« EdellinenJatka »
by the Arts of Speech or Words, to call the Sheep after them : whereas Shepherds now go after and drive the Sheep before them; such Customs being different in divers Countries. Of the Custom of leading or going before the Sheep in antient times, we have many Hints in Holy Scripture : David, who was himself taken from the Sheepfold, ftiles God bis Shepherd, and speaks of him as feeding his Sheep in a green Pafture, and leading them forth beside the Waters of Comfort, Pfal. 23. 1, 2. & Plál, 77. 20. Thou leadeft tby People like Sheep by the Hand of Moses and Aaron. And again, Pfal. 80. 1. Hear, thou Shepherd of Israel!
thou that leadeft Joseph like a Sheep. In allusion to this Custom, Christ is here said to go before, and his people like Sheep to follow, and to hear his voice. A Stranger will they not follow (faith the Parable) but will flee from him ; for they knom pot the Voice of Strangers. Being accustom'd to the Call of the Shepherd, they know his Voice, and readily obey it; but being unacquainted with the Sound or Tone of a Stranger, they shun and fee from him as from a Wolf, being mov'd by the Newness or Strangeness of the Voice. The Moral whereof is, that Christ's faithful Servants being acquainted with his Doctrine, which leads to Peace, Piety, and Holiness of Life, are willing to hear and walk by it; knowing by those Tokens that 'tis the true Shepherd's Voice. But Impostors and falfe
Teachers, that inftil Notions contrary to Piety and found Doctrine, they will not follow, but Aie from them, taking it for the Voice of Seducers calling them from the Ways of Truth and Peace, and drawing them into Errors and Divisions; which they plainly discover by the Newness and Strangeness of their Doctrine, being quite contrary to that Piety and Probity which they have been taught by God; and so it is a Stranger's, and not the true Shepherd's Voice.
This Parable spake Jesus unto them (faith St. John) but they understood not what things they were, which he spake unto thein. He deliver'd his Mind fo figuratively and parabolically unto them, that they could not rightly apprehend the Drift or Meaning of his Discourse ; which made him add the following words for the unfolding of it, Then said. Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily I say unto you,
I am the Dour of tha Sheep's where he repeats the same Terms of Affeveration, Verily, verily, and continues the same Metaphor, saying, I am the Door of the Sheep. A Door, you know, is that by which we ordinarily enter or pass into any House; and
Christ ftiles himself a Door, because by him an Entrance is made into the Church of God, as by a Door an Entrance is made into any Dwelling. And because the Church is often compar'd to a Fold, fo is Christ to a Door, as the only way by which the Sheep, or true Servants of God, can enter into that Fold.
All thar-ever came before me (faith Christ) are Thieves and Robbers; but the Sheep did not hear them. All that have ever pretended to the Messiahship, or to be Deliverers of the Jews from the Roman Yoke, and Restorers again of the Kingdom of Israel; of which kind were the foremention d Theudas, and Judas of Galilee; have all been found Lyars and Impostors, having no Commission from God, nor bringing any Doctrines that carry any feniblance or colour of coming from him ; but by exciting the People to Sedition and Rebellion, shew'd that they rather proceeded from the Evil One, and were no better than the Doctrines of Devils: for which reason, The Sheep did not hear them; but the People, instead of hearkning to them, fell with Rage and Fury upon them, destroying the Ringleaders, and difpersing all their Followers. And therefore, to prevent all farther Danger from Impostors, and to confirm our Faith in him as the true Messias, and the only Saviour or Redeemer of Mankind, he inculcates again, I am the Door; by me if dny. Man enter in, he iall be saved, and Mall go in and out, and find Pasture : which is in effect the same with what he elsewhere tells us, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life;
, Via, Veritas & Vita. If any will walk aright, he must walk in my Way; if any will believe aright, he must believe in me, and receive my Truths; if any will live for ever, he must come to me, that he may have Life by me; if any Man enter into the Church here, he shall enter into Life hereafter: by this Door an Entrance shall be administer'd to him abundantly into the Kingdom of God; all that go in at it shall be fav'd from all Enemies and Dangers ; they Mall go in and out safely, and Mall find Pasture; that is, all manner of good things, both temporal, spiritual and eternal. The Thief indeed cometh not but for to steal, to kill, and to destroy. The Impostor and Seducer aim only at their own worldly Interest, and stick not by Wars, Sedi- : tions and Tumukts, to destroy and devour the Flock, to promote their ambitious and secular Ends; but I come upon far different and more heavenly Designs, that ye may have Life, and have it more abundantly; that ye nay attain to
everlasting Life, and obtain a never-fading Crown of Glory in the highest Heavens.
This is the Drift of this Parable, and the Design of the Gospel for this Day, which we ought to meditate upon, and to improve, by learning from it the following Lessons. As,
Ift, From Christ's proving himself to be the true Messias, by coming in at the Door of a Divine Commission, demonstrated by the Divinity of his Doctrine, with the Seal of Miracles annex'd to it, we may learn to receive and rely upon him as the true and only Saviour of the World; and to reject all false Christs or Pretenders to the Mesijahship, that climb up at the Windows, or some other way, without such an Authority, as Thieves and Robbers. And he being the true and good Shepherd, we may depend upon his Care and Provision, that we shall lack nothing that is good and convenient for us.
2dly, From his Ministers coming in at the Door of a regular Ordination, and a lawful Call, we may learn to hear them, and not to follow Usurpers and Intruders into this Holy Office. Our Saviour caution'd his Disciples against all such, saying, Beware of false Prophets, that come to you in Sheeps Clothing, but inwardly they are ravening Wolves; by their Fruits ye mall know them: Mat. 7. IŠ, 16. Many fall come to you in my Name (faith he) saying, Lo! here is Christ, and lo! there. Behold! he is in the secret Chambers, says one, No; he is in the field, faith another; he is in the Conventicle, faith a third: but believe them not (faith our Saviour and go not after them: Mat. 24. St. Paul foretold the same, that after his departing grievous Wolves would enter in among them, not sparing the Flock; and that some would arise among thems
; selves speaking perverse things, to draw Disciples after them; therefore watch against, and avoid them. Acts 20. 29, &c.
3dly, From Christ's comparing his Followers to Sheep, and calling them so often by that Name, they should learn to imitate the Sinplicity, Meekness and Innocence of that harmless Creature. The Sheep, we know, often receives, but never does any harm; it is dumb before the Shearer, and openeth not its Mouth, to teach us Patience and Silence under the forest Afiction. - Again, the Sheep is a very uses ful Creature, that feeds us with its Flesh, and clothes us with its Fleece; to teach us to be as serviceable as we may, and to do all the good we can to one another. In short, Christ himself, the Shepherd, bids us to learn of him to be meek and lowly in heart; and from the Sheep to be humble, tractable and obedient to his Call : fo shall we hear his Voice, and follow him in Grace and Holiness here, and that will fit us to follow him to Glory and Happiness hereafter; where he will feat us among the Sheep at his right Hand, to hear the blessed Sentence of Absolution, and to be receiv'd into our Master's Joy: Which God grant, óc.
The EPISTLE for Trinity-Sunday.
Rev. iv. 1, to the end.
ven: And the first Voice, which I heard, was as
HE mysterious Doctrine of the Holy Trinity was
but obscurely reveald under the Old Testament ;
for which reason, before Christ's Coming, we find little or no knowledg of it. God the Father speaking in the Plural Number in the Creation of Man, faying, Come let us make Man in our own Image, Gen. I. is by fome thought to denote the whole Trinity, and the mention of the Spie rit's moving on the Face of the Waters, and the Son's bruising the Serpent's Head, Gen. 18. they take to refer to the three Persons in it: But these are dark Discoveries of so great a Truth , and to interpret the three Persons that appeared to
3 Abraham, to be the three Persons of the Holy Trinity, is not much better
And a Father tells us, That God on purpose conceald from the Jews the Doctrine of the Trinity, left they should thence take occasion to fall into Idolatry, and worship a Plurality of Gods, to which they were tuo prone.
But when Christ came, this Mystery, which was in a great measure hidden from former Ages, was brought into a clearer Light by the Gospel. At our Saviour's Baptism, God the Father declar'd him by a Voice from Heaven to be his beloved and only-begotten Son; and the Holy Ghost descended on him at the same time, in the Shape of a Dove, to bear witness of him: where we have all the three Per fons of the Trinity mention'd, the Father, Son and Holy Ghost; all and each of which are after severally stild, God blessed for ever, having all the Titles and incommunicable Properties and Perfections of the Deity distinctly ascrib'd to them : which made St. Fobn to affirm, that there are three that bear Record in Heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghoft; and these three are one. 1 John 5.7
From hence the Church took occasion to profess and dea clare their Faith in this great Point, and to pay their solemn Praises and Adorations to the three several Perfons : yea, tho this Doctrine of the Blessed Trinity was daily own'd in the Hymns, Creeds and Doxologies of the Church, yet one Day was thought fit to be consecrated to the celebrating of this great and adorable Mystery,
And because Christ's vilíble ascending up to Heaven, and the Holy Ghost's visible descending from thence, gave no Small Light and Confirmation to this great Truth; therefore the Sunday after Whitsunday, which was before observ'd as the Octave of Pentecost, was made choice of for this purpose. And this is the Day 'on which we now commemorate the Holy Trinity. Accordingly, the Collect for the Day teaches us,
First, By the Confession of a true Faith to acknowledg the Glory of the eternal Trinity.
Secondly, In the Power of the Divine Majesty to worship the Unity.
Thirdly, To pray for Grace to be kept stedfast in this Faith against all Adversities and Opposition whatever. Eor the
First, The Epistle for the Day fets forth something of the Glory of the eternal Trinity: From whence we may learn to acknowledg and adore it. This St. John here doth in a Vision, representing God the Son fitting on the Throne of his father, and coming with his Holy Angels to judg the World. The Vision begins in the first Words; After