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every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. As they were assured that the Captain of their salvation would never be discouraged, so they did not faint, nor grow weak in their minds, but fought a good fight, kept the faith, finished their course, and received their crowns.
PARABLES XXXIII, XXXIV, XXXV.
And he spake this parable unto them, saying, What man of you having an hundred sheep, if ye lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? and, when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders rejoicing. And, when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbors, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth more than over ninety and nine just persons which need no repentance.’— Luke XV, 3-7.
THIS chapter contains three parables; and though they were spoken on the same occasion, and to the same effect, they contain a great variety of beautiful and instructive similitudes. The reader will easily discover the occasion of Christ's speaking those parables to the scribes and Pharisees, by observing the first and second verses of this chapter, which read thus: Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.' Here we have the objection which the Pharisees stated against Christ, which was, that he
And as an answer to this objection, the three parables which we find in this chapter were spoken; and they contain so rational a vindication of the propriety of the thing for which he was accused, that I entertain no doubt but that those Pharisees and scribes felt the force of his arguments, and were ashamed of their own weakness, and the impropriety of their allegation. And I greatly wonder, that Pharisees of the present day, who fancy themselves righteous and others wicked, are so lost, as not to feel reproved when they read those words of Christ.
In order to give the ideas contained in the first parable, I observe,
1. Christ takes his adversaries on their own ground, admitting in the argument, that the idea which they entertained of their own goodness, and the opinion they had of the wickedness of those whom they called sinners, were just, and well founded: in which method, as we have before noted, he replied to Simon the Pharisee on a like occasion. I understand, therefore, that the ninety and nine sheep which went not astray, represented the Pharisees and scribes; and the one that did, signified the publicans and sinners.
2. The impropriety of their objection may be showi by stating the following question: If you have so much care of your property in carnal substance, as to go in search of one sheep that goes astray out of an hundred, why do you condemn me for seeking the recovery of so many of mine whom you acknowledge have gone astray? The reader will also see the propriety of ad ding to the weight of the question the consideration, that the property, which Christ holds in sinners, stands in the parable, as things eternal, to the fading things of time.
3. The faithfulness of the Saviour of sinners, in seeking and saving that which was lost, is shown by the shepherd going after the sheep until he finds it.' It may be well to note, that there is no representation of the shepherd calling the sheep, and leaving it to its own will whether it would return to the fold, or not; nor of his seeking till he was weary, without success; but, he goeth after it until he find it. O, my soul, had thy shepherd been less faithful, thy wanderings had never been reclaimed.
4. What the Saviour does for sinners, is farther shown, in that the shepherd does neither lead, nor drive his sheep, but taketh and layeth it on his shoulders rejoicing; not trusting the emaciated wanderer to its own strength. The reader will remember, that the government is upon the shoulders of Christ, and that his name is called Wonderful.
5. What is meant by friend and neighbors being called together to rejoice because the lost was found, is shown in the application which Christ himself made; see verse 7: 'I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons which need no repentance.' On this application, I make the following remarks:
1. It is evident that there is joy in heaven in consequence of the salvation of sinners; which gives us the favorable opinion that charity is an inhabitant of heaven, as well as of earth; and that when souls get there through the blood of the cross, they draw divine consolations when they know the work of the Redeemer is going on below, in the recovery of those who are yet in sin.
2. If the salvation of one sinner causes joy in heaven, the recovery of the thousands who crowded
to hear the gracious words which proceeded from the lips of him who spoke, as never man spoke, could by no means have a contrary effect, but would be of still greater consequence to the joys of the happy.
3. I infer, if the salvation of one sinner causes joy in heaven, and if the salvation of many increase that joy in proportion to the number saved, the entire loss of one, must, of necessity, cause as much sorrow, as the salvation of one, does joy; and the loss of many would increase that sorrow in a ratio of the number.
4. As Christ gave the joys of heaven as a sufficient reason for his having mercy on sinners, I am happy in believing that he possesses as strong a desire to save sinners, as he does, to increase the joys of the blessed; and that until he is careless of the latter, he will not be of the former.
Some of the reasons why those in heaven should rejoice at the return of the wandering sinner, are,
1. As their whole souls are swallowed up in the love of God, they rejoice that others are brought to love so divine an object.
2. As they love to sing the praises of the crucified, they rejoice to have others engaged in the heavenly devotion, justly due to him who led captivity cap
3. In the same proportion as they love God and the Redeemer, they hate and abhor every principle of wickedness in sinful man, and therefore rejoice at the destruction of sin.
4. As the noblest principle possessed by the glorified, is charity, they rejoice in the salvation of others, as they do in their own felicity.
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.'-Luke xv. 8, 9.
In this second parable, we find similar ideas to those in the former.
1. The Pharisees and scribes are represented by nine pieces of silver which were not lost; and the publicans and sinners by one that was.
2. The intent of this parable is discovered by stating a question, as in notes on the former parable, thus: If a woman could be justified for lighting a candle, sweeping her house, and seeking diligently for one piece of silver, which was lost out of ten, until she found it; would it not be justifiable for Christ to come, a light into the world, to seek and to save the vast multitudes who were lost in sin and death?
3. The property which Christ holds in the lost sinner, I learn thus: that piece of money which was lost, belonged to the woman who lost it; and it was no less her property when it was lost, than before. Again, it was as real silver even in its lost state, as when it was with the other nine; and its continuing to retain its real value, was all that rendered it an object of recovery.
The faithfulness of the Saviour in the recovery of the sinner is signified by the woman seeking until she found the piece that was lost; the same as the shepherd going after the sheep until he found it.
5. What is meant by calling friends and neighbors together, to rejoice that the lost was found, is signified in the application, as in the former parable.