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shepherd to the flock of Christ, without being anxious for the salvation of their souls; and careful whether they become the prey of Satan or not. How awful is it for those who occupy this office, to consider their own worldly interest as their chief concern; instead of regarding the spiritual benefit and the eternal happiness of the flock committed to their charge.

The shepherd of the flock, who really regards the Lord Jesus Christ as the Chief Shepherd, will be peculiarly vigilant lest the wolf should catch and scatter the sheep. So we find the Apostle Paul expressing his fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so the minds of his flock should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. And again he warns them, Lest Satan should get an advantage of us, for we are not ignorant of his devices.96 For the same reason, St. Peter exhorts, Be sober, be vigilant ; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist, stedfast in the faith.97 The true shepherds of Christ will thus endeavour to guard their flock against the temptations of their spiritual adversary. Knowing that the design of all his temptations is to catch the sheep of Christ for his prey, or to scatter them, or to prevent them from feeding in security

96 2 Corinthians xi. 3, ii. 11.

97 1 Peter v. 8, 9.

by their Shepherd's tent; to deprive them of the enjoyment of His protection and His love; they will be anxious to counteract the efforts of Satan in these respects, by pointing out his evil designs, and the injury which the flock will sustain by listening to his delusions, and by withdrawing themselves from the eye of their heavenly Shepherd, and neglecting to cultivate communion and fellowship with Him. Let us ever remember that if we are separated from Christ in heart and affection, if we are turned away from Him, we are undone. There is no real happiness to be found but in cleaving unto the Lord with purpose of heart.98 The true shepherds of Christ will direct their flock continually to Him, as the source of all good, and of all happiness. May we seek our enjoyments in Him, that we may be truly blessed. We are to consider

Secondly, The account which our Saviour gives of Himself, in opposition to His character of the hireling. He

says, I am the good Shepherd : the good Shepherd giveth His life 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. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold and one Shepherd. The hireling took care of himself chiefly, to keep himself out of danger. Not so, our Lord Jesus Christ. He was emphatically the good Shepherd, whose coming was foretold by the prophets of the Old Testament. Of Him Isaiah had said, He shall feed His flock like a shepherd; He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom ; and shall gently lead those that are with young.99 Here we may observe His care for His sheep; His kindness for the weak; His compassion for the distressed. Ezekiel also prophesied of the coming of Christ under this character. Thus saith the Lord God, I will save My flock, and they shall no more be a prey; and 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 in reference to His giving His life for the sheep, Zechariah introduced the Lord God as saying, Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, and against the man that is My Fellow, saith the Lord of hosts, Smite the Shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.

98 Acts xi. 23.

Our Lord Jesus Christ is the good Shepherd, of whom the Psalmist speaks, when he says, 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; He restoreth my soul ; He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake. It is His exuberant goodness which provides a supply for all the wants of His sheep. But He did more than this. He undertook their cause. He engaged in their quarrel. He entered into their conflict. He became their champion and substitute; as He declared, The good Shepherd giveth His life for

99 Isaiah xl. ll. Ezekiel xxxiv. 22, 23. 2 Zechariah xiii. 7.

the sheep.

David showed himself to be a good shepherd, when he delivered his sheep from the lion and the bear. He courageously exposed himself for their safety.

He said to Saul, when questioned with regard to his ability to go against the Philistine, to fight with him ; 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. Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear. Thus he exposed himself to danger for the sake of his sheep. But our Lord Jesus Christ did more than this. He not only exposed Himself to danger, but He laid down His life for the sheep of His pasture; He gave His own life for their ransom. So the Apostle declared to the Hebrews, Forasmuch as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He

3 Psalm xxiii. 1-3.

4 1 Samuel xvii. 33–36.

also Himself likewise took part of the same, that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. By this He evinced not only His care, but His love for His sheep. They had incurred the penalty of death, and must have suffered it, had not He consented to assume human nature, and to suffer in their stead. He consented to suffer what is most dreadful to mankind, as the substitute for guilty sinners. For the joy that was set before Him, He endured the cross, despising the shame. In order that He might bring many sons unto glory, the Captain of our salvation was made perfect through sufferings.5

The love which led our adorable Redeemer to give Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God, for a sweet smelling savour, may well be termed, love that passeth knowledge. It was inconceivably, incomprehensibly, great; and it ought to excite our love and gratitude to Him in return, to love Him, because He first loved us. For the purpose of exciting this, our Saviour repeats, that the character of the good Shepherd appropriately belonged to Him: I am the good Shepherd : and He gives another proof of His goodness, I know My sheep, and am known of Mine. He knows their persons; He knows their state and condition ;

5 Heb. ii. 14, 15, 10, xü. 2. 6 Ephes, v. 2, iii. 19. 7 John iv. !9.

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