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he had formed: “I will arise,” says he, “and “ go to my father. And he arose, and came to " his father."
Tlie sinner, therefore, must not only come to himself, but he must also resolve to forsake his wicked courses, and immediately put his resolus tions in execution. His must be the language of David, “I made haste, and prolonged not “ the time to keep thy commandments.” His heavenly Master invites him in those endearing words, “ Come unto me, all that travel and are “ heavy laden, and I will give you rest:” he must, therefore, accept the invitation without delay: he must arise and go to Christ,
The prodigal, we see, lost no time in executing the plan he had formed: he did not suffer his intentions to flag, or pretend to wait for a more convenient season. Neither the distance of the way, nor the hazard of the journey, nor the weakness of an emaciated body, nor the uncertainty of success, could abate his zeal, or shake his determined purpose: he loses not a moment, but begins his journey, as soon as he had formed the design of taking it. And in this he acted wisely: for had he suffered the warmth of resolution to cool, he might for ever have lost the fruit of those good desires, which
God had put into his heart. Time and custom would have reconciled him to sin, and he would have grown callous and insensible to shame and remorse.
Let this, therefore, serve as a reproof to those; who are moved with the same wise thoughts and desires, but neglect to put them in practice; who imprudently let all those gracious opportunities slip, which a God of mercy offers them, of returning into the ways of righteousness. Great is the number of those, who say with the prodigal in the parable, “I will arise "" and go to my father :" but their misfortune is, they stop here: they have always some excuse at hand, to put off the execution of their design: they dismiss their good intentions with
the language of Felix to Paul, “ Go thy way ..“ for this time; when I have a more convenient
“ season, I will call for thee.” Sometimes they plead the difficulty of conquering those evil habits, which have taken deep root in their hearts for many years : sometimes that trouble and vexation, which they foresee a change of life will cost them: sometimes they are withheld by shame, lest they should become the ridicule of their former companions in iniquity; and most generally a false trust in God's mercy, and a dangerous persuasion; that it will be soon
enough to return to him at the latter end of their life, supports them in the career of folly. Thus they have always sonie pretence for delaying that necessary work, which they can never begin too soon. And to these fatal exeuses it is owing, I fear, that many a well-meaning man, who seriously intended to begin the work of repentance, but unhappily put it off from day to day, is now lamenting his misery, amidst the flames that cannot be quenched : for, by deferring repentance from day to day, zeal grows weak, and habitual sins strong..
The sinner says, like the prodigal, “I will " arise and go to my father;" I will forsake my love of the world, my drunkenness, pride, hatred, malice, and all my carnal lusts : buty alas! procrastination too soon steals away the powers of resolution, and he slides insensibly into his former habits : instead, therefore, of the sweet fruits of penitence, gloomy fear and anxious terror rack the soul with nightly and hourly apprehensions; vice and desperation occupy that breast, which might have been the lovely abode of virtue, with all her train of godlike pleasures; and, at length the unhappy sinner, in vain lifting up his hands to heaven for a continuance of that miserable existence, which he knows not show to endure, yet fears to quit, falls surrounded with these chains of sin, which his folly first forged, and his feeble efforts are now unable to break asunder.
The wise sailor will learn to shun the rock on which others have split.“Let their misfortune, therefore, be our warning. If any of us have unhappily fallen into the snare of sin, let us not delay the precious hours of repentance, but let us rather seek the Lord, whilst happily he may be found, and call upon him, whilst he is near Be our's the decent and humble language of the returning prodigal, “ Father, I have sinned « against heaven and before thee, and am no " more worthy to be called thy son.” And then let us not doubt of the kind reception of the same prodigal :-" When he was yet “ a great way off, his father saw him, and « had compassion on him, and fell on his “ neck, and kissed him. And he said to his " servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put 66 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." What an affecting picture is this of the tenderness of the good old man! He knew too well the indiscretion of his son, and felt every consequence which that indiscretion had brought upon him. Yet, upon his return and acknows ledgment of his offences, how readily does all
the the parent break forth in expressions of love and affection! He does not reproach him with his past follies, or remind him of the different conduct of his elder brother; he does not insituate harsh suspicions of the sincerity of his present repentance, or distrust the integrity of his future conduct; but willing to believe that his sorrow was real, and his contrition the result of conviction, he instantly prepares every mark of honour and festivity, which could testify the most unfeigned joy.
See, then, ye, who have unhappily by your vices or follies alienated from you the love and protection of your parents, how easy is the return to their favour, if ye are not wanting to yourselves. Acknowledge, but your indiscretions; give but the slightest proofs of your reformation; and they will soon feel all the meltings of pity and love rushing into their hearts: for the cords of parental love are too strong ever to be broken. There is always something within, which will plead for you more forcibly than the strongest language of eloquence : there are ten thousand circumstances, perhaps to an indifferent eye of little moment, which can never be forgotten, which will insure to you a welcome reception, if you can only resolve to make the experiment of returning back to the