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Luke XV. 26.

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164 But his Elder Brother repines and resents it:

Sect. 123. if& House, he he&d the Sound of Mustek and «mc and drew nigh to the Dancing, and was. surprized at the Discovery of House^he heard Musick and such unusual Joy. And calling one of the Ser- 26 And he called one of

vants, he enquired of him, what was the Meaning the Servants, and asked what
of these Things,, and what could have occasioned these Things meant,
this extraordinary Rejoicing? And he said 27 And he said unto him,

to him, It is because thy younger Brother is come J^f^&^it*
Home; and thy Father is so transported with Joy fatted Calf, because he hath
at his unexpected Return, that he has killed the received him safe and sound.
fatted Calf, and made a very splendid Entertain-
ment, because he has received him in good Health
again, and found him happily recovered to a
Sense of his Duty. Ana he was very angry at
the kind Reception of his Brother, and resolved
that he would not go in.

His Father therefore, hearing he was there, arid
being told he had discovered some Uneasiness,
came out with great Condescension, and calmly
intreated him to be pacified, and to join with
them in the Festivities of the Day. >

But instead of rejoicing on so happy an Occasion, and running to embrace his penitent Brother, he was still full of; Envy and Resentment,

and replied to his Father, Behold, I have ferved time thy Commandment, thee these many Tears, and even to this Day am and >'" th?u Tneveru &av?st

si r »i. A ar- •/• 1 L mealed, that I might make

as careful of thy Affairs, as if thou wast my merry with my Friends:

Master, rather than my Father j nor canst thou

fay, I have at any time departed from my Duty,,

or transgressed thy Command; and yet thou haft

never given me so much as a Kid, to make an En~ ."

tertainment with a few of my select Friends:

But as soon as ever this thy favourite Son was

come, who has, as much as in him lay, devoured

thy Substance with Harlots Abroad, in a long

Course of scandalous Debaucheries, to his own

Ruin, and the Infamy of the Family, thou haft

killed for him the fatted Calf, and made him as

welcome, as if he had been the most dutiful Child

upon Earth.

And tho' his Father justly might have taken Offence at his unbecoming Reply, yet with great ^n'd'Wi'that VhVve isthine" Gentleness he said to him, Son, thou art always with me, and art every Day receiving some Token of my Kindness 3 yea, all that I have is in a man

28 And he was angry,, and would not go in :—

—Therefore came his Father out, and intreated him.

29 And he answering;, said to his Father, Lo, these many Years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any

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30 But as soon as this thy Son was come, which hath devoured thy Living with Harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted Calf.

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While his Father acquaints himy how fit it was to rejoice. rfStf

ner thine, as thou art Heir to the Bulk of my Sect. 123. 32 It was meet that we Estate (k): But surely, ""on farther Considera- o*-v^-», should make merry and be • ^ must acknowledge, that it was fit we \^ XV* glad: for this thy Brother * » M . . p > J 32.

was dead, and is alive again; /«>«/</ /W/f <*«« r#0/C<» To-day; Jor this thy poor
aad was lofi, and is found.. Brother (I), who was but lately looked upon as

dead, is as it were miraculously made alive again;
and he who was lost to us all, is now happily found;
and it will much better become thee, to join with
us in Joy for his Return, than thus peevistily to
quarrel with my Indulgence to him.

Now you, who have heard this Parable, will
easily fee, how indecent this Conduct was, and
how ungracious a Figure this elder Brother makes
in my Story. And I will assure you, that when
you Pharisees murmur at the Kindness shewn to
the Publicans, or even the Gentiles themselves {m)y.
on their sincere Repentance, you act with as ill
a Grace, and are the Objects of still greater Blame,,
in Proportion to the Degree in which Men's
Eternal Interests are more important, than those
that relate merely to the present State.

(F) All that I'bave is thine."] This is a material Intimation, and suggests a strong Reason against murmuring at the Indulgence (hewn to great Sinners: For as the joyful Welcome that the Father gave this younger Son, did not incline him to disinherit the elder Brother;, so neither will God, out of a partial Fondness for remarkable Penitents, raise them to a State of Glory, superior to that of those, who have on the whole made a greater Progress in Holiness, and done him more constant and faithful Services.

(I) This thy Brother.] There is a lovely Opposition between this, and the 30/Æ Verse: The elder Son had there indecently said, This thy Son; the Father in his Reply tenderly lays, This thy Brother. And it is a moving Intimation, that the best of Men ought to look on the most abandoned Sinners, as in some respect their Brethren still; and should especially remember the Relation, when there appears any Inclination to return.

(w) To the Publicans, or even the Gentiles themselves.] Many Commentators have considered this Parable, in a View of peculiar Application to the Jews and Gentiles; and have observed, that the Murmurs of the Jews against the Apostles, for preaching the Gospel to

the Gentiles, (see Afts xiii. 42, 50. xxii. 21, 22. and 1 Tins. ii. 16.) are represented

by the Conduct of the elder Brother. This was certainly a Cafe comprehended in our

Lord's Design; but he undoubtedly had something more in his Intention. He meant to (hew, that had the Pharisees been as eminently good, as they themselves pretended to be, yet it had been very unworthy :heir Character, to take Offence at the kind Treatment, which any sincere Penitent might receive. Thus does he here, and in many parallel Texts,, condemn their Conduct on their own Principles; tho' elsewhere, on proper Occasions, he

(hews the Falfhood of those Principles, and plainly exposes their Hypocrisy and Guilt.

Thus the judicious Calvin states the Matter; and it is strange, so many learned Writers should have puzzled themselves, and their Readers, in so clear a Cafe.

IMPROVE*

Sect. 12

166 Refle&ions on the Folly ofSinners, ■* *

IMPROVEMENT.

3. T E T us here behold, with all due Attention, the moving Represen-> _L_J tation which our gracious Redeemer makes of the Folly of Sinners; and the Companions of G 0 D; Compassions, which he describes, as one who himself felt them, and who in this Respect, as well as others, was the express Image of his Father.

We have before us in this Parable, a lively Emblem of the Character and Condition of Sinners in their fallen State. They are thus impatient

Luiexv. i2. 0f tne ^ft. necessary Restraints-, thus fondly conceited of their own Wisdom; 'and thus, when enriched by the Bounties of the great common Father\ do they ungratefully run from him, and fay unto God, Depart from us, for we desire not the Knowledge of thy Ways. (Job xxi. 14.)

Ver. 13. Sensual Pleasures are eagerly fought; and perhaps, all their Earthly Possessions and Hopes are quickly paid, as the Price of them. While the

Ver. 14. Means of obtaining these Pleasures continue, not a serious Thought of God can find a Place in their Minds: And then, perhaps, Afflictions, heavy and complicated Afflictions, come upon them; yet even under

Ver. 15, 16. that Pressure, they will often make very hard Shifts, before they will be persuaded to think of a Return; till at length Divine Grace, working in Concurrence with Providence, brings them to a better Temper.

Ver. rj. When they fee themselves naked and indigent, inflaved and undone j

when they come to themselves, and recover the Exercise of their Reason, improving it to the only Purposes for which it would have been worth while to have received it;—then they feel the Pangs of penitential Remorse; then they remember the Blessings they have lost, and attend to

Ver. 18,19. the Misery they have incurred. And hereupon they are disposed humbly lo confess their Folly, and to prostrate themselves in the Presence of their Heavenly Father : They put the Resolution immediately into Practice; they arise, and go unto him.

Ver. 20. But oh, let us behold with Wonder and Pleasure, the gracious Recep

tion they find from Divine injured Goodness. He fees them ajar off; he

Ver. 21. pities, he meets, and embraces them; he interrupts their Complaints and Acknowledgments, with Tokens of his returning Favour. Is Ephraim my dear Son? is he a pleasant Child? for since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him still: Therefore my Bowels are troubled for him; I ivill surely have Mercy upon him, faith the Lord. (Jer. xxxi. 20.) Thus does God welcome the humble Penitent; thus does he open the Arms of his Love to embrace him, and the Treasures of his Bounty to enrich him.

Ver. 22, 23. He arrays him with the Robe of a Redeemer's Righteousness, dresses him in the Ornaments of sanctifying Grace, honours him with the Tokens of adopting Love, and invests him with the glorious Privileges and Immu

and on the Kindness of GOD to returning Prodigals. 167

nities of his Children. And all this he does, with unutterable Delight .-Sect. 123. He rejoices over him with Joy; he rejis in bis Love, and, as it were, rejoices <-^v^J over him with Singing; (Zeph. iii. 17.) and this is the joyful Language V"' 2*" of the Song, My Children that were dead, are alive again j and tho' they •were lost, they are found.

Let Heaven and Earth unite in the Joy, and echo back the Song. Let no Rider Brother murmur at the Indulgence, with which these Pro- Ver. 25,-32. digals are treated j but ratheF welcome them back into the Family, and even encourage every Thing that looks like a Disposition to return to it. And let those, who have been thus received, wander no more; but rather let them emulate the strictest Piety of those, who for many Tears have served their Heavenly Father, without having in any notorious Instances transgressed his Commandments.

SECT. CXXIV.

Christ delivers the Parable of the unjust Steward, and reproves the Pharisees for their Covetousness and Hypocrisy. Luke XVL i,;—18,.

Luke XVI. u

A N D he said also unto his **• Disciples, There was a certain rich Man which had a Steward; and the fame was accused unto him, that be had wasted his Goods.

2 And he called him, and raid unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an Account of thy Stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer Steward.

Luke XVX r..

OUR Lord then spake another Parable, by Sect. 124.
which he intended to convince his Hearers V_>-v->^J
of the Necessity of making a right Use of their Lukc XVI-
Worldly Enjoyments; and having before rebuked X"
the Pharisees for their envious and uncharitable
Temper, he said also to- his Disciples, that were
about him, There was a certain Rich Man, who had
a Steward, in whom he had long put great Com-
fidence; and he was at last accused to him, as hav-
ing wasted his Goods, which had been intrusted to
his Care. And calling him, he said unto him, 2:
What is this strange Account that I hear of thee?
Can it be true, that thou hast acted so base a Part?
Give an immediate and exact Account of thine Ad-
ministration and Management in this Office ; for
thou canst be no longer Steward, with any Honour
to thyself, or Satisfaction to me, while thou con-
tinuest under such Imputations and Suspicions as
these. r

And'

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Christ delivers the- Parable of the'

And upon this, as might be well imagined, the Steward was much alarmed, and said within himself\ in the Reasonings qf his own Mind, What Jhall I do, in this unhappy Situation of my Affairs ? for my Lord is taking away my Steward* pip, and with it I (hall lose my Subsistence. lam not able to dig, or to apply myself to any other laborious Work of Husbandry (a); nor can I expect, under this Load of Infamy, to be trusted by another in the Business I have been accustomed to; [and] I am utterly aJJjamed to beg my Bread, after having lived so handsomely in the World thus long. And after a Pause he added, /

have at length bethought myself, and now know what I will do; an Expedient offers itself to my Mind, by which I may secure myself Friends, so that when I am removed from my Office, they may receive me into their Houses.

And in pursuance of this Scheme, having called every one of his Lord's Debtors to him, whom he could hope to oblige by so fraudulent a Proposal, he determined to lower the several Articles in his Book, which stood chargable to the Account of each; and said, for Instance, to the first, How much owest thou to my Lord? And he said, An hundred Baths of Oil (b): And he said to him, Take thy Bill^ in which thou hast acknowledged the

Receipt

unjust Steward,

3 Then the Steward satd. within himself, What shall I do? for my Lord taketh away from me the Stewardship: I cannot dig, to beg I am ashamed.

4 I am resolved what to do, that when I am put out of the Stewardship, they may receive me into their Houses.

5 So he called every one of his Lord's Debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much oweft thou unto my Lord?

6 And he said,4 An hundred Measures of Oil. And he said unto him, Take thy Bill,

(a) I dm not able to dig, or to apply myself to——Husbandry.] Raphtlius, (Annot. at Ken. pag. 104, 105.) and Eisner, (Observ. vol. i. pag. 251.) have shewn, that the Word tiunrlew signifies in general, to cultivate the Land, and especially to prepare it for Seed; which was one of the most laborious Parts of the Husbandman's Work, in which DayLabourers were employed; and consequently, most sit to be mentioned by this Steward, who having been used to a delicate and luxurious Way of living, would naturally think of such a Change of Life in the most discouraging View. The Expresion, Hk I%vu, 1 am not able, or strong enough, to do it, has also a peculiar Beauty in this View, which is lost in our Translation, and in most others.

(b) An hundred Baths of Oil.] The Greet Word $a\v<, is evidently derived from the Hebrew E3'J"Q, which we render Baths in the Old Testament. (1 Kings vii. 26. 2 Chron. ii. 10. Ezra vii. 22.) According to Bijhop Cumberland, it contained about Seven Gallons,

Two Quarts, and Half a Pint. Compare Jojeph. Antiq. lib. viii. cap. 2. §. 9. The

Measure of Wheat, Kofnf, mentioned in the next Verse, is the "U3, Cor, or Homer jaf the Hebrews, containing about Eight Bufiels and an Half, Winchester Measure. The Word ■Homer being familiar to an English Ear, I have retained it in the Version. This Homer contained Ten Ephahs, ot Baths; (Ezei. xlv. 1 r. 14.) and each of these latter Ten Omers. {Exod. xvi. 36.) Twenty Homers, which he allowed the Debtor to deduct, were above Twenty Quarters of Wheat, and might be as valuable as Fifty Baths of Oil; so that the Obligation ■conferred on both these Debtors might be equal,

(i) Take

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