John 10:3
The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen for his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
Sermons
Climbing Up Some Other Way into HeavenD. L. Moody.John 10:1-13
Entrance Without QualificationH. O. Mackey.John 10:1-13
Jesus the Good ShepherdC. S. Pomeroy, D. D.John 10:1-13
Sheep to be Fed, not ShearedArchbp. Trench.John 10:1-13
ShepherdhoodBp. S. S. Harris.John 10:1-13
The Fold and the DoorS. S. Times., S. S. TimesJohn 10:1-13
The Fold of the SheepS. S. TimesJohn 10:1-13
The Shepherd and the FlockC. S. Robinson, D. D.John 10:1-13
Wrong Ways to HeavenJohn 10:1-13
The Shepherd and the SheepJ.R. Thomson John 10:3, 4
A Bounding LifeCongregational PulpitJohn 10:3-5
A Minister's WorkDr. Magee.John 10:3-5
Abounding LifeG. Macdonald, LL. D.John 10:3-5
Abundant Grace in ChristKnox Little.John 10:3-5
Abundant LifeJ. O. Dykes, D. D.John 10:3-5
Christ the DoorW. H. Van Doren, D. D.John 10:3-5
Christ the DoorH. W. Beecher.John 10:3-5
Christ the DoorM. W. Hamma, D. D.John 10:3-5
Christ the DoorC. H. Spurgeon.John 10:3-5
Christ the Leader of His PeopleT. Guthrie, D. D.John 10:3-5
Christ the Only DoorC. H. Spurgeon.John 10:3-5
Christ, the Only Door into the Kingdom of GodJ. L. Nye.John 10:3-5
Christian LibertyH. C. Trumbull, D. D.John 10:3-5
Christian PasturageA. Raleigh, D. D.John 10:3-5
Christ's GuidanceA. Raleigh, D. D., S. S. Times.John 10:3-5
Doorkeepers DismissedJohn 10:3-5
False Teachers not TrustedT. Scott, M. A.John 10:3-5
False Teachers ShunnedJ. Trapp.John 10:3-5
Go InJohn 10:3-5
God is an Abundant GiverH. W. Beecher.John 10:3-5
How Christ Gives LifeC. Stanford, D. D.John 10:3-5
Immortal Life Through ChristJ. C. Jones, D. D.John 10:3-5
Life a GainT. T. Munger.John 10:3-5
Life and More LifeA. L. Astor.John 10:3-5
Life in ChristJ. F. Stevenson, D. D.John 10:3-5
Life More AbundantC. H. Spurgeon.John 10:3-5
Life More AbundantlyT. Starr King.John 10:3-5
More LifeE. Mellor, D. D.John 10:3-5
SalvationBp. Westcott., C. H. Spurgeon.John 10:3-5
Satisfaction Only in Following ChristR. S. Barrett.John 10:3-5
Sheep Will not Follow StrangersW. Baxendale.John 10:3-5
The Advent Message of the BaptistW. C. E. Newbolt, M. A.John 10:3-5
The Calling of the SheepS. S. TimesJohn 10:3-5
The Connection Between the Two SimilitudesF. Coder, D. D.John 10:3-5
The Conscience a PorterMonday Club SermonsJohn 10:3-5
The Door Always OpenC. H. Spurgeon., H. C. Trumbull, D. D.John 10:3-5
The Door and the ShepherdsT. Whitelaw, D. D.John 10:3-5
The Gift of Abundant LifeArchdeacon Manning.John 10:3-5
The Gifts to the FlockA. Maclaren, D. D.John 10:3-5
The Great ContrastW. M. Punshon.John 10:3-5
The Individualizing Knowledge of ChristH. C. Trumbull, D. D.John 10:3-5
The Leading of the FlockF. Godet, D. D.John 10:3-5
The Mission of ChristJ. Donne, D. D.John 10:3-5
The Mission of ChristT. Stephenson.John 10:3-5
The Mote Abundant LifeW. B. Pope, D. D.John 10:3-5
The Office of a True ShepherdFamily ChurchmanJohn 10:3-5
The Parable of the DoorWalter Hawkins.John 10:3-5
The Personal Love and Lead of ChristH. Bushnell, D. D.John 10:3-5
The Personal Relationship Between the Shepherd and the SheepA. Raleigh, D. D.John 10:3-5
The Porter of the DoorJ. Louis Spencer.John 10:3-5
The Privileges of the SheepG. F. Pentecost.John 10:3-5
The Voice of the Shepherd KnownChristian AgeJohn 10:3-5
To Go in and OutF. Godet, D. D.John 10:3-5
By anticipation the Lord Jesus laid down in this allegory the relations which should obtain between himself and his people unto the end of time.

I. THE DIVINE SHEPHERD'S TREATMENT OF THE FLOCK.

1. He goes before them. Like an Oriental shepherd, Christ does not drive his flock from him; he draws them to him. This he has done in the whole tenor of his human life - in his circumstances, his character, his toils, his sufferings and death, his glory.

2. He calls them by name. This implies individual knowledge of all the sheep, whom he not merely marks, but actually names. Thus he denotes his property in them, his interest in their welfare.

3. He leads them out into green pastures, and calls them to follow him thither. His command takes the form of invitation. The attraction of his love induces his sheep to follow him. He conducts them to the pastures where he feeds them, to the fold where he protects them.

II. THE RESPONSE OF THE FLOCK TO THE LANGUAGE AND TREATMENT OF THE DIVINE SHEPHERD.

1. They hear and know his voice. Christ's tones, when he speaks to his own, are gentle and kind; his language is compassionate and encouraging, His voice is, therefore, suited especially to the timid, the feeble, the helpless. To all such it is sweet, cheering, and comforting. The people of Christ are deaf to other voices, but are attentive to this its charm is felt, its authority is recognized. They have heard it before; they know it and love it; they distinguish it from every other. Gratefully and gladly do they hear the voice of the Beloved.

2. They obey and follow him. The voice is enough. The true sheep do not wait for the crook, the staff; they are obedient to the Shepherd's word of gentle authority. It is enough for them that the way in which they are led is his way. "He that followeth me," says Christ, "shall not walk in darkness." There is no questioning, no hesitation, no delay; the sheep follow whither the Shepherd leads. Thus they have rest and peace. They fear no danger and no foe while their Pastor watches over them and defends them. They need not ask why such a path is marked out for them, for they have perfect confidence in their Divine Leader. They need not ask whither they are going, for they are satisfied if they are in the pasture and the fold of him who is the Shepherd and Bishop of their souls. - T.







To him the porter openeth.
Who is the Porter? Christ we know is the Door. He says so Himself (vers. 7, 9). But who is the Porter? An old Father of the Church writes, "Christ is the Door of the fold, and the Keeper of the Door, as well as the Shepherd of the sheep He is the Truth, and opens Himself and reveals to us His Truth." But in spite of this — all very beautiful — all most true in a certain sense, yet not the whole truth, we must seek elsewhere for a satisfactory explanation of this difficulty. I say difficulty, because a distinct personality is ascribed to the Porter. He opens the Door. "To him the Porter openeth." It is through His instrumentality that both the true shepherds and the sheep enter into the fold. No! The only satisfactory explanation is to see in the Porter the office and work of God the Holy Ghost. Our understanding is darkened, our hearts are sealed, our ears are closed, unless the Porter openeth. Even the fold of Christ's Church is closed against us unless the Porter openeth the Door in holy baptism. The presence of the Lord is real in the blessed Sacrament of the altar, but unless the Porter openeth, His presence is not real to us. Many thronged around Him, but only one poor woman touched Him and was healed; so at the altar the virtue to heal is there, but the power to draw it into our soul's health is to the heart touched by the breath of the Spirit — to him the Porter openeth! So it is with the words of absolution — they pass along with a sound and leave no blessing behind unless the Porter openeth. And so it is with the Bible — we read our Bibles, but unless the Porter openeth, the voices of the evangelists and apostles are but as a pleasant tale: listened to, but soon forgotten, or they are like "the idle wind that we regard not!" And then there is that other book — the book of Nature — which lies open before us. But we hear no sounds in the noisy brook, we see nothing in the opening buds and flowers of early summer; but once the Porter opens the door, then suddenly — "Earth's crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God." Or if we look upon the pages of history. To the natural man they contain only a record of battles lost and won, a long succession of kings, some good, some bad, of dynasties set up or hurled to the ground; but when the Porter opens wide the door, and the light falls upon the pages, then we seem to read between the lines. We see how evil haunts the wicked person to destroy him and his seed forever, we see men sowing the wind and in after years, long after the sowing has faded from the memory, reaping the whirlwind! To read history without the illumination of the Holy Spirit is like looking at a beautiful landscape by the pale light of the moon. We see indeed the dark forms of the hills standing out; we note the trees in their solemn gloom; we hear and see the white foam splashing against the rocky shore; but the flowers and blades of grass, the leaves with their countless tints, the life and colour of the whole scene can only be seen by the light of the clear, noonday sun. So the manifold workings of the Holy Spirit in every successive generation can only be seen when the Porter has opened the door and enlightened our understanding, and given us a right judgment in all things.

(J. Louis Spencer.)

I. WE HAVE BEEN LOOKING AT THE PORTER ALREADY THIS ADVENT AND HE HAS NOT ALWAYS BEEN THE SAME. We have seen some sitting there; we might have seen others. At one time, as we saw, it was the patriarchs who were sitting there. And they said: "Go after Him, follow Him. His promise is true and faithful: He will never leave thee nor forsake thee." And the angels sat there and taught us the thrice holy hymn, and how the incense goes up before the throne, and the worship of the elders, and the great water rush of the Alleluias, whose spray falls in a golden mist over our worship here below; and they said: "Go out with Him, and going through the vale of misery use it as a well." And their message was, "Worship Him." And the Law sat there in its sternness and said, "You must," and "You shall not," and so braced us up. And the prophets sat there, with their messages from another world, their devotion and their calm endurance. And they said, "Be patient, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord." Yes; and we might have paused to see sitting there also the Gentile world with its splendid natural virtues, its beauty, dignity, and strength, and have heard them point us to the beautiful Shepherd, and bid us aim always at the true, the beautiful, and the good. But today we must contemplate the last figure that sat at the gate of the sheep fold — the precursor of the Shepherd of His people, the forerunner of the King. Then, when the Jewish fold was about to give up its sheep, once and for all, to be merged into something higher, there sits St. John the Baptist; and his message is repentance. His message to the sheep, as they pass out to forget him, to leave him, to lose him, in another and mightier than himself is, "Repent." "To Him the porter openeth." The Baptist is the last and truest teacher and porter of the Jewish Church, and his great message is, "Repent."

II. And now let us turn to St. John the Baptist, and see WHAT REPENTANCE IN HIS MOUTH MEANT AS A PREPARATION FOR CHRIST. And we are attracted at once with the dignity, the magnitude of the word. It is not quite the most popular method — Repent. And when he said this, he asked them to feel sorrow. The Pharisee must feel, "Well, I have made a false start." This satisfaction is not a good sign; the remedies I have chosen have not been painful, but they have not touched the seat of the disease. The knife and the burning is what I need. Oh, that sore! It is a humiliating thought to remember how it came there as I tear away the covering which conceals it. And he meant more than this. They were baptized of him in Jordan "confessing their sins." It would be easy and in perfect good taste to soften down the too striking contour of a proud individuality with a confession which does but "bless with faint blame." But no, he wants more. He wants each to face for himself the accumulation of a lifetime, to watch the tale of sin mounting up to its deadly total, until like a spendthrift, who having had a general idea that he had been extravagant, is astonished as each bill adds its quota to the heavy debt, some forgotten, some underestimated, some put aside to another day — he faces the accumulating mass and realizes the enormity of the debt which he believed that he some day would be able to pay if God would but extend patience to him. No; repentance on any other principle would lack, I had almost said, that business-like air which should characterize all our dealings with our souls. It would lack that element of humble acknowledgment which, when it concerns ourselves, we call an apology, to an all-knowing God who, indeed, can trace far better than we can right up into the hidden springs of motive, the history of our sins, but yet waits for us with our own mouths to tell Him. And then he had for each his own method of amendment. Such is the message of that porter who held the gate at the last moment before the Dawn, such was his teaching of repentance which was to prepare the way of the Lord.

III. AND STILL THE MESSAGE OF THE NEARER ADVENT IS REPENTANCE. Would that we learned more that penitence is a prerequisite to entering on the service of God! And then, lastly, "Repent" is the message before the last, the final coming of the Lord to each soul in death. And here again the Church, just about to give up the sheep into the hands of the Good Shepherd, still murmurs through the voice of the porter — "Repent." And so the porter waits the coming of Christ to claim His own. "Repent." His voice is stern, but the light gets brighter, the heaven is ablaze, His footsteps sound across the distance, the Bridegroom cometh go ye forth to meet Him.

(W. C. E. Newbolt, M. A.)

Monday Club Sermons.
The moral nature does not jar at the entrance of Christ or of the "Truth as it is in Jesus." The porter, which is the conscience and heart of man, never refuses the answer to the true voice.

(Monday Club Sermons.)

Family Churchman.
It is not the chief shepherd who is here spoken of, but an under shepherd, a minister of Christ.

I. HE IS LED INTO HIS OFFICE BY THE HOLY SPIRIT. "To him the porter openeth" (Acts 14:27; 1 Corinthians 16:9; 2 Corinthians 2:12; Colossians 4:3).

II. HIS TEACHING IS RECOGNIZED AS FROM GOD. "The sheep hear His voice." This can only be when it is drawn from and is in harmony with God's Word.

III. HE FAITHFULLY ACQUAINTS HIMSELF WITH HIS PEOPLE. "He calleth His own sheep by name." He is familiar with the names, faces, and circumstances of His flock.

IV. HE SETS BEFORE HIS FLOCK AN EXAMPLE THEY MAY SAFELY FOLLOW. "He leadeth them out." In His teaching and life He points the way they may safely go — "allures to brighter worlds and leads the way." Every shepherd will have to give an account for his flock to the Good Shepherd (1 Peter 5:4).

(Family Churchman.)

He calleth His own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.
I. THE PERSONAL LOVE OF CHRIST. The parable is designed to correct the belief that while God has a real care of the Church He can have no personal recognition of its individual members. There could not be a greater mistake.

1. For the relation God holds to objects of knowledge is different in all respects from that which is held by us. Our general terms, man, tree, etc., are names of single specimens extended to species, and comes to stand for millions of men, etc., we never can know. But God does not generalize in this manner. His knowledge of wholes is real and complete as being a distinct knowledge of particulars. Whatever particulars exist were known by Him as being thought before they became fact. Holding in His thought the eternal archetypes of species, He also thought each individual in its particular type as dominated by the common archetype. This on God's part is inevitable; for the sun can no more shine on the world without touching every atom than God can know or love whole bodies of saints without knowing or loving individuals. Being a perfect mind and not a mere spark of intelligence like us, He cannot fall into our imperfections when we strain ourselves to set up generals to piece out and hide our ignorance.

2. One of the great uses of the Incarnation was to humanize God that we might believe in His personal love. In Christ was visible one of us and was attentive to every personal want of the world. When a lone woman came up in a crowd to steal as it were some healing power He would not let her off in that impersonal, unrecognizing way. He even hunts up the youth He has healed of his blindness and opens up to him the secrets of His Messiahship. He tasted death for every man. He calls us friends because He is on the private footing of personal confidence, and promises a friendship so personal that it shall be a cipher of mutual understanding, giving us a white stone and in the stone a new name which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.

3. Every particular work of this Gospel shows how personal it is. What is communion that is not fellowship with particular souls? We speak of the Holy Spirit as falling on communities, but He reaches the general body only through individuals, save that there is an effect of mutual excitement, which is secondary, and comes from their sense of what is revealed in each other and under the power of the Spirit in each. So with everything included in salvation, in the renewing, fashioning, guidance, discipline, and final crowning in glory; so that a Christian is finally saved not as someone led forth in the flock, but as the Master's dear Simon, James, Martha, whose name is so recorded in the Lamb's Book of Life.

4. It is in this view that the Church in baptizing her children takes with a beautiful propriety the "Christian name," in which Christ recognizes the child's discipleship.

II. THE PERSONAL LEAD OF CHRIST.

1. Here is the glory of Christ as a Saviour that He goes always before, never behind, His flock. He begins with infancy that He may show a grace for childhood. He is made under the Law and fulfils all righteousness, that He may sanctify the law to us and make it honourable. He goes before us in temptations that we may bear them after Him. He taught us forgiveness by forgiving His enemies. He bore His cross and commands us to bear it after Him. And then He went before us in the bursting of the grave, and ascended as our Forerunner whom we are to follow even there.

2. This spirit entered into those whom He gave to lead the flock. They followed Him in the regeneration and took it upon them as their Master's law to require nothing in which they were not forward themselves. "Follow me as I follow Christ." We have seen it differently — teachers that lay heavy burdens on men's shoulders, feeding themselves out of charities extorted from the poor; philanthropists publishing great swelling words of equality and tapering off in virtues they neither practise nor like. All such drive a flock.Applications:

1. Men make a great mistake when they regard Christian life as a legal and constrained service. This image represents the freedom of the disciple. He is led by a personal influence and answers to the name by which he is called. No Christian is to go to his duty because he must, but only because his heart is in it, for his heart is in his Master's love, and he follows Him gladly.

2. We discover what to think of that class who aspire to be specially faithful but are principally strenuous in putting forward and laying, burdens on others, and slide over their own deficiency in the very things they insist on, by extolling the modesty which does not profess to be an example to others. How much more faithful and modest should we be if we judged only as we practiced, and fortified our words by our example!

3. Consider what is true of any disciple who is straying from Christ that his Shepherd still cares for him, and calls him personally.

(H. Bushnell, D. D.)

You are seated by your fireside on a winter night when the announcement is made — "A friend has come!" That announce ment makes you benevolently expectant; yet your state of mind is then only vague and uncertain, for there are friends, and friends. But in the next moment the name is spoken, or the face of your friend shines in the door of your room; and that face appearing, or that name uttered, in a moment calls up the proper feeling. hie other face appearing there, nor any other name that could be pronounced in your hearing, would call up exactly the same feeling. Each friend has his own place in your heart, and gets his own welcome when he comes. There is a general affection which you bear to all your friends; there is a specific and differentiated affection which you bear to each. So it is with the Shepherd and the flock. The whole flock is known, and loved, and led; but each has separate and individual love and leading.

(A. Raleigh, D. D.)

S. S. Times.
We of the West are accustomed to give names to dogs, horses, and even to cows, and are not surprised that these animals are intelligent enough to recognize their own names. In the ancient East, it was not unusual to give names to sheep in the same way. The classical scholar will recall the instance in Theocritus, where the shepherd calls several of his sheep to him by their individual names.

I. CHRIST CALLS —

1. HOW.

2. Whom.

3. Whence.

4. Whither.

5. Why.

II. CHRIST CALLS BY NAME.

1. By our worldly names; for He knows each personally and particularly.

2. By our spiritual names; for He knows our standing and destiny.

(S. S. Times.)

It is hard to realize that Jesus has an individual acquaintance with each of us separately. The very thought is bewildering in its magnitude, in view of the myriads of the redeemed. I once heard General Grant say that when he was colonel of a regiment he knew every man of his command by name; but as he rose in command he found it necessary to diminish the scope of his knowledge of individuals, until, when he was at the head of the entire army, he gave little thought to individuals below the rank of a division commander. An army comrade of mine, who was with General Sherman's army in its northward march from Savannah, told me of an incident which illustrated in another way the magnitude of the thought that every soldier had a personal individuality. The army was passing along sparely frequented roadway in North Carolina. A woman stood in the doorway of her cabin, and saw regiment after regiment of men similar in appearance and dress pass by, until, as the thousands upon thousands came and went, she said in wonderment: "I reckon you 'uns ain't all got names." It seemed to her an impossibility that each soldier was a distinct and recognized identity. It would have seemed stranger yet to think that one man could know each soldier there by name. Yet far beyond these suggestions of human limitation of personal knowledge and of personal sympathy, there comes the assurance that Jesus knows His every disciple by name, and that He daily and hourly speaks loving words of tenderness and counsel and guidance accordingly.

(H. C. Trumbull, D. D.)

We have here not a mere everyday description of the shepherd's act, but a precise statement of a definite historical situation. The time had come for Jesus to lead His flock out of the theocracy which was devoted to destruction. He recognized the sequel of this inevitable rupture in the expulsion of the man (John 9:24), in the decree of excommunication which struck both Himself and His followers, and generally in the violent hostility of which He found Himself the object.

(F. Godet, D. D.)

He always comes to "lead," never to linger and stay. If He finds one so wounded and torn and near to death as to be unable to follow, He will lay that sheep on His shoulder. If He finds a lamb faint and homeless, He will "carry it in His bosom." But in most instances He gives from the first the strength to follow, and expects it to be used. "He leadeth them out" — "out," of course, from the whole natural sinful life, from all its darkness and misery, into the light and joy of acceptance; "out" of infantine feebleness into manly strength; "out" of narrow views into wider; "out" of first experiences into more matured; "out" of mistakes and disappointments into wiser ways and better fortunes; "out" of dreamy indolence into those activities by which alone it can be escaped; "out" of overstrained activity into some quiet hour or time of "refreshing from the presence of the Lord;" "out" of besetting sin into waiting duty. Sometimes you think if the Good Shepherd were really leading you it would be into other fields than those through which you have of late been passing. Be careful here. I have seen a shepherd, on a bitter snowy day, gathering all his sheep carefully to the windy side of the hill. The silly creatures, left to themselves, would all take the other side; they would go straight to the most dangerous places, to the sheltered spots where the deep snow wreaths form silently, in which they would soon find at once a refuge and a grave. On such a day the life of some of the sheep depends on facing the blast. The shepherd would not let the youngest, he would not let the weakest one of the flock, lie down in the shelter. For the very love he bears it, "he calls it by name, and leads it out," or drives, or carries — even in such an hour as that — facing the bitter wind and the blinding snow! And if we knew the personal love of Christ, we shall not be so apt to distinguish and select certain special modes for its manifestation as alone suitable and proper. One mode will seem to us almost as good as another if it be the one that He selects, and we shall hear the loving voice in the darkness as well as in the light; in the roar of the wintry storm as in the hush of the summer silence.

(A. Raleigh, D. D.)

He goeth before them. — This is a sight which may still be seen in the East. With us sheep are driven; with the Orientals they are led. The shepherd goes on before, and the sheep follow after, much as dogs follow their master in the West, but without the briskness and vigour of dogs. It is not unusual to see the shepherd leading the sheep thus, and at the same time carrying upon his shoulder some tender youngling of the flock.

I. CHRIST PRECEDES —

1. To open the way.

2. To present an example.

3. To destroy the enemies.

II. HIS FLOCK SHOULD FOLLOW —

1. Closely.

2. Obediently.

3. Courageously.

4. Hopefully.

(S. S. Times.)

I have read of a distinguished general who conducted an army by forced marches through a sterile as well as hostile country. They were footsore, worn, and weary; supplied with the scantiest fare, and toiling all day long, through heavy sands, and beneath a scorching sun. Yet his brave men pressed on — such as fell out of the line by day, unless shot down by the foe who crouched like tigers in every bush, and hung in clouds on their flanks and rear, rejoining their ranks in the cool and darkness of the night. Thus this gallant army, undaunted and indomitable, accomplished a great achievement in arms. And how? They were inspired by their commander. Foregoing the privileges of his rank, he dismounted from his horse to put himself not only at the head of his men, but on a level with them. He shared their hard bed; he lived on their scanty rations; every foot they walked he walked; every foe they faced he faced; every hardship they endured he bore; and with cheek as brown, and limbs as weary, and couch as rude as theirs, he came down to their condition — touched by their infirmities, and teaching them by his example what part to act, and with what patience to endure. They would have followed him to the cannon's mouth — his cry not Forward but Follow.

(T. Guthrie, D. D.)

They know his voice...they know not the voice of strangers.
Christian Age.
An American, who was travelling in Syria, saw three native shepherds bring their flocks to the same brook, and the flocks drank there together. At length one shepherd arose and called out "Men-ah! Men-ah!" the Arabic for "Follow me." His sheep came out of the common herd and followed him up the hillside. Then the next shepherd did the same, and his sheep went away with him, and the man did not even stop to count them. The traveller said to the remaining shepherd — "Just give me your turban and crook, and see if they will not follow me as soon as you," So he put on the shepherd's dress and called out "Men-ah! Men-ah!" but not a sheep moved. "They know not the voice of a stranger." "Will your flock never follow anybody but you?" inquired the gentleman. The Syrian shepherd replied, "Oh, yes; sometimes a sheep gets sick and then he will follow anyone." Is it not so with the flock of Christ?

(Christian Age.)

A man in India was accused of stealing a sheep. He was brought before the judge, and the supposed owner of the sheep was present. Both claimed the sheep, and had witnesses to prove their claims; so it was not easy to decide to whom the sheep belonged. Knowing the habits of the shepherds and the sheep, the judge ordered the animal to be brought into court, and sent one of the two men into another room while he told the other to call the sheep. But the poor sheep not knowing the voice of the stranger would not go to him. In the meantime, the other man in the adjoining room growing impatient gave a kind of a "chuck," upon which the sheep bounded away towards him at once. This "chuck" was the way in which he had been used to call the sheep, and it was at once decided that he was the real owner.

(W. Baxendale.)

This verse justifies true Christians in not listening to false teachers. For leaving their parish church, perhaps under these circumstances, many reproach them. Yet the very men who reproach them would not trust their worldly affairs to an ignorant and dishonest lawyer, or their bodies to an incompetent doctor I Can it be wrong to act on the same principles for our souls?

(T. Scott, M. A.)

Placilla, the Empress, when Theodosius (senior) desired to confer with Eunomius the heretic, dissuaded her husband very earnestly; lest, being perverted by his speeches, he might fall into heresy. Anastasius II, Bishop of Rome (497), whilst he sought to convince Acacius the heretic, was seduced by him. A little leaven soon soureth the whole lump. One spoonful of vinegar will soon tart a great deal of sweet milk, but a great deal of milk will not so soon sweeten one spoonful of vinegar.

(J. Trapp.)

It is said that man is a religious animal. He must have some religion. To any Christian it must be the religion of Christ: that or none. We cannot go back to paganism. We cannot return to Judaism. Judaism is nothing but a promissory note. If Christ is not the Messiah, that note is two thousand years past due, and daily becoming more worthless and more hopeless. We cannot go to Mahomet, riding armour clad and blood stained, leading us to a life of revenge and a heaven of sensuality. We cannot accept Brahmanism, with its vedas and its Hindoo gods, with its metaphysical quibbles and its social tyrannies. Every woman, and every man with wife and sister and daughter says, We will have no Brahmanism. We cannot be atheists, and say, "There is no God!" for then would Nature's heart cease to beat, and we could only stand orphaned by its mighty corpse, and wait without hope till we are buried at last in the same eternal grave of rayless night.

(R. S. Barrett.)

I am the Door of the sheep.
The picture (vers. 1-5) which described the forming of the Messianic flock, and its departure from the theocratic fold was a morning scene. This, which describes the life of the flock when formed and led by the Messiah, is taken from a scene at midday. The sheep go at will in and out of a fold situated in the midst of the pasture. When they desire shelter they enter it: when hunger urges them they leave it, for its door is constantly open to them. They thus possess both safety and abundance, the two essentials to the prosperity of the flock. In this new image the shepherd disappears, and it is the door which plays the chief part. The fold no longer represents the ancient covenant, but Messiah's salvation, and that complete happiness which believers who have accepted Him enjoy. In the former parable, God caused the porter to open the door to the shepherd; in this the Messiah Himself is to His sheep the door of a constant and daily salvation.

(F. Coder, D. D.)

I. THE DOOR.

1. Of the sheep — the entrance through which a soul passes into God's fold. This Christ claims to be —(1) Personally. "I," not My teaching, example, propitiation.(2) Exclusively. "The." As a Saviour Christ stands alone, shares His honours with no colleague, not even with a Moses, far less with a Zoroaster, Confucius, Mohammed, angel, virgin, priest, or pope.(3) Universally — "any" (Hebrews 7:25).(4) Certainly — "Shall be saved."(5) Completely: Salvation —

(a)The most desirable in quality; perfect freedom.

(b)The most abundant in quantity; ample satisfaction.

2. To the sheep — the entrance by which the shepherds find access. This also Christ claims to be, and therefore no one has a right to be shepherd who does not —(1) Derive such an office from Christ (Ephesians 4:11).(2) Approach men through His own personal acquaintance with Christ (2 Corinthians 4:13).(3) Seek to lead men to a believing acceptance of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:2).(4) Devote himself to the spiritual edification of those who have believed on Christ (Ephesians 4:12; 1 Timothy 4:6; 2 Timothy 4:2).

II. THE SHEPHERDS.

1. False.

(1)The time they appeared - "before Christ."

(2)Their character - "thieves, etc."

(3)Their objects - to steal, kill, etc., for their own enrichment (ver. 10).

(4)Their experience (ver. 3).

2. The true Shepherd.

(1)Whence He came: from above, from heaven, from God.

(2)When He appeared: in the fulness of the times.

(3)What He sought: the welfare of God's flock —

(a)That men might have life.

(b)That believers might have it abundantly (John 1:16).

(T. Whitelaw, D. D.)

1. None can enter without the permission of Christ.

2. Without the knowledge of Christ.

3. Without the image of Christ.

4. Without faith in the blood of Christ.

5. Without sharing in the blessedness of Christ.Christ is the door to a right understanding of nature, providence, history, the Bible. By Him alone we have access to the Father, the enjoyment of salvation, the title to heaven.

(W. H. Van Doren, D. D.)

The simile is at first sight a strange one. A door is seldom a thing of beauty or impressiveness — a mere instrument of convenience. Yet upon further thought there will come to mind so many uses that admiration will take the place of surprise. A door is an emblem —

1. Of separation. On one side are the passions, the driving cares of the world; on the other love and quietness.

2. Of protection. The things that are happening in the community roll up to the door and, like a wave on the beach, they break and pass away. And we can bring up our children, thanks to the Door, in the midst of temptations safely.

3. Of hospitality. To keep an open door is equivalent to the declaration that one employs it as one instrument of pleasure to others. At the door too we greet the returning children and the much prized guests. When Christ, therefore, called Himself a door no more significant symbol could well have been selected. He is the Door to the home. Christ is the door —

I. FOR THE TROUBLED. There is no sound in the household sweeter than the opening and closing door when love reigns. All day long the father strives at business. The whole day has been full of care and wrangling. The head is hot and the limbs weary. But the day is over at last and he prepares for home. He draws near. The door opens. The children hear it and run. Now every wrinkle is gone and he looks round with a sense of grateful rest and thanks God that the sound of that shutting door was the last echo of the thunder of care and trouble. "I am the Door," says Christ; opening you shall be within the circle of love. What the home is to the troubled that is Christ to those who know how to make use of Him. Speak ye that have proved it. Mothers who have been sustained in the midst of troubles that rasped the soul to the very quick: fathers who have gone through the burden and heat of the world. There are bereaved hearts who need the refuge you have found. Publish the invitation you have accepted. "Come unto Me all ye," etc.

II. FOR THE PETITIONER. If the journey of the hearts of petitioners to the doors of men of wealth, influence, wisdom, skill, could be written, how full of pathos it would be! Who can imagine the solicitude of one delicately reared but reduced to poverty as she seeks aid that she may rescue from suffering and death her offspring. Torn between delicacy and affection how hesitating she goes to the door of the rich man for help! But it is opened, and scarcely has she seated herself before her benefactor comes and makes her sorrow his own. But have there not been those who have gone to Christ for themselves or their children with as little faith, with anguish unspeakable? And, or ever they knew it, the cloud was lifted; the door was opened; the Christ was manifest; and His bounty flooded their souls.

III. FOR THE DOUBTER. There is no experience more dreary for a noble nature than doubt. It may do for dry natures; but I would rather have superstition. Admitting that that is dead at the root, yet, like a tree covered with mistletoe, there is some life and freshness. But the doubter is dead from top to root. Or he may be compared to one lost in a snowstorm in an open prairie. The road he travels on is soon obliterated. There is now nothing by which he can direct his course. He begins to be uncertain and is alarmed. With this comes exertion, which makes matters worse. He wanders round and round, grows chilly and numb, drowsiness steals over him; and, just as he is tempted to take the fatal rest, he discerns a light, follows it, stumbles upon the door of the cottage, which bursts open, and there he sinks down as one dead. But behind that door he is safe. And so there are those who have wandered from church to church, from theory to theory, from belief to unbelief. Round and round they wander; as they are about to give up there comes the opening of a door through which streams the light of Christ. Men want to be argued out of doubt; but what men need is not more reasoning, persuading, showing, but more Christ. Only love can cure.

IV. FOR THOSE WHO IN RELIGION FIND UNEXPECTED HEART RICHES. There are many who live in a plain way, unconscious that there are great treasures near, and are brought unexpectedly into a full fruition of them. How many go to Christ as to a captain on a battlefield, a master in a workshop, expecting suffering and toil, and find Him instead to be the door to a beautiful home where they find comfort and wealth in abundance.

V. FOR THOSE IN DANGER. David represents God as a strong tower into which he may run and be safe from the victorious and pursuing enemy or the pitiless storm. Christ is the door of refuge to souls in all kinds of peril.

VI. FOR WANDERERS. There is a vagrant child who has proved the folly of his course. He hesitates about going back; but he goes and finds the door open, however long he may have been away. There is the child who has honourably wandered and is on his return. How the vision of the door haunts him! And that daughter who has wandered to the brink of hell, the door held open by a mother's love invites her return. And what the open door of home is to the penitent Jesus is to the worst. VII. OF DEATH; but He is a gate of pearl.

(H. W. Beecher.)

I. A DOOR SUGGESTS ENTRANCE INTO AN ENCLOSURE — either a home or a sanctuary. The enclosure of which Christ is the Door is —

1. The Church, to which He affords entrance by His atonement.

2. Heaven, of which He is the Door, because He is the Door of the Church; for both are in the same enclosure, the one being the vestibule of the other. "He that believeth...hath eternal life."

II. THE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE DOOR: breadth and narrowness. One class of Scriptures disclose the Door as wide as the world in the light of the ample provision made for salvation. But when viewed in its attitude towards sin it is so narrow that the smallest sin cannot enter. The rich moralist found it too narrow with his single sin, but it was broad enough to admit the penitent "chief of sinners."

III. THIS DOOR IS BOTH EASY AND DIFFICULT TO OPEN. There are doors so arranged that the pressure of a child's finger on a spring will cause them to swing wide open, when otherwise the strongest force could not move them. The Spring of this door will yield to the weakest touch of faith, but the Door will not move by the mightiest other means. See this illustrated in the case of the publican and Pharisee.

IV. CHRIST IS THE ONLY DOOR. "No man cometh unto the Father but by Me." "Neither is there salvation in any other." True, John saw twelve gates. One door into the Church, many into heaven. Each gate is some beautiful pearl of Christ's grace — His love, wisdom, faithfulness, etc. But they are all one in Christ.

V. THIS DOOR IS A SURE DEFENCE TO THOSE WHO HAVE TAKEN REFUGE WITHIN IT. No enemy shall be able to force an entrance. "The gates of hell shall not prevail against it."

(M. W. Hamma, D. D.)

Our Lord sets Himself forth very condescendingly. The most sublime and poetical figures are none too glorious to describe Him; but He chooses homely ones, which the most prosaic minds can apprehend.

1. A door is a common object. Jesus would have us often think of Him.

2. A door makes a very simple emblem. Jesus would have the lowliest know Him, and use Him.

3. A door to a sheepfold is the poorest form of door. Jesus condescends to be anything, so that He may serve and save His people.

I. THE DOOR. In this homely illustration we see —

1. Necessity. Suppose there had been none, we could never have entered in to God, peace, truth, salvation, purity, or heaven.

2. Singularity. There is only one door; let us not weary ourselves to find another (Acts 4:12).

3. Personality. Jesus is Himself the door; not ceremonies, doctrines, professions, achievements, but Himself.

4. Suitability. He is suited to be the communication between man and God, seeing He unites both in His own person, and thus lies open both earthward and heavenward (1 Timothy 2:5).

5. Perpetuity. His "I am" is for all times and ages (Matthew 23:20). We can still come to the Father by Him (John 14:6; Hebrews 7:25).

II. THE USERS OF IT.

1. They are not mere observers, or knockers at the door, or sitters down before it, or guards marching to and fro in front of it. But they enter in by faith, love, experience, communion.

2. They are not certain persons who have special qualifications, such as those of race, rank, education, office, or wealth. Not lords and ladies are spoken of; but "any man."

3. They are persons who have the one qualification: they do "enter in." The person is "any man," but the essential distinction is entrance. This is intended to exclude —

(1)Character previously acquired as a fitness for entrance.

(2)Feeling either of grief or joy, as a preparation for admission.

(3)Action, otherwise than that of entering in, as a term of reception.

4. A door may be marked private, and then few will enter. A door which is conspicuously marked as the door is evidently meant to be used. The remarkable advertisement of "I am the door," and the special promises appended to it, are the most liberal invitation imaginable. Come then, ye who long to enter in life l

III. THE PRIVILEGES OF THESE USERS. They belong to all who enter; no exception is made.

1. Salvation. "He shall be saved."

2. Liberty. He "shall go in and out."

3. Access. "Shall go in": for pleading, hiding, fellowship, instruction, enjoyment.

4. Egress. "He shall go out": for service, progress, etc.

5. Nourishment. "And find pasture." Our spiritual food is found through Christ, in Christ, and around Christ.Conclusion: Let us enter.

1. A door is easy of access; we shall not have to climb over some lofty wall.

2. It is a door for sheep, who have no wisdom.

3. The door is Jesus; we need not fear to draw nigh to Him, for He is meek and lowly in heart.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Two distinct allegories in this part of the chapter; they should be carefully distinguished. The parable of the Good Shepherd is sustained at greater length, and has found first place in the popular mind; but this parable of the door has a beauty of its own. Two ideas are prominent.

I. SAFETY. "He shall be saved."

1. The sinner pursued by grim memories of guilt that are like a pack of wolves, makes for this stout Door: as he passes in it closes upon all the fierce pursuers, and the hunted victim may breathe freely again.

2. The saint too needs shelter.(1) He must earn money, and mammon lurks near.(2) He must sustain himself, and selfishness is not far off.(3) He must have recreation, and the lust of pleasure lies in wait.(4) He must mix with men, and pride and fear alternately threaten to devour him.(5) He must play the citizen, and the spirit of party bitterness couches near. But he too can make for this shelter when chased by these spirits of evil, and once across this threshold may leave the rabble, howling but harmless, the wrong side of the door.

II. LIBERTY. "He shall go in and out," etc. There is a passing out through Christ into the world. The Christian life is no life of isolation; we still remain under obligation to deal with mundane affairs. But it is possible to share Christ's view of life, to see all its duties in the light of His Cross, so that we pass in and out between the Church and the world unharmed.

(Walter Hawkins.)

I. HOW TO ENTER THE CHURCH.

1. Negatively. We cannot get into it —(1) By baptism. Millions are baptized with water, but unless they come to Christ by true faith they are no better than baptized pagans.(2) By birthright. It is a great privilege to have Christian parents, but, "except a man be born again," etc. Your father and mother are not the door, but Christ only.(3) By profession. A professor may prove himself a hypocrite, but he cannot prove himself a Christian by mere profession. Men do not get rich by professing to be wealthy. They must hold their title deeds, and have cash in the strong box.(4) By admission to the visible Church. If a man leaves the door alone and climbs over the wall and gets into the outward Church without Christ, he is a thief, etc. If you have not Christ your Church certificates are waste paper.

2. Positively. By faith in Christ.(1) If you exercise this it makes it plain that you enter by Christ, the Door, because faith leads to obedience. "By their fruits ye shall know them."(2) If we have entered through that Door it does not matter what priest or pope may say.

II. THE PRIVILEGES OF ENTERING BY THAT DOOR.

1. He shall be saved — as the manslayer from the avenger; as Noah and his family.

2. He shall go in —(1) To rest and peace, for there is no condemnation (Romans 3:1).(2) To secret knowledge.(3) To God, with holy boldness in prayer as the adopted heir of heaven.(4) To the highest attainment in spiritual things, for a man does not tarry just inside the threshold of his home. Do not stop where you are. Go further in to get more holiness, joy, etc.

3. He shall go out —(1) To his daily business. The way to do that calmly and justly is to go to it through Christ. Do you neglect your morning prayer.(2) To suffering.(3) To conflict with temptation.(4) To Christian service. It makes all the difference between success and failure whether we go on not out through "the Door."

4. He shall find pasture (Psalm 23).

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

In olden times, cathedrals were regarded as places of sanctuary, where criminals and others might take refuge. Over the north porch of Durham Cathedral was a room where two doorkeepers kept watch alternately to admit any who at any time, either by day or by night knocked at the gate, and claimed the protection of St. Cuthbert. Whoever comes to the door of our house of refuge, and at whatever time, finds ready admittance.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)Of all means of protection, the least trustworthy are those which are trustworthy only at times. Ship's boats that cannot be lowered at the critical moment; fire escapes that can be swept by the rushing flames; towers of refuge that are locked and barred when the need for refuge comes; — all these inspire a false confidence, and are the more untrustworthy that they seem so trustworthy. It was a wise provision of the Romans when they instituted the office of Tribune of the Plebs for the protection of the common people, that the doors of the Tribune should stand open night and day. And so they stood; and to these wide-open doors of refuge the oppressed plebeian could flee by day or by night, sure of always finding a refuge there. Such, too, is the Christian's privilege.

(H. C. Trumbull, D. D.)

The work of the reformation was thus described by Stern, a German statesman: "Thank heaven, Dr. Luther has made the entrance into heaven somewhat shorter, by dismissing a crowd of doorkeepers, chamberlains, and masters of ceremony."

The old city of Troy had but one gate. Go round and round and round the city, and you could find no other. If you wanted to get in, there was but one way, and no other. So to the strong and beautiful city of heaven there is but one gate and no other. Do you know what it is? Christ says, "I am the Door."

(J. L. Nye.)

He shall be saved and shall go in and out and find pasture. — The fulness of Christian life is exhibited in its three elements — safety, liberty, support. Admission to the fold brings with it, first, security. But this security is not gained by isolation. The believer goes in and out without endangering his position (Numbers 27:17; Deuteronomy 31:2); he exercises the sum of all his powers, claiming his share in the inheritance of the world, secure in his home. And while he does so he finds pasture. He is able to convert to Divinest uses all the fruits of the earth. But in all this he retains his life "in Christ," and he approaches all else "through Christ," who brings not only redemption, but the satisfaction of man's true wants (cf. John 7:37).

(Bp. Westcott.)

Salvation: — I read a story the other day of some Russians crossing wide plains studded over here and there with forests. The wolves were out, the horses were rushing forward madly, the travellers could hear the baying; and, though the horses tore along with all speed, yet the wolves were fast behind, and they only escaped, as we say, "by the skin of their teeth," managing just to get inside some hut that stood in the road, and to shut the door. Then they could hear the wolves leap on the roof; they could hear them dash against the sides of the hut; they could hear them gnawing at the door, and howling, and making all sorts of dismal noises; but the travellers were safe, because they had entered in by the door, and the door was shut. Now, when a man is in Christ, he can hear, as it were, the devils howling like wolves, all fierce and hungry for him; and his own sins, like wolves, are seeking to drag him down to destruction. But he has got in to Christ, and that is such a shelter that all the devils in the world, if they were to come at once, could not start a single beam of that eternal refuge: it must stand fast, though the earth and heaven should pass away.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

is an expression frequently used in Scripture to designate the free use of an abode into which one may enter and from which one may depart, without hindrance, which supposes that the individual so acting belongs to the house, and is at home there (Deuteronomy 27:6; Deuteronomy 31:2; Jeremiah 37:4; Acts 1:21). Jesus here uses the term "to go in" to denote the satisfaction of a desire for repose, the possession" of a safe retreat; and "to go out" to indicate the satisfaction of the need of nourishment, the enjoyment of rich pasturage. The idea of pasture is further developed in ver. 10 by that of life, to which is added the idea of abundance, of superfluity.

(F. Godet, D. D.)

means entering by faith, "go out" means dying in faith and the resultant life in glory.

( Augustine.)

The fold of Christ is not a prison. It does not shut men in forcibly. Those who belong in it can pass and repass at their pleasure, seeking pasture everywhere in the exercise of Christian liberty. There are no persons on earth so free to gather knowledge from all sources, and to hunt out the good from all directions, as Christian scientists. And no man can know so much about any good there is in all the outside religions of the world as the intelligent disciple of Jesus who is competent to recognize truth even when commingled with error, and who therefore has power to distinguish between truth and error. The man who has not yet been inside of the Christian fold is of all men less capable of comparing that fold with the religions of the world outside of it. There is a vast difference between him who keeps outside all the time, and him who goes in and goes out finding pasture.

(H. C. Trumbull, D. D.)

Many fields has He in this great pasture land of life; and He has some of the well-loved sheep in them all. There are the fields of peace, much sought after, which, however, are apt to lose their charm and stay their benefits when too long tarried in. There are the fields of toil, where the nourishment comes by working more than by eating. There are the fields of danger, where all the senses need to be in exerelse, and all the energy bent towards getting through. There are the fields of darkness, where the sheep crowd close to the shepherd in timid trustfulness. There are the fields of prospect, where at times refreshing sight may be had of the higher pasture land up to which all the flock will be led one day amid celestial light and song. And again we say that every one of these fields is as a trysting place, where the Divine lover of human souls can meet with such of them as for the time He may "call," and where He can give them, one by one, such tokens of His love and care as their needs for the time require. Nor will it be long until He leads them through the particular field, and into the gate of some new "time" or "season" which has meanwhile arrived.

(A. Raleigh, D. D.)

Jesus Christ presents Himself before the whole race of man, and declares Himself able to deal with the needs of every individual in the tremendous whole. "If any man" — no matter who, where, when. For all noble and happy life there are at least three things needed: security, sustenance, and a field for the exercise of activity. To provide these is the end of all human society and government. Jesus Christ here says that He can give all these for everybody. The imagery of the sheep and the fold is still, of course, in His mind, and colours the form of the representation. But the substance is the declaration that, to any and every soul, no matter how ringed about with danger, no matter how hampered and hindered in work, no matter how barren of all supply earth may be, He will give these the primal requisites of life. "He shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture."

I. IN AND THROUGH CHRIST ANY MAN MAY BE SAVED.

1. The word "saved" here is rather used with reference to the imagery of the parable than in its full Christian sense, and means "safe," rather than "saved." At the same time, the two ideas pass into one another; and the declaration of my text is that because, step by step, conflict by conflict, in passing danger after danger, external and internal, Jesus Christ, through our union with Him, will keep us safe, at the last we shall reach everlasting salvation. You and I have to betake ourselves behind the defences of that strong love and mighty hand if ever we are to pass through life without fatal harm. For consider that, even in regard of outward danger, union with Jesus Christ defends and delivers us. Suppose two Manchester merchants, made bankrupt by the same commercial crisis; or two shipwrecked sailors lashed upon a raft; or two men sitting side by side in a railway carriage and smashed by the same collision. One is a Christian and the other is not. The same blow is altogether different in aspect and actual effect upon the two men. The one is crushed, or embittered, or driven to despair, or to drink, or something or other, to soothe the bitterness; the other bows himself with "It is the Lord! Let Him do what seemeth Him good." So the two disasters are utterly different, though in form they may be the same, and he that has entered into the fold by Jesus Christ is safe, not from outward disaster — that would be but a poor thing — but in it.

2. In our union with Jesus Christ, by simple faith in Him and loyal submission and obedience, we do receive an impenetrable defence against the true evils, and the only things worth calling dangers. For the only real evil is the peril that we shall lose our confidence and be untrue to our best selves, and depart from the living God. Nothing is evil except that which tempts, and succeeds in tempting, us away from Him. Real gift of power from Jesus Christ, the influx of His strength into our weakness of some portion of the spirit of life that was in Him into our deadness is promised, and the promise is abundantly fulfilled to all men who trust Him. Oh, brother, do not trust yourself out amongst the pitfalls and snares of life without Him. And so, kept safe from each danger and in each moment of temptation, the aggregate and sum of the several deliverances will amount to the everlasting salvation which shall be perfected in the heavens.

3. Remember the condition, "By Me if any man enter in." That is not a thing to be done once for all, but needs perpetual repetition. When we clasp anything in our hands, however tight the initial grasp, unless there is a continual effort of renewed tightening, the muscles become lax, and you have to renew the tension if you are to keep the grasp. So in our Christian life it is only the continual repetition of the act which our Master here calls "entering in by Him" that will bring to us this continual exemption from, and immunity in, the dangers that beset us. Keep Christ between you and the storm. Keep on the lee side of the Rock of Ages. Keep behind the breakwater, for there is a wild sea running outside; and your little boat, undecked and with a feeble hand at the helm, will soon be swamped. Keep within the fold, for wolves and lions lie in every bush. Live moment by moment in the realizing of Christ's presence, power, and grace. Only so shall we be safe.

II. IN JESUS CHRIST ANY MAN MAY FIND A FIELD FOR UNRESTRICTED ACTIVITY. That metaphor of "going in and out" is partly explained to us by the image of the flock, which passes into the fold for peaceful repose, and out again, without danger, for exercise and food; and partly by its frequent use in the Old Testament, and in common conversation, as the designation of the two-sided activity of human life. The one side is the contemplative life of interior union with Jesus Christ by faith and love; the other the active life of practical obedience in the field of work which God provides for us.

1. "He shall go in." That comes first, though it interferes with the propriety of the metaphor, because the condition of this "going in" is the other "entering in by Me, the door." That is to say, that, given the union with Jesus Christ by faith, there must then, as the basis of all activity, follow very frequent and deep inward acts of contemplation, of faith, and aspiration, and desire. You must go into the depths of God through Christ. You must go into the depths of your own souls through Him. It is through Christ that we draw near to the depths of Deity. It is through Him that we learn the length and breadth and height and depth of the largest and loftiest and noblest truths that can concern the Spirit. It is through Him that we become familiar with the inmost secrets of our own selves. And only they who habitually live this hidden and sunken life of solitary and secret communion will ever do much in the field of outward work. Remember the Lord said first, "He shall go in." And unless you do you will not be "saved."

2. But if there have been, and continue to be, this unrestricted exercise through Christ of that sweet and silent life of solitary communion with Him, then there will follow upon that an enlargement of opportunity, and power for outward service such as nothing but the emancipation by faith in Him can ever bring. Howsoever by external circumstances you and I may be hampered and hindered, however often we may feel that if something outside of us were different the development of our active powers would be far more satisfactory, and we could do a great deal more in Christ's cause, the true hindrance lies never without, but within; and is only to be overcome by that plunging into the depths of fellowship with Him.

III. IN JESUS CHRIST ANY MAN MAY RECEIVE SUSTENANCE. "They shall find pasture." The imagery of the sheep and the fold is still, of course, present to the Master's mind, and shapes the form in which this great promise is set forth. I need only remind you, in illustration of it, of two facts, one, that in Jesus Christ Himself all the true needs of humanity are met and satisfied. He is "the bread of God that came down from heaven to give life to the world." Do I want an outward object for my intellect? I have it in Him. Does my heart feel with its tendrils, which have no eyes at the ends of them, after something round which it may twine, and not fear that the prop shall ever rot or be cut down or pulled up? Jesus Christ is the home of love in which the dove may fold its wings and be at rest. Do I want an absolute and authoritative command to be laid upon my will; someone "Whose looks enjoin, Whose lightest words are spells?" I find absolute authority, with no taint of tyranny, and no degradation to the subject, in that infinite will of His. Does my conscience need some strong detergent to be laid upon it which shall take out the stains that are most indurated, inveterate, and engrained? I find it only in the blood that cleanseth from all sin. Do my aspirations and desires seek for some solid and substantial and unquestionable and imperishable good to which, reaching out, they may be sure that they are not anchoring on cloud land? Christ is our hope. For all this complicated and craving commonwealth that I carry within my soul, there is but one satisfaction, even Jesus Christ Himself. Nothing else nourishes the whole man at once, but in Him are all the constituents that the human system requires for its nutriment and its growth in every part. So in and through Christ we find pasture. But beyond that, if we are knit to Him by simple and continual faith, love, and obedience, then what is else barrenness becomes full of nourish. ment, and the unsatisfying gifts of the world become rich and precious. They are nought when they are put first, they are much when they are put second. I remember when I was in Australia seeing some wretched cattle trying to find grass on a yellow pasture where there was nothing but here and there a brown stalk that crumbled to dust in their mouths as they tried to eat it. That is the world without Jesus Christ. And I saw the same pasture six weeks after, when the rains had come, and the grass was high, rich, juicy, satisfying. That is what the world may be to you if you will put it second, and seek first that your souls shall be fed on Jesus Christ.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Jesus names three privileges accruing to those who accept Him as Shepherd and Door, and by Him enter into the life of God.

1. First, they have safety. "They shall be saved." This is a great word, and implies all that God has to give to men. Especially, though, they shall be saved from sin and death, also they shall be saved from thieves and robbers, and from the wild beasts of sin, even from Satan himself, however he may try to get them.

2. Second, they have freedom. "They shall go in and out." The salvation which Jesus gives is not bondage but freedom. "He hath not given us the spirit of bondage, but the spirit of adoption." The Christian is not bound by rules and statutes as a slave is, but as a son he has the liberty of God's house. He comes and goes as a son comes and goes, being always guided and governed by parental love, and not by hard rule.

3. Third, they have a sufficiency of all things. "And find pasture." "All things are yours." "Having nothing, we yet possess all things." "No good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly." "My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Jesus Christ."

(G. F. Pentecost.)

I am come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly
We should not feel satisfied, however, to limit the import of the Saviour's words to the scribes and Pharisees merely. They were but the tools by which the great enemy carried on his work — the weapons wielded in unhallowed warfare by the prince of the power of the air. He was the hidden agent, the powerful adversary, the thief, whose unhallowed design was to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. The words before us are descriptive of the diverse modes of the tempter's operations. By the expression "to steal" we may understand those vague and covert schemes of the enemy which constitute that cunning craftiness whereby he lieth in wait to deceive. "To kill" implies a bolder game, a mailed and formidable combatant, an open declaration, a war, that sort of attack which he may be supposed to employ when he comes under the similitude of a roaring lion. "To destroy" signifies a labour, a plotting, a refinement of ingenuity and torture, the weaving of some subtle net in whose meshes to entangle and betray — that sort of attack which he may be supposed to employ when he comes under the similitude of an angel of light. Such is the constant purpose of the adversary, of the thief — his purpose, however interrupted; his purpose, however discouraged; and it is in direct and impressive contrast to this, and not in the comparatively contemptible operations of the tools of his power, that the Saviour brings out so forcibly the design of his own manifestation — "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." We may notice, in the exposition of this subject to you, the source, the worthiness, and the measure of this promised life.

I. And in the first place, let us endeavour to comprehend the SOURCE OF THIS LIFE. "I am come that they might have life." There are prerogatives in the power of kings, you know, which are never delegated to inferior authority. The monarch has his regalia, which it were treason for anyone else to wear. Life is the gift of God — always the gift of God. This is a part of the prerogative which He has never communicated — that act of His royalty which has never been usurped by another. Man, to be sure, has done his utmost to create. The sculptor has chiselled upon the shapeless marble the features of the human face, and proportion has been observed, and attitude has been successful, and a gazing multitude has been loud in admiration of the artist's skill; but though the eye reposed in beauty, no sparkle flashed from it; though the cheek was well rounded and symmetrical, it had no mantling blush; though the lips were true to nature, they could not speak the thrill of the soul.

1. Life, then, is always the gift of God. If we speak of natural life, for example, it is the gift of God.

2. If we speak of intellectual life, again, that also is the gift of God.

3. If we speak of spiritual life, again, that also is the gift of God.

II. I have deemed these observations necessary in order to guard us against misapprehension or mistake. I come, in the second place, to notice, brethren, the WORTHINESS OF THIS PROMISED LIFE. God's gifts must be like Himself. Himself perfect, He has made everything perfect in its kind.

1. In the first place, then, the Spirit is revealed to us as the Enlightener, and we may gather, therefore, that this life is comprehensive f knowledge — "For this is life eternal, that they may know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou has sent."

2. Then, secondly, the Spirit is revealed in us as the Sanctifier; and we may gather, therefore, that this life is comprehensive of holiness. "To be spiritually-minded is life."

3. Then, again, the Spirit is revealed to us as the Comforter; and we may gather, therefore, that this life is comprehensive of happiness — "for it is not a vain thing for you, because it is your life." God is love, and love is happiness.

4. Then, again, this Spirit is revealed to us as the Living Spirit. We may gather, therefore, that this life is comprehensive of immortality. You know, brethren, that death is not an original arrangement of the universe. It was an ordained penalty in case of transgression. Nothing that God ever made in the beginning shall be found wanting in the end; but death came in after, and it shall go out before.

III. I have not time to dwell largely upon the MEASURE OF THE PROMISED LIFE — more abundantly. I will just give you one or two thoughts. "More abundantly." That implies comparison. More abundantly than something else. More abundantly than what? Well, first more abundantly than the life of Paradise — that is a wonderful thing to think about — the glorious life — the life in Paradise. Each leaf spoke there of the loveliness of nature; every sound breathed heavenly melody, and every breath was imbued with fragrance, and angels ministered in those sweet solitudes, and the voice of the Lord came down in delicious companionship at the close of the day. It was a glorious thing to live in Paradise, to be amongst the favoured ones of the Creator. Ah, but Christ is come "that we may have life, and that we may have it more abundantly." "In Christ the sons of Adam boast More blessings than their fathers lost." More abundantly than what? More abundantly than under the Levitical dispensation. That was a noble life. It was a grand thing to think that they had the oracles Divine, that the Urim and Thummin always flashed on the breastplate of the high priest; that any man could at any time tell, by going to the oracles, whether he was in condemnation or in acceptance. And it was a glorious scene that on the day of atonement, when all the gathered multitudes of Israel went up to the Temple of Jerusalem, and the high priest came out in solemn garments, and confessed the sins of the people, and then went into the holy place, and sprinkled the blood on the mercy seat, and then came out richly robed, and with uplifted hands pronounced the benediction on all that heard him, and when every man of that great multitude went to his home at night a justified and forgiven man. It was a glorious life that, but "that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth." "He is come that we may have life, and that we may have it more abundantly" than that. More abundantly than what? Why, more abundantly than we could ever have imagined. And that, in some sort, is the most wonderful of all. We have various messengers at command. The eye beareth witness of wonders, but these transcend them by far; the ear hath the winds at its command — many a marvellous strain they waft on their wings — but the winds do not bear a story like this. Brethren, there is a phrase which we sometimes use — I don't know that I ever felt its peculiar significance so much as I feel it tonight, especially in connection with the subject I have feebly endeavoured to bring before you. It is this: "I stand between the living and the dead!" Literally it is true. I stand between the living and the dead. To which do you belong? Those are living who have come to Christ, and are resting upon Him. Those are dead who are yet in a state of nature, or who have fled for refuge to any refuge of lies. I stand between the living and the dead. The living and the dead! Some of you are living perhaps. Are you? You hardly know, you say. Your only evidence of life is that you are conscious of your deadness. Well, there is life there, and that is more than a dead man can say. Consciousness of deadness is itself a sign of life. Oh, I do rejoice that I can come to you tonight with the publication of life. I can stand upon the sepulchre and roll the stone away, and in the name of my Master exclaim: "He that believeth in Jesus, even though he were dead, yet shall he live. Whosoever liveth and believeth in Jesus shall never die." Don't kill yourselves. You will do it if you die. God will not kill you. He has never decreed the murder of any creature He has made. Ministers will not kill you; they would fain have you live. They sound warnings in your ears, that you may live. But lo! a terrible scene rises up before me. I fancy myself somewhere, it may be in the country parts of this beautiful island of ours. We will put the scene where I have sometimes seen it, at the corner of four green lanes. There is something there, although everything in the external aspect seems to smile — there is something there that makes the peasant whistle as he goes by, or pass it with bated breath, and the children don't choose that place to play in; everything about it seems haunted with strange and nameless horror; and if you ask about it, some peasant lowers his voice into a whisper, as he says, "It is the grave of a suicide." An unhonoured sod just thrown up, nameless and unknown, at the corner of four crossroads, at midnight — the grave of one who put himself out of life, and beyond the rites of Christian burial — the grave of a suicide. Oh, brethren, it is a fearful thing, but I must pursue the analogy. If any of you, after repeated admonitions and warnings, should perish, you have struck the suicide's blow upon your own souls, and wherever your nameless grave may be, angels who delight to minister to those who shall be heirs of salvation, looking at the place where your ashes may repose, will have to say, "It is the grave of a suicide — of one who is self-murdered, and spiritually dead — of one who has driven the dagger of perdition into his own soul." Oh, don't do that; I beseech you don't do that. Live, live! That one word is the gospel, because Christ has promised life, and the Spirit is waiting to impart it.

(W. M. Punshon.)

Our Lord here declares the great end for which He came into the world, that we "might have life." He had already said this (John 3:16; John 6:33; John 5:40). But here He speaks with a still greater fulness of meaning: "that they might have it more abundantly"; promising some great endowment, some greater gift of God than man had ever before received. This is the great grace of the gospel, the abundant gift of life.

I. The gift a spirit of life dwells in those who are united to Christ, in a FULNESS more abundant than was ever revealed before. The life possessed by Adam was in the measure of his own infirmity; the life which is in Christ is in the fulness of a Divine manhood. Adam was united to God only by God's grace and power. Christ is God made man. The humanity of Adam was only human; in Christ the manhood is become Divine. The union of the Godhead with the manhood endowed it with a substantial grace whereby it was deified. And it was from the miraculous conception filled with the fulness of all graces. His very manhood became the fountain, a great deep of all grace. Therefore He said (John 5:21, 26). This was the prophecy of the Baptist (Matthew 3:11). And it was His own promise (John 7:37-39). And after He had entered into His glory, St. John bare witness that this promise had been fulfilled (John 1:14, 16); that is to say, the anointing which was upon Him has flowed down to us. The Spirit which descended upon our Head hath run down to the least member of His body, even "to the skirts of His clothing." When he ascended into Heaven, He "received gifts for men"; that is, the full dispensation of grace was committed unto the Second Adam.

II. The gift of life is abundant also in its CONTINUANCE. By the regeneration of the Holy Ghost we are engrafted into the second Adam, very man, not frail and weak, but also very God, changeless and almighty. We are gathered under a Head which cannot fail; and are members of Him who bath revealed His own Divine name: "I am — the Life." We cannot die in our Head, because He is Life eternal; nor can we die in ourselves, except we cast out the Giver of life, who is in us. Our first head fell, and drew us with him into the grave; our second Head is in heaven, and "our life is hid with Him in God." Lessons:

1. We hereby know that in all our acts there is a Presence higher than our own natural and moral powers. We were united to Christ by the present of the Holy Spirit from our baptism. There has never been a moment from the first dawn of consciousness, from the first twilight of reason, and the first motions of the will, when the Spirit of life has not been present with us. He has created in us the first dispositions to truth and holiness; prevented us in all good intentions, restrained us in all evil; beset our whole spiritual nature, and encompassed us on all sides, guiding us into the will of God.

2. This Spirit works in us according to the revealed and fixed laws of our probation. His persuasions are by illuminations of truth and inspirations of holiness; and these are powers which act not by force, but like the lights and dews of heaven, by a piercing virtue, infusing new gifts of fruitfulness and power into the works of God. What we receive of the Divine Spirit is so given to us as to become our own, and as our own we use it with a perfect freedom of the will.

3. Lastly, we may learn that the union of this Divine Presence with us in our probation, issues in the last and crowning grace of this life, the gift of perseverance (Philippians 1:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:24). When did we ever set ourselves sincerely to any work according to the will of God, and fail for want of strength? It was not that strength failed the will, but that the will failed first.

(Archdeacon Manning.)

God supplies us at birth with a certain amount of animal vitality, and with certain faculties tending to various kinds and degrees of good in the universe, and by means of these we are to draw our life from the treasury of the creation and from God. Our success during our stay on the earth is to be measured by the amount and kind of life we derive from the fountains that flow from the Infinite fulness. Life may be increased. Even in the physical department we may have it "more abundantly" by obeying the plain conditions. We are not fated to a short allowance or a fixed amount, but are endowed with the power of growing, and are tempted by a large, unmeasured possibility. Through exercise, and the proper choice and economy in food, we not only keep well, but we enlarge the stream of vitality. And the law by which a man purifies and refreshes the currents of his blood, makes the eye clean, the tendons taut, the nerves calm, the chest capacious, the step elastic, and knots the muscles by discipline to such sturdiness that, though once they were tired with a slight burden, now they will lift nearly half a ton, is a law that can be traced up into the mental and moral regions, and be seen to govern the spirit as well as the frame.

1. Life may be increased. Many try to increase it by intensity. There is a story of an Eastern monarch who had been a noble ruler, but who received a message from an oracle that he was to live only twelve years more. He instantly resolved that he would turn these to the most account, and double his life in spite of destiny. He fitted up his palace gorgeously. He denied himself no form of pleasure. His magnificent gardens were brilliantly lighted from sunset to sunrise, so that darkness was never experienced within the circuit of his estate; so that, when. over he was awake, the stream of pleasure was ever flowing, and even the sound of revelry was never still. Thus he determined to outwit the oracle by living nearly twenty-four years in twelve. But at the end of six years he died. The oracle foreknew and made allowance for his cunning scheme. No doubt, on his death bed, the monarch saw the vigour and despotism of the laws of life, with which it is vain for finite art and will to wrestle. The story is true in the spirit, though it may be fable in its details. What is gained in intensity is lost in time. You cannot "have life more abundantly" by making the soul crouch down into the body, and diffusing it through the fleshy envelope, so that it loses the acquaintance with its own higher realm in the added zest of mortal pleasure. There is the most tragic waste of faculty. The end of such effort is disgust, weariness, and, in the inmost being, the sense of emptiness, folly and unrest.

2. There is another kind of life that we may call broad. Life is increased in this way by putting out more faculties into communication with nature and society. In fact, it is by the unfolding of faculties that all additions to life are received. Each one of our powers is a receptacle for some element of the Divine good, but it is not like a goblet, and it does not receive as water is poured into a vase; its method is rather that of a seed. When put into proper relations with its objects it germinates and absorbs from the currents and forces outside of it, and transmutes them into its own quality of substance. It is inspiring to think how some natures live broadly enough to take in elements of growth from the farthest quarters of the visible universe There are great naturalists living now that have received nutriment from the lowest discovered stratum of the earth and from the most distant patch of milky light in immensity. This is a method of receiving life "more abundantly," and in saying now that, according to the Christian wisdom, it is not the highest way, I am not going to criticize it but to commend it. I delight to think of men like Humboldt and Arago, Herschel and Agassiz, and to see in them that the riches of infinite truth are not wholly wasted on us; that God does not rain His wisdom through all our air and pack His treasures beneath our soil entirely for nothing, so far as the enlarging of the boundaries of human spirits is concerned.

3. Yet this life, though broad as we have thus interpreted it, may be superficial. The true abundance comes not from intensity, and not alone from the number of objects with which we are in communion, but from depth. A life is rich in the proportion that it is deep; and it is deep to the extent that the moral and spiritual sentiments are active and healthy. The spirit that has a sense of justice quick and large, and lives by it in relation to his fellows, and tries to organize more of it through himself in society, lives deeper than the man of intellect and infinitely, deeper than the man of pleasure. The affections are richer than the money making and the truth seeking capacities; and the richest affections are those which bind us consciously to the infinite. Of course, a thoroughly proportioned life will have both breadth and depth; but we must not fail to see that depth is the essential thing. That is connected with religion; that every mind may have. It is offered to you and me independently of our strength of mind or fulness of learning. Astronomy we may not have time to study, or ability to master; but God, who made all worlds, is as near to this one as to any, and as ready to fill our spirits as those that live in the most distant or brilliant star. And the religious life may be developed independently of all our learning. How much knowledge do you need to convince you that you ought to obey conscience? How wide acquaintance with literature to prove to you that you ought to bridle your selfishness, and trample a foul passion beneath your will? How great familiarity with libraries to assure you that a disposition of prayer and trust brings back a rich reward through inward harmony and a sense of peace? This is the deep life, and we may have it though we be hindered, though we have little time for the cultivation of mental powers, and the faculties that make life graceful.

(T. Starr King.)

I. THE PERSONS. "I." "They."

1. God, who is more than all, and man, who is infinitely loss than nothing.

2. The God of peace to His professed enemy. Nothing else in the world is God's enemy. Sin is enmity because —(1) It violates the majesty of God, inasmuch as in sin we seem to try conclusions whether God can see a sin, or be affected with it, or cares to punish it; as though we doubted whether God were present, pure or powerful.(2) It is surrender to the enemy of His kingdom, Satan, and that for small wages (Romans 6:21). And yet for all this the Lord of Hosts comes, and to an enemy so incapable of carrying out his enmity. Some men will continue kind when they find a thankful receiver, but God is kind to the unthankful. There may be found a man who will die for his friends, but God died for His foes.

3. God to all men; "they" hath no limitation. The merit of Christ is sufficient for all, and whether this sufficiency grows out of the nature of the merit, the dignity of the person being considered, or out of the acceptation of the Father and the contrast between Him and the Son, we will not dispute. All agree that there is enough done for all. Would, then, God receive enough for all, and then exclude some of Himself? God forbid. Well said , "O good and mighty God, who art as loving to every man as to all mankind, and meanest as well to all mankind as to any man." Moses desired that God would show him His "ways," His dealings with men (Exodus 33:13); that which he calls His glory (ver. 13), how he glorifies Himself upon man. God promises (ver. 19) that He will show Him all His "goodness"; and then, in Exodus 34:6, He shows him His way, goodness, glory; and here are thirteen attributes, and only one of them tastes of judgment — the rest are wholly mercy. Such a proposition has His mercy, that there is no cause in Him if all men be not partakers of it.

II. THE ACTION. "I came."

1. He who is omnipresent in love to man, studied a new way of coming, of communicating Himself to man, and by assuming our nature in the blessed Virgin. That this Virgin should not only have a Son, but that this Son should be the Son of the Eternal God in such a coming of Him who was here before, as that if it had not arisen in His goodness no man would ever have thought of it.

2. He who came to the old world in promises, prophecies, and figures, is actually, really, and presentially come to us; of which difference that man will have the best sense who languishes under the heavy expectation of a reversion, or has felt the joy of actual possession.

III. THE END.

1. That they might have life. Life is the character by which Christ denominates Himself (John 14:6; Acts 3:14). God has included all that is good in the name of Life, and all that is ill in the name of Death (Deuteronomy 30:15). The reward proposed to our faith is to live by it (Hebrews 2:4); and this fulness of happiness, life and the life of life, spiritual life and its exaltation into eternal life, is the end of Christ's coming.(1) That there might be life to be had. For chaos was not a deader lump before the Spirit of God moved upon it than mankind was before the influence of Christ's coming wrought upon it. But now that God has so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, all may have life.(2) But this life must be received. There is air enough to give breath to everything, but everything does not breathe. If a tree does not breathe, it is not because it wants air, but because it wants means to receive it. That man that is blind shall see no more sun in summer than in winter.

2. That they might have it more abundantly. God can do nothing penuriously.(1) The natural man more than any other creature. Animals, etc., have life; man is life (Genesis 2:7), and will live after death.(2) The Jews more than the Gentiles. Christ came to the Jews in promises, types, sacrifices; and thus they had better means to preserve that life, to illustrate the image of God, to conform themselves to God, and make their immortality eternal happiness, than other nations.(3) Christians more than Jews. Christ has come to Christians really and in substance.(4) In the Christian Church Christ has given us means to be better today than yesterday, tomorrow than today. The grace which God offers us does not only fill, but enlarges our capacity for all that goes to make up life — holiness, assurance, happiness, heaven.

(J. Donne, D. D.)

I. CHRIST IS THE GIVER OF LIFE.

1. Life in New Testament language has a special fulness of meaning. It is more than mere existence. There is a death in life, in which the great end of existence is ignored, to which life's true blessedness is impossible, and in which its higher powers are dormant or polluted. The true life is pure and free; it is the life of reason, conscience, will, and affections. It is not inherent in human nature, acquired by human means, possible to human strength, but is found only in Christ the Lifegiver.

2. In this our Lord is not a subordinate agent, but the primal source of life. The gift to men is out of the fulness of His own eternal Being. In Him was life essentially, and of His fulness we receive life.

3. Life is His gift.(1) As it is possessed by men.(a) In all states of being. In its dawn of religious infancy; its meridian of manhood; its evening radiancy, when its sun is setting; it is given, sustained, and perfected by Christ.(b) In all the dispensations. In its paradisaical innocency; its patriarchal simplicity; its Mosaic complexity; its latter-day glory.(2) As He has made good man's lost title to its possession. He has redeemed man from sin and death, bestowed the quickening and sanctifying Spirit, and thus resolved the forfeited creative life.

II. THE LIFE BESTOWED BY CHRIST HAS ITS MORE ABUNDANT MEASURES, as compared with —

1. The life of the former dispensation. Life and light are closely related. The dimness of Judaism was necessarily connected with limited and imperfect life.

2. Present or future measures of its possession. It is like a river whose channel broadens and deepens as it flows onward. In its progress sterility and death vanish: all other life lives anew. To its necessities and enlargement all other life becomes serviceable.

3. The primal gift. The life of redemption is more abundant than that of Creation, as it involves the more perfect manifestation of Him, in the knowledge of whom standeth eternal life.

4. Present or future Christian attainments. It is not a succession of labours, to end in the rest of heaven; it is growth in knowledge, purity, power, grace. In the freshness and beauty of newborn life, in the expansion and maturity of its full age, in its ripe and mellow eventide, it is still capable of increase; and when at length it escapes from earthly limitations, there will still remain the more abundant life of progress and blessedness. Conclusion: This life is in Christ, and is attained by faith. Let, therefore, faith rest on Him who is "able to do exceeding abundantly," etc.

(T. Stephenson.)

Christ represents Himself in contrast with a type of character which He calls "the thief." When He applies this to those who come before Him, He means not only in time, but apart from Him in design. Not Moses and the prophets, who were sent of God and spake of Him, but those unspiritual commentators on the law of former days, including the scribes and Pharisees of His own. And well do the modern forms of this teaching deserve the name. Nothing is more destructive. The contrast between Christ and the robbers is drawn out. They came to gather for their own benefit — "to steal." Christ came to give. They came without skill, handling the souls of men with rough barbarity — "to kill." Christ came to save. They came regarding men as instruments to be used for themselves or their party; and so, if need were, to "destroy," aye, even by fire and sword. Christ came to sacrifice Himself for man's good. In one word, His purpose was to give life.

I. WHAT SORT OF LIFE DID CHRIST COME TO BRING? The proper life of man. There is a form of life which, in proportion to its possession, constitutes one truly, and in the full sense, a man.

1. That life must be co-ordinate with man's faculties; grow out of, and be measured by, its powers. This is true of all life. Look at the life of a bird; its whole structure is a beautiful machinery for living in the air. So with the fish; it is adapted for the water, and the mollusc for the rock. And the wealth and circuit of life develop in proportion to faculty. Life is full and rich where there are many and diverse abilities, and poor where there are few.

2. Then the life of man should be the grandest in the world, for no creature is so richly endowed. Life ought to pour in upon him from every side and through every avenue. The senses on the one hand, and the intellect and affections on the other, should teem with the materials of vivid and happy consciousness, and the sense of God and the Spiritual world should put the last touch of refinement on our pleasure and of gentleness on our love. But it is not so. Life is poor and mean, and, for the masses of men, sensual and degrading. The very capacities of our life are obscured. We have never felt it at its best, and do not know, therefore, what its best would be. Only one true man has lived. We may study life in Christ as in its realized ideal.

II. CHRIST COMES TO ENRICH OUR LIFE, UNTIL IT IS RENEWED IN THE LIKENESS OF HIS OWN.

1. By setting it in its true course. He would take the river at its source, and turn it into its proper channel. Our face is turned the wrong way. The first step, therefore, is to bring this fatal blunder home to our minds, and create the consciousness of sin. Let a man once feel his need and repentance, conversion, turning to God for pardon and acceptance will follow.

2. By revealing the truths, on a right apprehension of which the tone of thought and activity depends. Life turns on the poles of thought. It is folly to say that it is of no consequence what a man believes. All history proves the contrary. A good life implies a true creed, and such a creed Christ comes to give. In His own Person He manifests God, so that we can know and love Him. The nature, responsibility, capacity, and destiny of the soul are forever on His lips. So, too, of our duty, its principles, claims, spirit. The love of God, and the way of peace with Him; all this, and more, He teaches. How? Not in words only. He is the Word. He reveals God by being "the express image of His person"; man, by fulfilling the idea of perfect manhood; duty, by reducing it to a living embodiment. In Him only the ideal and the actual have met. And His teaching is as perfect in form as in essence. It is gathered into a life history. No method is so interesting, impressive, significant, suggestive.

3. By kindling an enthusiasm for goodness, and by revealing it as an object for pursuit. It is a great, but by no means easy, thing to know our duty. For more than two thousand years the problems of morals have been debated. But it is greater still to feel the full force of the reasons on which it rests, and to feel the sublimity of goodness. For the life of goodness is an essential part of the life of man, as the word "virtue" indicates — the condition appropriate to vir, man. Now Christ quickens the love of goodness by winning our souls to Himself; and a great analyst of human nature has said that our very possibilities of virtue have been altered by the coming of Christ. We can love, hope, endure, dare more since His face has shone from the canvas of history. Catch inspiration from that grand life, and you will have life more abundantly.

4. By enlarging the circle of our benevolent regards. There is a strong element of selfishness in men, which tends to narrow our sympathies. "Every man for himself." And yet the best parts of life reach outside of ourselves. Children live in the love of those about them. There are our boyish friendships. Then comes the love of woman. By and by tiny feet patter on our household floor. Love multiplies and deepens as life goes on. We learn to care for our party, church, country, the world. Christ sanctifies all this, and makes it fruitful. The love of Christ can cure our selfishness, and we shall do some good in the world when we love men as Christ loved them, and not till then.

5. By becoming a spring of joy in our hearts. All true life is, or may be, joyous. "The water that I shall give him," etc. Paul lays it down as our duty to "rejoice evermore."

(J. F. Stevenson, D. D.)

1. A strange question has come under discussion - "Is life worth living?" - strange, until we recollect that a prevalent philosophy has as its main theses that life is not worth living. It is not hard to trace the genesis of this. When one begins to doubt the goodness of God, one begins to doubt if life has much value.

2. This question is very audacious. We might perhaps question a future of life; but this points life itself with an interrogation, and, answered in the negative, involves the wish that both created and the Creation were blotted out. But to empty and then annihilate the universe is an audacity that sinks to the ridiculous. "Oh, that I had never been born!" said one. "But you are born, and you cannot help it," was the truly philosophical reply. A philosophy that flies in the face of the inevitable forfeits its name.

3. The proposition to get rid of this undesirable life need not awaken concern; the greater part will prefer to live it out to the end. And then it may be impossible to escape by so-called self-destruction. We may throw ourselves over the battlements of the life that now is, but who can say that we may not be seized by the mysterious force that sent us here and be thrust back into this world or into one no better. If extinction is desirable we must suppose a good God, for no other would permit it. But will He not rather deliver from the misery and preserve the life?

4. It is not amiss that the question has come up, for it has turned the thought of the age to the good as well as to the evil of life. That there are gains and losses there is no question — which, then, are in excess?

I. Let us make A COMPARATIVE ESTIMATE OF THE LOSS AND GAIN OF LIFE AS WE PASS OUR ALLOTTED YEARS. We must start with the fact that but one kind of excellence seems possible at a time. We never see a person simultaneously at the height of personal beauty, energy and wisdom. One excellence follows another. But we must not infer that as one phase passes away that there is actual loss; there may be a succession characterized by an ascending grade, that life represents an unquenchable force, can never be less than it is, and thus be its own excuse for being.

1. We lose the perfection of physical life, its grace and exuberance — yet only to gain firmer hold of it. The child is guileless by nature, the man because he has learned to hate a lie. The child is joyous, it knows not why; the man's joy is the outcome of his nature reduced to harmony.

2. We lose the forceful, executive qualities. We no longer undertake arduous enterprises or heavy responsibilities; the needed energy is gone, but it may have been transmuted as motion is into light and heat.

3. In the mental qualities there is smaller loss. Fancy decays, but with the example of Milton and others before us we can hardly say imagination, but the judgment grows broader and the sense of truth keener and the taste more correct later on.

4. In moral qualities there is no loss at all. The order is significant, the physical changes utterly, the mental partially, the moral not at all if the life is normal.

II. WHAT DO WE GAIN AS LIFE GOES ON?

1. This evident progress from the lower to the higher must be accounted a gain. It does not matter how this progress is made, whether by actual loss of inferior qualities supplanted by higher, or by a transformation of forces, though the latter is more in accordance with science which asserts that force is indestructible. None of us would choose to go back to any previous phase to stay. We may long for the innocence of youth, but who would take it with its ignorance; for its zest, but not at the expense of its immaturity; for the energy of mid-life, but not at the cost of the repose and wisdom of age.

2. Though we lose energy, courage, and present hope we gain in patience, and on the whole suffer less. This is a gain over the untested strength and false measurements of earlier year's.

3. We make another gain as thought grows calm and judgment rounded to its full strength. Knowledge becomes wisdom, passion and prejudice pass, and we gain in comprehensiveness, and so lose the spirit of partizanship.

4. There is great gain in later life in certain forms of love and sympathy. The passion and semi-selfishness of early love, and the restriction and prejudice of early sympathy pass away, but both become stronger, purer, calmer and more universal. The old are more merciful than the young; they judge more kindly and forgive more readily. Hence they are poor disciplinarians, but they are not called to that duty.

5. There is also in advanced life a mingling of the faculties. Thought has more faith in it and faith more thought; reason more feeling and feeling more reason; courage more prudence, and prudence more courage. An old man does not feel so much rapture before a landscape as one younger, but he sees it with more eyes. This cooperation of all the faculties is like the Divine mind in which every faculty interpenetrates every other, making God one and perfect, and is an intimation that he is getting ready for the company of God.Conclusion:

1. If life can start at the point of mere existence and thence grow up into likeness of God, it is worth living. And if life reaches so far, we may be sure it will go on.

2. This line of thought has only force in the degree in which life is normal. That it is not such is true, but there is provision in humanity against its own failures, for One is in it who can fill its cup to overflow.

(T. T. Munger.)

I. LIFE IN ITSELF.

1. This language implies that we are by nature destitute of life. The Scriptures draw a wide distinction between life in Christ and the morality and the immorality of the world. There are immense differences between those who "give themselves to work all uncleannesses," etc., and those who are respected for excellence of character, but no fundamental difference is recognized by God. True life is wanting in both, because both are "alienated from the life of God." It is not what virtue I may see in the face of man, but has he that "holiness without which no man can see the Lord."

2. We must not soften the truth that there is no life apart from Christ. One statue may be marked by rough outlines and coarse features, and another may be an Apollo Belvidere, but though one may bear more resemblance to a man, both are dead.

3. Between the feeblest Christian and the best specimen of the unrenewed man, if not to human eyes, to the eyes of God, there is all the difference between life and death.

4. Because there is no self-restorative power in man. Christ has come that we "might have life."

II. THIS LIFE IN ITS FULNESS.

1. Progress is one essential quality in life. Where will you look to find life springing at once into full development? Not to the corn; not to the forest. The outer man is first a babe, weak and helpless. The inner man follows the same analogy. There are babes in Christ, etc. In some cases the new man may rise into sudden perfection; for who shall confine the power of God. But the law of God's general working is that the path of the just shall shine more and more, and go from strength to strength.

2. Christ lays emphasis on this point because we are prone to be content with a little life. How common for a man to rest satisfied with mere pardon: a blessing indeed beyond all price, but only the porch of the great temple of salvation. Many sit down here and sing a new song; but Christ comes and says I will show you greater things than these. I have come to give life more abundantly. Don't think less of your pardon but more of your sanctification. You were once like sick men in a hospital on fire — you needed rescue first, but healing also. Do not forget that you were pardoned in order to be purified.

III. THE REASON FOR WHICH WE SHOULD SEEK THE MORE ABUNDANT LIFE. Feeble life is —

1. A miserable thing. —(1) To look at. There is but little to attract in a river which, through drought, flows but a thin and sluggish current; it pleases best when it fills the channel and sweeps in majestic volume through the valley. There is nothing to delight in a tree almost barren; we love to see it thick and bossy. It distresses us to see a man bent and worn with disease; but delightful to see one healthy and strong. And free, robust life is not less but more beautiful in the spiritual world.(2) To endure. You have known the pain of physical weakness, its agony which has seemed to turn every nerve into a string of fire; its weakness, when you have started at every noise; its sleeplessness. A little life is more painful than none at all. And a Christian whose spiritual life is languid is more miserable than a man dead in sin. His eyes are opened, but while a blind man feels no pain his eyes are so weak that the light distresses them, And what a disastrous effect has religion without cheerfulness — particularly on children.

2. A dangerous thing. Epidemics find their way to those who are in a low condition of health. When a storm rushes on the deep it tries the stoutest vessel, but woe to the vessel that is slim and leaky. So when the spiritual life is weak it becomes an easy prey to all perils. If we are to be safe we must be well fortified within.

3. A useless thing. We are fit for nothing when our bodily strength is reduced. We have enough to do to support our own debility. But the more life we have the more strength we have to expand our work. And Christian life may be so feeble as to be of no service in the way of influence on the world. It is for the world's sake as well as our own that Christ desires us to have abundance of life.

IV. IN WHAT MANNER THIS ABUNDANT LIFE IS TO BE SECURED. Like all life it is mysterious, but it is not magical in its growth. It requires exertion and will not take care of itself. We are to "grow in grace."

1. We must compare ourselves, individually, with the standard of holiness as given in the gospel rather than with that actually reached by the Church. The question with many is not what is possible, but what is a fair, average piety.

2. To have more life we must have more prayer. According to prayer, and therefore the prayer of faith, it will be done unto us.

3. We must dwell more beneath the Cross, the fountain of life, when we begin to live, that we may have our life increased.

(E. Mellor, D. D.)

This was spoken in the character of the shepherd — the antithesis to thief.

I. THE AIM OF CHRIST — the calling forth, strengthening, and development of the highest life of man.

1. This is necessary work. Mother, teacher, etc., are required for the previous stages of life's realization — animal, social, intellectual attainment. But it is still more essential that spiritual life should be created and sustained. Here we are conscious of helplessness, and just here success or failure affects our entire being and future. All the rest exist for this; and none as fit as Christ, and no method better than His for this task.

2. What hinders that spiritual life should not be spontaneous. A moral taint. Absence of perfect type. Christ came, therefore, not so much to deliver men from a future catastrophe as from existing moral death, and to render possible a grander humanity.

3. As Christ came for this, so His coming was itself the condition, the way of its realization. He lived free from sin and at home in this higher element of life. His example taught and inspired and His sacrifice supplied a basis for this life. Just to live as He did was much. The inventor who lays bare new uses of things, the explorer who opens up unknown lands, the artist who interprets the deep harmonies of nature, the philosopher who discovers new truth — each comes that we "might have life," intensifies its interest, extends its scope, and strengthens its hold on the world, but does not enrich the highest portion of our nature, which is conscious of righteousness, and translates it into action. The latter work is Christ's only, and is accomplished only by full union with Him who is "the Life."

II. ITS VALUE AS AN EVIDENCE OF CHRISTIANITY.

1. Generally a valid claim to trust and welcome. Yet not likely to be allowed: presenting no immediate earthly advantage; not utilitarian.

2. But appealing to the deeper consciousness of men.

(1)As bringing forth the sense of this life in men.

(2)As calling for faith, admiration, and sympathy.

(3)As revealing the solemn meaning of existence, and the need of reconciliation with God.Conclusion: What do we gain? The mastery of our entire nature. "My mind to me a kingdom is"; nay, "I myself." The rest (body, etc.) not a mere scaffolding to be kicked away, but an organic system through which higher functions operate, and within which, ever fuller and fuller, life flows.

(A. L. Astor.)

I. CHRIST HAS COME THAT MEN MAY HAVE LIFE.

1. Prolonged natural life is due to Him. The barren tree would not stand so long but for His intercession.

2. Life in the sense of pardon, deliverance from the death penalty.

3. Life from the death of trespasses and sins, the life of the Spirit.

4. This spiritual life is the same which will be continued and perfected in heaven.

5. Of this Christ is the only source. It is not the result of working. How can the dead work for life? It is exclusively a gift of God. If we could have had it without Christ coming, why need He come?

II. CHRIST HAS COME THAT THOSE TO WHOM HE HAS GIVEN LIFE MAY HAVE IT MORE ABUNDANTLY.

1. Life is a matter of degrees. Some have life, but it flickers like a dying candle; others are full, like the fire upon the blacksmith's forge when the bellows are in full blast. Christ has come that we might have life in all its fulness.

2. Increase of life may be seen in several ways.(1) In healing. When a sick man recovers he has life more abundantly than in his illness; so when Christ restores sick Christians, strengthens their faith, brightens their hope, etc.(2) But a person may be in health, and yet you may desire for him more life. A child, e.g., is in perfect health, yet cannot run alone. As he grows, however, he has life more abundantly. So we grow in grace, from babes to young men, and then fathers.(3) Health and growth may coincide with a stinted measure of life, as in the case of a prisoner who tenants a living tomb. When he is set at liberty he knows, as we when the Son makes us free what it is to have more abundant life.(4) But a man may have liberty, etc., and yet be so poor as to be scarcely able to keep body and soul together. So there are some believers who exist rather than live, and have small conception of the rich thing Christ has stored up for them.(5) A man may enjoy all this, and yet need more life, because a despised castaway. The love and esteem of our fellows is essential to life. When under conviction a man finds himself to be less than nothing, he finds it a mighty addition to life when Jesus makes him, a slave, a son of God and heir of heaven.

3. The particulars in which more abundant life consists and should be sought.(1) More stamina. An embankment is to be cut. A number of men offer themselves for the work — these with sunken cheeks and hollow coughs. They will not do. Yonder is a band of stalwart fellows, with ruddy faces, broad shoulders, mighty limbs. They will do. The difference between the two is the presence or absence of stamina. And Christ has come that we may have spiritual stamina for arduous service. Alas! some Christians want medicine and nursing. Give them work, and they will grow weary.(2) Enlargement of the sphere of life. To some forms of human life the range is very narrow. Our streets swarm with men to whom "the music of the spheres" means the chink of sovereigns. The souls of such are like squirrels in cages; each day their wheel revolves; it is all the world they know. Christ has come to give a broader life. True, there are many men whose life traverses wide areas, who map out the stars, fathom the sea, etc. but that, wide as it is, is bounded by time and space. But when Christ comes He makes the greatest intellect feel that it was "cabined, cribbed, confined," till Christ made it free.(3) The exercise of all our powers. All the powers of a man are in the child, but many of them are dormant, and will only be exercised as life is more abundant. Christ has come to give us a fuller life. Look at the apostles before and after Pentecost. Many professors seem to be more dead than alive. Life is in their hearts, but only partially in their heads, and has not touched their silent tongues, idle hands, frost-bitten pockets.(4) Increased energy. A man is most alive when in determined pursuit of a favourite purpose. Christ has supplied us with the most stimulating purpose — His constraining love. Abundance of life is painfully manifest in insane persons: the demoniac, e.g. Now, if possession by an evil spirit arouses men to an unusual degree of life, how much more shall possession by the Divine Spirit!(5) Overflow of enjoyment. When on a spring morning you see the lambs frisking and children playing, you say, "What life!" Just so when churches and individuals are revived, what joy there is!(6) Delicacy of feeling. There is a great deal of difference as to the amount of pain which persons suffer. People with a fine mental organization, having more life, suffer more than coarser people. When Christ brings His abundant life, those who enjoy it will be pained by a given sin a hundred times more than he was before. And so there will, on the other hand, be more pleasure. The name of Jesus is inexpressibly sweet to those who have abundant life. I mean by delicacy this —(a) There is a delicacy of hand which a man may acquire, and which renders him a worker of feats. So the educated hand of faith can not only grasp, but handle the Word of Life.(b) It shows itself in keenness of perception. An Indian will put his ear to the ground and say, "There is an enemy in the way," when you cannot hear a sound. Recall the incident at the siege of Lucknow. Jesus would have us quick of understanding, so that we may hear Him coming.(7) Supremacy. Some races have physical life, but not abundantly, and after awhile perish. Christians should have such abundant life that their circumstances should not be able to overcome them.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

The emphasis rests on the last word, i.e., "more" — a word spoken by our Lord only once, without explaining it; He left it for the interpretation of a future day, and to be pondered by His people forever. In order not to be lost in its immensity we must view it in reference to the death from which the Good Shepherd saves His flock — the wasting and havoc brought on by sin.

I. CHRIST ENCOUNTERS OUR DEATH AS HIMSELF THE SOURCE OF OUR IMMORTALITY AND MAKES THAT IMMORTALITY MORE THAN MERE CONTINUANCE IN BEING.

1. The "Prince" or Original "of life" rescued mankind from extinction at the beginning. To whatever principle we ascribe the deathlessness of the human spirit, it cannot be separated from Him and His gift. If it rested on the Divine image, He preserved that image; if upon the food of the tree, when that was interdicted He became the life and light of man. "The thief" would have been the means of blotting our name from the book of life, but in whatever sense the race died in Adam, in Christ it was kept alive.

2. We may interpret Christ's meaning to be that He came to bring that without which immortality is not in itself a blessing. Life Christians share with all men. Christ came to crown our undying nature with the true immortality of life in God forever. That prerogative which has the possibility in it of everlasting blessedness has also in it the possibility of everlasting woe.

II. CHRIST'S PEOPLE ARE SAVED FROM THE CONDEMNATION OF DEATH AND THAT IN A MOST ABUNDANT SENSE. All who come to Him come under the benefit of a reprieve, which may be called a preliminary life; but this reprieve is in the believer perfected into a full discharge. God "abundantly pardons," and he enjoys "plenteous redemption." As he is one with Christ, he is not only released from punishment, but invested with the Saviour's righteousness.

III. LIFE IN AND FROM CHRIST IS THE OPPOSITE OF SPIRITUAL DEATH OR THE SEPARATION OF THE SOUL FROM GOD. AS it is the virtue of His blood that saves from the death of the law, so it is the virtue of His Spirit that restores the soul to God and God to the soul in a fellowship that is life indeed.

1. We must not be content with the beginnings and tendencies towards the life spiritual, We have not only a regenerated life; the Spirit abides in us as the indwelling source of renewing influence. This life is Christ's superadded to ours. It is richer and fuller than that forfeited by sin; more than we lost in Adam. We become partakers of a Divine nature. The incarnate Son is in us by a vital union, for which analogy must be sought in heaven alone. "As Thou, Father, art in Me," etc.

2. That Christ was the secret life of the sanctified in old time is as certain as that they were justified through His propitiation. But they "knew it not": we knew the precious secret. Moreover, they had not, in the fulness of our evangelical privilege, the indwelling Christ. That was the mystery hid from them, but now revealed — "Christ in us the hope of glory." They had manna from God; but Moses gave them not that bread from heaven. High as were these prerogatives, the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than the greatest of them. Much is still mysterious, but it is simple fact that the Christian has a fourth element added to his triple nature, and the form of that fourth is the Son of God. Seek that you may know what is the riches of the glory of His inheritance.

IV. THE PRIVILEGE INVOLVES AN ABUNDANT VICTORY OF SPIRITUAL LIFE OVER ALL THAT IS ITS OPPOSITE. The contest is not yet ended. There is a remainder of death still in the nature which must be expelled by the energy of this heavenly principle. The Holy Ghost is given, not indeed without measure, but without other restriction than our finite capacity. The word of Christ dwells richly within the source of unfailing enlightenment, encouragement, sanctification, and strength; and the sacramental supper is the pledge and the means of our invigoration. All things minister to nourishment. Within the house of God the table is spread, when they eat and drink abundantly; and it is spread also in the wilderness without, in the presence of enemies. This mysterious sentence is to be interpreted by every man according to his faith. If our faith is limited, the abundance will be scanty; if large, the "more" will stretch with it, even to infinity.

1. It promises a measure of life that shall expel all death. The law of the Spirit of life tends ever to perfect soundness. The more abundant life is vigorous health in God, such as drives all disease before it. This life, as it strengthens, mortifies the body of sin with its members. It is the act of the Lord and Giver of Life alone to give the final death blow; but before that moment comes, how blessed to know that sin grows weaker and the hard work of religion easier! Yet it is only when the contest is over that the true blessedness of life can be known. But not necessarily by leaving the body; for there is a perfect death to self and sin even here.

2. Here is the test of our religion. Our privilege marks our responsibility.(1) It most surely condemns us all. Who does not feel that this boundless word of promise finds out the poverty of his religion? How grievously have we "limited the Holy One"!(2) But here is precious encouragement.

V. BUT THE FULL PERFECTION OF LIFE IS NOT, IN ITS FULLEST SENSE, THE PORTION OF MAN IN THIS WORLD. The "more" points to an eternal fruition.

1. The body is not yet made partaker. Life in the Spirit and death in the body go on simultaneously. But the pledge has been given that eternal life shall be the enjoyment of the believer in his whole humanity. "I am the resurrection," etc., follows hard on this saying. Then shall we know for the first time what life really means. No wonder the last cry of the Spirit and the Bride is, "Come, Lord Jesus!" In the hope of that superabounding consummation, let us encounter the residuary penalty of death in the body with confidence and joy.

2. The "more" of eternal life shall have its literal meaning forever. The gift will go on increasing with the increase of God.

(W. B. Pope, D. D.)

1. There are many organisms which manifest only a low degree of vitality. This discovers itself by defective sensation, limited powers of motion, less sensibility to pain, the comparative absence of intelligence. A sponge, a jellyfish, have life, but very far from abundance.

2. These words imply a similar variety in human life. Men differ in the amount of life they enjoy. Constitutional delicacy is the result of low physical vitality. We need to distinguish, no doubt, between feeble and undeveloped life. The limited intelligence of a savage or child may be due to want of culture. Among persons, however, who have enjoyed equal advantages the differences are very great. We speak of the slow understanding, cold heart, feeble will, and we mean that life is scanty. On the other hand are men of quick perception, keen feelings, ardour, etc., the symptoms of abundant life.

3. So there are lukewarm Christians and Christians all aflame; molluscous, torpid, and feeble Christians, as well as those who are full of faith, power, and good works.

4. Assuming these inequalities, we gather from these words that God is not satisfied with a lower degree of vitality when a higher can be attained, and that Christ has come to intensify human life.

I. THIS HAS COME TRUE IN THE ORDINARY EXPERIENCES OF MEN. The effect of Christianity has not been to deaden men to the interests of this life, but to render life larger. True, its injudicious friends and shrewd opponents deny this. Of course the gospel delivers us from exorbitant and unreasonable concern about our present and petty affairs, of unreasonable longing for temporal good for its own sake. But this is far from saying that whatever goes to fill up this daily round has lost its meaning, and that Christian people have less power to stir them than others. Quite the contrary. The world is a graver, vaster thing since Christ died on it. In such a world there can be nothing insignificant. Homes have become more sacred, so near they seem to the gate of heaven. Business rises in importance when regarded as the means to glorify God and serve men. Social and political problems claim more, not less, attention because affecting the humanity for which Christ suffered, and which He calls us to seek and save. Christianity lets in upon life the light of a vaster day, brings out all its possibilities and responsibilities, makes every small thing grand and every dull person noble by linking them to the destinies of the race and to God. The Christian lives near to the sensorium of the universe in which every sensation is felt from the remotest ends — the brain and heart of Christ. Hence life must be a larger thing as it is lived in Christ.

II. CHRIST MAKES LIFE MORE ABUNDANT BY CONFERRING A NEW SORT OF LIFE, one which has fuller pulses and a deeper and stronger vitality than unregenerate men can possess. They touch time and the world: we that are Christ's touch God and His eternity. The gospel sets men at once in direct contact with infinite forces, lays us along side supernatural operations, opens up God's mighty heart, creates the passion for holiness. Conversion adds a new department to man's being, gives him new thoughts, quickens new emotions, creates new ambitions.

(J. O. Dykes, D. D.)

Congregational Pulpit.
Christ came —

I. TO IMPART THE BLESSEDNESS OF SPIRITUAL LIFE. Note —

1. That a state of sin is moral death — a want of spiritual discernment, feeling, activity. When life from Christ comes the eyes are opened, the ears hear, etc.

2. The enjoyment of religion is comparative life. Death is stamped on all else. Honours die; wealth perishes; so do pleasures. Gourds wither; "nature decays, but grace must live." "I have," said a sickly Christian man, while beholding his natural face in a glass, "I have the image of death on the outer man, but I have the image of life on the inward one."

3. Life from Christ is the only true life. It is a state of favour with God — "In His favour is life." And it comprehends an existence for highest and noblest objects — a life for God and souls.

II. TO COMMUNICATE SPIRITUAL LIFE IN SUPERABUNDANCE. This great truth applies —

1. To each individual believer. In nature there are degrees of life. So in grace — one lives at a "dying rate," another lives happily, energetically, zealously: faith is lively, prayer fervent, labour great, hope strong. Let no one be content with bare spiritual existence; in Jesus there is a blessed fulness and freeness, and you may receive grace upon grace.

2. To the flock of Christ collectively.

3. To the blessedness of life eternal. It will exceed all present enjoyment.

(Congregational Pulpit.)

If ever sunlit, sail-crowded sea, under blue heaven flecked with wind-chased white, filled your soul as with a new gift of life, think what sense of existence must be yours, if He whose thought has but fringed its garment with the outburst of such a show, take His abode with you, and while thinking the gladness of a God inside your being, let you know and feel that He is carrying you as a Father in His bosom.

(G. Macdonald, LL. D.)

Edwin, the Prince of Northumbria, gathered together his barons into a banqueting hall to deliberate together as to the desirability of relinquishing the old idolatry and accepting the new religion urged on their acceptance by the missionaries of the Cross. One and another spoke; presently a hoary-headed warrior stood up and said, "Perhaps you recollect, O king, a thing which sometimes happens in winter days, when you are seated at table with your captains and your men-at-arms, while a good fire is burning, and your hall is comfortably warm, but it rains, snows, and blows outside. A little bird comes in and crosses the hall with a dash, entering by one door and going out by the other. The instant of this crossing is for it full of delight. It feels neither the rain nor the storm. But that instant is brief. The bird flies out in the twinkling of an eye, and from winter it passes into winter. Such appears to me the life of man upon the earth, and its duration for a moment, compared with the length of the time which precedes and that which follows it. This time is dark and uncomfortable for us. It tortures us by the impossibility of our knowing it. If, then, the new doctrine can teach us anything in any degree certain, it deserves that we should follow it." Well said, hoary-headed warrior! And the old chronicles add that the new religion was voted amid the acclamation of the assembly.

(J. C. Jones, D. D.)

He came that grace might be abundant; and so it is. As the dews in the morning, in the warm summer, so are the actual graces of God that penetrate day by day the longing, thirsting soul. They are hidden; we cannot see them; but we know that they are, and if they are hidden they are only like Nature. There are spots in the world that are most beautiful — morning by morning, night by night — though you and I, in the toil of our life, may never gaze upon them. There are quiet valleys, long stretches of sea, open expanses of heaven, myriads of twinkling stars, dazzling splendours of worlds of ice — glories which, as they stretch away unseen, unpeopled, in God's vast creation, seem to be wasted; but the angels are gazing at them, and they are but a parable of grace. Grace is hidden, but grace is real.

(Knox Little.)

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