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ity, and bigotry. In this parable, our Saviour has also taught us, that the moral ties of reciprocal benevolence between man and man, in all nations of the earth, were prior in time to the precepts of the Mosaic institution ; and that the precepts of that institution were not intended to weaken the force, or to diminish the importance, of the original law of our nature. On the contrary, the real tendency of the Mosaic code, as the abridged summary of its duties is expressed by Moses, Deut. vi. 5. Levit. xix. 18. was, by forcibly impressing the love of God on the minds and hearts of meo, to make them, on all occasions, as far as they have ability, willing and active in doing good to their suffering fellow creatures.
This parable (which is by some supposed to be the narrative of a real transaction) was
delivered soon after the feast of tabernacles, · at a time when many were actually going from
Jerusalem to different parts of the country. Its scene is, with great propriety, laid in the mountainous desert between Jerusalem and Jericho. From the testimony of Josephus it appears, that not only Judea, in general, was at that time over-run with robbers, who committed the greatest excesses, but also, that this very road, which lay between Jerusalem and Jericho, was particularly infested with banditti. It was favorable to their villany, as it lay through wild and dreary solitudes. On account of the frequent robberies committed upon it, accompanied with murder, it was, as Jerome tells us, called the bloody way.
On the Parable of the prodigal Son.
MY DEAR Nieces,
An ingenious author observes, that the parable of the prodigal son is, perhaps, the most beautiful and instructive which came from the lips of him “who spoke as never man spake.” In order to understand its excellence, it is necessary to keep in mind the occasion on which it was delivered, and the connexion in which it stands. The parables in Luke xv. concerning the lost sheep, the pieces of silver, and the prodigal son, were all uttered by our Lord on a particular occasion. “ Then,” says the Evangelist, - all the publicans and sinners drew near to hear him. And the pharisees and scribes murmured, sayiug, this man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.” Therefore, to repress the insolence of the one party, and to cheer the dejected minds of the other, our Lord gives an affect
fortun u pot nial se
ing description of the kindness and compassion of our heavenly Father, and his readiness to forgive penitent sinners.
In this parable, the Evangelist describes a certain man, who had two sons ; of whom the elder remained with, and served him all his life. The younger, who is the principal figure in the parable, was impatient of the discipline and order of his father's house. He therefore demanded and obtained his part of the family estate, and took his journey into a far country," and there wasted his substance with riotous living ;” and having spent all the fortune which he had received, was reduced to poverty, wretchedness, and the lowest menial servitude. At length, his complicated distress inspired him with the resolution of returning to his father's house, and of casting bimself, as a sincere penitent, upon his compassion. The Evangelist describes the paternal tenderness with which he was received, in the most affecting manner. “But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell upon his neck, and kissed him.” The son exclaim
ed, “ Father I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.” . Before he could finish the humiliating words he was about to utter, « make me as one of thy hired servants,” he was interrupted by his rejoicing father, eager to exhibit proof of his reconciliation to him, and his paternal affection. “ He said to his servants, 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.” · The rejoicing parent gives his son the most affectionate welcome. His command to bring the best robe, a garment not to be worn by a servant, was a declaration the most affecting which can be imagined, how far he was from intending to treat his penitent son like a servant. The ring and the shoes speak the saine language. The father celebrated his return by a splendid entertainment, amidst the joyful congratulations of his numerous friends assembied on this happy occasion.