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consider whether, if they took up the profession, they could resolve to persist in it, under all the discouragements of persecution, and warned them against apostasy; intimating, by the comparison'of salt that had lost its savour, that a Christian destitute of integrity and piety will be rejected as an unprofitable servant.
THE PARABLES OF THE LOST SHEEP, THE PIECE OP MONEY> AND THE PRODJGAL SON.
From Luke, ChaJ>. xV.
Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners, for to hear him. .
And the Pharisees and Scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.
And he spake this parable unto them, saying, What man of you having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilder, ness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?
And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with jne, for I have found my sheep which was lost.
1 say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance..
Either what woman having ten piecespf silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it?
And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying,. Rejoice with me, fox I have found the piece which I had lost; .
Likewise I say unto you, There is joy in the presence of the angels of God, over one sinner that repenteth.
And Jesus said, A certain man had two sons: And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falletb to me. And he divided unto them his living.
And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a fa* country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.
And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty fa* mine in that land; and he began to be in want.
And he went and joined himself td a citizen of that Country; and lie sent him into his fields to feed swine.
And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat; and no man gave unto him. . And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough, and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
I will arise, and go to my father, and will say unto him, Jiather, 1 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.
And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ?an and fell on his neck and kissed him.
And the son said unto him, Father, I have slnneA against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.
But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on hi* hand, and shoes, on, his. feet. And bring hither the fatted calft apd kill ity and Jet us eat and be naerry.
Q, & For
For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.
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 intreated 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, who 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.
ANNOTATIONS And REFLECTIONS.
Such was our Saviour's discourse as he passed from the house of the Pharisee with whom he dined; and, as the sabbath was a day of rest, the publicans, who were then at leisure, had an opportunity of attending him; encouraged by his condescension to sinners, they eagerly pressed to hear him.
The three parables in this section were calculated to comfort those poor penitents wko followed our Lord, and to rebuke the Pharisees Sox their pride and censori
ousnes. By those of the lost sheep, and the piece of mo. nej, our Lord shewed the care which Gou in his infinite mercy takes to bring sinners to repentance, and the delight he has in their conversion; and in the parable of the Prodigal Son, God is represented as the Father of all mankind, shewing constant kindness to these who keep stedfastly to their obedience to his holy will and commandments. and receiving penitent sinners with/paternal tenderness and affection.
In these similitudes our Lord spake after the manner of men. The Pharisees proudly supposed that they stood in no need of repentance, and that God was glorified upon earth by such righteous persons as themselves alone our : Lord shewed by these parables, that in their unkindness to sinners they were far from having a heavenly temper, sinceeventhe Sutreme Being feeisa a tender commiseration for those who are likely to be lost, and good angels have a delight in administering to their conversion.
We must be careful not to infer from our Lord's words, there is more joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, than over ninety and nine just persons who need no repentance, that it is best to lead wicked lives, that we may by reformation be more acceptable to God than if we had never sinned; for as the man who lost the sheep, and the woman who lost the piece of money, had, we may suppose, an equal value for the remaining ones, so are all faithful servants highly esteemed in the sight of God; yet without any injury to them he may, through his divine goodness, rejoice that one who was in danger of eternal death is regained to their number: and, in humble imitation of the divine benevolence, every good Christian will rejoice also on so'happy an occasion, as well as the blessed spirits above.
In what an admirable light does our blessed Lokd appear, thus ex.tending his compassion to.those who were despised by all men; and setting an example to his true disciples, to use their utmost endeavours for the reformation of those who live in error and sin, and gladly to receive them as Fellow Christians, when they discover signs of contrition and amendment! If we are solicitous in respect to our worldly possession ., surely we ought to be much more so for the hononr of Go.d; and we should strive not only to secure our own salvation, but also to promote, as much as possible, that of others.
The parable of the Prodigal Son had a particular reference to the Jews, not only in respect to the treat, rnent given by the Scribes and Pharisees to the Publicans and Sinners who followed our Lord, but also to the offence they would afterwards take at the conversion of the Gentiles, and their admission into, the Church) of Christ. Our Lord addressed himself to the Scribe* and Pharisees in such a manner as to avoid giving then* offence, allowing to the J ews the privilege of elder brethren; for though the Gentiles were favoured, the Jews were first chosen to be the peculiar people of God, and as such the Gospel was first preached to them before the Apostles were commissioned to invite the Gentiles to embrace it. The behaviour of the elder brother in the parable, was an exact representation of that of the Scribes and Pharisees in our Saviour's time, to Publicans and Sinners, and of the unconverted Jews afterwards towards Gentile converts. The elder brother boasted of his own virtue and obedience: the Jews. gloried in their strict observance of the law. The elder brother complained of his father, as if he had been unkind to him: the Jews were offended that divine favour was extended to others besides themselves,