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he had strayed from the paternal roof. “ And when he was a great way off, his father saw him.”. Here was nature burst. ing from the heart of the forgiving father, and melting down into compassion and love! At a distance he saw his son approach-already the son
the son was upon
was upon his knees imploring mercy :
Father," the son exclaimed ; Father,” that tender word, ere it had died upon the pallid lips of the long-lost prodigal, melted the heart of the forgiving father, roused the affection, which had been lost through the ingratitude of a degraded son :-“he had compassion on him, and ran, and fell upon
his neck and kissed him.” * Father,” continued the son, “I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.' The old man heard his confession--he saw that he was sincere. From the very bottom of his heart he forgave him all that had passed ; he embraced the lost which was found, and kissed him as the mark of his tenderest love. “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 kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this, my son, was dead, and is alive again : he was lost, and is found.”
But let us endeavour to make a right application of this interesting parable. A parable, strictly speaking, is a similitude taken from things natural, to instruct us in things spiritual.
The father, in the one before us, is meant to represent God; and the son, the sinner who had wandered far from the way of the Lord. In this parable we can trace the sinner wandering from the station of life, in which he was placed by his Maker. In it we can see the compassion of an affectionate father ready and willing to receive the penitent with open arms, graciously listening to his confession, and frankly forgiving him all that had passed.
We stay not here to recall to your mind the fall of our forefather, and the enormous load of guilt and misery entailed upon his posterity in consequence. But we bid
you observe, how the Father was reconciled
through Christ his Son to disobedient man. The fatal act, which occurred in paradise, was to be punished by death. " In the day' that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” But it is clear, that Adam did not die upon eating the forbidden fruit. How, then, can we reconcile this apparent inconsistency ? We believe, that when man fell, the destruction would have terminated in death, had not a Mediator stood between God and Adam. We believe, that this Mediator arrested the destruction, and reconciled the offended God to offending man. But God still kept his promise, as if he had said, my wrath has been excited ; vengeance is mine, and I will repay; and man must die for his disobedience. Here the Saviour interposed, and, taking the sin upon himself, offered willingly to die, not only for the sins of Adam, but for the sins of the whole world, because the whole world became guilty through Adam's dis
"I here treat the passage according to its ordinary acceptation; but a comparison of passages induces the idea, that “beyom” in this place does not necessarily imply an instantaneous infliction of death.
obedience: here, then, was the compassion of a God — the Almighty accepted the sacrifice, and thus did he preserve his justice and mercy-his justice by punishing sin, and his mercy by accepting the sacrifice of his own Son for the sins of guilty man.
“ And when the fulness of time was come, God sent forth his Son;" the Divinity took Humanity, existed in our world, and offered redemption and remission of sins to all, who would accept his gracious terms; and at last bore the iniquity of us all by suffering upon the cross. He accomplished his purpose, while on earth, and then ascended to his reconciled Father in heaven. And even now, he is as ready and willing to intercede for all those, who are conscious of their sins, and desirous of pardon and forgiveness. We, brethren, like the prodigal in the parable, have wandered far and wide from our Father's house; we have been led away by our own lusts and evil nature; we have gone into the paths of sin, and drank deeply of the cup, which we fancied so pleasant to the craving appetite ; but have we reached the dregs ?
-have we tasted the unwholesome bitter, which has marred our fleeting joys, and blasted all our fragile hopes ? Are we now wandering in infamy and disgrace, with nothing to rest upon, but a rotten staff, which will pierce us, as it breaks ? Oh! when shall we find out our sins ? if we discover them not soon, they will infallibly discover us. But when shall we, like the returning, repentant, prodigal, come to ourselves ? How long will the afflictions, the troubles, the cares of this life press upon us, and we, like Rachel, refuse to be comforted, because we disbelieve, that the Gospel can give us rest ? Oh, benighted and hard of heart, “ye will not come unto me, that ye may have life.” Ye will not confess your sin before heaven ; ye will not meet the Father, who is with an eager eye watching the road, by which you should return; ye will forget the Father's compassion, the Father's love, the Father's affection for his long-lost prodigals! Oh, ye shall not, while the heart glows, while the pulse beats, while the tongue can speak, ye shall not die, ye shall turn to