Helps and Hints

Who brought the children to Jesus, when and why?

We have no wish to depreciate time-honoured and much-loved hymns, but we think that it should be pointed out as being both interesting and instructive that the Bible nowhere says that "Mothers of Salem their children brought to Jesus." Had it done so that foolish and heartless argument, that it is solely the parents' work to bring the children to the Saviour and others ought to let it alone, might seem to have some backing. It may have been the mothers who did it, it is natural to suppose that it was, but the silence of Scripture on the point is significant, and we may be sure that there is wisdom in it, and, indeed, as we read the three accounts given of this most charming incident in our Lord's life, we feel that special care has been taken to avoid saying who it was whose faith and activities were in such blessed accord with the mind of the Master.

It is of deepest importance also to notice the period of the Lord's life at which the incident occurred. It was almost at the close of His public ministry. He had laboured and preached among the wise and the prudent; throughout all the cities and villages of the land He had set forth the truth before those whom we should have assumed were most competent to understand and believe it; but apparently He had spent His strength for naught and in vain. The leaders of the people, and their grown-up followers, who in their worldly wisdom kept an eye upon present advantage, had closed their ears to the charmings of grace; the kingdom of God was nothing to them, they were too shrewd to pass the narrow gate. The Lord knew how determinedly and deliberately they had chosen to abide in the kingdom of darkness, and turning from them in their blind self-will He yearned to embrace those who would accept without question or suspicion the advances of His love, and rest without fear in the declaration of His grace. The disciples, who ought to have understood His deep longings, were completely out of touch with His thoughts, but there were some who seemed to understand, who seemed to have caught something of that wholly divine spirit that was in Him, who, at all events, were convinced that it would please Him to have the children near Him, and so they brought them, braving the criticism and hostility of the men who thought they knew, and so were instrumental in giving the Lord the great joy of folding to His heart the babes and sucklings — FOR OF SUCH IS THE KINGDOM OF GOD — a joy which the officious and self-important disciples would have robbed Him of.

The more the incident is considered the greater its importance will be seen to be. It has been recorded three times for us by the Holy Ghost that its salutary lesson might be truly learnt. In the ways of those disciples we see mirrored the natural thoughts of our hearts. The great and the wealthy appealed to them. To convince a Pharisee or to convert a scribe would have been an achievement well worthy of labour in their estimation, but the poor weak children! of what use could such be in pushing forward the Master's work? Ah, but "of such is the kingdom of God," AND OUT OF THE MOUTHS OF BABES HATH GOD PERFECTED PRAISE.

God's thoughts are not as our thoughts. We suppose that the man of position or influence or ability in the world would be an acquisition to God's kingdom, but "God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and the weak things of the world to confound the mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, has God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to naught the things that are: that no flesh should glory in His presence." It is the same lesson that the incident of the rich young ruler, also three times told, and linked in each case with the blessing of the children, was to teach the disciples. "It is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven," "How then can any be saved?" they ask, for, in the reckoning of most, wealth is of all things most to be desired. God has a way for them. If they enter the kingdom it must be by becoming as little children, for "verily, I say to you, except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 18:3).

These days in which it is our privilege to labour for the Master are much as those were when the children were brought to Him. We are at the end of a dispensation, and the wise of the day care less than ever for the gospel of God, and it is not always easy to gain the ears of those who have grown up and become enamoured of the world. Yet still the Lord's heart yearns after those who will listen and believe, and the children will, for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Children are not great, and labour amongst them will not make those who pursue it great or famous in the world's kingdoms. But the Lord loves them and receives them and folds them to His bosom. Happy are those who are near enough to Him to realize His heart's desire, as those did whose names are not told us when He was on earth, and who are instrumental in bringing it to pass, and so of enriching God's kingdom with material upon which He can impress the revelation of Himself in Christ.

We have been interested in noticing that young believers in the freshness of their love to the Saviour invariably turn to work amongst children as a way of serving Him, and it is our conviction that this arises entirely from the unspoiled instincts of the new nature. In their simplicity they realize that of such is the kingdom of heaven, and that the Lord's heart is yearning now as it did then to gather these lambs in His arms and bless them. Happy indeed are all those who, in spite of the indifference or hostility of those who have lost their simplicity, continue to labour in faith and love in this sphere of true Christian activity, for their labour is not in vain in the Lord.

It is open to all who have heart enough and faith enough for it, and it is labour that calls for both heart and faith. The mothers and fathers, the elder sisters and brothers, may labour in their own home circle, and reach out also to the multitudes of children for whom few seem to care, and have the deep sense in doing so that their activities are in blessed accord with the mind of the Master.