Luke 15

Eateth with them; lives familiarly with them.

He spake this parable, &c., in order to explain and illustrate the nature of the interest which he felt in the publicans and sinners who were disposed to listen to him.

Gathered all together; the property of various kinds which his father had bestowed upon him.

Husks; coarse vegetables used for the food of swine.

The elder son seems to be introduced not to represent any particular persons, but only as an incident naturally connected with the narrative, and furnishing an occasion, by the conversation which ensued, to exhibit more vividly still the feelings of the father.

The story of the prodigal son stands prominent, if not foremost, among the parables of our Savior. So touching, so simple, so true to nature, and coming home so closely to the experience and the feelings of every parent and child, and also placing, as it does, in so clear a light, those traits in the divine character on which the fate of every sinner depends, it is, perhaps, the greatest of all written compositions. The subject which it is the last and highest attainment in theology to understand,—the mercy of God in the forgiveness of sin,—it places, once for all, in such a position, that the whole world can see, and the very humblest understand it; and yet the sublime and affecting truth is so protected by its very defencelessness, that the most determined unbeliever cannot make it the subject of either question or cavil. In every age, it has touched and awakened the careless, raised the despairing, and established the penitent in hope and happiness; and perhaps the page on which the parable is recorded has exerted more influence upon mankind than any other page that ever was penned.

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