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The Prodigal Son.

The Prodigal Son.

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Published by glennpease



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Published by: glennpease on May 20, 2013
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THE PRODIGAL SO.BY JOSEPH PARKER LUKE 15''And a certain man had two sons. And the younger of them said to hisfather, Father, give roe the portion of goods that ialleth to mCt And hedivided unto them his living " (vers. Il, 12).THE man was a man of substance. It may be a fortunateor an unfortunate circumstance, as events may prove.There is nothing wrong in being a substantial man in society ;yet the very fact of a man having great riches may be one of the greatest calamities that ever occurred in his life. Theyounger son did not say, " Father, I am tired of a lazy life, andnow I am determined to do something for my own bread. Ihave been turning over this great problem of life in my mind,and I find that life is a responsibility, life is a discipline, andthough I have been born under circumstances of conspicuousadvantage, yet I think it right to go out and do something tomake my own position, to establish my own title, to be calledand to be treated as a man." What did the young man say?He said, *' Father, I am a youth of fortune ; please give to methe portion of goods that falleth to me." He had been scheming,it appears, but scheming in a wrong direction. He had beenscheming in the direction of self-enjoyment ; he was going out totaste the sweets of liberty ; the time had come, in his conscious-ness, when he thought that he would enjoy a little more freedom,and the first notion that occurred to him was to get clear of hisfather. Many a man has had precisely the same lucky suggestionpresented to his mind by the great enemy. The father has stoodin the way ; the father's old-world notions have been impedimentsin the path of supposed progress and enjoyment and liberty ; andthe young man's great concern has been to get rid of his ownfiitherl It looks well. ''Let me open a door in my father'shouse, go into the wide world with the portion of goods that339340 THE PEOPLE'S BIBLE. [Lukexv. ii, 12.falleth to me, and all will be sunshine and beauty, music and
rest." It is evident that the young man was not a man of robustunderstanding ; yet he was not to be blamed for having had verylittle experience of the world. He thought that life would beenjoyable if only he had liberty. I propose now to follow himin his journeyings, to see what his experience was, to collectit for the advantage of all who need a moral exhortation uponthis point, and to inquire at last whether there cannot be somebetter way of spending the days which God has put into ourkeeping as a trust.The young man gathered all together, took his Journey intoa far country, thinking that the farther from home the sweeterand larger would be the liberty. I fear he has planned some-thing in his heart, which he would not like to do just within theneighbourhood of his own father's house. If not, he gave wayto the sophism which exercises a very malign influence upona good many of us, namely this : That we must go a long wayoff in order to be blest, not knowing that the true blessing grows just at arm's length, forgetting that the fountain of the truest joy springs within us and not outside of us. Yet how manythere are who travel mile on mile to get joy, to secure rest;when they are forgetful of the fact that they might have it withoutgoing out of themselves, except in so for as they go into Godand truth and purity IThe young man has gone then, and a merry day he has of itat first. His pockets are full, he has health on his side, manya pleasant memory sings to him, he has not yet tasted of thebitterness of life. It would be cruel if a man who is going toserve the devil could not have just a few hours of introductoryenjoyment, or something that he mistakes at least for delight.A man cannot cut ofif good ties all in a moment; the ligamentsrequire some time to get thoroughly through; and whilst thespell of old memories and traditions is upon the man he imaginesthat he is going out into a large and wealthy place, and that everystep he takes is a step in the direction of comfort and honour.When he got into the far country what did he do ? He wastedhis substance in riotous living ; stepped out of liberty into license.Luke XV. 14-] THE PRODIGAL SO. 341At one bound he seems to have cleared the region of disciplineand entered into the sphere of licentiousness. He wasted hissubstance. There is nothing so easy as waste. It does notrequire any genius to waste property, to waste beauty, to waste
life. Any man can waste what he has. It is easy to do thedestructive part of life's work; the difficulty is to gather, toaccumulate, to amass, and yet to hold all that has been broughttogether in the right spirit, and to administer it to the right ends.Why did he show such bad skill ? How does it come that in amoment he was master of the art of wasting? Because he hadnever mastered the art of earning his own living. Everythinghad been provided for him. When he came down to breakfast — towards ten, the family hour being seven in the morning — he found the things still waiting for him, and at dinner hefound the table lavishly spread without his having worked fora single morsel of food that was upon the board ; when he wassick the physician was within call ; and when he felt any desireto please himself his father and his mother were but too readyto gratify his desires. ow the young fool goes out into theworld to find his joy in wasting, destroying, trampling under footall the things that he has got t And what blame ? We wonderif the rod ought not first to have been used upon his father? Itis a question (if we may modernise the instance) whether theold man at home was quite blameless in this matter. But so itis; men mistake enjoyment and the scope of pleasure; theyforget that in the absence of discipline there can be no trueprofound enjoyment of any of the greatest gifts of God. He whoescapes discipline escapes one of the purest enjoyments ; he whomistakes license for law goes downward to the pit at a rapidrate I Let us read:* And when be had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land;and he b^^an to be in want" (ver. 14).Such men help to bring about famines, — men who eat all andproduce nothing, men who are consumers and non-producers.These are the men that make famines. A man that will eat upa whole wheatfield and do nothing in the way of sowing, isthe man that will make a famine anywhere, — logically, neces-sarily. He is eating, appropriating, consuming, absorbing^ — ^never343 THE PEOPLE'S BIBLE. (Luke xv. 14-working, never doing anything in return. Why, here is cause andeffect. The man is eating the things that are round about him,and when the last meal has gone, he says, ''There is a famine inthe land." Of course there is. A man cannot always go onconsuming and not producing without soon coming to the end of his patrimony, and finding a famine staring him in the face.

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