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THERE IS JOY IN THE PRESENCE OF THI F ANGELS OF GOD OVER ONE SINNER THAT 10 REPENTETH. [ni
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531.99 of 1 In the parable from which this verse is taken, our Saviour intended to thew the Jews that the Gentiles (represented by the prodigal fon) should be taken, on their repentance, into God's favour equally with themselves. ..But though this was the chief intention of the parable, yet; like many of our Saviour's parables, it had two views; and the former part, at least, is capable of a much more general interpretation. In this light I propose to consider it, and shall point out the several pieces of instruction that arise from it.
In the first place, we observe the constant readiness we all shew to leave our father's house. By our father's house, iş tection which go O meant that kind pro
mert always receive from God. And we argue and act in this case most commonly as the prodigal did.. The sober discipline of our father's house is too severe a bondBige-we havpallons and appetites which-muft bé indulgediidet? us make an aequaintance with the world—it is time now to enjoy a little of life: these are the common delusions that
carry us all, more or lefs, -into-æfar country—into the paths of pleasure and indulgence. The father, no doubt, remonstrated to the prodigal, as God does to us
in the gospel, and let before him the kind intention of all the reftraints that were put hipon him; and probably, with a prophetic figh, forewarned him, that fooneri or later he thould repent his rashness. All being ineffe&ual, the father knowing there are fome people who can learn the leffons of wisdom only from experience, at length gave way; and the youth, we read, gathering att togeiber, with a plentiful supply of fölty and self-sufficiency, took his journey into a far country--- and the farther from home the better : the greater distance he went from his father's
house, no doubt, he thought-himself the more at liberty and the nearer happiness. . com
Let ys follow him in this fearch after happi: nefs. Every restraint was now removed; the world was all before him, and he entered it with that-fame unthinking spirit with which he had left the kind protection of a father's house, Wherever the tabret and harp-resounded, whereever, the voice of joy and mirth was heard, there was he in quest of pleasure, surrounded by the gay, the joyous, and the profligate. His passions werę his conductors; and følly and extrava gance went hand in hand with him, in' all his motions.
jco!!! . It required no spirit of prophecy to foresee the ende i The next Verse recites it': He wasted all bis substance: in fiatous living. And it had been marvellous had it been otherwise; for when our passions fairly take the lead, they feldom-stop till they are stopped by the impoffibility of proceeding.
bai It was not, however, our Saviour's intention to warn us against riot and extravagance, as the natural sources of poverty and distress--this is a worldly leffon-all the wife and prudent men of the world have this lesson by rote.
Saviour's meaning was fpiritual: he meant to teach us, that when we once leave our father's house--that is, when we once, in earnest, forfake the paths of religion, there is no saying where we may stop. We generally proceed headlong on. Our vicious habits get stronger our passions become more ungovernable; and there is seldom a reformation, unless God should please, in his goodness, to awaken us by calamity.
hor" This was God's method of dealing with the unhappy prodigal. After he had spent all, the text tells us, there arose a mighty farinė in that land, and he began to be in want : and be went and joined himself to a citizen of that coüntry, and be sent him into bis fields to feed fwine ; and he would fain have filled his belly with the brosks which the fwine did eat ; and no man gave unto him.--Here was a falling-off indeed! The gay, the joyous youth, who pursued pleasure in every shape, and counted days only as they diversified his pleasures, is now in want of the common necessaries of nature; and he who thought the kind restraints of his father a burden, is now forced to submit to the greatest ignominy and distress. And thus it will ever happen to us,
when we give up religion and duty, and seek our happiness. from the world. Though for a while the pleasures of sin may captivate, and unlawful gain may bring its present advantage, yet, we may depend upon it, a time will come when fin will assert its dominion : the pleasures of fin are the devil's baits merely to ensnare his servants; but he never means to treat them with indulgence. The difference, in this respect, between the servants of God and the servants of the devil, is this: the former are led through the gate of restraint to the mansions of happiness; the latter, through the gate of pleasure into the regions of despair. Sin is, in the end, the feverest task-master we can serve : it conceals its wages indeed from fight, because they are bad; but we know well enough, and from the best authority, what wages they are: not such a death as we daily fee, the separation of foul and body, but such death as He inflicts, who throws both foul and body into hell.-It would be something however gained, if the servants of sin could be happy till the time of their death—if they could be sure of enjoying their short, scanty portion in this world: but even this is not the case; and we may talk, if we please, of the