« السابقةمتابعة »
in having got his liberty, in having no spy upon his actions; in giving a loose to all his youthful and wicked inclinations: but hunger and thirst are friendly monitors; nakedness and famine are kind inftructors. When, therefore, he found himself expofed to the windsand rain of heaven, and pierced by the sharp cravings of an uniatisfied appetite, he comes to himself; his eyes are opened, and the film of error removed. He calls to mind the tenderness of an indulgent father: he compares the happy hours he had spent under his protecting roof, where every wish of reason was supplied, with those forrowful days he was now lingering out in poverty, disgrace, and fervitude. And, in the midst of these reflections, he could not forbear envying the lot of his father's very servants, who, under the government of a mild and gentle master, enjoyed every accommodation which the neceffities of nature required, whilst he was denied the hufks which the fwine did eat:very "How many hired fervants of my father ❝ have bread enough and to fpare, and I pe"rifh with hunger!"*
Can there be a more natural reflection to fhew us what paffes in the foul of an habitual finner, when he first begins to be fenfible of his folly? So long as he is blinded by his paffions and furrounded with pleasures, he neither thinks of God nor bewails the lofs of the riches of his house, the pleasures and advantages of religion. But let fickness seize him, or adversity begin to rain afflictions upon his unfheltered head, then all these things rush into his mind: then grief, shame, and anguish of heart fucceed the deceitful calm of fin: then he remembers the kindness and promises of his heavenly Father; he calls to mind those happy hours which he fpent in his house, when he made the law of God his delight, when he was fed with the bread of angels at his altar, and joined in the fellowship of faints.—“Those blessed days,” will the returning finner cry, and gone! How therefore is my foul perplexed, and my confcience tormented! What difference do I now find between the state which I once knew, and that in which I now am! Blessed are they that dwell in thy houfe, and bleffed is the man that putteth his truft in thee! The meaneft of thy fervants enjoy more peace and fatisfaction than
are now paft
e corrupt in
I have done in following all
Hearken, thou defponding finner, to the voice of the returning prodigal, and from his example learn wifdom :-Father, I have fin"ned against heaven and before thee, and "am no worthy to be called thy fon." He does not now think of returning to his friends and companions, or to his vices, but to his offended father. He had tried the folly of every other expedient, and therefore felt the neceffity of this. Nor was his determination the hafty refolve of disappointed wickedness or jaded fenfuality, but the refult of conviction; after he came to himself, and knew that there was no peace to the wicked. He therefore makes no delay, but executes in
ftantly the wife refolutions he had formed:
The finner, therefore, must not only come to himself, but he must also refolve to forfake his wicked courses, and immediately put his refolutions in execution. His must be the language of David, "I made hafte, and prolonged not the time to keep thy com"mandments." His heavenly Mafter invites him in those endearing words, "Come "unto me, all that travel and are heavy la"den, and I will give you reft:" he must, therefore, accept the invitation without delay: he must arise and go to Christ.
The prodigal, we see, loft no time in executing the plan he had formed: he did not fuffer his intentions to flag, or pretend to wait for a more convenient feason. Neither the distance of the way, nor the hazard of the journey, nor the weakness of an emaciated body, nor the uncertainty of fuccefs, could abate his zeal, or fhake his determined purpose: he loses not a moment, but begins
his journey, as foon as he had formed the defign of taking it. And in this he acted wifely? for had he fuffered the warmth of refolution to cool, he might for ever have loft the fruit of thofe good defires, which God had put into his heart. Time and cuftom would have reconciled him to fin, and he would have grown callous and infenfible to fhame and remorfe.
Let this, therefore, ferve as a reproof to thofe, who are moved with the fame wife thoughts and defires, but neglect to put them in practice; who imprudently let all thofe gracious opportunities flip, which a God of mercy offers them, of returning into the ways of righteousness. Great is the number of those, who fay with the prodigal in the parable, "I will arife and go to my father:" but their misfortune is, they ftop here: they have always fome excufe at hand, to put off the execution of their defign: they difinifs their good intentions with the language of Felix to Paul," Go thy way for this time; "when I have a more convenient feafon, I " will call for thee." Sometimes they plead the difficulty of conquering thofe evil habits, which have taken deep root in their hearts for