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is lawfully call'd by thofe that have Authority to invest and fet him apart for the Office of teaching, he is a true Paftor or Minifter of Chrift: How shall they preach (faith the Apostle) except they be fent? fignifying it to be abfurd and prefumptuous to run before they are fent, and to venture upon that Office, before they are duly call'd and authoriz'd to undertake it; whereas they who were fent by Christ, as the Apoftles were, and they who are fent by them, to whom he gave a Commiffion to fend others, as his Father fent him, are the true Shepherds of the Sheep, and have full Authority to feed and guide the Flock of Chrift, and to have power over them.
To them (as the Parable goes on) the Porter openeth, and the Sheep hear his Voice, and he calleth his own Sheep by name, and leadeth them out; where the Porter is generally underflood of Chrift, who after calls himfelf the Door, and the great Shepherd of the Sheep, and here the Porter, to open the Door of the Fold for his Sheep to enter in, and likewise to guard it from Thieves, and Wolves in Sheep's Clothing, that they may not enter in and devour the Flock. And the Sheep hear his Voice, that is, all humble, faithful and good Chriftians, which are Chrift's Flock, obey his Call, and receive his Word. And he calleth his own Sheep by name: This alludes to the Custom of Shepherds in thofe Countries, who were fo converfant among their Cattle, that they knew them feverally, and had a particular Name for each of them, by which they diftinguish'd and call'd them; and the Sheep, by often hearing it feverally call'd upon them, knew it, and anfwer'd each to their Call: fuitable hereunto our Saviour fays, ver. 14. I am the good Shepherd, and know my Sheep, and am known of mine: and ver. 27. My Sheep hear my Voice, and I know them, and they follow me, they hearken to the Voice of my Precepts, and as I diftinguish them from others, fo do they by becoming my Followers: all which is agreeable to that of the Apoftle, The Foundation of the Lord ftandeth fure, the Lord knoweth who are bis. 2 Tim. 2. 19.
But to go on with the Parable; when the Shepherd leadeth out the Sheep, and brings them forth, to the Water or Paiture, he goeth before them, and the Sheep follow him, for they know his Voice. Here again is a Reference to the Cuf tom of Shepherds in Jewry, where the feeding of Cattle was their main Trade and Bufinefs; and with them the Practice was for the Shepherd to lead and go before, and,
by the Arts of Speech or Words, to call the Sheep after them whereas Shepherds now go after and drive the Sheep before them; fuch Cuftoms being different in divers Countries. Of the Cuftom 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 his Shepherd, and fpeaks of him as feeding his Sheep in a green Pafture, and leading them forth beside the Waters of Comfort, Pfal. 23. 1, 2. & Pfal. 77. 20. Thou leadeft thy People like Sheep by the Hand of Mofes and Aaron. And again, Pfal. 80. 1. Hear, O thou Shepherd of Ifrael! thou that leadeft Jofeph like a Sheep. In allufion to this Cuftom, Chrift is here faid 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 know not the Voice of Strangers. Being accuftom'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 fhun and flee from him as from a Wolf, being mov'd by the Newness or Strangeness of the Voice. The Moral whereof is, that Chrift's faithful Servants being acquainted with his Doctrine, which leads to Peace, Piety, and Holinefs of Life, are willing to hear and walk by it; knowing by thofe Tokens that 'tis the true Shepherd's Voice. But. Impoftors and falfe Teachers, that inftil Notions contrary to Piety and found Doctrine, they will not follow, but flie from them, taking it for the Voice of Seducers, calling them from the Ways of Truth and Peace, and drawing them into Errors and Divifions; 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 fo it is a Stranger's, and not the true Shepherd's Voice.
This Parable fpake Jefus unto them (faith St. John) but they understood not what things they were, which he spake unto them. He deliver'd his Mind fo figuratively and parabolically unto them, that they could not rightly apprehend the Drift or Meaning of his Difcourfe; which made him add the following words for the unfolding of it, Then faid Jefus unto them again, Verily, verily I fay unto you, I am the Dour of the Sheep, where he repeats the fame Terms of Affeveration, Verily, verily, and continues the fame Metaphor, faying, I am the Door of the Sheep. A Door, you know, is that by which we ordinarily enter or pafs into any Houfe; and
Chrift 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 Chrift to a Door, as the only way by which the Sheep, or true Servants of God, can enter into that Fold.
All that ever came before me (faith Chrift) are Thieves and Robbers, but the Sheep did not hear them. All that have ever pretended to the Meffiahfhip, or to be Deliverers of the Jews from the Roman Yoke, and Reftorers again of the Kingdom of Ifrael, of which kind were the foremention'd Theudas, and Judas of Galilee, have all been found Lyars and Impoftors, having no Commiffion from God, nor bringing any Doctrines that carry any femblance or colour of coming from him; but by exciting the People to Sedition and Rebellion, fhew'd that they rather proceeded from the Evil One, and were no better than the Doctrines of Devils for which reafon, The Sheep did not hear them; but the People, instead of hearkning to them, fell with Rage and Fury upon them, deftroying the Ringleaders, and dif perfing all their Followers. And therefore, to prevent all farther Danger from Impoftors, and to confirm our Faith in him as the true Meffias, and the only Saviour or Redeemer of Mankind, he inculcates again, I am the Door; by me if any Man enter in, he fhall be faved, and shall go in and out, and find Pafture: which is in effect the fame 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 muft 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 fhall enter into Life hereafter: by this Door an Entrance fhall be adminifter'd to him abundantly into the Kingdom of God; all that go in at it fhall be fav'd from all Enemies and Dangers; they hall go in and out fafely, and shall find Pafture; that is, all manner of good things, both temporal, fpiritual and eternal. The Thief indeed cometh not but for to steal, to kill, and to deftroy. The Impoftor and Seducer aim only at their own worldly Intereft, and stick not by Wars, Seditions and Tumults, to destroy and devour the Flock, to promote their ambitious and fecular Ends; but I come upon far different and more heavenly Defigns, that ye may have Life, and have it more abundantly, that ye may 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 Defign of the Gospel for this Day, which we ought to meditate upon, and to improve, by learning from it the following Leffons. As,
Ift, From Chrift's proving himself to be the true Meffias, by coming in at the Door of a Divine Commiffion, demonftrated 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 falfe Chrifts or Pretenders to the Mefliahfhip, that climb up at the Windows, or fome other way, without fuch an Authority, as Thieves and Robbers. And he being the true and good Shepherd, we may depend upon his Care and Provifion, that we fhall 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 Ufurpers and Intruders into this Holy Office. Our Saviour caution'd his Difciples against all fuch, faying, Beware of falfe Prophets, that come to you in Sheeps Clothing, but inwardly they are ravening Wolves; by their Fruits ye all know them: Mat. 7. 15, 16. Many hall come to you in my Name (faith he) faying, Lo! here is Chrift, and lo! there. Behold! he is in the fecret Chambers, fays 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 fame, that after his departing grievous Wolves would enter in among them, not fparing the Flock, and that fome would arife among themfelves fpeaking perverfe things, to draw Difciples after them; therefore watch against, and avoid them. Acts 20. 29, &c.
3dly, From Chrift's comparing his Followers to Sheep, and calling them so often by that Name, they fhould learn to imitate the Simplicity, 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 foreft Affliction. Again, the Sheep is a very use ful Creature, that feeds us with its Flefh, and clothes us with its Fleece; to teach us to be as ferviceable as we may, and to do all the good we can to one another. In fhort, Chrift 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 fhall 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 bleffed Sentence of Abfolution, and to be receiv'd into our Mafter's Joy: Which God grant, &c.
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The EPISTLE for Trinity-Sunday.
Rev. iv. 1, to the end.
After this I looked, and a Door was opened in Hea ven: And the firft Voice, which I heard, was as it were of a Trumpet talking with me, which faid, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter; and immediately I was in the Spirit, &c.
HE myfterious Doctrine of the Holy Trinity was but obfcurely reveal'd under the Old Teftament; for which reafon, before Chrift'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. 1. is by fome thought to denote the whole Trinity; and the mention of the Spi rit's moving on the Face of the Waters, and the Son's bruifing the Serpent's Head, Gen. 18. they take to refer to the three Perfons in it: But thefe are dark Discoveries of fo great a Truth; and to interpret the three Perfons that appeared to Abraham, to be the three Perfons of the Holy Trinity, is not much better.
And a Father tells us, That God on purpofe conceal'd from the Jews the Doctrine of the Trinity, left they should thence take occafion to fall into Idolatry, and worship a Plurality of Gods, to which they were too prone.