« PreviousContinue »
with them. They are the lost sheep whom I came to restore; and I seek them, and receive them, and condescend to associate with them, that I may win them to myself. And as you rejoice when the lost sheep is found, so I say unto you that joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth more than over ninety and nine just persons which need no repentance.' Here Jesus reproved the Pharisees with great severity. In their worldly mindedness, if they lost a thing of small value, they would use the utmost pains to obtain it again; but they were very careless of the interests of their fellow creatures, who they were willing should remain in darkness and sin, and with whom they could hold no connexion.
When Jesus spoke of just persons, who needed no repentance, he refered to the Pharisees, not indeed to acknowledge that they were really just and holy, and needed no repentance, but to speak of them according to their views of themselves, and avail himself of those views to justify his conduct. That they thought themselves to be holy, is evident from the parable of the Pharisee and publican, wherein the former thanked God that he was not like other men, Luke xviii. 11. If they thought themselves thus holy, as Jesus came to save sinners, there was no need, as they in that case must grant. that he should seek them and associate with them, any more than that they should seek a sheep which was not lost. On another occasion Jesus used a different figure, but not less striking. They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick," which he explains by adding, "I came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance." Mark ii. 17. As there was no need that the physician should visit
those who are in health, so there was no need that Jesus should visit the righteous; and if the Pharisees were really righteous, then he had not come to call them to repentance. This was spoken solely in reference to their views of themselves, and not to acknowledge them as possessing true righteousness, in which it is certain they were very deficient. When Jesus said, "joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth,' more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance," the object was merely to express, how desirable it was that sinners should be converted; and that such a circumstance was greater cause of joy, than though there had actually been ninety and nine just persons who needed not repentance. As the other parables in the chapter, are precisely of the same strain with this, and spoken for the same objects, we may pass to the consideration of them, without a more particular attention here.
1 This passage is not very favorable to the doctrine, that the inhabitants of heaven will derive their principal joys from beholding
the miseries of the damned.
Parable of the Lost Piece of Silver.
LUKE XV. 8, 9.
"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? And when she hath found it she calleth her friends and her neighbors together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost."
THE principle of this parable is precisely the same with that last examined, and the object in stating it was the same, viz. to justify the conduct of Christ in associating with publicans and sinners, and to convince the Pharisees, that if truly they were not in a ost state, there was no need of his seeking them. The solicitude of the woman to find the lost piece of silver, shows the strong interest with which Jesus labored for the salvation of mankind; and as she did not abandon the search until she had found that which was lost, so we learn that he will not be satisfied till all those for whom he died, shall have been benefited by his mission. As this piece of silver belonged to the woman, so all mankind belong to Christ; the Father loved him, and gave all things into his hands, John iii. 35; and as the silver was valuable in itself, which caused the owner to prize it, so are mankind valuable in the sight of their rightful owner. They are his "purchased possession ;" and he will finally gather them together in himself. Eph. i. 10, 14. The doctrine of total depravity, by which men have been represented as utterly vile and worthless, is not admissible under this view of the subject. Silver may become tarnished, but the nature of it is
not changed, even when its external appearance is at the worst; there is always something intrinsically valuable; and Jesus would hardly have chosen this figure whereby to represent mankind in their lost state, had he entertained the same views which have been taken of human nature, by the perverted vision of his misguided followers. Mankind were precious in his sight; and "he is like a refiner's fire, and a fuller's soap; and he shall set as a refiner and purifier of silver; and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. Mal. iii. 2, 3.
Parable of the Prodigal Son.
LUKE XV. 11-32.
"A certain man had two sons: And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. 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. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat; and no man gave unto him. And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against Heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against Heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry. Now his elder son was in the field and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound.