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TO THE READER. Our subscribers who have read the Christian Repository from its commencement, need no description of the object and plan of the work. Others may, perhaps, wish some general outlines of what they may expect its pages will afford. In compliance with such desires, the Editor offers these remarks. Whatever is calculated to encourage cool and dispassionate investigation, to promote the knowledge of the holy scriptures, and the pure principles of the religion of Jesus in the heart, he would embrace with the pure zeal of a real disciple, and as a faithful servant of Christ, offer to his readers. Perfection he does not promise. Nor can he flatter himself or his readers that he shall be able always to meet their expectations. The prepossessions of opinion are too various and too strongly fixed in the minds of many, to be accommodated by the labors of a single individual who is exposed to like unfavorable biasses, and similar imbecilities that are common to his readers. But it is not difficult for us to aim at improvement, and in such labors we may look for a blessing from our heavenly Parent.
The matter contained in the Christian Repository is calculated to be doctrinal, practical, and historical, The most important news of transactions in the Universalist connezion, such as proceedings of general meetings, rise and prosperity of societies, &c. will occupy a portion of its pages. In this department, the Editor will not confine himself to the Universal
ists, But shall give place to interesting transactions among other denominationg. He does not calculate wholly on original matter, tho a considerable portion from his owo pen and others, will generally be original. And he here takes an opportunity to acknowJedge the valuable productions which his brethren have afforded him, and to solicit a continuance of their favors. Those pieces will be understood to be editorial, where no credit is given.
SERMON, NO. X.
John X. 16. And other sheep I hæve, which art not of this fold ; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold and one shepherd.
The term other evidently refers to sheep that had before been made the subject of discourse, and is used to represent a distinct portion of our Savior's property. The word sheep is figurative. It is designed to apply to mankind, according to their different relations and characters. And the only question that would naturally arise in this place, is, whether this word may be applied to a portion or the whole of mankind, to the virtuous or vicious, or to both. That it may apply to different classes is indisputable, from the consideration that Christ discourses of sheep, and then adds, "I have other sheep.”
Before we can safely determine what is meant by the other sheep, mentioned in our text, we shall do well to consider the allusion to what was offered be. fore. This we have m the commencement of the chapter, in the parable of the shepherd and the sheep. In the 9th verse he explains himself to be the door ; and in the 11th, the good shepherd. The character of the sheep are described by their obedience. “When he putteth forth his own sheep he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. He calleth his own sheep by name and leadeth them out. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him; for they know not the voice of strangers."
From this description, we perceive that the sheep cannot be described by national character, nor known by national boundaries. If we say the sheep in this parable means the Jews, the description does not suit their character. They neither know the voice of the true shepherd, nor follow him. Indeed, he testifies to a number of them, “Ye are not of my sheep as I said unto you, my sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” Should we consider these sheep as applying indiscriminately to the Gentiles, we should remain in equal difficulty; for it was never yet altogether true of them, that they heard and obeyed the voice of this great and faithful Shepherd.
There is no decision on this point that appears more rational, than to consider Christ as speaking of believers. The description well comports with their character. "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life.” Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the wood of God. Jesus calls; the believer hears and knows his voice. All believers whose faith works by love and purifies the heart, follow their shepherd. They distinguish his voice from the voice of strangers, because they are acquainted with it. These believers could then be but a few, selected from the Jewish nation, altho it is beyond a doubt, they comprehended all that then believed in him.
Allowing these conclusions to be just, the way is now prepared to consider more particularly the subject matter of our text. “And other sheep I have,” says the Redeemer.-Ah, what other sheep? Any other than believers ? Yes. "And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold.” If believers were included in the parable, they could not be included here. And if some believers were there meant, it is evident, all that were then believers, were meant. That unbe
lievers were included in the text is plain from the description of their character. They “are not of this fold,” implies they must be elsewhere. «Them also I must bring," shows that they were not brought, were unreconciled, and, consequently, unbelieving.
It is not from this description of character alone, that we are authorized to consider unbelievers a portion of Christ's property ; but we find it maintained by the united testimony of many passages. The heathen which are given him for his inheritance, the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession, afford descriptions of such a character. If Christ tasted death for every man, if he gave himself a ransom for all, as the Scriptures assert; unbelievers inust certainly be included.
As we think it likely these ideas may be new to some of our readers, it may not be amiss to labor this part of our subject somewhat particularly. The term sheep is used as a figure to represent different characters, the wicked as well as the righteous. Where sheep and goats are mentioned in the 25th chapter of Matthew, sheep are used for the righteous only; being so called in the last verse, “the righteous into life eternal.” When it is said, “All we like sheep have gone astray," sheep must mean the wicked; for these are the characters that go astray. When Christ said, “The good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep,” is it wrong to say, he meant all mankind ? Is it not plain from other scriptures, that he died for all without exception ? As we have it froin the evident authority of two passages, that sheep is used as a figure for the wicked, there arises nothing, from this consideration, against the term being applied indiscriminately to all
But in our text we apply it to unbelievers only, because believers had been before designated. Our Savior, no doubt, had his eye upon the large field of the Gentile world, the "every creature" to whom he commanded his disciples to preach the good tidings of the gospel. The two classes of men, the sheep in the parable, and the other sheep, spoken of in our text,
include, according to the faith of all denominations of christians, the whole extent of the Savior's property. The point in which they differ, is concerning the proper pumber that belong to him. But tho this may be point of difference, we cannot expect to profit by making it subject of warm contention.
As Christ has chosen, in this instance, the simili. tude of shepherd and sheep, to represent the relation between himself and mankind, we may expect to profit by considering a few analogies. Sheep -were not anciently kept by the walls of enclosed fields, as at the present time; but by the immediate presence of the shepherd, who exercised his guardian care over them by night as well as day. This custom is mentioned in different parts of scripture, and is often noticed by ancient authors. When sheep are in an undomesticated state, it is not to be expected they will become tame from their own exertions, but from the exertions and care of their shepherd. So with the great Shepherd that gave his life for the sheep; he came to seek and to save that which was lost." No domesticated sheep is unwillingly happy under the care of its shepherd, neither is it possible for men to be dragged to heaven by force. 'It seems a contradiction in terms that any being can be forced to be happy.
Christ speaks of his other sheep as not belonging to the fold that hear his voice and follow him, and says, *Them also I must bring.”-A very natural expression for a man speaking of his property; and implies that his ability in collecting and bringing them in, is naturally understood. Christ alludes to what he had done in bringing the sheep he then had in his fold by the little word, also. The bringing in of his other sheep he speaks of as an event then future, but which must in due time, be actually accomplished. Whenever we hear a man speaking of a certain business of his own, and saying, This I must do, we understand it to be his purpose, and that he is conscious of his ability to perform what he says. We learn that Christ on a certain occasion says, "All that the Father givetha