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and demands the whole attention to its moving and pathetic history.
In turning to our parable we find it narrated, that “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.” Here the younger son, tired of the restraint which he met with in his father's house, impatient to secure his patrimony, and anxious to get under his own control the guidance of his own actions, threw off all submission to his father, wrenched from the kind parent the affection, which existed between them, sacrificed his own honour, and at once exposed himself to the wiles and temptations of a wicked and deceitful world. “Father," said he, “give me the portion of goods which falleth to me." The parent, anxious to gratify the desire of the son, divideth unto him his living." Having thus secured what he considered sufficient to gratify his lusts, and to please his passions, he tore himself from the parental roof-gave up the comforts of a hospitable home-he bartered his happiness for a few fleeting gratifications; and having taken his journey into a far country, very soon“ wasted his substance in riotous living ;" what was the consequence ?—“ he began to be in want." Oh, alas ! how soon were the hopes of a kind parent blighted by the profligacy of a favourite child! That child who, doubtless, had been the mother's anxious care, the father's fond hope : they had watched his days with passionate anxiety—they had beheld the speaking countenance glow with warm affection, and the sweet voice of their favourite child had often struck
their ears the kind expressions of his heart; but now that voice was still—that heart, from whence they had expected virtue and religion to spring, was far from their tender love_far from their hearth; he had wandered into a far country, but, like most undutiful sons, soon began to be in want. But there is nothing strange in this description; many of us have beheld with pity, yea, almost with tears, the once promising youth led away by the impulse of his own rebellious passions—feeling no interest in his father's welfare, lost in the wiles and seductions of the world, and becoming, instead of what was fondly expected—the dutiful and grateful son—the abandoned and wicked libertine! Yes; we have beheld the distracted mother sitting solitary and forlorn, weeping over the loss of a favourite child, torn from her arms, ere the bud had expanded into form, and had ripened into beauty! Such occurrences are unfortunately not very uncommon !
But let us continue our history. When this younger son “ began to be in want, he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did
His eyes were not yet opened; he had not yet drunk deeply of the cup of misery, nor tasted the nauseous bitter of sin ; he had not, as our Lord expresses it, “come to himself;" he was lost to the comforts which he had left behind him in his father's house—far beyond the tender care of a watchful and ever anxious parent, reduced to the last stage of distress, degraded in mind, emaciated in body, ragged, naked, and as a last resource, “would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat;" he would have been
contented to have wandered still fartherbeyond the gaze of his fellow-mortals, in any secluded spot. Here, then, was the summit of human misery. From a man formed by the hand of God upright, he, like unto the beast of the field became prone to the earth, out of which he was taken. Ah! the very adder, that creeps upon its belly in the dust, was a state of envy to his condition—the adder was, as God made it; but he had fallen from his lofty station, and was now sunk in his own infamy. But the voice of conscience will be heard. Man's feelings, in an evil hour, will like a mirror reflect, and show the wicked his own crimes. At last," he came to himself. How many hired servants of my father,” said he,“ have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger ?" Unhappy creature that I am! into what a depth of misery have I been plunged! All was joy and hope around me, when under the roof of my pious parents; they brought me up in virtue's habits and virtue's ways, but from them have I wandered ! My hands were pure, my heart could feel; religion was my guide, and happiness was my portion ; then I knew no misery, I felt no wrong,
I feared not death, I trembled not at the thought of eternity; but now, I go mourning all the day long. I review with horror the days I have wasted, and the Sabbaths I have profaned-Oh! may I be permitted to redeem the time! Vain wish! that time has passed—those Sabbaths are irrevocable ;—those talents are no more! Oh, ye fellow-mortals, pity me, and have compassion on my condition ! But ye cannot; vain is the help of man ; ye may behold; ye may pity; but ye cannot help. What, then, shall I do? Shall I
upon my bended knees implore my father again to receive the prodigal ?-will insulted heaven grant to me even a hope of such far distant joy ? “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.” In this humble frame of mind the once sinful son approaches his father's house, led on by feelings, contrary to those, in which