« PreviousContinue »
have deviated from the strict rule of Gospel purity and charity. Think of the mercies you have received, and the unworthy returns which you have made for them; of your inattention to the claims of Christian love; of opportunities neglected, or misused; of cold and formal prayers; of sabbaths unsanctified; of your Bible unread; of your Redeemer's invitation slighted, or refused; of light or sinful words; of unholy or uncharitable thoughts.
Not one amongst us can say, that nothing of all this concerns him. In one or other of these particulars we have all been wanting; too many of us, I fear, in every one. Consider, then, I beseech you, since there can be no remission of sins without repentance, no repentance without self-examination, no self-examination without seriousness of heart, consider what your determination ought to be. Let us search, and try our ways, and turn again to the Lord."
Lam. iii. 40. That I may not be said to have, misrepresented the Roman Catholic doctrine of the efficacy of penance, I will transcribe the words of Massillon, who, in his Sermon on Ash Wednesday, speaks of the Lent Fast as being imposed upon the whole body of the faithful "pour appaiser la colere du Seigneur; faire cesser les fléaux qui nous affligent, expier nos iniquités," &c. And again, “Je ne parle pas des jeûnes, des macérations, des austérités, que les vrais fidèles pratiquent en ces jours de salut, et qu'ils offrent au Seigneur comme un sacrifice d'expiation pour le réconcilier avec son peuple."
THE GOOD SHEPHERD.
JOHN X. 27, 28.
My sheep hear my voice: and I know them; and they follow me. And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish; neither shall any pluck them out of my hand.
AMONGST the various characters and offices which are ascribed to the Messiah in the writings of the prophets, there is none more beautifully descriptive of the gracious purposes of his mission than that of a shepherd. When Isaiah calls upon Jerusalem to say unto the cities of Judah, at the Messiah's Advent-Behold your God; he describes in the first place the indications of his omnipotence, by which his kingdom was to be established in the world, Behold, the
enclosure as that in whi
rgement and eterson:
culiar trie, he sm
iming to he
Lord God will come with a strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him, behold, his reward is with him; and his work before him.' But immediately, as though he were apprehensive of exciting terror, by announcing the desire of all nations as a mighty king and ruler, invested with all the most awful attributes of the Deity, the prophet reverses the picture, and represents the condescension and kindness of the Anointed, under the pleasing similitude of a careful and affectionate shepherd; 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.
This description our Saviour applied to himself, upon more than one occasion, as recorded in the tenth chapter of St. John's Gospel; and the language in which he has described the nature of the pastoral office in general, and of his own in particular, as the great Shepherd of the sheep, renders this a very interesting portion of Scripture.
In the first place, our Saviour speaks of his Church as of a sheepfold; a sacred enclosure, fenced in and distinguished by everlasting barriers from a wicked world; yet not such an
1 Isa. xl. 10.