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part of such Children, becomes absolutely necessary. “ De ye not as your Fathers,” said Zechariah, “ unto whom the former prophets have cried, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Turn ye now from your evil ways and from your evil doings ; but they would not hear, nor hearken unto me, saith the Lord. Your Fathers, where are they ? and the Prophets, do they live for ever?"-Oh, what questions ! how cutting and heart-searching to these their children ! “ Our Fathers,” say they, “ alas ! many of them lie buried in the ruins of Jerusalem ; the bones of others, if not bleaching in the desert, or if not to be seen rising, in many a mouldering heap, on either side of the way; lie entombed, far from Judea, within the broad walls of Babylon.” And the prophets, do they live for ever? “For ever, say they ; alas ! our Fathers either would not suffer them to live, or embittered all their days.” Well then, Jehovah, by the Prophets, replies—“But my words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the Prophets, did they not take hold, or overtake, your Fathers ? and they returned and said, -Like as the Lord thought to do unto us, according to our ways, and according to our doings, so hath he dealt with us.”
Thus it is, as an old writer would tell you, * that, from the eyes of some individuals, and the tongues of others, there issues an evil influence ; as between the vital spirits of friends and relatives there is a cognation, and they refresh each other like social plants ; so in Parents and their Children, there is so great a society of nature and of manners, of blessing and of cursing, that an evil Parent cannot perish in a single death ! neither can holy and consistent Parents eat their meal of blessing alone; but they make the room shine like the fire of a holy sacrifice ;” and the fire, thus kindled, will propagate itself,
and shine upon other walls, long after their pilgrimage is ended. Well, therefore, may the voice of rejoicing and salvation be heard in the tabernacles of the righteous.
2. And now what shall I say of the peculiar blessing of the Almighty, which has ever rested on the head of those Parents who have fulfilled their natural, and reasonable, and incumbent obligations; and in exact proportion as they have fulfilled them? For although it is true, that Jehovah never will reject the forecast or the labor of man, but calls him to be heedful and diligent; still, if he is defrauded of his due honor, and if Parents will adventure on anything, only upon trust in their own wisdom and strength, all their toil is vain.
Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it : except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.” For a Parent especially, in such a case, “it is vain for him to rise up early, or sit up late ;" he, and, it may be, his Children, will, in the end, only “eat the bread of sorrows :" while, on the contrary, the Father and Mother who seek supremely the divine favor, not only sleep with serenity, but secure just as large a portion of earthly good as is consistent with their real advantage, and that of their Children after them. Any man, it is true, of a careless or indifferent character, may leave wealth behind him, but there is one iinportant question which follows-Will it prove beneficial, or a source of true enjoyment? For this, he had made no provision. When toiling on from day to day, all the while he had forgotten that blessing, which " maketh rich, and bringeth no sorrow with it ;” though there is not in Scripture one single passage, which regards not this as a material ingredient, in all hereditary possessions. On the other hand, whatever be the rank of the good man, they represent him as standing on the highest ground, with regard to his legacy. As far as his
family is concerned, he requires not the intervention of wealth, as it is called, to die well. Has he been pious, and industrious, and generous ? and has he paid regard to his family, not as being to survive him only, but as bound, with him, for immortality, and soon to follow him? Then all is right. Rich or poor, such a man must leave “ an inheritance to his Children's Children.”
Here, however, in reference to the divine blessing, it seems impossible to forget one singularly-affecting passage in the evangelical history :
“And they brought young Children unto him, that he should touch them;" or, as Matthew has it, “ that he should put his hands on them and pray; and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them-Suffer the little Children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of God."
Christian Parents, who dwell upon such a scene as this, and these heavenly expressions, must surely derive, not only instruction, but the greatest encouragement from both.
In contemplating the scene, you cannot overlook the parties who brought these Children, and their purpose in so doing, however dim and indistinct their views. Luke, in somewhat amplifying this clause, says, “they brought to him also infants ;” as though he had said, “having seen in how many ways He could remove the diseases of riper years, and infuse vigor into the decayed limb, or the decaying frame, they hoped that Children also, who had before them the whole journey of life, might not be sent away empty, should he but condescend to touch them, or lay his hands
them." What though the apostles themselves might frown, or censure, and forbid, or imagine that it were below the dignity of the Son of God, to notice little Children? If ever the Saviour was displeased with his disciples, it was
then; nay, then, it seems, he was much displeased; and
See then the King of kings take up, in succession,
themthe ancient and solemn manner of blessing among the Jews. Surely this was no vain show, nor did the Messiah pour forth his prayer into the air, or pronounce his blessing in vain. And what should he request for them, but that they might be received among the number of the Sons of God? For let us hear it again-What were the precise terms in which he had invited their approach ?
- Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of God.” Who then would, or who dare shut the gate upon those, or even neglect them, whom the Saviour will not permit to be forbidden ? As Parents, oh! what could you desire more than this? Millions of infant souls, it seems, compose the Family above ; and assuredly, in point of number, such souls must form no insignificant proportion of the celestial millions. Regret not now, my reader, for one moment, that nothing is here said of the Parents of these Children, either as to their character or motives, or whether those who brought them even sustained this relation ; for with regard to Scripture, as Mr. Boyle said, its very silences are teaching. It is with the Children, with the species as such, we have here to do; and, blessed be the Saviour ! they actually form the foreground of this picture. Though never registered among the denizens of this little world, that is now of small account indeed, “ for of such is the kingdom of God.” The whole species are safe, and beyond the reach
But they died, say you, some of them before they knew
their right hand from their left; and others, alas ! more advanced, and, therefore, more engaging, yet never knew the difference between good and evil. Ah! so much the better for them. That was a knowledge which carried your first Parents out of Paradise, and this ignorance has not prevented your Children from entering into it. Thus, in one moment of time, could the divine Redeemer, by a few magnificent and gracious words, remove from the parental heart a load of anxiety—“for of such is the kingdom of God;" and as for the tender frame so soon consigned to its native element, though “in Adam all die,” yet “so in Christ shall all be made alive."
Surely then this must be regarded, as one most solemn and delightful indication, of what was originally intended by the Domestic Constitution as such ; while it involves certainly far more than a hint to Parents, as to how they should conduct themselves, with reference to Children who remain and survive. For was it intended by the Saviour to speak consolation only to bereaved Parents ? Most certainly then he did this, as they, since that day, have often felt; but this as certainly was not all : he had been curing others, and conferring bodily health on many who were beyond the power or skill of man's device; and the blessing he now pronounced on those who needed nothing of this kind, must have chiefly referred to the great inhabitant within.
Surely, then, I scarcely need to remind Christian Parents, that Jesus, though anointed above all with the oil of gladness, though far above all principalities and powers, is “the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.” But, after such a scene as this, permit me seriously to inquire, How you have been acting by your infant Children? Although no mere local approach to the Saviour, in the days of his flesh, constituted, in itself, the acceptance of any one, and though no such approach on your part is possible now,