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we are exhorted to put on (as a robe) the Lord Jesus Christ.
How great the change in this accepted prodigal ! No more spending his time and substance in the paths of dissipation, but happy in his father's arms! Cold and hunger, storm and tempest, shame and rags, are his companions no more! In the best robe he is secure from all; his sonship is recognized and becomes visible; and possesses an indisputable right to his father's house. Such are the inestimable attendants on an investiture with a Saviour's robe! In a change so great, and in blessedness so valuable, what heart but must rejoice, what Angel but must admire!
Let us not forget to mark the tender feelings of the restored prodigal's heart. How dear, how divinely precious must be his compassionate father! What emotions of grateful joy arise within his soul! What admi. ration of this new, and invaluable robe, provided without his knowledge, and freely bestowed, without the shadow of merit! I know not, if he be most melted into contrition, or elated with pardoning love! Let Isaiah aid our pen to express the feelings of the accepted prodigal. I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God: for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation ; he hath covered me with a robe of righ. teorisne88, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels. •
If a merciful and gracious transaction of this kind on carth demand so much admiration and praise, how truly grand, and how inconceivably glorious will that scene be when the dead in Christ shall rise first, and put on their garments of immortality, and be admitted to their Fa. ther's mansion in glory!
O that as prodigals by nature and by practice, we may arise from every sordid passion, and with deep contrition go unto our offended Father; give no rest unto our souls until we feel ourselves within his paternal embrace, and covered with the best robe of Immanuel's righteous. ness! If thus found in him, not having our own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith, then we need not fear the shafts of death, nor dread the solemn scenes of final judgment. Each may with confidence exclaim,
Bold shall I stand in that great day,
LUKE XV. 22.
As emblematic of my Father's love,
As on our last Sabbath we employed our meditations on the best robe, which the father prepared and bestowed upon the repenting prodigal, perhaps it may not be unacceptable now to offer some remarks on that other singular expression of parental love, in placing a ring upon his hand. By the investiture of a robe, we saw a repre. sentation of the personal justification of a sinner in the RIGHTEOUSNESS OF CHRIST; so, the gift of a RING must be equally replete with a moral instruction to us.
1. It was for ORNAMENT. Probably, the prodigal, when in the vanity of his youth, and at the time when his hands, covered with rings and bracelets, grasped his divided patrimony, was ornamented with precious jewels, sparkling in his eye. But those, with all his other substance, were expended in riotous living; his hands made bare, and swollen, by submitting to the most arduous and debasing employ. From this drudgery he is now released, and those hands, defiled as they were, are lifted up and employed in earnest prayer for pardon.
the pardon is conferred, and the hand ornamented with a jewel, corresponding with that lovely robe in which he was to be introduced to his father's house. No small expression this of God's vouchsafement of the graces of his Holy Spirit, which adorn every accepted prodigal; and who, in the language of Ezekiel, is made perfectly beautiful, through the comeliness that God putteth upon him.
2. It was a pledge of UNION, by which the prodigal became more sensibly assured of his father's forgiveness and acceptance. How charmingly expressive is this of God's gracious conduct to a repenting sinner? First he is covered with the robe of Immanuel's righteousness; then receives the pledge of heavenly union. Thus, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. How striking is the emblem! What more expressive of God's eternal love and union than a ring, which hath neither beginning nor end? The ring, not only presented, but actually put upon his hand, thereby leaving him no room for doubt nor hesitation concerning the reality of his reconciliation, and his union to his father. Chrysostom says, “ The ring was put upon the prodigal, as an emblem of his soul's espousals to Christ.” Be it so: this, valuable pledge he must now believe to be his own; it became his by parental gift, and, I presume, whenever he cast his eye upon the ring, at once it reminded him of his former prodigality, and that grateful affection which is most justly due to his parent. Such is the nature of true religion! We love God because he first loved us. Nothing will dissolve the hard heart; nothing melt down the sinner's soul in deep contrition, and raise it up again to God in holy admiration and heavenly delight, but a sense of everlasting for.
giving love ! O may this love be our happy portion from day to day! May it constrain us to every duty our hea.. venly Parent enjoins; and so effectually unite our heart to God, that we may play the part of a disobedient prodigal no more!
3. One ancient use of the ring was to SEAL OBLIGATIONS AND TO CONFIRM DECREES. Thus the royal edict of Ahasuerus, which was obtained through the wicked intrigue of Haman, for the murder of the Jews, was sealed by the secretary with the king's ring. Nor is it improbable, that by the father's placing the ring upon the hand of his prodigal son, that he thereby received him into his family, to perform such duties, and to execute such commands, as might be connected with his future wealth and affluence. However, of this we are certain, every prodigal sinner, restored by grace to thie embraces of his heavenly Father, is possessed of that appropriating faith which is more precious than gold that perisheth, and enables him, with David, to have respect to all the testimonies of God, and to confirm, with hand and heart, all the purposes, decrees, threat. nings, and promises of his Father, revealed in Christ by the Gospel. He that hath received this testimony, hath set to his seal that God is true.
Equally striking does the gift of a ring express the witness and THE SEALING OF THE HOLY Ghost upon the penitent's own heart. By this spiritual sealing, the image of Jesus Christ is formed upon the soul, and becomes visible in life; the conscience enjoys the testimony of peace, and is secured in hope of everlasting bliss. So the Ephesians, after that they believed, like the prodigal's restoration and investiture with the justi. fying robe, they were sealed with the Holy Spirit of