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savingly and experimentally ours—we have it exhibited in the threefold nature which enters into the complex unity and personality of each of these little ones. Would we again have brought before us in living character the most winning irresistible proofs of that heart of fatherly love by which God in Christ is reconciling the world unto Himself, not willing that any should perish but that all should come unto Him, drawn to love and trust in Him by every motive of grateful affection—behold it in all His dispensations and ways of dealing with these tender dew drops of humanity.
Why else should God have ordained that we should all come into this world in the condition of little children, but that His own delights are with these children of men—that He finds pleasure in their gentle and innocent loveliness, and looks on with admiration as these flowers expand their leaves, unfold their beauties, and exhale their fragrance? Why else should God have endowed each one of these little ones with those wonderful instincts by which they find at once rest, nurture, and quiet happiness, upon their mother's bosom? Why else should God prepare
for each of these little ones a home whose atmosphere is love—where every thing has been provided for the reception of the little stranger, and where all matters are arranged so as to secure its comfort and well-being? Why else should God awaken, for every occasion requiring it, in each maternal bosom, a new-born affection which welcomes each little one to her home and heart with all its cares and responsibilities and manifold trials—an affection which knows no weariness, which gladly welcomes every self-denying and self-sacrificing service, which laughs at impossibilities, which is stronger than death, and which lives in the life and love of the little one? Why else should God encircle them with His arm of mercy, underneath His wings of love, and by such a special providence as has given rise to the universal observation that “heaven lies about us in our infancy?" Why else should the great Teacher sent from God to reveal to us His nature and His heart, so often and with such tender emphasis discourse to us of these little ones—telling us that "in heaven their angels do always behold the face of their Father;" that "it is not their Father's good pleasure that one of these little ones should perish;" and that "it would be better for a man never to have been born than to have offended one of these little ones?" Why does the Saviour so severely rebuke even His own disciples when they would have hindered mothers, carrying their little ones in their arms, from approaching unto Him? Why, on the same occasion, does He advance towards these mothers, and, taking their little ones in His arms, bless them, and declare that of such as these His own Church both on earth and in heaven is in a large measure composed? Why, again, should he so often as it would appear, have placed a little child in the presence of His disciples, that He might thus teach them, in the most impressive and unmistakable manner, the nature of God's sovereign and gracious love in the great salvation, and the only proper and possible way in which this unspeakable gift of grace and mercy may become ours; but that children live as recipients of all parental blessing, which they can reciprocate only by their loving gratitude.
Again I ask, Why but that He may reveal to us His loving and blessed Fatherhood in Christ Jesus and the ineffable enjoyment of social communion existing between the Father, the Son, and Holy Ghost, should God bring himself down to us, so appropriately to this threefold baptism in His threefold gift of Himself to us sinful, guilty, and perishing sinners? God the Father so loving us as to give His only and well beloved Son for our redemption ; God the Son so loved us as to give Himself for us; and God the Holy Ghost, the loving Spirit, so loving us in the incomprehensible mystery of His condescending grace, as to work in our hearts the experience and enjoyment of His so great salvation.
And once more, Why does God attract and unite to himself in triple bonds, these threefold united parents with their threefold offspring by all that is alluring in his nature, in their nature, and in the nature and necessities of these children, by presenting Himself in His threefold gift of Himself, under the form of that everlasting covenant now to be sacramentally sealed and ratified, which is ordered in all things and sure, which is all our salvation and all that we can desire ?
Does He not in this manner adapt Himself to our human capacities and feelings, declaring to each of you parents that He will be a God to you-giving Himself to you in daily hope and fellowship, inspiring your hearts with all prayer for the spiritual well-being of these children, looking unto Him with holy confidence for that wisdom and grace which shall enable you to bring them up in His nurture and admonition as His children by covenant-adoption? And does He not declare also to each of these children, "I will be a God to you, giving unto you in present possession, a right of property to all the blessings of my salvation, and giving to each of you a joyful hope, that through the faith, example, and teaching of these your parents, I will early satisfy you with a right of actual possession and enjoyment of them, that you may rejoice and be glad all your days, hearing my voice in the early morning and saying unto me, ‘My God, my Father, wilt thou not from this time be the God and guide of my youth?'”
And what does God require, I would now ask of each of you, the united parents of these children, but that you realize in all believing faith and loving confidence your present blessed attitude before Him? Profoundly recognize the solemnity and importance of this transaction. You are now in the presence of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. You have brought with you, in your arms of faith and hope, your threefold children to your Triune Jehovah who brought them into existence, and has since, through manifold dangers, preserved them. You have heard what God the Lord has spoken unto you. You have again received, by a fresh bestowment, His threefold gift of Himself to you and to your children. You have also now beheld God impress the seal of His holy sacrament upon these children according to His threefold offer of mercy, sprinkling them with water, and in this way receiving them visibly into the arms of His visible Church and fold on earth. Draw, then, nigh unto Him in faith, nothing doubting, nothing fearing. Only believe all these things He has promised you, and offered and bestowed upon you and upon them. As you have received these threefold precious children from your Triune covenant God, present them in your arms of faith again to Him, that He may bless you to rear them for His own service and glory. As they have been given to you for a season, and if "need be” only for a little season, so give them back to God, in this covenant of love, to be His—His supremely and His for ever. As you and your children are equally helpless and dependent for all spiritual light and health and blessing on Him, cast yourselves and your children upon His mercy, that He may bestow upon you large and abundant blessings—that He may make and keep you all as His children; enable you to live, while you live, as meek followers of your Lord and Saviour; uphold and preserve you through all the dangers and temptations of life; and at last present you faultless before the presence of His triune glory, saying, in humble, adoring rapture, “Here, Lord, are we, and the children thou hast given us.”