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But Christ, the good Shepherd, knows us intimately and entirely-knows us better, far better than those who have been longest with us better than we know ourselves. For lo ! there is not a thought in our heart but He understands it-not a wish we form, but He is acquainted with it. All our weaknesses and infirmitiesthings that we hide from every eye, and brood over in secret-all are known and open to Him with whom we have to do!
And should we not find benefit in the thought that it is so ? Should we not take good heart, and bear our burden, whatever it may be, patiently, now that we are sure Christ knows it ? For He will not suffer us to be tried above that we are able, but will, with the temptation, find out for us a way of escape, that we may be able to bear it.
To conclude. I have shewn you how truly the Lord Jesus Christ is our Shepherd, the good Shepherd. I have shewn
you that all the qualities that go to make a good shepherd meet in Him. It only remains to ask, What is the practical use to which our knowledge of this should lead us?
Let the psalmist give the answer—The Lord is my Shepherd, therefore can I lack nothing. He shall feed me in a green pasture, and lead me forth beside the waters of comfort. He shall convert my soul, and bring me forth in the paths of righteousness, for His name's sake--Ps. xxiii.
Yes, if we can truly take hold on this thought, that Christ is our Shepherd, we shall find in it all things sufficient for life and godliness. With Him to lead us, Him to feed us, Him to lift us up when we are down,
Him to carry us through all dangers, we shall be safe. Safe in life, and safe in death. For even in that dark lonely passage, even in the valley of the shadow of death, if Christ be with us, we need fear no evil. Even there, where all earthly aids fail, where we can have no succour from man, where none of our sons and daughters whom we have brought up, can do anything more for us—even there His rod and staff shall comfort us !
But then, brethren, this strong comfort in Christ as our Shepherd, calls for something on our part, beyond the mere acknowledgment that He is our Shepherd. It calls for a faithful following of Him—a quick and ready obedience to His blessed guidance—My sheep hear my voice, and they follow me.
0, consider if this may be said truly of yourselves. Do you hear Christ's voice? Are you following in Christ's steps ?
Perhaps you reply, What is the voice of Christ, that we might know it? What are the steps of Christ, that we might follow them ?
The voice of Christ, brethren, is to be heard in every page of the four Gospels—and not there only, but in every better thought, wish, and feeling that ever rises up in our hearts. The voice of Christ is that still small voice which, in moments of doubt or temptation, points out the right way—which bids us flee from evil, and do the thing that is good.
And the steps of Christ are those blessed steps of His most holy life—those ways of meekness, faith, long-suffering, charity, patience, self-denial, in which He went before us in His pilgrimage.
God give us grace to profit by the example !–God grant, brethren, to you and to me, to follow the good shepherd in all virtuous and godly living—to walk in every path in which Christ went before us-daily to endeavour ourselves to do as He did, and to be as He was when on earth-Who-as we have read to-day-did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth : who, when He was reviled, reviled not again ; when He suffered, He threatened not ; but committed Himself to Him that judyeth righteously. Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead unto sin, should live unto righteousness ; by whose stripes we were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray, but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls !
THIRD SUNDAY AFTER EASTER.
THE WAY TO BE WELL.
DEUTERONOMY V. 29.
O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me and keep
all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever !
This is God's own wish for His people Israel-that there were such an heart in them, as would lead them to fear Him, and keep His commandments always, for their own good, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever.
God had done His part that it might be well with them. He had given them rules to go by, the law of His commandments, which if they followed they would surely prosper.
God had given them this law, in a very solemn awful manner, speaking to them in the mount out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud and of thick darkness with a great voice. He had moreover written that law by Moses' hand (Exod. xxxiv. 27, 28) on two tables of stone, that the record of it might remain—that they might have it by them for all time, a word of God very nigh unto them, declaring how they ought to walk
and please Him, a light to lighten their path, and to guide their feet into the way of peace.
It was not then for want of knowing what was right and good, that God's people of old fell into trouble.They might have prospered, it might have been well with them, and with their children afterwards, had they observed to do as the Lord commanded them, and had not turned aside to the right hand or to the left.
God, we have said, had marked out their way, and made it plain to them.--If they walked not in that way, if they chose another way of their own, and so fell into all sorts of evil and misery, the fault was with themselves. They knew the right, but they preferred the wrong. They knew what course of life would make them happy, and prolong their days, and ensure the continuance of God's blessings-but they wilfully left that course.—They forgot the covenant of God and would not walk in His ways. They went after other gods-gods of wood and stonegods of lust and evil desire which they set up for themselves, each in his own heart. They served these false gods, and neglected the only true God—and the sure consequence ensued. It ceased to be well with them, and with their children. God withdrew His favoursThey were left to follow their own fancies—to eat the fruit of their own sowing-to be punished with the scourge of their own evil inventions.
We have in the Bible, in the Scriptures of the Old Testament, the history of this people, for our example. All that happened unto Israel, happened for our warning. Would that we profited more by it! Would that we remembered that God through their sufferings, their sorrows,