Page images

even thy altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God.” (Psalm lxxxiv. iv. 3.)

3. Again, our Saviour says, “ Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall to the ground without your Father.” (Matt. x. 29.) “Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?” (Luke xii. 6.) But, if there be this “especial Providence in the fall of a sparrow,” (Hamlet, Act V. Scene 2.) does it not behove us to be careful of them, and to take heed, that 'none fall by our means, but according to the will of the heavenly Father?

4. The Sabbath, we know, was appointed as a day of rest to man and beast, and to be kept holy to the Lord our God. But yet, an exception is made to give room for works of mercy to man and beast. Each of us may, s on the Sabbath, loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering;" (Luke xiii. 15.) or, “if we shall have an ass, or an ox, or a sheep fallen into a pit," we may “straightway pull him out on the Sabbathday.” (Luke xiv. 5.; Matt. xii. 11.)

5. What a variety of beautiful and tender expressions does our Lord use to represent the duty of “the good shepherd," and his own love to man under that character: "The sheep hear his voice, and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. · And, when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him; for they know his voice.” (John X. 3, 4.) “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep and fleeth; and the wolf catcheth

them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.” (John X. 11-17.) It had been foretold of the Messiah, by the prophet Isaiah, “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd; shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead them that are with young.” (xl. 11.) To this we may add the description of “the Lord,” the “good shepherd,” given in the twenty-third Psalm: “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.” (ver, 1, 2.)

6. As it was the endeavour of our Lord to do every thing to promote brotherly love amongst mankind, so it was his way to expose cruelty and hard-heartedness, and to hold up humanity and kindness as the objects of love and imitation. Of this nature was the parable of the Good Samaritan, in which the hardheartedness of the Jewish priest and Levite was exposed, and the compassion and kindness of the Samaritan held up as the object of commendation, of love, and of imitation, to all nations and to all ages. In the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, a similar feeling is excited towards some of the brute creation. The heart of the rich man, hardened by “the. deceitfulness of riches,” (Matt. xii. 22.) suffered Lazarus to lie at his gate hungry and naked, and his sores exposed to open view, and

to the festering air. In this forlorn and miserable state, neglected by man, we are told, that “the dogs came and licked his sores.” (Luke xvi. 21.) The tongue of the dog, as we well know, is peculiarly soft, and the constant licking and keeping the sores clean, tends greatly to promote the healing of them, as we see is the case when any thing is the matter with the animals themselves. Here might the rich man have learned a lesson of humanity from his own dogs, as they were probably his

[ocr errors]

7. The last passage which I shall produce on this head, is from the third chapter of the Epistle of St. James, where he is speaking of the unruly nature of the tongue, and the great offences committed by it: “My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall rem ceive the greater condemnation. For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not

« PreviousContinue »