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M. The Bible shows us to ourselves, and the picture there given us must be a faithful one, for it is drawn by God Himself. There we find an account of our disease, and there, blessed be God, we find the remedy. If we learn that we are sinners, we learn also in those blessed pages that we have a Saviour. We are permitted to walk by His side, to witness His acts of mercy, to discern that there is healing with Him. Shall we not earnestly ask Him to heal our souls?
We will now continue to trace the steps of our blessed Lord; who, having crossed the river Jordan, passed, as you said, through the country to the east of it on His way to Jerusalem, healing and teaching, as He went, the multitudes that followed Him. It was during this journey that He delivered the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican, which we have so often talked of together. You remember which I
E. Quite well; it was about two men who went up into the temple to pray to God; when the proud Pharisee stood and boasted before God how good he was, and thanked God that he was not like the Publican.
M. And you have not forgotten, I dare say, that the poor Publican would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but, filled with a deep sense of his own unworthiness, "smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner!"
E. Yes; and I am sure, if I had been he, unhappy as he was, I would not have changed places with that proud Pharisee. I am sure, Mamma, it must be much better to be even miserable about our sins, than to be
filled with such proud thoughts, so hateful in the sight of God.
M. Certainly, my child; and far happier too in the end; for the Bible says, "they that sow in tears shall reap in joy." Those that weep for their sins, shall rejoice in the pardon of them. Our blessed Saviour tells us that the poor Publican "returned home justified rather than the other :" he carried away with him a blessed peace in his heart, which nothing could disturb-the peace of true contrition. I dare say he did not even notice the contemptuous looks of the Pharisee; for when we feel that God is pleased to approve, it is of very little consequence what man thinks. But for those who trust in themselves that they are righteous, there is no such peace. Peace between God and man can only be obtained from the mercy of God, through the blood of that Lamb, which even the law typified continually for the comfort of the penitent.
And now, Edward, we are come to those sweet verses, which used when you were quite a little child, to please you so much, "Suffer the little children to come unto me." It was on this journey that our Lord showed that kindness and condescension to little children, which the fond and anxious parent still dwells upon with so much delight. For there were brought unto Him little children, that He should put His hands upon them, and pray for them; infants, St. Luke tells us they were, such as your own little sister is. Their friends, most likely their mothers, brought them to Jesus, anxious that they, young and helpless as they were, should have their share of His pity and His love. Nor could a mother's wakeful affection have thought of any better way of serving her child.
Happy mothers! who would not wish that they could thus take their tender infants, and lay them in their Saviour's arms! Happy children! who, even for one short moment, were cradled there! What a sight it must have been! How touching to every parent's heart! But some there were, who probably were not parents; and, instead of looking on with delight, for some reason or other they rebuked those that brought them.
E. Perhaps, Mamma, they thought they would be troublesome to Christ.
M. Or, perhaps, they fancied that He was too great to notice infants. Yet, what are we all,-what are the oldest and the wisest, the greatest, the holiest of men in the sight of God? What but weak and wayward children? Nay, how many sins have older people contracted from which little infants are free!
But, perhaps, the disciples thought that infants were too young to receive any blessing at our Saviour's hands. Far different, however, were our Lord's own thoughts. He very seldom showed displeasure; but He expressed it very strongly now, at the interference of the disciples. St. Mark tells us, “He was much displeased" with them, for hindering the little children from being brought to Him, and said unto them, "Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God: and then, he took them up in his arms, laid his hands upon them, and blessed them." The great and wise men of the world may despise these little ones, and think them unworthy of their attention. But Christ looks down upon them with the most tender pity and compassion. He who now sits at the right hand of the Majesty on high, received
children graciously, though some of them, the infants at least, were incapable of receiving any instruction from Him, and could not understand what He said or did to them. But they needed His compassion, His protection, His grace, His blessing. Of this they were capable, and this, through the merciful condescension of Christ, they received, with every outward expression of kindness and love: for "He took them up in his arms, laid his hands upon them, and blessed them.”
E. How I love this story! it seems to me now even more beautiful than ever. I wish you would repeat to me now, dear Mamma, those sweet verses, which you read to us all the other evening upon this subject.
M. "The blessed Jesus ever loved to trace,
The innocent brightness of an infant's face.
He raised them in His holy arms;
He blessed them from the world and all its harms :
Heirs though they were of sin and shame,
He blessed them in His own and in His Father's name."
And the hymn then goes on to offer to us the delightful thought, that, as those happy children smiled unconsciously on the everlasting Parent, there were present to His infinite mind all those innumerable infants, who in their cradles have been bought by His most precious blood. What Christian mother does not bless the poet for so beautiful an idea as this? And yet I trust it is not in any degree more beautiful than true.
E. I cannot help thinking, how happy the parents of those little children must have been; I wish all parents could do as they did-that you, dear Mamma, were able to take all of us, as they did their children, to the Lord Jesus Christ, and that you could put our dear little baby into His arms. But I know you will
say that He is quite as kind to little children now, and quite as willing to give them His blessing.
M. We cannot doubt it. Our merciful Saviour, we may be sure, would still be much displeased, if we thought that He would not now receive and bless our little children. Even under the law, infant children, not more than eight days old, were admitted into the family of God. Now the Gospel differs from the law chiefly in this, that it is much more full of grace and mercy; and opens to us more clearly, and more abundantly, the loving-kindness of God our Saviour. It teaches us that, where sin abounded, the gracious mercy of God has been more abundant still. But we know that sin has so abounded, as to make even infants corrupt and sinful creatures; born in sin, and children of wrath; subject to condemnation and death. And does not grace abound still more, when it restores them to righteousness, by placing them under the care of the Saviour of the world? For we cannot suppose that Jesus felt for those children only, who were brought to Him on His last journey to Jerusalem. No; He came to be a blessing to "all the families of the earth;" commanded His apostles to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing all; not the men and women only, but the children also. And there is another thought, more encouraging still than all the
Our Lord Himself was once an infant; and so sanctified the state of infancy for ever. Then the very first crowns of martyrdom were those which, whilst yet an infant, he bestowed upon the infants of Bethlehem. You have not forgotten, I am sure, those persecuted little ones, whose blood was shed for Christ. They died in one sense for Him, and in His stead;