« ForrigeFortsæt »
" and faithful high priest, and that having suf«« fered being tempted he might be able and
willing to succcour them that are tempted.” Ought then the humble, afflicted and suffera ing condition in which our Saviour appeared to excite shame or regret? Ought it not rather to administer consolation, when we reflect, that, we have not an high priest who cannot be touched with a fellow-feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are; that, he who holds in his hands the sceptre of the universe, and intercedes for us with his father, once appeared in our nature, and sojourned among us; that, in the days of his flesh, he offered up prayers and supplications with bitter crying and tears; that, he was subjected to the pains, diseases and infirmites of life, and even experienced the horrours of death and the grave. What assurance does not this give us that our wants and desires are well known to him ; that he sympathizes with all our sorrows, and that he will at all times grant us a speedy relief? With what confidence may we now approach unto a a throne of grace, knowing that through the intercession of our compassionate high priest, we shall obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need !
The character of Christ considered under the
allegory of a Shepherd; his pastoral care to embrace and gather in all nations to his fold.
John. CHAP. 10, VERSE 16.
« And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold and one shepherd.”
JESUS Christ is the sum and substance of the gospel. To describe his offices, to delineate his character, and to display his excellence, seems to be the great object of every inspired writer. Nature and art have been exhausted for images to represent his personal dignity and glory. He has been styled the sun of righteousness, the bright and the morning star, a covert from the tempest and the shadow of a rock in a weary land; a fortress and a strong tower; a rock; a precious corner stone; a
tree of life; the bread of life, and a well of water springing up into everlasting life. To represent the near and endearing relation in which he stands to his followers; to show the care which he takes of them, and the benefits which they derive from him, every relation known among men, every office of dignity and respect, have been employed. Whatever be the situation of his followers, however manifold and great their wants and necessities, they will find in him something suited to their several cases and desires; they will be supplied with grace sufficient for them in every vicissitude of life. If misled by errour, or involved in ignorance, he is their prophet to instruct, enlighten and guide them. If guilty and alienated from God, he is their priest to atone for, and to expiate their offences. If lawless and disobedient, he is their king to subdue them unto himself, to teach them his laws, and to reward their obedience. If oppressed with sickness and sorrow, he is their physician to heal and relieve them. If terrified by the threatenings of the law and the accusations of their own conscience, he is their advocate and intercessor with the Father. When held in bondage by Sin and Satan he is their redeemer to pay their ransom and procure their deliverance. If beset with dangers, and surrounded with enemies, he is the captain of their salvation, under whose banners they shall
In short, he is their father, their elder brother, their friend and their husband.
But throughout the whole scripture, of which the language is so highly figurative, no metaphor is more beautiful and natural, more frequently repeated, more finely wrought, more descriptive of the thing signified, than that which represents our Saviour as a shepherd, his people as his flock, and the visible church as his sheep-fold.
In the writings of every people, we find frequent allusions to their peculiar manners and customs, to the natural productions of the soil and climate, to the external face of the country, as diversified with hills and valleys, woods, and lakes, and rivers; and to the various appearances presented by the heavens and the earth at different seasons of the
year. To understand, therefore, and to relish the beauties of any writer due attention must be paid to the nature of the country where he lived, and the state of society at the time wḥen he wrote. Without this the finest and most expressive imagery will produce no effect on the mind, but will be deemed barren and unentertaining In no instance is this truth more obvious than in the writings of the ancient Jews, more especially the poetical and prophetical books of the Old Testament. To a person acquainted with the manners, customs and opinions only of modern times; who judges of works of fancy and inspiration by the cold rules of criticism; who has no idea of a country or state of society different from his own, no force or beauty will appear in these writings: on the contrary, the simple narrative of the historian will seem rude and barbarous, the sublime imagery of the poets to be rhapsody and bombast, and the enigmatical predictions of the prophets to be unintelligible jargon. But whoever reads the scriptures with the eye of an enlightened critick, making at the same time proper allowance for the simplicity of ancient manners and customs, for the peculiar rites and institutions of the Jews, for the bold and figurative style of writing prevalent among all eastern nations, will discern a beauty and sublimity in the sacred books far superiour to the best human compositions.