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the alms-chest at the door. The amount collected there is larger than many persons expected would have been received, because of what we know of the existing state of society, and of the existing feeling amongst professing Christians; but the sum collected there does not amount to one farthing each time from the worshippers that come to this house of prayer. Ought these things so to be? Are the objects contemplated by the appeals to your benevolence, are they the voice of Christ or are they the voice of men ? Is the instruction of children in this place Christ's trust committed to us? Is the sending the Gospel to our Colonies Christ's trust ? Are the objects contemplated in these appeals capricious objects? Or are they the voice of His providence, who hath said, “ The poor shall never cease out of the land." No! they are the goodness of God, giving us an opportunity of doing that which we cannot do in heaven; and that is, to stretch out the hand of Christian almsgiving, to cheer the heart of human want and woe. I feel that I shall not appeal to you in vain this morning, although it is so recently that I have already appealed. When I ask you in Christ's name to give us help this morning, according as God hath prospered you, to bring up children instructed unto the kingdom of heaven, out of this blessed treasure-house, whose truths are "more precious than gold, yea, than much fine gold.”
THE MYSTERIES OF THE KINGI)OM.
THE LOST SHEEP.
St. MATTHEW, xviii., v. 12 to 14. — “ 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, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. Even so, it is not the will of your Father, which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish."
The distinctions which the necessities of the social world require us to draw between various shades of character in the world, all vanish into nothing when we compare man with God.
There are, indeed, various degrees of moral distinctions, when we compare man with man. The wisdom of God says to us, “ Enter not into the way of the wicked. Avoid it, pass not by it, come away." And yet, all these vanish into nothing when we bring the whole world into the presence of a holy God. There the same Spirit of God tells us there is no difference: “ For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; for we know that what things
soever the law saith, it saith to them that are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world
may become guilty before God.” It was from not entering deeply into this character of our fallen humanity, that the people were so little able to understand the character of our blessed Redeemer. Had they been more in the habit of comparing the state of their own hearts, with the conceptions of good which God would have taught them in their consciences; had they been more in the habit of comparing themselves with the holiness of God, we should not have had the surprise felt, much less expressed, “This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them;" we should not have the pharisee standing and thanking God for his goodness, and de spising the publican at his side. It was to teach us this blessed truth that our Lord, on two occasions, gave us the parable which forms the subject of our consideration this morning
Here he was speaking to his disciples, to make them think of the value of souls; but in the 15th chapter of St. Luke he is speaking to the pharisees and scribes, to explain his truth. In this chapter he saith to the disciples, " Take heed, that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, that in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father, which is in heaven. For the Son of man is come to save that which is lost.” Here he speaks of the inestimable value of a human soul; of a little one that believes in him; that in heaven their angels stand in the presence of God; that on earth the Son of man came from heaven to save them from their lost and ruined condition. Here, therefore, we have that thought, the inestimable value of a human soul, and the boundless mercy of God towards a lost soul. If we turn to the 15th chapter of the Gospel of St. Luke, we find the same parable given to us, but in a different connection. The publicans and sinners drew near to him; the scribes and pharisees murmured to see our blessed Saviour speaking to publicans and sinners; Christ repeats the parable to them. If any one of them had a hundred sheep, and one sheep had gone into the wilderness, strayed away from its master's fold, become a wanderer, diseased, unfit in its then condition for anything, would not one of them go after that sheep and bring it back, and rejoice over it? And shall not God look upon his wandering sheep, and devise means whereby his wandering one may be brought back to his gracious fold ? So there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. Here we have the motives of our blessed Saviour's conduct explained to us, as in this chapter we have the inestimable value of souls brought to our thoughts, both teaching us the purpose of Christ's coming from heaven to this world, the Son of man is come to save the lost. From this, therefore, let us consider,
I. The parable;
The parable is very simple. A shepherd who owns a hundred sheep loses one. The shepherd leaves the ninety and nine, not in a desolate wilderness, but in a wilderness without human habitations. Pastures are found there, in which sheep can feed. He leaves them, and seeks the lost one. He remains seeking until he finds it. He finds it, but it is unable to walk back with him. He brings it on his shoulders, (or as the Greek word expresses it, on his own shoulders,) rejoicing. When