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Some there have been, and always will be, to say such things; but this is the voice of strangers : the true flock will not listen to it, but will answer at once, This is not the voice which I have been accustomed to hear : I know it not, neither will I follow it, for it will lead me to destruction.
Observe now the second mark by which, as we are here told, the Shepherd distinguishes his sheep. They follow him. The Scripture sets before them the path which their Saviour trod : and their endeavour is, to follow his steps. In this country, indeed, the sheep do not commonly follow after the shepherd, but go before him. But in many countries the shepherd still leads the way, and the flock follow him into that pasture where he intends them to feed. According to this practice, our Lord says, my sheep follow me. And follow Him they must, if they would be known as his, here or hereafter.
They must follow Him in HOLINESS. His language is, “ Be ye holy, for I am holy.” 6. Without holiness no man shall see the Lord.” They must follow Him also in LOVE.
By this, He
66 shall all men know that ye are my disciples, that ye have love one towards another." « The end of the commandment is charity, out of a pure heart and a good conscience, and faith unfeigned.” They must follow Him too in SELF
He has expressly said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up
his cross, and follow me.' They must follow Him in MEEKNESS, in HUMILITY. " This mind must be in them, which was also in Christ Jesus."
Thus in a quiet and lowly spirit, in a spirit which pleases not itself
, in charity of heart and practice, in a pure and
blameless life, must the sheep of Christ tread in their Shepherd's path, as they walk towards their Shepherd's heavenly fold. And those who are walking thus, are the flock of whom Jesus spoke, when he said, They shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck
them out of my hand. He says it not of those, although they may be called by his name, who range the world at pleasure, doing what they list, and going where their evil inclinations lead them : but He says it of those who place themselves under his care, are directed by his guidance, and governed by his rules. These have a protection which nothing can overcome: they have a power around them and within them, which, notwithstanding many conflicts and many trials, will finally prevail. He whose call they have heard, whose voice they have followed, shall give unto them eternal life. “ For it is not the will of his Father which is in. heaven,” that one of the flock of Christ shall ever perish.
THE HEARTS OF THE JEWS ARE HARDENED THROUGH
JOHN xii. 37-40.
37. “But though He had done so many miracles before them, yet they
believed not on Him : 38. “ That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which
he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the
arm of the Lord been revealed ? 39. “ Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, 40. He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they
should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them."
Jesus had given a solemn warning to the Jews; Yet a little while is the light with you. While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light.
But, adds St. John, though He had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on Him. As Isaiah had given reason to expect, when he prefaced his well-known prophecy, by asking, Lord, who hath believed our report, and to whom is the arm of the Lord
revealed ?' And again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart ; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.
We perceive, therefore, that something more is necessary to FAITH, than sufficient evidence. These had sufficient evidence, in the many miracles which He had done. These had sufficient evidence, for many were convinced by it. Among the chief rulers also many believed on Him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue. For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.
It was not, therefore, evidence which was wanting, but a heart to receive evidence, to act upon conviction. And this heart man has not in himself; it is the gift of God, the work of the Holy Spirit. “No man can come unto me, (our Lord had already said,) unless the Father who hath sent me draw him.” The case was exactly the same with their forefathers in the wilderness, (Deut. xxix. 2—4,) when “Moses called unto all Israel, and said unto them, Ye have seen all that the Lord did before your eyes in the land of Egypt unto Pharaoh, and unto all his servants, and unto all his land ; the great temptations which thine eyes have seen, the signs, and those great miracles : yet the Lord hath not given you a heart to perceive, and
eyes to see, and ears to hear, unto this day.” What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Is He as one who “takes up that He laid not down, and reaps that He did not sow ? ” ? This, we know, can never be. 66 God willeth not the death of a sinner, but rather that he be converted and live.” And He calls upon the inhabitants of the whole earth to witness his dealings with his people : (Isa. v. 3 :) “And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and
1 Isa. liii. 1 ; and vi. 10. 2 See Luke xix, 21.
my vineyard. What could have been done more to my vineyard that I have not done in it? Wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes ?” The fault, then, must have been in the Jews themselves, whose hearts were hardened. Let us consider their behaviour.
Jesus did among them works beyond the power of man. They could not deny it. What then? Did they come forward in a body, and acknowledge with Nicodemus, 6. Thou art a teacher come from God” ? Or
say, like Simon Peter, “ Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God”? No: they perverted the people's minds by affirming, “ This man doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub, the prince of the devils :"3 and agreed, that “if any man did confess that He was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue.
Again, in the course of Jesus's teaching, many things fell from Him which they either could not understand, or did not like to understand. What did they then ?
Wait for further instruction ? Inquire humbly, examine patiently? No. They complained, “ This is a hard saying: who can hear it? From that time many of his disciples went back and walked no more with Him.”5
Others heard what they could not refute, and saw what they could not deny. But, as we are here told, , because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue.
Now without doubt God could have so changed the hearts of all these persons, that they should have cast away
their worldly fears, and their presumptuous murmurings, and their obstinate defiance, and have fallen on their knees before Jesus, confessing, “ Thou art the Son of God, thou art the King of Israel.” He did this in the case of Saul, and stopped his career of malice and blasphemy.
6 He will have mercy on 4 John ix, 22. 5 John vi, 60. 66,
3 Matt. xii. 24.
whom He will have mercy. “ And who art thou, O man, who repliest against God ? " But such is not the usual course of his dealings with
“The earth which drinketh in the rain which cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God."** This is the ordinary rule. While “he that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.
So it proved with this generation ;-as Isaiah had foretold, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted. There is nothing uncommon either in the conduct of the Jews, their hardness of heart; or in its consequence their rejection. Some of them turned away their eyes from evident truth : could not deny it, but would not see it. How many do the same! cast aside the book which they are unable to refute, but unwilling to be ruled by :-avoid the preacher, who presses closely upon their consciences, with much the same words perhaps as were used towards our Lord himself :-"He perverteth the people :"_"we know not whence He is.'
Others of the Jews stifled conviction. “This man doth many miracles : but if we let him alone, the Romans will come and take away our place and nation.” Or, because of the Pharisees, did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue. How many do likewise ; and are led by some worldly reasons to resist the impression of their conscience! They engross themselves in continual cares : never leave their minds unoccupied ; feel an inward sense that all is not right, yet do not live as disciples of Christ, because of the habits to which they are attached, the companions or the pleasures which they do not choose to resign.
And shall it be said, that God is unrighteous, if He 6 See Rom, ix, 16. 19.
7 Heb. vi. 7. 8 Prov. xxix. 1.