And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
Out in the far country, living a life of guilty waste, of dreary want, of shameful degradation, the prodigal son was in truth a man "beside himself;" he was lost to himself; he had taken leave of his own better self, of his understanding, of his reason; from his own true self he was afar off. But now there is -
I. A RETURN TO HIMSELF.
1. He regains his wisdom as he gains a sense of his folly. He returns to his right mind; he loses his infatuation as he perceives how great is his foolishness to be in such a state of destitution when he might "have all things and abound." What insensate folly to be starving among the swine when he might be sitting down at his father's table! The soul comes to itself and regains its wisdom when it perceives how foolish it is to be perishing with hunger in its separation from God when it might be "filled with all the fulness of God." Our reason returns to us when we refuse to be any longer misled by the infatuation, by "the deceitfulness of sin," and when we see that the pining and decay of our spiritual powers is a poor exchange indeed for the wealth and health of spiritual integrity.
2. He is restored to sanity of mind as he obtains a sense of his sinfulness. To be able to say, as he is now prepared to say, "I have sinned," is to come back into a right and sound spiritual condition. We are in a wholly unsound mental state when we can regard our disloyalty and disobedience to God with complacency and even with satisfaction. But when our ingratitude, our forgetfulness, our unfilial and rebellious behaviour towards God, is recognized by us as the "evil and bitter thing" it is, as the wrong and shameful thing it is, and when we are ready, with bowed head and humbled heart, to say," Father, J have slinked," then are we in our right mind; then have we returned to ourselves.
II. A RESOLVE TO RETURN TO GOD. This return on the part of the prodigal:
1. Arose from a sense of the greatness of his need.
2. Was based on a sound confidence, viz. that the father, whose disposition he knew so well, would not reject but receive him.
3. Included a wise and right determination, viz. to make a frank confession of his sin and to accept the humblest position in the old home which the father might allot him.
(1) Out of the greatness and soreness of our need we come to the conclusion that we will return unto God. Our state of guilt and shame is no longer tolerable; we must turn our back on the guilty past and the evil present; there is no refuge for our soul but in God - "in God, who is our home."
(2) We may hold fast the firm conviction that we shall be graciously received. Of this we have the strongest assurance we could have in the character and the promises of God, and in the experience of our brethren.
(3) Our resolution to return should include the wise and right determination:
(a) To make the fullest confession of our sin; meaning by that not the use of the strongest words we can employ against ourselves, but the full outpouring of all that is in our heart; for, above all things, God "desires truth in the inward parts."
(b) To accept whatever position in God's service he may appoint us. Not that we are expecting that he will make us "as a hired servant;" we may be sure (see next homily) that he will place us and count us among his own children; but so humble should our spirit be, such should be our sense of undeservedness, that we should be ready to be anything and to do anything, of however lowly a character it may be, which the Divine Father may assign us in his household. - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!