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In a word, let us all endeavour to preferve this antient, pious, and laudable Inftitution of the Church, and to anfwer the End, that we may receive the Benefit of it, which is to fit us for the Holy Sacrament, and Fellowship of Chriftians here upon Earth, and to prepare us for the Communion of Saints hereafter in Heaven: Which God grant, for the Merits of Christ, &c,

DISCOURSE IX.

The GOSPEL for Tuesday in Whitfun-Week. St. John x. I-II,

Verily, verily I say unto you, He that entreth not by the Door into the Sheepfold, but climbeth up fome other way, the fame is a Thief and a Robber. But he that cometh in by the Door, is the Shepherd of the Sheep; to him the Porter openeth, and the Sheep hear his Voice, &c.

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N this Gospel for the Day, St. John brings in our Saviour by a Parable of the Shepherd and the Sheep, proving himself the true Meffias, and his Ministers the true Meffengers of God; and that all other Pretenders to either, are no better than Cheats and Impoftors. For the better clearing whereof, I fhall confider the Parable both in the Literal and Myftical Senfe, and fhew our Saviour's Drift and Defign in it with relation to himself, and his Ministers fent by him.

The Parable is ufher'd in with the Term of Affeveration, Verily, to fignify the undoubted Truth and Certainty of it; which Term is doubled, Verily, verily I fay unto you, to fignify moreover the exceeding great Weight and Importance of what comes after it. And having thus prepar'd the way to gain Attention and Reception to what follows, he enters upon the Parable; which begins,

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First, With the Character or Account of a falfe Shepherd, faying, He that entreth not by the Door into the Sheepfold, but climbeth up fome other way, the fame is a Thief and a Robber: This, in the literal Senfe, is known, and will be acknow, ledg'd by all Men to be true; for he that is the Owner of Sheep, or the Shepherd to whom the Care of them is committed, is wont (you know) oftimes to fhut them up in the Fold, and to lock the Door, to keep them from breaking out, or going aftray, and fo from the danger of being loft. Now if any come in the Evening, or by Night, and enters the Sheepfold not by the Door, which he finds lock'd for the Security of the Sheep, he cannot be a true Shepherd; and if he climbs up fome other way, to be fure he hath fome bad defign upon the Sheep, and is no better than a Thief and a Robber. The myftical Senfe or Defign-of thefe Words is to detect falfe Chrifts, and falfe Teachers, and to difcover the Falfhood of their Ways and Pretences. As,

If, He that pretends to come as the promised Meffias, or Saviour of the World, and comes not as he ought, in the way and manner in which he was promis'd; that is, brings not a Commiffion from God, attefted by a Power of working Miracles; fuch a one comes not in by the Door, or right way of Entrance, but climbs up fome other way by the Steps of Ambition and Avarice, and is no better than a Lyar and Impoftor, who seeks to deceive and destroy those that follow him. Such a one was Theudas, mention'd in the Acts of the Apostles, who boafted himself to be Somebody, that is, a Perfon fent by God to relieve and advance those that came to him, which drew a Number of Men, about four bundred, after him, but doing nothing to fhew his Power or Commiffion from God, he was feiz'd and Main for an Impoftor, his Followers were all fcattered, and the whole Defign brought to nought, Acts 5. Such another was Judas of Galilee, who in the Days of the taxing, and enrolling the People, drew away many after him; but he alfo perished, and all that obey'd him were difpers'd, as we read in the fame Chapter.

Again, 2dly, He that pretends to be a Minifter of Christ, and takes upon him the Office of publick Teaching, and comes not in by the Door of Ordination, or a lawful Call, but climbs up or intrudes into it fome other way, taking his Honour upon him without being called, as was Aaron; fuch a one too is no better than a Thief and a Robber,

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elpecially if he thrufts himself into another's Charge, and pretends to inftruct the People committed to him without or against the Confent of the lawful Paftor: he is a fpiritual Sheep-ftealer, or Church-robber, that divides and makes a Prey of another's Flock, and does but feduce and ruin those that follow him.

And having given the Character of falfe Chrifts, and false Teachers, he next gives an account of the true Meffias, and the true Minifters or Meffengers fent by him, in these words; But he that entereth in by the Door, is the Shepherd of the Sheep: which, in the literal Šenfe, fignifies, that he who is the right Owner or Mafter of the Sheep, or the Shepherd appointed by him to overfee them, he hath the Key of the Sheepfold, and enters into it by the Door, and fo goes in like a good Shepherd with no other defign than to feed and preferve the Flock..

In the myftical Senfe it teaches us, (1.) The Character and Proof of the true Meffias; he that comes in by the Door of Prophecy, and brings with him the Seal of Miracles to teftify that he is fent fom God, by fulfilling of Prophecies, and doing things that are above the Reach and Activity of all human Power, is to be receiv'd as a Divine Perfon, and to be own'd for the true Meffiah, or the great Shepherd and Bishop of our Souls. And by this our Saviour prov'd and demonftrated the Truth of his Miffion and Meffiahfhip; faying in the following part of this Chapter, The Works that I do in my Father's Name, they bear witness of me, ver. 25. & ver. 37, 38. If I do not the Works of my Father, believe me not; but if I do, tho ye believe not me, believe the Works, that ye may know and believe that the Father is in me, and I in him: meaning, that the Works wrought by him made it evident, that the Father acted in and by him, and that all that he did was by his Power and Commiflion. Which things fo convinc'd Nicodemus, a Ruler of the Jews, that he confefs'd him to be the Meffias, or Teacher come from God, for none could do the Works that he did, except God were with him; John 3. 2. And a great Multitude of People, upon the fight of the Miracle of the Loaves, faid, Of a truth this is that Prophet that should come into the World. Chap. 6. 14.

Moreover, (2.) Thefe words teach us the Character and Qualifications of the true Minifters and Meffengers of Chrift; He that entreth in by the Door of Ordination, and

is lawfully call'd by those that have Authority to invest and fet him apart for the Office of teaching, he is a true Paftor or Minister of Chrift: How hall they preach (faith the Apoftle) except they be fent? fignifying it to be abfurd and prefumptuous to run before they are fent, and to venture upon that Office, before they are duly call'd and authoriz'd to undertake it, whereas they who were fent by Christ, as the Apostles were, and they who are fent by them, to whom he gave a Commiffion to fend others, as his Father fent him, are the true Shepherds of the Sheep, and have full Authority to feed and guide the Flock of Chrift, and to have power over them.

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To them (as the Parable goes on) the Porter openeth, and the Sheep hear his Voice, and he calleth his own Sheep by name, and leadeth them out, where the Porter is generally underftood of Chrift, who after calls himself the Door, and the great Shepherd of the Sheep, and here the Porter, to open the Door of the Fold for his Sheep to enter in, and likewise to guard it from Thieves, and Wolves in Sheep's Clothing, that they may not enter in and devour the Flock. And the Sheep hear his Voice, that is, all humble, faithful and good Chriftians, which are Chrift's Flock, obey his Call, and receive his Word. And he calleth his own Sheep by name: This alludes to the Custom of Shepherds in thofe Countries, who were fo converfant among their Cattle, that they knew them feverally, and had a particular Name for each of them, by which they diftinguish'd and call'd them; and the Sheep, by often hearing it feverally call'd upon them, knew it, and anfwer'd each to their Call: fuitable hereunto our Saviour fays, ver. 14. I am the good Shepherd, and know my Sheep, and am known of mine: and ver. 27. My Sheep hear my Voice, and I know them, and they follow me; they hearken to the Voice of my Precepts, and as I diftinguish them from others, fo do they by becoming my Followers: all which is agreeable to that of the Apostle, The Foundation of the Lord ftandeth fure, the Lord knoweth who are his. 2 Tim. 2. 19.

But to go on with the Parable; when the Shepherd leadeth out the Sheep, and brings them forth, to the Water or Paiture, he goeth before them, and the Sheep follow him, for they know his Voice. Here again is a Reference to the Cuf tom of Shepherds in Jewry, where the feeding of Cattle was their main Trade and Bufinefs; and with them the Practice was for the Shepherd to lead and go before, and,

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by the Arts of Speech or Words, to call the Sheep after them whereas Shepherds now go after and drive the Sheep before them; fuch Customs being different in divers Countries. Of the Cuftom of leading or going before the Sheep in antient times, we have many Hints in Holy Scripture: David, who was himself taken from the Sheepfold, ftiles God his Shepherd, and fpeaks of him as feeding his Sheep in a green Pasture, and leading them forth befide the Waters of Comfort, Pfal. 23. 1, 2. & Pfal. 77. 20. Thou leadeft thy People like Sheep by the Hand of Mofes and Aaron. And again, Pfal.80. 1. Hear, O thou Shepherd of Ifrael! thou that leadeft Jofeph like a Sheep. In allufion to this Cuftom, Chrift is here faid to go before, and his People like Sheep to follow, and to hear his Voice. A Stranger will they not follow (faith the Parable) but will flee from him; for they know not the Voice of Strangers. Being accuftom'd to the Call of the Shepherd, they know his Voice, and readily obey it; but being unacquainted with the Sound or Tone of a Stranger, they fhun and flee from him as from a Wolf, being mov'd by the Newness or Strangeness of the Voice. The Moral whereof is, that Chrift's faithful Servants being acquainted with his Doctrine, which leads to Peace, Piety, and Holinefs of Life, are willing to hear and walk by it, knowing by thofe Tokens that 'tis the true Shepherd's Voice. But. Impoftors and falfe Teachers, that inftil Notions contrary to Piety and found Doctrine, they will not follow, but flie from them, taking it for the Voice of Seducers, calling them from the Ways of Truth and Peace, and drawing them into Errors and Divifions; which they plainly discover by the Newness and Strangeness of their Doctrine, being quite contrary to that Piety and Probity which they have been taught by God; and fo it is a Stranger's, and not the true Shepherd's Voice.

This Parable fpake Jesus unto them (faith St. John) but they understood not what things they were, which he spake unto them. He deliver'd his Mind fo figuratively and parabolically unto them, that they could not rightly apprehend the Drift or Meaning of his Difcourfe; which made him add the following words for the unfolding of it, Then faid Jefus unto them again, Verily, verily I fay unto you, I am the Dour of the Sheep; where he repeats the fame Terms of Affeveration, Verily, verily, and continues the fame Metaphor, faying, I am the Door of the Sheep. A Door, you know, is that by which we ordinarily enter or pafs into any Houfe; and

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