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from God by his prophets; he had used his authority to induce his people to comply with his abominations; and, yet, when " in affliction he besought "the Lord his God, and humbled himself greatly "before the God of his fathers; he was intreated "of him, and heard his supplication."

But the parable, in this chapter, of the prodigal son, which has been repeatedly alluded to, is perhaps the most decisive on the subject that can be conceived. It was spoken on purpose to encourage the penitent, and to reprove those who disdained them. No sooner is the prodigal, whose conduct had been most base, brought to himself, and induced to return home, than the father sees him afar off, runs to meet him, prevents his confessions and intreaties, hastens to speak peace and comfort to his dejected heart, and welcomes him with every token of affection and joy.

The Lord indeed often leaves the awakened sinner for a time" to sow in tears," and "tremble " at his word;" in order " to humble and prove "him, and to do him good at the latter end:" but if truly penitent, if" he goeth forth and weepeth, "bearing precious seed, he shall doubtless come "again rejoicing, and bring his sheaves with him." He may for a season mourn in darkness, and fear lest his case be hopeless; but ere long he shall say, "O Lord, I will praise thee; though thou wast 66 angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and "thou comfortest me. Behold God is become my "salvation: I will trust and not be afraid; for the "Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song, he "also is become my salvation. Therefore with

"joy shall ye draw waters out of the wells of sal"vation."

Whatever then is needful of instruction, pardon, sanctification, strength, liberty, or comfort, shall in due time be vouchsafed; and the Lord himself will rejoice over the poor penitent to do him good, "to the praise of the glory of his grace." For, "where sin has abounded, grace much more " abounds."-I proceed then,

III. To consider what we may learn from the call given us to rejoice with the good Shepherd, when he has found his sheep that was lost.

I apprehend that this call was not merely intended as an additional encouragement to the poor trembling and mourning penitent, though it is exceedingly suited to answer this end; but also to teach us some important parts of our duty, which we are too apt to overlook.-If indeed we "have "fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before "us" in the gospel; if we have found "peace and "joy in believing," and "have tasted that the Lord " is gracious;" it should be one grand aim and design of our future lives, by all proper means to induce others to seek a share in the same inestimable blessings. This is by no means exclusively the work of ministers: it is the duty of all Christians, in their families and neighbourhood; among their relatives and connexions; in their sphere of action, whether contracted or more extended; and according to the talents committed to their stewardship.

"Let this mind be in you which was also in

'Isai. xii. 3.

"Christ Jesus." Did he stoop so low, so deny himself, and suffer such unknown agonies, from love, not to the holy or to his friends, but to lost sinners, rebels and enemies; to us when viewed in these characters? Let us imbibe his spirit, let us not be indifferent to the eternal interests of those around us, however vile or injurious. Let us despair of no man, harbour prejudices against none, nor indulge resentment on account of any provocations, however many and great. While our foes, perhaps, may even thirst for our blood, let us desire and seek their salvation. What language does the apostle use on this subject! "God is


my record, how greatly I long after you in the "bowels of Jesus Christ." "My little children, "of whom I travail in birth again till Christ be "formed in you." This was indeed the mind "which was in Christ Jesus," and which should be in us all.

There is a way of speaking, concerning the ignorant or immoral, too common even among such as profess to believe the gospel, which seems to imply that they are hopeless characters, and that no good can be done to them: and, when this idea prevails, it is not likely any proper means of doing them good should be attempted with earnestness and perseverance. But whoever duly remembers all the particulars of his own case, and all the patience and mercy which the Lord has shewn to him, will not readily conceive of more difficulties or greater unworthiness in another, than have been overcome and pardoned, in bringing him into the liberty and comfort of the gospel.

While therefore, in our several places, we use all

such means of bringing sinners to repentance and to the knowledge of Christ, as consist with our character and situation; and watch for opportunities of dropping some hint, or putting something in the way of those to whom we have access, which may awaken their attention: let us remember all our brethren, who, in different parts of the world, and by various methods, are making similar attempts. The ministers of Christ especially, whose constant employment this is, or should be; and who often labour, with a degree of success vastly below their wishes and desires; are entitled to remembrance in your daily prayers. If called on to rejoice with Christ, when the lost sheep is found; you must also be required to desire that joyful event. It takes place, at present, alas! but seldom, to what it has done in former times and how loudly does this call upon you "to strive together "in prayer for us ;" that we may both be better qualified for the work, and more prospered in it! Perhaps nothing is less adequately attended to, in general, than the duty of praying for the success of the gospel, and that "the Lord of the "harvest would send forth labourers into his " harvest."

In the present lamentably divided state of the Christian church, a temper too generally prevails, not unlike that manifested by the apostles, when they "saw one casting out devils in Christ's name, "and forbad him, because he followed not with "them :" and our Lord's reply seems to be little thought of; "Forbid him not, for he that is not "against us is for us."

No doubt, every one ought to be satisfied in his

own mind, as to his proper place and work, and should act consistently with his engagements; not


doing evil that good may come," or even causing, by any impropriety, "his good to be evil "spoken of." But, if we candidly look around us, and take a large view of the Christian church, we shall evidently perceive that God brings home lost sheep, and so causes "joy in heaven," by persons who are very far from exactly coinciding with us, in those things on which we perhaps lay an undue stress. It is too much for us to assume it, as fact, that our views are exclusively scriptural; for other conscientious men are equally confident in their opinions and, if we were sure that we were right and they mistaken, yet as the only wise God sees good to execute a part of his counsel by their means; and as "there is joy in heaven over one "sinner that repenteth;" it does not become us to manifest the pharisaical spirit of the elder brother, who was objecting and complaining, when his father and the whole family were feasting, and rejoicing over "him who had been lost and was "found, had been dead and was alive."

St. Paul was sure that they who preached Christ out of envy and strife were wrong, not only in circumstances, but in the radical temper of their hearts: yet, as it seemed that they preached the substance of the true gospel among those who had been strangers to it; so that sinners were by their means brought to repentance and faith in Christ; he determined to rejoice in their success: doubtless because the Saviour calls on all his friends to rejoice with him when he "finds his lost sheep." As to consequences, he left them with God; as

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