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21Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

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21. Father, I have sinned against heaven. Here is pointed out another branch of repentance, namely, such a conviction of sin as is accompanied by grief and shame. For he who is not grieved for having sinned, and whose offense is not placed before his eyes, will sooner attempt any thing than think of returning to the path of duty. Displeasure with sin must therefore go before repentance. And there is great emphasis in this expression, that the young man is said to have come to himself, as one whom the wanderings of wild desires had hurried away into forgetfulness of himself. And certainly so far astray are the impulses of the flesh, that any one who gives himself up to them may be said to have gone out of himself, and to have lost his senses. For this reason transgressors are commanded to return to the heart, 538538     “A ceste cause en l’Escriture Dieu commande aux transgresseurs de retourner a leur coeur;” — “For this reason, in Scripture God commands transgressors to return to their heart.” In the authorized version the passage runs thus: Bring it again to mind, O ye transgressors. — Ed. (Isaiah 46:8.) Next follows a confession, 539539     “Apres la cognoissance du peche s’ensuit aussi la confession;” — “after the knowledge of sin there follows also confession.” not such a one as the Pope has contrived, but one by which the son appeases his offended father; for this humility is absolutely necessary in order to obtain forgiveness of sins. This mode of expression, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, is of the same import as if he had said, that God was offended in the person of an earthly father. And certainly this is the dictate of nature, that every one who rebels against a father rises wickedly also against God, who has placed children in subjection to parents.




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