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we look on oar eternal happiness as perfectly secure* fer he and the father are one: the enemies of our sal- , vation must therefore triumph over omnipotence itself, before they can wrest the sheep of Christ from his hand: nor will his fidelity to God, or his love for mankind, suffer any to seduce them by fraud, 01* destroy them by violence." What a picture of pride, cruelty, and injustice, is exhibited in the virulence of the Pharisees against Jesus! While he was shewing them the path of life, they were contriving his death, and that in the very temple, thus proving themselves to be the genuine offspring of those who slew the Prophet and Priest of the Lord even on his altar ; but our Saviour's wise and gentle reply bafHed their malice for the' present, and his Divine power protected him from their /age.
. In this instance our Lord has left a valuable lesson to all his followers, those in particular whp are exposed to persecution on account of their religion; and it may also be extended to the common affairs of life, for c.alm dispassionate reasoning will always have great advan. tages over prejudice and ill-nature. .'. .
LITTLE CHILDREN BROUGHT TO CHRIST. HIS BENEVOLENT RECEPTION OF THEM.
From Mark, Chap. x.
* Asd they brought unto him also infants, that he
* Here should have been inserted our Lord's discourse on di, vorces and adultery, recorded in the xixth chapter of St. Matthew^ and the xth of St. Mark) but as my work is principally intended for young persons, I have, for reasons which actuated me on a former occasion, omitted it. Let me however earnestly exhort ali who are of age to comprehend the import of them, seriously to peruse them in the Bible, and consider with what solemnity our Lori forbids the violation of the marriage vow.
S 4 might might put his hands on them and pray, and his disciples rebuked them. .'
But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is 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.
And he took them in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.
ANNOTATIONS And REFLECTIONS.
We may regard the account here given. of our SaViour's compassionate and tender behaviour to young children, as a completion of that part of Isaiah's prophecy, which describes the good Shepherd of Israel gathering the lambs in his arms, and carrying them in kis bosom *.
It was a custom among the Jews, to present their children to illustrious persons remarkable for iheir piety, that they might lay their hands upon them, and recommend them to Goo's favour by their prayers +.
The parents of those who were brought to Christ certainly entertained such an opinion of him, and regarded him as the Messiah.
The disciples probably had several reasons for rebuking those who brought their infants. It seems that they were at that particular time conversing with their Lord upon an important subject, and full of attention to his doctrine; and they might be offended at the importunity of those persons who interrupted the discourse.
* See Sect. lxxxrii.' + S«e Dr. Jortin's Sermons.
They They might also think such actions as laying his hands on young children beneath the dignity of their Master, as he came into the world to instruct men, and perform many wonderful works; and perhaps they imagifVetf that those persons would be unwelcome to him, as he was so much taken up with higher employments. Whatever was their motive for driving them away, oar Lord was much displeased that his late instructions * were so soon forgotten: he therefore reproved them with holy anger; and again repeated, that ** whosoever would enter the kingdom of heaven must humble himself, and become like little children;" taking this occasion to acquaint those who were present with some of the qualifications necessary for those who should join themselves to him. r
Encouraged by his gracious permission to approach him, each mother (as we may suppose) pressed forward to offer her child to his hands. The babe, unable to distinguish the embraces of its Saviour from those of the parent, lifted up a cry of supplication for its usual food; or, delighted with the amiable benignity of our Lord's countenance, courted his tenderness by engaging smiles. With affection, exceeding that of the fondest mother, he folded these tender lambs to his bosom, promising to feed them with the milk of the Gospel, to protect them in their infant years with the arms of- hi* mercy, and to reward them with eternal life, if they continued to live as the children of God; then delivering them to their happy mothers, he probably turned his eyes on other children, who being old enough to repeat what their parents taught them, were kneeling at hi*. feet imploring his . benediction. Though tbey could scarcely articulate, and knew not the full import of their •: T:h 1i,. l.'nil . t
. . \ » Sfe Sect. lxv, J
S 5 owa own petitions, their iisping accents found a ready ac. ceptance, and he blessed them also: for innocence, seconded by their parents' prayers, prevailed in their behalf. If there were, as is most likely, among this little fleck, any who had attained to years of reason, and were capable of forming wishes and petitions for themselves, they without doubt shared our Lord's kindness, and, in consequence of their prayers and earnest desire of instruction, were encouraged to expect the aid of Divine grace, to .enable them both to know and practise their ^iity, and preserve them from the dangers of the world.
How properly did the parents of these children act, in thus seeking to promote the eternal welfare of their beloved offspring from their very birth! How lovely did the children them:*lves appear, who willingly yielded to the commands of their parents, and sought their Saviour's blessing, before the world with its vairi delusions had taken possession of their hearts!
Surely every parent who reads the history of this me. tnorable transaction must wish for the same advantage; and eyery child must desire to be thus received by its S.Ayiour. How thankful, therefore, ought all to be, that they are furnished with the means of obtaining his gracious benediction! Though our Lord's personal presence is withdrawn, he continues to behold with kindness all who seek his favour. Let parents, therefore, with holy confidence present their children to him, and make it the first object of paternal care to secure for them, by inculcating the principles of religion, a* tfernal inheritance nxtbkb fadeth not away. And let those who are incapable of instructing their offspring themselves, accept with thankfulness the opportunity which. t&esc times afford, of having them taught by means of the excellent institution of Sunday and other charity 6 * Schools' Schools. The general solicitude which is shewn by matiy persons in the higher classes of society, for culti. vating the knowledge of Christianity among the lower orders of people, must kindle in the mind of every sincere Christian the most delightful hopes,
A RICH YOUNG MAN COMES TO CHRIST FOR
Structiov.tts-our lORD's DISCOURSE CONCERNING RICHES. .. _.
From Mark, Chap. x.—Matt. JC1x.
And when Jesus was gone forth in the way, there came a certain ruler and kneeled to him, asd asked, Good Master, what good thing shall I dp that I may inherit eternal life? *
And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is Gor>; but-if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness;
Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
The young man saith unto him, All these. things have I kept from my youth up; what lack I yet?
Then Jesus beholding him, loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatso-" ever thou hast, and give to tke. poor; and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come take up the cross; and follow me, , . ..;
And .he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.
Aad Jesvs lppke.d round abemt, and saith unto his i . . S 6 disciples,