THE FOOTSTEPS OF THE FLOCK.

“IF thou know not, O thou fairest among women, go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock, and feed thy kids beside the shepherds’ tents.” – Song i. 8.

Our Lord Jesus Christ is the heavenly Bridegroom of the queen of heaven, the fairest among women. He loved the church and gave himself for it, that he might present it to himself a glorious church. Of him John the Baptist said, “He that hath the bride is the Bridegroom.” It is as his bride, sanctified, adorned and beautified by him, that she is the fairest among women, and to her he says, “Thou art fair, my love.” He rejoices over her; she is compared to a beautiful city, the heavenly Jerusalem, spotless and holy, and is the mother of all the children of promise. Isaac was a lovely type of every one of them. Their home is in this holy city, and its perfection of beauty draws them to it in their hearts’ sweet devotion.

But now, in another relation and view, they were lost sheep of “the flock of slaughter.” In this relation the Bridegroom is “the good Shepherd,” and says, “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” “The good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.” He gives them pastors also, as shepherds under him, saying, “And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.” To one of the pastors the Master of assemblies said, “Feed my lambs. Feed my sheep.” And he in turn said to other bishops, “Feed the flock of God which is among you.” Paul, the apostle of the Lord, also said to the elders “to feed the church of God.”

In the Song one is seeking and praying, saying, “Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon: for why should I he as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions?” This one is isolated and desolate, earnestly desiring companionship, food and rest with the heavenly flocks of her companions, yet for the time she is as one turned aside. These are companion flocks of the one heavenly fold. A kindred nature and interest and feeling endears and hinds them together, as all belonging to the good Shepherd. How touching therefore the appeal, “If thou know not, O thou fairest among women, go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock, and feed thy kids beside the shepherds’ tents.” How safe and good this fervent appeal and exhortation! The kids or lambs need the sincere milk of the word, pure and unmixed, and so this fairest one must needs walk in the footsteps of the flock, and not turn aside, but keep beside or near the tents of the shepherds. These are always in the fold and with the flock. Here is where the lambs and sheep are fed. The chief Shepherd himself is here, and his sheep follow him, so his steps are the footsteps of the flock.

Now then, the one in the text is a desolate little flock, a companion flock of the one fold. But till late this one has been held back, fettered and hindered, yet longing to be joined with her companions, who worship the Father in spirit and in truth. For there is a uniting bond in the truth as it is in Christ more powerful and precious than all the doctrines and commandments of men. Those who are united in the girdle of truth will seek to walk in the truth of God, and their companions are God’s elect people, who abide in the footsteps of the flock. Like Ruth they will say, “Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.” This faith and love triumph over all opposition, and motives of policy for the gain of numbers and influence are as nothing. For God’s dwelling-place is in Zion, with his people, and there he commanded the blessing, even life for evermore, and I must go and be numbered with them, says the heart of the humble one.

Such is the experience of the little flock, the Old School Baptist Church, in Nashville, Tennessee. Through the Signs Of The Times, which its members love as containing the faith of God’s elect, they gladly learned of the united and firm standing of the flock of God, the faithful and true Old School Baptists of j North America, upon the truth of God in his sovereign and eternal purpose of election, predestination and grace, unconditional and immutable as his eternal Godhead and throne of omnipotent power, and they most earnestly desired identity and companionship with this people saved by the Lord. With this sacred love of the truth in their hearts they are constrained to go forth unto Jesus without, the camp, bearing his reproach, and go: to their own company, who keep the, faith of Jesus and abide in the footsteps of the flock. They therefore published in the Signs some time ago their faith as the Old School Baptist Church in Nashville. It has been my privilege to visit them in their church services, which have been to our mutual edification in faith and love in Christ Jesus. They enjoy much comfort and peace in their meetings, standing fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made them free. They have several useful, spiritual gifts in singing, prayer and exhortation, and their pastor and fellow-member, Elder C. M. Hood, is loving, humble, devoted and blessed with a good gift. It was the privilege of myself and wife to go with him and their worthy deacon, brother Watkins, to the West Tennessee Old School Baptist Association. This little flock was unanimously and joyfully received into the number as a sister church. The entire body of churches and corresponding associations, Bethel, Obion, Soldier Creek, Original Little River and a list of others in correspondence with these are unconditional Grace Baptists, and not entangled with the yoke of bondage. The attendance at this association was good and attentive. About ten ministers were present, and all the preaching was according to the christian watchword: “Salvation is of the Lord.” Each day was good and comforting, but the last day was a wonderful refreshing from the presence of the Lord, who was joyfully realized to be in our midst. While dear brother F. P. Chandler preached upon the words of Paul, “For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified,” the Lord gave him the unction of the Spirit, and the word was in great power and comfort, as well as in the clearest demonstration of the truth of salvation by grace alone in Christ Jesus as it is experienced in the hearts of all whose glorious Savior he is. I have witnessed many blessed associational meetings, where the hearts of many were made glad, but never have I seen a large congregation of the Lord’s people so deeply and solemnly wrought upon under the power of the gospel of Christ, and never have I heard the fullness of Christ and his power to save more blessedly set forth. All felt that there was no room in their hearts for anything else “save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” All else was seen and felt to be as chaff and nothing, and that Christ is all in all. we all felt as good old Simeon said, “Mine eyes have seen thy salvation.” All was spiritual, heavenly and solemn, for the power and glory of Christ was felt to rest upon the preacher and the solemn assembly, filling all hearts with the unspeakable joy of salvation, and melting all eyes to tears of comfort, yet there was no noisy outcry. “‘Twas a heaven below, the Redeemer to know.” We all felt the sufficiency and exceeding preciousness of Christ as the altogether lovely One, as we shall do more perfectly when we awake with his likeness and see him as he is.

D. BARTLEY.
Nashville, Tenn.

Signs Of The Times
Volume74., No. 4.
FEBRUARY 15, 1906.