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This is the first thing I have to talk to you
of: Jesus Christ is our shepherd.
Let us now go on to consider,
II. Who are the LAMBS of Christ's flock. My dears, all good children are the lambs of Christ's flock. By a good child, I mean a child who is turned away from sin; a child whose heart is changed by the Holy Spirit, who is sorry for his sins, and weeps over them, and tries to believe in Jesus Christ, and tries to love God and do his duty. Every little boy or girl who does this is a lamb of Christ's flock. He was before like other children, wandering from Christ's fold; but now he is brought back to it. Remember, children, that you and I were by nature separated from God, like lambs going away from the shepherd. The Bible says, All we, like sheep, have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way 3. Remember, too, that all wicked children are not as yet Christ's lambs, but are like sheep still going astray from the fold.
Now wicked children like these are marked by three things.
First, A wicked child is one who tells lies. Children who are not truly become lambs of Christ, are too apt to do this. I do not mean merely telling direct untruths, which you know will be found out, but concealing what you
3 Isa. liii. 6.
have done amiss, not always telling the whole truth.
Secondly, The second thing that marks wicked children is, their disobedience to their parents. Every child that is not truly turned to Christ does this. Such children do what they are desired not to do; and when their parents find fault with them, then they are sulky and disobedient. Now I fear that almost all the children here, if they put their hands on their hearts, must own that they have disobeyed their parents. Such must know that unless they are converted, they cannot be the lambs of Christ.
Thirdly, The third thing that marks wicked children is, that they are quarrelsome. A little boy, who is not a lamb of Christ's flock, quarrels with his brothers, or sisters, or playmates; he always takes the largest share of any thing that is given between them; he is cross and selfish and if he is a big child, he beats the younger ones. Now I am afraid that almost every child here, if he asks his own heart, must own that he has done these three things.
But there is another thing that wicked children do, but it is so bad that I hardly like to mention it; and yet I must mention it, lest any little child here should be guilty of it. What I mean is, speaking bad words, swearing, and taking God and Christ's names in vain. This
is a very, very wicked thing; but I am afraid many little children, who would not be allowed to do it in school, do it when nobody hears them. I have been very much shocked, as I walked along the public streets, to hear very bad words from little boys not above eight or nine years old: so early do they learn to sin.
But when the grace of God begins to soften the heart of a little boy or girl, and the child feels what a sinner he has been, and thinks within himself, I must die and be laid in the church-yard, and the worms must feed on my body, and if I have not loved Jesus Christ, I must go to hell; when a little child feels his sins at the bottom of his heart, and begins to pray, it is the first sign of one who is becoming a lamb of Christ's flock. I hope there is not a child here who does not say his prayers; but, my dear children, there is a great difference between saying your prayers and praying. But when a little child begins to turn to God and to feel his sins, then he begins really to pray to God from his heart, and to beg of God to pardon his sins for Christ's sake, and he tries to leave off every thing naughty, and to love God and obey his commandments, and govern his tempers, and he seeks God's grace to do this --such a child is a lamb of Christ's flock, á lamb belonging to the great and good shepherd Jesus Christ. Such a little child was once
perhaps too much like a lion, or a bear, as your hymns tell you:
"Let dogs delight to bark and bite,
For God hath made them so;
For 'tis their nature too."
So you see that all children with bad tempers, who quarrel and fight, are like these fierce animals; but this little child whom I have described is now grown like a lamb, because God's grace has changed his heart.
Now, you know that of all animals, lambs are the gentlest, they are the picture of innocence; it is impossible to look at a flock of sheep and not be struck with the mildness and innocence of the little lambs, sporting and frisking about in the fields beside their mothers. Such, my dear children, would you be, if you began to be good, if you tried to love God, and to pray, and to beg forgiveness for your sins, and to think why it was that Christ died, and how you ought to love him and obey him. O think what a delight it would be to your parents to have such children, to have children who begin to serve God, and whom they hope Jesus Christ loves as he loves the lambs of his own flock.
But perhaps this child who is seeking God may be very weak, and he may feel how weak
he is, and tremble, lest, after all, he should not be really a lamb of Christ's flock. But remember, a lamb is of course young and tender; it is not grown up; and however weak it may be, Christ will take care of it, for he says to his servants, Feed my lambs, as well as Feed my sheep.
Therefore, if I knew who was the weakest child in this church; if I could read tl.e heart of any little boy or girl that was desiring to serve God, and yet felt his weakness, and was like a young lamb shivering in the cold, I would say to that particular child, that Jesus Christ died for his lambs, and that, weak as he is, he shall be strong in the grace and power of his shepherd, the eternal Son of God..
This is now the second thing I had to show you; that every good child is a lamb of Christ's fold.
I shall now consider,
III. What is the FOOD that Christ provides for his lambs.
For you know the lambs in a flock must be fed every day or they will die. So Christ's lambs must be fed every day; and Jesus said to Peter, Feed my lambs. Now, what is meant by the food with which Christ's lambs are to be fed?
The food Jesus speaks of is, the instruction