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ble* And while the soul whom divine grace hath snatched, as the LORD hath me, from the gates of destruction, can take up that scripture
Surely, shall one say, in the LORD have I righteousness and strength;' GOD the Holy Ghost applies that other precious assurance of his word- Israel shall be saved in the LORD with an everlasting salvation; ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded, world without endt.' -The countryman waited not for a reply, but resumed his labour and his song together;
Arise my soul, awake my voice,
Happy soul! thought I, thou hast that which empires cannot purchase: God for thy father, JESUS for thy portion, and the HOLY GHOST for thy comforter!
I saw the countenance of my companion glow with pleasure at what the countryman had said, while he finished the observations of the labourer, with asking and making answer himself to some few questions of his own. Why,' says he, is it, that the divine promise of perseverance should be so difficult to be received by * Psalm xxxvii. 39. † Isa. xiv. 21.
our unbelieving hearts; but because we think we must have strength enough of our own Why is the doctrine of the Redeemer's righteousness, as the sole means of justification before God, so hard to be accepted by us; but because the unhumbled pride of our nature cannot brook the mortification of being saved without doing something towards it? And wherefore is it, that sinners are so averse to believe, that their salvation is wholly the result of being chosen in CHRIST, 'before the foundation of the world;' but because it becomes a gratifying compliment to our proud nature, to have it thought that we have first sought CHRIST?— But the poor sinner desires that it should be always kept in view, that if we love him, it is because he first loved us. His language isLORD, it is all distinguishing grace from beginning to end. I know I should fall every hour, but for the promise of being upheld by him, who having loved his own, loveth them unto the end.' And as I am fully conscious that I have no righteousness of my own, how precious becomes that assurance to my soul, wherein thou hast said, 'My salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished*.'
THE STRAYED SHEEP.
Ar that instant a sheep leaped over the hedge, just where my companion and I stood, as if pursued by some enemy. The poor animal seemed much distressed and affrighted.—He looked at us, but appeared disappointed. As he stood. still, I called to him; but he knew not my voice.
-At length a man appeared at the fence over which the sheep had broken; and calling in a particular tone which the poor animal understood, he turned and looked upon him. The shepherd then came over the hedge, and advancing gently towards him, still continuing his call as he approached him; the sheep came to meet him, and seemed rejoiced at his presence; and they went away both of them together.
6 Ah!' I cried, 'I think I could spiritualize this occurrence. Do so then,' replied my friend, for such should be the custom of Zion's pilgrims to extract improvement from every thing which they see or hear.' I would suppose,' I said, this poor strayed sheep to be the emblem of the wandering sinner; and the man pursuing it as a friend, which the silly animal fancied an enemy, to personate the man Christ
Jesus. And under those images, if I mistake not, several very sweet doctrines of the Gospel may be discovered. As for example: that the Lord Jesus had a fold before the foundation of the world, is evident; for in the close of his ministry, he thanks the Father for them which he had given him, and of which he had lost none." This fold, by the entrance of the prowling wolf into Paradise, wandered, and was scattered abroad into the wide wilderness of the world. For so the Lord speaks of them: "My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill; yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth? But though wandering and scattered, they were the Lord's sheep still. That little foolish wanderer we just now saw, was never altered in his nature, though wayward and perverse in his track. Though he left the sheepfold, yet he was still the sheep, and not the goat. In like manner Christ's spiritual sheep did not lose their relation to him, when they left his fold. This cha racter of Jesus's sheep should never be forgotten by us, for it is plain, that Jesus himself never loseth sight of it. In the moment he speaks of them as wandering and scatteredas diseased and weak-he calls them still my * Ezek. xxxiv. 6.
sheep. And hence, in the recovery of every one of them, the same idea is carefully preserved; I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick*.' And what can be more refreshing and encouraging to a poor sinner, than the consideration that, if of the fold of Jesus originally given by the Father, however scattered over the face. of the earth, however pent up in the den of beasts by the accursed enemy of souls; still he is the sheep of Jesus, concerning whom the promise is made and passed, My sheep shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my handt.' The eye of the good Shepherd is ever over them. He beholds them as His sheep, while they appear among wolves; and when the hour is come, according to his bless. sed promise, like that poor animal we just now beheld, they shall hear his voice and follow him, though they flee the voice of strangers. How expressive to this purpose are the words of God by the prophet; Thus saith the Lord God, Behold I, even I, will both search my sheep and seek them out; as a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that * Ezek. xxxiv. 16. † John x. 28.