If British travelers in Palestine are, with singular unanimity, arrested by the novel spectacle of the Shepherd going before the sheep, still more impressive, to the eye unaccustomed to such scenes at home, seems to be the docility with which the sheep follow the Shepherd. It is a beautiful living picture in the dumb creation of trustful and confiding attachment. One or two truants of the flock may stray into the tempting cornfields, unhedged and unfenced close by; but the vast majority follow closely the footsteps of their guide. An accurate personal observer of pastoral life in the Judean hills has noted, that if the sheep stoop down to take a mouthful of the grass across which their Shepherd leads them, they lift up their heads to see that he is at hand, fearful of losing sight of him, and of finding themselves beyond reach of his voice. They will even plunge into the stream or swollen torrent if he should lead the way.

Is this a feeble figurative description of our docile, trustful following of the Good Shepherd? Can it be said of us in any humble sense, "We have the mind of Christ?" For what is the great lesson shadowed forth under this figurative language, but that our aim, as His people—the flock of His pasture—should be, to have each thought, wish, feeling, desire, coincident with His holy will. "Following Jesus" is just, in other words, doing always those things that are pleasing in His sight. Let us dwell upon this a little more particularly.

To follow Jesus as His spiritual sheep, we must do so FAITHFULLY. We are (or ought to be) divine artists making the character of the Redeemer our study, seeking to transfer, with scrupulous fidelity to our hearts and lives, a copy—imperfect, indeed, at best it must be—of the glorious Original. The four Gospels are the four corridors of a great picture-gallery, opening into one another. Their walls are crowded and frescoed with delineations from the story of His life on earth—scenes illustrative of the divine virtues of the Shepherd of Israel—for our imitation and example. Here is one picture of matchless humility—He is washing His disciples' feet. Another—He is weeping with a group of mourners in a Jewish graveyard. Another—He is bearing unmerited indignities, in meek, unmurmuring silence. Another—He commends, in His dying hour, His sorrowing, bereft parent to the care of a trusted friend. Another—He stretches out the hand of forgiveness to an ungrateful disciple. Another—while the chariot of cloud is waiting to carry Him upwards to His mediatorial Throne, His arms of unselfish love are extended in blessing the bereaved and orphaned men of Galilee! What sublime pictures are these for our study!

Let our transcript—poor, marred, blemished at the best—be as faithful an approximation as we can. The nearer the artist is placed to the work of the Great Master, the more exact and successful his copy will be. "Consider," says the apostle (literally "gaze upon") "Jesus Christ." Study the divine portraiture, line by line, feature by feature, until you transfix on the tablet of your own heart some faint resemblance of His spotless character. "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus."

In following the guiding Shepherd, let us do so JOYFULLY. The Oriental sheep does not follow with reluctance. It is not driven with the goad of some cruel hireling, or terrified into tractability by the dog baying at his heels. It is a free, voluntary, joyful obedience. It would be unhappy to hear any other voice, or to follow any other footstep. It obeys the call of the Shepherd, because it delights to be near him. This is the picture of the true believer. He follows his Lord with joy. It is not the cold, hard motive of duty—but rather, duty is transformed into delight. If you ask him why he follows his Shepherd, he will reply, "The love of Christ constrains me!"

The flower does not follow the sun grudgingly and under constraint. It does not hide its blushing tints in the shade, or creep under some crevice to escape the light. On the contrary, it is strange to see the efforts it makes to free itself from its nook of concealment, and get refreshment and revival for its leaves and blossoms. The air feeds its invisible vessels; the dews moisten leaf, and stem, and root; the sun pours upon all its genial warmth; and the grateful and joyous inanimate thing pushes upwards, as if it longed to be ever nearer the great dispenser of light and blessing. Why should we creep like unhealthy plants afraid of the sunshine? "These things," says Christ, "have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full." "Rejoice," says the noblest of His followers, "in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice." Be true sheep to your guiding Shepherd, and you will "go on your way rejoicing."

Endeavor to follow the Great Shepherd HABITUALLY. The sheep does not follow its Shepherd by fits and starts; seeking to be near him only when the wolf is prowling, or when the dog is on its track—when the night shadows are falling, or the pasture is diminishing. It is generally found close to its protector and guide. It is an undeviating trustful companionship, in sunshine and storm—in fullness and in drought—in summer and winter.

So it is, or ought to be, with the Believer—a constant, consistent, habitual following of his Lord, seeking ever to have a realizing sense of His nearness. Not merely when trouble is near; in the hour of affliction and sad calamity, or of impending death; but in the midst of life's joyous sunshine, when verdure is on the mountainside, when the rills are singing their way down to the lower valley, and the tinkling bells answering from fold to fold, tell of nothing but peace, and safety, and repose.

It is not great, or special, or extraordinary experiences which constitute in the best sense the 'religious character.' It is the uniform daily walk with God; serving Him in little things as well as great things; in the ordinary duties and everyday avocations, as well as in the midst of grave and eventful contingencies. As the most sublime symphony is made up of separate single notes—as the wealth of the cornfield is made up of separate stalks, or rather of separate grains; as the magnificent texture, with its gorgeous combinations of color, its pictures cunningly interweaved by the hand or the shuttle, is made up of individual threads—as the mightiest avalanche that ever came thundering down from its Alpine throne, uprooting villages and forests, is made up of tiny snowflakes; so it is with the spiritual life. That life is itself the grandest illustration of the power of littles.

Character is the product of daily, hourly actions, and words, and thoughts—daily forgiveness, unselfishness, kindnesses, sympathies, charities, sacrifices for the good of others, struggles against temptation, submissiveness under trial. Oh! it is these, like the blending colors in a picture, or the blending notes of music, which constitute "the MAN!" It is when the whole being is in harmony with the Divine will—this—this is the true "Psalm of Life!"

The flower, of which we spoke a little ago, has no set days for following the sun, and drinking in his radiance; neither has it any set days for exhaling its own perfume. It swings its censer of incense in the still air all summer long. So with the Christian. His heart is a true sun-flower, following the Great Spiritual Luminary from dawn to eventide, drooping its head in sadness when the night shadows fall, and ready to expand the folded blossom again at the summons of the morning. He does not give God the Sabbath merely, and closes his leaves and petals to holy influences all the week. He seeks to begin it, carry it on, and end it under the consciousness of the Divine favor. His morning prayer strikes the key-note of each day. "Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, You that lead Joseph like a flock."

Let us seek, as the flock of Christ, to follow the Shepherd ONLY. No other voice, no other leader ought we to hear. There are other voices to which, in these days, we are apt to listen, rather than that of the Heavenly Shepherd. In these divided modern sheepfolds, we have one saying, 'Paul is my shepherd;' another, 'Apollos is mine;' another, 'Cephas is mine.' We hear the word "toleration" applied among professing Christians more frequently than we should. Sheep tolerating one another—Shepherds tolerating one another; yes, and sometimes not even that. Salvation is made to turn on the question of sectarianism. The Jewish sheep and the Jewish shepherds have no dealing with the Samaritan sheep and the Samaritan shepherds. Sheep are excluded—excommunicated from the fold—because they have not some discriminating symbols of human device, apart from God's symbol of holiness of character. Oh! that we were done with these wretched man-made distinctions!

They are like the marks the earthly shepherd puts on the wool of his sheep to distinguish them, but which are no test whatever of intrinsic value. As we have seen some of the basest truants of the fold, some poor, haggard, pertinacious wanderers, bearing on their fleece forged initials; so it is by no artificial lettering—no church or denominational symbolism—that we are to discriminate the true sheep of Christ. What says Paul, that noble under-shepherd? "Be you," he says "followers of me"—or followers of Apollos—followers of Cephas. How? "As far as we are followers of Christ." No further. 'Follow us only as we follow the Chief Shepherd. Follow us only if you hear in us His voice.'

God's mark is that which He set of old on Caleb—"He wholly followed the Lord his God." Not that we plead for a condition of the Church which we have no reason either to expect or desire; an amalgamating of all the different sects and sections an absorption of all the different folds into one. We question if this would be the mind of the Chief Shepherd. But as on our own hill slopes and mountain sides at eventide, there comes from the pendant bells of many separate folds a sweet and pleasing harmony of blended sound, so there might be (there ought to be) union if not communion—cooperation if there is not incorporation. "Whereto we have attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing:" recognizing a brother wherever we see a true follower of Jesus; extending Christian sympathy and fellowship wherever we see the unmistakable marks of the spiritual character and life.

Up! and follow the Lord FULLY. The traveler, overtaken in the snowstorm, knows that the longer he dallies, the greater will be his danger. He grasps his pilgrim-staff, and, facing the cutting wind and blinding drift, he pursues his arduous way. It is a blessed promise, "Then shall we know if we follow on to know the Lord." And the nearer we are in conscious fellowship with Christ, the more closely we track His footsteps—the safer and more joyous and more privileged we shall be.

An intelligent observer, in speaking of some sheep who are always nearest the shepherd, says, "These are his special favorites. He is ever distributing to such, choice portions which he gathers for that purpose.' Near Christ now, He will feed us with the finest of the wheat. Near Him now, we shall be privileged to enjoy nearer access to Him hereafter. Our spiritual condition and position now will determine our place in the fold above. It is according as we gravitate on earth near the Great central Spiritual Sun, that our orbit will be fixed in the celestial firmament. While yet, then, still at a distance from the heavenly pastures, be it ours to imbibe the spirit, and to walk in the footsteps of our Shepherd-Redeemer, that when we reach the golden meadows of heaven, when we take our place among the flock of the ransomed, it may still be said of us, in a nobler sense, "THESE ARE THEY WHICH FOLLOW THE LAMB WHEREVER HE GOES."

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