Luke 15

* Parables of the lost sheep, and the piece of silver. (1-10)

The prodigal son, his wickedness and distress. (11-16) His

repentance and pardon. (17-24) The elder brother offended.


1-10 The parable of the lost sheep is very applicable to the

great work of man's redemption. The lost sheep represents the

sinner as departed from God, and exposed to certain ruin if not

brought back to him, yet not desirous to return. Christ is

earnest in bringing sinners home. In the parable of the lost

piece of silver, that which is lost, is one piece, of small

value compared with the rest. Yet the woman seeks diligently

till she finds it. This represents the various means and methods

God makes use of to bring lost souls home to himself, and the

Saviour's joy on their return to him. How careful then should we

be that our repentance is unto salvation!
11-16 The parable of the prodigal son shows the nature of

repentance, and the Lord's readiness to welcome and bless all

who return to him. It fully sets forth the riches of gospel

grace; and it has been, and will be, while the world stands, of

unspeakable use to poor sinners, to direct and to encourage them

in repenting and returning to God. It is bad, and the beginning

of worse, when men look upon God's gifts as debts due to them.

The great folly of sinners, and that which ruins them, is, being

content in their life-time to receive their good things. Our

first parents ruined themselves and all their race, by a foolish

ambition to be independent, and this is at the bottom of

sinners' persisting in their sin. We may all discern some

features of our own characters in that of the prodigal son. A

sinful state is of departure and distance from God. A sinful

state is a spending state: wilful sinners misemploy their

thoughts and the powers of their souls, mispend their time and

all their opportunities. A sinful state is a wanting state.

Sinners want necessaries for their souls; they have neither food

nor raiment for them, nor any provision for hereafter. A sinful

state is a vile, slavish state. The business of the devil's

servants is to make provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts

thereof, and that is no better than feeding swine. A sinful

state is a state constant discontent. The wealth of the world

and the pleasures of the senses will not even satisfy our

bodies; but what are they to precious souls! A sinful state is a

state which cannot look for relief from any creature. In vain do

we cry to the world and to the flesh; they have that which will

poison a soul, but have nothing to give which will feed and

nourish it. A sinful state is a state of death. A sinner is dead

in trespasses and sins, destitute of spiritual life. A sinful

state is a lost state. Souls that are separated from God, if his

mercy prevent not, will soon be lost for ever. The prodigal's

wretched state, only faintly shadows forth the awful ruin of man

by sin. Yet how few are sensible of their own state and

17-24 Having viewed the prodigal in his abject state of misery,

we are next to consider his recovery from it. This begins by his

coming to himself. That is a turning point in the sinner's

conversion. The Lord opens his eyes, and convinces him of sin;

then he views himself and every object, in a different light

from what he did before. Thus the convinced sinner perceives

that the meanest servant of God is happier than he is. To look

unto God as a Father, and our Father, will be of great use in

our repentance and return to him. The prodigal arose, nor

stopped till he reached his home. Thus the repenting sinner

resolutely quits the bondage of Satan and his lusts, and returns

to God by prayer, notwithstanding fears and discouragements. The

Lord meets him with unexpected tokens of his forgiving love.

Again; the reception of the humbled sinner is like that of the

prodigal. He is clothed in the robe of the Redeemer's

righteousness, made partaker of the Spirit of adoption, prepared

by peace of conscience and gospel grace to walk in the ways of

holiness, and feasted with Divine consolations. Principles of

grace and holiness are wrought in him, to do, as well as to

25-32 In the latter part of this parable we have the character

of the Pharisees, though not of them alone. It sets forth the

kindness of the Lord, and the proud manner in which his gracious

kindness is often received. The Jews, in general, showed the

same spirit towards the converted Gentiles; and numbers in every

age object to the gospel and its preachers, on the same ground.

What must that temper be, which stirs up a man to despise and

abhor those for whom the Saviour shed his precious blood, who

are objects of the Father's choice, and temples of the Holy

Ghost! This springs from pride, self-preference, and ignorance

of a man's own heart. The mercy and grace of our God in Christ,

shine almost as bright in his tender and gentle bearing with

peevish saints, as his receiving prodigal sinners upon their

repentance. It is the unspeakable happiness of all the children

of God, who keep close to their Father's house, that they are,

and shall be ever with him. Happy will it be for those who

thankfully accept Christ's invitation.
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