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and His Apostles, and have been held by the universal Church in all past generations none other things than what are read or acknowledged by the Church at large, and especially that portion of it which is established in this land, they will not, I trust, be unprofitable to any of God’s baptized people into whose hands they may fall.
Whilst, too, we hold you in our faith as the sheep of Christ,” and “the lambs of His flock," and labour by word and doctrine to lead you in God's most holy way, there must be on your part also an equal acknowledgment of us, in our office, as the ministers of Christ, clothed with the authority of the Lord, and speaking to you in His name and in His stead, that so you'may listen to “ His voice, and follow Him."
That this may be your happy portion, and that the Lord may speedily gather together His scattered sheep into one fold, under their respective pastors, to feed on His word at His house, and on His body and blood at His table; and that you, together with His whole Church, may be daily growing up into a meetness for His kingdom, so that when He cometh all His saints may be glorified together, is the constant prayer of your faithful pastor and devoted ser.
. vant, for Christ's sake.
A PASTOR AND PEOPLE.
I HAVE already, in the few observations which accompany the advertisement of these Tracts, briefly explained to you the end which I propose to myself, with God's help, in putting them forth.
In a parish like this, where most of you are occupied from morning till night, the difficulty of personal access to you, except at unseasonable hours, is very great, and the opportunities of personal intercourse, and consequently of instruction, are comparatively few; whilst, unhappily, such occasions as the Church sets apart for public teaching are not always esteemed as they ought to be, and even where they are esteemed, cannot always, through force of circumstances, be used.
Instruction in spiritual things is what every Christian man needs, and it is one part of the pastor's duty to see that the people “perish not through lack of knowledge.” The highest act of man is, doubtless, the worship of God; but that he may worship aright, he must have his spirit nourished, his understanding enlightened, and his heart filled with holy affections. One method of effecting this is by the communication of the truths of God; and it is, therefore, the office of the pastor, as a faithful servant of His household, to take, from time to time, out of the treasury of heavenly wisdom committed to his trust, such provision as may be needed by the spiritual condition of his flock. Seeing this, and anxious to reach each one of you in the depth of your own hearts and at your own fireside, I have adopted this plan as an accessory in enabling me to fulfil both my duty and my desire.
Before treating upon the great points of Christian doctrine and faith, which I have set down to be considered in order, I think it well to touch somewhat upon the nature of the pastoral office, and the relative duty of the pastor to his flock, and of the people to their pastor.
You all know, that by the pastor, the Church understands the minister whom she appoints to have, in any particular district, the spiritual charge and oversight of her children. The word literally means a shepherd, and the signification will of itself suggest to all your minds a general idea of the nature of his duties.
In ancient times the chief occupation of men was the tending of cattle, and their riches consisted in the amount and nature of their flocks. It was the occupation which God seems specially to have set before his servants, and honoured, and by which, so to speak, he trained those of them whom he chose and appointed for the special fulfilment of his purposes. Thus Abel was a “keeper of sheep.” The riches of Abraham, and Lot, and Isaac, were in their flocks. Jacob passed the earlier part of his life in
this employment. Moses was prepared by the care of Jethro's cattle during forty years, in the land of Midian, for the work of leading the children of Israel through the wilderness. David was “keeping the sheep” when Samuel anointed him king. And, not to multiply instances, it was to shepherds “keeping watch over their flocks by night,” that the most joyous news that man, in his sinful and fallen condition, ever heard, was first announced by the heavenly messenger Fear not: behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people; for unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”
That God had a special purpose in thus honouring the shepherd's office, there can be little doubt. It was an office designed to convey, and did convey, in its exercise, a significant and typical illustration, both of the wants of man, his spiritual condition and his spiritual dangers, and that relation to him, in all these, in which He, who should hereafter be manifested, should stand; for as the shepherd's occupation was that distinguishing all who in any wise were types of our blessed Lord, expressing the nature of that work which He should accomplish for man; so the dislike of it, and separation from it, distinguished those who were types of the condition and spirit wherein He is neither known nor honoured. Cain, for example, was no shepherd, and his issue were builders of cities and instructors of artificers. With the Egyptian, who, more than all others, typifies that fleshly pride whose boast and bane are independence of God, and whose pleasure is resistance to the
kingdom of Christ, the shepherd's occupation was counted an abomination; and the Jews, ever since their rejection of the Messiah, have, however it may be accounted for, sought their occupation and riches from all other sources than the possession of flocks and herds.
Hence the Scriptures are full of beautiful allusions to the shepherd's office, whether in setting forth the nature of God's care for, and dealing with His people, or in prophetically speaking of our blessed Lord; and He himself showed why God so honoured it, and summed up all these allusions when He said, “ I am the good Shepherd : the good Shepherd giveth His life for the sheep.” Hence also the Church, in the service for the ordination of priests, chooses for the epistle, John X. 1-16, and exhorts that they may s seek for Christ's sheep that are dispersed abroad;" as also in the ordination of bishops, she charges them to “be to the flock of Christ, shepherds, not wolves; to feed them, to devour them not; to hold up the weak, heal the sick, bind up the broken, bring again the outcasts, seek the lost; to be so merciful that they be not remiss, and so to minister discipline, that when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, they may receive the never-fading crown of glory.”
It is not fanciful, therefore, to observe, that the very word suggests at once the nature of that work to which the ministers of Christ's flock are called, and that there are a peculiar force and significancy in its application, whether to our blessed Lord himself, or to those whom He has chosen to have the care of His people. The spirit in which He fulfilled His