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houses, for the safety of the flocks, so that none can come to them the right way, but such as the porter admits. What is the distinction between the thief and the rightful owner ?
The thief, coming to do mischief to the flock, and damage to the owner, enters not by the door, but climbs up some other way; while the rightful master enters by the door, as one having authority, and he comes to do some good office to the sheep.
Can he find an easy entrance ?
Yes. To him the porter openeth, and the sheep, knowing their master's voice, follow him.
Could not a stranger persuade the sheep to fol. low him ?
No. Not knowing his voice, they would flee from him fearing some danger.
Did those, to whom Jesus spake this parable, understand who were meant by the shepherd and the sheep, the thieves and the robbers ?
No. Therefore their Divine Teacher willingly explained it to them.
How often, in the course of our reading, have we remarked the patience with which Christ bore the ignorance and dulness of those who were spiritually blind! We, indeed, on our parts, must, in reading the Bible, meet with many things difficult to comprehend; but we should not be discouraged, but lift up our hearts to God, and then, by diligent study, we shall find one scripture expounding another, and the blessed Spirit interpreter to the blessed Jesus. Shew me where Christ is described under the figure of a shepherd ?
“ The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want." Ps. xxiii. 1. “ He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.”—Isa. xl. 11. "I will feed my sock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord God. I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick ; but I will destroy the fat and the strong ; I will feed them with judgment."-Ezek. xxxiv. 15.
What is the fold Christ has prepared for the sheep?
The Church, into which He invites all that are faint and scattered abroad.
How did Christ procure this shelter for His people?
By shedding His precious blood. “ Christ also loved the Church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing ; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”—Eph. v. 25—27.
Can you find an appropriate type to shew the efficacy of Christ's blood ?
The sprinkling of the blood of the slain Lamb on the lintels of the doors when the destroying angel was passing over the land of Egypt.-Ex. xii. 22.
The folds, in the East, are built with very high walls, to guard them from the intrusion of wild
beasts. What similar defence has the “ Good Shepherd " placed around His Church ?
“I, saith the Lord, will be unto her a wall of fire round about, and will be the glory in the midst of her.”—Zech. ii. 5.
Are there any promises which you can remember, of security to the fold of Christ ?
“ No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper ; and every tongue tbat shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.” – Isa. liv. 17. “I (Christ) say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock (Peter's confession that Christ was the Son of the Living God,) I will build my
and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”—Matt. xvi. 18.
But are there any enemies who threaten destruction to the people of God?
Yes. The devil-false teachers and all enemies of the truth who are called roaring lions and wolves. “ Be sober, be vigilant ; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”—1 Pet. v. 8. “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.”—Matt. vii. 15. St. Paul
says, “After my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three
I ceased not to warn
every one night and day with tears.”--Acts xx. 29–31.
Do we not pray to be preserved from these in the Church service ?
Yes. In the Litany we say “Good Lord deliver us from all false doctrine, heresy, and schism" —separation from the Church.
You have named many dangerous enemies, but I will remind you of another, arising from a very different quarter; which equally threatens destruction to all who have not taken shelter in the fold of Christ-the wrath of God. Can you not quote a text where protection is offered from this also ?
Yes. “ The Lord will create upon every dwelling place of Mount Zion, and upon her assem. blies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defence. And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the day-time from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain." -- Isa. iv. 5. And we pray in the Litany to be saved from God's “ wrath, and from everlasting damnation.”
You have told me who are meant by the thieves and robbers, and that the good shepherd has prepared a fold for his sheep, but how are they to enter ?
Jesus says, “I am the door.” These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth ; and shutteth, and no man openeth; I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it.”-Rev. iii.
7. If He, therefore, openeth the door, every one that cometh, can enter into the fold; if He shut it, none can procure admission.
But is not the Good Shepherd willing to receive all, who seek to come in through the door, that is, by Christ?
Yes. It is expressly declared “ I am the door ; by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
Before any one will seek to enter, he must be sensible of his danger in wandering without. I am sure you can repeat a text to shew how such will be received upon their return.
“ With great mercies will I gather thee. little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy redeemer.”_Isa. liv. 7.
Are there not other benefits communicated to us by this door?
Yes. Through Him God receives our prayers and reveals Himself to His Church; and, at last, by Christ the sheep shall be admitted into the heavenly kingdom ; and, more particularly, none who come not in by Him, are to be accounted pastors, but thieves and robbers.
I must require you to prove what you have said.
“ Jesus saith unto him, (Thomas) I am the way, and the truth, and the life : no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”—John xiv. 6. any man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.”—John xiv.