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And if such were the figures, how much more was the Truth itself, the good SHEPHERD, when He came, both guileless and heroic? If shepherds are men of simple lives and obscure fortunes, uncorrupted and unknown in kings' courts and marts of commerce, how much more He who was carpenter's Son,” who was “meek and lowly of heart,” who “ did not strive nor cry,” who "went about doing good,” who “ when He was reviled, reviled not again,” and who was " despised and rejected of men ?" If, on the other hand, they are men of suffering and trial, how much more so HE who was
a man of sorrows,” and who “laid down His life for the sheep?"
“ That which was torn of beasts, I brought not unto thee,” says Jacob; “I bare the loss of it; of my hand didst thou require it.” And has not Christ undertaken the charge of our souls ? Has He not made HIMSELF answerable for us whom the devil had rent ? Like the good Samaritan, " Take care of him," He says, “and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again I will
Or, as in another parable, under another image : LORD, let it alone this year also .. and if it bear fruit, well; and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down 4."
“ In the day the drought consumed me,” says Jacob; and who was He who at mid day sat down at that very Jacob's well, tired with His journey, and needing some of that water to quench His thirst, whereof “ Jacob drank himself, and his children and his cattle?” Yet whereas He had a living water to impart, which the world knew not of, He preferred, as became the good SHEPHERD, to offer it to one of those lost sheep whom He came to seek and to save, rather than to take at her hand the water from the well, or to accept the offer of His disciples, when they came with meat from the city, and said, “ Master, eat.” · The frost” consumed me“ by night,” says Jacob, "and my sleep departed from mine eyes ;” and read we not of One whose wont it was to rise a long while before day, and continue in prayer to God? who passed nights in the mountain, or on the sea ? who dwelt forty days in the wilderness? who in the evening and night of His passion,
repay thee 3.”
3 Luke x, 35.
4 Luke xiii. 8, 9.
was forlorn in the bleak garden, or stripped and bleeding in the cold judgment hall ?
Again : Moses, amid his sheep, saw the vision of God, and was told of God's adorable Name; and CHRIST, the true Sh£PHERD, lived a life of contemplation in the midst of His laborious ministry; He was transfigured on the mountain, and no man knew the Son but the FATHER, nor the FATHER but the Son.
Jacob endured, Moses meditated ;-and David wrought. Jacob endured the frost, and heat, and sleepless nights, and paid the price of the lost sheep; Moses was taken up into the mount for forty days; David fought with the foe, and recovered the prey— he rescued it from the mouth of the lion, and the paw of the bear, and killed the ravenous beasts. Christ, too, not only suffered with Jacob, and was in contemplation with Moses, but fought and conquered with David. David defended his father's sheep at Bethlehem ; CHRIST, born and heralded to the shepherds at Bethlehem, suffered on the Cross in order to conquer.
He came “from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah •;" but He was “ glorious in His apparel,” for He trod the people“ in His anger, and trampled them in His fury, and their blood was sprinkled upon
His garments, and He stained all His raiment.” Jacob was not as David, nor David as Jacob, nor either of them as Moses; but Christ was all three, as fulfilling all types, the lowly Jacob, the wise Moses, the heroic David, all in one-Priest, Prophet, and King.
My brethren, we say daily, “ We are His people, and the sheep of His pasture." Again, we say, “ We have erred and strayed from Thy ways, like lost sheep :" let us never forget these truths ; let us never forget, on the one hand, that we are sinners; let us never forget, on the other hand, that Christ is our Guide and Guardian. He is “the way, the truth, and the life 6.” He is a light unto our ways, and a lanthorn unto our paths. He is our Shepherd, and the sheep know His voice. If we are His sheep, we shall hear it, recognize it, and obey it. Let us beware of not following when He goes before : “He goes before, and His sheep follow Him, for they know His voice.” Let us beware
s Isaiah Ixiii. 1---3.
6 John xiv. 6.
of receiving His grace in vain. When God called Samuel, he answered, “Speak, LORD, for Thy servant heareth.” When CHRIST called St. Paul, he “ was not disobedient to the heavenly vision." Let us desire to know His voice ; let us pray for the gift of watchful ears and a willing heart. He does not call all in one way; HE calls us each in His own way. To St. Peter He said, “Follow thou ME;" of St. John, “If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?” Nor is it always easy to know His voice. St. John knew it, and said “It is the LORD," before St. Peter. Samuel did not know it till Eli told him. St. Paul asked,
“Who art Thou, LORD?" We are bid, “ try the spirits, whether they be of God.” But whatever difficulty there be in knowing when Christ calls, and whither, yet at least let us look out for His call. Let us not be content with ourselves ; let us not make our own hearts our home, or this world our home, or our friends our home ; let us look out for a better country, that is, a heavenly. Let us look out for Him who alone can guide us to that better country ; let us call heaven our home, and this life a pilgrimage; let us view ourselves, as sheep in the trackless desert, who, unless they follow the shepherd, will be sure to lose themselves, sure to fall in with the wolf. We are safe while we keep close to Him, and under His eye; but if we suffer Satan to gain an advantage over us, woe to us.
Blessed are they who give the flower of their days, and the strength of soul and body to Him; blessed are they who in their youth turn to Him who gave His life for them, and would fain give it to them and implant it in them, that they may live for
Blessed are they who resolve, come good, come evil, come sunshine, come tempest, come honour, come dishonour, that He shall be their LORD and MASTER, their King and God! They will come to a perfect end, and to peace at the last. They will, with Jacob, confess Him, ere they die, as
“ the God that fed them all their life long unto that day, the Angel which redeemed them from all evil?;" with Moses, that is their day, so shall their strength be ;" and with David, that in “ the valley of the shadow of death, they fear no evil, for He is with them, and
7 Gen. xlviii. 15, 16.
that His rod and His staff comfort them;" for “when they pass through the waters He will be with them, and through the rivers, they shall not overflow them; when they walk through the fire, they shall not be burnt, neither shall the flame kindle upon them, for He is the LORD their God, the Holy ONE of Israel, their SAVIOUR.”
RELIGIOUS JOY 1.
LUKE ii. 10, 11.
“ And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good
tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a SAVIOUR, which is CHRIST the LORD.”
THERE are two principal lessons which we are taught on the great Festival which we this day celebrate, lowliness and joy. This surely is a day, of all others, in which is set before us the heavenly excellence and the acceptableness in God's sight of that state which most men have, or may have, allotted to them, humble or private life, and cheerfulness in it. If we consult the writings of historians, philosophers, and poets of this world, we shall be led to think great men happy; we shall be led to fix our minds and hearts upon high or conspicuous stations, strange adventures, powerful talents to cope with them, memorable struggles, and great destinies. We shall consider that the highest course of life is the mere pursuit, not the enjoyment of good.
But when we think of this day's Festival, and what we commemorate upon it, a new and very different scene opens upon us.
1 For Christmas-day.