The Holy Child Jesus in the Temple;
or, "The Truths Learned at Bethlehem"
"They found Him in the Temple." -Luke 2:15.
There is no object in nature more exquisitely beautiful, or richly suggestive, than a brilliant sunrise. Those who have watched the gorgeous spectacle as from an Alpine height have felt themselves amply repaid for the tax it imposed upon their morning slumbers. But the student of the Bible dwells with infinitely more delight upon those events in the early life of Christ which traced the day-dawn of the "Sun of Righteousness" upon our world. It is true but little is recorded by the inspired historian of His early years; and still less of what may be termed the ripening of His youth into the maturity of His manhood. But the incidents that are narrated are of sufficient importance to supply ample material for thought, rich lessons for holy living, and clear indices of our Lord's future and eventful history.
Entering, as we are, upon the holy and joyous commemoration of His Nativity, it may quicken our spiritual conception of the grandeur and significance of this illustrious event, if we select for our study, as one of the incidents of His life, the early appearance of the Holy Child Jesus in the temple of Jerusalem. Our blessed Lord would seem to have obeyed the laws and hallowed the condition of each stage of human life. He may be said to have passed from the bloom of childhood into the worn and weird appearance of age. For, although he was only about thirty-three years old when He died, yet the gravity of His demeanor, and the air of sadness which He wore, together with the lines of premature age which would, seem to have penciled His sacred countenance- doubtless produced by toil, privation, and grief- imparted to Him all the resemblance of life's autumn. "You are not yet fifty years old," was the exclamation of the Jews to the young man Christ Jesus; implying, in all probability, that He looked this age.
But, of the consecration of childhood by His own remarkable passage through this interesting period of human life there can be no question. The recorded incidents of His early life, as I have remarked, are but few; and yet how significant! The sun of His being burst forth with sudden and overpowering effulgence, pouring a flood of light upon the world's darkness, and then as suddenly disappeared, as though it had gone down while it was yet day. But if it disappeared, it had not set; and if for a while its golden light withdrew, it yet left some living, lingering beams to show the path trodden by His infant feet. One of those beams will illumine these pages the Holy Child Jesus in the temple. The narrative will be familiar. Jesus, who was now about twelve years old, accompanied His parents to Jerusalem at the annual observance of the Passover. At the termination of the festival they set out on their return to Nazareth in company, in all probability, with a large number of Jews traveling to the same city. At the close of the day, the child Jesus was missing. His parents, greatly distressed on discovering their loss, left the company and went in search of their stray child. Not finding Him in the crowd, they returned to Jerusalem, and, after three days' anxious search through the city, they at length "found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them and asking them questions."
A difference of opinion has existed as to the fact whether Jesus, on this memorable occasion, was a learner or a teacher- whether He was now sitting as a disciple at the feet of these Jewish doctors of the law, or, whether they were sitting, as disciples, at His. I am of opinion that the circumstance admits of both explanations. His reverence for the law and the prophets, which distinguished Him in after years, together with His great humility of mind, would prompt Him on this occasion to listen with lowliness and respect to their instructions. "Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets : I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.
"But, on the other hand, to suppose that He now sunk the teacher in the learner, would involve us in a difficulty in our attempt to interpret the meaning of His answer to the gentle upbraiding of His parents- "How is it that you sought me! Don't you know that I must be about my Father's business?" And what was the 'business' thus confided by the Father to His hands? Certainly not to be instructed in the law and the prophets, but to reveal to mankind both Himself and His truth. And when we read that, "He asked them questions," we may suppose that He but adopted a catechetical, or, as the schoolmen would term it, the Socratic mode of conveying to them the divine instruction which He had come from God to impart- thus seeking to win these doctors of the law from Judaism to Christianity, and from Moses to Himself.
We may therefore infer that when Jesus sat in the midst of the doctors hearing them and asking them questions, He was illustrating both the docility of the disciple, and the wisdom of the teacher, on this first public and instructive occasion of His early life. Reserving for the present any further reference to the childhood of Jesus, let me proceed to notice the great event around which, as its central truth, the chief interest and instruction of this narrative gathers- Christ's first advent to our world.
Alas! that so many should make the commemoration of Christ's Birth a season of carnal festivity and social gaiety, rather than of devout study and holy praise. Instead of its being an occasion of sacred meditation and holy joy, of quickened faith and intensified love, it is with multitudes rather one of worldly amusement and sensual feasting, of "rioting and drunkenness, chambering and wantonness." These are "spots upon their feast of charity."
Approaching as we are this the greatest of sacred festivals- the commemoration of Christ's blessed Nativity- it behooves us to enter upon its observance intelligently, devoutly, soberly. I propose, then, in the remarks that will follow, to endeavor, with all simplicity and godly sincerity, to lead the mind of the reader to such a scriptural and spiritual view of this stupendous event -the appearing of the Son of God in the flesh- as may enhance his conception of its greatness, deepen his sense of its love, and instruct his mind in some of the precious truths learned at Bethlehem.
The first point which presents itself, is the fulfillment and truth of Scripture. And the Scripture to which we especially refer as thus fulfilled is, that famous one found in the prophecy of Isaiah, "Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given." In the course of your Bible-reading you will often have been struck with the frequent occurrence of these words, "That the Scripture might be fulfilled." What a stupendous fact do these words embody- the truth of God's Word. This fact is everything to us who believe. If the Bible is not divinely and plenarily inspired- if it is not from the beginning of Genesis to the last of Revelation wholly and verbally the Word of God- divine truth, all divine truth, and nothing but divine truth- then our faith is vain and we are yet in our sins. Everything that is precious to us in time, soothing in sorrow, sustaining in trial, hopeful in death and in eternity, is bound up in the truth, unimpeachableness, and immutability of God's Word. "Your word is truth," is the foundation of our belief and the sheet-anchor of our hope.
Beloved, you cannot press this fact to your heart with too strong confidence. It is everything to you. If this beautiful staff breaks, if this strong foundation yields, if this living spring fails, where shall we go? But the staff will never break, and the foundation will never yield, and the spring will never fail, because it is of God. God was in the bush, and it was not consumed- He is in the Church, and it shall not be destroyed -He is in the Bible, and heaven and earth shall pass away, but His word shall not pass away. " The grass withers, and the flower thereof fall away; but the word of the Lord endures forever." Satan will devise every engine of power, and employ every agent of error, to shake your faith in the divinity of the Bible. He will, to accomplish his hellish purpose, use both the professed friends and the avowed enemies of revelation.
But, "hold fast the profession of your faith without wavering." Cling to the Bible amid the surging waves as the limpet to the rock, as the drowning mariner to the plank, as the storm-tossed bark to its anchor. It will never betray your confidence, mock your expectation, or falsify your hope. In doubt and perplexity, in trial and sorrow, fly to the Scriptures of truth. Your soul's experience of their power will be your strongest evidence of their truth, and your best preservation against the assaults of its foes. Every attempt, then, of the enemies of the faith to shake your confidence, to stagger your belief, will prove but like an attempt to shatter the rock with a bubble, or to penetrate the adamant with a feather.
Few books of men there are which endure the test of time and trial. When all is smooth and sunny in our experience, we can read, admire, and even revel in them. But when the season of sorrow, temptation, and darkness comes, they fail to emit one ray of light, or to distill one drop of consolation. Then we run to the Bible and find it all that we need- the pure wine unmixed with water, divine sunshine undimmed by cloud- and learn its preciousness above all other books, and its value above all price. "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity," is indelibly inscribed upon all that is human. "Verity of verities, all is verity," is emblazoned upon every page of Inspiration. Hesitate not, then, to bring your doubts and perplexities, your sorrows and sins, to God's Word; your soul drinking from these two breasts of consolation, the Old and New Testaments, which, like the same 'nursing mother,' impart the same nourishment, both testifying of Jesus, the Savior of sinners and the "Consolation of Israel," and both bearing witness to Him who is "the way, the truth, and the life."
The second thought suggested by the birth of Christ is, His consecration of the period of childhood. He was but a child when He sat encircled by the Jewish rabbis in the court of the temple. How impressively and condescendingly has He, by coming in the flesh, honored and sanctified this interesting age! How significant and appropriate the title- "The Holy Child Jesus.'' One of the fathers observes, touching this point, "that Christ came not disdaining, nor going in any way above nature, nor breaking in His own person, the law which He had set for mankind; but sanctifying every age by the likeness it bears to Him. For He comes to save all men by Himself- all, I mean, who are by Him born again unto God- infants, and little ones, and children, and youths, and those of older age; for the sake of infants, being made an infant, sanctifying infants: to little ones He was a little one, sanctifying those of that age, and giving them an example of godliness, righteousness, and dutiful subjection."
How beautifully and touchingly did our Lord exhibit His peculiar interest in, and regard for, young children, when, despite the rebuke of His disciples, He took them in His arms, blessed them, and said, "Allow the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven." Are we not justified by this touching incident in the life of Christ- no, does it not come with all the solemnity and force of a positive command-I n dedicating our infants to God by prayer, and in seeking the early conversion to Christ of our more intelligently and responsibly advanced children? Who can for a moment question it?
The Church of God is yet to be more deeply instructed and more thoroughly roused upon this subject- the subject of early conversion. The emissaries of papal and infidel error- equally with the agents of an ungodly world- are directing their most potent batteries, and are exerting their most strenuous efforts in securing the conversion of the young to their deadly creeds and their fatal sway. The next generation will be just what the religious or the irreligious forces of the present age make it. It is of the utmost moment that pious parents, Christian ministers, evangelical guardians, Sabbath-school teachers, and gospel laborers should make the early conversion of the young the great object of their most vigilant, strenuous, and prayerful efforts. To this end instruction in the great doctrines of Christianity, and in the distinctive principles of the Reformation, as also in the nature of vital, experimental, and practical religion, should be simply, scripturally, and earnestly enforced.
The Bible is replete with instances of early piety, which at once settle the question as to its practicability, while they hold out every encouragement to its attainment. Samuel, Josiah, Jeremiah, John the Baptist, and Timothy are among the witnesses left on sacred record to show that such piety has existed in the Church of God; and we are confirmed thereby in our belief, and are justified in stating that, through the instrumentality of godly parents, and praying teachers, and devoted ministers, such instances may exist in any dispensation of the Church and in any age of the world, and may exist- and would exist if sought in the prayer of faith, now.
We are speaking in these pages of that sacred and illustrious example of the holy child Jesus in the temple. While this fact stands recorded in the Bible, we have both the warrant and the encouragement to seek on behalf of our offspring, the early converting grace of the Spirit, "that our sons may be as plants, grown up in their youth, that our daughters may be as corner-stones polished after the similitude of a palace" -that they may be "planted in the house of the Lord, and flourish in the courts of our God." Let it not be supposed that the doctrines of the gospel are too recondite, or that its precepts are too spiritual, for the comprehension of young children. It is this fatal mistake that has led in so many instances to the abandonment of the soil to other more earnest but soul destroying laborers. Children for the most part have a quicker understanding and a more tender conscience than many of riper years. I could fill these pages with examples. Let one or two suffice.
An ungodly father, accompanied by his little son, went into a corn-field one Sabbath morning, when all others had gone to the house of God, for the purpose of robbing it of grain. Before entering the field, he rested on the fence, and cast his eyes around to ascertain if there were any one near that would be likely to notice him. Finding no one, he entered upon his work of depredation. While gathering the corn, his little son thus accosted him, "Pa, what made you look round so when you were on the fence?" "Be still," replied the father." "But what made you do so, Pa?" "To see if there was anybody in sight," was the reply. "And doesn't anybody see you, Pa?" " No." "But can't God see you in the corn field Pa?" This reproof was enough. The father's conscience was touched. The idea of an omniscient God roused him, and he left the field and his ill-gotten grain, and returned to his home a wiser and better man.
Another instance. A godly mother was giving vent to the anguish of her lacerated heart upon receiving word of the death of her husband at a distance. Her sorrow was intense, and she refused to be comforted. Her little child inquired the cause of her grief. The reply was, "To think that you are a little orphan girl." "But what is an orphan, Ma? " "Your Papa is dead, my dear. You will have no Papa to take care of you any more." The little thing covered her face with both hands for a moment, and then lifting her moistened eyes to her weeping mother, said, "Ma, don't cry so; is God dead, too?" It was the message of God. Out of the mouth of a babe and suckling the God of all comfort, even the God of the widow and the Father of the fatherless, spoke sweet consolation and hope to that widow's broken, bleeding heart.
One more fact shall suffice. In a New England town, where it had formerly been the practice to urge all moral people to unite with the Church, lived a wealthy man who had in this way become a professor of religion, but alas a professor only, having the form without the experimental and practical power of godliness; so that he lived in the entire and sinful neglect of family worship. On one Sabbath afternoon, after returning from the funeral of a child, where the clergyman had taken occasion to urge upon parents the necessity of faithfulness in giving their children religious instruction, and in accompanying their instruction by their prayers- as the family to which we have alluded were sitting at the teachable, a little daughter interrupted the conversation by inquiring, in the simplicity of her heart, "Ma, did not the man say at the funeral that Christians should pray in their families, and talk to them about religion?" "Yes," was the reply. "Well, Ma, Pa does not do it." This appeal was an arrow of conviction to the father's heart, resulting in his hopeful conversion to God, and the erection of a family altar where God was worshiped morning and evening.
Who, in view of these facts, will for a moment doubt that young children can understand the truth, feel the power, and recognize the obligations of true religion? Truly, "out of the mouths of babes and sucklings, You have perfected praise."
But, in this our faith's travel to Bethlehem to see this great sight which has come to pass there- the birth of the Holy Child Jesus, we who are of full age are instructed in some of the greatest and most precious truths of our Christian faith. In the first place, the doctrine of the true humanity of our Savior is thus vividly brought before us. In this doctrine, lies the great mystery of godliness- that God should take up into union with Himself the nature of man; that the Word- the Eternal Logos- should become flesh. "The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us." "God was manifest in the flesh" We attempt not to unravel this great mystery, to fathom this awful depth- or to explain, still less to understand, the mode of the Incarnation. Enough for us that God's word declares it- that it was essential to our salvation, and that its believing reception is a true mark of those who are born of God. "Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, is of God."
Behold, then, the grace and love displayed in this wonderful stoop of the Son of God. "The word was made flesh, and dwelt among us; and we beheld His glory, the glory of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." We behold in the Humanity of our Lord a Reservoir of all saving truth, of all divine grace, and of all rich consolation. Upon that humanity, so holy and pure, met all our sins, curse, and condemnation. It was bruised and put to grief for us. For us it was bowed with sorrow; for us scourged and spit upon; for us crowned with thorns, mocked, and insulted; for us it was led to Calvary, tortured, bled, and put to death.
Oh, how has our nature been ennobled and yet abased, dignified and yet abused, bathed with glory and yet covered with shame in the Person of the Son of God! Oh, what blessing, inconceivable, indescribable, flows from the humanity of our Lord, thus so humbled, so crushed, so slain! Its real power and sweetness can only be fully exhibited under the pressure of the wine-press. It must be subjected to trial, must pass through the furnace, must be crushed and bruised, before its sweetest fragrance could be breathed or its greatest power be felt.
The human nature of our Lord was holy, essentially and entirely holy, free from all taint of sin. And yet it bore sin. Upon it God made to meet all the transgressions of His elect Church. It could come in contact with sin and not be defiled, because it was essentially holy. It could pass through the searching furnace of temptation, and come forth unscathed by the fire, because it was impeccably pure. The idea has been raised by those who have strongly contended for a theory closely bordering on the idea of our Lord's sinfulness, that the assault of a temptation supposed the existence of a liability to succumb to the temptation. Never was reasoning more unsound and illogical. We ask, How was it that Adam fell? He was pure and sinless, and yet he was tempted.
There was no sin in Adam, no tinder upon which the spark might light and the flame be enkindled. Why, then, did he succumb to temptation and fall! Because God made him free to stand or fall. God withdrew His power, and he yielded to the tempter's assault. But when the same Enemy came to our Lord, and shot at Him with arrows drawn from the same full quiver, and sped by the same malignant hand, he found no sin in Him. How true and impressive the words of Jesus- "The prince of this world comes, and has nothing in Me. Nothing by which he can accomplish his malicious design -nothing of evil he can allege- nothing of sin upon which he can work." Precious truth is this to the soul that finds nothing but sin and all manner of evil in its own self, but yet believingly and humbly trusts in the one sin-atoning sacrifice of the sinless Savior.
Not the least precious truth we learn at Bethlehem is, the oneness of the Son of God with all the instincts and circumstances of our nature- the perfect identity of His humanity, though entirely sinless, with ours, though entirely tainted with sin. The humanity of our Lord was not human because it was more holy than ours. In a former work, I have endeavored fully to show that sin was not a necessary element of humanity, that it did not enter into our original creation, and that our nature would be all the more human, and therefore all the more ennobled, were sin entirely extirpated from our being. Our Lord's humanity, then, was essentially identical with ours in all but its sin. Thus we read "As the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also took part of the same." "Wherefore in all things it behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren."
And why, among other reasons, this perfect identity of His humanity with ours? Even that from this well-spring, pure and undefiled, might flow a stream of sympathy which should soften, soothe, and assuage ours in all the sufferings and sorrows it meets with in its travel through this vale of conflict and of tears. There, then, repair, believer in Jesus, with the sin, the burden, and infirmity chat clings to you, with the sorrow that bows, with the disease that wastes, with the wound that bleeds, and with the spirit that mourns and weeps in secret places. Jesus is touched with the feeling of your sorrow and your infirmity. From the shrine of Bethlehem's manger shall flow a brother's tender sympathy- even the Brother born in that lowly place for your adversity. Over that stable-door is written, in words which only faith can see and read, "Emmanuel, God with Us." God with us in our sin-burdened nature, God with us in our sorrow-stricken nature, God with us in our Satan-tempted nature, God with us in our sick, suffering, and bruised nature.
Let us with the shepherds now go even unto Bethlehem, and "see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord has made known unto us." Let us with the wise men from the East, "fall down and worship Him, open our treasures, and present unto Him gifts: gold, and frankincense, and myrrh"- the Christmas offering to Jesus of a contrite, believing, and loving heart.
Yet another precious truth we learn. Where did Joseph and Mary in their anxious search for the lost child at length find Him? Failing in all other places, they at length directed their steps to the temple, and found Him there. There we, too, must repair. Weary and disappointed, perhaps, in our search, how often have we found the Lord in the sanctuary where His name is recorded, where His gospel is proclaimed, and where His people assemble together to sing praises to His name. But, be it the public sanctuary or the private closet where the soul is alone with God, Jesus is there waiting to welcome and to bless. We have gone in weariness, and have found in Him rest; in grief, and have found Him the "Consolation of Israel;" in perplexity, and have found Him the "Wonderful Counselor." He has soothed and comforted us, has turned our water into wine, our sorrow into joy, has untangled our web, and has brought us out of a strait into a large place, and we have exclaimed, "I have found Him whom my soul loves."
Of what infinite importance that those who occupy pulpits should faithfully and fully preach the Lord Jesus Christ! There will always be those present who have come to the temple in earnest, anxious search for the Holy Child Jesus, inquiring of the watchman, "Did you see Him whom my soul loves? " What, if through our Christless ministry they should not find Him! What, if they should be compelled to retire from the sanctuary mournfully exclaiming, "They have taken away no Lord, and I know not where they have laid Him." How great their loss how terrible our woe!
We learn another precious truth- that, with the Holy Child Jesus in the arms of our faith, the sting; and dread of death is removed. What a touching spectacle that of good old Simeon in the temple, when the parents brought in the Child Jesus to do for Him after the custom of the law- "Then he took Him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now let you your servant depart in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation."
How many of the Lord's people will read this page, who, all their lifetime have been in bondage through the fear of death. But why, beloved, this bondage? Why this fear? Jesus died to break your every fetter- to break even this, the last, the latest, and most solemn one. He took upon Himself the bondage, the fetters, the imprisonment, that you, His loved and ransomed one might be released. Because He has died, there is a sense in which you, blood-bought one, cannot die, yes, shall not His even see death "Whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?" "If any man keep my saying he shall never see death." Christ has abolished death, leaving to His saints nothing but its shadow. Go forth, then, sick and drooping one, and meet the 'last enemy' without dread! With the Holy Child Jesus enfolded to your believing and loving breast, you shall not see death, but Jesus only. Death, through Christ, shall lose all its terror, as through Him it has lost all its sting. And as you pass down the valley, you shall wake its echoes with your song–
"Jesus, the vision of Your face
Has overpowering charms;
Scarce shall I feel death's cold embrace
With Christ within my arms."
What a holy and impressive lesson for pious youths does the subject of these pages teach! Our Lord was still a young man when He finished as a faithful servant, as an obedient Son, the business entrusted to His hands. And yet His worn and aged look bore witness to His faithful, untiring devotion to His Father's business. We have all a work to do for God, a testimony to bear for Christ. Our Divine Lord and Master has given "to every man his work." And to each youth called early by this grace, His loving command is, "Son, go work today in my vineyard." Let your grateful and responsive heart inquire, "Lord, what will you have me to do? Show me my mission, open to me the door of service, and then give me grace to enter and labor for You- however humble my work, or obscure my sphere, or unrewarded my toil, if You are but glorified." Be up, then, and doing in your Lord's vineyard. Why do you stand all the day idle? There is no lack of service for souls, and for Christ. Our Sabbath schools need teachers- the highways and hedges of our cities and towns demand evangelists- our pulpits lack ministers- and the foreign field cries aloud for missionaries. The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few. And what, though like your Lord and Master you early consume in this blessed service- what though your locks become prematurely silvered- your countenance becomes less blooming- your brow less smooth- your features stamped with an early expression of care and thoughtfulness- your spirit less light and your heart less buoyant? Great and consolatory will be the reflection that you employed the first of your life and the best of your powers for Jesus, and the well being of your fellow-man. Rich will be your present happiness, and bright your future career. Your work soon done, your rest will soon be gained, and your crown sooner won.
Unconverted youth, these pages have a message from God unto you. For whom are you laboring, and for what are you living! Is it for sin, and for Satan, and for self! or is it for God, and for Christ, and for man? Are you living for time or for eternity! for this world, or for the world that is to come? Decide this momentous question with a certain, and a solemn, endless future before you. Awake to righteousness and sin not. "Flee youthful lusts." Go to Bethlehem, and learn from Jesus the happiness of a holy life, and the blessedness of an early consecration to God. You will find 'the way of transgressors hard,' and the 'wages of sin death.'
But, on the other hand, 'Wisdom's ways, ways of pleasantness, and all her paths, paths of peace.' Choose whom you will serve!
"Let not O generous youth, your mind recoil
At transitory pain, or manly toil;
Nor fondly linger in the painted vales,
Nor crop the flowers, nor woo the summer gales,
Heedless of Pleasure's voice, be yours the care
Nobly to suffer and willingly to dare;
While Jesus waves on high the radiant prize,
And each firm step but lifts you to the skies."
The last truth to which we refer is one most appropriate and consolatory to bereaved parents mourning their dead infant. I think we may fairly infer from this subject the eternal safety of all those who die in infancy. Our Redeemer was once Himself a little child. He manifested a peculiar interest in, and a warm affection for, little children. He commanded them to be brought to Him. He invited them to come to Him. He placed His hands upon their heads and blessed them. He said, "Of such is the kingdom of heaven." In heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father. And then He went to Calvary and died for them. What need we more? All who die in infancy are saved- not because they are innocent of sin- not because of holy parentage- not because of baptismal dedication- not because they knew not good or evil- for none of these things are infants saved; but they are saved through electing love, and sovereign mercy, and the precious blood of Christ. "There is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved," but the name of the Holy Child. Jesus.
And through that One Name, all who die in infancy- even "infants which never saw light," whose spirits passed away amid the perils of their transit to our world- go to heaven and join the infant choir, and sing "Hosanna to the Son of David!" Are there, then, infant choirs in heaven? Oh yes!
"The harp of heaven
Had lacked its least, but not its meanest string,
Had children not been taught to play upon it,
And sing, from feelings all their own,
what men or angels can conceive of creatures born
Under the curse, yet from the curse redeemed,
And placed at once beyond the power to fall."
There are few events of human life which pierce the soul as with a sword more keenly than the death of an infant. It was, perhaps, the first-born. It had been long desired, fondly looked for, joyously welcomed, and tenderly cherished. It had, probably, arrived at that age in which the first beam of intelligence and love played upon its infant brow. It has begun to discriminate between objects around it, and to discover that on earth it had but one deity- its ever-present mother; and but one Heaven- that mother's bosom. But sickness seized it, and, like a snowdrop smitten by autumn's early frost, it faded, drooped, and died.
The consolations appropriate to your bitter sorrow, bereaved and sorrowing parent, are many and precious. Your little one is now with Jesus, once the Holy Child. It has fled from sin and suffering and gloom to a world where all is pure and blissful and bright. Its embryo being has reached a full development, its love is deeper, its mind is larger, its bliss is greater than the most cultivated intelligence upon earth. It knows more and feels more than the loftiest angel in heaven -itself an angel. A redeemed spirit, it sees and understands more of the glory of God and the love of the Savior in redemption than the flaming cherubim bending for ages in profound study over the mercy seat. Jesus has but transferred the little daisy from your bosom to His own- and you shall find it there again. There let your affection travel. The Shepherd has gathered your lamb to His arms that you might follow Him more closely. Press hard after Christ, and soon you and your little one shall meet in glory- and meet forever! "It is well with the child." Let your bleeding, sobbing heart respond- IT Is WELL. "Your will, not mine, be done."
"When I can trust my all with God,
In trial's fearful hour,
Bow all resigned beneath His rod,
And bless His sparing power;
A joy springs up amid distress,
A fountain in the wilderness.
"Oh! to be brought to Jesus' feet,
Though sorrows fix me there,
Is still a privilege; and sweet
The energies of prayer,
Though sighs and tears its language be,
If Christ be near, and smile on me.
"An earthly mind, a faithless heart,
He sees with pitying eye;
He will not let His grace depart;
But, kind severity,
He takes a hostage of our love
To draw the parent's heart above.
"There stands our child before the Lord,
In royal vesture dressed;
A victor before he drew the sword,
Before he had toiled, at rest.
No doubts his blessed faith bedim,
We know that Jesus died for him.
"Oh, blessed be the hand that gave;
Still blessed when it takes.
Blessed be He who smites to save,
Who heals the heart He breaks.
Perfect and true are all His ways,
Whom heaven adores, and death okays."