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enemies; a ready prey to the world, the flesh, and the devil, which take them captive at their will, to the destruction of their souls. The natural termination of their wandering course is, Like sheep they are laid in the grave, death shall feed upon them. They shall go to the generation of their fathers, they shall never see light. Such are the fatal consequences of departure from God, to which all who are straying from His holy ways are exposed. If Divine grace prevent not, they will assuredly perish eternally. Oh! that we were all of us sensible of the evil and misery of going astray from God, out of His good ways, that we might earnestly beseech Him to keep us walking in the footsteps of His flock, and feeding beside our Shepherd's tent, to the consolation and joy of our souls.
The apostle speaks of those whom he addressed as having been recovered from their wanderings, as having been restored to the fold of their Shepherd. Ye were as sheep going astray. This had been their state, but it was so no longer. For he says, Ye are now returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls. This is the
Second point to which our attention is to be directed; the change which had taken place in them through Divine grace. The lost sheep had been recovered, and brought back to the fold of the good Shepherd, to be placed under His care and protection. Those who are brought back to
God, are converted from the error of their ways. They become anxious for the eternal salvation of their souls; about which the multitude of mankind are indifferent, living in careless security, and unconcern about their future state. They therefore commit their souls into the hands of the Lord, as a Shepherd, to sustain and protect them; as a Bishop, to oversee and direct them. A sheep is safe and comfortable only while under the eye, and in the pasture, of its shepherd and overseer. Man cannot be really secure and happy for time and eternity, until he has been converted from the error of his ways, and brought into the fold of God, into the green pastures of His word and ordinances, to partake of the still waters of Divine influence and refreshment. How happy was David when he could say, The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He could then rejoice that His Divine Shepherd would provide for and protect him, as one of the sheep of His pasture; and that no evil should therefore befal him. He could add, Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. He believed that his ever watchful Shepherd would continually have His eye upon him, would watch over him, direct and guide him in all his ways; that He would guide him with His counsel, and afterward receive him to glory, when he should
6 Psalm xxiii. 1, 2, 6; lxxiii. 24.
dwell in the house of the Lord for ever, and go out from His blissful presence no more. St. Peter, in this epistle, calls our Lord Jesus Christ the chief Shepherd; St. Paul calls Him that great Shepherd of the sheep, and He calls Himself, in the gospel for this day, the good Shepherd, who giveth His life for the sheep. While describing Himself under this character, He says, My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand. He will guide them by His voice, which is addressed to them in His holy word. He will provide for them both here and hereafter. He will preserve them from all evil. He will protect them from the power of every enemy, and will cause them to triumph over all opposition, by His mighty power and grace.
But He is also called the Bishop of our souls, as well as our Shepherd. A bishop is an overseer, a superintendent. We are accustomed to regard the office as a spiritual one, appointed to superintend the spiritual affairs of the church; and to see, most especially, that those who are placed in subordinate stations in it, attend to the duties of the charge which they have undertaken. As the Bishop of souls, the oversight of the whole
7 1 Peter v. 4. 8 Heb. xiii. 20. 9 John x. 11, 27, 28.
church of God is under the superintendence of our Lord Jesus Christ. The spiritual welfare of every individual member of it He is desirous to promote. He is not an unconcerned Spectator of their affairs or their conduct. He is looking on them; and says to each of them, I will instruct thee, and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go; I will guide thee with Mine eye.10 They are therefore called upon to endure as seeing Him who is invisible remembering that His eye is upon them for good; and that He has promised never to leave them, nor forsake11 them, but to strengthen and help and uphold them with the right hand of His righteousness.12 The consideration that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Shepherd and Bishop of their souls, is enough to encourage His believing people to press forward in the narrow way to the kingdom of heaven. He will provide for all their wants. He will protect them from all their enemies. He will superintend all their concerns, and especially those which relate to their immortal souls. And when their chief Shepherd shall again appear, they shall receive from Him a crown of glory that fadeth not away. Let us put our trust in Him, and all will be well.
The God of all grace, who hath called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus," will fulfil His promise to our salvation.
10 Ps. xxxii. 8. 11 Heb. xi. 27; xiii. 5. 12 Isa. xli.10. 131 Pet.v. 4,10.
THIRD SUNDAY AFTER EASTER.
THE CHRISTIAN PILGRIM.
1 Peter ii. 11, 12.
DEARLY BELOVED, I BESEECH YOU AS STRANGERS AND PILGRIMS, ABSTAIN FROM FLESHLY LUSTS, WHICH WAR AGAINST THE SOUL; HAVING YOUR CONVERSATION HONEST A
MONG THE GENTILES; THAT, WHEREAS THEY SPEAK AGAINST YOU AS EVIL DOERS, THEY MAY, BY YOUR GOOD WORKS WHICH THEY SHALL BEHOLD, GLORIFY GOD IN
THE DAY OF VISITATION.
THE love which subsisted among Christians is a feature of the primitive church, which it is delightful to contemplate. It was so conspicuous, that it called forth the admiration of the heathen world around them, who could not help exclaiming, "See how these Christians love one an