God Never Seeks in Vain (Toplady)

The Works of Augustus M. Toplady, vol. 5

In Luke 15 Jesus gave a parable about a shepherd that lost one of his one hundred sheep. He asked, “Which one of you, if he has a hundred sheep and loses one of them, would not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go look for the one that is lost until he finds it?” (Lk 15:4 NET). Among other things, this parable reminds us of how the Lord seeks and saves the lost. Here’s how Augustus Toplady explained it in a sermon on Luke 15:7:

Christ is a faithful and watchful shepherd. He will not suffer [allow] so much as one of his sheep to be finally lost. If an individual saint wanders from the fold, Christ goes after that soul; and never ceases from his labor of love, until that soul is found. If you or I happen to lose anything on which we set a value; we may find it, or we may not: our search may issue in the recovery of the lost object, and it may all prove fruitless and unsuccessful. Herein is a very wide difference between God’s seeking, and man’s seeking. God never seeks in vain. An earthly shepherd may lose many a sheep, and lose them beyond retrieval. But Christ never lost a sheep, which he did not seek; and never sought a sheep, which he did not find.

[The emphasis above is mine. The (sheepish) humor below is Toplady’s:]

And, when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders rejoicing. He does not suspend the return of the sheep, on the sheep’s own free-will, (which would he very sheepish policy indeed); nor stand expostulating, and giving the sheep, what Arminianism would call, “a gentle pull” by the fleece: but actually lays hold on the wanderer; takes it up in his arms; layeth it upon his shoulders, by main strength; nor lets it go, until he has actually and finally brought it home. 

 Augustus M. Toplady, The Works of Augustus M. Toplady, vol. 3 (London: Richard Baynes, 1825), 240–241.

Shane Lems
Hammond, WI, 54015


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