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and live. The ministers will exhort; they will lure you with great and precious promises; they will, if you will be led, lead you by gentle and easy stages to your reconciled Father in Christ. The threatening of heaven has gone forth, but it shall not be executed; the clouds of despair are over our heads, but they shall not burst; the sun is becoming black, like sackcloth of hair, but it shall not be darkened; the moon is fast sinking into the ocean of blood, but it shall not refuse to give her light. The Father is offended with us, but he will not deny to us his tender compassion: the Son will not refuse his intercessions. Arise, then!—arise, and go to the Father, and say unto him, " Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son." I know, I feel, that I am a child of wrath, that I have moved thee to anger, that I have wandered from thy ways, that I have refused thy counsels, that I have rejected thy ministers, abused thy Sabbaths, profaned thy sanctuary, "and am no more worthy to be called thy son; make me as
one of thy hired servants:" "for I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of the Lord, than dwell in the tents of the ungodly." Such confession and humility are the beginning of holiness. The feeling of our weakness and wretchedness brings us to remember our sins; it is the feeling of our sinful state, that leads us to the sincerity of repentance. Humility is not only the first impulse of a penitent; but, under the grace of God, it is his principal guide and companion, after he has repented, through every stage of the Christian pilgrimage.
There is also another view, under which this parable may be considered-one, under which some of the fathers of the Church have considered it. In the younger son the Gentile world brought into covenant with God by Christ, in the elder the Jews, with whom the covenant struck with Abraham had continued, whose pride revolted against an union with the nations, are very correctly supposed to have been intended. If we examine the scope of the chapter, whence the text is taken, the objection urged against Christ for having eaten with
publicans and sinners-and the preceding parable of the lost sheep-we must be assured of the correctness of the interpretation. But since what is true of generals, will hold good with respect to particulars, the practical observations, in which we have indulged, lose nought of their force.
We have observed from this parable, that the prodigal's departure from his father represents the absence of every wanderer from the path of piety and virtue: his coming back, our return to duty, after we have gone astray: and the welcome he found, our restoration to the Divine favour, when we truly repent. As men, then, are born in sin, and continually doing wrong in the sight of God, they require some assistance from above, before any mighty change can be effected. "Ye must be born again." What! "must we enter the second time into our mother's womb and be born!" No! it is not a natural birth, but a spiritual. A change from nature to grace takes place in the whole man, so that he becomes spiritualized; the old nature doth sink, and the new child rises into the perfect man,
sensible of the glorious attributes of Deity, which are about him.
Like as the dark
ness of night is dispersed under the influence of the sun, displaying to the anxious observer the gorgeous works of creation; so the child of God, under his benign influence, rises out of the moral darkness, in which he was born, testifying in his sinful nature the glory of the great Creator. Or, like as the morning dew is gradually chased away by the rays of a genial sun, so the nature of the natural man sinks under the influence of the Holy Spirit, and bursts forth into spiritual beauty, and becomes fit to dwell in God's holy temple. Scripture tells us, that "the grace of God is sufficient for us," that "our strength is perfected in weakness." If, then, this grace be the one thing needful, what hinders us from becoming fit and meet for the kingdom of God? God's Holy Spirit is given to us freely. We have observed his influence in the cares and troubles of our mortal pilgrimage. We have seen it in the death-chamber, and marked well the effect, it had upon our hearts when looking upon the clay, scarcely
cold by the hand of the grave's tyrant. We have seen it, when the earth has closed over those who were dear to us; at the time when our tears, gushing from a full and affectionate heart, moistened the hallowed ground. Oh, yes! it was then, that Divinity moved within us, and told a silent tale within of woe. It was God's Holy Spirit exciting us, and moving us to come to himself. It was an opportunity vouchsafed by heaven to urge us on to repentance. It was the Spirit moving upon the face of the troubled waters, which were stilled and followed by a sweet and lovely calm.
But let us draw another reflection from this very interesting subject before us. We do not affirm, that the younger son in this parable wandered from his father's house through the parent's neglect; but our daily experience shows to us, that the crimes of children are very often of their parents' making, either on account of having neglected their early education, or of having set them a base and evil example. To you who are parents, or have children under