Luke 15:3
Then Jesus told them this parable:
Sermons
Murmurs on Earth, and Joy in HeavenW. Clarkson Luke 15:1-10
A Search that Never FailsLuke 15:3-7
Angels' Joy Over PenitenceC. S. Robinson, D. D.Luke 15:3-7
Anxieties of Pastoral CareLuke 15:3-7
Celestial SympathyDe Witt Talmage, D. D.Luke 15:3-7
Christ Seeking the LostN. Rogers.Luke 15:3-7
Christian Joy At a Sinner's ConversionC. H. Spurgeon.Luke 15:3-7
Christ's Sympathy for SinnersC. E. Walker.Luke 15:3-7
God Mindful of the UnitN. Rogers.Luke 15:3-7
God Seeking After MenT. Arnold, D. D.Luke 15:3-7
In Search of Stray SheepLuke 15:3-7
Joy Enhanced by PartnershipH. W. Beecher.Luke 15:3-7
Joy in HeavenW. R. Clark, M. A.Luke 15:3-7
Joy of a Community in Recovering the LostLuke 15:3-7
Joy Over PenitentsR. Hall, M. A.Luke 15:3-7
Joy Over the SavedDr. Ide.Luke 15:3-7
Last and FoundE. S. Attwood.Luke 15:3-7
Lost and FoundD. C. Hughes, M. A.Luke 15:3-7
Lost and FoundJ. R. Thomson, M. A.Luke 15:3-7
Lost, Sought, FoundJ. W. Burn.Luke 15:3-7
No Instinct ToJ. Wells.Luke 15:3-7
On the Joy Which is in Heaven At the Repentance of a SinnerArchbishop Tillotson.Luke 15:3-7
One Sheep Against Ninety and NineLuke 15:3-7
Parable of the Lost SheepJ. Burns, D. D.Luke 15:3-7
Rejoicing. -- Christ's Joy in Saving SinnersCanon Clayton.Luke 15:3-7
Repentance not Better than ObedienceH. Melvill, B. D.Luke 15:3-7
Rescue of LostLuke 15:3-7
Saving the LostW. H. H. Murray.Luke 15:3-7
Search for Soul-JewelsLuke 15:3-7
Search Prompted by LoveH. E. Manning.Luke 15:3-7
Seeking a Lost ShepSunday School TimesLuke 15:3-7
Seeking the LostJ. R. Boyd.Luke 15:3-7
Seeking the WandererThe Quiver.Luke 15:3-7
Tact in TeachingDe Witt Talmage, D. D.Luke 15:3-7
Tenderness of the Good ShepherdT. Guthrie, D. D.Luke 15:3-7
The Danger of the Soul AstrayH. E. Manning.Luke 15:3-7
The Good Shepherd in Three PositionsC. H. Spurgeon.Luke 15:3-7
The Joy Occasioned by the Lost Sheep Being FoundW. Jay.Luke 15:3-7
The Last SheepArchdeacon Farrar.Luke 15:3-7
The Lost FoundLuke 15:3-7
The Lost SheepRepertorium Oratoris Sacri.Luke 15:3-7
The Lost SheepA. Mursell.Luke 15:3-7
The Lost SheepW. M. Taylor, D. D.Luke 15:3-7
The Lost Sheep Brought HomeC. Bradley, M. A.Luke 15:3-7
The Parable of the Lost SheepC. H. Spurgeon.Luke 15:3-7
The Parable of the Lost SheepW. Clarkson Luke 15:3-7
The Sheep that was Lost and FoundStopford A. Brooke, M. A.Luke 15:3-7
The Shepherd Misses One When it has Strayed from the FlockW. Arnot.Luke 15:3-7
The Tendency to WanderArchbishop Trench.Luke 15:3-7
Third Sunday After TrinityJ. A. Seiss, D. D.Luke 15:3-7
Until He Find ItH. P. Hughes, M. A.Luke 15:3-7
Of these three parables, illustrative of the grace of Christ shown to lost human souls, the first brings into view -

I. THE GREAT FOOLISHNESS OF THE WANDERING SOUL. It goes from God as a foolish sheep strays from the fold. So doing, it leaves security for peril. In the fold is safety; in the wilderness are many and serious dangers. At home with God the soul is perfectly safe from harm; its life, its liberty, its happiness, is secure; but, apart and astray from God, all these arc not only gravely imperilled, they are already forfeited. It also leaves plenty for want. In the fold is good pasture; in the wilderness is scarcity of food and water. With God is rich provision for the spirit's need, not only satisfying its wants, but ministering to its best and purest tastes; at a moral distance from him the spirit pines and withers. To go from God is an act of uttermost folly.

II. THE STRAITS TO WHICH IT IS REDUCED.

1. It is on the point of perishing. Without the interposition of the seeking Shepherd, it would inevitably perish.

2. It is reduced to such utter helplessness that it has to be carried home, "laid upon his shoulders."

(1) Under the dominion of sin the soul draws nearer and nearer to spiritual destruction; and

(2) it is often found to be reduced to so low a state that it can put forth no effort of its own, and can only be carried in the strong arms of love.

III. THE LOVE OF THE DIVINE SHEPHERD. The strong and keen interest taken by the human shepherd in a lost sheep is indicative of the tender interest which the Father of our spirits takes in a lost human soul. The former is more occupied in his thought and care with the one that is lost than he is, for the time, with the others that are safe; the latter is really and deeply concerned for the restoration of his lost child. And as the shepherd's sorrow leads him to go forth and search, so does the Father's tender care lead him to seek for his absent son. Christ's love for us is not general, it is particular; it reaches every one of us. He cares much that each one of the souls for whom he suffered should enjoy his true heritage, and when that is being lost he desires and he "seeks" to restore it.

IV. HIS PERSISTENCY IN SEEKING. "Until he find it." The shepherd, in pursuit of the lost sheep, is not detained by difficulty or danger; nor does he allow distance to stop his search; he goes on seeking until he finds. With such gracious persistency does the Saviour follow the wandering soul; year after year, period after period in his life, through several spiritual stages, the good Shepherd pursues the erring soul with patient love, until he finds it.

V. HIS JOY IN FINDING IT. The shepherd's joy in finding and in recovering, shown by calling his friends and neighbours together, saying, "Rejoice with me," etc., is pictorial of the Saviour's joy when a soul is redeemed from sin and enters into the life which is eternal. He rejoices not only, not chiefly, because therein does he "see of the travail of his soul," but because he knows well from what depth of evil that soul has been rescued, and to what height of blessedness it has been restored; he knows also how great is the influence, through all ages, which one loyal and loving human spirit will exert on other souls. - C.







What man of you, having an hundred sheep.
The three parables in this chapter fall into two sections, each setting forth separately one-half of a great truth, and both in combination exhibiting the whole.

1. The first two parables illustrate conversion on its Divine side. Christ had to seek these lost publicans and sinners in order to find them.

2. The third parable illustrates conversion on its human side, and was intended to imply that these publicans and sinners would never have been received by Christ unless they had sought Him.

3. The three parables combined illustrate conversion on both its Divine and human sides, and, consequently, the complete truth: God seeking man, and man seeking God; and the twofold search rewarded, by God and man finding each other.

I. Lost.

1. In the first parable the loss falls mainly on what is lost. By sin

(1)man loses himself;

(2)man loses protection;

(3)man loses comfort.

2. In the second parable the loss is sustained exclusively by the owner, and is considerable. One out of ten pieces.

(1)The piece of silver was lost in the house, not in the street.

(2)The piece of silver was lost to usefulness.

3. In the third parable we have a double loss. The nature and extent of the loss reach their climax here. Of two sons the father loses one — the loss of one-half as against the loss of one-tenth or one-hundredth. The son has only one father; and losing him he loses all.(1) Measure God's loss, as represented in this parable. Man is lost to Him not by death, but by depravity, which is far worse.(2) Consider man's loss. No possible compensation. The loss of God is the poverty, the forsakenness the degradation, the bondage of the soul.

II. SOUGHT.

1. In the first two parables the seekers are DIVINE. Let us endeavour to trace them.(1) The shepherd represents

(a)the self-sacrificing seeker;

(b)the persevering seeker.(2) The woman represents the careful and painstaking seeker. How suggestive of the minute and searching work of the Holy Spirit — Christ's fan and Christ's fire.

2. The seeker in the last parable is HUMAN, and it is just here that all experience, and the plan of salvation laid down in Scripture, would lead us to expect to find him, and exactly as here portrayed. Now we see where the other parables have been leading us, and to understand that their help is imperatively required. For notice —(1) Light dawns upon the prodigal and conviction pierces his soul. He passes through three preliminary states of experience as a lost man. First, danger and misery, when he begins to be in want; then uselessness and degradation, when he is sent into the fields to feed swine; and, finally, guilt, when he says, "I have sinned."(2) Hope now arises within his convinced and enlightened soul. How is this hope to be accounted for? Undoubtedly on the ground that the person he had sinned against was his father. But the moment it arose it would be confronted by a variety of opposing forces. The very thought of this filial relationship would summon before the memory the fact that it had been broken by an unpardonable outrage on a father's love. Conscience, again, would discourage the hope by urging the necessity of a now impossible reparation. And reason would finally tend to crush it by representing the folly of return now that having had, and having spent his portion, there was nothing to return for. It is well to remember all this. God is indeed our Father, and in that fact lies the sinner's hope to-day. But how much there is to hinder us from taking advantage of it! "God is my Father, but I have disowned Him. He has lavished His gifts upon me, but I have wasted them. What, then, can I expect but rejection if I return?" And yet the hope survives. The sinner still clings, and clings desperately, to the fact that God is his Father. Where did he get it from? Not from Nature, net by intuition, not through the deliverances of consciousness or the processes of deduction. From any one or all of these sources man may get his idea of God, but not his idea of a heavenly Father. No sinner ever said " My Father" until Christ taught him to do so. One voice, and one alone, has proclaimed this relationship, and thus formed the basis for the sinner's hope — namely, His who said: "No man cometh to the Father but by Me." And to maintain this struggling hope against contending forces is tim Good Shepherd's work.(3) The prodigal returns — the last stage, and the one without which all the others are traversed in vain. The strongest conviction of our sinfulness, the deepest remorse for it, and the clearest knowledge of the way out of it will avail nothing unless we arise and go to our Father.

III. FOUND.

1. Notice the finding. The shepherd finds the sheep, the woman the piece of silver, the father and the son each other. Christ has found the sinner and done what He, as the Good Shepherd, alone could do, opened and revealed the way back to God, encouraged the sinner to return, and provided the basis of reconciliation. The Holy Spirit has found the sinner and done what He, as the careful and painstaking Seeker, alone could do, wrought conviction and repentance. The sinner now does what neither Christ nor the Holy Spirit can do for him, but, with the help of both, finds the Father, to the peace and joy of his soul. The train of evangelical thought is now complete, and this trinity of parables made to illustrate the work of the Blessed Trinity in converting the sinner from the error of his way.

2. Notice the finding as it is regarded by heaven and earth.(1) The father receives the son with every demonstration of love and joy.(2) There is joy in the presence of the angels of God. And this joy is quite natural, for, first, the angels are perfectly pure and unselfish beings, and therefore spontaneously rejoice in the felicity of others. Then, again, they move eternally within that sphere the centre of which is the source of blessedness, and, therefore, delight to see wretched men brought into fellowship with the blessed God. And, lastly, much of their happiness consists in doing God's will.(3) All this, however, is in marked contrast with the conduct of the elder brother who "was angry and would not come in" to join in the general joy. He even repudiated the relationship of his brother, and contemptuously referred to him in his father's presence as "this thy son." He ventured to do what the father never did, threw the past in his teeth, and begrudged the hospitality which the poor starveling received. Who is this elder brother? Without question the Pharisee, either Jew or Christian. The men who stand aloof from their prodigal brethren, and who reproduce in our day the old, hard, sectarian, loveless spirit, are those who are here condemned. The man who revels in his father's bounty, who plumes himself on his own worthiness of it, who will not share it, is the elder brother and the Pharisee.

(J. W. Burn.)

I. The CIRCUMSTANCES.

1. The scene.

2. The classes that were attracted by Jesus (ver. 1).

3. The classes that were not drawn to Jesus (ver. 2). Reputable and scrupulous, but fault-finding, narrow-minded, and bigoted.

II. THE TWO PARABLES.

1. Characteristics common to both.

(1)Lost souls.

(2)A seeking Saviour.

(3)The great joy which the recovery brings both to the heart of the Redeemer, and of all who truly love Him.

2. Characteristics peculiar to each.Lessons:

1. Character is tested by sentiment and sympathy.

(1)The character of our Lord by His gracious sentiments and sympathies for the outcast and the most depraved.

(2)The character of the Pharisees and scribes is seen in their fault-finding at Jesus for His loving sympathies for those whom they despised.

2. The real condition of mankind is revealed in these parables — Lost.

3. The nature of Christ's mission is here shown — To save.

4. The twofold method of salvation is here seen.

(1)Christ's personal care.

(2)Christ's work through the Church.

5. The universal sympathy and gladness over the salvation of souls is beautifully suggested.

6. How does our character stand this test?

(D. C. Hughes, M. A.)

I. THE SINNER LOST.

II. THE SINNER VALUED AND PITIED.

III. THE SINNER SOUGHT.

IV. THE SINNER FOUND AND RESCUED.

V. THE SINNER RESTORED AND SAVED.

VI. THE SINNER SAVED THE OCCASION OF HEAVENLY REJOICING. Conclusion:

1. Let the restored and saved give thanks to their Deliverer.

2. Let the spiritually lost accept, in penitence and faith, the tender and proffered ministrations of Christ,

(J. R. Thomson, M. A.)

I. NOTICE THE PICTURE THESE PARABLES PRESENT OF THE ORIGINAL PLAN AND ESTATE OF THE UNIVERSE. There was once a time when God was pleased with all that He had made, and when all His creatures were happy m Him. The universe was once one blessed flock, with the Lord as their Shepherd, all blessed in those sequestered realms which knew no blight or tumult of sinful disorder, and where everything was pervaded with innocence, tranquillity, and peace. A wilderness is not necessarily a desolate and empty place. Any wide, grassy plain, hidden away from the common world, and undisturbed in its quiet, would satisfy the Scriptural use of the word. Such were the favourite pasture-grounds of the Orientals, and such was the universe of holy beings ere sin had made its disturbing inroads upon it. The starry plains were peopled only with unfallen creatures, secure, tranquil, and joyous in the smiles of their Maker. All rational beings were but one flock, and their shepherd was God. And the condition of man answered to this picture. He was as a new piece of silver, bright, precious, and bearing upon him the image and superscription of the Almighty. There was no darkness in his understanding, no perverseness in his heart, no fears, no regrets, no sighs, no pains, no dimness.

II. BUT THIS BEAUTIFUL SCENE WAS SOON SUCCEEDED BY ANOTHER. A cloud arose upon the sweet morning of our world. One of the happy flock disappeared from its fellowship with its comrades. It was lost; wide-wandering from the Lord, in a world that smoked with curses and wretchedness.

III. NOTICE, THEN, THE MOVEMENTS OF DIVINE COMPASSION FOR THE RECOVERY OF THE LOST. There was but one of a hundred gone. Ninety-and-nine remained. But precious in the eye of God is even one soul. It is a jewel capable of adding to the glory and grandeur of heaven. It is a radiant and living offshoot of Deity, capacitated to live and shine though stars should languish and expire. Though abused, prostituted, starved, and ruined by sin, it may still be made a part of the immortal intellect, heart and life of the universe. And its calamities are not of such a sort but that infinite Wisdom and Goodness has resources by which God can be just, and yet receive it again into His favour, the more interesting for ever because of this disaster. A plan of operation for its recovery has accordingly been instituted. And wonderful are the steps of the heavenly expedient. The Shepherd Himself goes after the lost sheep. He does not merely send servants to find it. He comes Himself. In this going forth is involved the incarnation and earthly life of the Lord Jesus Christ, and His whole providence in the Church, and through His word and sacraments. Or, to use the other figure, He lighteth a candle and personally searches every dark corner that He may come upon the lost piece which cannot help itself. This candle is the illuminating Word, which He causeth to shine around and upon us; and the sweeping which He does is the stir of His providence and Spirit, moving to touch the hearts of the unfortunate lost. In paradise already this candle was lit, when God gave promise of a coming Saviour; and all through and in His Church, in every age, this sweeping has been going on, and always for the finding of souls, and the bringing of them to light and salvation. With a thousand influences He plies men. He sends them the Word of His gospel. He stirs about their dark resting-places. He disturbs their guilty repose. He deprives them of their impure attachments. He makes them realize the evil and bitterness of departing from God. He takes hold upon them by the powers of His grace. He taketh up every willing one, to strengthen him with His help, and to beautify him with the sanctification of His Spirit.

IV. NOTICE ALSO THE RESULT. The lost sheep is restored. The piece of silver is recovered. Or, exchanging the imagery of the parables for literal terms, the sinner is completely changed — returned from his alienated and lost condition — made a true penitent. This is the direct object of all the arrangements and ministrations of grace.

V. AND WHEREVER THIS OCCURS THERE IS JOY. It is the end of gracious interference achieved. It is the fruit of the travail of the Saviour's soul realized. It is the aim of God's most wonderful works accomplished. And everything is full of gladness. "There is joy in heaven"; and the implication is that it is joy throughout heaven, from centre to circumference — joy on the throne, and joy in those who serve under it — joy in the heart of God, and among all the hosts of God — joy for Christ's sake, for the penitent's sake, for heaven's sake — joy that a broken link has been repaired in the holy creation of God — joy that another precious jewel has been added to the crown of redeeming love — joy that there is born another tenant for the mansions of glory — joy that another symptom has transpired of the ultimate recovery of all the downtrodden fields of creation which sin has overrun.

(J. A. Seiss, D. D.)

I. In the first place, I call attention to this observation: THE ONE SUBJECT OF THOUGHT to the man who had lost his sheep. This sets forth to us the one thought of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, when He sees a man lost to holiness and happiness by wandering into sin. The shepherd, on looking over his little flock of one hundred, can only count ninety-nine. This one idea possesses him: "a sheep is lost!" This agitates his mind more and more — "a sheep is lost." It masters his every faculty. He cannot eat bread; he cannot return to his home; he cannot rest while one sheep is lost. To a tender heart a lost sheep is a painful subject of thought. It is a sheep, and therefore utterly defenceless now that it has left its defender. And a sheep is of all creatures the most senseless, and the most shiftless. What is it which makes the Great Shepherd lay so much to His heart the loss of one of His flock: What is it that makes Him agitated as He reflects upon that supposition — "if He lose one of them"?

1. I think it is, first, because of His property in it. The parable does not so much speak of a hired shepherd, but of a shepherd proprietor. "What man of you having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them." The sheep are Christ's, first, because He chose them from before the foundations of the world — "Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you." His, next, because the Father gave them to Him. How He dwells upon that fact in His great prayer in John 17.: "Thine they were, and Thou gavest them Me"; "Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am." We are the Lord's own flock, furthermore, by His purchase of us; He says, "I lay down My life for the sheep." This thought, therefore, presses upon Him, "One of My sheep is lost."

2. Secondly, He has yet another reason for this all-absorbing thought — namely, His great compassion for His lost sheep. The wandering of a soul causes Jesus deep sorrow; He cannot bear the thought of its perishing. Such is the love and tenderness of His heart that He cannot bear that one of His own should be in jeopardy.

3. Moreover, the man in the parable had a third relation to the sheep, which made him possessed with the one thought of its being lost — he was a shepherd to it. It was his own sheep, and he had therefore for that very reason become its shepherd; and he say to himself, "If I lose one of them my shepherd-work will be ill-done." What dishonour it would be to a shepherd to lose one of his sheep!

II. Now we come to the second point, and observe THE ONE OBJECT OF SEARCH. This sheep lies on the shepherd's heart, and he must at once set out to look for it.

1. Observe here that it is a definite search. The shepherd goes after the sheep, and after nothing else; and he has the one particular sheep in his mind's eye.

2. An all-absorbing search.

3. An active search.

4. A persevering search.

III. Now, we must pass on very briefly to notice a third point. We have had one subject of thought and one object of search; now we have ONE BURDEN OF LOVE. When the seeking is ended, then the saving appears — "When he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing." Splendid action this! How beautifully the parable sets forth the whole of salvation. Some of the old writers delight to put it thus: in His incarnation He came after the lost sheep; in His life He continued to seek it; in His death He laid it upon His shoulders; in His resurrection He bore it on its way, and in His ascension He brought it home rejoicing. Our Lord's career is a course of soul-winning, a life laid out for His people; and in it you may trace the whole process of salvation. But now, see, the shepherd finds the sheep, and he layeth it on his shoulders.

1. It is an uplifting action, raising the fallen one from the earth whereon he hath strayed. It is as though he took the sheep just as it was, without a word of rebuke, without delay or hesitancy, and lifted it out of the slough or the briars into a place of safely.

2. This laying on the shoulders was an appropriating act. He seemed to say, "You are my sheep, and therefore I lay you on my shoulders."

3. More condescending still is another view of this act: it was a deed of service to the sheep. The sheep is uppermost, the weight of the sheep is upon the shepherd. The sheep rides, the shepherd is the burden-bearer. The sheep rests, the shepherd labours. "I am among you as he that serveth," said our Lord long ago.

4. It was a rest-giving act, very likely needful to the sheep which could go no further, and was faint and weary. It was a full rest to the poor creature if it could have understood it, to feel itself upon its shepherd's shoulders, irresistibly carried back to safety. What a rest it is to you and to me to know that we are borne along by the eternal power and Godhead of the Lord Jesus Christ I

IV. We close by noticing one more matter, which is — THE ONE SOURCE OF JOY. This man who had lost his sheep is filled with joy, but his sheep is the sole source of it. His sheep has so taken up all his thought, and so commanded all his faculties, that as he found all his care centred upon it, so he now finds all his joy flowing from it. I invite you to notice the first mention of joy we get here: "When he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing." "That is a great load for you, shepherd!" Joyfully he answers, "I am glad to have it on my shoulders." The mother does not say when she has found her lost child, "This is a heavy load." No; she presses it to her bosom. She does not mind how heavy it is; it is a dear burden to her. She is rejoiced to bear it once again. "He layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing." Remember that text, "Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame."

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. THE SINNER'S CONDITION — "Lost." The stray sheep and the missing silver are the emblems of every unrenewed soul. But men refuse to lie under this imputation. In what do we differ from those whom you call Christians? they ask. We are as upright, honest, and generous as they. How are we lost? In what did the lost sheep of the parable differ from tim ninety and nine in the fold? Not in appearance, but in condition. It was lost because it had wandered away from the shepherd. The missing piece of silver was coin of the realm, as well as the nine safe in the purse; but it was lost because it was out of its owner's reach. Sinners are lost, not because they are unlike other men, but because they are out of right relations to God.

II. THE SINNER'S FRIEND. The fact that God makes any attempt to save lost men proves that He is the sinner's Friend. What has He to gain by the reclamation of the missing? He is not so poor that our restoration will greatly enrich Him. In comparison with the infinite expanse of His universe, this world is but a bubble of foam on the crest of an ocean surge. He has no lack of worshippers and servants. But these parables teach that there is still more of Divine affection in this search after the lost.

III. THE SINNER'S RESCUE. God's plan of salvation is not a failure. It cost largely to make the redemption of the soul possible. Before the shepherd could come within reach of his wandering sheep, he must bruise and weary himself with his rough travel. Before God could lay the hand of help and healing on any man, the God-man must be despised and rejected, scourged, mocked, crucified. But none of these things stop the way; over them all and through them all the compassionate God presses on after His lost world "until He find it."

IV. THE SINNER'S RETURN. "Rejoice with me." "Joy in the presence," etc. How happens it that there is such a contrast between the indifference of earth and the ecstasy of heaven? We here see things as they are in themselves; those yonder look at them in their relations. The conversion of a soul is not an isolated matter. It inevitably affects the character and condition of multitudes.

(E. S. Attwood.)

I. THE LOST SHEEP — THE SINNER.

1. Both act in the same manner.

2. Both share the same fate.

II. THE GOOD SHEPHERD — JESUS CHRIST.

1. He possesses a numerous flock, as Creator and as Redeemer of mankind.

2. However numerous the flock may be, He is aware of every loss He sustains.(1) His solicitude for every one of His sheep knows no limits.(2) Being omniscient, He knows all the dangers that may befall the flock and any of the sheep.

3. He leaves the ninety-nine in the desert.

(1)He does not leave them through carelessness, or without protection.

(2)Our Savior displayed a greater solicitude for the welfare of the sinner, because it.(1) Christ goes after the sinner, warning and exhorting him by the voice of conscience, by inspirations, by the kindness with which He received sinners when He dwelt visibly among them, by His whole life, passion, and death.(2) Christ searches for the lost sinner, following him over the abysses, through thorns, over mountains. He searches until He finds him, or until it has become impossible to find him, because he is lost, because of final obduracy.

5. And when He has found the sheep, when the Sinner does not refuse to seize the hand extended towards him —

(1)He lays it upon His shoulders, facilitating the beginning of conversion by imparting abundant graces, so that the sinner is rather carried than proceeds himself.

(2)He carries the sheep home to partake again of the communion of saints.

(3)He rejoices, and makes His friends and neighbours rejoice with Him.

(Repertorium Oratoris Sacri.)

I. THE ENDANGERED WANDERER. Man has wandered —

1. From the authority of God.

2. From the family of God.

3. In the way of peril and death.

4. The sinner would wander endlessly, but for the intervention of Divine grace.

II. THE KINDLY SHEPHERD.

1. He compassionated man in his fallen and ruined condition.

2. He actually came to seek the wanderer.

3. When found He restores him.

III. THE JOYOUS RESULTS.

1. The Shepherd rejoices in the attainment of His gracious purposes.

2. Angels rejoice.

3. The restored wanderer rejoices.

4. All spiritual persons acquainted with the sinner's restoration rejoice.

(J. Burns, D. D.)

I. THE SINNER'S NATURAL CONDITION.

1. In want.

2. In danger.

3. Helpless.

II. THE CONDUCT OF CHRIST TOWARDS THE SINNER.

1. He misses him.

2. He seeks him.

3. He finds him.

4. He bears him home.

III. THE FEELING WITH WHICH THE GREAT SHEPHERD OF THE CHURCH CARRIES ON THIS BLESSED WORK. Not pity, compassion, kindness, nor yet love; but joy, and joy overflowing: joy so great that the Divine mind cannot hold it, but must call upon the whole creation to come and share its abundance.

(C. Bradley, M. A.)

This is one of those parables which, by its simplicity, presents the full tenderness of the gospel message to mankind, gathered, as it were, into a strong focus of emphasis.

I. THE HIGH ESTIMATE ENTERTAINED, ON THE PART OF JEHOVAH, OF THE SOUL OF MAN. In the narrative of the sheep, the shepherd is represented as thinking with greater anxiety of the one straying from his flock, than of the ninety-nine who are safe under his eye. He feels sure of them, and quits them without apprehension, intent rather upon the restoration of the one than upon the preservation of the many. We are not to presume that Christ withdraws His care and His regard from His own people in His anxiety to add more to His fold. He has never left His true disciples comfort. less; but "the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost," abides with them alway. But the Saviour, when He spoke this parable, wanted to show that His heart was large enough to love, and His fold was wide enough to hold, both the flock already gathered and the sheep which had wandered away.

II. Look, secondly, at an expansion of the same idea in THE TENDERNESS OF THE SHEPHERD IN BRINGING BACK THE SHEEP THAT WAS LOST. It was passing kind to bring it back at all; but what a depth of kindness is there in the manner of that bringing back! "When he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders." Oh, my friends, what touching tenderness is here! a tenderness "passing the love of woman." Have you not often seen a mother chase a wayward child, and when she overtakes it, seize it with a petulant clutch, and almost drag it back to the door of the cottage, chiding and sometimes chastising it the whole way? But there is no upbraiding here. The wanderer has no excuse. He has been ungrateful; he has broken down the fences which love had built for his security; he has despised the guardianship which would have shielded him, he has been obdurate under the mildness which would have gently governed him; he has quarrelled with the fare which sovereign bounty had provided him. But there are none of these things flung sternly in his teeth. There is no anger in the Shepherd's eye. It is all pity.

III. Now look at THE GREATNESS AND COMPLETENESS OF THE RESTORATION. "I have found that which was lost." "Found" and "lost," these are the two contrasting words, and their meaning is unspeakable. What a losing! What a finding! It is a rescue from perdition. Not a mere human estimate of being lost, but God's estimate. And there is a difference between the two ideas as vast and wide as the difference between the finite and the infinite. We deem it no small thing to lose the valuable purchase of years of anxiety and toil; but what must be Christ's estimate of His own loss, when He feels that He has lost the purchase of His blood, His pleading, and His prayers; that human infatuation has actually torn itself away from the embrace of Calvary; and that the coinage of the Cross — the wealth that poured, stamped with a Saviour's crown of thorns, from Mercy's mint — is cast aside for nought! And what must be the sinner's estimate of his own perdition, when from its darkest depths he feels its cruellest curse, and has only light enough to see to count the priceless sum at which his soul was bought, but which he has contemned, and scorned, and flung away!

IV. THE REJOICINGS WHICH GREET THE SHEPHERD'S RETURN WITH HIS SHEEP. His heart is too full to keep the gladness to himself. There is such chainless ecstasy thrilling in his soul that he must have all his friends about him to help him in his triumphant celebration. "Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost." What condescension is there in this sympathy! Oh could we but gauge the satisfaction with which Jesus will look upon "the travail of His soul," then we should know something of the depth of the love with which He loves us. But the ocean is too wide for our gaze to see the further shore, it is too deep for our poor plummet to fathom. We cannot know the bitterness of the cup He drank to the foul dregs; we cannot feel the agony which the sleeping disciples might not watch, when the drops of blood were sweat upon the ground; we cannot tell the galling stab of nail and thorn and spear, nor lift the weight of the rough, crushing cross. No; we cannot understand the huge encyclopaedia of Calvary, nor study to the full profundity of its melting lore the lexicon of dying love; and so we cannot measure out the joy with which the purchase of that death will be received, and the trophies of that tragedy be counted up. But we shall be allowed to share in it! Not only shall we be rejoiced ever, but we shall rejoice over others.

(A. Mursell.)

Never forget that the whole drama of Redemption — the Incarnation, the Ministry, the Cross, the Resurrection, the Ascension — was all but one long search for the lost sheep, and carrying it home rejoicing. The whole race of man was the lost sheep until Christ found it. All we like sheep had gone astray.

"All the souls that are were forfeit once,

And He who might the vantage best have took,

Found out the remedy."Other sheep were His — millions of spiritual creatures thronging the heaven of heavens. But here was this atom-world, floating on the infinite bosom of the bright and boundless air, the ruined habitation of a fallen race. To this poor ruined atom-world He came down all these steps of the infinite descent. Why? Because God is love.

I. LET US ALL BE PITIFUL. As for sin, indeed, we cannot hate it too much. But for the sinner we should feel nothing but compassion.

II. LET NONE DESPAIR. None has sinned too deeply to be forgiven. Come to Christ with your burden. There is heavenly medicine; there is lustral water at the wicket gate.

III. THINK NOBLE THOUGHTS OF GOD.

(Archdeacon Farrar.)

I. There is, first, GOD'S YEARNING OVER THE SINNER. Usually, in depicting a lost sinner, we dwell on the miseries which he has brought upon himself, and the blessings which he himself has forfeited. But this and the succeeding parables differ from the ordinary representations of the subject, in that they set before us the loss which God has sustained in the wandering and rebellion of His children. This view of the matter may well give careless sinners food for serious reflection. You are God's. By virtue of your very creaturehood you belong to Him. Your hearts, your lives, your service, ought all to be given to Him; but they are not, and this is no mere thing of indifference to Him. He misses you. He, on whom the universe hangs, and who might well be excused if He had no concern for you, misses your love. He hungers for your affection. Yea, He has used means of the most costly character to find you out, and to bring you back. Why will you continue to disregard Him?

II. But, in the second place, we have here set before us THE SINNER'S OWN HELPLESSNESS. He is like a lost sheep. Now, while, as we have seen, this means that God has lost him, we must not forget that, on the other side of it, the analogy also bears that the sinner has lost himself. There are few more helpless creatures than a wandered sheep. It is, comparatively speaking, an easy thing to convince the sinner of his guilt, but it is a hard matter to get him to own his helplessness. He will persist in attempting his own deliverance. He will seek to satisfy God's law for himself, and to find his own way back to happiness. The sheep will run to the shepherd when he appears, and welcome him as its helper, looking up in dumb gratitude into his face. But the sinner, in this respect more stupid even than the sheep, too often runs from the Shepherd and will have none of His assistance.

III. We have here, in the third place, THE MEANS USED FOR THE SINNER'S RECOVERY. All the way from heaven to Calvary Jesus came to seek lost sinners. He was going after that which was lost when He sat by the well of Sychar, and conversed with the woman of Samaria; when He called Matthew in His toll-booth, and when He summoned Zaccheus from the branch of the sycamore-tree whereon he was perched. He was going after that which was lost when He shed forth His Spirit upon Pentecost, and inspired His servants to proclaim His truth with power; and He is still going after that which is lost in the events of His providence, whereby He rouses the careless to reflection; in the searching words of His earnest ministers, who statedly declare His love, and speak home to the hearts of their fellow-men; and in the strivings of His spirit, whereby, often when they can give no account of the matter, men's minds are strangely turned in the direction of salvation. But we must hasten on to describe the finding. When, it may be asked, is a sinner found by Christ? The answer is, When, on his side, the sinner finds Christ. What is seen in heaven is Christ laying His loving hand upon the sinner, sad the angels hear Him, saying — "I have found that which was lost"; but what is seen on earth, is the sinner laying his believing hand on Christ, and men hear him crying — "I have found my Deliverer. I will go with Him, for salvation is with Him." But these are not two distinct things — they are involved the one in the other, so that you cannot take the one from the other without destroying both. But there is yet another aspect of this finding which must in nowise be lost sight of. I mean the tenderness of the shepherd.

IV. THE JOY MANIFESTED BY GOD OVER THE SINNER'S RETURN. The home-coming here can hardly be identical with the finding of the lost one. It must rather, I think, be understood of the introduction of the saved one into heaven, by Jesus, at the last. Yet the joy over him is not delayed till then, though at that moment it becomes higher than before. Let me illustrate. You have lost your child, and one of the most trusted members of your family has set out in search of her. He is long away, and weary days and weeks you wait for news. At length, however, there comes from the great city a telegram from the seeker, saying that he has found his sister, and that he is making arrangements for bringing her home as soon as possible. Of course, the mere receipt of this message gives you joy; but when at length your loved one is brought home, that joy is intensified, and you call together your friends to celebrate with you her return. Now, your gladness at the receipt of the telegram corresponds to the joy in heaven over the sinner's repentance, while your higher joy at the home-coming of your child is symbolical of the gladness which will be caused by the entrance into heaven of each new ransomed spirit. Nor need we wonder at this joy. it is over a successful enterprise. It is over the deliverance of another soul from ruin.

(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)

Let us behold our great Shepherd —

I. IN THE SEARCH "Until He find it."

1. No rejoicing is on His countenance. He is anxious for the lost.

2. No hesitation is in His mind. Despite roughness of way, length of time, or darkness of night, He still pursues His lost one.

3. No anger is in His heart. The many wanderings of the sheep cost Him dear, but He counts them as nothing, so that He may but find it.

4. No pausing because of weariness. Love makes Him forget Himself, and causes Him to renew His strength.

5. No giving up the search. His varied nonsuccesses do not compel Him to return defeated. Such must our searches after others be. We must labour after each soul until we find it.

II. AT THE CAPTURE. "When He hath found it." Mark the Shepherd when the sheep is at last within reach.

1. Wanderer held. How firm the grip! How hearty! How entire!

2. Weight borne. No chiding, smiting, driving; but a lift, a self-loading, an easing of the wanderer.

3. Distance travelled. Every step is for the Shepherd. He must tread painfully all that length of road over which the sheep had wandered so wantonly. The sheep is carried back with no suffering on its own part.

4. Shepherd rejoicing to bear the burden. The sheep is so dear that its weight is a load of love. The Shepherd is so good that He finds joy in His own toil.

5. Sheep rejoicing, too. Surely it is glad to be found of the Shepherd, and so to have its wanderings ended, its weariness rested, its distance removed, its perfect restoration secured.

III. IN THE HOME-BRINGING. "When He cometh home."

1. Heaven is home to Christ.

2. Jesus must carry us all the way there.

3. The Shepherd's mission for lost souls is known in glory, and watched with holy sympathy: in this all heavenly ones are "his friends and neighbours."

4. Jesus loves others to rejoice with Him over the accomplishment of His design. "He called together His friends." See how they crowd around Him! What a meeting!

5. Repentance is also regarded as our being brought home (see verse 7).

6. One sinner can make all heaven glad: (see verses 7, 10).

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

The sinner is set forth in the parable as a silly, wandering sheep. And it suggests what is true — that sin is not always a matter of premeditation. Sin is oftentimes an ignorance, a misunderstanding, a darkness of mind. A young man does not at eighteen say, "Now I will waste my time and squander my money, ruin my health, and hurt as many by my influence as I can." That is not the way the thing is done. It would not be true to so represent it, any more than it would have been true for Christ to have represented the sheep as getting together in one corner of the fold, and saying, "Now let us get out and run off into the woods, and get bitten by wolves, and be killed." Neither sheep nor men act in that way. Men wander off — they get led astray — they get farther away from virtue than they ever expected to be — they are lost before they know it. Looking at him from one point of view, the sinner is to be condemned; looking at him from another, he is to be pitied. In this latter light it is that the parable presents him to us. My friends, let us catch the spirit of the Saviour, as we go in and out among men. Men are like ice. You can melt them sooner by being warm toward them, by centring the rays of a great, earnest, glowing love upon them, than by going at them with hammers of threat and warning, and trying to beat them down and pulverize them. Sandstone kind of men can be treated in that way; but when you hit a man in that style made of granite, the hammer recoils, to the injury of the palm that held it. June is better than December to quicken life and growth in the natural world; and if you want people to blossom and get fruitful spiritually, pour around them the warm, genial atmosphere of God's penetrative and stimulative love. My people, refresh your memories to-day with the real object of Christ's incarnation. He did not come to publish certain sublime truths, He did not come to found a Church, to build up a religious hierarchy, to introduce habits of prayer, and peculiar views of God and duty. He came absorbed, rather, with one thought — devoted to one sublime, unselfish mission. It was to go after His lost sheep. This yearning, this irrepressible desire, it was, which burned and glowed in His whole life, as the pure fire glows in the diamond. This it was which gave fervour and intense beauty to His life. Before Christ came, who cared for the lost? Who cares for the bleaching bone in the wilderness? — it may be the bone of an ox, or a dog, or a man; who cares which? It is a dry and lifeless bone, and nothing more. It has no connection with our beating flesh, no relation with our living thought. Who cares for the shell on the shore? The waves have heaved it up from the caverns of the deep, and ground it into the sand: there let it lie. What hunter cares for the scattered feathers which some fierce hawk has torn from the back and breast of its prey? Why mourn over a bunch of soiled plumage? Had the hunter seen the hawk pounce on it, he might, perchance, have shot the hawk, and spared the bird; but the bird is lost. Why look? why mourn? why care? So little man cared for man before Christ came. The life of Christ was wonderful, because it was full of leeds nobody else had ever done. His very sympathies were a revelation. Ask Film as He rises from His agonizing prayer in the garden, when a thicker darkness than subsequently draped the earth lies on His soul; and He says again, "I came to save the lost." Ask Him as he sinks fainting beneath the cross; and amid His panting are shaped the selfsame words — "To save the lost." Ask Him as He hangs on the cross itself, about to yield up the ghost; and His quivering lips reply, "I came to save the lost; and here My task is finished." We are like vases of rare tint and exquisite workmanship, which, shattered by some violent stroke, have been regathered in all their fragments, and so carefully rejoined, and glued with transparent cement, that no eye can detect where were the lines of rupture. The seeking love of God found us in fragments, and made us over into a perfect whole. If any of you have children, or friends, or relatives, far away from God, widely wandering from the truth of statement and life, I trust you will not be discouraged. Hope and pray always. Die as you have lived, hoping and praying. Build your hope on the seeking love of Christ. Ally your life with His in this work. Help reform society; help reform the Church, so that people shall not stare and look astonished when a really bad man or wicked woman is saved — when a soul that has in very fact been lost, and which was found in its sins as a lamb found in some dark, stony gorge, nearly dead from exposure and wounds, is brought to the fold.

(W. H. H. Murray.)

One soul, gone astray, is in greater danger than the rest. It has fallen, first from creation, and then from redemption. It has fallen from its Divine acceptance, both in the first Adam and in the second. It is "twice dead." "The last state of that man is worse than the first." "There remaineth no more sacrifice for sin." "It is impossible for those who were ones enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance." There is no second "baptism for the remission of sins." That one lost soul is in the way which leads beyond the boundaries of grace. Every day brings it nearer to the fatal brink. Dangers are ever thickening; temptation waxing mightier; sins are hourly multiplied; the dye is daily blacker; life is fast wearing away, eternity fast coming on; therefore the Good Shepherd speeds apace with a hasty step, to find that one sheep which is lost.

(H. E. Manning.)

Following the law of love, He seems to leave the faithful, that He may seek for sinners. As there is a fold in heaven, so there is a fold on earth, a visible fold-the Church, in which He gathers His lost sheep. There is, besides, within that visible fold, another fold unseen, His own encircling Presence, the circuit of His own watchful care, within which the faithful and obedient are securely sheltered. These are they who walk stedfast in baptismal purity. They keep close to the eye and to the pathway of their Lord, going in and out by the gates of obedience. These are the ninety and nine who keep close to the feet of the Good Shepherd. For a while He passes them by, that He may seek sinners who, after baptism, fall from grace. For many are they who go out of this inward fold. They go out into ways of this world, the tangled masses of this wilderness, losing themselves by losing sight of Him; and, by losing sight of Him, losing their own souls. What is this wilderness but sin? Every several sin that man commits is a wilderness to that man's soul, whether it be a sin of the flesh, as lust, gluttony, excess; or a sin of the spirit, as inward impurity, pride, anger, hardness of heart, sloth, or falsehood — whatever it be, that sin is a wilderness in each man's soul, in which he is lost. For sin raises a cloud between the soul and the gaze of the Good Shepherd's face. The sinner closes the eye which guides him; he loses the light of that countenance which shone upon the track of life. His will breaks away from the will of our Divine Guide, by which will he was sanctified; for so long as His will and our will are united, we are drawn by a thread of gold, which leads us in the way of life; but when, by sin, we start back and snap asunder that guiding clue, we are straightway lost.

(H. E. Manning.)

I. THE NATURALNESS OF GOD'S SEARCH FOR THE SINNER. "What man of you," saith Christ, with that touch of surprise that we so often trace when He found men blind to truths that seemed to Him clear as day, "having a hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness and go after that which is lost?" What else could he do? What could be more natural? He would be certain to go; his duty, his thought of loss to himself, his affection for the animal he had so long taken care of, his thought of all the poor thing was suffering, all would urge him forth. The inference followed, none could mistake it, that God would do the same for His erring and lost children, that He could not do otherwise, that to do otherwise would be unnatural. A similar relation to that which the shepherd bore the sheep, God bears to men. Let one of them lose himself, and it would be impossible for God to rest till He found the lost one. Duty, if I may use the term, the inward, self-created imperative, by which God must be true to Himself, would urge Him forth.

II. THE PERSEVERANCE OF GOD. We are told a great deal about God being wearied out with us, anti so offended with our wrongdoing as to give up trying to make us better. That is not Christ's doctrine about God. In His mind He saw the Father going after the lost sheep unweariedly, and never, never resting till He found it and brought it home. Only when it was laid to sleep in the fold could God's perseverance of love take any rest. There is no pause in God's work till He find us. It is God who will find us, and not we Him, and He will re,ver rest till we are laid on His strong shoulder, and understand His love, and rest in His peace. No, not if it takes half an eternity to find us, will He give up the search. The law of God has made it plain that He will not find us in this comforting way till we repent, and the greater part of His search consists in so working on our lives as to make us cry with the prodigal, "I will arise and go to my Father." And that is severe and punishing work.

III. THE JOY OF GOD IN REDEMPTION. It is pleasant, when we think how easily we get tried, to consider this unwearyingness of God, and that however long He persevere, His interest cannot be exhausted by pursuit or by success. Pursuit is agreeable enough to us, for as long as a thing is unreached it charms, but our dangerous moment is the moment of success. "When we have laid our hand on the goal, if it be pleasure, we too often give it a languid assent; if it be the good of another, we are too often so weary as not to be interested any longer. That is the weakness of our mortal nature. It is nothing to be proud of, as some think. It is want of power, of imagination, of capacity. Were we greater in heart and brain, victory of pleasure, success in good would double our joy. An infinite nature has infinite delight and interest. The joy of God in redeeming the lost is, then, the last truth the parable teaches. It is frank, complete, ungrudging, unmixed.

(Stopford A. Brooke, M. A.)

The Redeemer's knowledge is infinite; He looks not only over the multitude generally, but into each individual. When I stand on a hillock at the edge of a broad meadow, and look across the sward, it may be said in a general way that I look on all the grass of that field: but the sun in the sky looks on it after another fashion — shines on. every down-spike that protrudes from every blade. It is thus that the Good Shepherd knows the flock. Knowing all, He misses any one that wanders. He missed a world when it fell, although His worlds lie scattered like grains of golden dust on the blue field of Heaven — the open infinite.

(W. Arnot.)

Next, much comfort may be gathered from this point in hand. Though the godly are but few, yet (we see) God will be nevertheless mindful of them. If but one sheep go astray, He will fetch it home; if but one great lost, He will look it up; if but one sinner repents, there shall be joy in heaven for him; if but one prodigal come home, he shall be received. With man it is otherwise; who will bestow gathering of one apple upon some top bough, or send a reaper into a field for one ear of wheat standing in some corner of it? Or what husbandman will beat over his straw again for one grain of corn, or winnow over all his chaff for a few grains of wheat? But God will not lose an apple, not aa ear, not one kernel; He will winnow a great heap for a few grains, as He did the old world for eight (Genesis 7:7; 1 Peter 3:20). And it is no rare thing, but often seen that God sends many of His servants to thresh or winnow in great assemblies of chaff, and yet after divers years' pains and sore sweating labour, they get but one grain of corn. After all their toil they convert but one or two souls, whom God in His providence hath sent them, by all their pains to save.

(N. Rogers.)

No place did He leave unsought to find His own; in the wilderness we see here He seeks the sheep; in the house, as we read in the next, He seeks the great; in the world He seeks up the prodigal and lost son. He goes to Samaria to seek the woman; to Bethany to seek up Mary; to Capernaum to seek the centurion; to Jericho to seek Zaccheus; no place that He left unsought or unsanctified.

(N. Rogers.)

1. A yearning sympathy.

2. An active sympathy.

3. A tender sympathy.

4. A joyful sympathy.

(C. E. Walker.)

There is in sin a centrifugal tendency, and the wanderings of this wanderer could be only further and further away. If, therefore, it shall be found at all, this can only be by its Shepherd's going to seek it; else, being once lost, it is lost for ever.

(Archbishop Trench.)

return: — The sinner is like the strayed sheep, the most stupid of animals. The cat, the dog, the horse, when lost, find their way home — who knows how? — but the sheep has no such instinct.

(J. Wells.)

How easily they all understood Him! But how few Christian people there are who understand how to fasten the truths of God and religion to the souls of men. Truman Osborne, one of the evangelists who went through this country some years ago, had a wonderful art in the right direction. He came to my father's house one day, and while we were all seated in the room, he said, "Mr. Talmage, are all your children Christians?" Father said, "Yes, all but De Witt." Then Truman Osborne looked down into the fireplace, and began to tell a story of a storm that came on the mountains, and all the sheep were in the fold; but there was one lamb outside that perished in the storm. Had he looked me in the eye, I should have been angered when he told that story; but he looked into the fireplace, and it was so pathetically and beautifully done, that I never found any peace until I was sure I was inside the fold, where the other sheep are.

(De Witt Talmage, D. D.)

The distinction between Christianity and all other systems of religion consists largely in this: that in these others men are found seeking after God, while Christianity is God seeking after men.

(T. Arnold, D. D.)

Sunday School Times.
One evening in 1861, as General Garibaldi was going home, he met a Sardinian shepherd lamenting the loss of a lamb out of his flock. Garibaldi at once turned to his staff, and announced his intention of scouring the mountain in search of the lamb. A grand expedition was organized. Lanterns were brought, and old officers of many a campaign started off full of zeal to hunt the fugitive. But no lamb was found, and the soldiers were ordered to their beds. The next morning Garibaldi's attendant found him in bed fast asleep. The attendant waked him. The general rubbed his eyes; and so did his attendant when he saw the old warrior take from under the covering the lost lamb, and bid him convey it to the shepherd. The general had kept up the search through the night until he had found it. Even so doth the Good Shepherd go in search of His lost sheep until He finds them.

(Sunday School Times.)

Among the hills of our native land I have met a shepherd far from the flocks and folds, driving home a lost sheep — one which had "gone astray," a creature panting for breath, amazed, alarmed, footsore; and when the rocks around rang loud to the baying of the dogs, I have seen them, whenever it offered to turn from the path, with open mouth dash fiercely at its sides, and so hound it home. How differently Jesus brings back His lost ones! The lost sheep sought and found, He lifts it up tenderly, lays it on His shoulder, and retracing His steps, returns homeward with joy, inviting His neighbours to rejoice with Him.

(T. Guthrie, D. D.)

A lady, while passing along one of our public streets, in pulling off her glove, pulled from her finger a very valuable jewelled ring, which, before she could secure it, rolled into the gutter. She stood hesitatingly on the brink of the filthy puddle for a few moments, as if considering what to do, when she bared her fair arm, and plunging her hand into the gutter, secured her treasure. Ah! there is the treasure of the precious soul lost in many a vile sink of human poilu. tion, and to save it we must be willing to follow the Saviour's example, and to go to the vilest outcasts with the glad tidings of salvation. From the parable of the lost sheep we are impressed with the thought of the Saviour's deep personal interest in every sinner. One sheep went astray, and this careful Shepherd missed even that one. The sinner, in his wanderings, is apt to think that Christ does not notice him; that amid the vastness of the affairs of the universe which occupy the Divine mind, he, if not overlooked, is but little attended to. But this is a dangerous mistake. There is not a step which the sinner can take in his departure from God which the watchful eye of the Shepherd does not follow; and the loved child is not more surely missed from the affectionate family circle than is every sinner who departs from the living God.

(J. R. Boyd.)

A traveller describes a scene which he once saw that strongly reminded him of this parable: "On the Aletsch glacier I saw a strange, a beautiful sight — the parable of our Lord reacted in the letter. One day we were making our way with ice-axe and alpenstock down the glacier, when we observed a flock of sheep following their shepherd over the intricate windings of the crevasses, and so passing from the pastures on one side of the glacier to the pastures on the other. The flock had numbered two hundred, all told. But on the way one sheep had got lost. One of the shepherds, in his German patois, appealed to us if we had seen it. Fortunately one of the party had a field-glass. With its aid we discovered the lost sheep far up, amid a tangle of brushwood, on the rocky mountain side. It was beautiful to see how the shepherd, without a word, left his hundred and ninety-nine sheep on the glacier waste (knowing they would stand there perfectly still and safe), and went clambering back after the lost sheep until he found it."

Uncle John Vassar, the celebrated colporteur of the American Tract Society, who tramped the country over from Illinois to Florida, used to describe himself as the "Shepherd's Dog." He did not claim to be a shepherd, for he put great power upon an educated and ordained ministry. He regarded himself only as a faithful dog, hunting after the stray sheep of the Master's flock, and endeavouring to bring into the fold those Christless souls who were wandering over the devil's commons. A young clergyman says that he once overtook Uncle John Vassar on the road (in Duchess county), and made some inquiry as to the residence of a friend. Uncle John gave him the information, and then promptly inquired, "My young friend, are you a Christian?" The ministerial brother told him that he hoped he was. A few words more passed, and Vassar pushed on, remarking that "he was in a hurry to look up some sheep." When the clergyman reached his friend's house, he told them that he had met a crazy man on the road, who was hunting after sheep. The family laughed heartily, and said, "Why, that was John Vassar, our Duchess county missionary, and the sheep that he is in search of are the Lord's."

St. Francis, reflecting on a story he heard of a mountaineer in the Alps, who had risked his life to save a sheep, says, "O God, if such was the earnestness of this shepherd in seeking for a mean animal, which had probably been frozen on the glacier, how is it that I am so indifferent in seeking my sheep?"

An American bishop, speaking of the personal love and earnestness which in Christian work prove, with God's blessing, so successful, related that a youth belonged to a Bible-class, but at last the time came when he thought fit to discontinue his attendance, and to otherwise occupy his time. The class assembled, but his place was empty, and the leader looked for the familiar face in vain. He could not be content to conduct the Bible-reading as usual, ignorant as to the condition and whereabouts of the missing one. "Friends," he said, "read, sing, and pray; my work is to seek and find a stray sheep;" and he started off on the quest. "The stray sheep is before you," said the bishop to his hearers. "My teacher found me, and I could not resist his pleading; I could not continue to wander and stray whilst I was sought so tenderly."

(The Quiver.)

The Savior does not go after the wandering sheep for a mile or so in the wilderness, and then, because the way is wet or weary, or because the clouds of evening are gathering, say to Himself, "Well, I have done as much as this ridiculous and stupid sheep deserves. There was no occasion that the sheep should wander away from the fold. It is its own folly. Let it reap the fruit of its own folly. I have done all I can; I will go home now." Not at all. He goes on and on and on. He does not consider how tired He is. He has not done His business until He has found the sheep and put it on His shoulder, and brought it back again rejoicing.

(H. P. Hughes, M. A.)

A jeweller received a very valuable diamond to be re-set. He wrapped it up carefully, and laid it away; but, when it was wanted, it could not be found. Its loss would ruin the jeweller. He searched everywhere; day after day, doing nothing else till he found it. At last he discovered a bit of the paper, in which the jewel had been wrapped, among the ashes of a fireplace. He then sifted all the ashes made after reception of the jewel, and was overjoyed to discover the lost treasure perfectly uninjured. What diligent search, then, should be made for lost but immortal soul-jewels!

I. CHRIST'S ANXIETY TO SAVE THE LOST.

1. He knows the sinner's present condition.

(1)Destitution.

(2)Peril.

(3)Feebleness. No strength apart from Christ.

2. He adopts active means for the sinner's recovery..

(1)He seeks.

(2)He finds.

II. HIS JOY OVER THEIR SALVATION.

1. This joy is represented by the shepherd laying the lost sheep upon his shoulder, and carrying it home rejoicing. We know why the shepherd acts thus. The sheep is wearied and distressed by its wanderings. If let loose, it might again escape and wander farther than ever from the fold. If it were allowed to walk by the shepherd's side, it might be devoured by beasts, who are watching for their prey even in the shepherd's presence. You must all see from this representation how safe you, the redeemed of Christ, are.

2. But Jesus not only rejoices Himself in your salvation, He also calls upon the angels of heaven to participate in His joy. APPLICATION:

1. Warning to the indifferent.

2. Comfort to the penitent.

(Canon Clayton.)

About three hundred years after the time of the apostles, Caius Marius Victorius, an old pagan, was converted from his impiety, and brought over to the Christian faith; and when the people of God heard this, there was a wonderful rejoicing, and shouting, and leaping for gladness, and psalms were sung in every church, while the people joyously said one to another, "Caius Marius Victorius is become a Christian! Caius Marius Victorius is become a Christian!" Dear reader, it may be that you are an old offender. What joy would be made among the best of people by your conversion! Some of your dearest friends would be ready to dance with delight; and hundreds, who know what a hardened rebel you have been, would sing and shout for joy of heart, "Old —— has become a Christian!" Oh, that you might be led to cause this happiness on earth; and there is this at the back of it — the holy mirth would reach to the highest heaven!

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

The following anecdote was told to Todd by an old hunter in the forests of America: "I had been out all winter alone trapping for furs. It was in March, when I was hunting beaver, just as the ice began to break up, and on one of the farthest, wildest lakes I ever visited. I calculated there could be no human being nearer than one hundred miles. I was pushing my canoe through the loose ice, one cold day, when just around a point that projected into the lake, I heard something walking through the ice. It made so much noise, and stepped so regularly, that I felt sure it must be a moose. I got my rifle ready, and held it cocked in one hand, while I pushed the canoe with the other. Slowly and carefully I rounded the point, when, what was my astonishment to see, not a moose, but a man, wading in the water — the ice water! He had nothing on his hands or feet, and his clothes were torn almost from his limbs. He was walking, gesticulating with his hands, and talking to himself. He seemed to be wasted to a skeleton. With great difficulty I got him into my canoe, when I landed and made up a fire, and got him some hot tea and food. He had a bone of some animal in his bosom, which he had gnawed almost to nothing. He was nearly frozen, and quieted down, and soon fell asleep. I nursed him like an infant. With great difficulty, and in a roundabout way, I found out the name of the town from which he came. Slowly and carefully I got him along, around falls, and over portages, keeping a resolute watch on him, lest he should escape from me in the forest. At length, after nearly a week's travel, I reached the village where I supposed he lived. I found the whole community.-under deep excitement, and more than a hundred men were scattered in the woods and on the mountains, seeking for my crazy companion, for they had learned that he had wandered into the woods. It had been agreed upon that if he was found, the bells should be immediately rung and guns fired; and as soon as I landed a shout was raised, his friends rushed to him; the bells broke out in loud notes, and guns were fired, and their reports echoed again and again in forest and on mountain, till every seeker knew that the lost one was found. How many times I had to tell the story over. I never saw people so crazy with joy; for the man was of the first and best families, and they hoped his insanity would be but temporary, as I afterwards learned it was. How they feasted me, and when I came away, loaded my canoe with provisions and clothing, and everything for my comfort. It was a time and place of wonderful joy. They seemed to forget everything else, and think only of the poor man whom I had brought back." The old hunter ceased, and said: "Don't this make you think of the fifteenth chapter of Luke, where the man who lost one sheep left all the rest and sought it, and brought it home rejoicing; and of the teaching of our Saviour, that there is joy in heaven oyez one repenting, returning sinner?" "Oh yes; I have often compared the two, and though I don't suppose they ring bells and fire guns in that world, yet I have no doubt they have some way of making their joy known."

I. A FACT ACKNOWLEDGED.

1. It reminds us of the sheep's relation to the Saviour. He has an interest in it. "My sheep." His, even before it was found.

2. It reminds us of the sheep's former state. "Lost."(1) As to God. He derived no service or honour from it.(2) As to its fellow-creatures. They derived no benefit from its prayers, example, exertions, influence(3) As to itself. Destitute of all real peace, hope, joy.

II. THE SATISFACTION HERE IMPLIED. This is the Saviour's own joy on the occasion. We see this implied, and necessarily implied; for how could He call upon others to rejoice with Him, unless He was rejoicing Himself? How could you, unless you were walking, invite others to walk with you? But this satisfaction of the shepherd is not left at an uncertainty. It is here expressly affirmed.

1. The sheep was Hot conscious of the shepherd's kindness. No. When he laid hold of it, it punted and trembled; and when he was laying it on his shoulder, it struggled, and endeavoured to free itself, and as he carried it off, it wondered what he was going to do with it. It is the same with us, when, to use the words of the apostle, we are "apprehended of Christ Jesus."

2. We may view this joy of the Saviour in contrast with the convert's own connections and friends. Some of these may be alarmed and distressed, and imagine the man is going into distraction, or into despair. They know nothing of "a wounded spirit;" they are ignorant of the methods of Divine grace — how God wounds in order to heal; how He humbles in order to exalt; how He impoverishes in order to enrich; how He empties in order to fill. Hence they often send for the physician when they ought to send for the divine. You remember, that when Christian left the city of destruction and was crossing the field, his neighbours and friends, supposing he was deranged or disordered, cried out, "Stop! return!" but he, putting his fingers in his ears, rushed forward, crying, "Life, Life! Eternal life!"

3. We may review this joy as the result of success. How delightful to the husbandman after months of ploughing and sowing, to go forth and "see, first the blade, then the ear, and after that the full corn in the ear": and then, to "reap with joy" and carry home his "sheaves with him"! How pleasing to the builder, after furnishing the materials, to see the edifice rising in lovely proportion, till the topstone thereof is brought forth, with shoutings of "Grace, grace, unto it." And, oh, what joy did the Saviour experience when "He ascended to His Father and our Father; to His God and our God": after saying, "I have finished the work Thou gavest me to do."

4. Then this joy may be viewed as indicative of His benevolence.

5. This joy of His should be the penitent's encouragement.

6. If this joy be the sinner's hope, it should be the saint's example. He was infinitely more than example, but nothing less. And "he who says He abideth in him, ought himself, also, so to walk even as He walked." If you depend upon Him, you must resemble Him.

III. THE DISPOSITION HERE ENJOINED. Not willing to enjoy the pleasure alone, He calls on others to share it.

(W. Jay.)

Every man rejoices twice when he has a partner of his joy. A friend shares my sorrow, and makes it but a moiety; but he swells my joy, and makes it double. For so two channels divide the river, and lessen it into rivulets, and make it fordable, and apt to be drunk up by the first revels of the Syrian star; but two torches do not divide, but increase the flame. And though my tears are the sooner dried up when they run on my friend's cheeks in the furrows of compassion, yet, when my flame hath kindled his lamp, we unite the glories, and make them radiant, like the golden candlesticks that burn before the throne of God, because they shine by numbers, by light, and joy.

(H. W. Beecher.)

The Rev. J.R. Macduff, D.D., tells of a gallant vessel, manned with gallant hearts, which went forth amid the frowning icebergs of the northern seas to search for a band of missing explorers. They sailed thither, buoyed with the faint feeble hope that the objects of their search might still be found, battling bravely with eternal winter. They went after the lost until they found them; but, alas I they found them with the stiffened snow and ice as their winding-sheets. They brought not back the living, but only some sad mementoes and memorials of the dead. Not so is the journey, not so the pursuits of the great Shepherd of the sheep. Those whom He has marked for His own, He will, without fail, bring home. Not one can elude His pursuit nor evade His loving scrutiny.

One week evening an old woman, very poor and very lame, heard the church bell ring for service. She had never been to church before, but took it into her head to go this once. The minister preached on the parable of the lost sheep, and his words conveyed real news, and joyful news too, to the old woman. She sat drinking it in as a traveller drinks at a well in the desert, to save his very life. "What," said she to herself, " be I then a sinner? Yes, surely I be. What, be I then just like a lost sheep? Aye, for sure, I am just like that. And be there a Shepherd searching about for me? Will He find me? Be I worth His while? A Saviour for a poor thing like me! 'Tis wonderful loving." These were her self-communings as she hobbled back on her crutches to her dark cellar. A short time afterwards the clergyman received a message that the poor old woman was dying and earnestly desirous of seeing him. The moment he made his appearance she exclaimed: "That is the man who told me about the lost sheep. I want to know more about it." So he sat down, saying, "I will gladly tell you more about it. I will tell you also about the Sheep that was found." "Yes," she exclaimed, "found! found! found!" She did not live long after this interview, and she passed away with the same words on her dying lips: "Found I found! found!"

Some years ago Southwark was divided into districts by the visitors of the Auxiliary Bible Society. One district was found to contain such a depraved neighbourhood that it was spoken of as the "Forlorn Hope;" and for some time no individual would engage to visit it. At length three ladies, advanced in life, undertook the hopeless task. On entering one house of the vilest description, they found, in the first room into which they went, a young female, of pleasing appearance, mixing something in a cup, which she put into a closet when she saw them. They conversed with her, and asked if she would accept a Testament, which she gladly received. They found she was the daughter of a clergyman, but, vain of her personal attractions, she had been betrayed into that wretched course of life. She eagerly listened to all they said; and finding her anxious to leave the paths of wickedness, they procured her admission into an asylum, and the event proved that she was indeed desirous to return to the paths of virtue. The mixture in the cup when these ladies entered the house was poison. In a few short hours, in all human probability, she would have departed to everlasting misery. She afterwards filled a situation of comfort, and was enabled to look forward with hope to a blissful eternity.

Joy shall be in heaven.
I. HOW WE ARE TO UNDERSTAND THE JOY THAT IS IN HEAVEN AT THE REPENTANCE OF A SINNER. As it refers to God, it seems very inconsistent with the happiness and perfection of the Divine nature to suppose Him really capable of joy, any more than of grief, or any other passion. Because this would be to imagine some new accession to His pleasure and happiness, which being always infinite, can never have anything added to it. And, therefore, we are to understand this, as it relates to God, in the same manner as we do infinite other passages of Scripture, where human passions are ascribed to Him, to be spoken by way of condescension and after the language and manner of the sons of men; and to signify only thus much to us, that the conversion of a sinner is a thing highly pleasing and acceptable to God. As it refers to angels and other blessed spirits, I see no inconvenience why it may not be understood more strictly and literally; that they conceive a new joy at the news of a sinner's repentance, and find a fresh pleasure and delight springing up in their minds, whenever they hear the joyful tidings of a sinner rescued from the slavery of the devil and the danger of eternal damnation; of a new member added to the kingdom of God, that shall be a companion and a sharer with them in that blessedness which they enjoy.

II. WHO ARE HERE MEANT BY THE JUST PERSONS THAT NEED NO REPENTANCE. Our Saviour plainly designs those who, being religiously educated, and brought up in the fear of God, had never broke out into any extravagant and vicious course of life, and so in some sense had no need of repentance, that is, of changing the whole course of their lives, as the prodigal son had.

III. WITH WHAT REASON IT IS HERE SAID, THAT THERE IS "MORE JOY IN HEAVEN OVER ONE SINNER THAT REPENTETH, THAN OVER NINETY AND NINE JUST PERSONS WHO NEED NO REPENTANCE."

1. That the same thing, considered in several respects, may in some respects have the advantage of another thing, and for those reasons be preferred before it, and yet not have the advantage of it absolutely and in all respects. Moral comparisons are not to be exacted to a mathematical strictness and rigour.(1) The greater the difficulty of virtue is, so much the greater is the praise and commendation of it: and not only we ourselves take the more joy and comfort in it, but it is more admirable and delightful to others. .Now, it cannot be denied to be much more difficult to break off a vicious habit, than to go on in a good way which we have been trained up in, and always accustomed to.(2) They who are reclaimed from a wicked course are often more thoroughly and zealously good afterwards. Their remorse for sin quickens and spurs them on in the ways of virtue and goodness.

2. Our Saviour does not hero compare repentance with absolute innocence and perfect righteousness, but with the imperfect obedience of good men, who are guilty of many sins and infirmities; but yet, upon account of the general course and tenor of their lives, are, by the mercy and favour of the gospel, esteemed just and righteous persons; and, for the merits and perfect obedience of Christ, so accepted by God.

3. This utterance of our Saviour is to be understood as spoken very much after the manner of men, and suitably to the nature of human passions, and the usual occasion of moving them. We are apt to be exceedingly affected with the obtaining of what we did not hope for, and much more with regaining of what we looked upon as lost and desperate.Concluding inferences:

1. The blessed spirits above have some knowledge of the affairs of men here below.

2. If God and the blessed spirits above rejoice at the conversion of a sinner, so should we too: and not fret and murmur as the Pharisees did.

3. The consideration of what hath been said should mightily inflame our zeal, and quicken our industry and diligence for the conversion of sinners.

4. What an argument and encouragement is hero to repentance, even to the greatest of sinners.

(Archbishop Tillotson.)

Why should these heavenly beings rise into such an excitement? What have they to do with our repentance down here? We look for an explanation.

I. We must bear in mind THE INTENSE SYMPATHY WHICH THESE ANGELS HAVE WITH JEHOVAH, WHO IS GOD OVER ALL. They unceasingly catch their inspiration and impulse from His face, before which they stand. If we were to draw a picture of that shining host, we might represent a throng which no man can number, with gaze all attracted one way towards the throne from which emanates the whole bliss and beauty of that heavenly estate. A gleam of gladness on the ineffable features is reproduced upon the countenances of all in that assemblage, and the quick response beams from every eye, trembles in every voice of eager utterance, and rings out joyously from every struck harp. Thus they serve Him day and night in His temple. Hence, the view which God Himself has of a repentant soul is immediately observed and transmitted. And what that view is, is easily found out (see John 1:18).

II. But again: In order to appreciate the full meaning of a gladness so extraordinary as this in heaven, WE MUST REMEMBER THAT THESE ANGELS HAVE ALWAYS MANIFESTED AN ABSORBING INTEREST IN MEN AS THE CREATURES OF GOD. They know, better than we know ourselves, we shall have to admit, what we once were, and what we now are, and in the end what we may become by the manifold grace of God.

1. They saw our race at its beginning, before it was defiled by sin. They sang together at the creation (see Job 38:7). It is needful for us to struggle up to gain an adequate idea of what perfect holiness is; they know by intuition; and they saw man when the race was as holy as their own, and they have not forgotten it.

2. They know what we are now better than we know ourselves. We see as in enigma, darkly; they see in the sunshine of God's great love, out of which they know we have fallen.

3. They know what we can become better than we know ourselves. They understand the essential grandeur of grace as a process of renewal and restoration. To them a soul is priceless because it can hold a palm-branch, it can wear a crown, it can sing a song for the King. They measure the supreme height into which the redeemed are advanced when by penitence and faith they are lifted into love.

III. Once more: In order to understand this great emotion of the angels, WE MUST RECOLLECT THAT THEY HAVE ALWAYS EXHIBITED AN EAGER INTEREST IN THE PURPOSE AND WORD OF CHRIST AS THE SON OF GOD.

1. This was a matter of great difficulty to them in the beginning. It is not revealed to us that there was any subject which ever attracted their attention more than this scheme of redemption by Jesus. That, we are told, "the angels desire to look into" (see 1 Peter 1:12).

2. The steps of the wonderful disclosure were all under their observation. They saw the Saviour pass by through their shining ranks out of heaven on His way to the world. They marked how He laid aside His glory, and took the form of a servant. But lest they should imagine they were to despise Him in His humiliation, there came then a sudden command through heaven: "Lot all the angels of God worship Him!" Then He moved on. Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Capernaum, Calvary, and Bethany succeeded; at last they saw what it all meant.

3. The risk now must have been fully appreciated. Would this plan succeed? At first these angels seem to have indulged in one irrepressible acclamation of supreme delight; they sang "Glory to God in the highest," over Bethlehem plains. But then they settled back upon their "looking into" the rest. Peering over the battlements of their celestial abode, they watched John the Baptist as he preached repentance; they saw how the whole success or failure turned upon that. Would anybody repent and come back to God's love in answer to the invitation? Must Jesus have died and pleaded in vain?

4. Now think of the announcement of a sinner returning unto purity. Imagine Simon Peter, or Nathanael, or Nicodemus, on bended knees before Christ, the sinner's Friend. Repentance had begun upon earth; the plan of redemption would answer! With what abashed joy these angels must have looked in each other's faces; and then in an instant of delighted wonderment they would seek the Divine Countenance in the throne.Now let our minds slowly receive two or three reflections:

1. See the value of the conversion of just one soul. "One sinner that repenteth." What is Zion's glory? Read Psalm 87:5, 6.

2. When angels are so excited, how strange seems our apathy! Just out of sight is a world all alive with enthusiasm and zeal.

3. Is it possible that angels cars more for sinners' salvation than some of the sinners seem to care for themselves to be saved?

(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)

1. They rejoice because an heir of heaven has been led to claim his inheritance. Mark the words, "Joy in heaven." Heaven belongs to the penitent soul, and he belongs to heaven. For heaven is the dwelling-place of God and the home of His children. It is our home by a double title. Every member of the Church of Christ who is as the lost sheep, or as the lost piece of money, or as the younger son, is one lost out of the family of God, and when he returns, he is one restored to the place from which he was missing.

2. And the joy at his repentance finds its reason in the fact, that a man's repentance is the removal of that one obstacle which prevents his restoration to his place in the family of God. What is that obstacle? Do I need to name it? It is sin.

3. And thus we are led to notice another element in those causes from which the joy of the heavenly ones proceeds; it is the value of the soul which is thus emancipated by the mighty change which has passed upon it. "The redemption of the soul is precious." We are in danger of forgetting the intrinsic worth and dignity of the soul of man in consequence of the loss which it has sustained through the Fall and by sin..

(W. R. Clark, M. A.)

I. Who are those that need no repentance? There are two modes of solving this difficulty, so as perfectly to harmonize the doctrine of the text with the general system of Divine truth. In the first place, there are those who have repented, and are no longer denominated penitents. In the next place, there is no necessity for taking the words in their absolute sense. Our Lord frequently speaks in an hypothetical or supposititious manner.

II. Why is there more joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth than over ninety-nine just persons that need no repentance? Whether we can fully understand the causes of their joy is uncertain. There may be certain relations in which they exist that our more limited nature cannot comprehend, and which powerfully affect their minds with impressions of joy. We are a great deal more affected by recent than by remote causes. Now it is probable that all beings have a great similarity in this respect, and as repentance is a thing of recent occurrence, as it is the essential fact in the history of man's felicity, as it is the very gate to the celestial country, angels may feel a peculiar delight in an event so singular, and connected with infinite results. Then, again, it is probable that, like ourselves, angels are affected by contrast; and what contrast can be more striking than that exhibited by the impenitent and the penitent? Lastly, I would suggest a few hints which naturally arise out of the subject. In the first place, what an infinite value is stamped upon this transformation of the heart — repentance! The penitent becomes entitled to all the benefits which are comprehended in the enjoyment of the presence and blessing of God. Secondly, we see the importance of the gospel. This is the great instrument for producing repentance. Thirdly, it affords the most delighful encouragement to sinners to repent.

(R. Hall, M. A.)

I. IT IS POSSIBLE FOR US TO AUGMENT THE HAPPINESS OF HEAVEN. If you would this day repent and come to God, the news of your salvation would reach heaven, and then, hark to the shouts of the ransomed! Your little child went away from you into the good land. While she was here you brought her all kinds of beautiful presents. Sometimes you came home at nightfall with your pockets full of gifts for her, and no sooner did you put your night-key into the latch than she began at you, saying, "Father, what have you brought me?" She is now before the throne of God. Can you bring her a gift to-day? You may. Coming to Christ and repenting of sin, the tidings will go up to the throne of God, and your child will hear of it. Oh! what a gift for her soul today. She will skip with new gladness on the everlasting hills when she hears of it. I was at Sharpsburg during the war, and one day I saw a sergeant dash past on a lathered horse, the blood dripping from the spurs. I said: "That sergeant must be going on a very important message — he must be carrying a very important dispatch, or he wouldn't ride like that." Here are two angels of God flitting through the house, flitting toward the throne on quick dispatch. What is the news? Carrying up the story of souls repentant and forgiven, carrying the news to the throne of God, carrying the news to your kindred who are for ever saved. Oh! "there is joy in heaven among the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth." And suppose this whole audience should turn to the Lord this morning? Heaven would be filled with doxologies. I was reading of a king who, after gaining a great victory, said to his army: "Now, no shouting; let everything be quiet, no shouting." But if this morning your soul should come to God, nothing could stop the shouting of the armies of God before the throne; for "there is joy in heaven among the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth."

II. HEAVEN AND EARTH ARE IN CLOSE SYMPATHY. People talk of heaven as though it were a great way off. They say it is hundreds of thousands of miles before you reach the first star, and then you go hundreds of thousands of miles before you get to the second star, and then it is millions of miles before you reach heaven. They say heaven is the centre of the universe, and we are on the rim of the universe. That is not the idea of my text. I think the heart of heaven beats very close to our world. We measure distances by the time taken to traverse those distances. It used to be a long distance to San Francisco. Many weeks and months were passed before you could reach that city. Now it is seven days. It used to be six weeks before you could voyage from here to Liverpool. Now you can go that distance in eight or nine days. And so I measure the distance between earth and heaven, and I find it is only a flash. It is one instant here, and another instant there. It is very near to-day. Christ says in one place it is not twenty-four hours' distance, when He says to the penitent thief: "This day, this day, shalt thou be with Me in Paradise." Oh! how near heaven is to earth! By oceanic cable you send a message. As it is expensive to send the message, you compress a great deal of meaning in a few words. Sometimes in two words you can put vast meaning. And it seems to me that the angels of God who carry news from earth to heaven need to take up this morning, in regard to your soul, only two words in order to kindle with gladness all the redeemed before the throne: only two words: "Father saved," "mother saved," "son saved," "daughter saved." And "there is joy in heaven among the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth."

III. THE SALVATION OF THE SOUL IS OF VAST IMPORTANCE. When the French Government passed from Thiers to McMahon, I do not suppose it was reported in heaven. When, in the recent English elections, the contest was between Conservatives and Liberals, the result, I do not suppose, was reported in heaven. But there is one item that must go up — there is one thing that must be told. Let the flying hoofs of God's courier clash through the portals, and the news fly from gate to temple, and from temple to mansion, and from mansion to throne, that one soul has been converted. Last summer, among the White Mountains, a stage driver was very reckless. He had a large company of passengers and drove six horses. Coming along a dangerous place, the leaders shied off, and the stage was thrown over the rocks. A few men leaped out and were saved, others went down and were bruised, and some were slain. When those who were saved got home, how their friends must have congratulated them that they got off from all that peril! Well! the angels of God look down, and see men driving along the edge of eternal disasters, drawn by leaping, foaming, uncontrollable perils: and when a man, just before he comes to the fatal capsize, leaps off and comes away in safety, do you wonder that the angels of God clap their hands and cry: "Good! Good! saved from hell! Saved for heaven! Saved for ever!" The redemption of a soul must be a very wonderful thing, or heaven would not make such a jubilation about it. It must be a great thing, or there would not be so much excitement in that land where coronations are every-day occurrences, and the stones of the field are amethysts and chrysoprases.

(De Witt Talmage, D. D.)

We may illustrate this text by an incident which occurred in connection with the wreck of the ill-fated steamer, Central America. A few days after that startling event, which sent hundreds to a watery grave, and plunged the nation in grief, a pilot boat was seen, on a fair breezy morning, standing up the bay of New York. The very appearance of the vessel gave token that she was freighted with tidings of no common interest. With every sail set, and streamers flying, she leaped along the waters as if buoyant with some great joy; while the glad winds that swelled her canvas, and the sparkling waves that kissed her sides and urged her on her way, seemed to laugh with conscious delight. As she drew nearer, an unusual excitement was visible on her deck; and her captain, running out to the extreme point of the bowsprit and swinging his cap, appeared to be shouting something with intense earnestness and animation. At first the distance prevented his being distinctly understood. But soon, as the vessel came farther into the harbour, the words, "Three more saved! Three more saved!" reached the nearest listeners. They were caught up by the crews of the multitudinous ships that lay anchored around, and sailors sprang wildly into the rigging and shouted, "Three more saved!" They were heard on the wharves; and the porter threw down his load, and the drayman stopped his noisy cart, and shouted, "Three more saved." The tidings ran along the streets; and the news-boys left off crying the last murder, and shouted, "Three more saved." Busy salesmen dropped their goods, bookkeepers their pens, bankers their discounts, tellers their gold, and merchants, hurrying on the stroke of the last hour of grace to pay their notes, paused in their headlong haste, and shouted, "Three more saved!" Louder and louder grew the cry — fast and faster it spread — along the crowded piers of the Hudson and East River — up by the graves of Trinity, the Hotels of Broadway, the marble palaces of the Fifth Avenue — over the heights of Brooklyn — across to Hoboken and Jersey City — away, away, beyond tower and pinnacle, beyond mansion and temple, beyond suburb and hamlet — till a million hearts pulsated with its thrill, and above all the sounds of the vast metropolis, mightier than all, hushing all, rose the great exultant shout, "Three more saved! Three more saved!" If cold and selfish men will thus stop short in the eager quest of gain or of pleasure, to let the voice of humanity speak out, and to express their joy that three fellow-beings have been rescued from the ocean depths, shall we deem it an incredible thing that the holy and loving denizens of heaven should rejoice when a sinner repents, and is delivered from the abyss of hell?

(Dr. Ide.)

And in truth we may learn, from the working of human affection, that the rejoicing more of the lost sheep than of the ninety and nine, proves not that the one is more beloved than the rest. If one member of his family be in sickness or danger, does not that one seem almost to engross the heart of the parent? Are not the other members comparatively forgotten, so completely, for a while, are the thoughts absorbed in the suffering individual? It is not — and the fathers and mothers amongst you know that it is not — that the sick child is better loved than those which are in health. It is not that your affections are more centred on the son who is far away amid the perils of the deep than on those who are sitting safely at your fireside. It is only that danger causes you to feel a special interest for the time in some one of your offspring — an interest which for the most part ceases with the occasion, and which would be immediately transferred to another of the family, if that other were the subject of the peril. Oh, we quite believe that the mother, gazing on the child who seems about to be taken from her by death, is conscious of a feeling of passionate attachment which does not throb within her as she looks on her other little ones sleeping in their unbroken healthfulness. And if disease be suddenly arrested, and the child over whom she had wept in her agony smile on her again, and again charm her with its prattle, why we are persuaded that she will rejoice more of that child than of its brothers and its sisters, over whose beds she has never hung in anguish. Yet it is not that the one is dearer to her than the others. The probability of losing the one, whilst the others were safe, has caused a concentration of her solicitudes and anxieties. But her heart is all the while as thoroughly devoted to those who need not the same intenseness of her maternal care; and you have only to suppose the sickness from which one child has recovered seizing on another, and presently you will see her centring on this other the same eager watchfulness; and for a time will there be again the same apparent absorption of the affections: and if again there be restoration to health, oh, again there will be the manifestations of an exuberant gladness, and the mother will rejoice more of the boy or the girl who has been snatched back from the grave than of those members of her household who have not approached its confines. But not, we again say, because she loves one child better than the rest — not because the healthful must become the sick in order to their being cherished and prized. Whatever her rapture on being told "thy son liveth," the mother would far prefer the deep and unruffled tranquillity of a household not visited by danger and disease. And thus also with regard to moral peril, which brings the case nearer to that of the parable under review. If one member of a family grow up vicious and dissolute, whilst the others pursue stedfastly a course of obedience and virtue, it is not to be disputed that the thoughts of the parents will almost be engrossed by their profligate child, and that the workings of anxious affection will be more evident in regard of this prodigal than of the sons and the daughters who have given them no cause for uneasiness. Is it that they love the reckless better than the obedient? is it that they would love the obedient better if they were turned into the reckless? You know that this is no true account of the matter. You know that the seeing what we love in danger excites that interest on its behalf which we are scarcely conscious of whilst we see it in security. The danger serves to bring out the affection, and to show us its depth; but it rather affords occasion of manifestation than increases the amount. And, beyond question, if the child whose perverseness and profligacy have disquieted the father and the mother, causing them anxious days and sleepless nights, turn from the error of his ways, and seek their forgiveness and blessing ere they die, there will be excited such emotions in their hearts as have never been stirred by the rectitude and obedience of the rest of their offspring. And, in like manner, so far as we may carry up the illustration from the earthly to the heavenly we deny that, in representing God as rejoicing more over the recovered tribe than over those which never fell, we represent Him as better pleased with repentance than with uniform obedience. We do but ascribe to Him human emotions, just in order to show that there is a tenderness in Deity which makes Him solicitous, if the word be allowable, for those who have brought themselves into danger and difficulty, and which renders their deliverance an object of such mighty importance that, when achieved, it may be said to minister more to His happiness than the homage of the myriads who never moved His displeasure. And when, through the energies of redemption, the human race was reinstated in the place whence it fell, it was not that God prefers the penitent to those who never swerved from allegiance, and has greater delight in men who have sinned than in angels who have always obeyed; it was not on these accounts that He was more gladdened, as we suppose Him, by the recovery of what had wandered than by the steadfastness of what remained. It was only because, where there has been ground of anxiety, and a beloved object has been in peril, his restoration and safety open channels into which, for a while, the sympathies of the heart seem to pour all their fulness — it was only on this account that, Divine things being illustrated by human, our Creator might be likened to a man who, having found on the mountains the one sheep he had lost, "rejoiceth more of that sheep than of the ninety and nine which went not astray." We judge from its context, as given by St. Matthew, that Christ designed to indicate the carefulness of God in reference to the erring members of the Church, which is specially His flock. He is there speaking of the little ones, who are His disciples and followers; and the truth which He declares illustrated by the parable is, that it is not the will of the Father that "one of these little ones should perish.

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

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