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of a parent. Even that of brothers and sisters, sweet and pleasant as it often is, is not to be compared with it. What a treasure is it which God has provided for children in the feelings of a father or mother! that tender love and pity by which the Almighty is pleased even to represent his own compassion towards us. "Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him."
But though the brother could not feel all that the father felt, he ought certainly to have joined with all his heart in the general rejoicing of the house; but a sad feeling had arisen in his mind, something like the temper which, you may remember, Jonah showed towards the Ninevites; a grudging of God's mercy towards his perishing fellow-creatures; as if there were not enough for all. There was a good deal of jealousy too, apparently, in the elder brother; for when his father went out, and entreated him affectionately to come in and share their happiness, he burst into a complaint against this tender parent for loving his wandering brother better than himself. “Lo,” he said, "these many years do I serve thee; neither transgressed I at any time thy commandments ; and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends." But this was altogether a mistake, as the father immediately assured him; for he said unto him, "Son, thou art ever with me; and all that I have is thine. It was meet that for this thy bro
we should make merry and be glad ther was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found."
E. But do you think, Mamma, that the father really loved the elder son as much as the younger?
M. There can, I think, be no doubt of it. Can we for a moment suppose that a dutiful, obedient child, who had never willingly grieved his parent, could be less dear to him than one who had so openly rebelled against him? Oh! no, this joy was the joy of the occasion; the joy of congratulation, the joy of recovering what is lost, and could not in the least interfere with, or exceed, or hardly perhaps equal, that calm, confiding, deep affection with which he beheld the child who had never left him. Nor need the righteous who have long been, like the elder son, happily serving God, ever fear that they are less precious in His sight, than the poor wandering sinner who has just returned.
E. But Mamma, can it be said of any human beings, as it was of the elder son, that they have been always with God?
M. I will not venture to say, my child, that it never has been, or can be so; though I am sure that, in general, it is very far from being the case. There may be some who, dedicated to God like Samuel in their infancy, have continued his faithful servants all their lives long; some who, like Timothy, have known the Scriptures from their childhood, and, like Joseph, have been preserved amidst all the trials of youth;-some happy ones, who have never left the family of God since they were brought into it by baptism; never been persuaded to seek their happiness amid the pleasures of the world, and to end by feeding upon its miserable husks. Whilst yet in their cradles they were placed in their Saviour's arms, and, though lost in Adam, were found by Christ, as soon as born, and never lost again. Oh! that such might be the case with all my dear children! brought up in the nurture
and admonition of the Lord, and enjoying for ever, the blessings and privileges of His family! Such a blessing cannot be sought for too earnestly, either by your parents for you, or by each one of you for yourselves. Depend upon it, they who remember their Creator in the days of their youth, enjoy a degree of happiness, of which those who forget God, can have no idea; not to say that thus they escape those deep and bitter sufferings which all who wander from the right way must sooner or later experience. Besides, who shall say that the wanderer shall ever return? For one who is brought back, what numbers perish! See Luke xiv. 25-35, and xv.
FORTY-FIRST SUNDAY EVENING.
DANGER OF RICHES.
M. We spent our last Sunday evening in considering God's mercy to the returning sinner, put before us so strikingly and beautifully, especially in the parable of the prodigal son, that I think we can never forget it. This part of our blessed Saviour's preaching was very important; and considering how lost we all are by nature, and how much, even in practice we resemble this wandering child, we cannot rejoice too much in such portions of God's holy word. We cannot be too thankful that God has opened so wide the doors of His mercy and invited all, even the most wretched and the most lost, to return unto Him. But precious as this subject is to all who feel that they have indeed erred and strayed from God like lost sheep, the Saviour did not of course dwell only upon
this. His teaching was very full, and very various. He not only sought the sheep that were lost, but provided abundant pasture for those that were in the fold, He felt, it would seem, the vast importance of putting particular duties strongly before His people, that they might diligently try and examine themselves, and see whether they were indeed His disciples. Perhaps there are few, if any parts of Christian conduct, on which our gracious Lord has not condescended to give us instruction and direction. For Jesus knew the heart of man; He knew that it was not only very wicked, but very deceitful too, and that the only way to make us really humble was to show us in how many points we daily and hourly offend. Men are, for the most part, very ready to confess themselves sinners, yet few like to acknowledge that they have been guilty of any one particular sin. And they are many who love and admire religion in a general way, but shrink from it when they look at it more closely, and see what self-denying sacrifices it requires.
This shows itself in many ways, but in none more perhaps than in the love of riches; one of the commonest snares to which the human soul is exposed; one of the greatest dangers perhaps which it has to encounter in its path to heaven. Now there is no subject on which our Lord's teaching is more unlike the notions of the world, than on this very important one of earthly riches.
E. But, Mamma, good people do not care much about riches-do they?
M. I am afraid even those, whom we call good, do not see these things quite as Christ represented them. He teaches us that riches, though given us by God,
are not really our own; that we have only the charge of them for a time,-a short time it may be; and that then we shall have to give an account of them to Christ, to whom they really belong. But you had better learn this lesson, as the disciples of Christ learnt it, from the parable which our blessed Lord spoke to them the subject. Read me the first thirteen verses of the sixteenth chapter of St. Luke.
E. "And he said also unto his disciples," &c.
M. You will have no difficulty in understanding that the steward wasting his master's goods represents human beings like ourselves, to whom God has given in charge some outward advantages, some share more or less of this world's possessions; and in the lord of that steward, who called upon him to give an account of the things committed to his trust, you will see a picture of our Divine Master, to whom we also must give an account of our stewardship. And for this account should not we too diligently prepare? The unjust steward sets us an example here; an example full of wisdom, for he acted wisely for his own ends. He teaches us to look forward; to consider in time what account we shall have to give, and to prepare for judgment. But, alas! men are much more wise as regards the things of this world, than they are for the next, although that is so much more important. We may learn wisdom, you know, even from the serpent. The world is wise; the serpent is wise; the Christian only is foolish. But let us, by God's grace, practise wisdom. And how is this to be done? even by using our stewardship so as to make friends, who shall be of use to us in the day of judgment. By employing our talents and advantages, whatever they may be, to the