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CCCCVII.

CHILDREN BROUGHT TO CHRIST.

St. Mark x. 13-16.

And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them 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. 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 up in his arms, put his hands upon them and blessed them.

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"Then," a fitting sequel to His late discourse, "were there brought unto Him little children," even infants, "that He should put His hands on them, and pray." They were brought by parents or friends or nurses, to receive that blessing of which laying on of hands was held to be a sign. They knew His gentle, loving, tender disposition, of which, to embolden them for this, He must have given them many an unrecorded proof.3 These simple souls knew that virtue went forth from His touch. They believed that His blessing would in some way do them good. Not so the Disciples, who ought by this time to have known better. They would not have their Master interrupted in what they deemed a more important work. Not always those who

profess to know the mind of Christ interpret Him best. So some nowadays charge us with superstition, and we know not what, in bringing our little ones to Christ in His Holy Baptism. These are they who would have been found joining the then inconsiderate Disciples in rebuking those humble

1 St. Luke xviii. 15.

2 St. Matt. xix. 13.

"It is looked upon as the indication of a kind and tender disposition to take notice of little children; and this was remarkable in our Lord Jesus; which is an encouragement

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to grown people, who are conscious to themselves of weakness. and of being, through manifold infirmities. . . like little children."Henry.

Compare St. Mark v. 35, 36.

"As if they had been sure they

souls whom the Lord commended. They are wise above what is written. "It is well for us that the Lord has more love and tenderness in Him than the best of His Disciples have." Now the Scripture was fulfilled, that ancient prophecy concerning Him, "He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom." Three things we learn, from hence, our Saviour did. "He commanded the children to be brought unto Him. He blamed those that would have kept them from Him. He exhorteth all men to follow their innocency."2 So when our little ones are laid by Godfathers and Godmothers, Sponsors who speak or respond in the name of infants not yet able to speak for themselves, in the arms of His appointed Minister at the Font,—it is as though we thus placed them in the arms of Christ Himself. It is not lost labour. The seed then sown in those infant hearts may long lie dormant, yet hereafter spring up and bear fruit unto life eternal. And these who thus brought their little ones to the Lord Jesus, would often, we may not doubt, as they were growing up and became able to understand it, tell them the story, and stir up the gift of God that was in them. "Christ," we see, "is ready to entertain those that, when they cannot come themselves, are brought to Him."1 The Lord here teaches not only that the kingdom of God, the Church of Christ, admits (as indeed the Church of the Jews did) little children to its privileges, but also that we must receive this as little children, simple confiding souls, if we would enter hereafter into that higher state of which it is a type, and for which it is a preparation.3

knew their Master's mind in this matter, whereas He had lately cautioned them not to despise one of these little ones."--Henry.

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1 Id.

2 See the commentary on this 'gospel" in the brief exhortation in The Ministration of Public Baptism of Infants. In v. 16 the word is in the present tense, "blesses; " which, as Bp. Wordsworth remarks, "gives more life to the picture."

"He lets slip no opportunity of recommending and inspiring humility, as being the very gate of Heaven."Quesnel. Compare St. Matt. xviii. 1-5.

"Methinks it hath something observable in it, that when He had done this, 'He departed thence;' as if He reckoned He had done enough there, when he had thus asserted the rights, of the lambs of His flock."-Henry on St. Matt. xix. 15.

CCCCVIII.

THE YOUNG RULER.

St. Matthew xix. 16-22.

And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: 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 1 yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. It was a young man,' and a Ruler,2 perhaps of the Synagogue in that place, who asked this question of the Lord. Eagerly, for he ran; respectfully, for he knelt. He looked upon eternal life as a recompense due to some particular act; and he required our Lord, as a Rabbi or Teacher of peculiar wisdom, to point out some such action, which being performed, he might claim the recompense; a due meed for service rendered. The Lord first points out the inadequate idea of Him which this young man entertained. This question amounts to a claim that He is God. If He is no more than man, He has no claim to be called good. If He is good, He must be admitted to be more than man." The Lord however proceeds to propose to this young man a thing he

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1 V. 20 below.

2 St. Luke xviii. 18.

3 St. Mark x. 17.

Compare the lawyer's question, St. Luke x. 25, though this was asked in a different spirit.

5 "The dilemma, as regards the Socinians, has been well put :-either,

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'There is none good, but God: Christ is good therefore Christ is God;' or 'There is none good but God: Christ is not God: therefore Christ is not good.'"-Alford.

"Why do you call me good, when you will not allow me to be God? He does not disclaim that He is good,

might attempt, if, as he supposes, eternal life is wages due; and in attempting which he might learn that it is the gift of God through Jesus Christ our Lord. The young Ruler cannot imagine that this Rabbi is referring to anything so elementary as the Ten Commandments. Yet the Lord refers him to these which he had overlooked, and which as a Ruler it was presumed that he understood.' He cites certain of the Second Table,2 specimens of the rest, which might be briefly comprehended in that concluding one by which the Lord illustrated them all. Let this young man test himself even by these. But so little does he know himself, that he protests to Him whom he (embarrassed by a disclaimer he cannot understand) no longer addresses as "Good,"3-that he has done what no mere man ever did. He had never looked beyond the mere letter of the law. He knew neither its spiritual import, nor his own heart. There was but one thing, so he supposed, lacking to that perfection of which he had heard the Teachers of his nation talk, and which this Teacher had but to point out for him to perform. The Lord, notwithstanding his presumption, still treated him with sweetness; and in His love, ready to add him to the number of His Disciples, told him of the one thing lacking to this. To take up the Cross and follow Christ, as the rest had done, involved parting with those possessions which, notwithstanding his forwardness, he was not found ready to do. This, which was not required of all, was proposed to

but He claims that He is God."Ambrose. See the original in Bp. Wordsworth.

1 St. John iii. 10.

2 St. Mark adds, "Defraud not," in reference it may be to the tenth commandment.

3 St. Mark x. 20.

✦ St. Mark x. 21; St. Matt. x. 38. "The similar injunction of our Lord to His Apostles, 'Provide neither gold nor silver in your purses,' read out in the church at Assissi twelve centuries after it was uttered, so impressed the heart of a young enthusiast, that it led him to the foundation

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of the second order of Mendicant Friars, A.D. 1210. But we must not, with St. Francis, draw from it the conclusion, that a renunciation of property, and the vow of poverty, are the best means of attaining Christian perfection. This literal interpretation is not in harmony with the general teaching of our Lord, and would be a blameable throwing up of our stewardship before the time assigned by Him who has said, 'Occupy till I come.' He only spake to the particular case before Him."-Macbride, Diatesseron, p. 521.

him as a test, which he failed to stand. It grieved him to It had grieved him more to have

be convicted of failure. succeeded at such a cost.

CCCCIX.

RICHES.

St. Mark x. 23-27.

And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved? And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.

And what saw He when He thus "looked round about "?1 He saw that young man, whom in His love He would have joined to the band of His Disciples, "very sorrowful;" 2 grieved, yet going away.3 So Herod was "exceeding sorry," and yet he sacrificed the Baptist. This young man was not prepared, like that merchantman in the Lord's parable, to sell all that he had in order to buy the pearl of great price.* From him the Lord turns to His Disciples, and utters that reflection which filled them with astonishment. The Church

Notices of the Lord's looks and gestures are characteristic of St. Mark. "He recites more often than any of the Evangelists the very words of Christ. . . as if the sound of that Divine voice was still ringing in his ears; and he notices more frequently the expression of Christ's aspect and

look, as if the features of that blessed
countenance were indelibly graven on
his memory."-Bp. Wordsworth. In-
troduction.

2 St. Luke xviii. 23, 24.
3 St. Mark x. 22.

4 St. Matt. xiii. 45, 46.

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