Page images
PDF
EPUB

together, saith the Lord: Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. Shall I, then, this day have the honour, the unspeakable honour, of reconciling thee to Christ? Art thou resolving to be His-to take up thy cross and follow Him through evil, as well as through good report ? Art thou willing to fight the good fight of faith, and lay hold on eternal life ? Art thou willing to gird up the loins of thy mind, and to be sober, and hope unto the end ? Art thou willing to count all things but loss and dung, that thou mayest win Christ, and be found in Him, not having thy own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ,-the righteous. ness which is of God by faith? Art thou willing to take apostolic counsel ? 2 Pet. i. 5-8; Phil. iv. 8. Art ihou willing to think on these things, and strive and pray to reduce them to practice ? Allow me, then, to congratulate thee upon thy return to thy rightful Sovereign. The saints and angels above rejoice in thy return. There is joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth; and shall not we rejoice on earth ? Shall not every believer bid thee God-speed ? Shall they not now receive thee into their company, and pour into thy wounds the oil and the wine of consolation ? Every one that acknowledgeth, that grace hath made him to differ, and acknowledgeth that if Sovereign mercy had not prevented he had been in thy state, will give thee the right hand of fellowship. But if spiritual pride should have crept in, and they seem to say, Stand by, for I am holier than thou, rejoice in this, that the Father is saying to his servants, Bring forth the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet; and bring hither the fatted calf, and let us eat and be merry. And in case any of those who exalt themselves on account of their gifts or privileges, or the approbation of their fellow-worms, should find fault, it is enough that He reply, It was meet that we should make merry and be glad; for this thy brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found. If God be for thee, who can be against thee ?-it He approve, who shall condemn? Thy fellow-sinners may stand aloof, through pride or fear ; but if God the Father, Son, and Spirit, receive thee, and acknowledge thee here and hereafter, thou shalt be amply repaid.

Now the God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

SERMON II.

"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want."---PSALM XXII. 1.

Few of the sons of men have experienced more of the changes of human life than the patriarch David. Though, contrary to the portion of the many, his lot was generally cast into the ascending scale; yet it was subject to so many variations, and met with so frequent, and such severe obstructions, that he frequently despaired of ever gaining the summit of the ambition of inan.

His father, Jesse, was a native of BethlehemJudah, which, though little among the thousands of Judah, gave birth to Hiin whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. Being the youngest of eight sons, to him, at length, was committed the care of his father's flocks. Foilowing the ewes with young, he learned some of those lessons, which so eminently qualified him for leading out, and bringing in, for governing, defending, and comforting, the people of God. It is good for a man that lie bear the yoke in his youth. He who is always fondled in the lap of prosperity, and seated in the easy.chair of affluence, and inebriated with the intoxicating draughts of flattery, would need a double portion of that wisdom which cometh from above. Amidst all the changes through which David passed, whether he was tanned with the gentle gale of prosperity, or tossed with the overwhelming storm of adversity, he still maintained, not only the dignity of the man, but the superiority, the excellency of the Christian. Whether he was wrestling with the lion and the bear, or meeting the menacing and boasting Philistine, or evading the fury and malignity of persecuting Saul, or the still greater atrocity and perfidy of the much-beloved, though unnatural usurper and traitor, Absalom, he still trusted in the Lord, and stayed himself upon his God. He knew, that although his house was not so with God, yet he had made with him an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure. It was under the influence of this hope,—the anchor of his soul, that in a season of grateful remeinbrance, of sensible experience, of unshaken confidence, and of joyful anticipation, in allusion to his former pastoral experience, he exclaimed triumphantly, in the words of my text, The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want! Depending upon the promised assistance and guidance of this allpowerful and ever-watchful Shepherd, we shall, in the first place, mention some of the properties of which He is possessed ; secondly. We shall state some of the necessary blessings which the sheep of His pasture shall not want.

First, I am briefly to mention some of the properties which the Shepherd of David possessed.

We hesitate not to assert, (what all who are the sheep of His pasture will admit,) that we miglit justly ascribe to Him every perfection. Whatever a shepherd could, or should possess, the Shepherd of Israel, who leadeth Joseph like a flock, may warrantably claim. We shall, however, content ourselves by bringing forward those which, under this character, are directly attributed to Himn in Scripture. In the 10th chapter, the 11th and 14th verses, of John's Gospel, He calls Himself the Good Shepherd. His knowledge of His office, and His performance of its duties, justly entitle Him to this high appellation. His undertaking the charge in the councils of eternity,–His delights with them from everlasting,–His constant attention to them since the first of time.His manifestation in the flesh in the fulness of time,-His fulfilling all righteousness, by obeying, yea, magnifying the law, as a covenant, in the room and stead of guilty men, -His making His soul an offering for sin, and pouring out His soul unto death, and bearing the sins of many in His own body on the tree, by being made a sin-offering for them, though he knew no sin,--His glorious resurrection from the dead, by which He was declared to be the Son of God, with power, His triumphant ascension into the highest heaven, and station at the right hand of God,--His continual and ever-prevalent intercession for His people in that exalted state,-these, and more than tongue can express, or heart conceive, entitle Him, most justly and exclusively, to the excellent and amiable character of the Good Shepherd. He most intimately knows, and most affectionately cares, for every one of His sheep. He sees intuitively where they are, how tliey fare, and what shall befal them. Before they come into the world, their place is assigned them, their bread provided for them, and their water made sure. At the time, and in the place appointed, they are brought into the world. In infancy, He listens to their feeble cries, and bestows on them more than a mother's tender care. In childhood, He preserves and rears them, and inclines unto wisdom their tender minds. In the slippery paths of youth, He keeps their feet from falling, and their eyes from tears. In manhood, He supports, directs, and animates them, and enables them to keep consciences void of offence towards God, and towards man. Even to old age, He carries them, enabling them still to bring forth fruit, and makes them fat and Aourishing. Nor does He, like some flattering, but false friends, desert them in the time of need. He is to them a very present, yea, a sure and all-sufficient help in the time of trouble. He feeds them upon a good pasture;

and upon the high mountains of Israel He makes their fold. The diseased He strengthens—the sick He heals-the broken-hearted He binds up. He brings again those that are driven away, and seeks, until He finds, those that are lost. When death, the last eneiny, approaches, He goes with them, -His rod and His staff, they comfort them. In the valley of the shadow of death, in the swellings of Jordan, they fear no evil. After they have passed the swelling flood, He greets them in these enrapturing strains, Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord. Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. Does not this intimate knowledge of His flock-this assiduous care for their welfare-entitle Jesus to the designation of the Good Shepherd ? He does not claim it, however, merely on this account. Hear His own words,-words as wonderful as faithful,- I am the Good Shepherd, the Good Shepherd giveth His life for the sheep. I am the Good Shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father, and I lay down my life for the sheep. This part of His conduct is beyond a parallel. He may justly challenge, in this respect, every competitor, and say, To whom will ye liken me, or shall I be equal, saith the Holy One ? For ask now of the days that are past, which were before thee, since the day that God created man upon the earth, and ask, from the one side of heaven unto the other, whether there hath been any such thing as this great thing is, or hattı been heard like it í Have our ears ever heard, or our fathers tuld us ? Hath it ever been known during eternity's duration, or through space's extent, that a shepherd laid down his life for the sheep! Yet this hath the Good Shepherd ; and surely he deserves the appellation.

This, and more than this, hath the Good Shepherd done. Thinking of all His care, and all His kindness, of all His love, and all His woe, may we not exclaim with the Apostle, 0 the

depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God, how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out! For of Him, and through Him,

are all things. To whom be glory for ever and Secondly, The great Apostle of the Gentiles, in the 13th chapter and 20th verse of his Epistle to the Hebrews, calls Hin the Great Shepherd of the sheep.

and to Him,

ever. Amen.

He is as great as He is good. The Scriptures ascribe to Him all the natural or incommunicable attributes of Deity; and the moral or communicable He may surely claim. All the names and titles of God are given Him. The works of creation and providence are ascribed to Him; and to Him, surely, belongs the work of redemption. He is indisputably ordained the Judge of the quick and the dead. Divine worship has been paid and received by Him, which no holy creature ever would or could receive. But time would fail me, and language would not enable me, to set forth His greatness. All other greatness sinks into nothingness before it. He is, and was, and ever will be, the source and sum of all greatness, (Prov. viii. 15, 16; Rev. xix. 16; Dan. ii. 21, 22.) In a word, the tribes of earth, the hosts of heaven, and the legions of hell, obey Him.

Thirdly, The undaunted and indefatigable Peter, to whom He thrice committed the care of His sheep and lambs, in his First Epistle, 5th chapter and 4th verse, calls Him, without any hesitation, the Chief Shepherd.

All the shepherds upon earth are subject to His supreme authority. They all receive from Him their charge; and to Him they shall render a solemn account. By implication, He addresses them as He did Ezekiel of old, (xxxiii. 7-9.) Take heed, therefore, unto yourselves, and to all the flock over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the Church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood. They are in the place of ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech men by them, they are to pray men in Christ's stead to be reconciled unto God. For they are unto God a sweet savour of Christ in them that are saved, and in them that perish. To the one, they are the savour of death unto death; and to the other, the savour of life unto life. They who are thus wise, shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars for ever and ever. For when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, they shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. Is He not the Good, the Great, the Chief, the only Shepherd, — whose are the beasts of the field, the fowls of the air, the fishes of the sea, and whose is the life and breath of every creature,- by whom creation is supported and tended, and fed, and cherished, -before whom shall be gathered all nations, and He shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd divideth the sheep from the goats ; nay, who will assign unto the very shepherds themselves their everlasting portion ?

Let us now attend, in the Second place, To what the Good, the

« PreviousContinue »