LUKE xv. 17. “And when he came to himself he said, How
many hired servants of my father have bread enough and to
spare, and I perish with hunger.”
I. THE simplest test of any religion is its theory of the
nature of man. We propose to bring the Bible theory of
man’s nature to the test of one admitted and notorious
fact—the fact of the exceptional unhappiness of man.
Our Lord confronts this fact. The prodigal son is not
only a sufferer but an exceptional sufferer. More, he who
suffers is infinitely superior to those who are happy—they
are but hired servants and he is the son. The animal
creation live unvexed by care, unhaunted by the fear of
death. Man pays the penalty of his standing by this, that
he is capable of an infinity of agonies. We might be told
that susceptility to pleasure must always involve a cor-
responding susceptibility to pain. But what a sad answer.
Is the crown of completion science offers to be a crown of
II. Man is unhappy in proportion to the degree in
which he obeys his own nature; with the animal it is the
reverse. But man has two pains—the pain of satiety and
the pain of remorse. How do scientific men explain this?
III. We believers have a theory. We hold that man is
not in his natural and proper element. God gave him a
spiritual nature, and before he can be happy his spirit must
have communion with God. Besides, it tells us that the
origin of human sin and sorrow has been the wandering of
man. Written revelation tells him, and alone can tell him,
that there is a remedy for his unhappiness. Rise up, and
go to your father.
IV. We are able to show that all along the history of the
Divine society Christ came on earth to found, there have
been instances of this restoring and this healing power.
We say then that the old Gospel theory of the fall and
restoration and delivery of man is the theory that best
accords with the facts.
W. C. Magee, D.D.