Luke 18:16


This familiar and attractive scene is well conceived and described in the lines commencing, "Over the hills of Jordan." It contains valuable lessons for the young.

I. THE KINDLINESS OF JESUS CHRIST. Some kind men are not kindly. They will do a great deal for you, will give much to you, will run serious risks or even make serious sacrifices on your behalf; but they are not gracious, genial, winning. They are not approachable; you are not drawn to them; you are not inclined to address them and make friends with them; they rather repel than invite you. Such was not Jesus Christ. He was not only kind at heart, but kindly in manner and in bearing. The children of his day went freely and gladly to him. That "he was never seen to smile" is a wholly unauthorized and, we may be quite sure, an entirely false statement. Did he not take those infants into his arms with a smile upon his face? Did he not frequently, ay, constantly, smile as he looked upon innocency, upon hopefulness, upon childhood? Think of Jesus Christ as not only the kind but the kindly One, as not only the good but the gracious One, as not only the wise but the winning One. Think of him as that One to whom, if he were with us now as he was with men of old, you would be drawn with an irresistible attraction, and to whom you could, without any effort, unburden your heart. And believe that just what he was on earth he is in heaven.

II. JESUS CHRIST STILL RECEIVES US TO THE SHELTER OF HIS LOVING POWER. He took them up into his arms. The arms of the parent are the place of shelter to the child; to them in all time of danger or of distress he naturally and eagerly resorts. It is the place of strength, of defence, of succour. But youth needs more than human sympathy and help; it needs a refuge in Divine tenderness and power. It does so always; but more particularly when parental care is lost, because the parents themselves have "passed into the skies." Very seriously is this need felt when parental care is left behind, when youth or young manhood goes forth from the shelter of the home. Then how priceless is the shelter of the loving power of the Divine Friend! In that unknown "world" which lies beyond the home-life are perils that cannot be anticipated, and that are all unknown. Take care to secure the invaluable refuge of the Divine arm; for only in the protection of the all-wise Leader and almighty Friend will safety be found.

III. JESUS CHRIST STILL LAYS HIS HAND UPON US. Mark tells us (Mark 10:16) that he "put his hands upon them, and blessed them." You still sing, "I wish that his hands had been laid on my head." It is a right and becoming thought. But the laying of the hand of flesh on those children's heads may not have wrought any great spiritual change in them; they may have grown up to reject him. Of far more consequence is it that Christ should now lay the hand of his Divine power and grace upon your heart; that he should so act upon you by his Divine Spirit that your mind should be illumined, and that you understand what is the good and the wise thing to do; that your heart should be touched so that you will live to love him who is worthiest of all that is best. "His touch has still its ancient power." Yes; and more than the healing touch which gave sight to the blind and wholeness to the poor leper is that benignant power which opens the closed mind and cleanses the unholy heart.

IV. JESUS LOOKS AND WAITS FOR YOUR SUBMISSION, He says that it is you who, of all people, can most readily enter his holy kingdom. He must have your free and full consent. When he made the world, and sent the sun on its course, and gave to the sea its bounds, "he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast." He compels all things in nature to do his bidding; but he asks, he invites your trust, your worship, your love. He cannot bless you as he would unless you consent to receive him as your own personal Lord and Saviour and Friend. But he assures you that this is open to you as it is not to others; the young can readily give their attention, their docility, their love, their obedience. Fewer and slighter hindrances are in your way than are in the path of those who have travelled further. Of such as you are now "is the kingdom of God." This is the golden chance of your life. - C.







Suffer little children to come unto Me.
1. These children were not brought to Christ to be taught, for they were not yet capable of receiving instruction; nor could they profit by His preaching, or put any questions to Him. Those who are grown up to years of understanding, have need to be busy in getting knowledge now, that they may redeem the time they lost, through the invincible incapacities of their infancy.

2. Nor were they brought to Christ to be cured, for it does not appear that they needed it. Little children are indeed liable to many distempers, painful, mortal ones. The physicians have a book among them, "De Morbis Infantum" — on the diseases of infants. Death and its harbingers reign even over them who have not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, but these children were strong and healthful, and we do not find that anything ailed them.

3. They were brought to Christ to be blessed; so they meant when they desired that He would touch them: the sign is put for the thing signified.

I. HOW WE MUST BRING OUR LITTLE CHILDREN TO CHRIST.

1. By surrendering them to Him in Holy Baptism.

2. We must bring them to Christ, by seeking to Him for them, as those who are surrendered to Him. They are to be but once baptized, but they are to be daily prayed for, and the promise sealed to them in their baptism put in suit and pleaded with God in their behalf.(1) Be constant in praying for your children; pray for them as duly as for yourselves, as St. Paul for his friends, making mention of them always in every prayer.(2) Be particular in praying for them; pray for each particular child, as holy Job offered burnt-offerings for his sons, according to the number of them all; that you may be able to say, as Hannah, "For this child I prayed": pray for particular blessings for your children, according as you see their case requires, for that grace which you observe their natural temper (or distemper rather) calls for.

3. We must bring them to Christ, by submitting them to the disposal of His Providence. I have read of a good man, whose son being disposed of in the world, met with great affliction, which he once very feelingly complained of to his good father, who answered (according to the principle I am now upon), "Anything, child, to bring thee to heaven."

4. We must bring them to Christ, by subjecting them, as far as we can, to the government of His grace. Having laid their necks under the yoke of Christ in their baptism, we must teach them to draw in it, and use our interest in them, and authority over them, to keep them under that easy yoke, and bring them up in the nurture and admonition of our Lord Jesus.

II. HOW CHRIST WILL RECEIVE THE CHILDREN.

1. He took those children up in His arms; and so we may hope He will take up our children in the arms of. His power and providence, and of His pity and grace.

2. He put His hands upon those children.(1) If He set us and ours apart for Himself, as His own peculiar people, we may say He puts His hand upon us and ours: as the buyer lays his hand on the goods he has agreed for, they are now his own; as Jacob put his hand on the head of Joseph's sons, to signify not only his blessing them, but his adopting them, and taking them for his own, "Let my name be named upon them." This we hope Christ does for our children, when we bring them to Him; He owns them for His; and we may say they do in some degree belong to Christ, are retainers to His family.(2) If He give His Holy Spirit to us and ours, it may truly be said, He puts His hand upon us and them. The Spirit is sometimes called the finger of God, and sometimes the hand of God, so that Christ's putting His hand upon us, not only puts us into a relation to Him, but works a real change in us; lays hold on the soul for Him, and puts His image, as well as superscription, upon it. The laying on of hands was a ceremony used in conferring the Holy Ghost; and this we pray for, and hope for, from Christ, for our children, when we bring them to Him.

3. He blessed them. He was desired to pray for a blessing for them, but He did more, He commanded the blessing, blessed with authority; He pronounced them blessed, and thereby made them so; for those whom He blesseth are blessed indeed. Christ is the great High Priest, whose office it is to bless the people of God, and all theirs.

III. THE APPLICATION.

1. Let me hence address myself to children, to little children, to the lambs of the flock, to the youngest who can hear with understanding: will not you be glad to hear this, that the Lord Jesus Christ has a tender concern and affection for you; and that He has blessings in store for you, if you apply yourselves to Him, according to your capacity? Lay yourselves at Christ's feet, and He will take you up in His arms. Give yourselves to Him, and He will give Himself in His grace and comforts to you. Lie in His way, by a diligent attendance on His ordinances, and He will not pass by without putting His hand on you. And if. you value His blessings aright, and be earnest with Him for His blessings, He will bless you with the best of blessings, such as will make you eternally blessed.(1) Let us then still bring them to Him, by faith and prayer, according as their case requires.(2) Let us bring them up for Him. Let not your children rest in a mere natural religion; that is good, it is necessary, but it is not enough. You must make them sensible of their need of Christ, of. their lost and undone condition without Him; must endeavour to lead them into the mysteries of our reconciliation to God, and our redemption from sin and wrath, by a Mediator; and O that they may experimentally know Him, and the power of His resurrection! And as in other accomplishments of your children, so in the business of religion, which is their best and true accomplishment, you must, as they come to be capable, put them on to advance.

3. Let this encourage us, who are parents, concerning our children; and enable us to think of them with comfort and hope, in the midst of our cares about them. When we wish well to them, we would willingly hope well; and this is ground of. hope, that our Lord Jesus has expressed so much favour to little children.(1) This may comfort and encourage the tender careful mothers in nursing them, that they are carrying those in their arms whom Christ has taken up in His.(2) This may comfort and encourage us if our children labour under any bodily weaknesses and infirmities, if they be unhealthful and often ailing, which is an allay to our comfort in them; let this serve to balance that, If they belong to Christ, and be blessed of Him, they are blessed indeed; and nothing amiss of that kind shall be any prejudice to their blessedness, or diminution of it, but may, being sanctified, become rather a friend and furtherance to it. Many have been the wiser and better, the more humble and heavenly, for their having borne the yoke of affliction in their youth.

(Matthew Henry.)

I feel a sympathy with what a woman said to me. I was told to come to her dying couch, and administer the sacrament. I went with an elder. She said: "I want to belong to the Church. I am going up to be a member of the Church in heaven; but I don't want to go until I am a member of the Church on earth." So I gave her the sacrament. And then she said: "Now, I am in the Church, here is the baby, baptize him; and here are all the children, baptize them all. I want to leave them all in the Church." So I baptized them. Some years after, I was preaching one day in Chicago, and at the close of the service, a lad came upon the platform, and said: "You don't know me, do you?" "No," said I. "My name is George Parish." "Ah," said I; "I remember, I baptized you by your mother's dying bed, didn't I?" "Yes," he said: "You baptized all of us there, and I came up to tell you that I have given my heart to God. I thought you would like to know it." "I am very glad," I replied; "but I am not surprised. You had a good mother; that is almost sure to make a boy come to God if he has a good mother."

(De W. Talmage, D. D.)

When I was at Dhoas, writes a missionary's wife, my husband opened the new chapel, which holds one hundred and fifty people. Sixty-five persons were baptized; among the rest several women. I proposed meeting them alone on Tuesday evening. One very nice-looking woman had a sweet-looking girl at her side, about ten years old. I said, "Amah, would you like me to teach your daughter?" With an indescribable look of tenderness she drew her to her side, and putting her arm around her, said, "This is my only one." "Have you not had more children?" I asked. "Ah I yes, ma'am, I have had six; but they are dead. Yes, they all died, five of them, one after the other; they all died." "And you, poor thing, how sorry you must have been!" "Heigh-ho! how sorry! Too much trouble! took; too much expense. After the first died I took sacrifices to the temple, and made worship to the idol, and told him I would give him all I could if my second might live; but he died. Then my heart was very sore; and when my third came, I went to a guru, and took a cloth, and fowl, and rice; and he said muntrums, and made pujah (worship); but no, that child, he died. My heart was like fire, it burned so with sorrow. I was almost mad; and yet I tried some fresh ceremony for every child." "What did you think had become of the spirits of your children?" I asked. "You knew their bodies died, but did you think much of their spirits?" "Ah! that was the thing that almost made me mad. I did not know. I thought perhaps one devil took one, and another took another; or perhaps they were gone into some bird, or beast, or something, I did not know; and I used to think and think till my heart was too full of sorrow." "But, Amah," I replied, "you do not look sorry now." With a look almost sublime, she said, "Sorry now! Oh, no, no! Why, I know now where my children are. They are with Jesus. I have learned that Jesus said, 'Suffer little children to come unto Me.' My sorrow is all gone, and I can bear their not being with me. They are happy with Him, and, after a little while, I shall go to Him too, and this little girl, my Julia, and my husband too."

(A. G. Thomson, D. D.)

Mr. Gray had not been long minister of the parish before he noticed the odd practice of the grave-digger; and one day when he came upon John smoothing and trimming the lonely bed of a child which had been buried a few days before, he asked why he was so particular in dressing and keeping the graves of infants. John paused for a moment at his work, and looking up, not at the minister, but at the sky, said, "Of such is the kingdom of heaven." "And on this account you tend and adorn them with so much care," remarked the minister, who was greatly struck with the reply. "Surely, sir," answered John; "I canna make ower braw and fine the bed-covering o' a little innocent sleeper that is waitin' there till it is God's time to wauken it and cover it with white robe, and waft it away to glory. Where sic grandeur is awaitin' it yonder, it's fit it should be decked out here. I think the Saviour will like to see white clover spread abune it; dae ye no think sae tae, sir?" "But why not thus cover larger graves?" asked the minister, hardly able to suppress his emotions. "The dust of all His saints is precious in the Saviour's sight." "Very true, sir," responded John, with great solemnity, "but I canna be sure wha are His saints, and wha are no. I hope thear are many of them lyin' in this kirkyard; but it wad be great presumption to mark them oot. There are some that I'm gey sure aboot, and I keep their graves as nate and snod as I can, and plant a bit floure here and there as a sign of my hope, but daurna gie them the white shirt," referring to the white clover. "It's clean different, though, wi' the bairns."

(A. G. Thomson, D. D.)

Children are the salvation of the race. They purify, they elevate, they stir, they instruct, they console, they reconcile, they gladden us. They are the ozone of human life, inspiring us with hope, rousing us to wholesome sacrifice. If, in the faults which they inherit, they show us the worst of ourselves, and so move us to a salutary repentance, they also stimulate our finer qualities; they cheat us of weary care; they preach to us, not so much by their lips as by their innocence; their questions set us thinking, and to better purpose than the syllogisms of philosophers; their helplessness makes us tender; their loveliness surprises us into pure joy A child is a sunbeam on a winter sea, a flower in a prison garden, the music of hells over the noise of a great city, a fragrant odour in a sick-room. If any one thinks this exaggerated, I am sorry for him. It is literally true for me, and for tens of thousands who have far more right to it. These fingers tingle with a kind of happiness while I am writing about them here. My chilly friend need not have my joy if he does not believe in it, or care for it; I will not force it on him, but he shall not take mine from me.

(Bishop of Rochester.)

1. With respect to THE COMMAND in the text. Those persons may be said to fulfil it, in the first place, who afford to children a Christian example. Now, let us consider here, what features of character may be best exemplified, so as to produce a good effect. One peculiar trait in the character of our Lord Jesus Christ was His consideration of human infirmity. "We have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities."

2. Not only should our instructions be religious, but eminently evangelical, in order to benefit the young. In preaching, it is found that the preaching of mere morality, however luminous and explicit, and however judiciously and powerfully enforced, produces but very little effect.

3. Remember that all human instruction needs to be frequently repeated. Even adults, whose minds are not volatile as those of children, need "line upon line, line upon line, precept upon precept, precept upon precept."

4. Allow me to call your attention, also, to another very important fact, namely, that without the influence of the Holy Spirit, no valuable effect can be produced.

II. In the text there is an allusion, also, to the character of THE ENCOURAGEMENT we may derive from the communication of such instructions: "Of such is the kingdom of God." It might, indeed, be remarked here, that there is an admirable adaptation between what is taught, and the end you wish to produce — the means are exactly united to the end proposed. But —

1. Consider how much good is produced by the influence of habit. Now, when you have to do with children, you have to do with those whose minds are susceptible; and you may be instrumental in forming their habits, and in putting them on their guard against the dangers to which they are exposed.

2. Many to whom we address ourselves on the concerns of their souls, complain of want of time and of the distracting influence of the things of the world. But when you take youthful minds into your hands, you have to do with those on whom worldly cares have no influence.

3. The things of the world produce, naturally, a kind of indurating influence. It tends to sink them down to that very situation in which the soul naturally wishes to be. And not only is there in the minds of children a tenderness of feeling for the reception of these great and important truths, but also a freshness and vigour for the exhibition of these truths, and for the exhibition of them to the greatest advantage.

(R. Treffry.)

I. THE CHILDREN OF TO-DAY SHOULD COME TO JESUS BECAUSE THEY NEED JUST SUCH A TEACHER, SAVIOUR, AND FRIEND. I remember a company of blind children from an asylum waiting at the door of one of our churches for some one from within to lead them to their place. Parents and teachers can lead a child to the door of a good life, but Jesus only can lead into goodness and heaven.

II. ANOTHER REASON WHY CHILDREN, AND LITTLE CHILDREN, SHOULD COME TO JESUS IS, THAT THEY ARE NOT SO FAR FROM HIM AS THOSE WHO HAVE GROWN OLD IN SIN. Every child is born close to heaven's gate. Children's hearts have fresh affections that turn to Jesus almost as readily as climbing plants in June wind about their proper support. If those plants lie along the ground till August they can hardly be made to climb at all so late in their life.

III. ANOTHER REASON FOR CHILDREN COMING TO JESUS IS HIS SPECIAL LOVE FOR THEM.

(W. C. C. Wright.)

Jesus is still calling little children to Him. His arms are ever open to receive them, and His lips parted to bless them. He loves them for their likeness to His own purity and gentleness. He would keep them gentle and pure, that He may present them perfect to His own Father. Let us beware of throwing any impediment between them and their Saviour; of suffering our indifference or neglect, our flimsy theories, hard doctrines, or evil examples, to prevent these little ones from seeing and loving the Son of Mary; from being folded in the arms of His grace, and being blessed by the influences of His religion and life.

I. LET US NOT FORBID THEIR COMING TO HIM IN THE RITE OF BAPTISM. If this is one of the calls which Jesus makes to little children; if He says to them, by a fair interpretation of the language of this rite, "Come to Me through the consecrated waters," let us suffer them to go, and not stand in their way with our doubts, our fears, or our apathy. Let that heavenly dew be shed on the opening buds, and shed early. Say not that they are without stain, and therefore need not the purifying wave. Jesus Himself, who in a still higher sense was stainless, Jesus Himself was baptized. Say not that they do not know in what office they are participating. You know it, and feel it; and if they know it not now, they will know hereafter. If you will but reflect that it is the bringing of little children openly to Jesus, placing them in His arms, and yielding them to His blessing, you will have learned the whole reason, nature, and plan of the ordinance at once, because your heart has been your teacher. And you will gladly suffer little children to go in this way to their Friend, and never think of forbidding them.

II. Suffer them to go to Him, secondly, BY ALL THE MEANS OF A TRULY CHRISTIAN EDUCATION. Continue the intimacy which was commenced at the font. Make them acquainted with every expression of His countenance, with every grace and sweetness of His character. We forbid their going to Christ, if in any way we make them, or help them to make themselves proud, vain, revengeful, cunning, or selfish. We lead them to Christ by teaching them to know and love Him entirely, to feel the whole divinity of His lowly yet lofty virtues, to appreciate thoroughly and justly the glory of His humility, the dignity of His meekness, the heroism of His long-suffering, the harmonious perfection of His character, with which everything worldly is in necessary discord.

III. WE CAN HARDLY TEACH THEM THIS, UNLESS WE FEEL IT OURSELVES. Let us lead them, then, to Jesus, by the hand of our own example. Let us be especially cautious that our own selfish interests, bad passions, blind excesses are not placed in their way, to be stumbling. blocks to their tender feet.

IV. Lastly, IT MAY BE THAT OUR CHILDREN MUST DEPART BEFORE US ON THE UNKNOWN JOURNEY, AND WITHOUT US. We must suffer them to go to the arms of Jesus in the world of spirits. It is hard to part with them — but by the effort of an humble resignation, we must suffer them to go. It may be that the Saviour hath need of them. We may know that there also He will love them, and watch over them, and lead them; and that His love, presence, and guidance are better for them than ours.

(F. W. P. Greenwood, D. D.)

I had a comely fruit-tree in the summer season, with the branches of it promising plenteous fruit; the stock was surrounded with seven or eight little shoots of different sizes, that grew up from the root at a small distance, and seemed to compose a beautiful defence and ornament for the mother tree; but the gardener, who espied their growth, knew the danger; he cut down those tender suckers one after another, and laid them in the dust. I pitied them in my heart, and said, "How pretty were these young standards! How much like the parent! How elegantly clothed with the raiment of summer! And each of them might have grown to a fruitful tree." But they stood so near as to endanger the stock; they drew away the sap, the heart and strength of it, so far as to injure the fruit, and darken the hopeful prospects of autumn. The pruning-knife appeared unkind indeed, but the gardener was wise; for the tree flourished more sensibly, the fruit quickly grew fair and large, and the ingathering at last was plenteous and joyful. Will you give me leave, Velina, to persuade you into this parable? Shall I compare you to this tree in the garden of God? You have had many of these young suckers springing up around you; they stood awhile your sweet ornaments and your joy, and each of them might have grown up to a perfection of likeness, and each might have become a parent-tree: but say, Did they never draw your heart from God? Did you never feel them stealing any of those seasons of devotion, or those warm affections that were first and supremely due to Him that made you? Did they not stand a little too near the soul? And when they had been cut off successively, and laid one after another in the dust, have you not found your heart running out more towards God, and living more perpetually upon Him? Are you not now devoting yourself more entirely to God every day, since the last was taken away? Are you not aiming at some greater fruitfulness and service than in times past? If so, then repine not at the pruning-knife; but adore the conduct of the heavenly Husbandman, and say, "All His ways are wisdom and mercy." But I have not yet done with my parable. When the granary was well stored with excellent fruit, and before winter came upon the tree, the gardener took it up by the roots, and it appeared as dead. But his design was not to destroy it utterly; for he removed it far away from the spot of earth where it had stood, and planted it in a hill of richer mould, which was sufficient to nourish it with all its attendants. The spring appeared, the tree budded into life again, and all those fair little standards that had been cut off, broke out of the ground afresh, and stood up around it (a sweet young grove) flourishing in beauty and immortal vigour. You know not where you are, Velina, and that I have carried you to the hill of paradise, to the blessed hour of the resurrection. What an unknown joy it will be, when you have fulfilled all the fruits of righteousness in this lower world, to be transplanted to that heavenly mountain! What a Divine rapture and surprise of blessedness, to see all your little offspring about you at that day, springing out of the duet at once, making a fairer and brighter appearance in that upper garden of God, and rejoicing together (a sweet company), all partakers with you of the same happy immortality; all fitted to bear heavenly fruit, without the need or danger of a pruning-knife. Look forward, by faith, to that glorious morning, and admire the whole scheme of providence and grace. Give cheerful honours beforehand to your Almighty and All-wise Governor, who by His unsearchable counsels has fulfilled your best wishes, and secured your dear infants to you for ever, though not just in your own way; that blessed hand which made the painful separation on earth shall join you and your babes together in His own heavenly habitation, never to be divided again, though the method may be painful to flesh and blood. Fathers shall not hope in vain, nor " mothers bring forth for trouble: they are the seed of the blessed of the Lord, and their offspring with them" (Isaiah 65:23). Then shall you say, "Lord, here am I, and the children that Thou hast given me." For He is your God, and the God of your seed in an everlasting covenant. Amen.

(Written by Dr. Watts to a lady on the death of several young children.)

An affectionate mother, when reading this passage with her little girl, said, "I would have led you forward to Jesus." "You would not have needed," replied the child, "I would have run."

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