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BT THE REV. WM. M. JACKSO.
And he said, A certain man had two. sons, Luke xv. 11 — 24.
This beautiful story, which you have often heard before,
i§ called a parable. A parable, you know, means a com-
parison* It is to make something plain to us ; to help us
to understand something that we ought to know, or to teach
us something that we ought to do.
The parable you have just heard, is meap* to show us
how it is with a sinner, when he becomes very wicked, and
forsakes Qod altogether ; and then how it is with him when
he becomes sorry for his wickedness, and goes to God for
pardon. Every man is a sinner, and every little child is a
child of sin. We are all like the prodigal son, in some
things, and if you will attend to what I am going to say,
you will see that one half the story is exactly suited to
yourself. I hope it may all be suited to yourself, before
very long, and that in every thing you may be like him.
It was a very wicked thing for him to go away from his
father's house. There he had every thing that was good
for him, plenty of food and clothing, and his father loved
him. But his bad heart was not satisfied with. til \iurt*
128 SERMO X.
He wanted to be his jown master. He could not bear to be
under his father's authority. He did not want to be re-
strained from doing some wicked things, that were pleasant
to him. He did not like to have his father's eye always
watching him. And so he gathered up all his things — his
clothes and his money — and went away. That's just the
way with every sinful man. He does not like to be under
God's law. He wants to be free to do just what he chooses ;
and so he tries to go away from God. He does not want
to be near him. He does not like even to think about him.
The father did not drive the prodigal son from his house.
o. He went of his own accord. And just so, when every
sinner wanders from his heavenly Father. He goes of his
own accord. obody drives him. God does not drive him
away.* Oh, no ! He never drove any man to do what was
wrong. It is a bad heart that makes us do Bad things.
And where did that young man go ? Did he stay in the
neighbourhood? o! "He took a journey into a far
country." He went into a strange land and among strange
people. And so it is that every bad man does when he
keeps on doing wicked things. The more he sins, the fur-
ther he wanders away from God. He loves to be among
people that are strangers to God.
But what does he gain by his wickedness ? What did
that young man gain ? For a short time, indeed, he lived
well. While his money lasted, he enjoyed himself; and he
felt that it was a fine thing to be his own master ; to do just
as he chose ; to drink, and frolic, and feast with his wicked
companions, and to indulge his sinful inclinations. Very
pleasant it must have been, as long as it lasted. But the
pleasures of sin never last long. By and by his money
began to give out, and after a little while it was all gone ;
JABABLB Of TH1 PBODIGAL BO. 129
and, to make matters worse, " there arose a mighty famine
in that land;" — bread was very scarce, and he had no
money to bay food with, and hunger began to pinch him,
10 that he was almost ready to starve. And then, I sup*
pose, he had to sell his clothes to buy himself bread, for
the wicked men who were his friends before, cared nothing
for him now. What shall he do ? Wretchedness, and misery,
and death are staring him in the face. What shall he do ?
Go back to his father? o, no. He had not yet come to him-
self. Far better would it have been for him, if he had done so
at once, and confessed his sin ; for then he would have saved
himself the bitter troubles that afterwards came upon him.
And if every sinner would only go to Jesus the moment he
begins to see his danger and his guilt, how much better it would
be for him. But the prodigal had not yet " a broken and
a contrite heart." That was the reason he did not go back
to his father, as soon as he " began to be in want." Al-
though there was not one thing in the land he cared for—
no more riotous living — no more pleasure — nothing but
poverty and misery — yet he cannot go back to his father.
His proud heart is not yet humbled, and he cannot bring
himself to acknowledge that he has done wrong.
And now, I think I see him, all pale and hungry, stand-
ing at the door of a rich man. He has gone there to hire
himself as a servant. And what did the rich man do ?
He hired him, but for what kind of work ? " He sent him
into his fields to feed swine." 0, Satan is a hard master,
and all he wants, is to make his servants as filthy and as
hateful to God as possible.
But how wretched did that young man now become !
Trouble and sorrow came down heavy upon him. There he
was, far away from his father's house— in a land of €nbn&a
180 8X&K0K X.
—glad to get even " the husks that the swine did eat," to
satisfy his hunger; but his cruel master refused to give
him even that ; and when he went to beg f or food at other
people's doors, they, too, drove him away. *• e man gave
unto him." Perhaps they had not any food to give, and
even if they had, they were too cruel to give any to him*
How miserable did he become by his wickedness ! And so
it must be with every sinner. Sooner or later he will be
worse off than that young man was, unless he does as that
young man did. Sin always brings misery. If it does not
bring it at first, it brings it afterwards. And the further
we wander from God, the further do we get into a land of
famine, where there's nothing for the soul to eat — nothing
to make us truly happy. yes, in the world, away from
God, if e are always wanting something, and never satisfied*
" The world can never give the bliss for which we sigh."
But, when the sinner becomes a sincere Christian, then
Jesus gives him peace and happiness, more than all the
world beside could give. The humblest servant of Jesus is
a thousand times better off than the greatest and the rich*
est man upon earth who is a sinner. But now the poor
prodigal, at last, begins to think seriously about his con-
dition. Indeed, his sufferings were enough to make him
think. His clothes were worn away to rags. He had
nothing to sleep on but the naked ground. His strength
was almost gone. The flesh was wearing away upon his
bones, and he hadn't a single friend that he could talk to.
How natural that he should think of home ! There, he
knew, the "hired servants had bread enough and to
spare," " and here am I," said he to himself, " perishing
with hunger." ' But he thought of something besides that.
He thought about his wickedness. Yes, and he felt it too.
PAKABLE OF THE PRODIGAL SO. 181
His proud heart was bowed down to the dost. ow he's
ready to humble himself at Ju» father's feet. And he
makes the happy determination, " I will arise and go to
my father, and will say tmto him; Father, I have sinned
against heaven, and before thee, and am not worthy to be
called thy son ; make me as one of thy hired servants."
Do you know why he felt that he was not worthy to
be called his father's son? I will tell you. There were
three reasons. First, "because he knew how filthy and un-
clean he was. He knew how degraded and abominable he
had become. Another reason was, because he had done bo
many wicked things, and felt himself to be so guilty. And
the other retBon was, because he had no interest now in his
father's property. He had received his share and spent it
all; and now he felt that, as he had no claim upon his
father, he could ask for nothing more than to be made as
one of his "hired servants."
ow this is the very picture of a man when he feels
himself a sinner. Like the prodigal son, he sees his danger.
He is convinced that, if he keeps on being a sinner, he
must perish. Yes ! perish in everlasting fire. He thinks
of God's people — how happy they are ! — and, above all, he
feels himself to be a sinner. His heart, so full of wicked
thoughts and tempers, and all uncleanness ! — and then, his
actions, — how guilty he has made himself by them ! ! I
have been so ungrateful to my heavenly Father. He has
been good to me. He has spared me; and yet I have
grieved him, and been forgetful of # him ; and although I do
not deserve any thing but to be driven out of his sight and
punished, yet I will go to him. I will confess my sins. I'll
tell him how bad I feel myself to be. I'll tell him that I
182 SERMO X.
do not deserve any thing at his hands ; but I will pray to
him to forgive me for Jesus' sake !
And he is like the prodigal son in another thing. I will
tell you what it is. When the prodigal son had determined
to go back to his father, nothing then could keep him from
going. There were many things to discourage him. The
journey was a long one, and he had no shoes on his feet.
The very clothes on his back were all in rags, so that, if he
went at all, he must go barefoot, and half naked, for he
had no money to buy either shoes or clothing with. And
then he was very weak, for long had it been since he had
tasted a morsel of solid food. But all this did not prevent
him. He did not wait until he could buy a better coat.
o, no ! He determined to go, just as he was — hungry,
and barefooted, and all in rags, and with the little strength
he had left, to undertake that long and tiresome journey.
That is precisely the way with the penitent sinner.
othing can keep him from going to Christ. He strives
hard to get to him. A thousand difficulties may stare him
in the face, but he breaks through them all. He does not
wait until he is better. He does not wait to get a right-
eousnes of his own. o. He goes as a poor wretch, with
his heart depraved, with his filthy rags of sin upon him,
and he says,
'• Just m I 8m, and waiting not,
To rid my soul of one dark blot,
To thee, whose blood can cleanse eaoh spot,
Lamb of God, I come !"
So that you see humility is always a part of true repent-
And now the returning prodigal is almost home. He has
PABABLB OF TH1 PRODIGAL SO. 188
been striving hard to get there* He has had a great deal
to suffer. Perhaps the people in that land began to laugh
at him, when they saw him going back ; and on that weary
road he must have become very tired, but still he kept on,
and now he is in sight of his father's house. Do you not
wish to know how his father received him ? The Saviour
says, " When he was yet a great way off, his father saw
him." And what did he do, when he saw him? Did he
order the servants to bar the gates and bolt the doors
against him? Did he cry out, " There comes that wicked
ehQd, but let him not enter into my presence ?" 0, no !
"When he saw him, he had compassion, and ran/' — and
the servants, they, too, ran with him — and he " fell on his
neck, and kissed him." 0, what a meeting was that !
There was the poor young man, pale with hunger and
fatigue ; his feet swollen and bleeding ; his clothes hang-
ing in rags on his back; his head bowed down with shame,
and the tears streaming from his eyes. And there was the
father. ot one look of anger in his countenance. ot a
word of reproach upon his tongue. o, not so much as,
44 Ah, see what you've got by your wickedness !" o, no ;
not a word of any kind. He could not speak, his heart
was so full. It was only one long, warm embrace in his
arms, and kisses upon the pale cheek of his wretched child.
What did the prodigal do ? Did he begin to make ex-
cuses? o. He confessed his sin at once, and said,
44 Father I have sinned against Heaven, and before thee,
and am no more worthy to be called thy son,!' and then he
was going to say, "Make me as one of thy servants," but
his father interrupted him, by turning round to the ser-
vants, who stood therejnreeping tears of joy, and said to
them, "Bring forth the best robe, and put ft on. hixa\ %&&
184 8BRM0W X.
put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet; and bring
hither the fatted calf, and kill it, and let ns eat and be
merry ; for this my son was dead and is alive again ; was
lost and is found."
0, sinner ! that is the very way that God will receive
yon, when you torn from your wickedness, and go to him
in sorrow and in faith.
Yon are now in your sins, like that young man once
was ; far, far away from God ; but only forsake your sins,
and go, as he went, humble and penitent, and trusting in
his mercy, through Jesus Christ, and you, too, will receive
a joyful welcome, for you know he has said, " Him that
cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out." Jesus, the
blessed Saviour, will wash away your guilt, and he will put
a robe upon you, white and beautiful sb those the angels
wear — the robe of his own righteousness. There's not a
better one than that in all the world. That is " the bert
robe" — the very best that heaven itseit can furnish — and
it shall be your's. Yes ; if you only throw away your own
ragged clothes — I mean, if you will only throw away all the
good things you have ever done, as if they were no better
than filthy rags, then Jesus will give you his goodness, like
a robe, to wear for ever and ever. The glorious angels will
rejoice at your return, and your Christian friends will re*
joice, and all will be music and gladness.
But there's one thing I would like to tell you, if you are
not too tired to hear it ; one thing, sinner, in which you are
a thousand times better off than that prodigal son was,when
he was in that far country, poor and miserable. o mes-
senger was ever sent to tell him that his father would for-
give him. o kind invitation was ever sent to him to
return. o servant ever carried to him one word of love.
PAEABLX Of TH1 PRODIGAL BOH. 186
or of kindness, from his father. There was no tongue to
whisper in his ear a breath of sweet encouragement. It is
not so with yon. God has sent his ministers to tell you
that he is ready to forgive, to invite yon, to persuade yon
to return to him. You have received a hundred invita-
tions ! And by his Holy Spirit he has been drawing yon
back. He does not invite you and draw yon because you
are worthy to be his son. o ; you are not worthy. Your
heart is too full of unclean thoughts. You have too often
broken his law. And you do not deserve one good thing
at his hands ; no, not one. You have no right to expect
any blessing. You have no claim upon your heavenly
Father. There's not one thing in heaven that is yours, or
that you can say ought to be yours.
And yet God is willing, notwithstanding all this, to take
you back, and give you pardon, and salvation, and eternal
glory in heaven. Do you know what makes him willing ?
Why, because Jesus Christ, if you trust in him, washes away
your wickedness. He has suffered the punishment that
you deserve, and hi* obedience, which God looks upon as
your obedience, makes you worthy, in his sight, of all the
glory of heaven.
Go back, then, poor wandering sinner, to your Father !
Go back, confess your sin, acknowledge your unworthiness,
trust in Jesus. O ! that God would open your eyes, and
make yon see your danger. ! that he could touch your
heart, and make you feel the heavy load of sin.
Return, O wanderer, return,
And seek an injured Father's face ;
Those warm desires that in thee burn,
Wars kindled byrerlaifning gratia.
136 BERMOK X.
Return, wanderer, return.
And seek a Father's melting heart;
His pitting eyoa thy grief discern,
Hit hand shall heal thine inward smart.
Return, O wanderer, return.
Thy Saviour bids thy spirit live ;
Go to his bleeding feet and learn
How freely Jesus can forgive.
Return, wanderer, return,
And wipe away the falling tear;
* 'Tb God who says, " o longer mourn,"
'Tis mercy's voice invites thee near.
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