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Some have arised of late, who practically declare, that Christ's flock has no lambs in it, and that children pertain not to the church ; accordingly they take little care of the instruction of their own, and expend little pains for their salvation, but are zealous above measure in beguiling away the sheep of other flocks, troubling and perverting the church of Christ. They compass sea and land to make profelytes. Beware of such left they delude you to your own ruin and to the ruin of your children. One of their leading marks is, “ They creep *• into houses, and lead captive filly women.” And the most of the profelytes which they glean, are of this complexion. Let them alone, for to their master they stand or fall. Let it ever be our business to provide wholesome food for the flock, and after the example of the good shepherd extend the tenderelt care and most affectionate regard to the lambs thereof, affording Itrong meat to those who are full grown and with milk nourishing the bodies. The exclusion of lambs from the flock, contains in it something unnatural and cruel ; it exposes them to calamity and death ; so the exclusion of children from the church is not only unscriprural, but it is unreasonable and inhuman. It is placing them in the situation of heathen, few of whom are ever converted. Observation assures us that it is a rare thing for any out of the visible church to be brought to a laving closure with Chrilt. It is the practice of some bar. barous nations, to expose or destroy many of their children, that they may not be encumbrances on, or burthensome to their families; so people who exclude their children from the visible church, however it may be done through ignorance in fome, and wickednefs in others, eminently exposes them, like other heathen, to everlasting destruction. Would it not be deemed barbarous and cruel to see parents exclude their little children from their families, and afford them neither food nor raiment; it is equally fo with a church, which ought to be the family of Christ to thrust out their children. Will good parents nurse their little ones with care and tenderness, watch over, protet

and guard them, so the flock ought to take care of its lambs, and the church of its children. Were churches careful, faith. ful and christian on this head, widely different would the children and youth be from what they are.

It is owing to the negligence of parents and churches, that there are so many wicked and graceless in the land.

At present the state, condition, standing privileges and blefsings of the lambs shall be omitted, and we will attend to the chara&er, nature and marks of the sheep of Christ's flock. Peter was commanded by our Lord to feed both his sheep and his lambs. And this ought to be the conduct of every true minister of the gospel. I have already delivered a series o discourses to the children and youth, the lambs of this depart. ment of the flock. We shall now consider the nature and character of the sheep.

First, they are all of one kind or fort, of one species and qua. lity. However distinguished by nation, tribe, family or lan. guage'; however distant in time from each other, or separated by place, they are all partakers of the same nature, of the fame kind, and have the same general marks; they are Theep. This is the term by which the chief shepherd has been pleased to defignate and distinguish them from all others. No animal but itself poffeffes the nature of a sheep. All others are specifi. cally different from it. In like manner Christ's sheep are all of one kind, and each individual has the same nature. One may be weak and another strong, one poor and infirm, and other alert and lively, one ragged and torn, another fat an. well cloathed, one is difeased and fickly, and another in full vigor and health, yet however different in appearance and circumstances, they are all sheep and of the same kind; they are not effentially or specifically different from each other.

Secondly, sheep will not lie down in filthy waters, nor wallow

in miry puddles, like some animals of a different species or kind. It avoids from its nature every thing of this fort, and every approach to all degrees thereof. A peculiar instinct of nature canses it to shun all such places. Remove every restraint which threatened danger may form, and from a natural antipathy to such things, it is shy of and flees from them. If it accidentally falls into the mire, it quickly arises and springs from it, as if it had received some foul disgrace, or a great and lasting injury. It chufes places clean and dry from a native propensity to them.

This is the conduct of Christ's fheep, of every true saint. The tendency of their nature which they received from the fpirit of grace, is to purity and holiness. The breathings of their hearts are to be holy as God is holy. And their daily prayer is, “ O God create in us a clean heart, and make us of " pure hands." They avoid sin and moral defilement, not only from the dangers to which it exposes them, but likewise from its disagreeableness to their new nature. If at any time they fall into iniquity, they continue not therein, but arise again by repentance and repair anew to the blood of Jesus for cleansing and purification. Sheep have many difficulties to struggle with, so christians have numerous trials in this world. Within often are faintings, and without are fears. And if Jesus the great and good shepherd did not interpose, rescue, deliver and support, who could be saved ? But precious is his grace, and compassionate his heart, when his poor sheep are ready to be devoured by every prowling beast, and overwhelmed in every flough, his own almighty arms form a de. fence around them, and bring falvation.

Thirdly, sheep have a natural taste and fagacity to dif. cern their proper food. They can distinguish the wholesome and nourishing, from the poisonous and mortal plant. How. Ever artfully it may be mingled with their provender, they will discern and carefully avoid it. Some naturalists have observed, that they possess this fagacity in a superior degree, fo that they will pick out that which is proper and nourishing, while they leave that which is noxious and unwholesome.

Thus the sheep of Christ have a taste and discernment of a moral and spiritual kind, of the same use and efficacy. They can discover what doctrine is wholesome and true, and what not ; what is agreeable to their new nature, and what is other wise. However false do&rine may be coloured and disguised, and they may be imposed upon by it for a time, yet afterwards they find it is not fit food for them, their souls cannot live and thrive upon it ; it is not the sincere milk of the word, and they cannot grow thereby. Nothing can be proper food for a fpiritual nature, only that which is spiritual and suitable to a fpiritual taste. This fpiritual discernment does not ftrialy depend upon laboured reasonings, great powers of mind or extensive speculative knowledge ; but perfons of the feeblelt un. derstandings, and whose knowledge is very limited and contracted, in some good measure poffefs this holy qualification. For the inspiration of the Almighty giveth this understanding. They have an undtion from the holy one, whereby they know all things. It is in regard to this spiritual discernment the apostle declares, “ He that is spiritual judgeth all things." To this also he has respect, when he speaks of christians having their senses exercised to discern good and evil. It is allowed there is a taste in painting, poetry, architecture, and other bran. ches of art ; why should there not also be a taste in religion? Is there not a beauty in holiness, and in holy objects, as well as in other things? And can this beauty be discerned without an holy tafte? Doth not the mouth taste readily its meat? So doth the new creature taste the truths of the gospel, and feels the power of pure and undefiled religion. Taste and fee that the Lord is gracious.

Fourthly, it is observed of sheep that they know their fhepherd, and can distinguish him from a stranger ; they know his voice and will not follow another. They flee from stran. gers, because their voice is strange unto them. This our Lord alligns as a discriminating note or mark of his sacep, whereby they are known unto others, and manifest unto themselves. " His sheep hear his voice, they know it and they follow him." They have ears to hear, understandings to know, and hearts to follow him whitherfoever he leadeth.

These marks are true in general of all Christ's sheep in every age. The meanelt in the flock perceive his voice and can distinguish it from that of a ftranger. They understand his truths, feed upon his word and rejoice therein ; his gospel is precious to them, of more value in their esteem than mountains of gold. To adopt the language of the spouse. “His lips " are like lillies, dropping sweet imelling myrrh. His mouth 4 is most sweet.” That is, his voice, his words, and truths, are all thus delightful to them. The sheep of Christ not only hear, but they follow him. They follow the found of his voice without hesitation. However it may thwart their own blind and corrupt hearts, they receive it with meekness. They fol. low his example, imitate all the imitable parts of his character, and endeavor to walk even as he walked.

Time will not admit of my pursuing this subject, or retail. ing the marks of Chrit's Theep any farther ; and shall there. fore conclude with a few words of application,

First, how great and wonderful is the grace and love of Christ, that he has found and collected a flock for himself from among the degenerate fons of men ? O what infcrutable con. descension and goodness is here? What marvelous mercy and grace, that any of the race of fallen Adam should fand is

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