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SERM. Suffer little children to come unto me, and for-
God. 17. Verily, I say unto you ; Wbofo-
These are the accounts, which the Evan-
I shall endeavor to make an emprovement of this historie by considering these several particulars :
1. Who were now brought to Christ.
gave them: which
to be kind and gracious.
them, that of such is the kingdom of bea-
1. The first particular to be considered
by us is, who were now brought to Christ. In St. Matthew they are stiled little children. In one place of St. Mark we have, in our version, young children. But in the original it is still one and the same word: which
therefore throughout those two Evangelists Serm. should be uniformly rendered little chil- VII. dren.
In St. Luke they are called infants : a word, which, as the critics in the Greek language say, comprehends any children from the time of their birth, till they are four years of age. It is the same word, which we have in another text: Knowing, that from a
2 Tim. child thou hast known the holy Scriptures.
That these were little children may be inferred from a circumstance mentioned in St. Mark, that Jesus took them in his arms.
Their tender age may be argued likewise from hence: that it is not faid of Christ, that he taught them, or asked them any questions.
I choose not to argue from the expression, of their being brought to Christ : not thinking it sufficient to prove, that they were carried in arms. For the phrase may be used of such as are led, conducted, guided to a place, or person.
Upon the whole, we may conclude, I think, that they were what they are called by the Evangelists, little children, or infants.
SERM. None of them were arrived to the full exVII.
ercise of reason: and some of them might be carried in the arms of their friends.
II. The next particular to be considered by
us is, What views they had, who brought these little children to Jefus : or, for
what end they were brought to him. It does not appear, that they were brought to Jefus, to be healed by him of any sicknesse, or weaknesse, which they were afflicted with. For there is nothing of that kind hinted in any of the Evangelists, though no Jess than three of them have recorded this historie. And, if that had been the cafe, the disciples, it is likely, would not have rebuked the persons, who came with these children. For before now there had been such applications made to our Lord by many perfons, not only for themselves, but for others alfo: for their friends, or their children, or their servants.
For what end and purpofe, then, may some fay, should these little children be brought to Jefus? who were so young, as to have little or no exercise of reason and un
derstanding, and must therefore have been Serm. uncapable of receiving instruction.
VII. That we may the better answer this enquirie, we should attend to the Evangelists expressions. St. Mark says, they brought little children to Jesus, that be pould touch them : St. Luke: they brought unto bim also or even infants, that he should touch them. But in our text, in St. Matthew, it is : that he jould put bis hands on them, and pray. And it is likely, that this is the meaning of all the Evangelists: it having been common among the Jews, to lay the hand upon those, whom - they blessed : or for whom they prayed to God, that he would bless them. So, when Gen. Jacob blessed the two sons of Joseph in xlviii. Egypt, a little before his death, he laid his hands upon each of them.
These persons therefore, here spoken of, brought these little children to Jesus, that he might lay his bands upon them, and bless them. They had a high opinion of the piety of Jesus, and of his interest in the divine favour. Probably they were disciples, or believers, such as took Jesus for a Prophet, and even the great Prophet, who was to come, the Mefliah. And they were desirous, that their
SERM. children Thould receive a blessing from
apt to think, this must have been a superstitious, and fond conceit of these persons. To which I would answer, that, probably, it was not entirely so. For in that cafe Jesus would not bave (newn them such regard. It cannot be thought, that our Lord would countenance an action, that was altogether unreasonable, and quite deftitute of all good foundation. And supposing, that there was a mixture of some wrong views in this conduct, the Lord Jesus was more gracious, than to reject these persons, or condemn their design upon
that account. The twelve disci. ples had not been perfectly disinterested, or free from all secular views, in coming to him,
and following him. Yet he was well pleased Luke xxii. with their attendence on him: and he
promised them a reward for it, if they continued to act as disciples, with fincerity: though they still wanted a sinless perfection, and had not a wisdom void of all defects.
III. The third thing is the reception, he gave these children: which at the very