Imatges de pÓgina

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 wilderness, 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 the tree of the field shall yield her fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase, and they shall be safe in their land, and shall know that I am the Lord, when I have broken the bands of their yoke." "And David My servant shall be king over them; and they shall all have one shepherd." They shall feed in the ways, and their pasture shall be in all high places. They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for He that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall He guide them."


And, moreover, by this Title He appropriates to Himself the fulfilment of His own most deep and touching parable of the lost sheep. There is no thought or emotion of pity, compassion, gentleness, patience, and love, which is not here expressed. It is the peculiar consolation of the weak, or of them that are out of the way; of the lost and wandering;

1 Ezek. xxxiv. 12-27; xxxvii. 24; Isaiah xlix. 9, 10.

of the whole flock of God here scattered abroad "in the midst of this naughty world." And though it be an Office taken on earth, and in the time of our infirmity, it is a Name which He will never lay aside. Even in the heavenly glory it still is among His Titles. He is even there "the chief Shepherd," ‚" "that great Shepherd of the sheep ;” and in the state of bliss shall still guide His flock: though more fully to express the unity of His nature with theirs, and His own spotless sacrifice in their behalf, He is called the Lamb. "The Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters," where they shall be filled with brightness.

In this, then, we see the character and office of our blessed Master towards His Church, and the relation in which, though now ascended into heaven, He still stands to us. It expresses generally His pastoral relation of care and love for the universal flock of the elect: but especially the greatness of that love and care.

Let us, then, consider awhile the surpassing and peculiar goodness of the One True Shepherd.

And this He has revealed to the world in His voluntary death. There was never any other but He who came down from heaven that He might lay down "His life for the sheep." He

1 Rev. vii. 17.

is the true David, who said, "Thy servant kept his father's sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock and I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him." When out of the countless flock of creatures, one, and that the weakest, was caught away from the true fold of God, He came down "to seek and to save that which was lost;" to seek it even unto death, and in death itself; and to follow the lost along "the valley of the shadow of death," gathering the scattered and outcast of His Father's flock, and fulfilling His word: "I will surely assemble thee, O Jacob, all of thee; I will surely gather the remnant of Israel; I will put them together as the sheep of Bozrah, as the flock in the midst of their fold." By death He destroyed him that had the power of death; and by His resurrection He made a way for the ransomed to pass through. "The breaker is come up before them: they have broken up, and have passed through the gate, and are gone out by it: and their king shall pass before them, and the Lord on the head of them." "O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in Me is thine help. I will be thy King where is any other that may save

11 Sam. xvii. 34, 35.

2 Micah ii. 12, 13.

thee in all thy cities? and thy judges of whom thou saidst, Give me a king and princes? I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction." "I am the Good Shepherd: the Good Shepherd giveth His life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not 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 is the one perpetual token of His great love to all mankind,—a token ever fresh, quickened with life, full of power to persuade and subdue the hearts of His people to Himself. "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends:" and therefore the Death of the Good Shepherd is the subject of all the Church's testimony. The holy Eucharist is a type of her whole office to "shew forth the Lord's death till He come." It is the great mystery of love, the mighty power of conversion, the true

I Hosea xiii. 9, 10, 14.

3 St. John xv. 13.

2 St. John x. 11-15.

and very life of our love to Him, the pledge that He loved us before we were; and that He loves us still, even after our fall. "While we were yet enemies, Christ died for us ;"" that He might gather together in one the children of God that are scattered abroad." "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us." "We love

Him, because He first loved us."

Again, His surpassing goodness is shewn in the provision He has made of all things necessary for the salvation of His flock in this state of mortality and sin. There can no soul fail of eternal life, of reaching the rest of the true fold in Heaven, except by his own free will. As the blood-shedding of the Good Shepherd is a full and perfect ransom for all His flock, so has He pledged the perpetual exercise of His unseen pastoral care to give us all that is needed for our salvation.

1. And for this He has provided, first of all, in the external foundation and visible perpetuity of His Church. He has secured it by the commission to baptize all nations, by the universal preaching of His Apostles, by shedding abroad the Holy Ghost, by the revelation of all truth, by the universal tradition of the faith in all the world. For the perpetuity of the Church He has pledged His Divine word, that "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it ;" and in this He has pro

« AnteriorContinua »