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"But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him"
What a blessing it was for the prodigal that he did not meet his elder brother before his father! Had the two, by any sad mischance, met face to face in the field, it is certain that the ragged wanderer would never have gone another step. His brother would have upbraided him with leaving home, and wasting his patrimony, and coming back in so disgraceful a state. Assuredly he would not have killed the fatted calf; but he would have killed all hope in that sad and sinstained soul.
With one farewell glance at the dear old home, the penitent would have turned back to the far-country and the swine. Those upbraidings would have broken the bruised reed, and quenched the smoking flax in densest midnight.
But mercifully the prodigal first met his father, whose heart had never ceased to yearn for him, and whose eye strove against the blinding touch of grief and years, that it might still scan the road along which that prodigal child had gone. Was there upbraiding in his look or tone? Never! Was there upbraiding mingled with the first glad notes of welcome? Not a trace! Not a word about the long absence, the wild and evil life! If the son had had his way, he would have carried his confession to the end, and chosen for himself the servant's lot; but even in that he was stopped, and silenced with the warm rush of his father's love. "He gave liberally, and upbraided not."
This is a true picture of God. He gives, and gives again. He gives tears and blood. He gives His darling and His All.