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EARTHLY STORIES WITH BEAVENLY MEANINGS,
BY THE EDITOR.
account of the moral resurrection of his son
is the faint image of the joy of our heavenly THE PRODIGAL SON-TIIE ELDER BROTHER.
Father when, in the new creation of the soul OR the reason assigned in my first “in righteousness and true holiness," He
paper, I again introduce poetical beholds the spiritually dead alive again
illustrations of the Parable of the the spiritually lost found. So the conduct Prodigal Son. It will be noted that the of the Elder Brother indicates spiritual lines by the Rev. S. J. Stone, entitled alienation from the mind of God-spiritual "Coming to Himself," are illustrative of one indifference where there should have been of the engravings inserted last month.
the deepest spiritual interest. I have also appended an extract from the A test which proposes to determine the Rey. W. Arnot's work on “The Parables value of our religion by the measure of our of our Lord,” as a comment on “The Elder sympathy with spiritual joy, and our estimate Son." The view taken is identical with that of the occasion it celebrates, is not to be advanced in the closing chapter of “The applied without deep searchings of heart. Way Home.”
The question is not, Are we in the social As the first division of the Parable pro- relations of life imitating the conduct of the claims the fulness and freeness of the Gospel of the Elder Son? This may not be the case. It grace of God to publicans and sinners, in order was not the case with the Pharisees and to encourage them to return home, so the
Scribes. We may be exemplary in the dislast division exhibits, in the strongest light, charge of relative and social obligations. It the narrow, legal spirit of the Pharisees and is well indeed if it be so. " These ought yo Scribes--showing how possible it is to possess to have done." But the Earthly Story has privileges without receiving any real benefit a Heavenly meaning. The highest obligafrom them-how possible it is to be bereft tions are to God. The question is, Are we of filial love and sympathy even in a father's spiritually living as His “dear children,” or house.
spiritually acting out the character of the The Pharisees and Scribes could scarcely Elder Son? We may be in the temple as fail to shrink from the mirror in which they the Elder Son was in the field. We may were bidden to behold their own features. be noted for our observance of ceremonial Yet we may surmise, from their silence, that ordinances-be very zealous-give abundant conscience brought home to them the con- alms-have a name to live; and yet selfishviction of guilt. So it is possible our repro- ness, not the love of God, may lie at the bation of the character of the Elder Son may root of our religion. There may be—there include ourselves.
often is— the form of godliness" without Unnatural as his conduct appears--the “the power thereof." responsibilities and privileges of his earthly If the Pharisee did but watch the mani. relationship so entirely disregarded—we festations of his spirit towards others, as must remember the whole Parable is signi- well as the nature of his communion with ficant of spiritual truth. Our Saviour did God, he would without
God, he would without much difficulty not mean to charge the Pharisees and Scribes detect in himself even the more repulsive literally, but spiritually, with the sin of legal aspect of the Elder Son. The brotherhood apostacy. It was the heavenly relationship of Christians, how imperfectly he realizes it! and its obligations which they so greatly With what coldness and suspicion he looks misunderstood. The joy of the father on on persons professing repentance after a life
of flagrant sin! What a satisfied sense of his own superiority, because he has not run to the same excess of riot! How little anxiety for the spiritual sonship of others, even those united to him by the closest ties ! How little consciousness of the privileges of a son, even on his own part! How servile his worship-how heartless his prayers—how formal his praises! Can this be the man who has received "the unspeakable gift”? Can this be the man to whom the Gospel has brought "tidings of great joy"? Can we believe that the Spirit bears witness with his spirit, that grace hath made him "a child of God”? Nay, does he believe it himself? Is he not rather an alien, a stranger in his father's house?
We want the love of God shed abroad in our hearts, and nothing will compensate for its absence. If, in the earthly relationship, the most exact obedience to a father's commands--the most unlimited compliance with his wishes--would fail to impart a throb of pleasure to his heart, if he knew his child's affections were estranged, can we hope the religion of a Pharisee will avail to commend us in His sight who affirms that love, and love only, is “the fulfilling of the law”?
Grace-free grace—the love of God to man-must be realized, in order to the love of man to God, or the true spiritual love of man to man. The knowledge of this love is the Sinner's Way Home!
As they come crowding o'er him with the
strange Sweet sadness of a dream. New and yet old, the same yet not the same,
Old from the far-off years, Yet new by new-won right to that dear name
Most sweet to human ears. And though so sweet by that new sense of
love, Yet sad by sense of loss : What gain that now he ranks the gold above
The glitter of the dross ? What gain, since now the priceless wealth
has passed For ever from his hold? Yet it is sweet to know that now at last
He doth esteem it gold! Thus dear the musing thought that travels
o'er That earlier life again; Yet thus the voice within that cries, “No
more!” Cries with a sharper pain. His Father's land, the bounty and the grace,
The bliss and rest of Home,
Before his memory come.
The bitterest pain doth lend-
Dearest and surest Friend ;
The highest and the best,
Upon that Father's breast.
Is he no more a child ?
Most merciful and mild ? “I will arise and go, for it may be
That I shall be forgiven; Though my vain soul hath sinned so utterly
Against his love and Heaven. “Would his forgiveness bid me but become
A servant, not son,
Would be a new life won !
And sweetness of his grace;
The joy of his embrace!”
THE PRODIGAL SON.
His idols overhurled;
The worship of the world.
fled Still linger wistfully; The false gods, vainly honoured, coldly dead,
In death's dishonour lie. But touched with new life 'neath his spirit
change Those older memories scem,
• Illustration, page 1.
The Welcome Home. “But the father said to his servants, Bring fortb the best robe, and put it on kim; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his fect : and bring bit her ebe fatted calf, and kill it ; and let us eat, and be merry."-ST. LUKE XV. 22, 23.
The regalist; or, Adoption Tested. “ And he was angry, and would not go in : therefore came his father oul, and intreated him. ... And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all t'at 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."-ST. LUKE Xv. 28, 31, 32.
Dark vale, or rugged hill;
He presseth onward still.
Swift hurrying o'er his mindNow the dear vision of his Father's Home,
Now that false world behind.
“O Father, for that wrong my sin hath done
Against thy love and Heaven,
“My son, thou art forgiven!” Oh, blessed grace of love that all forgives !
Oh, pity without bound! “My son was dead, and now behold he lives;
Was lost, but he is found !"
Sorrow and shame, and new-born hope and
Now cowers in depths below.
And all he seeks more near,
The pangs of hope and fear.
His journey wellnigh done;
For ever lost or won!
Walls, towers, and gates appear;
Those sterner for his fear!
questSweet to his longing sight The glory and the peace! the Vale of Rest,
The Mountain of Delight! Whot sees he now from that high tower
descend, And throw the portal wide, As one who long hath waited for a friend,
And hastens to his side?
With shaken frame he stands;
To lift his longing hands.
As one in deadly strife Who with wild looks, although his lips be
dumb, Doth beg an hour of life. An hour? Oh, this is love that pardons all !
Heart unto heart is pressed; On the son's cheek the Father's kisses fall,
His tears upon his breast,
THE LEGALIST; OR, ADOPTION TESTED.
By the Rev. W. ARNOT. “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 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.”--LUKE xv. 25—32.
“And he was angry”—his cold heart,
As if encased in steel,
He knew not how to feel.
While all rejoiced around;
LOST” was FOUND."
The merry guests within;
The bitter fruit of sin.
Because of what was done;
J. H. HUGHES. The notice given in the first sentence of the Parable prepares us for meeting with