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through faith in Christ. Oh for a stronger faith. Lord give me faith, and increase it. Let the dew of thy grace be ever falling on my soul, that I may blossom as the rose, that I may bear fruit to thy glory. Endue me with power to withstand the temptations that surround me. Enable me to fight the good fight of faith, to lay hold on eternal life. Give me persevering grace through Jesus, my only hope and stay. His grace is sufficient for me, by whose power I am rescued from the jaws of Satan, by whose blood I am cleansed from sin, by whose righteousness I am delivered from the curse of the law, and made an heir of glory. For his sake, O heavenly Father! strengthen me with strength in my soul, that I may be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus my Lord, till all my sins are subdued, Satan vanquished, and death swallowed up in victory. Then, in the glorious day of Christ's appearing, ten thousand times ten thousand voices will shout the triumphant hallelujah, praising, adoring, and blessing Him whose all-sufficient grace brought them to the realms of glory.
I will trust thy promise, Lord,
"As thy days, thy strength shall be."
Do I feel with guilt oppressed,
Rankling in my wounded breast?
Jesus sweetly calls to me;
'As thy days, thy strength shall be :
'I have borne thy sins alone,
As thy days, thy strength shall be.
Ask of me the Spirit's power,
<If o'erwhelmed with earthly care,
All my grace shall shelter thee,
"When the hour of death shall come,
Lord, I bless thee for this grace,
X. THE DYING LOVE OF CHRIST.
"I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep."-John x. 11.
THE parable of the good Shepherd is beautiful and affecting. The Jews could fully enter into the character of a shepherd. They were well acquainted with the cares and hazards of a pastoral life, in a country where beasts of prey so often invaded the fold.
This imagery was familiar to them from the Psalms of David and the writings of the Prophets.
"The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He maketh me lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake."* What a lovely picture of a shepherd and his flock, applied with such exquisite feeling by David to himself.
"Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, thou that leadest Joseph like a flock; thou that dwellest between
the cherubims, shine forth."* Such was the prayer of the Psalmist to the God of Israel, that he would graciously vouchsafe to his people a shepherd's care. As a
"Thus saith the Lord God, Behold I, even I, will both search my sheep and seek them out. shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep."-"I will feed them in a good pasture.”
"I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord God. I will seek that which was lost." What can be more gracious than this manifestation of the divine solicitude for his chosen people.
Jesus styles himself the good Shepherd, thus bearing the very character in which the God of Israel was revealed to his Church. Christ is Jehovah our Shepherd; the good Shepherd, who giveth his life for the sheep. His work of love is sweetly described by himself. “I am come to seek and to save that which
was lost." "I know my sheep and am known of mine." "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. My Father which gave them me is greater than all, and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. I and my Father are one." That heart must be harder than adamant, which can hear unmoved these gracious words from the lips of eternal love. O! that my heart may be melted and subdued by these expressions of infinite mercy. "I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish." Blessed indeed are they who form a part of this redeemed flock, purchased by the blood of the good Shepherd.
The majesty and humiliation of Christ, his Godhead and Manhood, will form a subject for admiring contemplation, a theme for adoring praise, throughout the ages of eternity.
How am I lost when I begin to meditate on the
*Psa. lxxx. 1.
+ Ezek. xxxiv. 11-16.
grace of my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who, though he was rich, yet for our sakes became poor, that we, through his poverty might be made rich. When I consider the dignity of his nature, one with the Father, by whom all things were made, and by whom all things consist; in whom I live, and move, and have my being-when I contemplate his transcendent greatness, his infinite perfections, his immensity, his eternity: when I reflect upon his unspeakable felicity, the overflowings of his love to myriads of angelic spirits who surround his throne, happy in his presence, and delighting to perform his will: when I thus contemplate the ever-glorious Jesus, how am I lost in wonder and amaze, when, bending down to earth, I behold him an infant of days, lying in a manger, working as a carpenter, not having a place wherein to lay his head, mocked, scourged, spit upon, and at last, with every aggravation that malice could invent, nailed to a cross, and pierced with a spear!
Great indeed is the mystery of godliness.—“The Word was made flesh, and dwelt amongst us;" that Word which was with God, and was God. How can we escape, if we neglect so great salvation? In the fulness of time Christ came, emptying himself of all but love, that, as the good Shepherd, he might give his life for the sheep. He came to magnify the law, by bearing the curse for us, by shedding his blood for us. He came to make it honourable, by fulfilling all its requirements in our nature, and by his sinless obedience, even unto death, to work out a righteousness for us. He came to reconcile us unto God, to save us from going down to hell, to purify our corrupted nature, and to make us partakers of his everlasting glory.
Oh my soul, never cease to love and praise this all-gracious Redeemer, whose love is unspeakable, whose riches of grace are unsearchable, whose purchased blessings are eternal. View him in his glory with profoundest adoration. View him in his abase
ment with deepest humiliation. Behold, by faith, the Lamb of God, that Lamb of God's providing, extended on the Tree, his body covered with bloody gore, his ears assailed with the scoffs of his executioners, his soul pierced with the sword of justice, which then awaked against the shepherd, against the man that is Jehovah's fellow.* Behold this sacred victim bleeding on the altar, as a sacrifice for thy sins, in dreadful conflict with the powers of darkness, groaning under the tremendous load of human guilt, which would have overwhelmed all except a GOD-INCARNATE. Behold him in this most pitiable condition, at this mysterious hour, forsaken by his heavenly Father: "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me ?" O doleful cry! O mysterious exclamation! Sin, what hast thou done, thou murderer of the Prince of life! For whom did Jesus bleed and die? for sinners, rebellious, ungrateful sinners; for me, the chief of sinners! O! my soul, melt into contrition at the foot of the Cross; behold what terrible effects thy vile apostacy has produced; and never cease to love this gracious Saviour, who, in boundless mercy and compassion, divested himself of his celestial glory, which he had with the Father before the world was, that he might take upon him the form of a servant, and being made in the likeness of man, might humble himself and become obedient unto death, even the death of the cross!
O thou blessed Jesus, increase my faith, inflame my love, animate my hope, and stimulate my obedience, till my frail endeavours here below are perfected in heaven. Then shall I sing thy praise in purer strains; then shall I proclaim thy dying love with all the ransomed throng, who, on their golden harps, for ever strike the chord," Worthy is the Lamb.”
Ye men of the world, grasping after sordid gain; ye votaries of pleasure, dancing on the borders of destruction; ye aspiring souls, whose eyes are fixed upon the pinnacles of power; ye self-righteous pro
*Zech. xiii. 7.