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enjoys the blessings of the covenant of grace; desires to communicate those blessings as far as possible, to his friends, his neighbourhood, and even to foreign lands. And only those are indifferent about others, who are indifferent about themselves.

Indeed it is worth observing, how unlike the views of some men on earth are to the thoughts which are here represented as being the thoughts of heaven. That change, which is described as filling heaven with joy, is here often treated as a trifling, unimportant matter, of too little consequence to be regarded. We see multitudes, the tenor of whose life is such as God has forbidden. We see others evidently labouring and striving to "enter in at the strait gate, which leadeth unto life" eternal. And this difference, this everlasting difference, is treated as the effect of circumstances, as depending on education or companionship, and lightly passed over in the world. Why? But because we do not make Scripture the foundation of our sentiments. We think after the manner of men, and not after the manner of God. We need stronger faith a firmer conviction that things will be as God has revealed.

But a reflection may arise from this passage, which is well suited to overcome the levity of the world. Universally, whether we look towards earth or heaven, those are found to be most anxious about the soul, who have the best means of understanding what reason there is to be so.

God himself has shown the value of the soul. Man had no sooner ruined himself by sin, than God devised a scheme for his redemption. The Son of God has shown the value of the soul: for he "came to give his life a ransom " for it, to "seek and to save that which was lost." The angels which are in the presence of God, rejoice over one soul that is saved. They know the danger that is escaped, they know the blessing which is obtained. What with us, at best, is only faith, with them is sight and knowledge. And, lastly, the sinner himself who has repented, he also shows, what once he did not understand, the value of the soul. For his first and latest thought is to bring others out of the gulf of destruction which he has left, to the haven of peace which he has found. As the man who has himself escaped from shipwreck, and reached a safe and quiet shore, rejoices in his own deliverance, but rejoices afresh at the arrival of every dear companion, who had been involved in the same danger: so does every one who has been delivered from worldly vanities into "the glorious liberty of the sons of God," participate in the joy which is felt in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

If, then, we act as if our own souls, or the souls of others, were of light and trifling value, it is because we do not rightly comprehend what they have to lose, and what they may obtain: what they may suffer, and what they may enjoy. Judge, therefore, of the worth of the soul,

from those who are alone capable of estimating it. There may be indifference on earth: but there is no such indifference in heaven. Nay, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.



LUKE XV. 11-16.

11. "And He said, A certain man had two sons:


12. "And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. he divided unto them his living.

13. "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." In this description of the prodigal we read, alas! the description of too many of God's family. For the Jews were God's family, as compared with the rest of the world, at the time when this parable was uttered: and such are Christians now adopted as children of God in Christ Jesus, dedicated to Him by their baptism, brought up, as it were, in His house, and early taught to love and honour Him as their Father which is in heaven. Happy indeed are those, who, like Samuel, like Timothy, like the patriarch Joseph, never go widely astray from this blessed home: who remember their Creator in the days of their

youth, and do not seek after what they falsely suppose to be happiness, by departing from the laws which regulate his family. But is this a common case? Do young persons in general, when they come of age to show their disposition and to choose for themselves, do they remain at home with God? or do they make haste to throw off the restraint to which His children must conform? They take the portion of goods that falleth to them; they take their health, and their strength, and their understanding and their fortune; and what do they inquire? How they can best spend these in their Father's service? Is it not rather-how can they best please, and serve, and amuse themselves? Few, indeed, when temptation is set before them, think of replying with the patriarch of old, How shall I do this wickedness, and sin against my heavenly Father! Few, indeed, among the conflicting engagements of life, have the spirit to say, "Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" They may not all waste their substance in riotous living: there are many modes of departure from God:-a man may be very unlike this prodigal in his way of life, and yet be very little superior to him as to the state of his soul. He may be sober and diligent, yet God may not be in his thoughts; he may be temperate, but covetous and selfish: he may be strictly just and honest, yet malicious and uncharitable he may be outwardly moral, and so far it is well; but there may be no humility

within; no preparation for heaven; no love of God, no peace with God; the whole affections may be set on things below. Remember, whether it be gross and wilful sin, or whether it be covetousness, or whether it be pride, or whether it be pleasure, or whether it be worldly care, or whatever it be that keeps the heart at a distance from our heavenly Father; the heart that is not with Him, is not in its right place; has wandered from its only safe home; and is separated from God by a gulf as wide as that which separates one country from another.

You can examine yourselves by a sure test. Do you act with God, as towards a father? Do you hold with Him the constant intercourse of prayer? Do you resort to Him in your joys as a Benefactor, and as a Protector in your sorrows or your temptations? For this it is to be at home with God, as in a father's house: this it is to "have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.”1

14. "And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want."

Such is the end of alienation from God. When he had spent all, he began to be in want. A man may not, indeed, have wasted his substance; he may even have increased it by rapacity, by avarice, by unremitted attention to worldly concerns, by seizing every opportunity of advancing his own interest. But the time

Rom. viii. 15.

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