Matthew 11:25
St. Luke associates these words with the return of the seventy from their triumphant mission (Luke 10:21). Therefore we see that our Lord is not thinking only or chiefly of children, but rather of the childlike. To these God has revealed great truths which he has not given to the worldly wise. So, following the context of St. Matthew, we are reminded that the citizens of Capernaum and other towns missed the truth which a handful of fishermen had laid hold of. At first the gospel began to spread among the lower classes of the Roman empire. The same is seen in India to-day.

I. WHY THE REVELATION IS HIDDEN FROM THE WISE. This cannot be owing to an arbitrary decision of God without need or reason. We must look for the explanation in the character and conduct of the wise. Now, it is not to be supposed that our Lord would depreciate intellect as such, because that would be to speak ill of one of the great works of God; moreover, he had a great intellect himself. Neither could he wish to discourage mental activity, to praise indolence and carelessness of thought. Where, then, do the disadvantages of the wise lie?

1. The wise have no special privilege in regard to religious truth. This does not reach us through intellectual efforts, nor does it rest on a foundation of scientific or literary acquirements. The child and the philosopher, the simple and the learned, must find God's greatest truth in the same way, and that a way as open to the babe in intellect as to the intellectual giant.

2. The wise are tempted to look in the wrong direction for religious truth. The man of science cannot easily escape from the thraldom of his scientific methods; the scholar is often so buried in his learning that he finds it hard to lift up his eyes from his books - and, alas ] the truth he most needs is not in them; the thinker cannot escape from the notion that he by his thought must reach truth more readily than those who have not his trained faculties, and he tries to climb to religious truth on the aerial ladder of speculation.

3. The wise are in danger of pride. It is difficult for them to confess their ignorance and helplessness. The truly wise are perhaps most ready to do this; but Christ rather referred to those who accounted themselves wise or who had a reputation for wisdom, such as the scribes.

II. HOW THE REVELATION IS REVEALED TO BABES.

1. We must remember that it is a revelation. The truth of Christ is not a product of human thinking, nor is it a discovery that men have to make for themselves. It could never be got by the pursuit of science or learning. It is a gift of God, and he can give it as readily to a babe as to a wise man.

2. This revelation only comes to those who are receptive. A feeling of wisdom is rather one of fulness and satisfaction. It is necessary, however, to feel empty and needing light and guidance. Now, the childlike soul is just in this condition.

3. The knowledge of truth is conditioned by faith. Some despise religious faith as lacking in foundation, and treat knowledge or even doubt as superior to it. But this is to misapprehend religious faith, which is not the acceptance of a creed, but trust in a Person. We want grounds for this confidence, but when we trust God we are prepared to receive his revelation, and the most childlike are the most ready to trust him. - W.F.A.







Because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent.
The babe is the representative of the receptive spirit — trusting, open to impression, free from prejudice. Wisdom — like wealth and power — is an obstruction, not in itself, but in the temper and frame of mind it is apt to produce. On the other hand, there is, in this preference of the child-spirit, no encouragement of spiritual pride, as if ignorance and mental indolence were things of dignity and worth in themselves. The prime requisites in the child-spirit are unconsciousness and humility. The grounds for God's dealing thus are as follows: —

I. To REVEAL TO BABES HARMONIZES WITH GOD'S CHARACTER AS A FATHER, AND ILLUSTRATES IT. "Babe" is counterpart to "Father." A father's heart is not attracted to the brilliance or power in his family, but to the want. The child who knows his father will have a knowledge of things beyond the reach of research.

II. To REVEAL TO BABES GLORIFIES GOD AS LORD OF HEAVEN AND EARTH. The higher and mightier you conceive God to be, the more necessary it is to know that he is lowly, and to have abundant proof of it. But oh I how near God comes; how dear He is to us by His frequent close relationship to the poor and lowly. We are drawn to the mighty God who is drawn to the babes.

III. GOD THUS MANIFESTS THE SUPREMACY OF THE MORAL ELEMENT. The understanding has but a narrow horizon; the spirit embraces eternity and God. Intellect is the fibre of the plant, the moral and spiritual are the sap that turns everything into flower and fruit. Knowledge and ingenuity are as nothing without righteousness. What inventiveness or brilliancy could ever supply the place of honesty faithfulness, goodwill in the homes of men?

IV. GOD THUS SHOWS HIS DESIRE TO REVEAL AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE, AND TO AS MANY AS POSSIBLE. Had He revealed specially to intellect, to the wise and understanding, what a little circle, what a select coterie it would have been! The great mass of mankind are burdened with labour, and cannot develop greatly their intellectual nature. But by revealing to babes, God gives hope to universal humanity. While few can be wise and learned, all may become babes. It is man himself that God wants, not his accomplishments, his energies, his distinctions.

(J. Leckie, D. D.)

Ignorant men have argued from these words that sound knowledge is incompatible with the child-like spirit. It is possible to forget in the wisdom of this world Him whom the world by wisdom never knew. Our Lord uttered these words when He permitted His disciples to listen to His communings with the Father. We know more of each other when we pray than when we teach.

I. THE APPARENT PARADOX INVOLVED IN THESE WORDS. "Thou hast hid," etc. All revelation is to some extent a concealment. The veil is drawn aside, but never taken away. When an infinite God reveals Himself to man, by necessity of our nature He hides far more than He manifests. The special revelation which God has made to some individuals, is the very process by which he has concealed Himself from others; for there are two conditions of Divine revelation by which God brings his truth to bear upon the human heart.

1. The external circumstance and event. There can be Be special revelation to any man without a willingness on God's part to confer upon some events or some teacher His own authorization, and a willingness on man's part to receive the revelation as such. Therefore the revelation made to some is necessarily a concealment from others.

2. The mental pro-requisites, subjective state or moral condition capable of receiving a Divine revelation. All conditions of understanding and emotion are not equally receptive; hence it is concealed from those who have not right moral conditions. It becomes of great importance to know what is the disposition which most of all fits us for the reception of the Divine message? The highest revelations of God are made to the moral nature, other knowledge is illumined by the higher spiritual wisdom. The humble heart knows more than the massive intellect. It may be mortifying, but it is patent.

II. THE REDEEMER'S JUDGMENT, AND GRATITUDE CONCERNING IT.

1. He attributes this arrangement to the universal Lord — "O Lord of heaven and earth." The apparent paradox is a Divine arrangement, not an unfortunate accident. There is not more conformity between the eye and light, between the ear and sound, than between the child-like soul and God's revelation of heavenly things. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." He has determined with royal independence, through what organs, to what condition, He will reveal Himself.

2. The Saviour acquiesces in this arrangement, not simply as an act of universal sovereignty, but as most merciful and good; as the Father's good pleasure. It was a fatherly way and method.

3. Christ does more than throw the responsibility on God; He thanks God that it is so. He rejoiced because He felt the amplitude of this provision. This principle of discrimination was the widest and noblest that can be conceived. Had it been to intellect only a few could have received the revelation; moral conditions are possible to all. Christ rejoiced in this mode because it satisfied the yearnings of His own heart, for He proceeds to say to the weary "Come unto Me, all ye that labour," etc. To man distracted by the wisdom of the world He thus appeals.

(H. R. Reynolds, B. A.)

The Conregational Pulpit.
I. THE INHERENT PROPRIETY OF THIS ARRANGEMENT.

1. There were great moral disqualifications in the wise and prudent.

(1)They were covetous.

(2)They were proud.

(3)They were prejudiced.

2. There were great preparatory qualifications in the babes.

(1)They were humble.

(2)They were tractable.

(3)They were conscious of their needs. In what frame of mind do you seek gospel blessings?

II. SEE THE REASONS OF THIS ARRANGEMENT IN RELATION TO THE MINISTRY OF CHRIST.

1. His position was one of self-humiliation, and therefore it was unsuitable that the rich and mighty should be among His followers.

2. His work was peculiarly a work of God, therefore He avoided the appearance of using the wisdom of this world, or any of its carnal agencies.

3. He came for the sake of all classes, and it was needful, in order to elevate all, that He should begin at the lowest.

(The Conregational Pulpit.)

I. THE SAVIOUR WOULD HAVE US ATTAIN TO AN ENLIGHTENED APPREHENSION OF THE CHARACTER OF GOD.

II. Christ would have us carefully observe THE DISCRIMINATING CHARACTER OF GOD'S GRACE.

III. THE SAVIOUR WOULD HAVE HIS PEOPLE'S HEARTS IN PERFECT AGREEMENT WITH THE RULE AND ACTION OF GOD.

IV. PRACTICAL USE OF THE TEXT.

(C. H. Spurgeon)

I. THE CHARACTERS NAMED in the text from whom certain truths are hidden.

1. "The wise " seem to be those who are seeking to become acquainted with Divine truth by the exercise of their natural faculties.

2. The " prudent " man is one who always shapes his course in the path which is most consistent with his worldly interests.

3. "The babe" is the direct opposite of those we have described, and yet one to whom the Lord graciously condescends to reveal these things which He hides from them. The feature of the babe is

(1)helplessness,

(2)ignorance. But we need not limit the "babe " to the age of infancy.

(3)Great teachability,

II. WHAT ARE THESE THINGS THAT GOD HIDES FROM ONE CHARACTER AND MAKES KNOWN TO THE OTHER?

1. The workings of godly fears in the soul is a branch of Divine truth which the Lord hides from the wise and prudent and reveals unto babes.

2. God hides from the wise and prudent a spiritual acquaintance with His law.

3. The operations and exercises of a living faith in a tender conscience are hidden from the wise and prudent.

4. God hides from them the exercise of a living hope.

5. The breathing forth of spiritual affections he hides.

6. He hides all the savour, and unction, and sweetness, and power of truth.

(J. C. Philpot.)

The belt of light thrown over some divisions of the great sphere of knowledge leaves the rest in apparently deeper shade. All language by expressing some thoughts conceals many others. Much is repressed by every effort that we make towards expression. If we try to unbosom our hearts to each other, we hide as much as we reveal. We wrap ourselves round in mystery when we are most communicative. All art is concerned as much in hiding what ought to be concealed as in making known what is meant to be expressed.

(H. R. Reynolds, B. A.)

It should not surprise us when men of acute and powerful understandings more or less reject the gospel, for this reason, that the Christian revelation addresses itself to our hearts, to our love of truth and goodness, our fear of sinning, and our desire to gain God's favour; and quickness, sagacity, depth of thought, strength of mind, power of comprehension, perception of the beautiful, power of language, and the like, though they are excellent gifts, are clearly quite of a different kind from these excellences — a man may have the one without having the other. This, then, is the plain reason why able, or, again, why learned men are so defective Christians, because there is no necessary connection between faith and ability; because faith is one thing and ability is another; because ability of mind is a gift, and faith is a grace. Who would ever argue that a man could, like Samson, conquer lions, or throw down the gates of a city, because he was able, or accomplished, or experienced in the business of life? Who would ever argue that a man could see because he could hear, or run with the swift because he had " the tongue of the learned "? These gifts are different in kind. In like manner, powers of mind and religious principles and feelings are distinct gifts; and as all the highest spiritual excellence, humility, firmness, patience, would never enable a man to read an unknown tongue, or to enter into the depths of science, so all the most brilliant mental endowments, wit, or imagination, or penetration, or depth, will never of themselves make us wise in religion. And as we should fairly and justly deride the savage who wished to decide questions of science or literature by the sword, so may we justly look with amazement on the error of those who think that they can master the high mysteries of spiritual truth, and find their way to God, by what is commonly called reason, i.e., by the random and blind efforts of mere mental acuteness, and mere experience of the world.

(F. W. Newman.)

Unconverted men often say, "If these things are so, if they are so clear and great, why cannot we see them?" And there is no answer to be given but this, "Ye are blind." "But we want to see them. If they are real, they are our concern as well as yours. Oh, that some preacher would come who had power to make us see them!" Poor souls, there is no such preacher, and you need not wait for him. Let him gather God's light as he will, he can but pour it on blind eyes. A burning glass will condense sunbeams into a focus of brightness; and if a blind eye be put there, not whir will it see, though it be consumed. Light is the remedy for darkness, not blindness. Neither will strong powers of understanding on your part serve. The great Earl of Chatham once went with a pious friend to hear Mr. Cecil. The sermon was on the Spirit's agency in the hearts of believers. As they were coming from church, the mighty statesman confessed that he could not understand it all, and asked his friend if he supposed that any one in the house could. "Why yes," said he, "there were many plain unlettered women, and some children there, who understood every word of it, and heard it with joy."

(Hoge.)

I. WHAT MAY BE INTENDED BY THESE THINGS?

1. In general, the things pertaining to salvation.

2. More particularly, those doctrines which are in an especial sense peculiar to the gospel, seem here to be intended, such as

(a)the Divinity of Christ,

(b)distinguishing grace,

(c)the new birth,

(d)the nature of the life of faith.

II. WHERE, AND IN WHAT SENSE, ARE THESE THINGS HID?

1. They are hid in Christ (Colossians 2:3); therefore

(a)you can attain to no saving truth, but in and by the knowledge of Jesus Christ.

(b)Whatever seeming knowledge you have, if it does not endear Him to you it is nothing worth.

2. They are hid in God's Word.

(a)They are contained there.

(b)Yet though contained there, they are not plain to every eye.They are not hid in the sense that seekers shall not find, but that those who seek to cavil shall meet with something to confirm their prejudices. Application: Do not entertain hard and perplexing thoughts about the counsels of God, either respecting others or yourselves.

(John Newton.)

I. Divine things CONCEALED. Not through any deficiency of revelation, nor by arbitrary will.

II. Divine things REVEALED. The revelation of Divine realities is made to prepared souls. Elicits thankfulness.

III. THE UNWILLING ALONE SUFFER PRIVATION AND LOSS. God will not force His truth and mercy upon man.

(M. Braithwaite.)

There died five-and-twenty years ago in France a village priest, the Cure of Ars, a small hamlet about thirty miles north of Lyons. He was so devoid of worldly learning that he was long unable to obtain orders, until some bishop had the wisdom to perceive that saintliness was a better claim to orders than technical learning. In that village this priest ministered for many years, preaching, lecturing, hearing confessions all day long. Sceptics came from Paris; and the bursts of his spiritual fire burnt deep into their consciences. During the last year of his life no less than 80,000 persons flocked to his church to listen to his religious advice. Such as he was, a standing argument for Christianity, a standing evidence of its being a living influence, such may every one of us be; for it was not knowledge but holiness that constituted his power. The secret of his strength was his weakness. His power was not his own. His soul lay at the foot of the Cross, his body at the foot of the altar; he was made a temple of the Holy Ghost. He was an epistle known and read of all men.

(Canon Adam S. Farrar.)

Let me suppose a person to have a curious cabinet, which is opened at his pleasure, and not exposed to common view. He invites all to come to see it, and offers to show it to any one who asks him. It is hid, because he keeps the key; but none can complain, because he is ready to open it whenever he is desired. Some, perhaps, disdain the offer, and say, "Why is it locked at all?" Some think it not worth seeing, or amuse themselves with guessing at the contents. But those who are simply desirous for themselves, leave others disputing, go according to appointment, and are gratified. These have reason to be thankful for the favour, and the others have no just cause to find fault. Thus the riches of Divine grace may be compared to a richly-furnished cabinet, to which Christ is the door. The Word of God is likewise a cabinet, generally locked up, but the key of prayer will open it. The Lord invites all, but keeps the dispensation in His own hand. They cannot see these things, except He shows them; but then He refuses none that sincerely ask Him. The wise men of the world can go no further than the outside of this cabinet; they ,may amuse themselves and surprise others with their ingenious guesses at what is within; but a child that has seen it opened can give us more satisfaction, without studying or guessing at all. If men will presume to aim at the knowledge of God, without the knowledge of Christ, who is the Way, and the Door; if they have such a high opinion of their own wisdom and penetration as to suppose they can understand the Scriptures without the assistance of His Spirit; or if their worldly wisdom teaches them that these things are not worth their inquiry, what wonder is it that they should continue to be bid from their eyes? They will one day be stripped of all their false pleas, and condemned out of their own mouths.

(Newton.)

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