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lusion, and shew with what justice this title of the good Shepherd is claimed by our Redeemer.

I begin with that to which our Lord himself appeals in the text, “I,” says he, “ am the good Shepherd : the good Shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.”

It was a signal proof that David gave of his care and tenderness, when he ventured his life for the sake of his sheep, and encountered a bear and a lion in their defence. But though the attempt was hazardous, it was not altogether desperate: he had hope of success, and actually prevailed. Besides, the charge committed to him was his father's property, part of which would one day fall to his own share, so that his personal interest was connected with the preservation of it; for if the flock decreased, his. part of the inheritance would have diminished in proportion.

But our blessed Lord had no inducement of this nature. His interest was in no shape connected with our welfare : his glory and happiness were independent of us. He could neither be enriched by our homage, nor impoverished by the want of it. Besides, we had forfeited all title to his protection, and by the most wicked and unprovoked rebellion, had rendered ourselves the objects of his just displeasure. Yet such was his free and unmerited goodness, that he not only hazarded his life in our behalf, but voluntarily resigned it, that we might live through him. “ All we, like sheep, had gone astray,' says the evangelical prophet; “ we had turned every one to his own way.” But “ he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities;" or, in the language of the New Testament, “He who knew no sin," became a sin-offering for us; the just One suffered for the unjust, “ that he might bring us to God.”

Had our case been merely unfortunate, like that of a weak and harmless lamb, seized by a lion, whom it could neither resist nor avoid, pity might have inclined a gene rous heart to attempt something for our deliverance. But our misery was the effect not of weakness, but of voluntary wickedness. We chose it in its cause. We sinned, though we were forewarned that death would be the issue. We were not caught by surprise, but deliberately surrendered, or rather sold ourselves to the adversary. Yet, in this situation, when we had nothing to invite, far less to deserve his regard and affection, did the blessed Jesus fly to our relief; and descending from the throne, put on the form of a servant, that in our place he might suffer and die on this earth which he had made.

Besides, the fatal deeds, which forfeited our happiness, were sins committed directly against himself. It was his own law we transgressed, his own royalty we invaded : we fought against him with his own arms, and joined in confederacy with his most inveterate enemies. So that every obstacle that can be imagined lay in the road of mercy, the blackest ingratitude, the most outrageous insolence; in a word, all the circumstances were united, which could aggravate our guilt, and inflame the wrath of him against whom we sinned; and conspired to render our punishment not only a righteous, but even a wise and necessary exercise of severity, for vindicating the honour of the Sovereign, and for maintaining the credit and influence of his government. Nay, as the threatening was published before the penalty was incurred, truth as well as justice demanded the execution of it.

Such were our circumstances, when this Friend of sinners, but the enemy of sin, came upon the wings of love to save us. “Deliver them,” said he, “from going down to the pit,” and against me let the sword of justice be unsheathed. Here was goodness, generous disinterested goodness, that never had, and that never can have a parallel. “ Scarcely for a righteous man will one die, peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die;" but who hath ever heard of one dying for an enemy ? Or if such a prodigy could be found among men, yet the generosity even of this person would fall infinitely short of the example in my text. Such a one might be said to resign a life ; but then it is a precarious dependent life, a debt payable on demand, a lease revocable at pleasure. A mere creature can give away nothing that is properly his own, because he has nothing but what he received. Whereas our dearest Lord not only died in the room of enemies, but by dying, resigned a life that in the strictest sense was his property ; for so he says in the 18th verse of this chapter, “ I have power to lay down my life, and I have power to take it up again.” He had an estate of his own, so to speak, an original, and therefore an absolute right to his life. This, as it gave merit and efficacy to his death, so it qualified him to exhibit that mystery of love, which angels contemplated with increasing wonder, when he assumed qur nature, and became our Shepherd, and in that character gave his life for the sheep.

But did the blessed Jesus stop here Did he merely restore sinners to a capacity of happiness, by expiating their guilt, and paving the way for their return to God? Or, to carry forward the allusion, does the good Shepherd satisfy himself with rescuing his sheep from the jaws of the lion, and then leave them to their own conduct, to find the road back to the fold from whence they had strayed ? No.-For, in the

2d place, He also becomes their guide; and, as it is beautifully expressed in the 23d Psalm, “ He leads them in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake." How amiable does he appear, when introduced by Ezekiel, speaking after this manner : “ Behold I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out: as a shepherd seeketh out his flock, so will I seek out my. sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the dark and cloudy day. I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away: I will bind up that which was broken, and strengthen that which was sick," Of the same mild and gracious import is that tender representation in the prophecy of Isaiah : “ He shall feed his flock like a shepherd; he shall gather the lambs with his arms, and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead them that are with young.” In allusion to these prophetical descriptions of the Messiah, our Lord himself hath declared in the New Testament, that “ the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” And having in this chapter assumed the title of a shepherd, he says, in the 16th verse, “ Other sheep I have, which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice." And indeed this exercise of his pastoral office is no less necessary than it is kind ; for such is the enmity of our hearts, such the perverseness of our natures, that after all he has done without us, to bring us to God, yet if his Spirit did not work within us, none of us would ever think of returning to him. " The carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” Accordingly Paul reminds the converts at Ephesus, that till Christ quickened them, they too were dead in trespasses and sins, and children of wrath even as others.” Hear the language of our Lord to his disciples of every tribe of men, “ Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you :" and that assertion of the Apostle which is universally true, “ By grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” And does he not merit the designation of a good Shepherd, who not only saves his flock from destruction, and opens to them the door of his sheep-fold, but goes after them into the wilderness, pursues them whilst they are flying from their own happiness, and never gives over his search till he finds them, and then leads them in safety to a place of rest, where every thing is provided that their necessities require ?-For this is a

3d proof of his love to his sheep: Having brought them into his fold, he supplies all their wants, and feeds them with food convenient for them. How sweetly did David sing under the sense of this privilege, “ The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want : he maketh me to lie down in green pastures; he leadeth me beside the still waters.”—“ The young lions may lack and suffer hunger, but they that fear the Lord shall not lack any good thing.”—“ I will feed them, (said God by the Prophet Ezekiel, chap. xxxiv. 14.), “ I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be: there shall they lie in a good fold; and in a fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel.” Here peace and affluence are represented in the most striking and agreeable colours.

And that this promise has a spiritual meaning, and extends to the gospel church, appears from verse 23d, where the Messiah, under the well known title of David, is brought fully into view, as the person by whose hand these blessings are dispensed. “ I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David, he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. And I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them: I the Lord have spoken it. And I will make with them a covenant of peace, and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land : and they shall dwell safely in the wil. derness, and sleep in the woods. And I will make them, and the places round about my hill, a blessing; and I will cause the shower to come down in his season: there shall be showers of blessing.And I will raise up for them a plant of renown, and they shall be no more consumed with hunger in the land.” It is not improbable that our Lord had this prophetical description in his eye, when he said in the 9th verse of this chapter, “ I am the door, (of the sheep), by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture." But how must it amaze ns, to hear from his own lips, that he is not only the door by which the sheep enter into the pasture, but is himself the pasture upon which they feed; yet these are his words, in the 6th chapter of this gospel, at the 51st and following verses, “ I am the

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