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till bis sweat was like great drops of blood falling down to the ground; nor did he leave it, but continued in the combat till his back was sore and bloody with scourging, his head torn with the thorns and briars of the wilderness, and till his hands and feet were cut through and loaded with bonds and chains. In this condition he was when his sore hands caught the prey out of the destroyer's teeth, and with his rent and bruised feet he trod down the dragon and the lion upon the mount of Calvary, and “ laid down his life for his sheep." This is that dear Saviour, who, when a soul repents and comes to him, takes it upon his shoulders, there he bears their burdens and sorrows, and carries it in his bosom, and in his loving arms, and when he has washed the polluted sinner in his precious blood, and forgiven hin, wheu he has healed him of those wounds which caused him such smart and misery, and given him his peace, then be lets all his saints and angels know," I have found the streep which I had lost; rejoice with me, for the lamb that went astray is returned to the shepherd and bishop of bis soul. The little one that had wandered away from me, and for whom I have travailed and been in pain, he that caused all my grief and labour, that child that you once saw in mine enemy's hands, and who warred against me, he that trampled under foot my words, and would not receive my reproofs so long, is come back to me." This causes a new joy among the angels, and this begins properly when a sinuer is come to our Saviour by faith, and receives the knowledge of his salvation; it is repeated when he lands safely above, and shall be again renewed when Jesus shall divide among the people as a shepherd Letween his flocks, and when he shall be found at the right-hand with the sheep, and thenceforward shall that joy be continued through all eternity
The Lost Sheep, &c. Also as a man rejoices more over a lost sheep when he has recovered it safe and sound, than over all the others' which went not astray, so has our Saviour more joy over a poor soul which had left him, and over the world which was lost: but is now found through his redemption, than' over:'all those spirits who keep their first estate, and more than over all the angels who have not sinned, and so not needed repentance; and far, far more, than over all those self-righteous people who glory in their strict lives from their youth up, and dream that they need no repentance. O that those who hear me would to-day rise up and leave all, and follow their true Pastor! What joy would you cause in heaven; and in the breasts of the angels of God! and what joy would our Saviour have to see so many wandering sheep return home to him! It was for your sakes chiefly this parable was spoken. My guilty brethren' and sisters, be encouraged thereby to return to him who made you, and whose sheep (though spoiled and strayed) you are, and you shall be received by him with joy everlasting. Let your hearts answer, “ Lo! I come to do thy will, my God !”
The second parable is after this manner : “ What woman having len pieces of silver, if she lose one, does not light a candle and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it, and when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I had lost: Likewise I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.”
In this parable our Saviour teaches the care and diligence of the Spirit to seek and win back souls to the Lamb. Under the similitade of a woman,
the Holy Ghost described in other places of the scripture; sometimes as a mother, a nurse, a com
forter, and that in the prophets as well as in the New Testament; for instance, “ As a mother comforteth her son, so will I comfort thee.” When Solomon spake afar off of the Holy Spirit's new bearing the church of God out of the side of the second Adam, he says, “ Under the apple-tree (so was Christ crucified called, because he excelled all the sons of men, as the apple-trees did the trees, and which gave meat to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, and shadow and rest to the weary and fatigued) thy mother brought thee forth, there she brought thee forth that bare thee." Again, " My beloved is the only one of her mother." Our Saviour confirms this in saying, " Ye must be born again of the Holy Ghost.”. Also in another parable he speaks of the Holy Spirit when he says, “ The kingdom of heaven is like a woman who took leaven and put it into three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.” It is the office and work of the Holy Ghost to minister to the saints in the name of Jesus: he comes in his name, and dwells with them; he takes of the things of Christ and shews it to them; he glorifies him in them; and above all, it is the place of the Spirit to take the leaven of Christ's body and blood, and hide it in the three measures of meal, that is, in our body, soul, and spirit; and like as leaven works and operates thro' the meal till all is fit for use, so is the blood of Jesus conveyed to a believer, which continues to operate through body, soul, and spirit, till all the old nature is purged away, and we are fit for our heavenly Father's use.; or, as St. Ignatius says, 'till we become pure bread for our Beloved.' This is sweetly expressed in a well-known prayer, “ Grant us, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and so to drink his blood, that our sinful bodies may be made clean through his body, and our souls washed through his most precious
blood, and that he may evermore dwell in
and we in him.”
The Holy Ghost loves us even as Jesus loves, and is one with our Saviour in our salvation. He looks upon us dearer than pieces of silver, and more valuable than fine gold. As a good mother of the house seeks when a piece of money is dropt, and ceases not her cares and search till she has found it, and then rejoices with her friends, so the Holy Ghost lights a candle in the heart, illuminates the mind that was asleep, and the foolish beart that was darkened.”. He causes a ray of divine light to shine witbin, brings a beam from the flaming eyes of Jesus into the close recesses of the soul; he exposes all the hidden sins, the nasty corners, the dangerous, places in which the soul, like a piece of silver, is lost; he sweeps away all the outward sins, the rubbish of gaiety, pleasures, and lusts ; he cleanses the outward man, and will not let it suffice till the
poor. lost piece of our Saviour's treasure is found and counted among his jewels. In this labour is the Lord the Spirit employed, often many years, and with indefatigable patience he strives with souls till he has prevailed and brought them to Jesus, and then " is there joy in the presence of the angels of God.”. He does not grudge all the years in which he called the soul, and “ waited to be gracious;" he' forgives the sin of quenching the light, and loving and choosing to walk in darkness, the resisting bis divine and maternal motions, and preferring earthly things to heavenly, and inspires all the angels with joy at the conversion of the soul, whom he esteems treasure, and the very reward of Jesus, the hire and wages of our Saviour, his riches and jewels. O may we all be of the happy number, when he shall count them up, and
they shall be to him for a crown and a diadem, and an eterual glory.
The third parable is of the Father and his Prodigal Son, and is the most lively picture of the heart of God our Father toward his younger rebellious sons, the children of men.
It was man that was so foolish to leave his father's house, and go out and spend his portion of grace in riotous and careless living in the world ; ever since the fall of Adam we have done thus ; we have lived in a far country, in an estate afar off from the Lord, and there we have wasted our substance. As in the parable the son is said to “ spend all in riotous living," so does every man: one trifles
precious time in play, another heaps up riches, and cannot tell who shall gather and enjoy them ; and others, who put on a more sober appearance, live still at a distance from their heavenly Father, and perhaps content themselves, like the prodigal son, is with the husks which swine do eat," with the things of this life, or with the false religion which consists only in name and shew, and is not really the knowledge of Christ and his love in the heart. The departure of the son at first of his own choice, sets forth our free-will, which is to wander perpetually, and teaches, that our fall was of ourselves. rael, thou hast destroyed thyself.” But our Saviour describes the son at ease, and pleased with his luxury and wantonness among harlots, till “ there arose. a famine in the land, and he began to be in want." This is when the eyes of a sinner are opened, and he sees to what all his sins have brought him, into what misery he is plunged, and sunk : There is a mighty famine in the world in which he lives, “ not of bread, or of water, but of the word of God and of the bread of life.” He sighs that he has been so foolish to leave the Lord his Father's