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And He handles them roughly, for they have got hopelessly entangled among the thorns-or they think that He does; but after all it is the thorns out of which He is pulling them, not His hands, which tear them.

And when He has extricated them, and laid them on His shoulder to bring them home, then it is His love which overcomes them; they cannot bear to think how they have deserted His fold and wandered to such a distance, and yet, at such trouble and pains, and expense of love and pity, He has come so far to find them out, and plunged into so dark and deep a gully, because He heard their feeble bleat at the bottom of it.

And now, my brethren, are there any here who hear these words, and are conscious that they are straying sheep, and are getting more and more entangled in the pathless deserts of sin, and yet love their sin, and think that after they have enjoyed their dangerous and wicked liberty a little longer, the Good Shepherd will surely find them, and rescue them in spite of themselves ?

If there are any such here, I would remind them that, if they are in this mind, it is not at all certain that the Good Shepherd will find them, for there is another version of this parable given us by an Evangelist, who with his own ears heard the Good Shepherd Himself say it; and in this version (in St. Matthew xviii.),

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we have the Good Shepherd Himself throwing in a doubt as to whether He may ultimately find the lost sheep. These are His words, as recorded in St. Matthew: “How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? And if so be that He find it.If so be that He find it! You may go too far. You may so destroy yourself that you cannot pray-cannot put up one single prayer that the Shepherd can recognize as the voice of one of His sheep.

Oh ye who know in yourselves that left the fold of His grace, and are now afar off, stray not, as you value eternal life, one step further, for every step you are taking is a step from Christ, and towards hell. ' He is seeking you, for He knows the value of your soul-its capacities for eternal happiness or eternal misery. Be ye found of Him. Let Him not seek you in vain.

Perhaps there may be some of you who say, “I have wandered too far; my sins are too many'; my offences are too great." "I have wandered too far from God," you say. I have to ask you but one thing. Do you desire to return ? If so, who awakened in you that desire ? and why has He awakened it? It can be only because He yet loves you, and longs to bring you back to His fold again. Be sure of

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this, that no sins are too many, no sins are too great, to separate you from Him, if you have any desire to return to Him.

But perhaps you say, “I have been lost too long; my sins are too inveterate, too stubborn ; they are wound about me like a sevenfold chain.” Well, are your sins a burden to you? If so, who made them press so heavily-for you once heeded them not? Who has been busy about you, creating new thoughts in your heart? It is the Good Shepherd, Who desires to loose you from the burden of those sins, which He makes to press so heavily upon your soul.

Perhaps you say, How can I think that He has found me?

Brother, do you desire to find Him ? You will say “Yes. 6. Yes.” Then I answer,

Then I answer, “We seek Him because He first sought us.”

When there is in any soul a desire to seek the Good Shepherd, it is a Divine proof that the Good Shepherd has already sought and found that lost sheep.

But do you say, “Though I be found by Him, how shall I ever persevere and hold on to Him to the end, infirm, wavering, inconstant as I'am ? Resolving and breaking my resolutions; purposing and failing; sinning and repenting ; repenting and sinning; how shall I hold out to the last ?” You cannot of yourself: but we read, “ When He hath found it, He layeth it on His shoulders ;" so you will have all His power and strength to sustain you. You may be sure of all this, for He doeth what He doeth with a good will. For when He cometh home, and bringeth the wanderer back safe, “He calleth together His friends and neighbours, saying, Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost.”

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XII.

THE DAY OF VISITATION.

ST. LUKE xix. 41. “When He was come near, He beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, in this thy day, the things which belong to thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.”

OUR Lord came near to the city, it is said here. When ? It is one of those disadvantages which inseparably attend the reading of extracts from such a book as Scripture that we cannot, generally speaking, get a full and perfect view of the very matter with which the passage extracted is occupied from the extract itself. We must often look before it to see what the sacred writer has recorded which led to the speech or incident, and sometimes look after it to see how it is concluded; whether, in fact, the matter in question is concluded; whether some after remark of Jesus or His Apostles does not go far to modify or intensify any lesson which we think we may have learnt from it. Now we should hardly have supposed that this weeping over Jerusalem took place not in some time of bitter loneliness, or rebuke,

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