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The Third Sunday after Trinity.
O LORD, we beseech Thee mercifully to hear us ; and grant that we, to whom Thou hast given an hearty desire to pray, may by Thy mighty aid be defended and comforted in all dangers and adversities; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
“ Be sober, be vigilant ; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” 1 PETER V. 8. HIS is no peaceful country through which we
travel ; it is beset with enemies, and those of the most formidable order. Did we travel the king's highway under a marshalled guard, we might perhaps indulge in repose, and commit our weary eyes to rest ; but sleep would ill-suit the traveller whose way is through unfrequented passes infested by predatory bands, and exposed to the uncertain assaults of wild beasts. There is no royal road through this wilderness which is exempt from danger, no watch-fire to scare the beasts which range this waste, but such as requires the most constant viligance to keep alive ; for the lion which prowls for our souls is never weary,
and the vigilance of his efforts is proportioned to the demands of an appetite which can never be cloyed ; in season, out of
; season, in the closet and in the hall, in the private retreat and in the public assembly, in good and in evil, in our worldly engagements and in our most sacred duties, the enemy of souls regards no sanctuary, remits no activity; his soft and silent footstep treads its constant course, watching his opportunity, planning his attack, and ready to spring at a moment upon the unguarded victim of his malice. Oh, for a breath of that almighty Spirit which is “the earnest of the purchased possession," and which as “a Prince and a Saviour," it is in the power of Jesus to bestow. Impart Him to Thy sinking disciples, Lord! For the danger being great, and the resources to oppose to it none, unless Thou save us, we must perish ; unless Thou support us, we must surely fall. Stronger is He that is for us than he that is against us. Sinner ! sinner! “ Satan hath desired to have thee, that he may sift thee as wheat ; nevertheless, I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not.” So may Thy prayers ascend for us ! and so shall we by them ascend to Thee !
“And He spake this parable unto them, saying, What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it ?"-LUKE XV. 3, 4.
THE 'HE shepherd not only rejoices when he has
found his lost sheep, but is obliged to "go after that which is lost, until he finds it.” The stray lamb which has left the fold of Christ, is not only welcomed on its safe return; but has been the source of much previous anxiety and pain to the Good Shepherd before it is restored to the flock. Through many a high hill and over many a craggy Cliff, the grace and providence of the Father has traced it out before it has been “drawn" to Jesus, and many a solicitation has been rejected with indifference before the fugitive is reclaimed, which, if left to itself, would have perished like the swine in the bottom of the sea. The woman not only rejoices in her lost piece of silver when she finds it, but has to "sweep the house and seek diligently" in order to find it; one crevice after another is diligently searched, requiring much stooping and watchful examination; and though a whole apartment be searched without success, she cheerfully proceeds to the next, glad that another opportunity remains of recovering her lost possession. She hesitates not to derange the things she had been at much trouble to compose in due order, and which must cost her so much pains to arrange again.
She feels no satisfaction in the possession of her present accumulation, but continues her search as if she had none ; nay, this is the very ground of her distress and her importunate uneasiness; this is what fills her neighbours' ears with repeated complaints, "that without the missing coin the purse of her savings is the worse for the loss.” Were she destitute alike of money or goods, the loss of a single piece of silver might occasion her less concern, and her interest in the recovery might be proportionately less. Apt figure of the earnestness of the search of the Father for His errant child! He tries one means after another, and is not disappointed if a resource be left. If mercies be tried in vain, afflictions are applied ; if gentleness fail, sharp providences are used ; if these be unsuccessful, loving-kindness is applied again, and the soft influence of the spirit of grace breathes upon the frozen soul. “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her.” “I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love: and I was to them as they that take off the yoke on their jaws, and I laid meat unto them.” (Hos. ii. 14 ; xi. 4.) The arrangements of affairs are perplexed, and the providences of the world complicated, or ordered for the recovery of the wandering sheep; the
salvation of the perishing soul is the centre round which they are made to revolve, and accommodated to the attainment of it as their principal object. No perplexity or complication of events, no intricacy or circuitous scheme of arrangement, must form an objection if the desired end may by these means be accomplished; nor because there are many sheep in His fold, and so many jewels in His cabinet, is the anxiety of Jesus on that account abated : nay, this is what makes it the subject of His all-absorbing interest; this is what fills the world with the report of His complaints, that “ of those whom Thou hast. given Me I have lost none;" that nothing short of its perfect restoration can satisfy Him, because He has a right to those whom His Father hath given Him, and none of them must be lost. When He shall see His seed He shall prolong His days ; when He shall see of the travail of His soul He shall be satisfied. This is the love of God. This is the love which the Son of God bears to the souls which He laid down His life to save, Love begets love. We love Him because He first loved us ; and as we value those most who most value us, and regard those most who prize us most highly, oh that our sense of the value which God has stamped upon our souls might warm those souls with love to Him !