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was born; led by the good shepherd into his fold; and “ kept by his power through faith unto salvation.” It greatly concerns us, therefore, to consider Christ under this gracious and very necessary character—to inquire how it is he brings sinners from the paths of sin and eternal death, and enables them to walk in the footsteps of his flock; so that they may be found among his sheep here, and on his right hand, in the day of judgment. Christ is said to have redeemed his church with his blood; he declared of himself, that “ he came to give his life a ransom for many.” Man was in bondage to sin and death, but Christ “ gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time ; and, therefore, such as Christ redeems from the spiritual bondage of sin and Satan, are called by the Prophet, “ the ransomed of the Lord.” · All mankind had deserved to perish under condemnation ; but when Christ came into the world, that he might give his life a ransom for many, he said, “ the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep; I lay down my life for the sheep ;" and this he did, when in the fulfilment of prophecy, “the Lord laid on him the iniquities of us all;" and when he had borne our griefs and carried our sorrows, for “he himself,” said the Apostle, “ bare our sins in his own body on the tree.” “He bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.” Then was redemption wrought out for
man, and “ the kingdom of heaven opened for all believers;" which was most strikingly typified at that time, by " the rending of the vail in the temple from the top to the bottom.” Christ, in rising from the grave, proved that his ransom was accepted of God, and his redemption-work fully completed. Thus it was that the good shepherd laid down his life for the sheep—he laid it down in their stead. Accordingly, previous to his ascension into heaven, He commanded his Apostles, and through them his ministers in every age, to go forth and proclaim this good news of redemption, which is called the Gospel; and to preach it to every creatureto declare the record, “ that God hath given unto us eternal life, and that this life is in his son;" so that whosoever believeth on him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” And he concluded his commission with this emphatic and awful sanction -" He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved, and he that believeth not, shall be damned;”—a solemn declaration this, which cannot be too frequently pressed upon the attention of all to whom the message of the Gospel has been sent. Indeed on the first view of this subject, and a serious consideration of it, one might be led to exclaim, if this be so, surely none can be lost, to whose ears this gracious message has been brought; for who is there that could be so infatuated, as “ to neglect this great salvation ?" but in such a case, we cannot draw a conclusion from what we think probable; especially when a little observation must prove to us, that such a conclusion would be contrary to the experience of every age, and contrary to matter of fact in the present. All men to whom this record has been brought, have not received it; all to whom the Gospel is now preached, do not believe it. And yet it is the receiving of this record, the believing of this Gospel with the heart, that brings a sinner out of the wilderness of this world, and leads him into the sheepfold of Christ's flock. Our blessed Lord has condescended to teach us this in the plainest manner possible, in that portion of Scripture, from whence our text is taken; and it is further illustrated throughout the entire chapter, to which I would direct your particular attention.
Christ has declared the manner in which his sheep are called out of the world ; even by the preaching of his word—“ they shall hear my voice”_" the sheep hear his voice, and he call. eth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out;" and when he putteth forth his own sheep he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.” Here the instrument of calling, and the effects which uniformly follow, where that calling is effectual, are clearly set forth—“He calleth them—the sheep hear his voice-He goeth before them—the sheep follow
him.” In eastern countries, where our Lord taught, and even on the continent of Europe, this illustration can be more clearly understood; where the shepherd walks before his flock, leading them out to the pasture; and the sheep follow him; for they know his voice. How very clearly does this exemplify the nature and character of the sheep of Christ; that is of true Christians, who are thus taken as it were out of “ the world which lieth in wickedness," who are brought into the sheepfold of Christ's church, and are thus separated and distinguished from those, who refuse to hear the shepherd's voice, choosing to continue in sin. Thus belief and unbelief, are the grand discriminating features, which actually divide mankind into two distinct classes in this world; and will hereafter be the cause of their appearing on the right or left hand of Christ, in the day of judgment; in which he hath declared, that he will “divide them as a shepherd divideth his sheep from thegoats.” The sheep are manifested in this world, by believing in the heart, that Gospel which is revealed unto them; for with the heart, said the Apostle, “ Man believeth unto righteousness;" and that Gospel, when thus believed, is of powerful efficacy; “it is the power of God unto salvation ;” it not only proclaims pardon to the penitent, but it changes and transforms his heart; for in it is fulfilled the promise of the covenant made with believers : “I will take away the heart of stone, and give you an heart of Aesh ;" this change of heart, which is also called regeneration, or a new birth unto righteousness; is that which changes the nature and the character of man; it is wrought by the Spirit of God, through the instrumentality of his word; and therefore those who are thus changed, are said to be “ born of the Spirit of God.” It is this which confers on them the nature and character of sheep; which we find beautifully set forth in the third verse of the hundredth Psalm ; and though it does not appear so immediately from the manner in which we are accustomed to read it in our translation; yet if we examine it in the Bible, and reject what is written in italics, and which does not belong to the original, it will read thus : “ Know ye that the Lord he is God-He that hath made us, and not we ourselves, his people, and the sheep of his pasture;" as if the Psalmist had said, “ we cannot of ourselves become his peo.. ple, or the sheep of his pasture, but he makes us so. “ The condition of man after the fall of Adam, (says our Church in her 10th Article) is such that he cannot turn and prepare himself by his own natural strength and good works, to faith, and calling upon God. What it is which evidences this change whenever it takes place, is set forth by our Lord himself in this chapter of St. John: “ My sheep hear my voice, and