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memory.” Her prayer was successful. She then caused the men to be kindly treated, and dismissed with presents.

Bigland. The impressions which these facts naturally make on the mind respecting the character of the several persons concerned, may help us to discern what influence the doctrine of vicarious punishment is adapted to produce. To what disadvantage does the British monarch appear in this narrative, compared with St. Pierre, with the queen, with the Prince of Wales, or with the English nobles! We may leave out of the account all considerations of the injustice of Edward in making war on France,-we may even admit that the inhabitants of Calais

were very

blameable, and that their distress was the fruit of their own wickedness; yet the king appears a vindictive barbarian, compared with St. Pierre or Philippa.

Perhaps the king persuaded himself, that his honor, or the good of his empire, required a display of avenging justice, as a ground on which he might show favor to the distressed inhabitants of Calais. If this were the fact, he must have been deluded by vindictive passions; and the best we can make of his conduct is, that he wished to overcome evil with evil.

Ought we not, then, to be careful that we do not impute to God, a disposition which we cannot but regard as odious in an earthly sovereign ? If it evinced an odious temper in Edward to require a vicarious sacrifice, as a condition of showing favor to a distressed people, when supplicating for mercy, do we not ascribe to God a similar disposition, if we say, that a vicarious punishment was necessary to his pardoning his penitent children? And does not the doctrine of substituted punishment under the divine government, represent God as even more vindictive than Edward III. ? If any of the people of Calais had deserved death at the hands of Edward, it was probably so with St. Pierre and his five companions. But it is admitted, that Jesus Christ was not only innocent, but perfectly righteous. Besides, Edward was not so utterly inexorable, but that he listened to the prayer of his wife, and relinquished his cruel purpose of making the in

tended sacrifice; but it is supposed, that God actually inflicted on bis Son a vicarious punishment, equivalent to the deserts of all mankind !

As Edward appears to great disadvantage compared with St. Pierre, if the doctrine of vicarious punishment be true, does not God appear to great disadvantage compared with his Son? If Philippa was correct in supposing that it would be an " eternal blenish on the memory” of her royal husband, should he persist in his purpose of sacrificing the six voluntary victims; shall we not cease to teach a doctrine which seems to imply as great a blemish” in the character of God ?

Far be it from my heart to insinuate that the advocates for vicarious punishment mean to reproach their Maker. They doubtless imagine, that the doctrine reflects great honor on him; but it seems to me, that serious and impartial reflection will convince them, that there must be danger in ascribing to God a principle of government, which, if generally adopted among men, would fill the world with horror, and destroy all confidence in those who bear rule. How much more to the honor of Edward would it have been, had the narrative ended thus :On seeing the six victims approach in such a forlorn condition, he, like the father of the prodigal son, was moved with compassion, went forth to nieet them, stripped them of all their badges of ignominy, arrayed them in robes of honor, and in all respects treated them with the strongest marks of kindness, approbation, and esteem -Such a conquest over · his own vindictive passions, would have been far more to the honor of Edward lII. than all his military exploits.

No. II.

Thoughts on the Parable of the Prodigal Son.

EXCEPTING the form of prayer which Christ taught his disciples, perhaps there is no portion of the New Testament which has had a more extensive, or a more favorable influence on the minds of men, than the parable of the prodigal son. The moral sentiments expressed in it are of the most interesting nature; and they are communicated in a manner which naturally attracts attention, and commends them to the consciences and the hearts of men. Whatever other points of instruction some may have supposed to be contained in the parable, I think the general impression has been, that our Lord meant to describe the feelings of a true penitent, and the forgiving love of Godthe readiness with which he pardons and restores such as, with contrite hearts, turn from the ways of sin and supplicate his favor.

In both cases, the feelings described are interesting to all our race.

The parable would be both interesting and instructive, were it to be viewed only as a simple narrative of facts, which occurred in the family of a benevolent earthly parent. In this glass, disobedient children may see the ruinous tendency of vicious courses, and with what feelings it becomes them to abandon the paths of disobedience and vice, and to return to their parents. Parents, too, are instructed as to the feelings which they should exercise toward penitent children ; how ready they should ever be to manifest forgiving love, as soon as they can discover proper signs of genuine repentance.

But when this touching narrative is understood as having been uttered by the Savior of men, for the purpose of teaching sinners what feelings of heart are required of them as conditions of divine forgiveness, and with what compassion and readiness God pardons and restores the penitent; the parable then acquires an interest which nothing can surpass, and the highest claims to the attention of all classes of people.

It is remarkable how perfectly this parable precludes every idea of the necessity of vicarious suffering, in order to the pardon of the penitent sinner. Had it been the special purpose of our Lord to provide an antidote for such a doctrine, it is difficult to conceive what could have been devised better adapted to that end ; and I verily believe that this parable has done more to counteract the natural effects of the doctrine of vicarious punishment, than any other portion of Scripture.

Suppose an attempt should be made to improve the parable, and to accommodate it to the popular theory of atonement and forgiveness, by interpolating or adding such clauses as the following : Prior to the return of the son, the father had taken care to secure the honor of his law, by inflicting the penalty due to the prodigal on an innocent substitute; and on this ground only, the pardon was granted.' Who can deny, that such an addition would mar the beauty of the parable, and change the character which which our Lord gave to the forgiving father? But would such marring effects result from the supposed addition, if the doctrine of substituted punishment were the glory of the gospel? I may further ask,-Does not the doctrine of vicarious sacrifice mar the gospel, as much as the supposed addition would mar the parable ? Such, it appears to me, is the lamentable fact.

There is still another light in which the parable may be viewed, not less interesting, perhaps, than any in which it has ever been placed. In the chapter on “ the Propitiatory, and the Righteousness of God," I endeavored to prove that Jesus Christ was “set forth," as the gospel mercyseat, “ to declare ” the righteousness which God requires for the remission of sins; and that this was done by his preaching and example. I mentioned the Sermon on the Mount, as emphatically a declaration of the righteousness which God requires. In the same light, I regard the parable under review; or perhaps I might more properly say, that this is a practical illustration of the righteousness which God requires under different circumstances. The penitence, or contrition, illustrated in the returning prodigal, is but the commencement of the righteousness required by God. He also requires of us the forgiving temper illustrated in the conduct of the father. If we forgive men their trespasses, God will forgive ours. Are we parents, and have we penitent children, who implore our forgiveness ? Then the example of the Father in the parable is for our imitation. So in respect to any one who may have wronged us; if he returns, saying,—"I repent,” we have still an example for our imitation, in the father of the prodigal son. The circumstance, that this father represents our heavenly Father, is no objection to the view of the parable which has now been given. For we are required to be “followers of God as dear children,” and even to love and to do good to enemies, that we may be the spiritual children of so kind a Father.

Have we not then in this parable, a striking miniature painting of the great truths of the gospel of reconciliation ? The representations are so vivid, that we seem to be spectators of a happy meeting of the parties which had been at variance. The sinner, ruined by his vices, comes to himself, and with a contrite heart sets out on his return to his Father. But while yet a great way off, he is discovered by the father, who is moved with compassion, and immediately goes forth to meet him,—not to reproach him for his past profligacy and ingratitude,-not to present obstacles to a reconciliation, but to testify his forgiving love, and his joy on beholding in his Son ihe proofs of a penitent mind. How could human language have portrayed in a more clear and impressive manner, the forgiving love of God, or the temper of heart which insures the pardon of sin ? And are not these truths, or the traits of character thus illustrated, the sum and essence of the glad tidings of great joy, which the Messiah was sent more clearly to make known to the children of men ?-the truths too, which he sealed or ratified by the blood of the cross ?

Suppose the people of a certain province to have exposed themselves to the just displeasure of a sovereign whð has their lives and their happiness at bis disposal. He sends his son to them as an ambassador of peace. Their first inquiry would naturally be, Is the ambassador duly authorized, and one in whose instructions we may place full

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