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tion of all that hath been previously done, in order to the finding of the lost sheep; and to the “height, and depth, and length, and breadth of " the love of Christ, which passes knowledge;"> even his love to sinners, considered as strangers to repentance, and living in allowed and heinous disobedicnce.
“We were as sheep going astray, but we have “ returned:” (or have been brought back or converteil,) “to the Shepherd and Bishop of our “souls.”—“I have gone astray,” says the Palmist, “ like a sheep that is lost.” Indeed this is the constant emblem in Scripture, of our condition, as estranged from God, and seeking happiness from the world.--Other views of our state and character shew our criminality, as apostates and rebels, and enemies to God; and are suited to humble us before bim: but this especial}y illustrates our misery and danger.-What more helpless and exposed than a lost sheep? It can neither flee from its enemies, nor resist them. It is surrounded with dangers of which it has no dread, and against which it can take no precaution: and unless again brought under the tender faithful care of the shepherd, it must at length, in one way or other, be destroyed,
In such a world of temptation as this is, if we believe what the Scripture teaches, that “our ad“ versary, the Devil, like a roaring lion, goeth " about sccking whom he may devour;” and that,
as“ transformed into an angel of light,” he uscs, with immense success, a vast variety of artifices to deceive men to their destruction; we shall readily perceive, that we are exposed like lost sheep to numberless dangers, of which very few are at all aware, and from which none, left to themselves, could possibly escape.
Such is every man's condition, while living impenitent, having forsaken God, and continuing to walk according to the course of this world.
When we consider our criminality; we may conceive of the Almighty as looking upon us with just and holy abhorrence: but the emblem of lost · sheep gives us the idea of his unspeakable condescension and commiseration.
Let us then consider the love of the great and good Shepherd, to us poor lost sheep. Ile, who, in human nature, could with propriety use the words, by which JEHOVAH distinguished himself when he appeared to Moses, and say, “Before " Abraham was, I AM:” He who spake to his disciples, exactly as JEHOVAH had done to Moscs; “Certainly I will be with thee:" “ Lo, I am with " you always, even to the end of the world:” He, who could promise to give his disciples “a mouth “and wisdom, which no enemy could gainsay or “ resist:" lle, whom “all angels worship,” came into the world, was made in the likeness of men, became flesh, and tabernacled among us. But what brought him down from the realms of light?
Love! not to our character or conduct, but love to us as lost sinners!—He pitied our wretchedness, 'while he abhorred our crimes! He anticipated even our desires, and our consciousness of misery and danger! “ It is a faithful saying, and worthy of “all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into “ the world . to save sinners; even the chief of “ sinners.”—“Ye know the grace of our LORD “ Jesus Christ; how that though he was rich, " yet for your sakes he became poor; that ye, “ through his poverty, might be made rich.”
When he thus assumed “the form of a servant,” from compassion to the lost and wretched; he did not appear in a state of outward splendour, but in the deepest poverty; and while he refused to act as a Judge, and shunned those who would have made him a King; yet, as the tender Shepherd seeking his lost sheep, he performed, and so dignified, the office of a preacher, by making that his peculiar constant employment.
With weary, toilsome steps, he traversed the whole land of Israel; (a stranger to those accommodations with which the most of us are indulged;) and made it the business of his life to seek out and save the lost. He pitied the ignorant and neglected, “because they were as sheep not having “a shepherd;" and allowed himself no space for rest or refreshment, (often reserving only the nocturnal hours for secret devotion) that he might lose no opportunity of bringing lost sheep to the fold of God. This was his meat, his pleasure, and his joy: and here, especially, he hath left his minis
ters“ an example that they should follow his steps.” · This was the business of his life: still more, this was the end of his agony and death. “ All we, “ like sheep,” (says the prophet, above seven hundred years before the Saviour's birth,) “ All "we, like sheep, have gone astray; we have “ turned every one to his own way; and the LORD “hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”—“ He “ was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a "sheep before her shearer is dumb, so he opened “not his mouth.” In like manner another prophet, in the name of God says, “Awake, O "sword, against the Shepherd, against the man " that is my fellow, saith the Lord of Hosts; "smite the Shepherd.” And thus Christ, taking these prophecies as belonging to him, says, “I am the good Shepherd; the good Shepherd “ layeth down his life for the sheep.” View then, the incarnate Word and Son of God, IMMANNUEL, agonizing in the garden, and expiring on the cross; not for sinners as already repenting, but to make way for their repentance and salvation !-Oh, the depth of his condescension and compassion! the riches of his liberality! the greatness of his self-denying love !—words fail, and even imagination is lost on such a subject. -But can we suppose, that he stooped so low, and laboured and suffered so much, for
sinners, while impenitently rebellious; and then that he will, after all, reject any of those, who in consequence are brought humbly to seek his salvation? Consider him as stooping, and bleeding, and dying, for the vilest of rebels and enemies: and then conceive him, if you can, sternly rejecting the humble requests of the poor supplicant who with tears and confusion, and deep contrition, intreats his mercy, and determines to know no other hope.
Before we proceed, let us not forget to think of this gracious Saviour, weeping over ungrateful Jerusalem and the miseries to which it was devoted; and praying when nailed to the cross for his murderers ; “Father, forgive them; for they “know not what they do.” Nor let it be lost sight of, that “Jesus is the same, yesterday, to“ day, and for ever.".
The commission and instruction given to his apostles, when he sent them forth to preach the gospel, were perfectly coincident with these encouraging representations of his personal ministry. “ Other sheep,” says he, “I have, which are not es of this fold: them also I must bring, and they "? shall hear my voice, and there shall be one fold, “ and one Shepherd,” “ Neither pray I for these “ alone, but for them also which shall believe in “me through their word.” “Go ye into all the “world, and preach the gospel to every creature, “ he that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved;