An Alphabetical Analysis
Volume 6 - Doctrinal Truth - Page 148 of 270
penitent wanderer?  Or substitution!  The idea is abhorrent to every
feeling of the heart -- the thing is an impossibility"!
'Now all this is very beautiful; or rather would be so, if only it were
true.  But it is not the view that God's word gives of God.  For that
little sentence or clause, and that parable, of which so much is made,
are really only parts of a whole; and cannot mean anything really
different from the whole itself.  As to some of the features, indeed,
which mark the two cases, the human and the divine, there is, in regard
to feeling and result, a very important analogy.  As to the position of
the parties, and the procedure in the matter of acceptance, the
difference is just as marked.  That imaginary father, I repeat, never
was a law-giver.  His authority at the most is only a delegated thing,
to be exercised by him as the subject of Another -- he himself all the
time being only the fellow -creature and fellow -subject of his own
son.  Such authority, in fact, is only a stewardship, not a lordship; a
trust for the benefit of a minor, not a dominion for the exalting of
the holder.  Such a difference in position will surely make a
difference in practice, when the question comes to be as to the fitting
attitude towards a returning prodigal -- of the earthly father, on the
one hand, and of the heavenly on the other.
'This is one difference; here is another.  That earthly father being no
lord, judge, or magistrate, has never had to take one judicial step, or
utter one word of a judicial kind, against his erring child.  He has
never had the prodigal to his bar, so as to pronounce in his hearing
the word "banishment" or "death".  The heavenly Father has actually
declared "the whole world to be guilty before Him" -- has adjudged
every sinner to the death which is sin's wages.  So far each has been
acting in character, according to his proper nature -- whether as that
of a mortal man, or of the almighty, everlasting Lord.  Will it be
strange if these differences in regard to authority and judgment should
lead to a corresponding difference in regard to reconciliation and
acceptance?  Hence, one difference more.  That earthly father never had
to give a ransom for the forfeited life of a sentenced son -- never had
to harmonize a decision which said, "Thou shalt die" with a heart which
"desired not his death" -- never gave up an elder son that he might
save the younger.  The heavenly Father has done all this -- or rather
something which is but faintly suggested by such ideas -- something (be
it what it may) in consequence of which "He may be just, even when
justifying him that believeth"'.
Secondly, the sturdy sanity of the Puritan, Charnock, may help to
preserve our balance as we think of the wonder of grace, and the enormity of
'The nature of sin is not taken away.  Justification is a relative
change of the person, not of the sin; for though God will not by an act
of His justice punish the person pardoned, yet by His holiness He
cannot but hate the sin, because though it be pardoned, it is still
contrary to God, and enmity against Him.  It is not a change of the
native malice of the sin, but a non -imputation of it to the offender.
Though the person sinning be free from any indictment, yet sin is not
freed from its malitia, and opposition to God.  For though the law doth
not condemn a justified person because he is translated into another
state, yet it condemns the acts of sin, though the guilt of those acts
does not redound upon the person to bring the wrath of God upon him.