« السابقةمتابعة »
Likewise. This word is to be observed. As the shepherd thinks more of the one sheep lost, than of the whole safe flock; and rejoices more over the one sheep recovered, than over the whole fold which had occasioned him no fears: such is the joy in heaven over a returning and repenting sinner. Not because a repenting sinner is more beloved or valued in heaven than a company of just persons who need no repentance: but because one had been given up as lost, and no fears had been suffered on account of the others. This is quite natural. While David, in his youthful avocations, had his father's sheep in safety, he was quiet and easy about them, with no strong feelings of joy or sorrow. But when
the lion came, and "took a lamb out of the flock: and he went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth :" then he felt joy over the one lamb which he had rescued, more than over all the rest which had not been placed in jeopardy.
Such is the joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth. Not that the ninety and nine persons who are walking in the faith and fear of God are less valuable in his sight than the one person who may be converted from the ways of sin. the individual soul is precious to him, how far more precious are the souls of so great a number? But Jesus has used a familiar example, first, to reprove the Pharisees, who boasted of themselves that "they were righteous,
1 1 Sam. xvii. 34.
and despised others:" and further, to encourage sinners, by assuring them of God's mercy, that they may come unto him, and he may heal them. God will receive the penitent; will admit him to his favour. Nay, there is joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth. He is not only received, but rejoiced over, when recovered "from darkness to light, from the power of Satan unto God."
A word must still be said upon the concluding sentence, which speaks of just persons that need no repentance. In a strict and proper sense, we know there are none such: all need repentance; for "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God," and can only receive eternal life as the gift of God through Jesus Christ. But there are, through the power of the Holy Spirit, just persons, who though they daily need, and daily feel, and daily express their penitence, still need no change of life, but are already at peace with God through faith in the Redeemer, and "walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." These are comparatively safe: the inhabitants of heaven are not uneasy on their behalf: there is reasonable hope that "he who hath begun a good work in them shall perform it unto the end," and that they shall be "kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation." But they are uneasy about the sinner, who lives in the way which God forbids. Concerning him they have anxiety; such anxiety as may be where blessed angels are. They see him in the broad road which leadeth
to destruction. The stroke of death may come as a thief in the night, and hurry him to judgment, and from judgment to outer darkness, "where shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." And therefore when they see the wicked man turning away from his wickedness, and the thoughtless man awakened from his carelessness, and seeking peace with God through the blood of the cross, and praying to be received into the fold of Christ, and to be kept within its pale; then their fears for his soul are quieted, and their holy sorrow is turned into joy. Every fresh conversion from sin, every fresh grant of pardon, brings an increase to happiness even where they are, where happiness is perfect, and there is fulness of joy for evermore.
REPENTANCE ENCOURAGED BY THE PARABLE OF THE LOST PIECE OF SILVER.
LUKE XV. 8-10.
THE great principle which the gospel declares, and repeats, and enforces, is, that "God will have all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth." Mercy was the basis of the dispensation: "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that all that believe in him might not perish." And the same mercy is every where manifested; and is
especially illustrated by the parables which this chapter contains.
In the one to which we last attended, the example is that of a sheep which had strayed, and which the shepherd had sought and recovered to the fold. Another parable now awaits us, taken, like the former, from the practice of ordinary life. 8. "Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it?
9. "And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying; Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost.
10. "Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth."
1. Now the first thing observable here, is the interest which God is described as taking in his sinful creatures; i.e. in those who, whether through the entanglements of wicked habits, or through the cares and deceitful allurements of earthly things, are living without Him in the world. His conduct was compared in the former parable to that of the shepherd who goes after his wandering sheep and here, to the woman who, having lost a piece of silver, lights a candle, and sweeps the house, and seeks diligently until she find it. He follows the sinner by the dealings of his providence, by the calls of his word, by the influence of his Spirit, that he may be reclaimed Sometimes affecting the heart with fear What wilt thou do in the end sometimes with love Shall Lcrucify the Son of Goth
afresh, and put him to an open shame? sometimes with distress or pain: thus stopping the career of sin, and introducing better thoughts. "Before I was afflicted, I went astray: but now have I kept thy words."
How grievous it is, that there should be all this willingness in God to receive, and so little willingness in man to "return unto the Lord, that He may have mercy upon him, and to our God, that He may abundantly pardon !"
2. This willingness is further shown, by the joy which attends the sinner's conversion. And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, and saith unto them, Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I had lost. To this woman, it is a matter of importance to recover a portion of her substance. But, "Lord, what is man, that thou art mindful of him, or the son of man, that thou so regardest him?" One only reason can be devised. Man is an immortal being, and must be happy for ever, or miserable for ever. And God is very merciful, and desires his everlasting happiness; and therefore He rejoices when men seek happiness, where alone it is to be found, in the fear of God, and in the ways of holiness. The same satisfaction extends throughout all the inhabitants of heaven. I say unto you, you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth. We can understand this, even from what is experienced by ourselves on earth. Whoever is at peace with God, and