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said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the Father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and killed it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry. Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. And he said unto him, Thy brother is come, and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound. And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and entreated him. And he answering 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: but as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf. And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. It is meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

Let us here behold, with all due attention, the moving representation which our gracious Redeemer makes of the folly of sinners, and the compassions of God; compassions, which he describes, as one who himself felt them, and who in this respect, as well as others, was the express image of his Father.

We have before us in this parable a lively emblem of the character and condition of sinners in their fallen state. They are thus impatient of the most necessary restraints, thus fondly conceited of their own wisdom; and thus, when enriched by the bounties of the great common Father, do they ungratefully run from him, and say unto God, Depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways. (Job xxi. 14.)

and who sing anthems of thankfulness and joy, when by Divine grace they are reclaimed from them. Let every sinner be touched with a generous desire, that he who has been in so many instances the offence and burden of the earth, may become the joy of heaven by his sincere conversion. And let the solicitude with which the little possessions of this world are sought, when they are lost by any accident, engage us more earnestly to seek what is infinitely more valuable, our own salvation, and that of the immortal souls of others. May we in our different stations labour successfully for their recovery; that we may another day share in that higher joy, which angels and glorified saints shall express, when they see them not only reduced to the paths of virtue and happiness, but fixed in abodes of eternal glory!

SECTION L.

LUKE XV. 11-32.

AND he said, A certain man had two sons: and the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger; I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son

said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the Father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and killed it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry. Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. And he said unto him, Thy brother is come, and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound. And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and entreated him. And he answering 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: but as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf. And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. It is meet that we should make merry, and be glad for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

Let us here behold, with all due attention, the moving representation which our gracious Redeemer makes of the folly of sinners, and the compassions of God; compassions, which he describes, as one who himself felt them, and who in this respect, as well as others, was the express image of his Father.

We have before us in this parable a lively emblem of the character and condition of sinners in their fallen state. They are thus impatient of the most necessary restraints, thus fondly conceited of their own wisdom; and thus, when enriched by the bounties of the great common Father, do they ungratefully run from him, and say unto God, Depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways. (Job xxi. 14.)

Sensual pleasures are eagerly sought; and perhaps all their earthly possessions and hopes are quickly paid as the price of them. While the means of obtaining these pleasures continue, not a serious thought of God can find a place in their minds and then, perhaps, afflictions, heavy and complicated afflictions, come upon them; yet even under that pressure they will often make very hard shifts before they will be persuaded to think of a return; till at length Divine grace, working in concurrence with Providence, brings them to a better temper.

When they see themselves naked and indigent, enslaved and undone; when they come to themselves, and recover the exercise of their reason, improving it to the only purposes for which it would have been worth while to have received it; then they feel the pangs of penitential remorse; then they remember the blessings they have lost, and attend to the misery they have incurred. And hereupon they are disposed humbly to confess their folly, and to prostrate themselves in the presence of their heavenly Father,—they put the resolution immediately into practice; they arise and go unto him.

But oh, let us behold with wonder and pleasure the gracious reception they find from Divine injured goodness! He sees them afar off; he pities, he meets, and embraces them; he interrupts their complaints and acknowledgments with tokens of his returning favour. Is Ephraim my dear son? is he a pleasant child? for since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him still: therefore my bowels are troubled for him; I will surely have mercy upon him, saith the Lord. (Jer. xxxi. 23.) Thus does God welcome the humble penitent: thus does he open the arms of his love to embrace him, and the treasures of his bounty to enrich him. He arrays him with the robe of a Redeemer's righteousness, dresses him in the ornaments of sanctifying grace, honours him with the tokens of adopting love, and invests him with the glorious privileges and immunities of his children. And all this he does with unutterable delight: he rejoices over him with joy; he rests in his love, and, as it were, rejoices over him with singing, (Zeph.iii. 17); and this is the joyful language of the song, My children that were dead, are alive again; and though they were lost, they are found.

Let heaven and earth unite in the joy, and echo back the song. Let no elder brother murmur at the indulgence with which these prodigals are treated; but rather welcome them back into the family, and even encourage every thing that looks like a disposition to return to it. And let those who have been thus received, wander no more; but rather let

them emulate the strictest piety of those, who for many years have served their heavenly Father, without having in any notorious instances transgresssed his commandments.

SECTION LI.

LUKE XVI. 1-18.

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AND he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man which had a steward: And the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods. And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship for thou mayest be no longer steward. Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed. I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses. So he called every one of his lord's debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord? And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty. Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore. And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely, for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations. He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own? No servant

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