« הקודםהמשך »
Be not deceived. God is not mocked. If ye live to Him, ye shall see life; if ye live to the flesh, ye shall see death. There are but two roads to choose; the broad one, and the narrow one. The one is thronged with the giddy multitude; the other is blessed with here and there a traveller. O close your ears against the beckoning flatteries of the one; and let your eye-lids look straight before you in the other.
Resolve, this day, in presence of the living and the dead, to break off your sins by repentance, and to live lives of new obedience. Shun sin, as you would shun the bite of an adder; for, however sweet in the beginning, in the end it will sting like a serpent. Religion has no sting, neither in the beginning, nor end. All her ways are pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. Watch and pray therefore, lest ye enter into temptation. In all your trials and doubts, look unto Jesus. He is the penitent sinner's friend. His grace is sufficient for you. His strength shall be perfected in your weakness. He hath opened a fountain, which shall wash you from all uncleanness.
14. And now, as ye are about to let down the dead into the dark and lonely tomb, there to lie and moulder into his original dust, until his atoms shall be remodelled and reanimated at the Judgment Day; ye have little time to weep for him, but begin to weep for yourselves, if you are not prepared to follow him. If the cold clay-clods dropping upon the coffin do not wake you, scarcely would the trump of the archangel arouse you. If the witnessing of this scene does not make you better, it will leave you worse. If you yet continue in sin, you are digging graves of eternal death for yourselves. Then return, reformn, and live. It is religion alone, which can lighten the soul in passing through the dark valley of the shadow of death; which can bear up your feet, as they wade over the bitter waters of Jordan; and can guide you up the banks into the living Canaan. Then, be no more careful and troubled about many things, but seek earnestly the One Thing needful. Fly from the wrath to come, as did righteous Lot to the welcome Zoar. Flee_ to Jesus, as did the man-slayer to the City of Refuge. Look to Him, as did the bitten Israelite to the typical Serpent. Call, as
did sinking Peter, Lord, save, or I perish. Do not go home, and straightway forget what manner of persons you
The day of life is short; the day of grace may be shorter. In the church-yard, we see the head and foot stones of almost every length. We see the forgotten grave sunken in over the mouldered body; and we see the just opened grave yawning for its prey. We see the fresh turf laid over the full measure of a man; and we see the little sods, scarcely a few spans long. Othen, be ever mindful of the time, when you shall lie down in the dust. As you draw further and further from the earth, strive to draw nearer and nearer to Heaven. horse with his grim rider hath already overtaken our deceased friend. He will soon overtake you. Therefore, BE YE ALSO READY. And thou, the priest, who warnest; and thou, the sexton, who buriest; Be yE ALSO
For the sublime, the beautiful, the pathetic, and the instructive, the History of Joseph in the Old Testament, and the Parable of the Prodigal Son in the New, have no parallel, either in sacred or profane history. This Parable represents God as a common Father to the whole family of Adam. It also represents the children of men as of different characters, although all related to this common Father.
This Parable was designed for the Jews, the elder brother, who were unwilling that the Saviour should receive the poor and outcast Heathen, the younger brother ; though both originally of one primitive father, and God the Father of all. But I shall not now consider it in a national, as it was at first intended, but in a private, domestic application. All our Lord's parables are very original, and useful; but this picture, above all the others, is the most tender and touching, even to tears. I will endeavour to give such a paraphrase of the story, as will explain, but not injure its brief and beautiful simplicity. You have heard it a hundred times, but, no matter, it will bear hearing a hundred times more.
I wish to hear it again myself. I will first relate the Narrative ; and then draw and apply the great and consolatory Moral.
I am sure,
A certain man had two sons. The one was a solid, grave youth, reserved and austere, sober himself, but not at all good humoured, and not easily drawn from his early
habits and home. The other was a volatile and mercurial young man, impatient of restraint, and willing to try his fortune in the world. Now it was a custom in the East, for sons to demand, and receive their portion, if they chose, during their father's life-time. And the younger son said to his father, Father, give me, he might have said, If it please thee, give me, the portion of goods that falleth to me. Not that he wished to apply to business, and trade with it, and so gain more; but weary of his father's wholesome restraints, he sighed, like too many other young men, for what he called liberty. And the father divided unto them his living. He gave
younger son his share, and offered the elder son his; although the elder chose to let his portion remain with his faiher, until he might naturally inherit the whole estate. For the father divided his substance between them.
And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. So sinners, that go astray from God, venture, and often lose their all. The younger son, like the sinner, was content to have his portion of present enjoyment; taking no concern for the future. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land, and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. Not to tend sheep; that would have been an honourable employment; for Jacob, and Moses, and David kept sheep. But to feed swine, the basest and vilest of all employments; and to a Jew peculiarly degrading. No character was meaner, in the sight of a Jew, than a swineherd. And he would fain, had his nature permitted, have stayed his hunger with the husks, that the swine did eat; or rather, it is probable, with the fruit of the charub tree, a kind of pulse used in Syria to feed swine ; and no man gave food unto him. And when he came to himself, when his sound senses returned, and he began to reflect, he said, How many hired servants of my father have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger. How foolish to leave so good a home. But, continued he, I will arise, and
go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sin
ned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. That pride, which will arise up out of the ashes of other sins, was now quelled. And he arose,
and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off; before
any other of the family were aware of him; as if from the top of some high hill he had stood looking out the way he had gone, and been moaning for his return; his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. The son came slowly, as one ashamed ; but his father ran, to meet him. So is God willing to meet the returning sinner, even when he is yet a great way off. The father kissed his prodigal and polluted son, or, as the word implies, kissed him again and again, in token of his welcome, and to seal his pardon. 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.
He has not time to say, flake me as one of thy hired servants, before his compassionate father interrupts him. For 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. He orders the best robe, that used on birthdays, or festivals. And the ring, which in ancient times was given as a mark of honour. Perhaps the signet-ring, containing the arms of the family, in token that he was again become a branch of his kindred ; and signifying, that although he had spent one portion, the father intended to give him another. And the shoes, for he came home barefoot, and perhaps his feet tender with travel. Formerly, those, who were taken captive, had their shoes taken off; and when they were restored to liberty, their shocs were returned. There is no rebuke from this kind father ; no taunt, Why did you not stay with your riotous companions, and your swine ? There is nothing like this. The son came in rags, and his father clothed him. Thus, if we repent, we shall not be left to bear the reproach of our youth; our sins shall not be mentioned against us.
Nor is this all. For the glad father cries also, And bring hither the fatted calf; not some coarse food, but the calf fatted for some special occasion; not only for a feast for him, but for a festival for the