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Take them then to Him, to learn of Him who is meek and lowly in heart, and find rest unto their souls. In the second place your children have imitative faculties, by the agency of which the character will be formed, and consequently their destiny determined. Man's character is formed on the principle of imitation. We become like our parents and dear associates. The loved ones with whom we mingle transfigure us into their moral image. We get their character.
What is wanted, therefore, to be that which of all things is the most important to humanity, is a perfect character,-a perfect model. And where is it to be found ? Tell me where but in the Evangelic biography. Christ is the only one. In the third place your children will need some friend to succour them under the trials of life. If man is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward, dark and tempestuous days await your little ones. Disappointments, bereavements, disease, infirmities, death, are before them. They will require a friend to sustain them. Where is there an adequate friend ? I know of none but Christ, a tender, faithful, all-powerful ever-living, friend" one that sticketh
sticketh closer than brother.” In the fourth place your children will require some one to deliver them from the difficulties in which they are involved. They are the offspring of a corrupt race, they inherit a nature prone to go astray, they are surrounded on all hands by seductive agents and polluting influences. As they rise into life they will feel themselves the subjects of guilt which they have contracted, and which will fill them with terrible forebodings of future punishment. The moral atmosphere they breathe is impregnated with evil. TH prince of the power of the air taints it with his poisonous breath. Who shall deliver them out of these difficulties? Who shall deliver them from the body of this death? This is the question. All experience says there is but one, and that is Christ. He is the only Saviour; One that is mighty to save. Can there then be a better way to show your love to your children than by bringing them to Christ? Nay, your love
is blind and foolish, and will prove a curse to your offspring, unless you do so.
The other aspect in which you may look at the act of these parents is :
Secondly: As that which is essential to the fulfilment of parental obligation. Unless you do this, whatever else you do, you have neglected your duty. You may educate them in all the branches of human knowledge,-make them scholars and artists of the highest type ; you may by your industry endow them with splendid fortunes, and by your influence lift them to the highest positions in society; but unless you have brought them to Christ, you have neglected your duty, and will one day have to render an account for the tremendous omission.
But we have not only in this passage the picture of welldoing parents; but :
II. THE PICTURE disciples rebuked" these parents for bringing their children. Why did the disciples thus repulse them? Was it from false ideas of Christ's dignity? Did they think that little children were beneath His dignity, and that therefore to present them to Him was to offer Him an insult? If they did they were greatly mistaken. An infant to the eye of Christ was an object of stupendous importance; a subject of immeasurable potentialities; a life for endless development and wondrous destinies. He saw the oak in the acorn, the waving harvests in the little seed. An infant to Him was an Archangel, or Arch-fiend, in embryo. It could not therefore be beneath His dignity to notice such. Or was it from the notion that such a presentation of children to Him was a useless act ? Did they feel something like what some good people express in these days, when they say, of what service is it to bring unconscious babes into connexion with religious ordinances ? Did they say within themselves, Our Master is a great Teacher, and these little ones as yet have no power to grasp His great ideas, to understand His cha
racter or to appreciate His work; why therefore interrupt His procedure by such a useless demand ? Or was it from exaggerated views of their own importance ? Did they feel within themselves, He is our special friend; it is not to be supposed that He loves others as He loves us; we are His favorites, His chosen, His "dear people;" and the insolence of these rude parents in bringing their children to Him cannot be tolerated; we feel our dignity insulted in the attempt ? I am very much afraid that the reason of the conduct is to be found somewhere in this direction. However, be the reason this or that, it was something that was displeasing to Christ. Luke says that “When Jesus saw it He was much displeased.” He felt a holy indignation. Anger is not sinful in itself. It is sometimes a holy passion. To flame with indignation at corrupt motives and base conduct is not wrong.
I can scarcely conceive of virtue, living in a world like this, where there is so much that is morally oppressive, without flashing its lightnings, and hurling its thunderbolts. Christ often did so. “Be ye angry and sin not,” &c. We are here commanded to be angry. Now, is there nothing in these days amongst certain religionists corresponding to the conduct of these disciples in rebuking these parents who brought the children to Christ ? A bigoted Churchman will rebuke you for bringing your children to Christ through a Dissenting Chapel ; and a bigotted Dissenter will do the same if you bring them through the Church. Every narrow sect will rebuke you if you do not bring them through its little portals. The narrow sympathies, the miserable prejudices, the sectarian controversies, the cold-heartedness, the inconsistent lives—of the religionists of this age, act, I fear, as a repulse to many who attempt to bring their children to Christ.
III. THE PICTURE
CHILD-LOVING CHRIST. But Jesus said, “Suffer little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of Heaven. And he laid his hands on them, &c.”
“ He took them
up in his arms put his hands on them and blessed them.” Can you realize this wonderful scene ? Christ is surrounded by a multitude, many of whom He had healed of their diseases. He had just delivered some thoughts of profound wisdom on the subject of marriage, in reply to questions which the captious Pharisees had put to Him, for the purpose of entrapping Him in some theological inconsistency. All around Him is excitement, and the terrible events of His last days are gathering thick about Him. His attention is at once arrested by mothers, and perhaps fathers, with the children in their arms, pressing their way through the crowd to Him for His blessing. The disciples, not supposing, perhaps, for a moment, that He will attend to them in such circumstances, rebuke them. But what does He do? He addresses those who obstruct ;—“Suffer them to come to me and forbid them not.” Anger and love both seem to ring in these words; anger towards the men, who, instead of encouraging, hinder them, and love towards the little children. Suffer them ; stand back, clear the way, offer no obstruction, my heart yearns towards them. “Forbid them not;" they have as much claim to my affections as you have; I am as accessible to them as to any :-forbid them not. “It is not the will of my Father that one of these little ones should perish.” After He had thus addressed the obstructors, Luke tells us that “ He called them unto Him." We are not told what He said either to the parents or the little ones. I should like to have had those sweet words recorded. With arms extended, and eyes beaming with more than earthly love, did
“Come hither parents with your dear little ones ; heed not the rudeness of the crowd ; be not disheartened by the cold repulse of my disciples who ought to know better; press on ; I will take them in my arms and bless them?” No these words are not tender enough. Who can form a sentence to express His heart ? Then He takes them in His arms, looks at them with tenderest compassion, and blesses them ; commends them to the loving guardianship of the great God.
There is a sublime humanity in all this. Men
of great natures have always shown an interest in children. Aye, there is more than humanity in it; there is a Godhood herein. What other teacher ever paid such an attention to children? The great teachers of past ages directed their attention more to the wealthy than the poor, more to adults than to children, and more to those distinguished by splendid talents than to those of ordinary powers. Christ preaches to the poor, and takes helpless infants in His arms.
A BEAUTIFUL HEAVEN.
IV. THE PICTURE OF
“For of such "-of children—“is the kingdom of heaven.” A picture is here suggested; it is the home of the child, and the childlike.
First : It is the home of the child in age. Christ does not mean to convey the idea that heaven is only for children ; no, but that heaven is certain for children. Adults by millions are excluded, but never an innocent child ; and inasmuch as a great proportion of the race die in infancy, a larger portion of that age may be there than others. Not, of course, as infants; for maturity of faculty and character marks every tenant of that blessed above. “Of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Blessed statement! This tends in some measure to solve the mystery of infantile suffering and death. Why do such millions of the human race just appear on earth, breathe a few hours, suffer, and then die ? If the answer is, To people heaven, I am satisfied. Let them die. “The Lord gave and the Lord bath taken away.” This too is a consolation for parents bereaved of their children. Do not mourn their loss.
Rather rejoice that they are taken away from the evil that is to come, and that they have been so speedily translated to the better and brighter world.
Secondly : It is the home of the child in character. Whatever may be the earthly age of those who are taken to heaven, they have all the childlike spirit;—the spirit of docility, humility, and confidence. There are no proud haughty spirits in heaven. “Unless you repent,” said Christ, “ and become as this little child, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”