Verse 32. This thy brother was dead, and is alive - A thousand of these delicate touches in the inspired writings escape an inattentive reader. In ver. 30, the elder son had unkindly and indecently said, This thy son. The father in his reply mildly reproves him, and tenderly says, This thy brother - Amazing intimation, that the best of men ought to account the worst sinners their brethren still; and should especially remember this relation, when they show any inclination to return. Our Lord in this whole parable shows, not only that the Jews had no cause to murmur at the reception of the Gentiles, (a point which did not at that time so directly fall under consideration, ) but that if the Pharisees were indeed as good as they fancied themselves to be, still they had no reason to murmur at the kind treatment of any sincere penitent. Thus does he condemn them, even on their own principles, and so leaves them without excuse. We have in this parable a lively emblem of the condition and behaviour of sinners in their natural state. Thus, when enriched by the bounty of the great common Father, do they ungratefully run from him, ver. 12. Sensual pleasures are eagerly pursued, till they have squandered away all the grace of God, ver. 13. And while these continue, not a serious thought of God can find a place in their minds. And even when afflictions come upon them, ver. 14, still they will make hard shifts before they will let the grace of God, concurring with his providence, persuade them to think of a return, ver. 15, 16. When they see themselves naked, indigent, and undone, then they recover the exercise of their reason, ver. 17. Then they remember the blessings they have thrown away, and attend to the misery they have incurred. And hereupon they resolve to return to their father, and put the resolution immediately in practice, ver. 18, 19. Behold with wonder and pleasure the gracious reception they find from Divine, injured goodness! When such a prodigal comes to his father, he sees him afar off, ver. 20. He pities, meets, embraces him, and interrupts his acknowledgments with the tokens of his returning favour, ver. 21. He arrays him with the robe of a Redeemer's righteousness, with inward and outward holiness; adorns him with all his sanctifying graces, and honours him with the tokens of adopting love, ver. 22. And all this he does with unutterable delight, in that he who was lost is now found, ver. 23, 24. Let no elder brother murmur at this indulgence, but rather welcome the prodigal back into the family. And let those who have been thus received, wander no more, but emulate the strictest piety of those who for many years have served their heavenly Father, and not transgressed his commandments.