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We shall find another instance of this very interesting manner of instructing his hearers, in the epistle for the day. It was now the Feast of Tabernacles, and our Saviour was at Jerusalem. In a certain part of that city stood the sheep-fold, where the sheep, intended for sacrifice, were contained. This was kept by à porter, and surrounded by a wall of a certain height, in order to prevent thieves from climbing over it, and stealing the sheep. Near this place it is probable that Jesus was standing; and in order to make his discourse more interesting to his hearers, he referred to the different objects which they then saw; and by likening himself and his doctrine to things that were so familiar to them, he enabled the disciples and Jews to whom he was speaking, to understand him without the least difficulty, and to be more interested in what he said.
Having made these remarks, which I hope will give you a clearer notion, and a higher idea of the great beauty of our Saviour's discourses than you had before, I now proceed to explain more particularly the different parts of the Epistle for the day. Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd ; " the good shepherd giveth his life for the “ sheep." The only Saviour and guide, my christian brethren, of sinful and lost man, is Jesus Christ. He is “the way, " the truth, and the life." He alone sheweth us the way to heaven ; teacheth us religious truth; and by his merits and blood-shedding purchaseth for us everlasting life. Con. demned in Adam ; lying under the curse of eternal death ; without power to help ourselves,' or please our Maker ; we must have been utterly and for ever undone, had not the Saviour laid down his life for the sheep, to take away the sins of the world ; and given us his divine religion, to regenerate our corrupt nature ; and to teach frail, and weak, and wandering sinners, those great duties to God; to our neighbour, and ourselves, the performance of which restores us to the image of God, wherein we were at first created, and (sanctified by faith in the blood of the atonement) makes us meet to be partakers of the kingdom of heaven. Every man, therefore, who is sensible of his being a sinner; who knows the want of a Saviour, and longeth after freedom from sin, and death, and hell; he, I say, diligently seeks his Redeemer; he hears his voice; he flies to him upon the wings of faith for succour; renders himself acceptable to him, by keeping his commandments; is received and embraced by him; and, for his sake, is accepted by God the Father. For he bas been “ purchased with a price," even by the blood of the atonement; and may assuredly look to salvation, on the conditions of repentance, faith, and obedience, through the mediation of him who “ gave “ his life for the sheep.' " But he that " is an hireling," our LORD goes on to observe, “ and not the shepherd, whose own " the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, 6c and leaveth the sheep and fleeth ; and the 6 wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the
sheep; the hireling fleeth, because he is “ an hireling, and careth not for the sheep." Here is the great difference, my friends, between the faithfulness of Christ, and the faithfulness of man. In us, the selfish principle is too generally the great motive of action; with him, all is pure love and disinterested affection. We, in a great measure, confine our care, attention, and regard to what relates to ourselves, or those immediately connected with ourselves : He shewed his exceeding great love, in being utterly regardless of his own interest and sufferings, and pouring out his blood for those who are rebelling against him. The faithful servant, and tried friend, indeed, among men, will sometimes consider the concerns of his master, and the interests of the person he
loves, more than his own; and in acting thus, he will resemble, in some distant degree, the unexampled love of the good shepherd towards mankind; but still there will be this infinite difference between the love of Christ and the love of man; that the latter does these good offices for the sake of a friend, while Christ laid down his life to save his enemies.
“ I am the good shep“ herd,” continues our blessed LORD, “and “know my own, and am known of mine. “ As the Father knoweth me, so know I " the Father ; . and I lay down my life for " the sheep
No man, my brethren, who is desirous of coming to CHRIST, is rejected
When we are once smitten with a sense of sin, and a consciousness of our inability to help ourselves; and look towards the Saviour for salvation and grace ; when we once know that we are offenders, and deserve punishment; and yearn for pardon for past iniquities, and grace to avoid committing them in future; from that moment, and not till then, we are known by Christ. Then may we hope for the performance of that precious promise of our Saviour,“ if a man know and love me, he “ will keep my words; and my Father “ will love him, and we will come unto “ him, and make our abode with him."
“ No man knoweth the Father but the Son, “ and he to whom the Son shall reveal him." Through Christ it is that we are to know and come to God; but we must qualify for acceptance with our Maker, by deep contrition for having offended Him; by a hearty faith in the means which He has provided for our salvation; by steady resolutions of amendment; and by an actual reformation of life and conduct, evidenced in a conscientious endeavour to fulfil all our duties, religious, social, and personal ; that is, to God, to our neighbour, and to ourselves.
“ And other sheep I have,” says JESUS, es which are not of this fold; thein also I must “ bring, and they shall hear my voice; and " there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.” The kingdom of CHRIST, my brethren, as it will be everlasting, so is it also universal. Nothing is more clear in the New Testament, than that salvation through CHRIST extends to every single soul of man, who will seek it by observing those conditions on which alone it is to be obtained, --repentance, faith, and obedience. " The love of " CHRIST constraineth us,” saith St. Paul, 6 because we thus judge, that if one died “ for All, then were all dead; and that he “ died for ALL, that they which live should
not henceforth live unto themselves, but