"A Little Child."

It is important in a day of decline - for the day of apostacy advances (Jude 14, 15), and the saints are in danger of becoming infected with its premonitory symptoms, those of "lukewarmness" (Rev. 3:15-16) - it is of all importance to return to what is the desire of the great Head of the Church for us all. This, if cultivated and sought after, is calculated to preserve from this spirit, which is tinging almost the whole of religious profession. I refer the reader, in illustration of His desire, to the Lord's reply to the question asked in Matt. 18:1: "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" In the preceding chapter there had been given them a glimpse of the "Son of man coming in His kingdom" - a little foreshadowing of His glories, which, as Son of man, are yet to come. Would one who gazed thereon seek to place any on an equality with Him? No sooner is the proposal on the speaker's lip than the voice of the Father is heard interrupting the vain desire, "This is MY BELOVED SON, in whom I am well pleased: hear ye Him. "From the excellent glory He is thus declared beyond compare glorious and beloved, the centre of all, greatest and highest. Thus Peter's voice was hushed; and though there with Him, and the eye-witness of His majesty, as he afterwards declares, yet He is God's Centre, the only One who in Himself has title to be there. In the day of the manifestation of that glory we who believe shall be with Him too, our voices hushed in the contemplation of Him who is God's Centre - a day which will see the fulfilment of His prayer in John 17: "Father, I will that those whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world."

Descending from the glory where they had heard the testimony of the Father as to the Son of His bosom, they ask the question already quoted, whose tenor is, Which of us shall be next to Him? And what a reply comes from those gracious lips - a reply for each heart to weigh the import of then, and a lesson for us to ponder still! Does He deny that there is such a place? Does He assert that we shall be all equal in that day? No, He does neither; but, exposing by contrast their love of self with what will be the true ground of exaltation, personal love, and devotedness to Himself, He replies, "Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven." He does not say, as is (perhaps unintentionally, but commonly) misquoted, "Whosoever shall humble himself as this little child humbles itself, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven." We cannot understand a little child humbling itself, because one who is in the place, who is that, needs not to come down to it; for already he is a little child. The Lord's words are rather, "You must become as this little child, if you desire the highest place in the day of my kingdom glory." This expression of infant helplessness, "a little child" (paidion), is the same as the apostle John delights to use in his first epistle, chap. 2, when distinguishing, "Fathers, young men, and babes" (little children). This is the word he uses in verses 13 and 18. It describes the infant, the youngest in the household.

Such is the attainment, my reader, which the Lord Jesus proposes to each of us to aim at and to reach "a little child." Do we ask why? It is because we are not in heart and spirit, and ways and affection, such; they betrayed it in their question; and do we not betray it in ourselves day by day? May I then draw your attention to two or three things, seen prominently in the model before us, seen in "a little child."

Watch him in the nursery (picture of this world wherein we grow up, and where the child of God now is); not a fear, not an anxiety, not a care has he! Dependent for food, and shelter, and raiment, and every thing he wants or possesses on another; while in himself without plan, or thought, or resources, and with no ability to make his wants known save to One, who alone can understand the baby language that he speaks - such is our model. Is he happy? Let any who doubt it observe him; or let my reader look back at the days of his own infancy, and the reply is at hand. But while his feebleness is thus before us, we must remember that he has a consciousness, young as he is - a consciousness that only deepens and increases with the lapse of years - that consciousness is that he is beloved, beloved by the One we have already mentioned, with a perfect and never-changing love. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear, because fear hath torment.

He that feareth is not made perfect in love. That person who loves fills the whole range of his vision - a person, my reader, not a place. And is it so today? Is it so with each of us? One, as he walked this earth, has borne the marks of it. "One thing I do … that I may win Christ, and be found in Him." "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." "Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus." A Person filled the sphere of his vision. He was beloved, and he knew it. "He loved me, and gave Himself for me." Reader, do you know it? Can you say it? and has it power over you as it had over him?

But the nursery time is passing away with all of us. Let our model, "a little child," be brought then from the nursery into all the light and brilliance of that day of the coming glory for which we wait. Let the assembled company stand back to make way for the approach of a "little child." "Suffer little children, and forbid them not to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven." (19:14.) Why amidst the brilliant throng wanders his eye timidly from one to another? Is there not enough in the grandeur of all around to engage his attention? No; the place is nought to him, while all the grandeur and all the dignity do but distress him. He seeks for One whose heart's affections are twined around him, and whose love he has learnt and proved in other days, and in other scenes, than these; for that same person, who fully satisfied him then, can only fully satisfy him now; and passing by all else, he hastens to the arms and the bosom of love. And He, whose is all the grandeur and dignity of that day, delights to pillow that timid, trembling head on His own bosom.

And thus shall it be in the day of the kingdom glory; and THUS has the "little child" reached the highest place, even the bosom of that. One to whom it shall be confessed in that day, that fast-coming day of His glory, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing." (Rev. 5:12.)

Reader, who will occupy the place of the little child? If you occupy it now He declares you shall occupy it then. Again we would ponder His blessed words, "Of such is the kingdom of heaven." Oh, may we cultivate day by day, and seek grace to manifest day by day, the simple heart and ways, and the spontaneous affections for Him, our one beloved object, which are seen in "a little child!" H. C. Anstey.