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prostrate form, but still the prayer goes up, and still the voice of resig. nation hovers amid the tumult like the breath of God over a world ir chaos-ruling the wild scene.
Oh, is this the form that a few days ago stood on this same height and looked off on Jerusalem sleeping below, while the sunlight around, and the fragrant breezes loaded with the scent of the pomegranate and vine, visited in kindness his brow, and the garden smiled up in his face from beneath, and garments were strewed before him, and branches of palm waved around him, and “HOSANNA TO THE HIGHEST !" shook the hill ? Alas, what a change has passed over him! No hosannas greet his ear, but deep within his soul are voices of terror and dismay, striving, but in vain, to shake his constancy or darken his faith.
Christ arose from the earth he had moistened with his blood, and stood beneath the stars, that still shone on as tranquilly as if all unconscious of the scene that had transpired in their light. Kedron still murmured by, and the night air stirred the leaves as gently as ever. was sweet and tranquil, when torches were seen dancing to and fro along the slopes of the hill, and the heavy tread of approaching feet was heard, and rough voices broke the holy quiet of nature; and soon Roman helmets flashed through the gloom, and swords glittered in the torch-light, and a band of soldiers drew up before the “man of sorrows."
" Whom seek ye ?'' fell in lanquid and quiet accents on their ears. Jesus of Nazareth,” was the short and stern reply. “I am he," answered them, but in toves that had more of God than man in them, for swords and torches sonk to the earth at their utterance, and those mailed warriors staggered back and fell like dead men. It was not the haggard and bloodstreaked face over wbich the torches shed their sudden glare, that un. nerved them so ; for they were used to scenes of violence and of murder -it was the God speaking from the man.
"But so it must be, that the Scriptures may be fulfilled :” and the betrayer and his accomplices take up their fallen weapons, and freed from the sudden awe that over whelmed them, close threateningly around their anresisting victim. With their prisoner they clatter down the declivity of Olivet, cross Kedron, and soon their heavy tread resounds along the streets of Jerusalem as they harry on to the house of the high priest. Why speak of the painful desertion of his followers, sufficient of itself to break a noble heart-of the rude treatment of the brutal officers that guarded him, or of the mockery of a trial, destitute eren of the forms of justice! Why speak of Peter's treachery, rebuked only by a sorrowful look; or of all or any of the shameful proceedings that made this last most terrible night of the Son of God a fit prelude to the crowning act of humau wickedness !
The night wanes away—the morning, the last dreadful morning approaches, and the scenes of mount Olivet are to disappear before the fearful tragedy of Mount Calvary.
BY REV. J. H. A. BOJBERGER, D.D.
AMONG the many Scriptures bearing directly upon this subject, the first place must undoubtedly be assigned to the incident recorded in the Gospel of St. Matthew, xix: 13-15, and in the parallel passages of the Gospels of St. Mark, x: 13-16, and of St. Luke, xviii : 15-17. were there brought unto Him little children,” (St. Mark calls them "young children,” St. Luke calls them "infants," "that he should put His hands upon them” (St. Mark and St. Luke say "touch them”) "and pray: and the disciples rebuked them," (St. Mark adds, brought them.") “But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me, for such is the kingdom of heaven. Anl he laid his hands upon them, and departed thence." St. Mark in his more graphic style, informs us, that when Jesus saw that Ilis disciples rebuked those who carried or led the children, He was much displeased at it. And in full harmony with the other two Gospels, St. Luke completes the account by adding what is most natural in the circumstances : "But Jesus called them unto Him." How strongly the disciples? rebuke, and the Redcemer's call, are thus contrasted with each other!
Familiar as this Gospel for little children is, and frequently as it may be quoted and dwelt upon, there is certainly reason for fearing ihat very many persons fail to apprehend the length and breadth of the lore and grace which it guarantees to infants. llere, evidently, the law of the kingdom, in regard to children, is laid down in the most explicit terms, and confirmed by a most significant act. In one brief, comprehensive sentence, our Lord issues a commandment binding upon His Church for all subsequent ages, and extends an invitation of mercy to infants and young children of all future generations. He does not say, “Suffer these children to come unto Me;" but, in the most general terms which language affords: “Suffer children." There can be no serious dispute that the command was designed to have universal force.
Some persons may, indeed, say, that these infants were the children of Jewish parents, and, therefore, included already in the covenant of mercy, by circumcision. Hence it may be argued that our Lord's declaration applies only to children of this class. But this is a gratnitous assumption. It is not only unnecessary, but un warranted by the circumstances, to suppose this. If the place there this incident occurred is considered, it will seem altogether more probable that the Saviour was then surrounded by a promiscuous multitude, composed of Jews and others. He was spending the winter ihonths preceding the time of His crucifixion in the region of the Jordan, beyond Jericho. was in the midst of His last public instructions, delivered to the crowds which there gathered around Him in daily increasing numbers, that these children were brought to him, and an opportunity was had, by His own divine ordering of events, for proclaiming this law, and performing the symbolical act by which he sealed its perpetually binding force.
Why, then, should we intrude an unnatural supposition here, in order to limit that which the Master was pleased to make general ? He has opened wide the gates of the kingdom for the free admission of little children; by what right do any close those gates against all but such as may bear, what they may regard as an indispensable mark of qualification? He extended His gracious arms to take up all that were brought to Him, and blessed them all, without exception. How can we justify ourselves for attempting to lay hold upon those arms, and exclude from their redeeming embrace, such as to our bigoted Phariseeism, may seem anworthy of that mercy ? Assuredly if we err, we had better err on the side of charity, than advocate such unlovely exclusiveness as this. And any uncertainty which may hang over the actual parentage, or social position of the children involved in the present instance, may safely be plead in favor of a doctrine, otherwise so consonant with the Lord's gracious words concerning them, and His divine benediction pronounced upon them.
As to the real import of those words, and the significancy of the imposition of the Redeemer's hands, accompanied with the solemn benediction, I confess myself constrained to go with those who attach to His words their widest and strongest sense, and to His act some real spiritual efficacy. If the declaration, “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me,” means anything consistent with the sound and sense of the words employed, it must teach that the salvation which Jesus Christ came to accomplish, was designed to be available for children as well as for adults. The law He here lays down must be allowed to operate as freely as the invitation : “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” And the phrase
Come unto me,” employed in both cases, means substantially the same thing. The little children were not merely to be permitted to get externally nigh unto the Saviour's person, or corporally into His arms. Their outward drawing near to Him was indeed a great privilege ; and His embracing of them and placing His hands io benediction on their heads, was an unspeakably great blessing. But what was visible and corporeal, was but the symbol and the pledge of deeper and invisi. ble spiritual operations.
It was not simply because our Lord “bad a tender love for children, and well knew that a proper notice of these might turn to some valuable account," that He said to His disciples : "Let the little children alone, and do not now, or any other convenient time, hinder them from coming to me." It was not merely, or mainly, because “He would do longer be detained from showing His affectionate regard unto these little children,” that He called them unto Him. Such paraphrases of Holy Writ, even though issuing from the pen of commentators as pious and devout as Doddridge, or as othodox and learned as some wbo have succeeded to his labors without improving upon his views, must sound most flat when compared with the celestial tone of the Saviour's words, and seem most insipil beside the invigorating wine of the original. One can hardly forbear pronouncing them perversions rather than paraphrases. They put our Redeemer upon the low level of a merely human sentimentalist. Prompted, indeed, by the consideration that a "proper notice of these children might turn to some valuable account !” Moved,
indeed, by a tender love" for children ! Such conceits might hardly be excused, bad He not expressly told us what prompted Him, and plainly declared wby He took them up in His divine arms. But with His own words and acts to guide us in the interpretation of what was said and dore, attenuating and enervating paraphrases like these are not to be endured.
Nor does the explanation frequently given, of the Saviour's taking up of these children into His arms, and laying His hands upon them, rise above the level of the paraphrase just animadverted upon. Substantially the act is described as amounting simply to " a tender embracing of these infants with a holy complacency and love.” They say that, "as a further token of the overflowing kindness and benevolence of His Leart towards them,” He laid his hands upon them and blessed them, "recommending them in a solemn manner to the Divine blessing and favor ; which, accordingly descended upon them, to strengthen their constitutions and to sanctify their hearts." Now, however dimly or indefinitely any of us may apprehend the true import and force of the Saviour's treatment of these children, this solution of its meaning must seem utterly unsatisfactory. It leaves something unexplained, unnoticed even, wbich every believing heart is convinced must have been involved in the transaction, and is of essential moment. We cannot rest content with regarding our Saviour as acting, in this case, in his human capacity alone, or suppose that He did nothing more than any other god!y, kindhearted man, having a tender regard for children, and knowing, moreover, how well it is sometimes to please parents by noticing them, would have done, under the circumstances. Nay, our common Christian sense actually revolts from so low and superficial a view of the case. That embrace and benediction cannot be thus paraphrased for us, into an act and utterance of mere human tenderness and love.
Rightly apprehended, then, the invitation of our Lord, calling the infants to Him, involved a true spiritual approach to Him, in His mediatorial character. In the invitation to the weary and the heavy laden, this sense of the phrase, “Come unto me," is admitted without dispute. So in the declaration, “ Him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out." Whatever, therefore, might have been the thought or expectation of the parents or friends who brought the children to Jesus Christ, however little they might have hoped for anything beyond what was merely temporal and natural, we may feel assured that our Lord himself contemplated much more than this. His words of invitation reveal Him as standing with an open heart, ready to receive them into His inmost and saving love. They assure us that there is nothing in the natural constitution of infants, which stands as an insurmountable obstacle to His saving grace; that they are clogged with no such intellectual incapacity; with no such disabilities of affection ; with no such impotency to perform moral acts supposed to be the indispensable conditions to personal salvation, as effectually and hopelessly shut them out of His redeeming mercy, for the time being. Infants though they be, requiring parental arms to bear them, they can as effectually and savingly come to Christ as adults, and by an easier approach. Infants though they be, their souls, with all their living powers, may be as truly and livingly anited to the Lord Jesus Christ as the souls of their parents who re