« VorigeDoorgaan »
tions kindled in a moment by this exquisite picture of the same unrivalled hand: “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom.” With what inimitable tenderness, and elegance, does David exclaim, “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."
It is hardly necessary to observe, that this allusion, so beautiful, and forcible, in our own view, must have had enhanced strength and beauty to the eye of a nation, extensively devoted to the pastoral life; and, therefore, realizing at once all its fine scenes, and all the gentle and tender emotions, to which they gave birth. Equally obvious is it to remark, that this discourse of our Saviour must be considered as singularly happy, and impressive, if we suppose it to have been delivered near the Sheep-gate, and in the confines of Bethesda, or the House of mercy.
In the text, after having displayed in his previous observations a tenderness, never exhibited by any oth. er inhabitant of this world, Christ proceeds to inform us, that he had other sheep, beside those, of which he had been speaking; that he must bring, or collect, them; and that the two flocks should constitute one, be sheltered by one fold, and be led by one shepherd.
"Other sheep,” says our Saviour, “I have.” Other disciples, beside those of the Jewish nation, and the present age, I have, belonging to my family. They exist among the Gentiles in this age; and will exist in every future period. The Gospel of the Kingdom, which is to be preached in all nations, will every where find those, who will cordially receive, and obey, its dietates; those, who in the exercise of a living and affectionate confidence will hereafter give themselves
up to me, and become mine. They are now mine; and were given to me from the beginning. “Them I must bring.” To collect them from every part of the world is one of the great duties of my office; a part of the glorious work, which my Father gave me to do:
: and I shall not leave it unaccomplished. “They shall hear my voice.” When I call, they will know and acknowledge me as their Shepherd; and cheerfully obey the summons. “There shall then be one fold:” a single church; a single assembly of my disciples; one in name; one in their character, their life, and their destination: and I, the good, the only, Shepherd will lead them. “They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat: but I will feed them, and lead them unto living fountains of waters.”
All real Christians, my brethren, belong to Christ; and were chosen in him before the foundation of the world; that they should be holy, and without blame, before him in love. In him they hate redemption through his blood; the forgiveness of sins; according to the riches of his grace. In this world they are often hidden from each other; are separated by different names, forms of worship, and modes of discipline; and unhappily are in many instances, and in greater or less degrees, alienated from each other by unworthy and disgraceful contentions. The prophet Elijah, when he fled from Jezebel to Horeb, the mount of God, told his Maker, that he, even he only, was left of the prophets; and that they sought his life, to take it away.
How must he have been astonished, when he heard that glorious Being answer, “I have left me seven thousand in Israel, who have not bowed the knee unto Baal.” In a similar manner the Church is exhibited by the prophet Isaiah, as saying in her heart, after the gener
al profligacy, which precedes the dawn of the Millen nium, and the sudden multiplication of converts which shall follow; “Who hath begotten me these? seeing I have lost my children, and am desolate; a captive, and moving to and fio: and who hath brought up these? Behold, I was left alone. These, where had they been?” The answer to this complaint, also, is in the same spirit, as in that to Elijah, but immensely more delightful and glorious. “Behold," saith the Lord God, “I will lift up my hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people; and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and shall carry thy daughters upon their shoulders. And kings shall be tky nursing fathers, and queens thy nursing mothers." All these, strangers as they are to Zion, are still her children: and, however separated by distance, concealed by mutual ignorance, or arrayed against each other by unkind, uncharitable thoughts, are really, and ' will ultimately appear to be, possessed of one character. They will also constitute one visible church; Iraving one Lord, one faith, and one baptism. The system of truth, revealed in the Gospel, is one: the Church formed by it, is one: and the scheme of worship, enjoined in it, is the same. He, whose eye seeth not as mun seeth, discerns this now, with absolute certainty; and distinguishes every one of his children with an intuition, which cannot err, amid all the varieties of name and character, which they assumé, and the biasses, errours, and oppositions, by which they are often concealed from each other. The time will come, when among all, who have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him, who created him, there will be neither Greek nor Jero, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian nor Scy. thian, bond nor free; bu Christ will be all and in all.
This visible and glorious union of Christians will not, indeed, be perfectly accomplished, until the heaoens shall be no more. Then the intercessory prayer of the Redeemer will be completely answered in the exact eventuation of the great purpose, which I have specified. “Neither pray 1 for these alone, but for them also, who shall believe on me through their word: That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe, that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou hast giocn me, I have given them; that they may be 'one, even as we are one.
Still, the period is advancing; it is hastening; in which Christians will be most honourably únited in the present world. The morning is even now approaching towards the horizon, and at no distant pe riod will actually rise upon this dark world, when all distinctions of party and sect, of name and nation, of civilization and savageness, of climate and colour, will finally vanish. The day is approaching, when the traveller, who takes his circuit over the globe, will find Christians in every clime, inhabiting every city, and village, in his course. Churches will every where gladden his eye; and Hymns of praise vibrate upon his ear
From Zembla to Cape Horn, from California to Japan, the heralds of Salvation will repeat to astonished audiences with an enchanting voice the story, brought from heaven to the Shepherds of Bethlehem: “Unto you is born in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ, the Lord.” Throughout this vast extent, the happy race of Adam, united in a single, solemn response, will exclaim, “Horo beautiful on the mountains are the feet of them, that bring good tidings; that publish peace; that bring good tidings
of good; that publish salvalion; and say unto Zion, “Thy God reigneth”!"
“Other sheep,” saith our Saviour “I have, whicii are not of this fold.” Thc sheep, which Christ then had, were Jexos; inhabitants of a single country, and living at that single period. Nay, they were a little flock.gathered out of these. His other sheep, as he has taught us in bis word, are a great multitude, which no man can number, of all nations, kindreds, and tongues; born in every future period; gathered from every distant land. “Them I must bring, and they shall hear my voice.” He who took such effectar: . care of the little flock, which followed him during 1:18 ministry, because it was their Father's good pleasure to give them the kingdom, will be casily believed, when he informs us, that he must, and will, bring into his fold a multitude, by their number, and character, of such immeasurable importance. For this very end he hath ascended far above all heavens, that he might fill all things. For this very end he is constituted head over all things unto his Church. This is the third great division of his employment, as Mediator. The first was to teach the will of God for our salvation; the second, to expiate our sins; the third is to gather us into his heavenly kingdom. It is in this employment, and in reference to the great subject, which we are contemplating, that he originally said, and that he is now saying, "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God; and there is none else. I have sworn by myself; the word has gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return; that unto me every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall swear. Surely shall one say, “In Jehovah have 1 righteousness, and strength.” “To him shall men come; and all that are incensed against him, shall be