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The Young Man far away from his Father's Home- A postacy
in Unrestrained Development.
(CONTINUED FROM PAGE 52.)
“And took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all," &c. Luke xv. 13-16.
Analysis of Homily the Four Hundred and Eleventh.
The first two scenes of this wonderful painting, namely,
He freely expends the property which his father gave him in "riotous living." He plays “the fast young man.” He gives full scope to all his appetites; the voice of his conscience is lost amidst the din of his passion ; his reason is the mere tool of his lusts; he luxuriates in animal gratifications.
“When means and lavish manners meet together,
This is a picture of a sinner in young life when free from all restraint. He will hear of nothing but carnal pleasure : the remonstrance of conscience, the voice of the Christian
ministry, the appeals of pious friends—all these are despised. In this period of rioting religion is ridiculed. All the talents, possessions, time, with which our kind father has entrusted us, if devoted to these carnal pleasures, is a wasting of our substance; all is thrown away.“What fruit had ye in those things whereof ye are now ashamed ?" &c.
“ To be carnally minded is death.” Another and a worse condition in which we find him is :
II. CONSCIOUS WANT. “When he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land, and he began to be in want.” His money was gone ; he had nothing wherewith to purchase food. The usual habits of well-directed indus. try, the natural condition on which bread is bestowed, he never cultivated : his
dissipation too, had most likely physically incapacitated him for labor. In connexion with this a famine had set in ;-—"he began to be in want.” This is a stage to which unrestrained gratifications inevitably conduct. The riotous living will not always satisfy, even should the means continue. When a certain period of life arrives, desire faileth-the desire for such gratifications terminates.
“ The hey-day in the blood is tame, it's humble,
All the elements of animal gratification may be accessible, but Old Time has stolen the desire and capacity. Thus Byron felt before he had reached only half of the allotted period of human life :
“My days are in the yellow leaf,
The flowers, the fruits of love are gone ;
Are mine alone."
The deep feeling of want must come on in the history of sin. The soul feels its emptiness, and craves for the Infinite Something which it has neglected. It feels itself to be "poor, miserable, blind, and naked.” In morals it is an eternal law, that waste brings want. He that wastes the blessings with which Heaven endows him, must be reduced to utter spiritual destitution. Another and still worse condition in which
we find him is :
III. BASE SERVITUDE. “And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine." What a change! Impatient of parental restraint he has left his father's house. He sought the liberty of indulgence and he had it for a time; but now he becomes a slave—the slave of a foreign citizen. Thus it is ever with sin ; the liberty which the sinner seeks must, in the nature of the case, lead him to slavery. Every sinful step leads to the prison ; every sinful act forges a link in the chain that will manacle the soul. The sinner, though he dwells in palaces, roams continents at large, harangues nations on the theme of liberty, is morally a hired servant, a miserable menial. Pleasure, gold, power, or fashion, are his iron masters. Sin is serfdom. Love for the Infinite is the soul of freedom. “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty."
Another and yet more sad condition in which we find him is :
IV. DESPICABLE DEGRADATION. “And he citizen) sent him into his field to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks the swine did eat, and no man gave unto him.” What, in the estimation of the men of Judea could have been a more degrading work than to feed swine, denounced as unclean by the Jewish laws ? And what more abject position could a man be in than to ask to feed on the food of swine, and be refused it? This represents the last and the most wretched stage of sin on earth—the stage that leads right into hell! Here is a degrading service. How many
millions of our race on earth are ministering to the baser and more swine-like passions of our nature ! they are "serving divers lusts and pleasures." Here is a degrading condition; "he fain would have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat!” What a picture this of man ; seeking to satisfy the cravings of his spiritual nature by those things which are only fit for beasts !
Sinner, in which stage art thou ? Art thou rioting ? Pause! retrace thy steps or thou wilt sink to want. Or art thou beginning to be in want ? Seek the “bread that came down from heaven;" drink of the water that shall be in thee as a “well of water springing up into everlasting life;" else urged on by thy cravings, thou wilt seil thyself to the basest servitude. Or, art thou in base servitude? the mere hireling of the world, the flesh, and the devil ? thy condition is awful; yet, unless thou cry to Heaven for deliverance thou shalt fall yet lower than that-fall into despicable degradation. Or, art thou in this last stage, this stage of degradation, which is on the margin of hell? Thou canst not go farther without being damned; yet I would not have thee despair; bethink thyself ! call to memory thy father's house, retrace thy steps ! thou hast no time to lose—another breath and thou mayest breathe the flaming atmosphere of eternity!
SUBJECT :- The Cross of Christ—the Highest Object of Glorying,
and the Mightiest Instrument of Power.
“ But God forbid that I should glory, save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”—Gal. vi. 14.
Inalysis of Homily the Four Hundred and Twelfth.
Every man has an object of glory ;-some one thing that fills and rules his soul, towards which the whole current of his being points, as the needle to the pole. This is an instinct in human nature. The objects of glory will ever vary according to the master disposition of the man. The avaricious will glory in wealth ; the vain will glory in that which gives him a distinguishing advantage over his compeers; the ambitious will glory in that which gives him power over others; the self-righteous will glory in his own imaginary virtues; the philosopher will glory in his wisdom ; and the Christian will glory in the Lord.
Paul uses the word Cross as we use the words Bench, Throne, Press, &c., as a symbol. It stands for Christianity.
What does glorying in it imply? First :—That he had the highest appreciation of it. We never glory in that to which we attach no value ; on the contrary only in that to which we attach the highest worth. When Paul gloried in the Cross, it meant that he valued it more than his talents, his learning, his connexions, his influence, his life. He looked upon it in its two great aspects, Theological and Moral ;-its aspect upwards on God, downwards on humanity. It filled all things in his view. It implies :—Secondly: A personal interest in it. We glory in our children, in our property, in our country, &c. Paul had a felt interest in it. All his hopes centred there. It implies :--Thirdly: A delight in professing it. He rejoiced in it. "I am not ashamed,” &c. It was his exclusive object of glorying. “ God forbid,” &c. " Save in the cross. This is not the language of a weak sentimental man, or of a man whose prejudices were even strong in its favor, but the reverse.
II. CHRISTIANITY IS THE HIGHEST INSTRUMENT OF HUMAN
“ By whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” What does he mean by the world ? First: Not the physical world. Christianity teaches us to admire this ;—it gives us a new eye for its beauty, a new ear for its music. Secondly: Not the philosophic world ;—the world as thrown into an intellectual system. Christianity enables us to create this cosmos, and revel in it. Thirdly: Not the artistic world. Christianity refines the taste, quickens the genius. The finest painters, poets, and sculptors, have caught their