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declared that the fountain must be first cleansed before the streams can be made pure. Again, we behold him as a preacher of righteousness, declaring that "except our righteousness exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees, we cannot enter the kingdom of heaven." He taught that we must be clothed with a better righteousness than our tattered rags, ere we can be allowed to sit down at the "marriage supper of the Lamb," where all the guests are arrayed in "fine linen, clean and white," which fine linen is the " righteousness of the saints." This wedding garment is provided by the Lord of the feast, and is the spotless robe of Jesus's perfect and complete righteousness.
I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old.-Psalm lxxviii. 2.
WE hear Balaam, the son of Beor, from the heights of Moab, attended by an idolatrous king and prince, taking up his parable on the multitudes of Israel. We also find many of the prophets of the Lord in the different ages of the Church, presenting their Master's message in the dress of parable. The sweet singer
of Israel is here said to open his mouth in a parable, and utter dark sayings, which have been kept secret since the foundation of the world. But we are compelled to pass by this son of Jesse, to direct our attention to one who may not unaptly be styled 'the man of parables.' Jesus so frequently used them in his discourse to the multitude, that it is said " that without a parable spake he not unto them;" and who can read his parables without exclaiming, "surely never man spake like this man." His discourses are adorned with the striking force and luxuriant imagery of the East. He made use of the most beautiful language and elegant ideas, to impress on the mind a knowledge of things which are not seen and spiritual, by similies drawn from things which are seen and temporal. Who can read the affecting representation of the pity and forgiveness God manifests towards the ungrateful, rebellious, but afterwards penitent sinner, so forcibly displayed in the parable of the Prodigal Son, without being charmed at the happy simplicity that pervades the whole. Unlike the production of men, the words of Jesus, like the works of creation, display new beauties on every attentive examination. They lose nothing by a minute inspection-they are not mere empty words:
at every perusal they are increasingly attractive, and we discover that the most sublime truths are taught, where, perhaps, at the first reading, we beheld nothing particularly instructive or engaging.
He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.-Isaiah xl. 11.
THE Messiah is here, and in several other parts of the old Testament, held forth to our view under the character of a shepherd. He is called, "Jehovah's shepherd," and to his care is committed the safeguard of God's flock. He is described as seeking out and delivering his sheep from all places where they have been scattered, in the cloudy and dark day." He is said to "seek that which was lost," and to " bring again that which was driven away;" "to bind up that which was broken; to strengthen that which was sick; to gather the lambs with his arms, and carry them in his bosom;"" to make them lie down in green pastures, and lead them forth beside the still waters;" in short, to him are attributed all the kind offices of a " good shepherd." It will not be difficult
to recognise Jesus under this description. On examining the New Testament, we find in it an exact counterpart of this character. We hear Jesus describe himself as "the true shepherd," who "calleth his sheep by name, and leadeth them out, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice; but a stranger will they not follow, for they know not the voice of strangers;" "he knoweth his sheep, and is known of them, and they go in and out, and find pasture." His watchfulness and power are such, that he will not suffer any, either by surprise or force, to pluck them out of his hands;* nor will he forsake them in the hour of danger; "he fleeth not, because he is not an hireling;" and he will eventually collect both the Gentile and Jewish flocks together, that there may "be one fold,† under one shepherd." Nor shall one of the least of the flock be missing; all "his sheep must pass again under the hands of him that telleth them;" even the "good shepherd who has laid down his life for the sheep ;" and now liveth to watch over, defend, guide, and supply the wants of his flock, from whom he will withhold no manner of thing
that is good."
* John x. 28, 29.
+ John x. 16.
Certain it is, this "Chief Shepherd" will punish the unfaithful hirelings "who feed themselves, but not their flocks;" "who have not strengthened the diseased, healed the sick, neither have bound up that which was broken, neither brought again that which was driven away, nor sought that which was lost; but with force and cruelty have ruled them." Therefore, O ye shepherds! hear the word of the Lord; thus saith the Lord God, "Behold I am against the shepherds, and will require my flock at their hands, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall they feed themselves any more."
And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears.-Isaiah xi. 3.
THE deceptions practised by the human race are many and various. With no other clue to discover the real character of individuals than their professions and conduct, men are often led to form the most unjust opinions; and frequent and lamentable are the
* Ezek. xxxiv. 10.