders rejoicing. What is this but the Son of God, the Son of Man, bowing the heavens and descending to earth, in pursuit of that which was lost? Who are the ninety and nine just persons which need no repentance? They could not be human beings, as human beings appear in this our world; for momently observation evinceth the truth of the declaration made by the world's Saviour," There is none good but God-there is not a just person upon earth, who liveth and sinneth not." Eccles. vii. 20. Every human being therefore needeth repentance. Who then were those ninety and nine just persons? To me it appears plain they were the brethren of the prodigals in human nature, the angels in heaven which the Redeemer left in their native skies when he descended to earth.
I view the good Shepherd coming in search of that which was lost, and never giving over the search until he is crowned by success. I see him in possession of this lost sheep; he has recovered it; he lays it upon his shoulders and returns home rejoicing. I connect these two parables; I lift my eyes to the Redeemer er of the world; I see him as the second Man bring home the fulness of the nature, of which he is the head; and when I see how the Father receives this nature, thus brought home to himself, in its right mind; when I see the best robe, the righteousness of God's righteousness, which is, by the faith of Jesus Christ, unto all and upon all; when I hear the Father calling to his servants to bring forth the best robe, and to put it upon him; when I see the emblematic ring placed upon his finger, to intimate their never ending union; when I behold the shoes placed upon his feet, that he may be shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; when I hear the orders given to bring forth the fatted calf, and hear him say, "It is meet that we make merry and be glad ;" when I listen