People were bringing the little children to Jesus for Him to place His hands on them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them.
I. LITTLE CHILDREN ARE ATTRACTED TO JESUS. There must have been something in the aspect, etc.. He of the Savior which drew the little ones and their mothers to his side. Christianity differs from the systems of idolatry in presenting us with One whom we instinctively can love. A little girl, when asked why she thought Jesus must have smiled, said, "He must have smiled when he said, 'Suffer little children,' etc.. He else they would never have come!" A chief object of preaching and living the gospel is to exhibit this charm.
II. LITTLE CHILDREN ARE INVITED TO JESUS. HOW many people won't come to a place unless they think they are welcome, and therefore they expect an invitation. Now, when the disciples thought that their Master was too engrossed with high thoughts and important affairs to attend to the children, they took it upon themselves to send them away. This was not done through unkindness, but simply through a mistake. Christ corrected the mistake, and deliberately invited the little children. That proves-does it not? - in the strongest way that he intends them to come to him. But Jesus does more than invite.
III. LITTLE CHILDREN ARE CLAIMED BY JESUS. "For of such is the kingdom of heaven." That means that little children are very near to him already. They are really in his kingdom, and he is their King. He has a greater right, therefore, to their obedience and service and society, than father or mother, or brother or sister. When little children are good and loving they are with Jesus, and it is only when they do or think what is wrong that they go away from him. And all who come into his kingdom have to come in as little children, i.e. they are to be childlike - simple, loving, trustful, and obedient.
IV. LITTLE CHILDREN ARE BLESSED BY JESUS. He took them in his arms and embraced them. But he also put his hands on them, and gave them his Father's blessing. How great a thing did the Jews think a blessing was! Let us try and live so that we shall at last get the blessing Christ has in store for us. Do you love to be with Jesus? Do you do whatever he commands you? Then you are a subject of his kingdom, and a child of grace; and hereafter you will share his glory. - M.
And they brought young children to Him.
I. IN REGARD TO THE CHILDREN THEMSELVES. It is a common expression on the lips of good people to bid children to "come to Jesus." This cannot mean exactly the same as when Jesus was sitting in the house. The child saw Jesus with his bodily eye, might mark the kindly light in it, and be encouraged by the kindly smile that played around His lips. There could not be in the children on that day anything like what we now call a spiritual feeling, any doubts or difficulties as to what was meant by coming to Jesus. In more advanced years the notion of what is spiritual may be gradually developed in the mind, but in the tender time of childhood, religious ideas should be presented to children in forms that are true and natural to them. Let them feel that they are the children of the great unseen Father; that they have a Saviour and Friend; but beware how you mix up with that religious teaching a philosophy of human invention. Children are patterns of simplicity; do not reverse this picture.
II. WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BRINGING A CHILD IN CHRIST'S DAY TO JESUS AND BRINGING HIM NOW? What is the difference to the child himself, and what to the parents? At that time the parents saw whether the child was accepted; saw Christ bless the child; it was a matter of sight, not of faith. Now it is matter of faith. One would like to know the ground of the rebuke administered by the disciples. Perhaps the parents were interrupting the teaching of Christ, or the disciples thought that the placing of Christ's hands on the children could do them no good. The objections of modern disciples are of the same nature. The action of Christ, as well as His words, is a rebuke to such. He does not say, "Take these children hence, they can get no good from Me. Bring them to Me when they can express assent to My teaching." His words tell us that before the age of understanding God can do the child good. What is meant by "receiving the kingdom of God as a little child"? There are elements of a child's life which cannot be continued in the life of manhood; but there are outstanding characteristics of childhood which must be seen in those who receive the kingdom of God.
1. He refers to naturalness, truthfulness, or single-mindedness, as opposed to the spirit of artifice or duplicity. The child's nature comes out, unmindful of pain or pleasure to others, he speaks what is in him. His mind is a perfect mirror, throwing back all that falls on it, and he is utterly unconscious of any wish to give an undue colouring to his feelings or desires, he does not pretend to like what he hates; to believe what he does not believe; he is true to himself. Whosoever would receive the kingdom of God as a little child must be true to nature, the new nature, and be simple and sincere. How much more straightforward would the path be to the kingdom, and in the kingdom, if men would only renounce the crooked policy which they learn in the world.
2. The element of trust.
(A. Watson, D. D.)I. The danger of sin standing in the way of children coming to Christ. Few persons ale aware of the extent to which children, even very young children's minds, are capable of being affected, prejudiced, distorted, by the conversation which they hear. Children cannot balance and dismiss a subject as you do. It has fallen with fearful impression. But some cast obstacles less offensively, but perhaps more dangerously. They render religion repulsive to children. Where is that cheerfulness which a child loves, and in which real religion always consists? What ought to come as a pleasure you force as a duty: you are severe when you ought to be encouraging; abstract when you should be practical.
II. THE DUTY OF BRINGING CHILDREN TO CHRIST. Impressions made in childhood are sure to creep out in after life. Let them feel that at any point of life they have to do with Jesus. Your child has told a lie. Tell him, "Jesus is Truth." This is leading him to Christ.
III. WE OURSELVES MUST BE LIKE LITTLE CHILDREN. Be quite a child, and you will soon be quite a saint.
(J. Vaughan, M. A.)
1. Because they have a confiding trust in God.
2. Because they have a holy fear of God.
3. Because they have no false shame.
4. Because they have the spirit of humility.
5. Because they have the spirit of love.
(J. H. Norton, D. D.)
(J. H. Norton, D. D.)
(J. H. Norton, D. D.)I. It should be noted carefully that the parties who objected to the bringing little children to Christ were not Scribes and Pharisees, the unbelieving Jews who recognized nothing Divine in the mission of our Lord, BUT ACTUALLY HIS DISCIPLES. They perhaps considered it entailing unnecessary fatigue on their Master, that He should have to receive the young as well as the old; or that no sufficient end was to be answered by bringing little children to Christ. They would have understood the use of bringing a lame child to Him, though too young to exercise faith; but they had no idea of a child in bodily health deriving any advantage from contact with Christ. The parents judged better than the disciples. Knowing that by God's express command the rite of circumcision was administered to infants, they concluded, as we may suppose, that infancy of itself was no disqualification for a religious privilege, and that if there was anything spiritual in the mission of Christ, it might be communicated to the young as well as the old. If we delay religious instruction, under the idea that it is too difficult or too abstruse for a very young mind, are we not acting in much the same way as the disciples? In after life there is no greater impediment to religion than the want of proper habits of self-discipline and control. It may therefore be justly considered, that whatever tends to the forming such habits facilitates the coming to our Lord for His blessing. Then, what want of faith is there in the education of children. Parents are actually suspicious of the Bible, even when desirous of instilling its truths into their children. They run to good books to make the Bible easy and amusing, whose business it is to dilute and simplify the Word, ridding it of mysteries, and adapting it to juvenile understandings. But this is virtually withholding the children from Christ. Remember that for the most part what is mystery to a child is to a man. If I strive to make intelligible what ought to be left mysterious, I do but nourish in the child the notion of his being competent to understand all truth, and prepare him for being disgusted if he finds himself in riper years called upon to submit reason to faith. Do not let it seem to you a harsh accusation — consider it well, and you will have to confess it grounded upon truth — that whensoever there is dilatoriness in commencing the correction of tempers, which too plainly prove the corruption of nature, or the substitution of other modes of instruction for the Bible itself, or any indication, more or less direct, of a feeling that there must be something intermediate, that children are not yet ready for the being brought actually to the Saviour, we identify your case with that of our Lord's disciples, who, when some sought for infants the benediction of Christ, rashly and wrongfully "rebuked those that brought them."
II. But now let us mark more particularly OUR BLESSED LORD'S CONDUCT, IN REGARD TO THE CHILDREN and those who would have kept them from Him. When he observed the endeavour of the disciples to prevent the children being brought, you read that "He was much displeased." The original word marks great indignation. It is used on one or two other occasions in the New Testament, when very strong feelings were excited. For example, "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 sore displeased:" it is the same Greek word. Again: on the occasion of the woman's pouring on Christ's head an alabaster box of very precious ointment, "when His disciples saw it, they had indignation — the same word — saying, To what purpose is this waste?" These instances show you that the word denotes a very high degree of dissatisfaction, anger being more excited than sorrow, as though the thing done were specially offensive and criminal. It is never again used in connection with Christ; Christ is never again said to have been "much" or "sorely displeased." On the occasion of having little children kept from Him, bat on no other occasion, did Christ show Himself "sorely displeased." What an indication of His willingness to receive little children! What a declaration as to the duty of bringing to Him little children; and the sinfulness, in any measure or on any account, of withholding them from Him! And, perhaps, many children would go to Christ, if they were but suffered to go. Christ draws their young hearts; but how often are serious thoughts discouraged in children! How little advantage is taken of indications of youthful piety! Then, again, what inconsistencies they perceive in those around them! and who quicker than children in detecting inconsistencies? They are as sharp-sighted in their discernment of the faults of their superiors, as if they had been born critics, or bred up for censors. But inconsistencies will stop them, just when they might be determining on taking the first step towards Christ; and we do not "suffer" them to go, if by anything in our example we interfere with their going, putting some sort of hindrance — and it need not be a high one for young feet to stumble at. Yea, and we may actually "forbid them." This is our Lord's next expression; and it indicates more active opposition than when He only requires us to suffer. Evidently the worldly-minded parent or instructor forbids the children from coming to Christ, when he discountenances any religious tendency; when he manifests his fear of a young person becoming too serious, too fond of reading the Bible, too disposed to avoid gay amusements, and cultivate the society of such as care for the soul. This is the more open sort of forbidding. Not but what there is a yet more open: when children or young persons are actually prevented from what they are inclined to do in the matter of religion, and forced into scenes and associations which they feel to be wrong. It is not thus, however, that "disciples" — any who may be parallel with those to whom our Lord addressed His remonstrance — are likely to prevent little children. But are there no other ways of forbidding? Indeed, a young mind is very easily discouraged; more especially in such a thing as religion, towards which it needs every possible help, and from which it may be said to have a natural swerving. A look will be enough; the slightest hint; nay, even silence will have the force of a prohibition. There may be needed a stern command to withhold from an indulgence, but a mere glance of the eye may withhold from a duty. Not to encourage, may be virtually to forbid. The child soon catches this; he soon detects the superior anxiety which the parent exhibits for his progress in what is called learning, the comparative coldness as to his progress in piety. He quickly becomes aware of the eye being lit up with greater pleasure at an indication of talent, than at a sign of devotion. And thus the child is practically "forbidden" to come to Christ. He is practically told that there is something preferable to his coming to Christ.
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
(T. Guthrie, D. D.)1. Because they are not too young to do wrong.
2. Because the regeneration of children or adults is the work of the Holy Spirit.
3. Because piety is a matter of the heart, rather than of the intellect.
4. Special examples found in God's Word.
5. It is a pleasing confirmation of our faith in very early piety to observe the many instances within our own observation of the conversion of young children, and of their teachable spirit with reference to religion.
(S. S. Portwin.)children: —
I. It is very old.
II. It is all-embracing.
III. It is all-sufficing.
I. INADEQUATE PIETY.
II. INCOMPETENT KNOWLEDGE of the gospel.
1. Your knowledge must spring from faith.
2. It must be derived from scripture.
III. INJUDICIOUS MODES OF INSTRUCTION.
1. Loading the memory with scripture without explanation.
2. Lengthened addresses in which children take no part.
IV. AN IMPROPER SPIRIT.
V. INCONSISTENT CONDUCT.
1. Want of punctuality.
(J. Sherman.)1. The text teaches that Jesus is attractive to children.
2. That Christ takes a deep interest in children.
3. Jesus prays for children.
4. Jesus wishes children to be happy, and they could not be that without pardon.
5. There are a great many children in heaven.
(Dr. McAuslane.)brought young children to Christ." Ah! there was no need of that, for they came to Him of their own accord — nor did He ever repulse them. How shall we bring the children to Christ — how shall we win them to love and follow Him? The best way of bringing our children to Christ is by being Christ-like ourselves. Let them see in us nothing but His kindness, wisdom, strength, tenderness, and sympathy, and they will learn to love their religion, and grow close to Jesus, as in the days when "He took them up in His arms, laid His hands upon them, and blessed them."
(H. R. Haweis, M. A.)
(Eggleston.)me up in His arms, bless me, too; no disciple shall keep me away." Her sister kissed her, and said, "Do you love me?" "Yes, dear," she replied, "but you mustn't mind that I love Jesus better."
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
(C. H. Spurgeon.)I. THE CONDUCT OF THE PARENTS WAS VERY NATURAL AND COMMENDABLE. "They brought young children to Jesus," etc. Just as Joseph brought his sons to Jacob, that he might lay his hands upon them and bless them. His blessing would be sure to make rich in one way or another. These parents did not send their children to Jesus, but brought them; example better than precept. Let us not stop short of the Saviour. Morality good: but they must be born again.
II. THE SPIRIT AND DEMEANOUR OF THE DISCIPLES WERE VERY REPULSIVE — "They rebuked those that brought them." What if the parents had judged of the Master by the spirit of His servants? There is love in His heart infinitely transcending all that exists in the hearts of His most devoted people.
III. THE CONDUCT OF JESUS CHRIST WAS A PERFECT CONTRAST TO THAT OF HIS DISCIPLES. "He was much displeased." Christ may be angry with His own people, even when they think they are doing Him service. It is not enough to mean well. Is it any wonder that Christ should feel an interest in little children when He voluntarily became a little child Himself? "Of such" — in years — "is the kingdom of heaven." All infants go to heaven. The lost will go away into "everlasting punishment," but an infant cannot be punished, for that would imply personal criminality and conscious guilt: but an infant can neither do good nor evil. But may they not be annihilated? This passage kindles light in their little sepulchre and says, "Of such is the kingdom of heaven." They live unto God. The only difference between the salvation of an infant and others, is this — the infant is saved without faith, by the direct agency of the Holy Spirit, in consequence of the finished work of Christ; others are saved by believing the gospel, and being sanctified through the truth. See the condescension of Christ. We cannot bless them as He did; we can plead for the Divine blessing upon them.
1. Our remarks apply exclusively to children who are not yet arrived at years of accountability; that is, who are not yet capable of employing the appointed means of salvation.
2. It is not said that the children of believers and of unbelievers are in all respects in the same case; on the contrary the relative holiness of the children of believers is an important blessing; their circumstances are more favourable to the formation of a religious character; their means of salvation are more direct. But the child of a believer has no other claim on the mercy of God than that may be put in by any infant.
I. STATE THE ARGUMENT IN FAVOUR OF INFANT SALVATION. Considerations which may suggest this hope.
1. They are not accountable. They are incapable of moral obligation, hence are not condemned: free from personal guilt. Does it comport with the Divine Justice or mercy, to suppose that such are not saved whose only guilt is their unavoidable connection with a broken covenant? The benevolence of the Divine character suggests the hope of their salvation; and embraces infants in the redeeming purpose. The rectitude of the Divine government suggests their salvation; they cannot be healed according to their deeds who have neither done good nor evil. There are many general expressions of Divine favour towards infants; God contemplates their advantage in the blessings He confers on mankind (Psalm 78:5, 6; Deuteronomy 12:28; Jeremiah 19:3, 9). He spared Nineveh for their sake (Jonah 4:11).
2. There are gracious declarations of the Word of God which imply this truth (Matthew 18:1, 14). That infants are capable of receiving the principle of faith is plain; Jeremiah and John Baptist have been sanctified from the womb. The Jewish children were accounted worshippers of the true God, even from their infancy (Deuteronomy 29:10, 13; Deuteronomy 5:3; 2 Chronicles 20:13; Joel 2:15, 16). And so under the Christian dispensation children are viewed as believers, because visibly connected with the dispensation, and continue to be so accounted till they renounce it as their religion. Christ would not recognize as subjects of His kingdom here, those whom He did not regard as heirs of His kingdom hereafter. "Of such is the kingdom of God." Romans 5:12, 19 appears to involve this truth. It places in contrast the dispensations under which God has governed man; one at creation, the other at redemption. The curse of the broken covenant included the children; the saving benefit provided by Christ extends to them. "As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive again."
II. EXAMINE SOME OF THE DIFFICULTIES WHICH APPEAR TO LIE IN THE WAY OF ADOPTING THIS CONCLUSION.
1. The imputation of Adam's sin. The doctrine of infant salvation does not deny this, but declares that the grace of God frees from the curse, and bestows the capacity for celestial happiness, through the mediation of Christ.
2. The temporal sufferings and death of infants. Because they suffer some of the effects of the curse it by no means follows that they suffer all. Actual believers suffer in this world.
3. The destruction of the children of the ungodly along with their parents. The case of Korah.
4. The declared necessity of faith in order to salvation. A new heart is the qualification for heaven, and may as easily be given to an infant as to an adult.
5. The early indications of sinfulness in infants. It is not easy to determine how far these are the result of animal propensities or deliberate choice. It is not said that infants are free from tendency to evil, or even apparent acts of sin; but are saved through Christ whose sacrifice puts away sin.
6. The silence of scripture.
III. THE PRACTICAL INFLUENCE OF THIS TRUTH.
1. Let it be viewed generally in its aspect on the moral government of God.
(1) (2) (3) 2. Let this truth be viewed in its aspect on the religious education of children. No excuse for the neglect of it. 3. Let this doctrine he viewed in its aspect on the seriousness of bereaved parents. (J. Jefferson.) (W. B. Philpot, M. A.)
(2) (3) 2. Let this truth be viewed in its aspect on the religious education of children. No excuse for the neglect of it. 3. Let this doctrine he viewed in its aspect on the seriousness of bereaved parents. (J. Jefferson.) (W. B. Philpot, M. A.)
(3) 2. Let this truth be viewed in its aspect on the religious education of children. No excuse for the neglect of it. 3. Let this doctrine he viewed in its aspect on the seriousness of bereaved parents. (J. Jefferson.) (W. B. Philpot, M. A.)
3. Let this doctrine he viewed in its aspect on the seriousness of bereaved parents.
(W. B. Philpot, M. A.)