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and spend it on himself. How little do unconverted men consider that Self is the idol set up in their hearts ! Şelf-seeking, and self-pleasing, are the main business of their lives. Say now, does not conscience tell you that this has been the feeling of your heart? Even when your mind has been a little softened, yet selfishness is always ready to rise up again.
2. Another mark of the ungodly is—thorough dislike of Religion. You see that this young man grew weary of his father's house.
He did not care for home. If he had broken the heart of his affectionate father, it would have given him no pain. In the same way, sinners turn their back
God. When pious friends weep for them, they laugh at it. When God condescends to say that he is grieved for them, it gives them no concern : for, as they themselves have no pleasure in God, they do not care how much he may be displeased with them.
3. Self-will, or the spirit of independence, is another very broad mark upon sinners. This young man, no doubt, had often said, in his own mind, “ It is high time for me to be
my own master. I am quite old enongh to set up for myself; why should I always be in leading-strings? Is my father always to be wiser than I? and am I never to think for myself?” In this manner we may suppose
man talked the matter over, to himself, and some idle companions. Self-will lies at the root of sin. The sinner will not give up his opinion or his choice, although fathers command
him, and mothers entreat him. He takes all that he can lay hold of; saying, “ Give me what belongs to me, and let me do what I like with it.”
4. Sinners also wish to drown the voice of conscience. This young man 66 went into a far country.” He thought he would go completely ought of sight. In the same manner, sinners would be glad to avoid the eye of God, if possible. “ Thou God seest me," is a terrible word to them, when their consciences are at all awake: but they generally endeavour to drown conscience.
5. Riotous living was now the business of this young man.
He had plenty of gay companions, as long as his money lasted. As long as the sinner has health and strength, he naturally spends himself, as much as ever he can, on the world.
6. And now “ there arose a mighty famine in that land ;” and the young man, having spent all, began to be in want. He hired himself out to the meanest service, feeding swine; and would have been glad if he might have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat.
66 But no man gave unto him.” This describes the complete wretchedness that sinners are brought to, sooner or later. They are stripped of all joy. They have no one to comfort them. Their companions in sin, when there is nothing to eat and drink, are the first to turn their backs upon them. And Satan, who has been deceiving them all the time, is waiting the moment of their death, to plunge them into hell.
But there is still a voice of mercy for the poor prodigal, however sad his case. It is the voice of Jesus, who died to save him. Jesus comes with love and pity, to visit the wretched, the outcast, the diseased, the despairing, the famished, and the dying. Thousands of angels surround the sick-bed of the penitent, where Christ is preached. They watch to hear the worn-out sinner sigh a prayer, and cast a look of faith towards Jesus. Jesus is the friend of sinners, the Saviour of the lost. Oh, let us all lift up our hearts to Jesus !
O adorable and ever-blessed Jesus, who didst come to seek and to save that which was lost! whither should the child of misery fly, but unto thee? O, how far, and how long, have we wandered! What bitter fruits of sin have we tasted ; and what a cup of sorrow, and wrath, have we been filling up, by our iniquities !
Truly, we may say, we have played the fool, and haye erred exceedingly. We have walked after the imagination of our hearts, adding iniquity unto iniquity, increasing our guilt by obstinate rebellion : and now our sins have taken such hold of us, that we are scarce able to look
We are ready to think our sins unpardonable and incurable. But, O suffer us not to fall into unbelief of thy mercy! We have nothing left us, but the hope of thy forgiveness, and of thy undeserved favour. And this thou delightest to bestow, on those who confess themselves wretched, and miserable, and poor, and
blind, and naked. Such are we! Receive us, Heavenly Father, for thy dear Son's sake! We would believe his promises : help thou our unbelief! Hear
us, in His name, who is able to save to the uttermost; even thy dear Son, Jesus Christ our Lord !
THE PRODIGAL SON: HIS REPENTANCE.
LUKE XV. 17–24. 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 to him, Father, I 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 ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned 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 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. And they began to be merry. This account of the returning prodigal exactly describes the repenting sinner, when he comes back to God through Jesus Christ, and is received again
into favour by his Heavenly Father. Every part of this account is worthy of our closest attention; for we are all wanderers from God. 1. First it is said, that this
young man came to himself.” He came to his proper senses.
He had been out of his right mind, so long as he gave himself up to riotous living. Sinners are never in their right mind, till they discover that sinful pleasure is bitterness, that the world is a cheat, and that their own hearts are full of madness against God. It is only fools, that make a mock at sin. And as soon as the Spirit of God enlightens the understanding, they are ready to cry out, “ I have played the fool, and erred exceedingly.” Now sin of every kind becomes a burden too heavy to be borne. Sins of the life; sins of the tongue; and especially sins of the heart, are now seen and felt to be most abominable.
2. Another mark of his repentance was, his beginning to think what a happy place home was. Awakened sinners cannot help thinking, “Oh, what blessedness there must be in Religion.” And they think right. There is no happiness greater than peace with God, and the hope of dwelling with him for ever. Moreover, when we come to think aright, there is no misery so dreadful as that of living far from God, and that of being cast away from his presence, to dwell for ever with devils, in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone!
3. The young prodigal comes to the resolution of confessing to his father, how shamefully he had