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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 was 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.
The great mercy of God in Christ for the recovery of sinners, his unwillingness that any should perish, his gracious love in seeking out that which is lost, his endeavours to bring the sinner to a state of penitence and restore him to the paths of peace; together with the assurances of greater joy felt in heaven at the almost hopeless return of the grievous sinner by a thorough change of life to the Saviour's fold, than over those comparatively just persons, whose sins being for the most part those of weakness and infirmity, and not wilfulness and presumption, may be
said to "be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke;" all set forth by our blessed Saviour in
The Parable of the Lost Sheep. Luke xv. 1-7.
And he spake this parable unto them, saying, What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.
The duty of praying perseveringly day by day for all things needful, to be delivered from the oppressions of wicked men and evil spirits, and to be found faithful
in the day of Christ; set forth by our blessed Saviour under
The Parable of the Importunate Widow. Luke xviii. 1.
And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?
That we may not, despising others and vainly trusting in our own righteousness, justify ourselves before
God, but, humbly confessing our manifold sins and great unworthiness, must implore his pardon, and rely only on his mercy for forgiveness; set forth by our blessed Saviour under
The Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican.
Luke xviii. 9-14.
And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a Publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this Publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the Publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
That we must as often, as fully, and as freely forgive others as God has forgiven us, is clearly taught by our Blessed Saviour in
The Parable of the King that took an account of his servants, and punished him who showed no mercy to his fellow servant. Matt. xviii. 21-35.
Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but Until seventy times seven. Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. But the same servant went out, and found one of his