And he said, A certain man had two sons:…
I. AN EXHIBITION OF THE CONDITION AND THE CONDUCT OF MAN IN HIS NATURAL AND SINFUL STATE.
1. Absence of gratitude, or any sense of obligation to his father.
2. Impatience of his father's government.
3. Breaking away from his father's control.
4. Squandering his father's property contrary to his father's intention.
5. But his schemes all failed to make him happy.
II. WHEN MEN BEGIN TO FEEL THEIR WANT, THEY TAKE ERRONEOUS COURSES TO DELIVER THEMSELVES. One flies to his worldly companions; another to scepticism; another to business; another to pleasure; another to some external reformation; another determines to read his Bible a little more, and to pray a little more — not meaning by prayer his heart really coming back to God, but the utterance of some words and going more frequently on his knees. That is not prayer. Prayer is the child coming back to his Father; prayer is the heart meeting God; prayer is the heart delighting in God, pouring out its desires into the bosom of infinite Love, and feeling that God is there. You must get back to God through the mediation, the merit, and the sacrifice of the Lord our Righteousness and our Redeemer. All other refuges will fail: all other processes will fail: you may have convictions, and then you may do this, that, or the other that I have described; still you are in want. Husks, husks, husks are all you have received by staying away from your Father's house.
III. THE NATURE OF REPENTANCE AND SUBMISSION — the way to get home to our Father. The young man is said to have come to himself: that means that he was beside himself before. Hence you find that the Word of God denominates sinners "fools": and because they are practically so foolish, they would rather remain undisturbed in their sins for a few days, than go through the bitterness of repentance and the self-denial of religion now, that they may wear an eternal crown, and live in immortal peace. There is another proof of the derangement of the human heart. It is the feeling which men have, that they can be happy away from God, and that they know more about the secret of happiness than the God who made them. So repentance is turning to our right mind. Repentance is beginning to look at things aright — beginning to reason, and feel, and purpose, and act aright. The young man determines to come home, to confess his sin without any palliation. The willingness to humble ourselves, that is coming home. Look for a moment at this young man, and see how difficult it was for him to come home, and how impossible it would have been, if he had not humbled his pride. In the first place he had to go back in his rags. "There is not a child in the village but will see me; and they will say, That is the young man who went out in such splendid style; and they will point the finger at me and mock me": and yet says be, "I will arise and go."
IV. GOD'S RECEPTION OF THE RETURNING SINNER.
(E. N. Kirk.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And he said, A certain man had two sons: