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given in the words of my text: “When Jesus saw the people, He was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things.” His teaching then is the teaching

" of a merciful Saviour, and its spirit is compassion and tenderness : “ When He saw the people, He was moved with compassion toward them.” And its object is to save that which was lost: because they were as sheep not having a shepherd, therefore He was moved with compassion toward them, and began to teach them many things. It is not to make the wise wiser, or the good better, but to save those that were lost, to call the sinner to repentance. “The whole,” said He, “need not a physician.” By which, and other such words, our Lord meant to show, that in order to take His teaching rightly, we must know ourselves to be such as we really are, and such as His teaching supposes us to be. That is, in coming to Him

, we must not fancy that we have a knowledge and a goodness, imperfect indeed, but yet of some value, and requiring only to be improved and strengthened. We must come to Him as being sheep without a shepherd, sheep gone astray; as sick men needing a physician; these are His own figures; or, without a figure, we must come to Him as having no knowledge as to the great matter of saving our souls; as having no goodness that can abide God's judgment. If we say that we see, our sin remaineth.

We must come to Him, you may say, but must we always remain so ? Must all men to their latest hour whenever they read the gospels, consider themselves as still in the same condition as when they heard them first, as still straying without a shepherd, as still lost, as still knowing nothing, as still sinners? If they must, how can there be any reality whatever in much of the apostles' language, when they speak of the glorious liberty of the children of God—of their not sinning who are born of God? Or how could St. Paul have spoken as he does so confidently a little before his death : “I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith”?

Undoubtedly we may and ought to hope, that by long following Christ, by long clinging to Him, by the long indwelling of His Spirit, we may be changed into his image. Undoubtedly we may and ought to hope that the time should come to each of us when we may be no more lost but found; no more sinners, but redeemed and holy. Undoubtedly there must be such a thing existing in the church, as the true testimony of a good conscience; there must be within possibility the witness of God's Spirit agreeing with our own that we are the children of God.

This is the blessed consummation of the life of faith, which should be the highest object of our hope in this world. But it is the very essence of this consummation of our life, that we should have begun at the true beginning. “He who entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.” In order that God's Spirit may ever bear witness with our spirit that we are the children of God, it must have convinced our spirit first of sin; it must have borne witness with our spirit, not once only, but long and often, that we were by nature, and are still by inclination and practice, the children of sin.

Therefore we need not trouble ourselves with the question whether we shall be always such as Christ's teaching in the Gospels with some few exceptions, perhaps, supposes us to be. It is quite sufficient to know that we all either are so, or have been so, and if we do not feel that we are so, nor yet that we have been so, then indeed we are not Christ's at all, nor can we yet become so. It is no vain preaching then, but a preaching which concerns us all, to dwell upon the great truth that Christ's teaching is the teaching of a Saviour, addressed in mercy to those that are lost.

And if it might be allowed for a moment to conceive our Lord on earth once again; if He saw us here assembled, saw us either within these walls, or elsewhere, at our business, or at our pleasure,

do we really think that we should not awaken His compassion, that we should not appear in His eyes as sheep without a shepherd; but that He could say of us to His Father as he said of His eleven disciples, “ Thine they were, and thou gavest them me, and they have kept thy word,” or that He could say to us, “ Well done, good and faithful servants, ye have been faithful over a few things, I will make you rulers over many things, enter ye into the joy of your Lord”? Which of these two can we believe would happen? For one of the two it must be, unless it were the more awful language: “If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong to thy peace; but now they are hid from thine eyes.” Would Christ our Lord, if we might conceive Him again on earth, would He have compassion upon us and begin to teach us many things; or would He bless us and encourage us only; or would He turn from us as from those who had hardened our hearts too long, and for whom there was no more mercy ? Surely our earnest hope would be, that we might awaken His compassion, surely it would be what we should most desire, that He might begin to teach us many things.

I think if we can in any degree realize to ourselves what I have been saying, it will show us with what feelings we ought to receive His teaching, which we possess actually in the Holy Scrip


tures. If we can conceive Christ present amongst us, His eye resting upon us, would any of the fond excuses or encouragements with which we now so often deceive ourselves, be able to deceive us any more? Would not conscience then speak out with a voice that would be heard, and say, “I have sinned.” He to whom all hearts are open looking upon us, He the expression of whose countenance is the image of truth itself, would it not be our happiness if that look was one of compassion? Can we dare to fancy that it would be one of approbation and of love? But indeed He is looking upon us, though not to us visible; indeed His eye is upon each of us; He regards every one of us with a look of compassion, or of love, or of judgment. Do we not pray, may we not believe, that it is still with His look of compassion ?

But would He so look upon us if we were saved; if forgetting the things which are behind and reaching forward to those that are before, we were pressing on to the mark, to the prize of our high calling? Would His look be one of compassion ? He did appear to St. Paul more than once after his conversion; but His language was that of encouragement and assurance : “Be not afraid but speak, and hold not thy peace, for I am with thee." “Be of good cheer, Paul; for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.” “My grace is sufficient for thee,

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