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they grow : they toil not, neither do they spin ; and yet I
you, Solomon in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? ?”—He has to exhort his apostles to be diligent in the work of converting and saving the world—he does it by bidding them “ lift up their eyes, and look on the fields, white already for the harvest?," and enjoins them to pray that the Lord of the spiritual harvest would send into it labourers sufficient to gather it in.—And now, when called upon to determine a question which had arisen among his own followers, as to who should be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven“ Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them and said, Verily I say untoyou, except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
Matt. vi. 28-30.
2 John iv. 35.
And this, I repeat, would never have been written, had it been impossible for us to realize the conversion which is enjoined.
We ought to become like little children then; we wish to become so (for we must wish to become that which our best and purest feelings prompt us to love and to admire), and we can become so, if we choose.Then what forbids it ?—Why, in the first place, pride forbids it; that evil spirit of self-seeking and self-exaltation, against which the words of Jesus were more immediately directed. Shall I, who “ understand all mysteries, and all knowledge,” by whom the secrets of the great deep are read, and to whom all earth speaks a language intelligible and familiar ?shall I, who have given to the study so many days of toil, and nights of watching, that I have come at length “ to know what is in man;" all his follies and weaknesses, the points on which he may be assailed, and the method by which he may be cajoled and managed ?-shall I renounce all the advantages which my superior knowledge and craftiness give
me over the generality of my fellow-men, to assume once more the openness, the artlessness, the simplicity of childhood ?
Or again shall I, on whom fate has conferred exalted rank, and unbounded riches--before whom admiring multitudes do homage--who can say to one man, Go, and he goeth-to another, Come, and he cometh—and can glad my soul with the thoughts of abundant good things laid up for each day as it returns—shall I forget the vast distance which separates me from others, and become again an humble, an unassuming, and unpretending child ?
And after the same manner reasons every species of “ pride of life,” as well as all “ the lusts of the flesh,” which set themselves in array against the simplicity and purity of the Gospel doctrine. But the answer to all is the same, “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” These lofty looks must be brought low; these swelling thoughts, and words of vanity, must be exchanged for the more seemly and befitting language and demeanour of humility, meekness, gentleness. And “whosoever shall thus humble himself as a little child, the same shall be greatest in the kingdom of heaven 1.”
Does this still seem a strange saying ? Does it even yet sound too hard for us? Do we find it difficult to believe that in the dignity, and might of manhood, childlike simplicity and artlessness (even if they could be exhibited), would ever appear lovely, or of good report ?-would ever excite any other feeling than that of contempt. --Let us pause before we draw so rash a conclusion. Let us look to the character of him, by whom the words of the text were uttered, and ask ourselves, what is the feature in that character which most attracts our love? We know that when the prophet of old waited for his God, he found him not in the whirlwind, nor in the earthquake, nor in the fire; but he was recognised at once in " the still small voice?." perhaps, if we ask our hearts in what it
And so now,
Matt. xviii. 4.
1 Kings xix. 11, 12,
is that. God, the Saviour of the world, even Jesus of Nazareth, speaks most home to them, we shall find that it is not in his mighty works, his healing all manner of disease, his triumph over devils, his restoration of the dead to lifeit is not in his heavy, though deserved denunciations, his “woe unto Chorazin, , and Bethsaida !"_but in his lowliness and meekness, his gentleness and love, his washing his disciples' feet, and weeping over the sufferings of his friends. And why should not those qualities, which were altogether lovely in Christ, be equally amiable in those who bear his name, and profess to be his followers ? Why should they not be as amiable in Christians of every age and of every degree, as our hearts acknowledge them to be in “ the little children ?”
That they really are so, my brethren, we may be fully persuaded. Artlessness and candour, singleness and simplicity of intention; the heart that imagines no deceit, and the lips that speak no guile : these points go to form a character, which