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companion; and therefore his proper work and employment lay among his patients: and that he might give all possible encouragement to the repentance of the greatest sinners, he sets forth at once the tender care of God in recovering such lost sinners, and the inexpressible joy that is found in heaven at the welcome news of their recovery; for thus it follows in the parables.
3 And he spake this parable unto them, saying, 4 What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he 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 ? 5 And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. 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.
In this parable Christ compares sinners to sheep going astray, and God the Father to a tender and careful shepherd seeking his stray sheep; wherein he secretly taxes the Pharisees for their uncharitableness in censuring him for conversing with publicans and sinners, and for their envy at the recovery of such sinners by repentance; assuring them, that they are far from the temper of the holy angels, who rejoice more at the news of one notorious sinner's conversion, than for many righteous persons who went not astray; like as a father is touched with a more sensible joy for the recovery of one son who was dangerously sick, than for the health of all the rest who were in no such danger. From the whole note, 1. That the creature's aberration may serve for our instruction; the sheep's straying away from us, should put us in mind of our wandering away from God. 2. That Christ the great Shepherd of his church, with vigilance and care, seeketh up and findeth out his lost sheep, and will never give over his search till he hath found them. 3. That the recovery of one lost sinner by repentance, is matter of exceeding joy and rejoicing to Christ the great Shepherd, and to all the blessed company of heaven: There is
joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, or changeth the whole course of his life, more than over ninety and nine just per sons that need no such repentance. The opening of a sinner's heart to Christ, makes joy in heaven, and occasions triumph in the city of our God above; as when a young prince is born, all the kingdom rejoiceth, and the conduits run wine; so when a soul is born to Christ under the gospel, O what of Christ, and to all the angels and saints, a mighty satisfaction is it to the heart that another soul is espoused to him. “O sinner, Christ never rejoiced over thee before; thou hast grieved him, and wounded him a thousand times, but he never rejoiced in thee till now." And if there be such joy in heaven at the conversion of a sinner, Lord, what rejoicing must there be at the glorification of saints.
8 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? 9 And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. 10 Likewise, I say unto you, There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.
The scope of this parable is the same with the former. 1. To express the joy that is found with God and his holy angels, at the recovery and conversion of a notorious sinner. 2. To justify Christ in conversing with such sinners in order to their repentance and conversion, from the malicious reflections of the Pharisees made upon our Saviour for so doing: the sense of the words seems to be this, " If you do all justify the diligence and care of a woman, using all possible means to recover the loss of a piece of silver that has Cesar's image upon it, why (might our Saviour say) will you Pharisees censure and condemn me for seeking to recover and save lost sinners, that have the image of an holy God instamped upon them?" Learn hence, 1. That the conversion of a sinner from a course and state of sin and wickedness, is highly acceptable and pleasing unto God. 2. That it is reasonable to suppose, that the holy angels in heaven do conceive a new
joy at the notice and news of a sinner's repentance and conversion unto God: how the angels come by this knowledge, whether by virtue of their ministry here below, or whether God is pleased to reveal it to them above, as a thing extremely welcome and delightful to good spirits, 'tis neither material to enquire, nor possible to determine. But their happiness not being intensively infinite, it is certain that they may be happier than they are. Note, 3. That God is not only willing to receive and embrace repenting and returning sinners, but the news of their repentance is entertained with so much joy in heaven, that if it be possible for the blessed inhabitants of that place to have any thing added to their happiness, this will be a new accession to it: for though the happiness of God himself be intensively infinite, and can have nothing added to it; yet the happiness of angels and glorified spirits being but finite, is capable of addition; and as their knowledge and love do increase, so their felicity may be growing and improving to all eternity; so that it is reasonable enough to suppose that there is really joy among the angels and spirits of just men made perfect, over every sinner that repenteth.
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. And 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. 14 And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. 15 And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. 17 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! 18I will arise, and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned
against heaven, and before thee, called thy son: make me as one of 19 And am no more worthy to be thy hired servants. 20 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. 21 And the sinned against heaven, and in thy son said unto him, Father, I have sight, and am no more worthy to be. called thy son. 22 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 : fatted calf, and kill it; and let us 23 And bring hither the eat and be merry: 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.
In the two former parables of the lost sheep and lost groat, was represented to us the great pains and care which Christ takes for the recovery of lost sinners. In this third parable of the prodigal son, is shadowed forth unto us, with what great readiness, joy, and gladness, our heavenly Father receives repenting and returning sinners. In the face of this prodigal, as in a glass, we may behold, first, A riotous sinner's aversion from God. Secondly, A penitent sinner's conversion to God. Thirdly, A pardoned sinner's acceptance and entertainment with God. From the whole the practice of sinners. learn, 1. What is the nature of sin, and from God, and every sinner doth volunSin is a departing tarily and of his own accord depart from him: He took his journey into a far country. Learn, 2. The great extravagancy which sinners run into when they forsake God, and give up themselves to the conduct all his substance with riotous living; that of their lusts and vile affections; he wasted is, spent his time, and consumed his trea
sure, in riot and excess. Observe, 3. That sin will certainly bring men into streights, but streights do not always bring men off from sin: he began to be in want, yet thinks not of returning to his father's house. 4. That sinners will try all ways, and go through the greatest hardships and difficulties, before they will leave their sins, and return home to their heavenly Father:
He joined himself to a citizen of that country; and went into the fields to feed swine. He chooses rather to feed at the hog's trough, than to feast in his father's house. Observe, 5. At last the happy fruits of a sanctified affliction; they put the prodigal upon serious consideration: He came to himself upon wise consultation; I perish with hunger and upon a fixed resolution; I will arise and go to my father. Serious consideration, and solid resolutions, are great steps to a sound conversion, and thorough reformation. Observe, 6. The affectionate tenderness and compassion of the father towards the returning prodigal: though he had deserved to be sharply reproved, severely corrected, and finally rejected and shut out of doors; yet the father's compassion is above his anger: not a word of his miscarriages drops from his father's mouth, but as soon as ever the son looks back, mercy looks out, and the father expresses, 1. His speedy
readiness to receive his son, He ran unto
him the son did only arise and go, but the father made haste and ran; mercy has not only a quick eye to spy out a penitent, but a swift foot, it runs to embrace a penitent. 2. Wonderful tenderness, He fell upon his neck: it had been much to have looked upon him with the eye, more to have taken him by the hand, but most of all to fall upon his neck. Divine mercy will not only meet a penitent, but embrace him also. 3. Strong affectionateness: He kissed him; giving him thereby a pledge and assurance of perfect friendship and reconciliation with him. Learn hence, That God is not only ready to give demonstrations of his mercy to penitent sinners, but also to give the seals and tokens of his special reconciled favour to them; they shall now have the kisses of his lips, who formerly deserved the blows of his hand: The father ran unto him, fell on his neck, and kissed him. Observe lastly, The great joy that appeared in the whole house, as well as in the father's heart, upon this great occasion, the prodigal son's returning: They all began to be merry, there was music and dancing. Learn hence, That sincere conversion brings the soul into a joyful, into a very joyful state and condition. The joy that conversion brings is an holy and spiritual joy, a solid and substantial joy, a wonderful and transcendent joy, an increasing and never-fading joy. Our joy on earth is an earnest of the joys of heaven, where there will be rejoicing in the presence
of our heavenly Father and his holy angels to all eternity: because we were dead, but are now alive again; we were lost, but are found.
25 Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard music and dancing: 26 And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. 27 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. 28 And he was angry, and would not go in therefore came his father out, and entreated him. 29 And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: 30 But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf. 31 And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. 32 It was meet that we should make merry and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.
By the murmuring of the elder son at the prodigal's returning to, and reception with, his father, some think the Jews in general are to be understood, whose peevishness to the Gentiles, and the repining at the offer of salvation made unto them by the gospel, is very evident from many places of scripture: others understand it of the scribes and Pharisees in particular, who presuming on their own righteousness, as if they had never transgressed God's commandments at any time, murmured at our Saviour for conversing with sinners, though it were in order to the bringing of them to repentance; which instead of being frowardly discontented at, they ought to have rejoiced at. Learn hence, There is such an envious spirit in men, yea, even in the best of men, as inclineth them to repine at such dispensations of divine grace and favour, as others receive, and they want. 2. That to in
dulge such a spirit and temper in ourselves, argues great sin, and great folly: great sin in being dissatisfied with God's dispensations, and affronting his wisdom and justice; and great folly, in making another's good our grief; as if we had less, because another has more: The eldest son was angry, and would not go in: it follows, therefore came his father out and intreated him. This shows the meekness of God in dealing with us under our frowardness; and the high satisfaction he takes in a sinner's conversion
and returning to his duty. Lastly, This points out unto us our duty to imitate God,
and be followers of him as dear children. Doth he rejoice at a sinner's return to his duty? so should we. "Tis the devil's temper to regret and envy the good and happiness of others; he gnashes his teeth, when the prey he thought himself sure of, is snatched out of his jaws. But to God, and all his holy angels, nothing is so agreeable as the repentance and conversion of a sinner from the error of his ways, and the saving of a soul from death; this is looked
upon as a resurrection from the dead, and a ground of the greatest joy and rejoicing: It was meet that we should make merry and be glad, for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. Whence note, That regeneration is the term from which all true pleasure commences. We never live a merry day till we begin to live unto God; when the prodigal son returned to his father, then, and not till then, they began to be merry.
AND he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods. 2 And he called him, and he said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward. 3 Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do, for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship? I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed. 4 I am resolved what to do, that when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses. 5 So he called every one of his lord's debtors unto him,
and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord? 6 And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty. 7 Then said he to another, And how much owest thou ? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat, And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore.
parable of a rich man's steward, who being Our Lord begins this chapter with the called upon by his master to give up his from his office, casts about with himself accounts, in order to his being discharged what course he had best take to provide for his subsistence, when he should be turned out of his employment: at last he resolves upon this course; That he will go to his lord's debtors, and take a favourable account of them, writing down fifty for an hundred, that by this means he might oblige them to be kind to him in his necessity; this is the sum of the parable. exhort all men that are intrusted by God Now the scope and design of it is this: To here with estates, honours, and authority, to make use of all these unto spiritual ends, the glory of God, and the benefit of others; for we are not proprietors and owners, but stewards only, of the manifold gifts of God, and must be accountable unto him for all at last; but in the mean time to use, employ, and improve our Lord's goods to the best advantage for ourselves, whilst we are entrusted with them; this is the scope of the parable. Now the observations from it are these: 1. That all persons, even the highest and greatest of persons, are but stewards of the good things of God. 2. That our stewardship must and shall have shall not be long, stewards. 3. That when an end; we shall not be always, nay, we we are put out of our stewardship, we must give an account of our carriage therein; and the greater our trust was, the heavier will our reckoning be. it will be our highest prudence, whilst we are entrusted with our master's goods, so to use and improve them, as may make most for our comfort and advantage, when we give up our account.
4. That therefore
8 And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.
Wisely, that is, discreetly, according to the wisdom of the men of this world, whose concern is only for the good things of this life. Christ commends him not absolutely, as a fit example to be followed in wasting his master's goods, but comparatively, as being worthy to be so far imitated by the children of light, as to take the same care to secure heaven as others do to get the world. Christ commends him no farther than we do a person, when we say, such a one is a shrewd man for the world: In a word, the steward is here commended, not for his dishonesty, but for his policy, shrewdness, and sagacity, having done cunningly for himself, though knavishly for his master; from whence our Saviour draws this conclusion, That the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. Hence note, That the generality of men are not so wise and provident for the soul, and the concernments of another world, as worldly men are for the interests and concerns of this life. It is seldom seen, that good men are so wise for the concerns of their souls, as worldly men are for their worldly in
· 9 And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.
Here our Saviour makes application of the foregoing parable to his disciples. Where note, 1. The title given by our Saviour to wealth and riches, he calls it Mammon, and Mammon of unrighteousness; Mammon was the name given by the heathens to the god of riches; the mammon of unrighteousness, is riches unrighteously gotten. 2. The advice given by our Saviour to the men of wealth: Make to your. selves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that is, make God your Friend by a charitable distribution, that he may bless you; make the poor your friends, that they may unitedly engage their prayers for you; make your own consciences your friends, that they may not reproach and shame you, sting and torment you. Observe, 3. The argument used to excite the rich to this improvement of their wealth: That when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations: When ye fail, that is, when ye die, and your riches fail you, and can stand you in no farther stead, They
may receive you; What they? Some understand it of the Holy Trinity, others of the blessed angels, whose office it is to convey the charitable and good man's soul to heaven, its eternal habitation. Some understand it of riches themselves. They may receive you; that is, your estates, laid out for God in works of piety and charity, may enter before you into heaven, and open the gates of eternal life for you, not in a way of merit, but in a way of means. Lastly, They may receive you : Some understand it of the poor themselves, whose bowels our charity hath refreshed, that they will welcome us to heaven, and receive us with joyful acclamations into the eternal mansions, which are prepared for the merciful. Others say, the words, They may receive you, are impersonally put for, that you may be received into heaven when you die. This is to imitate the wise merchant, in sending over our money into another country by bills of exchange.
10 He that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in much; and he that is unjust in the least, is unjust also in much. 11 If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? 12 And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own?
Our blessed Saviour having declared to his followers, in the foregoing verses, the great advantage they shall reap by a charitable distribution of temporal good things, he acquaints them in these verses with the great detriment and disadvantage that will redound to them if they do otherwise. 1. If they be not faithful in rightly employing temporal riches, they must not expect that God will entrust them with spiritual and heavenly, which are the true riches: God will deal with his servants, as we deal with ours, never trust them with much, whom we find unfaithful in a little. 2. If they be not faithful in the improvement of these outward things, which God eatrusts them with but for a time, and must shortly leave them to others; how can they expect, that God should give them those spiritual good things, which shall never be taken away from them to whom they are given. Where note, 1. That the riches we