« PreviousContinue »
The disciples, however, had been bred
up different school. They hardly yet perceived the beauty of the precept, " Let every one of you so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.”2 In the house they asked him again of the same matter. The Spirit of God made that clear to them afterwards which now they could not receive; and taught them to enforce the law, against which at first their hearts rebelled.
13. And they brought young children to him, that he 15–17.
should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them.
14. But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.
15. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.
16. And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.
Two very important inferences are derived from this passage. It acquaints us, by a vivid example, what is the nature of that character which shall enter into the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.
This I pass by now, and consider the other subject arising out of the passage : the encouragement which it gives us, relieving our just fears concerning our children, born as they are “to trouble, and what is far more serious, born as they are with
Eph. v. 28–33.
sinful hearts, “very far gone from original righteousness.”
We are here instructed to hope, that “as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.”
The children here presented to our Lord, were not intended to be taught, but to be blessed by him. They were too young to profit by his teaching, and therefore the disciples rebuked those that brought them. They did not approve the interruption, or perceive the object it was to answer. But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not : for of such is the kingdom of God. Doubtless he pitied these children, strangers as they were in an evil world, full of danger to the soul. And he took them
And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.
Justly, therefore, does our Church insist on this, as a strong indication of his will respecting baptism. Justly does it encourage parents by the example of this incident; “Doubt ye not, therefore, but earnestly believe, that he will likewise favourably receive these infants ; that he will embrace them with the arms of his mercy ; that he will give unto them the blessing of eternal life, and make them partakers of his everlasting kingdom.”3
At the same time we must not deceive ourselves as to the force of this example. We must remember that there were certain conditions connected with the blessing here bestowed. It was not here, as on a previous occasion, when Jesus took a child
which happened to be present, and set him in the midst, and made him an example of humility. In this case the children were neither present acci. dentally, nor introduced in compliance with a formal practice; they were brought to Jesus by those interested in them, “ that he might lay his hands upon them, and pray,” and touch them. They were brought, therefore, in reliance
upon in faith of the virtue which might proceed from him, and be a blessing to these children.
When a like faith is shown in a like manner, the conduct of our Lord gives reason to suppose
that he will not withhold that blessing. He does not dismiss the parents and
children of an age to believe, it should be unto them according to their faith ; but I have no blessing for those who cannot solicit it for themselves. But he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them. Surely this action would be calculated to mislead us, if he meant us to consider the baptism of infants as a vain ceremony, or a mere outward rite, from which no spiritual benefit is to be expected or derived.
Still, if we expect the same advantage, the same mind must be in us which was in the friends of these children. We must come to baptism in faith, and not in compliance with a customary form. We must come, believing that our children, without Christ, are miserable, lost, and helpless; “ being dead through the offence of one.” We must come, believing that “ being justified by his blood, they shall be saved from wrath through him.” We must
* St. Matthew in the parallel passage, xix. 13.
come, believing that “as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation ; even so by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.” And then we may humbly hope that “our Lord Jesus Christ will vouchsafe to receive those infants, will sanctify them with the Holy Ghost, will give them the kingdom of heaven, and life everlasting.”
In this manner the Israelites were taught to believe, that the ignorance and weakness of infancy did not render their children unacceptable to God. As infants they were solemnly dedicated to him by the covenant of circumcision. And trusting to this intimation of the Divine will, confirmed as it is by numerous scriptural arguments, we bring our infants into covenant with Christ, at an age when they are themselves unconscious of the blessing. We believe that he will receive such children into his favour ; will consider them as heirs of his kingdom ; will shed abroad his Spirit upon their hearts, and lead them in the way everlasting.
At present, this inestimable privilege is derived from their parents' faith. Hereafter, when they come to age, it must be confirmed and preserved by their own.
6 See Baptismal Service.
THE QUESTION ANSWERED, WHAT SHALL I DO
TO INHERIT ETERNAL LIFE?
OF THE INQUIRER.
MARK. X. 17–31.
Matt. xix. 16-30.
17. And when he was gone forth into the way, there came Luke Xviii. one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good
Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?
18. And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good! there is none good but one, that is, God.'
19. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.
20. And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth.
21. Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest ; go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hust, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heuven : and come, take up the cross, and follow me.
22. And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.
In the account of this instructive history, which we find in three of the Evangelists, one circumstance is noted by St. Mark alone. Jesus, beholding him, loved him.
Allading to the flattering titles which the Jewish teachers delighted to receive from their hearers.