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ACT I.—WANDERING; OR THE NATURE OF SIN

In the first act there are two scenes:

Scene 1.—A beautiful home, a spacious mansion, with everything to meet every desire of the hearts of its occupants. An aged father, whose countenance is full of nobility, and wisdom, and kindness, a remarkable, blending of strength and tenderness. He is in earnest conversation with the younger of his two sons. This younger son is tired of the restraints of home. He has heard of the gaiety in a distant country, and he longs to break the trammels of his father’s guardian care, and to see the sights and enjoy the pleasures of this new land. And he cries impatiently, “Father, give me the portion of thy goods that falleth to me.” A look of inexpressible pain passes over the gentle face of the aged father, but he grants the son's request.

Scene 2.—A leave-taking, a home-leaving. The younger son has gathered all his property together, got it into as portable a form as possible, and is taking his journey to the far country. It is a beautiful spring morning, the birds are singing sweetly, the air is fragrant with the perfume of spring flowers, the young man’s voice is full of gladness and good cheer and with light and tripping step he wends his way down the avenue from the old home, little thinking of the father who watches him with moist eyes and lonely heart as he leaves the front gate and goes out into a false and evil world.

In these two scenes we have a picture of the nature, beginnings and growth of sin. The father in the drama is God; the son, man wandering from God. The son wished to have his own way; he was tired of the restraints of his father’s control. He desired to get away from his father that he might do as he pleased. That is where sin begins—in a desire to be independent of God, in a desire to have our own way, in a desire to do as we please. The essence of sin is in a desire to do what we please, rather than be constantly looking to God and asking Him what pleases Him. Is there any man or woman here to-night who wishes to do as they please? They have the beginnings of sin in their heart. Now, what you please to do may be upright, may be moral, may be very refined, but the desire to do your own will is the heart and essence and substance of sin. There are different classes of sinners and different forms of sin. There is sin that is coarse, and there is sin that is refined. There is sin that is low and vulgar, and there is sin that is genteel and elegant. But all sin is alike in essence. It is man seeking to be independent of God, man seeking to have his own way, that is where sin begins, that is the very essence of sin.

The second scene represents to us the growth of sin. The son did not leave home at once. His heart was in the far country already, but he still stayed at home. But not very long. Not many days after his feet followed where his heart had already gone. That is the story of sin in every instance. When a man starts out in the path of sin, starts out to have his own way, he does not give up all communion with God at once. He still goes to church occasionally, reads his Bible occasionally, prays now and then, but less and less as the days go by, until at last he begins to wonder whether there is any God, begins to listen to voices that say there is no God, and last of all, blatantly cries, “No God, no divine Christ, no inspired Bible, no God!”

How far have you got on that path of sin? Are you just starting out? Are you seeking your own pleasure, but still keeping up some form of communion with God, still attending the House of God now and then, opening the Bible now and then, praying now and then, but less and less; or have you got farther down that road, down where you are never found in the House of God, never read your Bible, never go to God in prayer? Or have you got away off into the far country, where you say, “There is no God, the Bible is not the Word of God, Jesus Christ is not the Son of God?” How far have you got down the path of sin?

Will you notice before we leave this Act that the father granted the younger son’s request? He knew how the boy would use the money, but he also knew that the only way for him to learn wisdom was in the bitter school of experience. That is precisely the way that God deals with us. If a man desires to live independently of God, God lets him do it. God does not force a man into a life of communion with Himself, and conscious dependence on Himself; He gives us our choice and gives us our powers to make a living, and if we wish to live without communion with Him, He allows us to do it. If we can only learn the folly of living away from God by bitter experience, God lets us have the experience.

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