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was more acceptable to God than those that had never sinned at all. But the Intention is to fignify, in a strong Manner, that it is as certain that God is greatly pleased with the Repentance of Sinners, and their Return to their Duty; as it is that we usually find a sensible Joy upon the Recovery
of any Thing that is loft, and even are apt to be more pleased with it, than if we had never lost it at all: To which it may
be added, that, as several of the Divine Perfections are most illustriously displayed in the Recovery of loft Sinners, 1 and as in fome Respects this maketh a more amiable Discovery of his Glory than if they had not fallen, he may be juftly represented as taking a peculiar Complacency in the Methods and Exercises of his Wisdom and Grace, in bringing them to Salvation.
The Conclusion our Lord draws from the second Parable is to the same Purpose; Ver. 10. Likewise I say unto you, Tbere is Joy in the Presence of the Angels of God over one Sinner that repenteth.
The third Parable in this Chapter, from Ver. 11. to the End, and which was spoken on the fame Occasion, is that excellent one of the Prodigal Son, which is the longest of all our Saviour's Parables that are recorded by the Evangelists, and ex.
ceedingly beautiful and instructive. In the first Part of this Parable, the
Guilt and Folly of Sinners, in their indulging their corrupt Lists, and their Abuse of the Divine Benefits, is set forth under the Emblem of a young Man, who, having received from his Father the Portion of Goods that fell to him, took his Journey into a far Country, and there wasted his substance with riotous Living. The ill Consequences of a vicious and sinful Course are farther represented, in a 'most lively Manner, in what follows, Ver. 14, 15, 16. When he had Spent all, there crose a mighty Famine in tbat Land, and he began to be in Want. And be went and joined himself to a Citizen of that Country, and be fent him into his Field to feed Swine. And he would fain have filled his Belly with the Husks which the Swine did eat; and no Man gave unto bim. Could any Thing be more expressive of the Miseries Sinners bring upon themfelves, and the base Drudgery they submit to, after having refused the mild and equal Government of their heavenly Father ; and their Readiness to take up with the vainest, the emptiest Things, which are incapable of yielding true Satisfaction and Happiness
In the next part of the Parable, the Repentance and Converhon of a Sinner is R4
most beautifully figured : His serious Rea flection on his evil Ways, and on the Miferies to which he was thereby exposed, together with the Sense he had of the Happiness that would attend a contrary Course ; his deep Sorrow and Remorse for his past Conduct, expressing itself in humble and penitent Acknowledgments of his great Guilt and Folly; and his hearty Refolution of entering upon a new Course of Life, followed by an actual Amendment and Reformation; all this is admirably il. lustrated in Ver. 17, 18, 19, 20. And, when he came to himself, he said, How many bired Servants of my Father's have Bread enough and to spare, and I perij with Hunger ! I will arise and go to my Father, and will Jay unto kim, Father, I have finned against Heaven and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy Son: Make me as one of thy hired Servants. And he arose and came to his Father.
But the most affecting Part of the Parable, and which seems to be the principal Thing intended, is the Account that is given of the kind Reception his Father gave him, and the Satisfaction and Joy.he expressed upon the Return of his Prodigal; which is thus most significantly represented : But, when he was yet a great Way off, bis Father Jaw him, and bad Compassion, and
ran, and fell on his Neck, and kissed him. And the Son said unto him, Father, I have finned againsi Heaven and in tby Sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy Son. And the Father said to his Servants, Bring, forth the best Robe, and put it on him; and put a Ring on his Hand, and Shoes on his Feet; and bring bither the fatted Calf, and kill it, and let us eat and be merry: For this my Son was dead, and is alive again; he was loft, and is found. Ver. 20, 21, 22, 23, 24. What an amiable and moving Representation is this ! Nothing can polfibly set forth to us, in a more lively Manner, the exceeding Riches of the Divine Grace as manifested in the Gospel, and the marvellous Kindness and Compassion of God our heavenly Father towards even the greatest of Sinners that return to him by a sincere Repentance, and cast themselves with a humble Faith upon his infinite Grace and boundless Mercy. It is signified that, in that Case, be will remember their Iniquities against them no more : He will treat them as his Children, and will inveft them with the most glorious Privileges and Benefits. What Grace and Love, what Pity and Condescension towards Sinners, breathe in this. Represenfation! And how hard must our Hearts be,
if all this Goodness doth not lead us to Rea pentance!
As to the last part of this Parable, which represents the eldest son as murmuring at the kind Reception the returning Prodigal had met with, it seems to be partly added for Ornament, as Circumstances in Para bles often "are, which are not to be pushed too far; and partly to reprove the proud and envious Temper of the Pharisees, who, as is observed in the Beginning of this Chapter, when the publicans and Sinners drew near unto him for to bear him, mur: mured, saying, This Man receiveth Sinners, and eateth with them. Now, supposing they were as righteous, as they would be thoifight to be, like the elder Brother in this Parable, who is represented as having never offended his Father; and that those whom they called Sinners were like the Prodigal here; yet they ought not to murmur, or repine, at the Kindness shewn them upon their Return, but rather to rejoice at their Cona version; since this was in itself defirable, and would by no Means diminish their own Acceptance or Reward, as the Father's Joy at the Return of his spendthrift Son did not hinder the Elder's obtaining the Portion designed him: They should rejoice that those who seemed lojt to God, and dead in Trespasses and Sins; were now re