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them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?" Where does the

shepherd leave the ninety and nine sheep? Safe in the fold. And why does he go after the one that has strayed? Because, if he did not, it would be lost for ever. Why so? Because the sheep is a silly creature, that never finds its way back when it has strayed from the fold. Who are compared to lost sheep? Sinners, fallen from God; and backsliders who have strayed from the fold. Who seeks fallen sinners? The Lord Jesus Christ. Where does he find them? On the mountains of vanity, and in the paths of sin. Whither does he gather them? Into the fold of his church. Does he know every sheep and every lamb in his fold? Yes; he calleth his own sheep by name.* who restores backsliders? The same good Shepherd.+

And

13. Does a shepherd rejoice when he recovers a lost sheep? Yes; "and if so be that he find it, verily

I

say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.” What does this parable teach us? The great joy it is to the Redeemer when a sinner is brought back to God. Was that a part of the joy that was set before him when he endured the sufferings of the cross?

Yes.‡

John x. 3.

+ Ps. xxiii. 1-3.

Isa. liii. 10; Heb. xii. 2.

14. What did our Lord then say, in allusion to the parable of the lost sheep? "Even so, it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish." Who are meant

by "these little ones"? See x. 42.

Is the Lord

No; he is not

willing that sinners should perish? willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.* What, then, is the difference between the will of God concerning all men, and his will concerning his elect "little ones"? The will of God concerning all men is a will of benevolence,* * his will concerning his elect is a will of determination.t benevolence towards all men? By making provision to save them. Why then are not all men saved who hear the gospel? Because all will not come unto Christ that they may have life.‡

How has God manifested his

15. When our Lord had cautioned his disciples against giving offence, to whom did he give special directions? To such of them as might receive offence. What did he say? 66 Moreover, if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone." Who is meant by "thy brother''? Any one who is a fellow-Christian. What case does our Lord suppose respecting a fellow-Christian? "If thy brother trespass against thee." What is it to trespass? To injure, or grieve any one. Do the disciples of Jesus ever injure, or grieve their fellow-disciples? Yes; when

* 2 Pet. iii. 9.

+ John vi. 39.

John v. 40.

they act inconsistently.

If a fellow-believer have

used you ill, what is the rule, in Christ's church, for the treatment of that person? "Go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone." Is that the method generally adopted towards those who have offended us? No; we too often complain to others, and so expose the misconduct of our fellowChristians. Why does our Lord enjoin that the reproof should, in the first instance, be private? To show the offender, that we seek not his reproach, but his repentance. What advantage may accrue from this method of acting? "If he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother." What is meant by, "If he shall hear thee"? If he shall receive your reproof, and be convinced of his error. What are we to understand by having "gained thy brother"? Gained him over to a right way of thinking, feeling, and acting. How should we set ourselves to the duty of restoring any one who has been overtaken in a fault? It is written, Restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.*

16. But in case the offender" will not hear thee," but persists in his fault, what is the next step to be taken? "Then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established." Why are one or two more persons to be present at your next remonstrance with the offender? That they may hear both par

* Gal. vi. 1.

H

ties, and judge who is in fault.

Would not the

testimony of the offended person be sufficient to prove the fact? No; for the Law of God ordains, that one witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity.* When the case has been fully investigated, what is the duty of these witnesses? To tell the offender his fault, and to endeavour to bring about a reconciliation.

17. If this measure does not bring the offender to a proper state of mind, what is to be done? "And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church." What is the meaning of the word church, as used in the New Testament? A church is an assembly of such as are, or appear to be true believers, meeting to observe Christian ordinances. Does the church mean the place in which they meet? No; always the people who meet in it. Is it lawful for a church to meet in any convenient place? Yes.‡ For what purpose are offences to be brought before the church? That being judged before many saints,§ the offences may be done away. How can offences be done away, or removed? Either by bringing the offender to repentance, or by putting him away as a wicked person.|| What is the meaning of putting him away as a wicked person? Refusing him the privilege of Christian communion.

* Deut. xix. 15.

John xx. 19, and Acts ii. 1, &c. school-rooms, private houses, &c. xvi. 5.

§ 2 Cor. ii. 6.

1 Cor. xiv. 23. Paul preached in synagogues, Acts xix. 8, 9; xx. 8; Rom.

1 Cor. v. 13.

nances.

What do you mean by communion? The partaking of the Lord's supper,* and other Christian ordiShould the Lord's supper be administered to all, indiscriminately? No.+ Who are to be judges in admitting or excluding persons from church-fellowship? The members of the church to whom the individual is, or wishes to be united.‡ Is every member of a Christian church bound, in cases of offence, to submit to the decision of his brethren? Yes.§ If the offender disregards the admonitions of the church, what is to be done? "If he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man, and a publican." What is meant by an heathen man? A man who is ignorant of the true God. What were the publicans? What does it import, when a man is compared to a heathen, or a publican? That he is no longer to be accounted a Christian. Who are to be accounted as heathens and publicans? Those who despise the censures of the church. What is to be done, in the case of such a despiser? He is to be delivered unto Satan.|| What is

See v. 46.

* 1 Cor. x. 16.

+ 1 Cor. v. 11. If not to eat a common meal with him, much less the holy communion.

1 Cor. v. 12; Acts ix. 26, 27.

§ Ephes v. 21.

1 Cor. v. 5. The design is thus expressed, "for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved," &c., i. e. for the mortification of the offender's pride and corrupt affections, by means of such a public disgrace; whereby he may, through God's mercy, be pulled out of the fire. Jude 23.

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