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A MEDITATION ON
LUKE XV. 23.
Bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us
eat, and be
GRACIOUS Lord, is this the manner in which thou treatest thy undutiful children! Is all this feasting and rejoicing, for the return of an ungrateful and rebellious prodigal? Is not this the man, who, but a little while ago, weary of the restraints of his father's house, made that insolent demand, “ Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me.” Is not this he who spent all his substance in riotous living; and yet now is he received, and pardoned, and caressed, and feasted, with such unusual marks of tenderness and joy. The penitent himself did not expect so much favour. See there, how he stands confounded and silent; while his heart is bursting with remorse and gratitude, and he wants words to express the kindness of his father! What may we not hope for from one so abundant in mercy, who discovers no resentment, and utters no bitter reproaches, for the past undutifulness and extravagances of his penitent children ?
The Prodigal intended to petition, that he might be taken into the number of the hired servants; and
even that was a favour which he had little reason to expect. But his father prevented him with his goodness; and interrupting him as he began to express his humiliation, he says, “ Bring hither 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 kill it, and let us eat, and be merry; for this my son was dead, and is alive again ; was lost, and is found." "
Bring hither the best robe.” The spotless robe of innocence was once our covering, and our glory. But, by riotous living, we soon rent, and defiled, and lost it; and afterwards had nothing but rags ; which only served to increase our disgrace, and aggravate our wretchedness. Yet so strangely were we blinded, that we could think them fine, and glory in our shame. But when our eyes were opened, we blushed at our deformity, and would have hidden ourselves from the presence of the Lord; and we should have shunned him for ever, if he had not kindly provided this best robe for our relief. But would not the ordinary garments of the meanest servants better become us? Must the best robe be furnished to cover such wretchedness? This is, indeed, taking beggars from the dunghill, and setting them among princes. Blessed Jesus, what has our extravagance cost thee? The richness of this garment declares it to be thine; but it is so stained with blood, that we tremble to think what pains and agonies thou must have endured to procure it for us.
O my soul, if ever the honour and blessedness con. ferred upon thee, should tempt thee to pride, look back upon thine original condition, and consider the means by which such a change has been produced in
thy favour; and this will make thee both humble and thankful.
" And put a ring on his hand.” He had more reason to have expected fetters than ornaments. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound. We read, that Pharaoh took off his ring from his finger, and put it upon Joseph's hand: and in like manner, Ahasuerus gave his ring to Mordecai, which was regarded as an extraordinary mark of confidence and favour, and this honour have all the saints, praise ye the Lord.
“ And put shoes on his feet."
To be barefoot, was a sign of captivity and slavery. When the Israelites left Egypt, they put on their shoes ; and so when sinners are converted, and delivered from the bondage of sin, turned from the power of Satan to God, and brought into the glorious liberty of his people, they have their feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. How abundantly, and O! how seasonably, does he supply all our needs according to his riches in glory, by Christ Jesus! We had just passed the strait gate, and had set our feet towards Mount Zion : expecting to find Wisdom's ways to be ways of pleasantness,and all her paths to be peace. But the path was so rough aud so thorny, that we were ready to go back, and walk no more withJesus. But now, since thou hast put shoes on our fect, Lord, we will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. There
There may be thorns, there may be rocks, , there may be difficulties, and dangers and death, in the way; but none of these things move us. “ And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it.”
What a strange and happy alteration in his circumstances ! But a little while ago, he was feeding swine and eating with them, and ready to perish with hun. ger; and now he has all things richly to enjoy.
How sweet will the supplies of the new covenant, and the relish of its comforts, be to those who have lived upon sin, or have been labouring in vain to find satisfaction in created enjoyments! We read of Joseph's brethren, that when he brought them to his house, and made a feast for them, and entertained them so splendidly in the same place with himself, the men marvelled one at another : and had they known that it was their brother, whow they envied and cast into a pit, and sold for a servant, they would have wondered yet more. But infinitely more reason have we to be astonished at the mercy of God, who has sent out his servants into the highways and hedges, and compelled us to come and partakeof his bounties.
may wonder at ourselves, and at that which is done to us, and for us. What love and kindness are shown us! What privileges and dignities are conferred upon us! What a profusion of mercies has divine grace bestowed ! and all this too, upon strangers and enemies ! Blessed Jesus, wast thou acquainted with thy guests? Didst thou know that we had betrayed, and sold, and crucified thee? We are at a loss which to admire most, thy power, or thy grace! Thy grace in calling and receiving such prodigals; or thy power in overcoming the stubbornness of our wills, and the enmity of our hearts; and enabling us to say, as we do now most sincerely, “Whom have we in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that we desire besides thee.”
“ And let us eat and be merry.”
What hearts must we have, if such entertainment as this do not elevate them ! Would it not have been strange, if amidst the general joy, the prodigal alone should have sat silent and dejected ? Why then art thou cast down, O my soul; why art thou disquieted within me? When all heaven is rejoicing, why art thou sad? While thou wast abiding in a far country, with nothing but husks, and with a famine before thee, cares and fears very well became thee. But since thou art arrived in thy father's house, and art seated at his table, and the whole choir of angels congratulate thy return, surely tears and fears are unreasonable and ungrateful. The master of the house would have all his guests as joyful as himself. It is the pleasure of our bounteous Lord, that none of his family should want comfort, or wear a dejected countenance. Has he spread for thee a table in this wilderness, and given thee the promise of everlasting glory ? Never dare, O my soul, to charge thy unbelieving gloom upon him. Does he not offer thee a foretaste of the highest pleasures that heaven affords? Does he not bid thee delight thyself in thy Lord ? Has he not commanded thee to rejoice evermore; yea, to sing and shout aloud for joy? Bless the Lord tken, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
“For this my son was dead, and is alive again! was lost, and is found.”
See, Christians, see how our all-gracious God ob. serves, encourages, and rejoices in our return. He is well pleased with the sacrifice of a broken avd contrite spirit. Burnt-offerings, and the blood of ten