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it made the prodigal think of returning to the Father ? Was it love for the father, or a desire for his company? Was it a desire to escape from the habits and ways of the “far country ?” It was not any of these things. He said, “How many hired servants of my father have bread enough, and to spare, and I perish with hunger!" In other words, it was a selfish motive that brought him back. Did that hinder his reception ? Nay, dear friend, the father was glad to get him back on any terms. The joy of the father in getting him back was infinitely greater than his joy in being received. This is the grand point of the parable. ". The Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them;" and our blessed Lord spoke those three exquisite parables in reply to their murmurings. He condescends to vindicate the grace of God in receiving sinners. He shews, blessed for ever be His name, that it is the very joy of the heart of God to receive sinners. “ There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.' o. Ah! yes,” you say,

one sinner that repenteth; but my heart is as hard as a stone." Why the very fact of your deploring the hardness of your heart is a proof to us of an incipient work of repentance in your precious soul. Come, then, just as you are, to Jesus. - This man receiveth sinners.” What kind of sinners ? All kinds. If your heart were ever so hard; though your sins were as scarlet; though you were the very vilest sinner on the face of the earth, “ This man receiveth sinners.” It makes Him happy to do so. It causes joy in heaven when a lost one is found. Do, dear friend, come to Jesus just now. He has glorified God about the question of sin, and hence God can be just, and the Justifier of every soul that simply believes in Jesus. Delay not, we beseech thee, to come. Šay not, “I must wait till my heart grows softer, my mind more anxious, my conscience more tender, my motive for coming purer. I must feel the burden of my sins more intensely."

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All this is simply the effort of the enemy to keep you away from Christ, by occupying you with yourself. Do not listen to him. Regard him not. Look to Jesus. His love will melt and subdue your hard heart. He died for you when you were a hateful rebel and an enemy. This is your ground for coming. Do you want to find a title for coming in your softened heart or tender conscience? It will not do. It is a mistake. Your title to come is that you are a lost sinner, and when you come, Christ is your title to everything.

25. “W. J. M.," Teignmouth. Matthew vi. 9-15 is the form of prayer which our Lord taught His disciples to use. It suited their condition at that time, and it will, we doubt not, suit the condition of the godly remnant after the church has been taken up. А great change took place when our Lord was glorified. He sent down the Holy Ghost to dwell with and in His people, to lead them into all truth, to teach them how to pray, and to make intercession in them. When our Lord gave His disciples a form of prayer, the Holy Ghost had not been given, because Jesus was not glorified. Compare John vii. 39 with xvi. 7. But from the time the Holy Ghost was given, we have no record of the disciples' prayer being used. In Romans viii. we read, “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities ; for we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us according to God." We are dependent wholly upon the power of the Spirit, and not upon any given form, however perfect in itself. No doubt the disciples' prayer was divinely perfect for the time then present. It could not be otherwise, seeing our Lord gave it. But then the work of redemption was not accomplished ; the Holy Ghost was not given; the prayer is not in the name of Jesus. These are weighty considerations for all who desire to understand this subject. We do not doubt in the least that many of the Lord's beloved people are virtually in the condition of the disciples previous to the day of Pentecost. They do not rejoice in accomplished redemption-in full remission of sins-perfect acceptance in a risen Christ; they do not know them. selves as sealed by the Holy Ghost. Hence the disciples' prayer is a suited utterance for them. But should they be satisfied in such a condition ? Ought they not to know the things which are freely given them of God? Surely they should; but, alas! alas! Christendom's creeds and formularies act as a sad hindrance to these precious souls in understanding and appropriating the true christian position. May the Lord, in His infinite goodness, visit them with the full-orbed light of His salvation !

26. “A Young and Troubled Believer.” You are perfectly right, dear friend, in thinking it is the enemy seeking to disturb your mind, and occupy you with anything but Christ. Dismiss the question, once and for ever, from your mind, and rest, like a little child, in the simple truth of scripture. Stephen saw the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. We read in Revelation xxii., “ There shall be no more curse; but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him; and they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads." God is revealed in the face of Jesus Christ, and we shall be with Him and like Him for ever. May the Lord set your mind at perfect rest!

27. "M. S. S.," St. Petersburg. We heartily thank God for the contents of your letter of February 20th, just received. How good He is, dear friend! And what a grand reality to have Him to lean upon in all the vicissitudes, trials, and exercises of our earthly path! May He keep you ever in the moral shelter of His own most blessed presence, separated to Him; safe in Him; satisfied with Him, until that day! Many thanks for the poem.

CONVERSION : WHAT IS IT?

PART V.

We are now called to consider what we may term the positive side of the great subject of conversion. We have seen that it is a turning from idols--a turning from all those objects which ruled our hearts and engaged our affections—the vanities and follies, the lusts and pleasures, which made up the whole of our existence in the days of our darkness and blindness. It is, as we read in Acts xxvi. 18, a turning from darkness, and from the power of Satan; and, as we read in Galatians i. 4, a turning from this present evil world.

But conversion is much more than all this. It would, in one sense, be but a poor thing, if it were merely a turning “ from sin, the world, and Satan." No doubt, it is a signal mercy to be delivered, once and for ever, from all the wretchedness and moral degradation of our former life; from the terrible thraldom of the god and prince of this world; from all the hollowness and vanity of a world that lieth in the arms of the wicked one; and from the love and practice of sin

the vile affections which once held sway over us. We cannot be too thankful for all that is included in this side of the question.

But, we repeat, there is very much more than this. The heart may feel disposed to inquire, " What have we gotten in lieu of all we have given up? Is Christianity merely a system of negations? If we have broken with the world and self—if we have given up our former pleasures and amusements--if, in short, we

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have turned our back upon what goes to make up life in this world, what have we instead ?”

1 Thessalonians i.9 furnishes, in one word, the answer to all these inquiries-an answer full, clear, distinct, and comprehensive. Here it is—“Ye turned to GOD."

Precious answer! Yes, unspeakably precious to all who know aught of its meaning. What have I got instead of my former “ idols” ? God! Instead of this world's vain and sinful pleasures ? God! Instead of its riches, honours, and distinctions ? God! Oh, blessed, glorious, perfect Substitute! What had the prodigal instead of the rags of the far country? The best role in the father's house! Instead of the swine's husks? The fatted calf of the father's providing ! Instead of the degrading servitude of the far country? The father's welcome, his bosom, and his table !

Reader, is not this a blessed exchange ? Have we not, in the familiar, but ever charming, history of the prodigal, a most touching and impressive illustration of true conversion in both its sides ? May we not well exclaim, as we gaze on the inimitable picture, “ What a conversion! What a turning from and turning to !" Who can utter it? What human tongue can adequately set forth the feelings of the returned wanderer, when pressed to the Father's bosom, and bathed in the light and love of the Father's house? The rags, the husks, the swine, the slavery, the cold selfishness, the destitution, the famine, the misery, the moral degradation-all gone, and gone for ever; and, instead thereof, the ineffable delight of that bright and happy home; and, above all, the exquisite feeling that all that festive joy which surrounded him was wakened up by the very

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