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them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek dili9 God holds the souls of men as his gently till she find it? And treasure. These he stamps with his when she hath found it, she own image by Jesus Christ, and calleth her friends and her would fain preserve as his own. (Col. iii. 10.)
found the piece which I had lost.
10 If God deigns to rejoice in the conversion of a sinner, who can doubt that angels share that joy?
neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have 10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth. 11 This parable of the two sons, de"And he said, A certain signated the Jews and the Gentiles -the Jew, the elder; the Gentile, man had two sons: and the the younger brother. But it is ap younger of them said to his plicable to us all we must all be father, Father, give me the penitent, if we would be accepted". portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. "And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son:
17 Like one, who having awaked from a delusive dream, awakes to danger, and seeks such safety as he
The Jew, as the elder son, had professedly adhered to the knowledge of the true God-the Gentiles served other gods. When, however, the Gentile was willing to return at the call of the Gospel, the Jew murmured at this, their participation of divine favour.
make me as one of thy hired servants. 20 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. 22 But 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 hither 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 lost, and is found. And
20 A most affecting picture this, of the blessedness which follows a deep and hearty repentance *.
they began to be merry.
22 The prodigal had "confessed his sin ;" and God, his Father, was "faithful and just to forgive him his sins," according to his word.
25 The Jew-the elder brothermurmured that the Gentile was admitted with him to all the privileges
of sonship and inheritance.
Now his elder son was in the field; and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing. And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound. And he was angry, and would not go in therefore came his father out, and intreated him. And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: but as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf. "And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. was meet that we should make merry, and be glad for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again and was lost, and is found.
31"From the beginning, Thou hast been with me"-" I, too, have been with thee by my prophets and my spirit. Thou hast ever been with me, and called by my name.” (Is. lxiii. 19.)
In how striking and instructive a manner is God's care for our souls here displayed. Because there is in man a power of destroying by sin that soul which God would fain be preserved in holiness here, and in
So we humbly trust, that as soon as an erring soul resolves by divine grace to return into the way of righteousness, that resolve is instantly met by the Spirit of God, and the very first thought of penitence has the blessing of heaven-"Seen yet a great way off."
happiness for ever, he watches over that power, with unceasing vigilance, even as a shepherd over his flock; by night and by day, in our darkest sorrow, and our brightest hour of joy. O let us, like the prodigal, feel our own unworthiness, and henceforth serve him in filial love and reverence, till he call us to our inheritance in heaven.
MARCH 5, JULY 4, OCT. 30.
AND he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods. And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward. Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig, to beg I am ashamed. I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses. So he called every one of his lord's debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord? And he said, an hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty. Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore. And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations. He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least, is unjust also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if
8 Observe! the guilt of injustice in this steward remains: though it is impossible not to give him credit for worldly wisdom *.
than the children of light.
9 What worldly advantages you have-wealth, power, influence-use them to the honour of God, and the lest, not faithful as a steward of God's welfare of your fellow-creatures bounty for others, you be faithless in the care of that greater treasure wherewith he hath entrusted thee for thyself-thine own immortal soul
The worldly wisdom which he applied in order to extricate himself from temporal difficulties, is instructive, as furnishing us with a useful lesson, applicable to the means we must adopt in the management of our spiritual concerns-even by a right use of that heavenly wisdom, which
is free to us all.
ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who
shall give you that which is
13 You are now serving God in his house of prayer. Lay aside then the service of the world. Let not thoughts of care or pleasure now disturb you. he will hold to the one, and
14 So now the faithful in Christ, whether minister or people-how often are they mocked and derided! Yet, like their Master, they must go on, boldly witnessing to the truth.
can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. "And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him. And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God. The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it. And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail. Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery. 19There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sump
19 Having reproved the Pharisees, he proceeds with his discourse, touching the use of worldly advantages.
tuously every day and there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate full of sores, and desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom:
22 If each lead holy and righteous lives, "rich and poor meet together" in heaven. The poor and afflicted Lazarus rests with the rich and
the rich man also died and was buried; and in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip
The eternal state of Dives and Lazarus is in awful contrast. The difference, however, was caused neither by the riches of the one, nor the poverty of the other; but by the difference of their lives in their several conditions. Lazarus bore his misery and indigence in a truly religious spirit of patient submission to the will of God. Dives was hardened against the sufferings of others, abused the good gifts which heaven had bestowed upon him, lived to this world, and died reckless of the next.
the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou there art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: 28 for I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead,
they will repent.
28 Do you set a good, or a bad example to your family-Pause; and consider, that a bad example may bring others also to the place of tor
If you care not for yourself, you care for them!!-What an affect ing picture of unavailing remorse have we in this wicked Dives!
31 We are apt to fancy, that if we had lived when Christ was upon earth, and had seen Him; we should have had a more lively faith in Himor if God would permit us to see the angels which minister to us, that we should have a more spiritual, even a But this is self-deception. We have
heavenly disposition towards Him. ample testimony for a humble mind--and for a proud mind no testimony is sufficient.
MARCH 6, JULY 5, OCT. 31.
1 Though evil will always prevail to a certain extent, theirs is a heavy sin, who either by precept or ex ample, by disbelief or cavilling, cause others to go aside from the path of truth.
1 THEN said he unto his disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come! It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little 3 Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt
3 This decisive conduct is as wise as it is holy. It is by brooding over offence and injury, that anger and revenge so often get the mastery.