"When the time of purification is completed for either a
son or a daughter, the woman must bring a year-old lamb for a whole burnt
offering and a young pigeon or turtledove for a purification offering. She
must take her offerings to the priest at the entrance of the Tabernacle. The
priest will then present them to the Lord and make atonement for her. Then
she will be ceremonially clean again after her bleeding at childbirth. This
is the law to be followed after the birth of a son or a daughter."
This chapter brings us to new fields of thought. The
curtains of domestic life fall back. A mother and her new-born babe appear.
Where is the mind, which can turn heedlessly away? Where is the heart, which
will not pause and melt? In this event, being begins, which never can have
end.—Such is the fact, and it speaks solemnly.
The cradled infant is but a tiny rill. It scarcely seems
to trickle. But it must onward flow, until its waters form an ocean without
bottom—without shore. A tender blade just sprouts, but roots must deepen,
and boughs spread, through the expanse of an interminable age. Each birth is
deathless increase to the world of spirits. A new 'eternity' gains life.
Reader, these magnitudes are yoked to every mother's
babe. What scales can weigh the value of each child? Pile suns on suns—bring
all the treasures, which all nature holds—ransack all mines of choicest ore,
their wealth, though large, is finite. But here is a new infinity.
Offspring, which once breathes, runs far beyond all time, and outlives all
the glory of all worlds.
Thus solemn is the scene. Next God's voice sounds beside
the Jewish cradle. Solemnity becomes more solemn. What are its accents? Is
its call to gratitude and joy alone? Is its design to kindle praise for
peril past, and dear addition to the family delights? Not so. It writes
'pollution' on child-bearing.
It sentences the mother, as 'unclean'. It bars her from
communion of social life and pious rites. It bows her head in shame. It
dooms her, as though some leprous spot was seen, to solitude's retreat. Lev.
Reader, reflect. What is the moral of this rule? Is it
our wisdom to enquire. True, 'ceremonial' stains have long since ceased.
True, 'legal' offerings no more can cleanse. The Gospel-rays scatter all
twilight mists. But principles have undying root. The cause, which then
existed, still survives. Mothers in every age are virtually addressed.
But why is shame the twin of every offspring born?
Behold the infant, and receive reply. What is its
nature, character, and taste? Let not fond feeling shrink from weighing it
in scales of truth. Is it a little innocent? conceived in purity? and shaped
in holy mold? Is its essence clean?
It is indeed a wondrous fabric. But what is the quarry,
which supplies its parts? The tender frame contains the germ of countless
passions—multitudinous desires and thoughts—as many as the ocean's sands.
Are these the germs of godly life? Do they give promise of ripe fruit for
God? If so, the birth is holy; and bearing mothers should not bear the brand
But facts show not this smiling face. The babe is sinful
produce of a sinful race. Corruption's seal is fixed upon its brow.
Reader, trace back the cause. Return in thought to Eden's
terrible offence. When our first parents fell into sin's mire, what a
tremendous change changed their entire being! Innocence forever died in man.
Iniquity, as a conqueror, claimed the captive land. The fountain-head
received deep poison. No drop could henceforth issue, free from taint. The
root of human life is rotten to the core. All sprouts have evil taste. Human
nature was spoiled of God's fair image. What nature no more has, it can no
more bestow. Its properties are guilt; and guilt alone can be imparted by
it. From Adam's fatal passage into Satan's realms, each child is Satan's
bondslave. Each birth now propagates corruption. Hence she, who bare, is
warned to bend, as bullrush in the valley. She must sit solitary as unclean.
There is strong need to show the case, without
deception's mask. Nature is prone to partial love. She sees her own with an
admiring eye. She pictures infants, as fair purity's abode. But it is never
gain—it rather is great loss—to trample upon truth. No flowers of profit can
be plucked from error's barren branch. The wise man finds his happy seat at
Scripture's feet. His only guidance is; "Thus says the Lord."
Let then, no mother, while she clasps her babe, deck it
in robes of visionary innocence. Her love makes it no lovely object in God's
sight. Affection's estimate is not the estimate of heaven. A soul, indeed,
is born to immortality. But let its birth state be distinctly seen. It
brings no soul-life with it. Nature gives various senses—but no sense of
God. The heart has neither eye to see, nor ear to hear, nor foot to seek,
the upward path of life. Each feeling has a bias to transgression's ways.
Leave but the child to the inbred desire, and evil—only evil—will be sought.
When choice can choose, it will take Satan's yoke. When hands can handle,
they will grasp his tools. When lips can speak, his language will be
learned. When feet can run, they will rush headlong towards hell. So wisdom
teaches. So experience finds.
Will then the mother say, alas! that such a life has
birth from me? Faith speaks not thus. It knows, that there is remedy for all
this evil. It looks to Christ, and fears recede before hope's dawn. Apart
from Christ, the babe must enter on a voyage of woe, and pass through
troublous billows to the whirlpool of despair. Apart from Christ, its course
must be one flow of misery; its end one gulf of ruin. But if Christ looks on
it with love; if He receive it to His arms of grace; then neither thought
can think, nor words proclaim, how blessed is a birth on earth!
Think what Christ grants. There is a merit in His
precious blood, which wipes out all sin's stains. There is a refuge in His
wounded side, which screens from wrath and curse. There is a beauty in His
glorious righteousness, which is fit mantle for the courts of heaven. He can
send forth the Spirit's power, to breathe new life into the dead-born soul.
He can remove the blindness from the eye—the deafness from the ear—the
torpor from the heart. He can convert the stone into the tender soil, in
which all fruits of godliness shall spring. He can burst Satan's iron yoke.
He can keep pure from all temptation's snares. He can make earth an upward
flight to heaven. He can present the spirit blameless before God. Through
His transforming might, that child of wrath may brightly shine a jewel in
redemption's crown. Through His all-saving work, it may sing sweetly in the
realms of light.
There is such hope in Christ. He is the treasury of full,
rich, blessed, glorious grace. The second Adam more than repairs the damage
of the first. He snatches from the lowest depths. He raises to the highest
heights. He can exalt to all that heaven contains.
Prayer is the Christian mother's stronghold. It is a
golden key to unlock God's treasury. Faith's importunities prevail. Mighty
desires, which cannot sit down mute, spring from above, and will not fail.
The Spirit pleads within such wrestling heart; and all His pleadings reflect
the mind of God. The offspring of much prayer is loved in heaven, before it
is loved on earth. Scripture writes not in vain, how interceding parents
ever gained their suit. They cry. Christ hears, and smiles, and answers—and
His answers are, Satan despoiled, and saving grace bestowed. When nursing is
one strong petition, the child is nestled in Salvation's arms.
Faith next draws comfort from the baptismal font. Christ
gives a special ordinance, to which new-born may come. It is a token of His
early care. It is a seal of his adopting grace. Herein we read a tender
Savior's tender heart. Is it His will, that infant offspring should be as
outcasts in vile nature's waste? Sacramental provision slays such doubt. We
see His arms out-stretched—we hear His urgent call, "Allow little children
to come unto me, and forbid them not." This rite abounds in hope. It is no
mocking form. It is ordained, as means of grace. Cast out the thought, that
infancy excludes the Spirit's breath. If willful sin be no impervious bar;
much less the fault of an inherited disease. Jeremiah's heart began to beat
with sanctified pulse. The Baptist's second birth was scarcely younger than
the first. The God, who blessed them, is always one. Mercy has trod this
early path, and may tread it again.
Christian mother, proceed to educate your child for
Christ. So soon as thoughts begin to flow, they must have channel. Why
should that course be nature and not grace? What, though the tender mind be
weak for argumental proof? The truths of Jesus are not arguments, but facts.
The precious truths of life's high tree may fall down into childhood's lap.
The tender Shepherd—seeking a lost lamb—and dying on the cross to buy it
from a robber's hand—and washing it in streams from His own side—and feeding
it in verdant pastures—and bearing it in His strong arms—and loving it with
constant love—and raising it to a bright home, are thoughts, which weakest
minds can grasp. These, when once grasped in saving power, can never be
completely lost. Let the first lesson be the love of God—the grace of
Christ—the Spirit's present help. Let the young eye be early turned to
Calvary's dying scene. Let memory's page take its first lines from Jesus's
life. Let thought's soft tendrils be entwined around truth's stem. Then,
through rich mercy, there is solid hope, that the child born on earth, is
born an heir of heaven. Corruption's seed will not prevail. Satan's chains
will fall. The unclean will be cleansed. The Child-birth thus adds citizens
The infant in the Jewish lap reminds of other truth. If
it be son, the days of the maternal shame are less. If it be daughter, the
unclean period is double. Lev. 12:2, 4, 5. We may not pass this difference
unremarked. The cause seems hidden from a casual glance. But thought, which
dives into the ocean of God's mind, is here soon carried back to Eden's
guilt, and the first act of sin. It was the woman, who first listened to the
serpent's wile. Her mind first went stray. Her will first lusted. Her hand
first touched. Rebellion in the man was inexcusable offence; but woman's
transgression beckoned to the snare. There is no difference in the sin. The
guilt of each is infinite in dye. But there is slight difference in order of
event; and a recording rite keeps this in memory's view. The stamp of
lengthened degradation was fixed on each female birth. Sin's entrance was
thus marked. Hence the foul misery is more abhorred. Hence the one remedy is
When the appointed days of shame are past, the excluding
barrier is solemnly removed. Especial rites are ordered. Two victims are now
slain. The one, as a burnt-sacrifice, blazes on the altar. The other is an
offering for sin. Lev. 12:6.
The Gospel here speaks loudly. Defilement cannot cease,
without blood shed. A dying Savior must atone, before sin vanishes, and the
sinner is brought back to God.
Reader, you are unclean. There is no act—no word—no
thought of any day, which is not dark before God's eye. But Jesus is near,
and able to make pure. Wash, and be clean. Wash, and be reconciled. Wash,
and be welcomed to receiving arms. Wash, and look upward to a Father's
smile. Wash, and look onward to a Savior's throne!