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The Prodigals Return.

The Prodigals Return.

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Published by GLENN DALE PEASE
BY REV. W. H. BROOK FIELD

CHAPLAIN IN ORDINARY TO THE QUEEN




And when he came to himself he said, how many hired ser-
vants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish
with hunger. — Luke xv. 17.
BY REV. W. H. BROOK FIELD

CHAPLAIN IN ORDINARY TO THE QUEEN




And when he came to himself he said, how many hired ser-
vants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish
with hunger. — Luke xv. 17.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Oct 08, 2013
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THE PRODIGALS RETUR.BY REV. W. H. BROOK FIELDCHAPLAI I ORDIARY TO THE QUEEAnd when he came to himself he said, how many hired ser-vants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perishwith hunger. — Luke xv. 17.Almost everybody is familiar with this parable. Ittells us of a certain man who had two sons, at therequest of the younger of whom he divided all hisproperty between them. The elder remained at home,where his father and himself continued to live together.But the younger went to a far country, where he fell intobad courses, wasted all his substance, and came to theextreme of penury and destitution. He was not, how-ever, so far and finally deserted by Divine grace as to beutterly insensible to his own misery and degradation ;and he forms the resolution which he immediately putsin practice ; * I will arise and go to my father and willsay unto him, ' Father, I have sinned against heaven andbefore thee, and am no more worthy to be called thyson, make me as one of thy hired servants.' The adapta-tion of the parable to the case of a penitent seekingrestoration to the fold of God, is so obvious as hardlyto need mentioning. It is not to the entire narrativethat I shall on the present occasion invite your atten-tion ; not to the aberration of the sinner from the paths of io6 THE PRODIGAVS RETUR.innocence, as set forth in the prodigal's wandering into afar country, and sharing the husks of the swine that he
 
was set to tend ; nor to that restoration to the Divinefavour which is emblematically exhibited in the profusewelcome and affectionate reception accorded by thefather to his returning child ; not to these, but to thecharacteristics of a valid and practical repentance,illustrated in the seventeenth and three following verses,which begin with the significant expression, * When hecame to himself/ * When he came to himself^ whichimplied that up to that time he had been beside himself ;nor can any expression more suitably convey the in-fatuation of uncontrolled self-indulgence ; the judgmentconfused, meteoric lights mistaken for fixed stars ; everyperception distorted, every object transformed, mis-placed, perverted in the intoxication and delirium of sensuality. It had needed a severe discipline to recoverthe Prodigal from this condition of illusion and to restorehim to his right mind. But now that he has come tohimself what is his first reflection ? It is, * How manyhired servants of my father's house have bread enoughand to spare while I perish with hunger/ Yes, here isthe first step; a consciousness and acknowledgmentwithin himself of his own perilous and perishing state.It seems to be an element in the infatuation which takespossession of the evil liver, to fight against this ac-knowledgment as long as he can. ay; not only inhis pride or perhaps his illusion, to struggle against theaudible acknowledgment, but in the confused and per-plexed and perverted state of his perceptions, to becomemore and more insensible of the very existence of thoseTHE PRODIGAL'S RETUR. 107dangerous symptoms which it would be his wisdom toacknowledge. He began his evil course by thinkingthat he should be a better contriver for his ownhappiness than God could be ; or he may take themore daring position of doubting whether those re-strictions which announce themselves as the command-
 
ments of God, are really traceable to any higher authoritythan the invention of man. But referable to whateversource, he learns to think that all the bonds, and re-straints, and prohibitions which assume the authority of moral obligations, are nothing better than so manyarbitrary fetters on his freedom, so many despoticobstructions to his enjoyment, to dispense with whichwill be his truest happiness. And so it was with theprodigal son ; the discipline and the regulations of his father's house were irksome and intolerable to him.He wanted liberty, or let us rather call it licence ; hepromised himself freedom, and before long he foundhimself a miserable drudge and bondslave hungeringand thirsting in a foreign land ; and no man gave untohim. But with the Spiritual prodigal it is often worsethan being hungry : in a spiritual sense he is oftenfamishing, starving to death without knowing it. Hehas trifled with his healthier appetites, he has pamperedand corrupted them with unwholesome food, or hassuperseded them by exciting stimulants, till he is un-conscious that his spiritual frame is wasting to a shadow ;and he will die as many a famished man has died whosehunger was too far gone for pain. Blessed would bethe blow that might arouse him from his fatal lethargy !welcome should be the smart, the pang, the shock thatloS THE PRODIGAL'S RETUR.must startle him to a consciousness of his own gauntand miserable inanition. For while frequently — ^mostfrequently perhaps, the presumptuous runaway fromGod's discipline is suffered to abide in his folly, toharden in his error, to die in his miserable mistake, it isnot always so. And the first symptom of spiritualamendment we can felicitate ourselves upon and thank God for, is a conviction of the worse than nothingnessthe pernicious unwholesomeness of that on which wehave been fain to feed. And becoming sensible at length

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