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selves. The elder brother would not go into his father's house because the other s«n was admitted, and aggravated his faults: our Lord's reception of publicans and sinners was a pretence with the proud Pharisees for rejecting the Gospel ; they judged those whom they called Siiners with rigid censure. Notwithstanding the peevishness of the elder son, his father treated him with affection and kindness; he besought hirn to come in ; assured him, that the kind entertainment he gave to his younger brother was no reflection upon him, nor should be any prejudice to him; that, so far from rejecting, he should still consider him as his heir; but observed that it was both natural and .reasonable to rejoice on so happy an occasion.
From this explanation of the Parable of the Prodigal, we may comprehend the spiritual meaning of it, and how far it may be applied to sinners in general, and to the Gentiles in particular: but it will afford still farther instruction, if we suppose it to be a real story, as in this view it furnishes a lesson well adapted to the present times, so remarkable for extravagance and profusion *. Let us learn then from this example, "that prodigality sooner or later must end in beggary andruin. Let our fortune be what it will, if we live above ourselves we shall at length be obliged to live below ourselves. It is the usual fate of the Prodigal, that his friends and~ his fortunejforsake him together. Repentance is the final conclusion." But in temporal affairs, repentance is useless, it will not recover a lost estate, and every youth has not a kind father to receive him.
The use which the Prodigal made of the portion which his Father kindly gave hire, shews how dangerous it is for youth ta leave their best friends and advisers.,
* See Bishop Newton's Dissertation*
and trust to their own weak judgment: too many there are who, careless of admonition and reproof, seek their own destruction, unmindful of the heart-breaking sorrow which imbitters the days of their tender parents, and robs them of repose. Such ungrateful children ought to be left to feel the want even of the common necessaries of life, till their reformation begins to appear; and then the kind hand of parental affection should be stretched out for their relief, and they should not be suffered to perish, nor be driven to despair, but have all possible encouragement to return to the paths of virtue and religion; for the Divine Being himself is ready to receive returning sinners.
Brother and sisters may also learn from this excellent parable, to be kind and affectionate to each other: and to banish from their minds selfishness, Jealousy, and «.zy, which are ever toririents to the heart in which they arc allowed to dwell.
THB I'ARABLE OF THE UNJUST STEWARD.
From Luke, Chaj.. xvi.
And he said also unto.his disciples, There was a cer. tain rich man which had a steward; and the same was accased unto him that he had wasted his goods.
And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee i Give an account of thy stewardship.; for thou raayest be no longer steward.
Then the steward said within himself, What shall I da? for my lord taketb. away from me the stewardship ^ I cannot dig, to beg I am ashamed,
I am resolved what to do, that when I am pat out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.
So he called every one of his lord's debtors unto him, and said unto the first. How much owest thou unto my lord?
And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty.
Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write four, score.
And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children ef light.
And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness i that when ye fail, they may receive ye into everlasting habitations.
He that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least, is un. just also in much.
If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?
And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own?
No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hole! to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and manimon.
And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him.
And he said unto them, Ye are- they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed amongst men, is abomination in the sight of God.
The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.
And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail. .
ANNOTATIONS And REFLECTIONS,
. The design of this parable was, to shew that the things cf this world should be so employed by us as to promote our eternal interests. By the children of this world, our Lord evidently meant those people who attend only to their-worldly concerns without any regard to a future life; by the children of light, those who, walking by the light of divine revelation, look forward- with hope to an eternal inheritance.
The children of this world, says our Saviour, are in their generation, or according to their specific character, wiser than the children of light, for they make to themselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, they employ the things of this world in such ways as are likely to secure the interests they have in view; but the children of light are too apt to be negligent and careless in respect to the use of temporal blessings. The unjust steward took advantage of his stewardship before he gave up rus ac. counts, and engaged his Lord's debtors to admit him into their houses, as one who had a title to their kindness, by which he secured himself from labour and beggary. And his Lord, judging according to the principies of worldly-minded men, commended him because he had done wisely in respect to his worldly concerns.
Cur Our Saviour admonishes the children of light to take the unjust steward for an example in respect to his assiduity and forethought, in providing for his future welfare; but he tells them to make to themselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousnes, that 'when these fail they may be received into everlasting habitations: and that they may know how to do this, he adds that they are to act the part of faithful stewards in respect to the things of this world, intrusted to them by their heavenly Lord ;. and.to look beyond the grave for a recommence. Though our Lord addressed this parable, and. the subsequent discourse, to his disciples, he had certainly a view. to the Pharisees, many of whom were rich and covet-. ous; such persons our Lord observed are not qualified to receive spiritual blessings; because they do not make a right use of temporal blessings; and they must not look for an eternal reward, unless they wean their affections from worldly things, and place them upon heavenly treasures. The Pharisees as usual, instead of receiving this exhortation with thankfulness, derided our Lord; on which he reproved them for their hypocrisy, and told them. they were no longer to look upon the Jewish nation as the only people of God, because from the rime of John the Baptist's preaching the kingdom of God was offered to all mankind ; at the same time our Lord said the moral law would be enforced rather than destroyed.
From our Lord.'s own mouth we learn, that though temporal things are not to be trusted to for eternal happi. ness, they may be made subservient to it. By a proper application of riches, the favour of God may be obtained, and an entrance into everlasting habitations secured; but this can never be done by such means as the unjust steward employed to make friends for himself; therefore the children of light should never have