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Children, in the Temple, praising the Redeemer.
MATTHEW xxi. 15. 16.
And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things
that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David ; they were sorc displeased, and said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea ; Hade ye neders read, Out of the mouth of babes and suerlinge thou hast perfected praise !
HE prophet Zechariah foretold, that the Xing of Sion would come to her, meek and lowly, sitting on an ass, on a colt, the foal of an ass. In this manner, the evangelist tells us, Jesus once made his publick. entry into Jerusalem. “In the eastern countries, riding on horses was anciently reckoned the greatest ostentation of magnificence. It was therefore becoming the meekness of the lowly Jesus, that, in his entry into the capital city, he chose to ride on an ass. At the same time, there was nothing mean or ridiculous in it, asses being the beasts, which the easterns commonly made use of in riding.” The particular reason of his riding
into the city, might be the throng, which now, at the time of the passover, attended him, and which would have much incommoded him, had he walked on foot, as usual. Besides; as he was about to perform some mighty works in the city, he might choose, on this occasion, to be distinguished from the multitude. However, to avoid unnecessary ostentation, he rode in the humble manner abovementioned.
It was become a prevailing opinion, that he was the Messiah, and would soon take the government into his hands. Many, probably, expected that he would do it at this passover. Some therefore spread their garments in the way, and others cut down the boughs of trees, and strewed them along the road: A kind of honour, which was sometimes paid to kings when they entered into populous cities. When the front of the procession, which attended Jesus, had reached the descent of the mount of Olives, where the royal city rose to view, they were met by a multitude coming from the city, to join them, with palm branches in their hands. As soon as these from the city met the procession, they ex. claimed-Hosanna, blessed is the King of Israel
, who cometh in the name of the Lord. The disciples attending Jesus, echoed back the salutation-Ho. sanna to the Son of David ; blessed is he who cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest. When he came to Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this? The multitude answered— This
is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth. Jesus now enters the temple, purges it of the various articles of commerce which he found there, and reproves the traders for turning it into a house of merchandize. Awed by the acclamations of the multitude, they submitted to his authority.
While he was in the temple, the blind, lame, and sick, in great numbers, were brought to him
to be healed. The youth, who attended the passover, as they usually did from the age of twelve years, were
astonished at the works which he performed. When they observed, how the blind, who had been led groping along, now dismissed their guides, and walked whither they would-how the eripples, who had been laid down at his feet, rose up and walked nimbly away—how the dumb, on a sudden, burst forth into praise ; and the deaf, catching the song, joined their joyful voice—they felt the power of conviction, and proclaimed him the promised Messiah.
The scribes and Pharisees, seeing his wonderful works, and hearing the acclamations of the children, were much displeased; but being restrained, by fear of the multitude, they made no violent opposition. They only expostulated with him-Hearest thou what these say? Insinuating, perhaps, that the children ascribed to him glories, which he had no right to claim ; or that they uttered things which they did not understand. He answered them by a passage from the eighth Psalm. “Have ye never read-Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast ordained praise ?”
That Psalm was probably composed by David, on the victory which was obtained over the Philistines, when he slew the giant of Gath. And the expression may be intended to celebrate the power of God, in accomplishing so great an event by so feeble an instrument. Or, it may allude to the songs, in which the women, coming out of the cities with their children, celebrated this wonderful victory. By applying to the present case these words of David, Jesus signified, that the meanest of God's works display his power ; and as the Father receives praise from the least of his creatures, so the Son disdains not the honours offered bim by little children. In the present instance, their praise was peculiarly beautiful and pertinent, as it shewed that Christ's miracles were so illustrious, as to strike even youthful minds with wonder and conviction. The praise of the Redeemer, on this occasion, might, with singular propriety, be said, to be perfected out of the mouth of babes.
From the passage now illustrated, some instruc. tions may be collected especially pertinent to the young
1. We here see, that real piety is not confined to men of years, or of learning. It sometimes inakes a lovely appearance in children and youth.
While the pharisees and doctors of the law. rejected the Redeemer, praise to him was ordained out of the mouth of babes. Those wonderful works, which the former perversely imputed to the Power of Satan, struck the latter with conviction, that Jesus was the Christ. Those doctrines of grace, which awakened the indignation of the one, touched the hearts of the other with. admiration, and turned their lips to praise. The priests and scribes enjoyed the fairest opportunities to hear the doctrines, and behold the miracles of Jesus, and to observe in him the fulfilment of the prophecies concerning the Messiah. But their pride, ambi. tion, and self confidence, rendered them blind to the evidence of truth, and insensible to the power of argument. These tender minds, in which such perverse affections had not begun to operate, felt conviction, and embraced the truth, on the first proposal of its evidence.
Christ crucified, was to the Jews a stumbling block, and to the Greeks foolishness; but to them who were called, the power and the wisdom of God. Meek and humble minds discern that wisdom, and feel that power in religion, which the vain and selfrighteous will not confess. Not many wise men
after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called; for God hath chosen the foolish things of this world to confound the wise; the weak things to confound the mighty ; and things which are not, to bring to nought things which are, that no flesh should glory in his presence.
True religion in the heart depends not on superior abilities, but on a teachable and humble spirit. Our Saviour has instructed us, that if we would enter into his kingdom, we must humble ourselves, and become as little children. The Apostles direct us, to receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save our souls; to lay apart all guile and hypocrisy, and, like newborn babes, to desire the sincere milk of the word, that we may grow thereby.
You see, then, my young hearers, the wisdom of an early attention to religion. Certain natural qualities, favourable to religion, you have now; but you will not carry them
with you through life. In the first stages of youth, there is a desire of knowledge, a sensibility of mind, a modesty and docility of spirit, which you will not retain after you have accustomed yourselves to the ways and manners of the world. When pride and hardness of heart shall have supplanted these natural dispositions ; and when the perplexity of worldly cares and designs shall have banished all religious concern, you will, with greater difficulty and reluctance, bow to the gospel of Christ. If, before you can enter into the kingdom of God, you must be brought to the tempers and dispositions of children -must, in a sense, come back to what you are now, Is it not best to enter into the kingdom now, while you are children, and before you have out. grown the dispositions which at present favour your entrance ?