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you know the condition of it is thus with men, they will hear a sinner, whose conscience is awake, these parables with delight, and reand lets him see his sin and his con-ceive the doctrines contained in them dition ? Look upon David, when he with cheerfulness. had been guilty of adultery and mur They will understand, for instance, der: hear how he expresses his grief, with the greatest satisfaction imagin(Psalm xxxviii.) “My sorrow is con- able, that by the Shepherd, who went tinually before me; for mine iniqui- to seek his lost sheep, is meant Jesus ties are gone over mine head; as an Christ, who came into the world to seek heavy burden, they are too heavy and to save sinners : when they hear for me."-Look upon St. Peter, when what pains he took to find it; how he he had denied his Lord, and thought took it upon his shoulders; how he upon it, you will find him weeping rejoiced that he had found it, &c., bitterly.See the Publican in the they will then apply this parable to temple; he dares not so much as lift themselves; they will see plainly that up his eyes, but smites upon his God desires their conversion; that breast and cries, “God be merciful if he desires it, he will afford them unto me a sinner.” In one word, all the means of being converted; consider the penitent woman at the that their souls are dear in his sight, feet of Jesus washing his feet with her or else he would not have sent his tears. What was all this for? Our own Son to seek and to save them ; Lord will tell you, "her sins were then they will see and acknowledge many;" Christ had forgiven her the tender love of this good Shepupon her repentance; and thus she herd, who spared no pains to find his expresses her love and thankfulness. lost sheep; they will therefore love She looked upon it as the greatest him, desire to please him, and not mercy in the world, to be restored to willingly do anything that may justly the favour of God, and she could not offend him. . but shew it by her love and by her And when they hear again the tears. And if we are not thus parable of the Woman that had lost affected, when we consider how mer a piece of silver, what concern she ciful God has been to us, it is because had upon her, what pains she took we are not truly sensible what it is to find it, what pleasure she had to be out of his favour, what it is to when she had found it, they will be under his displeasure. In short, easily see that all this is matter of the it is because our consciences were greatest comfort to sinners; that if never well awake.

the angels rejoice upon the converThey that are whole (or think sion of a sinner, it is because God is themselves so) care not for a physi- pleased with it, and because they cian, but they that are sick. "Come know that God will not reject any unto me,” saith our Lord, "all ye that return to him. that travail and are heavy laden, and And they will be still more conI will give you rest.” When once vinced of this, when they go on to

consider the circumstances of the Prodigal Son. He left his father's

♡ CCVI. house without his leave; that which

CHAP. XV. 11-32. his father gave him to maintain him decently he spent upon harlots; he

The parable of the Prodigal Son. never thought upon his father, nor the sad affliction he gave him, till he 11 And he said, A certain could live nowhere else: these are man had two sons : all instances of a vile behaviour; and

12 And the younger of them yet, after all, the father receives him said to his father, Father, give without upbraiding him, and treats

me the portion of goods that him after such a manner as if he had never done amiss. And will God falleth to me. And he divided thus deal with sinners, that return unto them' his living. to him after all their wanderings ;

13 And not many days after who being sensible of their unhappy the younger son gathered all condition, desire his pardon and fa- together, and took his journey vour? Yes, thus God will deal with into a far country, and there his unhappy creatures; unhappy be wasted his substance with riotcause they have offended him, but

ous living happy in having such a father, so full of goodness, so ready to pardon.

14 And when he had spent Will any sinner after this say, I would all, there arose a mighty famine willingly return, if I could hope that in that land; and he began to God would receive and pardon me? be in want. A sinner may indeed say, I will not 15 And he went and joined forsake my sins;

I will not ask par- | himself to a citizen of that don; I will not return to my duty; country; and he sent him into but no man can say, if I should de

his fields to feed swine. sire to return to God, he will not

16 And he would fain bave receive me.-WILSON.

filled his belly with the husks HYMN.

that the swine did eat : and no Who can describe the joys that rise, Thro' all the courts of paradise,

man gave unto him. To see a prodigal return,

17 And when he came to To see an heir of glory born!

himself, he said, How many With joy the Father doth approve, The fruit of his eternal love;

bired servants of my father's The Son looks down with joy, and sees have bread enough and to The purchase of his agonies. The Spirit takes delight to view

spare, and I perish with The holy soul he form’d anew ; hunger! And saints and angels join to sing

18 I will arise and go to my The growing empire of their King.

WATTS. father, and will say unto him,

;

Father, I have sinned against calf, because he hath received heaven, and before thee, him safe and sound.

19 And am no more worthy 28 And he was angry, and to be called thy son: make me would not go in : therefore as one of thy hired servants. came his father out, and in

20 And he arose, and came to treated him. his father. But 5 when he was 29 And he answering said to yet a great way off, his father his father, Lo, these many saw him, and had compassion, years do I serve thee, neither and ran, and fell on his neck, transgressed I at any time thy and kissed him.

commandment: and yet thou 21 And the son said unto never gavest me a kid, that I him, Father, I have sinned might make merry with my against heaven, "and in thy friends : sight, and am no more worthy 30 But as soon as this thy to be called thy son.

son was come, which hath de22 But the father said to his voured thy living with harlots, servants, Bring forth the best thou hast killed for him the robe, and put it on him; and fatted calf. put a ring on his hand, and

31 And he said unto him, shoes on his feet :

Son, thou art ever with me, and 23 And bring hither the fat- all that I have is thine. ted calf, and kill it; and let us

32 It was

meet that eat, and be merry:

should make merry, and be 24 'For this my son was dead, glad : * for this thy brother was and is alive again ; he was lost, dead, and is alive again; and and is found. And they began was lost, and is found. to be merry

25 Now his elder son was in the field : and as he came and * ver. 24. drew nigh to the house, he READER.–And the younger of them heard musick and dancing.

said to his father, &c.—The Prodigal 26 And he called one of the is a lively image of the sinner. We servants, and asked what these learn from his example how danger

ous it is to throw off restraint, live things meant.

in independence, and assume the 27 And he said unto him,

government of self.

The strongest Thy brother is come; and thy mark of the divine displeasure is father hath killed the fatted when God grants the desire of our

we

;

f Mark xii. 44.-g Acts il. 39. Eph. ii. 13, 17.-h Ps. 11.4.-i ver. xxxii. Eph. ii. l; & v. 14. Rev. iii. 1.

corrupt and proud heart, and leaves | No master so severe as Satan, no us to ourselves. What is man's light bondage so oppressive as that of and wavering will, when withdrawn sin: no servitude so degrading as from the guidance and direction of the slavery of passion. 7. The sinthe supreme and unchangeable will? ner, deprived of all legitimate and In its healthy state it threw off its innocent enjoyment, craves after the salutary dependence and chose per- husks of carnal and covetous desire; dition : how much more then does his pleasures are those of swine, it require the aid of its Restorer, earthly and sensual, wallowing in now that it is blind, diseased, and mire and uncleanness. infirm ?

The course of the parable now Man cannot long continue under brings us to note the progress of his own guidance, without being conversion-He came unto himself. 1. made sensible that he is led by blind- The sinner is awakened to the misness and delusion. The sinner's ery and corruption of his heart; but misery has its degrees of aggravation, how shall he awake, unless the light and he commonly reaches its ex which he was the first to quit, be the tremity step by step.

first to draw nigh, and to seek him 1. He loses sight of God and de- in the abyss of his darkness? We parts from him. 2. The love of God come to ourselves when God returns no longer prevailing in his heart, to our hearts; as we leave ourselves sensuality necessarily bears sway, when we leave God. As it is the and corrupts the whole. 3. He last and lowest wretchedness when loses all spirituality of mind. 4. God permits the sinner to sleep Having abandoned God, and lost amid the guilty delights of sin, undishis grace and his love, he is given turbed by conscience, so is it the comover to poverty, wretchedness, and mencement of returning happiness, want. It is just that he who has to feel the misery of sin, and to sought for happiness without God, covet the felicity of God's servants. should find when at a distance from The second step in conversion, him, nothing but affliction, indigence, is when the sinner is enabled to distress. How disastrous is the resolve on quitting sin and sinful poverty of the heart which has circumstances—I will arise. Whatwasted its spiritual treasure-how ever be the motive, how much sowasting the famine of the heart no ever tainted by feelings of interest or longer nourished by the heavenly inconvenience; however imperfect bread! 5. The sinner becomes the and little distinguished by real bondman of the devil. The farther antipathy to sin itself, still it cannot we depart from the sovereign good, be too promptly obeyed. Grace, the deeper the darkness of the inthe event, sanctifies all its own mind; the heavier the yoke imposed purposes. by appetite upon the will. 6. The The third stage is when the sinsinner feels the rigour of his slavery. ner turns unto God- I will go unto

my Father and hastens towards his and the seal of reconciliation. But heavenly parent, without a moment's the signs of God's goodness will nedelay, since misery can never be ver deaden the feelings of sincere too speedily rejected, nor can there repentance, nor take from the lowly · be greater folly than to risk, by spirit the temper of humility; yet in lingering, misery everlasting. the very depths of his humiliation

The fourth advance in conversion the strong affection of his heart emis the sinner's confession of guilt. boldens him to cherish a filial confiFather I have sinned against heaven dence, and in his approaches to a and before thee. Love to God is throne of grace, to call upon a Fa. the foundation of true repentance. ther's name. The strongest motive for hating sin The more deeply the sinner humis to be found in its hostility to his bles himself in the conviction of his graciousness, and, in the conviction unworthiness, the more freely will that it offends him who is the best God bestow his blessings and his of fathers.

gifts. He will welcome him as his The sinner humbles himself in son ; crown the grace of reconciliaconscious unworthiness of the grace tion by adding every other grace ; and mercy of God.--I am unworthy clothe him with the righteousness of to be called thy son. Love and the Christ, and confirm this new covespirit of adoption give us the right nant by the impression of his Spirit, to call God our Father. We lose which is the seal of adoption, the that right when we put away that pledge of the heavenly inheritance, affection, and when that spirit retires. and the earnest of the everlasting The confession of unworthiness is an promise. He will give grace and acknowledgment of humiliation de strength to run in the way of His served ; and we welcome humiliation commands, victorious over temptawhen we love God, because it is in tion and the tempter. How joyful the order of his justice.

is the soul that has thus recovered 6. The sinner cherishes a spirit of its privilege of abiding in its Father's submissive humility—make me as one house, of feasting on heavenly food. of thy hired servants. Without this Sinners, draw nigh and learn how temper and frame of mind there is good and merciful is the Lord ! no true contrition, and the mercy of Happy is the man who trusteth in God is renounced. The spirit of Him. penitence delights in the lowest, Nor will the contrite heart forget, hardest, and longest service.

that he who was thus dead and is alive God anticipates the returning sin- again, lost and is found must hencener. Parental kindness has prompt- forward live in the spirit of this reed the return, and parental tender surrection. He will not live to the ness marks the reception. He pours world which ruined him, nor to the consolation into the contrite heart, sin which slew bim, nor to himself and gives the assurance of pardon, who embraced that ruin and that

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