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pit into which it was fallen. As this was agreeable to their customs at that time, though not at the present, they were confounded with shaine and amazement, and reframed from their purpose of cavillivg at his proceedings.
Before dinner, the pride of the Pharisees discovered itself in the anxiety which each of them expressed to get the chief places at table. Jesus took notice of it, and shewed them the folly of their behaviour by the consequences to which it tends. He mentioned this in particular, that pride exposcs a man to many affronts ; whereas, to cultivate humility, is the surest method to obtain respect.
As the Pharisees were equally distinguished by covetousness and pride, our Lord, addressing himself to his host, oshorted laim, when he made an entertainment, to invite not only his friends and acquaintance, but to make it a matter of particular attention, to cail the poor, the marmell
, the lame, and the blind. For that, if this was done from a proper principle, that of genuine live to God and love to man, be should be blessed ; and as these guests could make him no recompence, he should be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.
One of the company remarking the felicity of those who should eat bread in the kingdom of God, Christ thought proper to pursue the simile, and described, in the following parable of a marriage feast, the success which the gospel, the invitation to the great feast of heaven, should nieet witli among the Jews ; and that, though it was to be offered to them with every circumstance that could recommend it, they would reject it with disdain, preferring the present life to that which is to come ; while the Gentiles would embrace the gospel with cheerfulness, and thereby be prepared to sit down with Abraham in the abode of the blessed. Then said he into him, a certain man, who was equalli generous and rich, made a great supper, and invited many of his professed friends and acquaintances. They did not at first refuse the invitation : but when every thing was fully ready, and the servants sent to press their immediate attendance, made a variety of frivolous excuses to justify their absence. So that servant came and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house,
: being angry, said to his serrant, go out quchly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, the mained the halt, and the blind, meaning, no doubt, the publicans and harlots, and others of the most profligate and despised of the Jews, who accepted more readily the invitatious of the gospel than such of their countrymen as had stood higher in the general estimation The su per being great, and the hall of entertainment spacious, all those whom the servait found in the streets and lanes of the city were not sufficient to fill the tables. Wherefore, knowing the beneficence of his lord's intentions, he came and informed him that there was still ruom. . And the lord said unto the servant, go out into the highways and hedges and comqel them to come in, thut my house may be filled. Go and preach the gospel to the Gentiles, who bave hitherto been considered as having no interest in my mercy, and they shall receive it with still more readiness than the outcasts of the Jews ; so that a number which no man can number, of all nations, and kindreds, and languages, and tongues, shall, at length, sit down together in the regions of immorial telicity. Dr. Macknight supposes the first of these calls to be directed to the prosel vtes from among the Gentiles, and the second to such of the Gentiles as were living in idolatry. Fir I say unto you, that none of those men who were bidden shall taste of my supper. This is not to be understood in the strictest sei se of the words, as is evident fron the conversion of Saul, who was a persecuting Pharisee, and of many of the priests wtic became obedient to the faitli ; but is intended to denote the general, but not total, Apostacy of the Jewishi uation.
Jugus Anding himself accompanied from place to place by a great multitude, who
were influenced by false conceptions of the nature of his kingdom, turned and said unto them, if any man come to me, und hate nut his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, so as to be ready to give up ali these things rather than desert my cause, hi cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, submitting to pain and shame for my sake, and come after me, by the belief of my doctrines, and the imitation of my example, cannot be my disciple. Make up your minds upon this subject ; for which of you, intending to build a tower, or any other extensive edifice, sitteth not down first and counteth the cost, examining well his resources, whether he hare sufficient to finish it ; lest, after he hath laid the foundation, and made some little progress in the building, but is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, saying, this man begin to build and wus not able to finish his undertaking. Or what king going to make war against another king, sitteih not down first and consulteth whether he be able, from the superior valour and discipline of his troops, though he has only ten thousand men, to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand ? Or else, if the result of his deliherations be not thus favourable, while the other is yet a great way distant from his frontiers, he sendeth an embassage and desireth conditions of peace. So likewise am I going to enter on a war so unequal in point of numbers, that whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, when duty renders it necessary, he cannot be my disciple. To conclude : Jesus told his apostles that this self-denial was pecu liarly necessary for them, because it was the spiritual salt that would preserve thein from apostacy, and others from corruption. Salt is good; but if the salt have lost its sarour, wherewith shall it be seasoned ? it is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill, but men cust it out. He that hath ears to hear let him hear.
Encouraged, probably, by what little they might understand of the preceding parable. the publicans and sinners now pressed closer to Jesus, and thereby excited the indignation and contempt of the scribes and Pharisees. To silence them, to vindicate his own conduct, and to induce the despised outcasts of Israel to pay the greater attention to his instructions, the blessed Redeemer now repeated the sarne parable as he had delivered just after his transfiguration, concerning the shepherd, who, having lost ove out of an hundred sheep, left the ninety and nine to recover that which had strayed from his fold. He now also repeated another parable of similar import, of a poor woman, who, having lost a piece of silver, of which she was possessed of only ten, lighted a candle, and swept the house, and sought diligently till she had found it; and, when she had succeeded in this, invited her neighbours together, saying, rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I had lost. The succeeding parable is one which excite incommon interest, both from the simple and affecting nature of the story, as from the importance of the consolatory truths which it is made the vehicle of communicating. We shall therefore consider it more largely than we have done either of the preceding parables.
The parable of the lost son, of all Christ's parables, is the most delightful, not only as it inforces a doctrine incomparably joyous, but because it abounds with the tender passions, is finely painted with the most beautiful inages, and is to the mind what a charming diversified landscape is to the eye. And he said, a certain man had two
And the younger of them, being impatient of the restraint he lay under at home, came and said to his father, Fether, yire me the portion of goods that falleth
And he divided unto thein his living. The indulgent parent listened to his son's desire, made an estimate of his estate, and gave him his portion ; perhaps, because he pretended that he was going to follow business. The younger son, therefore, hasing thus gotten possession of his fortune, lost no time. He gathered all together ;
and that he might be wholly from under the eye of his parent, who was a person of great piety, and be freed from the restraints of religion, he went into a far country, among heathens, where was neither the knowledge nor worship of God, choosing such companions as were most agreeable to his vicious inclinations. Here he wa lowed in unbounded riotousness and debauchery. But the ferment produced in his body by ciotous living soon clouded his understanding, and confounded any little sense he was possessed of; his mind was stimulated by mad desires, which pushed him from one extravagancy to another, till he quickly spent all. These circumstances, joined with the manner in which his father received him at his return home, are admirably contrived to shew the immense goodness and incomparable indulgence of God. No crime is so great, or so highly aggravated, that he will not forgive it if the sinner repents. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land, and he began to be in want. Having spent all to keep himself from starving in the famine, be sub mitted to the most disgraceful work that a Jew could be employed in, he hired himself to feed swine : he who the other day had been so remarkable for his luxury, extravagance, and foppish delicacy. Such are the direful consequences of vice.
But the wages he earned by this ignominious service were not sufficient, in a time of great scarcity, to purchase him as much food of any kind as would satisfy the cravings of his appetite. It seems, his master gave him wages without victual.)
Being balfstarved, therefore, he often looked on the swine with envy as they were feeding, and wished that he could have filled his belly with the husks which they devoured ; a circumstance which beautifully shews the extremity of his misery. Distress so great brought him, at length, to think. For one day, as he was sitting hungry and faint among the gluttonous animals, he reflected upon the happiness of the servants in his father's family, who had more meat than they could use, whilst he was ready to die with famine in a strange country. The consideration of these things made him willing to return home ; but that he might be received again, he resolved with himself to go in all humility, and confess his crimes to his father, acku w ledging that he was utterly unworthy to be owned as a son, and praying that he might be taken into the house only as a hired servant. I will arise and go to my Father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and before thee. He meant that God was injured in the person of his earthly father. And, certainly, nature itself teaches this, that whoever is insolent or disrespectful to his parents reliels against God, who, by making them the instruments of communicating life to their children, has imparted to them some of his own paternal honour. He resolved to say, likewise, and am no more worthy to be called thy son, make me as one of thy hired servants. Havirg the idea of his undutiful behaviour strongly impressed in his mind, he was sensible that he had io title to be treated at home as a son. At the same time, he knew that it gever would be well with him till he was in his father's family ag an ; so, with joy, he entertained the thought of occupying the mearest station in it. Thus, while the liberality of the great parent of men makes them wantonly run away from his family, the misery which they involve themselves in often constrain them to return. By the natural consequences of sin, God sometimes makes sinners to feel that there is 110 felicity to be found any where but in himself. And now the young man, having taken the resolution of returning to his father, put it immediately in execution ; he set trut just as he was, bare-footed and all in rags. But when he came within sight of home, his nakedness and the consciousness of his folly made him ashamed to go in. He skulked about, therefore, keeping at a distance ; till his father, happening to spy him, knew him, had compassion, ran, though old and infirm, fell on his neck, and kissed him. The perturbation which the aged parent was in with eostacy of joy hindered him from speaking ; so the poor, ragged, meagre creature, locked in his arms, began, and made his acknowledgments with a tone of voice expressive of the deepest contrition. But the father, grieved to see his son in that miserable plight, interrupted him, ordering his servants, some to bring out the best robe immediately, and a ring, and shoes, that he might be clothed in a manner becoming his son ; and others to go kill the fatted calf, that they might eat and be merry.
For this my son was dead and is alive again, was lost and is found. We looked upon him as utterly lost ; but lo! he is come back again, beyond all expectation, in safety And they began to be merry: they sat down to the feast, rejoicing exceedingly at the happy occasion of it.
And now, while every one in the family heartily joined in expressing their joy on account of the safe return of the second son, the elder brother, happening to come from the field, heard the noise of singing and dancing ithin ; wherefore, calling out one of the servants, he asked what these things meant ? The servant replied that his brother was unexpectedly come, and that his father, being very glad to see him, had killed the fatted calf, and was making a feast, because he had received him safe and sound. When the elder brother heard this, he fell into a violent passion, and would not go in ; the servant, therefore, came and told his father of it. The father, rising up, went out; and, with incomparable goodness, intreated his son to come and partake in the general joy of the family, on account of his brother's return. But the kindness and respect which his father shewed him on this occasion did not scften him in the least. He stubbornly persisted in his anger, and answered the affectionate speeches of his parent with nothing but loud and haughty accusations of his conduct. And he answered and said to his father, lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment, and yet thou never gavest me a kid that I might make merry with my friends. This branch of the parable is finely contrived to express the high opinion which the Pharisees, here represented by the elder brother, entertained of their own righteousness and merit. But as soon as this tliy son--tho ungracious youth disdained to call him brother, and at the same time insolently insinuated that his father seemed to despise all his other children, and to reckon this prodigal only his son— as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devour•d thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf. The father meekly replied, son,
. as thou hast never been ahsent from me for any considerable time, I could not in this manner express the affection which I entertain for thee. Besides, thou hast not been alt.gether without a reward of thy service; for thou hast lived in my family, and hast had the command of my fortune as far as thine exigencies, or even thy pleasures, required.' And he said unto him, son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thing. By calling him s011, after the insolent speech he had made, the father insinuated that he acknowledged him likewise for his son, and that neither the wdutifulness of the one or of the other of his children could extinguish his affection, or cancel the relation subsisting between them. It was meet that we should make merry and be glad. Both reason and natural affection justify me in calling the whole family to rejoice on the present occasion. For as thy brother is returned to us sensible of his folly, and determined to lead a better course of life, his arrival is like his revival after death, at east, it is his being found after he was really lost : for which reason, our joy ought to bear a proportion to the greatuess of this occasion. For this thy brother was dead and is alive again, wus lost and is found. Though he has devoured my living with harlots, he is thy brother as well as my son; wherefore, thou shouldest not be
angry because he has repented, and is returned after we thought him irrecoverably lost. Thus the goodness with which the father bare the surly peevishness of liis
cider son, was little inferior to the mercy showed in the pardon that he granted to the youn er.
Jesus, having thus set before them the affectionate behaviour of an earthly parent towards his undutiful child, left every one to judge whether such weak and wicked creatures can love their offspring with more true tenderness than the great Father Almighty does his, oi shew them more indulgence for their benefit. In this inimitable composition, the ainazıng mercy of God is painted with captivating beauty: and in all the three parables, the joys occasioned among heavenly beings, by the conversion of a single sinner, are represented ; joys even to God himself, than which a nobler and sweeter thoughi nevei entered into the minds of rational creatures. Thus high doth men stand in the estimation of God ; for which cause they should not cast themselves away in that trifimg manner, wherein multitudes destroy themselves ; neither should any one think the salvation of others a small matter, as some who are entrusted with their recovery suem to do. Had the Pharisees understood the parable, how criminal must they have appeared in their own eyes, when they saw themselves truly described in the character of the elder son, who was angry that his brother had repented! Withal, how bitter must their remorse have been when they found themselves not only repining at that which gave joy to God, the conversion of sinners, but excessively displeased with the methods of his procedure in this matter, and maliciously opposing them ! If these parables had been omitted by Luke, as they have been by the other three historians, the world would have sustained an unspeakable loss,
About the same tiine, our Lord instructed his disciples by the parable of the unjust steward ; a part of scripture, the interpretatiou of which is not considered the most easy. We shall, therefore, first give the whole in the words of Dr. Campbell, and then subjoin a few explanatory remarks.
(Luke xvi. I.. 13.] “ He said likewise to his disciples, a certain rich man had a steward, who was accused to him of wasting his estate. Having, therefore, called him, he said, what is this that I hear of thee? render an account of thy management, for thou shalt be steward no longer. And the steward said within himself, what shall I do? my master taketh from me the stewardship ; I cannot dig, and an ashamed to beg. I ain resolved what to do ; that when I ain discarded, there may be some who will receive me into their houses. Having, therefore, sent severally for all his master's debtors, he asked one, how much owest thou to my master ? He answered, a hundred baths of oil. Take thy bill, said the steward, sit down directly and write one for fifty. Then he asked another, how much owest thou ? He answered, a hundred homers of wheat. Take thy bill , said he, and write one for eighty. The
master commended the prudence of the unjust steward ; for the children of this world are more prudent in conducting their affairs than the children of light. Tberefore I say unto you, with the deceitful mammun procure to yourselves friends, wbo, after your discharge, mas receive y'u into the eternal mansions.
Wboso is faithful in little, is faithful also in much ; and whoso is unjust in little, is unjust also io much. II, therefore, ye have not been honest in the deceitful, who will intrust you with true riches ? And if ye have been unfaithful managers for another, who will give you any thing to manage for yourselves ? A servant cannot serve two masters, for rather he will hate one and love the other, or, at least, will attend one and neglect the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon."
The good things of this world are here called the deceitful mammon, because, from their transitory and unsatisfactory nature, they deceive all those that put their trust in them ; and they are filly contrasted with the true riches, the enduring inheritance of