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the evil principle, of sin still warring in their members, they may to all appearance. “ perish,” and seem to be cast out from the presence of the Lord, and to have no hope of entering into his rest : but sin has no real power over them, so as finally to prevent their salvation. God, the keeper of souls, has appointed their great enemy bounds which he shall not pass. “ Their sins, though many, are forgiven them.” They are sealed unto the day of redemption. They shall never perish eventually. “ Over such the second death hath no power." Christ hath overcome death, sin, and the grave, and has made the passage to immortality safe and secure to all his true followers and soldiers. This is their watchword, this their passport, “O death where is thy sting? O grave where is thy victory? I thank God, (or as it may be rendered,) the grace of God, through our Lord Jesus Christ.'
It follows, therefore, as a necessary consequence, “Neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” The Lord preserveth the souls of his saints. He has recovered the empire over them, which sin had forfeited. “Through death," says the Epistle to the Hebrews, “He destroyed him that had the power of death, that is the devil.” Observe, not who has, but who had, the power. I his power he would fain wrest again from the hands of Christ. But his empire is broken up and limited. He prowls about the fold, but the sheep are secure in the watchful care of the good shepherd. And though he makes them his prey who stray without the fold, and will not enter in, nor come to Christ, that they might have life; those who are in the fold and in the hand of Christ, he has no power to pluck therefrom. They are eternally safe. That wicked one toucheth them not. They are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation. “My. father which gave them me, is greater than all ; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. I and my Father are one." Until therefore a power can be found, or imagined, greater than that of the good shepherd, who is the fulness of the Godhead, the Conqueror of sin, hell, and the grave, who was dead and behold he is alive for evermore, and quick eneth whom he will; till then, « no man shall pluck them out of his hand."
The subject which has been considered, is full of comfort and encouragement; which you will know how to appropriate or to refuse, aceording as ye are either Christ's sheep, or not of this fold. The character of the former has been described, and by that the character of the latter may be ascertained.
“ Fear not, little flock, it is your Father's
pleasure to give you the kingdom.” “Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations. And I appoint unto you a kingdom.” “ Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.” In your wanderings here on earth, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations. But ye are kept by the power of the good shepherd, as long as ye follow on to know the Lord; and none of you shall be lost. For he knoweth them that are his, and calleth them all by their names.
Others there are who continue to follow the course of this world, the Prince of the power of the air, who worketh in the children of disobe. dience: who are still as sheep going astray. Who believe not because they are not of Christ's sheep; who hear not his voice, who know not Christ nor follow him. Argue not that you are for ever excluded from the fold, because you are not yet his sheep; and that Christ excludes you by an irreversible decree. No such thing. Hear his words : « him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” “I came to call sinners to repentance.” “Other sheep I have, which are not of this fold, them also I must bring." You exclude yourselves, from present peace, and future blessedness. The good shepherd laid down his life for all; for lost sheep, as well as for them
who went not astray. Nay, we are told that He rejoices in the recovery of the lost sheep, and that this joy is communicated to the angels in heaven. They tune their harps afresh, at the return of every such stray, but recovered, sheep. Return, then, you that are going astray, “ to the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.” Hear his voice while it is called to-day. There is salvation by none other but Christ, for there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby they can be saved. Enter in by this door into his fold. For there only shall ye find pasture, rest for your souls in this life, and rest in heaven, when at the last awful separation, the good shepherd shall divide the sheep from the goats, and shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. To the one he shall say “depart ye cursed.” To the other, “come ye blessed children of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world !”
1 THESSALONIANS V. 17.
Pray without ceasing.
ainsip It was customary with the Apostle, to wind up any particular doctrinal point he had been previously discussing, with a few short practical precepts; thereby intending to teach Christians, not to rest satisfied with the knowledge of speculative truths without suffering them to be adopted, and cordially adopted, in their practice; and that the highest doctrine then, and then only, attains its perfection, when it is suffered to ripen into exertion, and to produce the fruits of righteousness.
Such was the Apostle's design in the chapter from whence my text is taken. He had been