Matthew 18:2
Jesus invited a little child to stand among them.
The Kingdom of Type ChildlikeW.F. Adeney Matthew 18:1-3
Heavenly GreatnessJ.A. Macdonald Matthew 18:1-5
Necessity of Becoming Like Little ChildrenMarcus Dods Matthew 18:1-14
A Lesson of HumilityThomas Jones.Matthew 18:2-5
Childhood Educates Man on the Best Side of His NatureH. W. Beecher.Matthew 18:2-5
Child-Like Non-ResistanceThomas Jones.Matthew 18:2-5
Christ in a ChildDean Stanley.Matthew 18:2-5
Christian HumilityE. H. Chapin, D. D.Matthew 18:2-5
ConversionC. Hodge, D. D.Matthew 18:2-5
ConversionJ. Vaughan, M. A.Matthew 18:2-5
ConversionW. Jay., Various.Matthew 18:2-5
Conversion; its Nature, Effects, and ImportanceJ. Williams, M. A.Matthew 18:2-5
God's Care of Little ChildrenMatthew 18:2-5
Greatness Determined by Use, not ExtentE. H. Chapin, D. D.Matthew 18:2-5
HumilityJ. Vaughan, M. A.Matthew 18:2-5
Humility Aids Spiritual VisionJohn Trapp.Matthew 18:2-5
Humility the Spring of Intellectual GreatnessE. H. Chapin, D. D.Matthew 18:2-5
Marks of a True ConversionGeorge Whitefield.Matthew 18:2-5
Nature of CountersignOliver Heywood.Matthew 18:2-5
The Desire to be Great NaturalThomas Jones.Matthew 18:2-5
The Mission and Ministry of Infants in the Family and in the WorldJ. E. Edwards, D. D.Matthew 18:2-5
The Nature and Necessity of ConversionR. Treffrey.Matthew 18:2-5
The Nature of HumilityThomas Jones.Matthew 18:2-5
The Necessity of ConversionJoseph Benson.Matthew 18:2-5
The Responsibility of Greatness OverlookedThomas Jones.Matthew 18:2-5
The Spiritual Worth of ChildhoodE. H. Chapin, D. D.Matthew 18:2-5
The Unconscious Humility of a Child Combined with the Experience of a ManE. H. Chapin, D. D.Matthew 18:2-5
This Teaches Us AllM. Pool.Matthew 18:2-5

Jesus Christ not only resorted to parables in order to make his teaching vivid; sometimes he made use of object lessons. Thus he answered the question as to who was greatest in the kingdom of heaven by pointing to the little child whom he had called to himself, and set up in the midst of his disciples. The child himself was a visible embodiment of the reply our Lord wished his questioners to receive.

I. THE TYPE OF THE KINGDOM. The kingdom of heaven is the kingdom of the childlike. When we look on a little child we see a typical citizen of that glorious kingdom. Let us consider what there is in childlikeness to be thus representative. We must approach this subject from the ground from which Christ and his disciples came to it. The question of primacy being in the minds of the disciples some contrast to their feelings and dispositions is vividly suggested by the sight of the simple, unconscious, unworldly child.

1. Unambitious simplicity. This would be the first impression produced by the sight of the child, when suddenly he was called by Jesus to confront self-seeking ambition. Even if we may believe that there was no self-seeking in the minds of the disciples, and that their inquiry was general, not personal, still the spirit of ambition was roused by it. But the little child does not possess ambition. The subtle calculations by which men scheme for pre-eminence are all unknown to him. He is pre-eminent without knowing it. They are the least of their own sanctity.

2. Unworldliness highest saints who think The little child is quite unconventional. He knows nothing of the ways of the world. Of course, it is not desirable to imitate his defects, to go back to childish ignorance. But knowledge is dearly bought when it is acquired at the cost of spirituality. Wordsworth tells us that heaven lies about us in our childhood.

3. Trustfulness. The child came to Jesus as soon as he was called. A look of the Saviour was enough to dispel fear. We need the innocent confidence of the child to come into right relations with Christ.


1. The entrance. The disciples had forgotten this. Busying themselves about the rank of those who were in the kingdom, they neglected to consider how to enter it. Yet this is the first question, and all else is unpractical till this step has been taken. But when it has been taken, all else becomes unimportant. It is everything to be privileged to enter the kingdom, even though in its lowest region. Moreover, the true citizen of the kingdom will have lost the ambition that busies itself about questions of pre-eminence.

2. The turning. We are all selfish and self-seeking until we learn to repent and take a better course. No one can enter the kingdom of lleaven while he remains worldly and ambitious. The very spirit which seeks a first place in the kingdom excludes from the kingdom. We need grace to turn back to childlikeness. We must be converted into little children. The greed and ambition must be taken out of our hearts, and the simplicity, unworldliness, and trust of the child received in place of those ugly attributes. - W.F.A.

And Jesus called a little child unto Him.
The question of the disciples brings them very distinctly before us, and makes them very real to us, as men like unto ourselves. Nothing can be more artless, and evidently truthful, than their representation in these Gospels of their own thoughts and conduct. How beautifully does Jesus rebuke all this. What a profound and original idea of greatness does this unfold!

I. THE COMMENDATION OF HUMILITY. That humility is not set forth as the sole condition of the heavenly estate, The Saviour's words do not limit the entire range of Christian character to this one quality. It is its secret fountain. What humility is not.

1. Humility is not a weak and timid quality. It must be distinguished from a grovelling spirit. We should think something of our humanity, and not cast it under men's feet. Servants to all; servile to none.

2. It is not to be confounded with that morbid self-abasement which grows out of certain religious views. We may well be humble when we see the infinite love against which we have sinned.

3. Genuine humility is not incompatible with a consciousness of merit; for a secret persuasion of power is the spring of noble enterprise.The consciousness of possessing something is essential to the sense of deficiency which makes us truly humble.

1. Now see how humility lies at the base of all true greatness. We instinctively associate humility with greatness. We always suspect ostentation.

2. The weakness which pride covers, but does not obviate, in the matter of dress and show. It is a great thing for a man to know and feel that he is a man; it is a great thing for him to understand where he is, and to profess what he is. Humility is the spring of all intellectual greatness; also of religious. The man who is convinced that he is perfect, the farthest from being perfect. "God be merciful to me, a sinner," is the spring of all real acquisition in religious things. The child's humility is unconscious; man's humility is reached by experience.

3. The child-like relation in all who in any degree enter into the sphere of Christian faith and feeling. Christ would bring all men to filial dependence upon God. There is no humility without love and confidence; subjection to a tyrant is not humility; but the reverence which I give to a father.

(E. H. Chapin, D. D.)

When you take the loftiest standards in comparison, who is filling a great sphere in God's universe? What king, what president, what statesman, what man of pride and renown, is filling a great sphere? But the moment you come down and take the ordinary earthly standards, the true test of any man's condition is the uses to which he puts it — and to which the Almighty Himself puts it. The uses of a thing make it great, not its extent. The uses of the wayside spring, that refreshes the traveller's march; or the flower that grows at the foot of awful ice-peaks and battlemented crags, unfolding all the summer long its beautiful parable of Providence and love — who can limit the usefulness of that? and who can say that it is nothing, because its sphere is little?

(E. H. Chapin, D. D.)

The humbler men are, the greater they are. What are the proudest triumphs of our day, intellectually speaking? They are in little things. The great men of our day do not construct cosmologies; do not sit down and build up great theories of the universe. We laugh at such things; we suspect their soundness at once. When a man comes to us and tells us that he has a new theory of creation, we begin to think whether he had not better have a theory of his own sanity. The things which occupy the greatest minds of our day are the little sparks of electricity, the little wayside shells, the blossoms, the infusoriae myriad-fold that hang in a single drop of water. Down in the little lowly things men find the great secret of the world; away down they begin to find the spring and sources of things, and the profoundest books of science are founded on these little ordinary, unobserved affairs. Humility is the spring of all intellectual greatness.

(E. H. Chapin, D. D.)

But we have — and let us thank God that we have-something better than childhood's innocence, if we have lived truly and Christ-like. We have strength to overcome evil which the child must learn; we have a power to trample sin underneath us that the child must undergo much to gain; we have not the innocence of Eden, but by God's help and Christ's example we may have the victory of Gethsemane. It is a great thing to have the humbleness of a child. But it is to be joined with the consciousness and the effort of the man.

(E. H. Chapin, D. D.)

But, moreover, there is testimony in Christianity, not only for the love of God to the child, but to the spiritual worth of the child. The child illustrates the value of the soul as Christ brings it before us here. Now, observe, there is no materialistic theory that would be consistent with the way in which Christ treats the child, because, on the materialistic theory, everything grows upward, grows wider and better. But the doctrine of the text is not the doctrine of development; we must go back to childhood again; we don't develop humility. We may develop physical strength; we may develop intellectual splendour; we may develop imagination or reason, but we do not develop humility. In that the child has the advantage of us. If it were merely material, why should not the child have less humility than the man? No; we come back to the child's condition, in some respects; and that illustrates the child's share of our common spiritual nature, And here is the reason why we find the element of greatness set forth as it is by Jesus Christ. Greatness is in spiritual power; it is not an outward attainment that the man can attain and the child can not. It is not any outside clothing; it is not in crowns; it is not in the world's fame; it is a spiritual quality, and the child has that spiritual quality which is the condition of all greatness.

(E. H. Chapin, D. D.)

I. The NATURE of conversion. A change of character (Psalm 51:13; Acts 13:19; James 5:20) implies —

1. A change of mind.

2. A change of heart.

3. Followed by a change of conduct. Regulated by the word of God.

II. The EFFECT of conversion. Its subjects become as little children, not, indeed, in every respect — ignorance, idleness, etc. But.

1. In the affectionate dispositions of their hearts towards each other.

2. In simplicity and sincerity.

3. In humility and lowliness of mind.

III. The NECESSITY of conversion.

1. What we are to understand by the kingdom of heaven.

2. The necessity of conversion in order to enter into this kingdom. The unconverted have no right to, and no meetness for, this kingdom. Were it possible for them to enter they would still be unhappy.

(R. Treffrey.)

I. The NATURE OF THE KINGDOM OF CHRIST, and what is implied in entering into it.

1. The kingdom of Christ is, His reign in and over mankind. It must be considered in two states and periods —

(1)In a state of imperfection, warfare, and suffering on earth.

(2)In a state of perfection, triumph and joy in heaven.

2. We enter this kingdom by becoming members of Christ's true Church — militant, triumphant.

II. The NATURE of this conversion, or in what sense we must be converted and made like little children, in order to our entering into this kingdom.

1. It implies being turned from self to Christ; from the world, and sin, etc.

2. It implies being inwardly changed, understanding enlightened, etc.

3. Conversion makes us like little children — sincere, humble, etc.

4. The works of conversion. Light in the understanding; love to the godly; obedience to all God's commands; hatred to, and victory overall known sin; avoiding temptation, etc.

III. The absolute NECESSITY of this conversion. Unconverted persons are unfit for heaven.

(Joseph Benson.)

The occasion of this remark was like the manifestation of a desire for preeminence.

I. The NATURE of conversion.


1. A disposition which is the opposite of an ambitious spirit.

2. A child is confiding. It trusts its parents.

3. A child is submissive.

III. WHY THIS CHANGE IS NECESSARY. Because the disposition of a child is the only one that agrees with our relation to God. This will apply —

1. To our ignorance.

2. To our weakness.

3. To our guilt and pollution.


1. The peace it gives.

2. The security it affords. God cares for us.

3. It places us in our normal relation to God.

4. It secures our admission into the kingdom of God, of which Christ is the head and centre.

(C. Hodge, D. D.)

I. The necessity of humility in order to salvation.

II. That even converted souls have need of a daily conversion.

III. How abominable in the eyes of God ambition and pride are in any, especially in ministers of the gospel.

IV. That in the Church the way to be great is to be humble.

V. That true humility consists in a mean opinion of ourselves, not minding high things, not being wise in our own conceits, in honour preferring one another.

(M. Pool.)

Let us see what "turn" is necessary before we can be Christians.

I. It is evident that we are all too much men and women, else it would not have been said, "Turn and be children."

1. We as men fancy ourselves independent and self-sufficient; we must get back to simplicities, self-renunciation, to a babyhood of trust.

2. To be a little child is to be in a state to receive. Be a little child in the lowest form and receive discipline.

3. This image does not convey the idea of a perfectly new being, but of an old being begun again, that it may do better.

4. There is another beautiful trait of childhood, purity.

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)


II. THE EVIDENCES of conversion.

1. A child is inquisitive.

2. Teachable in his disposition.

3. A child believes the testimony of his parents.


(J. Williams, M. A.)

I. THE TEMPER THAT DISTINGUISHES THE SUBJECTS OF DIVINE GRACE. "AS little children." Not like them in ignorance, not in fickleness, not in waywardness. Little children are teachable and ready of belief; are devoid of malignity; are characterized by humility.

II. THE WAY IN WHICH WE ARE TO ATTAIN IT. We must be "converted" and "become as little children."

1. The temper we are required to possess is not in us naturally, but is the consequence of a Divine change.

2. The change is to be judged of by its effect.

III. THE IMPORTANCE OF POSSESSING THIS TEMPER. "Ye shall not enter," etc. This exclusion —

1. The most awful.

2. The most unavoidable. "Without holiness man shall see the Lord."

3. The most universal.

4. What a difference there is between the opinion of the world and the judgment of God.

(W. Jay.)

I. CHILDLIKENESS IS THE TEST OF GREATNESS IN THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. Resemblance to children, not in ignorance or in fickleness, but —

1. In a teachable spirit (Acts 9:6; Acts 10:33; Acts 16:30).

2. In a consciousness of weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9; Philippians 4:13).

3. In a dependent spirit (Matthew 6:31; Philippians 4:18, 19).

4. In freedom from ambition (Romans 12:16).

5. In a forgiving temper (1 Corinthians 14:20; Ephesians 4:32).


1. Because it raises its possessor in the scale of our excellence.

2. Because it qualifies its possessor for higher usefulness.

3. Because it assimilates its possessor more nearly to the Redeemer.

4. Because it secures for its possessor a more exalted position in the heavenly world.

(1)The necessity of conversion.

(2)The beauty of humility.

(3)The attraction of heaven.


1. Some are naturally more humble than others; there is a natural humility.

2. Still lower than this, there is a humility of word, love, and manner, which is a mere worldly ornament to be put off and on.How shall we cultivate humility?

1. Be sure that you are loved. We are all inclined to be proud to those whom we think do not like us.

2. Realize yourself the object of great mercy.

3. Seek to be reverent in worship, for if humble before God. you will be before men.

4. Always try to re-live the life of childhood, to think and feel as when you were a child.

5. Deal often with your real self in some of the humbling parts of your history.

6. Exercise inward discipline to meet the first buddings of pride.

7. Do acts of humility.

8. God always empties before He fills; He will humble before He will use a person.

9. It is a great thing to have much intercourse with little children.

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)

The question of the disciples reveals the appearance and the nature of the kingdom of heaven. To these disciples it was the most natural question in the world.

I. THE AMBITION TO BE GREATEST IS A VERY COMMON WEAKNESS IN OUR NATURE. But there are very many considerations which wonderfully qualify this desire to be first.

1. It is a thing of great responsibility.

2. You may be first and be very miserable.

3. It is utterly inconsistent with the religion of Jesus Christ.

II. How OUR LORD TAUGHT THE LESSON OF HUMILITY TO HIS DISCIPLES. He not only spoke about it to them, but He showed it to them. What is the ground of comparison between that beautiful boy and a true disciple — a disciple in the right spirit?

1. The per-fact non-resistance of a child. Christ called the child, and the child came, etc. There was no resistance. The very reverse of this was the case with the disciples. Give instances. They did not, like the little child, yield and come the moment the Master called. They resisted the Spirit of Christ; the darkness in them opposed the light that came from Him. There is very much in the best of us that resists Christ.

2. Perfect trust and the absence of all fear. It was so with this child. To be a Christian is to trust Christ perfectly, and to cast all fear to the wind. In our darkness and ignorance, etc. In our sin and weakness. In our trials and perplexities. And when death comes.

3. Humility. Observe what Christian humility is — Coming when Christ calls, etc., without endeavouring to appear to be anything that we are not. Conclusion. The dignity and glory of true humility.

(Thomas Jones.)

It is not at all the thing that people suppose it to be. Take Christ's exposition of it. The child humbles himself. How did the child humble himself? He came when Christ called, he suffered himself to be embraced, and he stood where Christ put him, without pretending to be anything more than he was, an honest, fine, healthy-looking boy. Christ calls that humility. People think that going and moping about the world and saying, "I am very imperfect," is humility. Protect me from such humility. Some of the proudest creatures I ever met in the world were the most humble, if that be humility — people who complained about themselves; but if you were ever to say to them, "Yes, sir," or "Yes, madam, I know you really are bad," they would turn round and say, "Who told you so? What do you know about me?" That is not Christian humility. Humility is that of the boy coming when Christ called, suffering himself to be embraced, standing there as long as Christ wanted him to stand, without endeavouring to appear to be anything that he was not. That is Christian humility. There is a real charm in this child, if you will only think of it, in his unconsciousness. He never thought he was doing anything praiseworthy; it never entered into his little head that there was anything beautiful in his little actions. That is the essence of the thing. He came quickly when the Master called, he looked happy in His arms, he stood where Christ put him, and he never thought for one moment. that there was any praise due to him for that. He was moved to confidence; the instincts of the boy were moved by the tenderness of Christ's voice and the expression of His face. The little man went under his natural instincts and never thought for a moment that there was any virtue or beauty in his actions. What; is that? That is Christian humility — to yield ourselves to Christ, to serve Him, to serve our brothers and our sisters, going about doing good, beautiful as lamps in the darkness, sweet and fragrant as the breeze from the south. Go and do this, live this beautiful life, yet never showing that we are conscious of its beauty, never letting it escape the lip that we know we are doing anything grand. What is the most beautiful thing in the world? A man or a woman living a high Christian life-without ever letting it escape the lip or the expression that they consider there is anything beautiful or grand in it. It is the unconsciousness of the child that constitutes the highest climax of the Christian life. To be great, to be greatest in the kingdom of heaven is to excel in that direction. I have looked lately at some large fruit trees covered with fruit; and a rich fruit tree is a very beautiful object; it has a massive trunk and far-stretching boughs; the foliage is rich, the dew of the morning is wet upon its leaves, and the sun plays in the little crystal drops, and the branches bending under their fruit barely move in the very gentle movement of the wind. There are very few things in nature more beautiful than a tree like that, and a man of sensibility, a man with a right state of heart, looking upon such a thing cannot but admire it. But if (which of course it is folly to suppose) that tree for one moment could be self-conscious, if it had the power of speech for one instant and let out the secret that it thought itself very beautiful, it would be a different thing to us the moment it had spoken. It is the unconsciousness, the absence of the knowledge of self, that is one charm of the vegetable world. So in character. It is very difficult to be this, my brethren; it is very difficult for me to stand here Sunday after Sunday and speak to you without revealing some little bit of vanity, some little bit of self-consciousness; but if I have not got it I cannot show it. Two great preachers in Wales met at a public meeting. It was usual then, I am sorry to say, as it is now, for men of different denominations to justify their appearing before each other. One of them was a very eloquent man, one of the greatest preachers in the Principality, and he said he had left his party zeal at home before he started. Another as great as he got up and said, "Well, I thank God I had none to leave, and I came here just as I was at home." Let a man be free from vanity and self-consciousness, and. it will not appear. This is Christian humility as taught by the Savior.

(Thomas Jones.)

Now this ambition to be the greatest is a very common weakness in our nature, — to be great, to be first, to be the greatest anywhere, however small the little kingdom may be, to be the first "minister in the kingdom, or, if you can, to be the king of the little kingdom. Better reign anywhere than serve in high positions. To have power, to see our own thoughts carried out, to make men, and things, and circumstances, do as we like, — it is very delightful, exceedingly fascinating, and it has a great charm for our minds, believe somewhat of it is natural, and I do not think it is altogether sinful. The natural is not sinful. Whatever God has put in us is right. A lad has fine powers. and God has put ambition into the lad to use his powers, so that if he is at school he desires to take the first place. Do not blame him; it is quite natural; the ambition is in him. But, on the other hand, I must say what is true about this. There are very many considerations which wonderfully qualify this desire to be first.

(Thomas Jones.)

To be first in the world is a thing of great responsibility. To be first is very pleasant. Yes. but it has a burden of responsibility. To be the first poet — the fierce rays of criticism beat upon you; to be the first preacher, the first minister — it is a most solemn responsibility. Nothing is expected of a delicate flower but that it should be beautiful and just give a little fragrance. Everybody is satisfied with the flower if it will do these two things. But a large tree upon which nature has expended years of time and care, and made the trunk massive, and the boughs wide, and the foliage thick and rich, a tree that nature has taken years of trouble with, much is expected front that Oh, delicate flower, if thou art beautiful and hast a little fragrance nobody wilt blame thee; but a great, massive tree, everybody will blame thee. and thy foliage, and thy massiveness, except thou bringest forth much fruit. Like the delicate flower is the man with one talent, the humble Christian man, doing his duty. walking humbly with God. I think myself that is the finest life in the whole world, incomparably the most blessed life in the world — not to be rich. not to b,-very poor, to have a little home of your own, surrounded by those you love and by whom you are loved, unobserved by the world around, like the delicate flower, just being beautiful and giving forth fragrance. The world never critise you, never says anything about you: you pass on doing your duty, you lay your throbbing head down in death, you shall rest and go home and be with God, and the report of your doings shall be read in another world than this. The responsibility of being first is very great, and the criticism upon those who are first is very fierce. Plant the sapling in the valley, it shall have shelter, — put the same sapling on the mountain top, and the fury of every element shall be expended upon it. There are men in England, authors, statesmen, and preachers, upon whom every element, good, bad, and indifferent, at the command of criticism comes in all its fury expending its strength upon them. I would not be one of them for any earthly consideration. I would not be first in England for the possession of a nobleman's estate. To be in such a position, especially as Tennyson says, "in the fierce light of the throne," is to he in a position of solemn responsibility. My friend, if God has not called you to be very prominent you have reason to thank God that He has consented you should live a quiet, reverent, honest, generous, Christian life. uncriticised, unpraised, and unabused.

(Thomas Jones.)

There is very much in the best of us that resists Christ. We are not like that little child. Christ calls (it is all the better for you if I am not speaking truth), but there is no answer; Christ commands, but we do not obey; Christ stands at the door, and we do not open; He has been there long, He is there now, and will be there to-morrow. and many of you keep Him out. The comparison in the Bible to express this want of child-likeness, this want of non-resistance, is a rock. The rain comes, the rock is not softened; the winds blow, the rock makes no response; the sun shines, the rock is not made fertile; summer comes, autumn comes, winter comes, spring comes — spring, summer, autumn, winter find and leave the rock the same cold hard, insensate thing as it ever was. I do not know you, but I am describing exactly the state of many hearts even in the Church of God. The gospel comes like rain showers upon the rock, but it has not softened you; breezes from the eternal mountains blow upon you — they are not vivifying; God's eternal love shines upon you — it has not changed you; life with its wonderful lessons comes — you grow very little better. Do you not know men in the circle of your acquaintance who are not at all better than they were ten years ago? Success came — they were no better; disappointment came; the marriage morning came, they were the same ". the funeral day — they were the same. All the elements of the gospel, all the. influence of the Divine Spirit, all the wonderful events of life, all its friendships, all its love, left them where they were. They resist God, they resist His influences. Brethren, I ought to be a better man, having enjoyed the friendship of many of you. for many years; I should be unworthy of that friendship, if I were not wiser and better, and more humble and more reverent. You ought, as day after day carries you nearer to eternity, to resist God less. Oh, my friends, be as little children; lean to Christ, resist not the Holy Spirit of God.

(Thomas Jones.)

I. Some of the DOCTRINAL lessons taught us by the mission of infants.

1. By man's original transgression temporal death ensued to infants as a part of the race.

2. Universal atonement.

3. Their immortality.

4. Their resurrection.

II. Some of the PRACTICAL, lessons.

1. The duty of parental watchfulness and tender care over the helplessness of infancy.

2. The duty of self-sacrifice is taught by the mission of infants.

3. The solemn responsibility of a most important trust.

4. The duty of resignation to the work of God, in the dispensations of His Providence.

5. The ministry of infants in the family is intended to teach patience.

6. It teaches the highest Christian virtues, such as innocency, dependence.

7. God's providential care over childhood.

8. That the path of true greatness lies through the vale of humility.

(J. E. Edwards, D. D.)

A poor little boy was found standing in the streets by a kind-hearted man. The child was lean and thinly clad, bearing the marks of hunger and poverty. "What are you doing here?" inquired the man. The boy replied: "I am waiting for God to come." "What do you mean?" inquired the man, touched by the novelty of his reply. The poor little boy responded: "Mother and father, and nay little brother died, and nay mother said God would come and take care of me. Won't He come? .... Yes," replied the man, "I have come." "Mother never told me a lie," said the little boy; "I knew you would come; but you have been so long on the way."

It is probable that every one of the traits of higher manhood in adults springs from the drill and the training which little children require and inspire. I doubt whether preceptual teaching could ever have brought into this world any considerable degree of disinterested affection. I doubt if self-denial and heroism in that direction could ever have been propagated in this world as a matter of duty. Conscience never brings forth love. Intellectual reasoning never produces rich and warm caresses. It is the economy of God's providence to set men and women together in the household, and give them little children, and draw them toward these little children by the instinct of love dinstinct in the early day, and companionable love in a later day, and out of this love to develope all the character, forethought, and industry which are necessary for the good of these children. There are men who are very selfish toward their neighbours, very selfish in their business, very selfish in their pleasures; there are men who, as citizens, are not true to the laws under which they live, not true to commonwealth, but who, if you go into their households, and see how they deal with their children, seem to have an entirely different nature. They lay aside their selfishness. The pride and greediness which characterize them out-of-doors are gone when they are indoors. Indeed, the faults which they exhibit outside are often faults which they take on for the sake of being able to take care of the little children that are inside.

(H. W. Beecher.)

There is an old story, a kind of Sunday fairy tale, which you may sometimes have seen represented in pictures and statues in ancient churches, of a great heathen giant who wished to find out some master that he should think worthy of his services — some one stronger than himself. He went about the world, but could find no one stronger. And, besides this, he was anxious to pray to God, but did not know how to do it. At last he met with a good old man by the side of a deep river, where poor wayfaring people wanted to get across and had no one to help them. And the good old man said to the giant, "Here is a place where you can be of some use, and if you do not know how to pray, you will, at any rate, know how to work, and perhaps God will give you what you ask, and perhaps also you will at last find a master stronger than you." So the giant went and sat by the river-side, and many a time he carried poor wayfarers across. One night he heard a little child crying to be carried over; so he put the child on his shoulder and strode across the stream. Presently the wind blew, the rain fell, and as the river beat against his knees, he felt the weight of the little child almost more than he could bear, and he looked up with his great patient eyes, and he saw that it was a child glorious and shining, and the child said, "Thou art labouring under this heavy burden because thou art carrying one who bears the sins of all the world." And then, as the story goes on, the giant felt that it was the child Jesus, and when he reached the other side of the river, he fell down before Him. Now he had found some one stronger than he was, some one so good, so worthy of loving, as to be a master whom he could serve.

(Dean Stanley.)

Converting grace makes persons become like little children; both like those just born, and those who are a little grown.


1. Children enter the world with much difficulty and hazard. So God's children have a difficult entrance into a state of grace.

2. An infant has always a principle of life and motion; so converts have a principle of spiritual life infused into their souls.

3. The child bears the image of the father; so converts bear a likeness to God; they have His image.

4. A child comes weeping into the world; so God's children are crying children.

5. There is a natural instinct in children, as soon as born, to seek the mother's breast; so a gracious soul, when newly converted, desires " the sincere milk of the word, that he may grow thereby."

6. Converts resemble little children in their weakness and dependence.

7. There is a resemblance between little children and converts in their harmlessness.


1. In their guileless disposition. Little children are generally plain and downright, what they seem to be, and do not dissemble.

2. They are of a gall-less disposition; they may be angry, but bear no malice.

3. They are submissive to correction.

4. They are full of jealousies and fears.

5. They are very affectionate.

6. They are very inquisitive.

7. They are generally tractable.

8. They do all for their parents, and acknowledge them in all they have; so the child of God does nothing for himself but for God's glory.

9. Converts resemble little children in their growth.

10. They are mostly of an humble and condescending disposition. Application —

(1)If converting grace makes persons become like little children, then conversion is no half work;

(2)If true conversion makes men become like little children, then there is reason to fear few people go to heaven.

(Oliver Heywood.)

I. What are we to understand by our Lord's saying? The words imply —

1. That before you or I can have any well-grounded, scriptural hope, of being happy in a future state, there must be some great, some notable and amazing change pass upon our souls.

2. That little children are not perfectly innocent, but in a comparative and rational sense.

3. That, as to ambition and lust after the world, we must in this sense become as little children; we must be as loose to the world, comparatively speaking, as a little child.

4. That we must be sensible of our weakness, as a little child.

5. That, as little children look upon themselves to be ignorant creatures, so those that are converted, do look upon themselves as ignorant too.

6. That, as a little child is looked upon as a harmless creature, and generally speaks true, so, if we are converted, we shall be guileless as well as harmless.

(George Whitefield.)

He that is in the low pits and caves of the earth, sees the stars in the firmament, when they who are on the tops of the mountains discern them not. He that is most humble, sees most of heaven, and shall have most of it; for the lower the ebb, the higher the tide; and the lower the foundation of virtue is laid, the higher shall the roof of glory be over-laid.

(John Trapp.)

Jesus, Peter
Bidding, Calling, Child, Middle, Midst, Stand
1. Jesus warns his disciples to be humble and harmless,
7. to avoid offenses,
10. and not to despise the little ones;
15. teaches how we are to deal with our brothers when they offend us,
21. and how often to forgive them;
23. which he sets forth by a parable of the king who took account of his servants,
32. and punished him who showed no mercy to his fellow servant.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Matthew 18:1-3

     6134   coveting, prohibition

Matthew 18:1-4

     5489   rank
     5857   fame
     7708   apostles, function

Matthew 18:1-5

     2036   Christ, humility
     5554   status

Matthew 18:2-3

     2081   Christ, wisdom
     2357   Christ, parables
     6696   necessity

Matthew 18:2-5

     8205   childlikeness

Matthew 18:2-6

     5665   children, attitudes to

May 31. "Whosoever Therefore Shall Humble Himself as this Little Child" (Matt. xviii. 4).
"Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child" (Matt. xviii. 4). You will never get a humble heart until it is born from above, from the heart of Christ. For man has lost his own humanity and alas, too often has a demon heart. God wants us, as Christians, to be simple, human, approachable and childlike. The Christians that we know and love best, and that are nearest to the Lord, are the most simple. Whenever we grow stilted we are only fit for a picture gallery, and we are only good
Rev. A. B. Simpson—Days of Heaven Upon Earth

The Lost Sheep and the Seeking Shepherd
If a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth Into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray!--MATT. xviii. 12. We find this simple parable, or germ of a parable, in a somewhat more expanded form, as the first of the incomparable three in the fifteenth chapter of Luke's Gospel. Perhaps our Lord repeated the parable more than once. It is an unveiling of His inmost heart, and therein a revelation of the very heart of God.
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Persistence of Thwarted Love
'If so be that he find it.'--MATT. xviii. 13. 'Until he find it.'--LUKE xv. 4. Like other teachers, Jesus seems to have had favourite points of view and utterances which came naturally to His lips. There are several instances in the gospels of His repeating the same sayings in entirely different connections and with different applications. One of these habitual points of view seems to have been the thought of men as wandering sheep, and of Himself as the Shepherd. The metaphor has become so familiar
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Forgiven and Unforgiving
'Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times; but, Until seventy times seven.' --MATT. xviii. 22. The disciples had been squabbling about pre-eminence in the kingdom which they thought was presently to appear. They had ventured to refer their selfish and ambitious dispute to Christ's arbitrament. He answered by telling them the qualifications of 'the greatest in the kingdom'--that they are to be humble like little children; that they are to be placable; that they are to use all means
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Law of Precedence in the Kingdom
'At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? 2. And Jesus called a little child unto Him, and set him in the midst of them, 3. And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. 4. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5. And whoso shall receive one such little child in My name receiveth
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Six Sweeping Statements.
Jesus' own words make this very clear. There are two groups of teachings on prayer in those three and a half years as given by the gospel records. The first of these groups is in the Sermon on the Mount which Jesus preached about half-way through the second year of His ministry. The second group comes sheer at the end. All of it is in the last six months, and most of it in the last ten days, and much of that on the very eve of that last tragic day. It is after the sharp rupture with the leaders that
S. D. (Samuel Dickey) Gordon—Quiet Talks on Prayer

On the Words of the Gospel, Matt. xviii. 15, "If Thy Brother Sin against Thee, Go, Shew Him his Fault Between Thee and Him Alone;" And
1. Our Lord warns us not to neglect one another's sins, not by searching out what to find fault with, but by looking out for what to amend. For He said that his eye is sharp to cast out a mote out of his brother's eye, who has not a beam in his own eye. Now what this means, I will briefly convey to you, Beloved. A mote in the eye is anger; a beam in the eye is hatred. When therefore one who has hatred finds fault with one who is angry, he wishes to take a mote out of his brother's eye, but is hindered
Saint Augustine—sermons on selected lessons of the new testament

On the Words of the Gospel, Matt. xviii. 7, Where we are Admonished to Beware of the Offences of the World.
1. The divine lessons, which we have just heard as they were being read, warn us to gather in a stock of virtues, to fortify a Christian heart, against the offences which were predicted to come, and this from the mercy of the Lord. "For what is man," saith Scripture, "saving that Thou art mindful of him?" [2694] "Woe unto the world because of offences," [2695] saith the Lord; the Truth says so; He alarmeth and warneth us, He would not have us to be off our guard; for surely He would not make us desperate.
Saint Augustine—sermons on selected lessons of the new testament

The Forgiveness of Sins.
(Twenty-second Sunday after Trinity.) S. MATTHEW xviii. 28, "Pay me that thou owest." The Gospel shows us in a parable a picture of a king who called his servants to a reckoning. That King is the Lord God Almighty. We are His servants, and He calls us to account every day. All we possess we owe as a debt to God. Day by day He gives us our food, and supplies our wants by His good Providence. On every hour of our existence is written, Jehovah-Jireh--The Lord will provide. Day by day God takes
H. J. Wilmot-Buxton—The Life of Duty, a Year's Plain Sermons, v. 2

Fourth Day. Forgiveness of Injuries.
"Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."--Luke, xxiii. 34. Many a death-struggle has been made to save a friend. A dying Saviour gathers up His expiring breath to plead for His foes! At the climax of His own woe, and of human ingratitude--man-forsaken, and God-deserted--His faltering voice mingles with the shout of His murderers,--"Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do!" Had the faithless Peter been there, could he have wondered at the reply to a former
John R. Macduff—The Mind of Jesus

Lix. The Preacher and his Hearers.
22nd Sunday after Trinity. S. Matthew xviii. 23. "The kingdom of Heaven is likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants." INTRODUCTION.--I have been a good deal abroad, over the Continent of Europe, and whenever I am in a little country inn, I make a point of going into the room where the men are smoking and drinking wine or beer, and hearing their opinions on the politics of the day, and of their country. Now, my experience tells me that in country taverns in France, and
S. Baring-Gould—The Village Pulpit, Volume II. Trinity to Advent

The Wicked Servant
ST. MATTHEW xviii. 23. The kingdom of heaven is likened to a certain king, which would take account of his servants. This parable, which you heard in the Gospel for this day, you all know. And I doubt not that all you who know it, understand it well enough. It is so human and so humane; it is told with such simplicity, and yet with such force and brilliancy that--if one dare praise our Lord's words as we praise the words of men--all must see its meaning at once, though it speaks of a state of
Charles Kingsley—The Water of Life and Other Sermons

Meetings for Prayer.
Text.--"Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven."--Matthew xviii. 19. HITHERTO, in treating of the subject of Prayer, I have confined my remarks to secret prayer. I am now to speak of social prayer, or prayer offered in company, where two or more are united in praying. Such meetings have been common from the time of Christ, and even hundreds of years before. And it is probable
Charles Grandison Finney—Lectures on Revivals of Religion

The Necessity and Effect of Union.
Text.--Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth, as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.--Matthew xviii. 19. SOME weeks since, I used this text, in preaching on the subject of prayer meetings. At present I design to enter more into the spirit and meaning of the text. The evident design of our Lord in this text was to teach the importance and influence of union in prayer and effort to promote religion. He states the
Charles Grandison Finney—Lectures on Revivals of Religion

The Mission of Little Children
"And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them." Matthew xviii.2. Everything has its mission. I speak not now of the office which each part of the great universe discharges. I speak not of the relation between these parts,--that beautiful ordinance by which the whole is linked together in one common life, by which the greatest is dependent upon the least, and the least shares in the benefactions of the greatest. In this sense, everything has, strictly, its mission.
E. H. Chapin—The Crown of Thorns

False Ambition Versus Childlikeness.
(Capernaum, Autumn, a.d. 29.) ^A Matt. XVIII. 1-14; ^B Mark IX. 33-50; ^C Luke IX. 46-50. ^c 46 And there arose a reasoning among them, which of them was the greatest. ^b 33 And he came to Capernaum: ^c 47 But when Jesus saw the reasoning of their heart, ^b and when he was in the house [probably Simon Peter's house] he asked them, What were ye reasoning on the way? 34 But they held their peace: for they had disputed one with another on the way, who was the greatest. [The Lord with his disciples was
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

Sin and Forgiveness Between Brethren.
(Autumn, a.d. 29.) ^A Matt. XVIII. 15-35. ^a 15 And if thy brother sin against thee, go, show him his fault between thee and him alone: if he hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. [Having warned against giving offense, Jesus now shows how to act when offense is received. The fault is to be pointed out to the offender, but for the purpose of gaining him--not from a desire to humiliate him. The offended is to seek the offender, and the offender is likewise to seek the offended (Matt. xv. 23, 24),
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

The Unmerciful Servant.
"Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the lord of that servant was moved
William Arnot—The Parables of Our Lord

Jesus Christ, the Divine Teacher of Prayer
A friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him! He knocks again. "Friend! lend me three loaves?" He waits a while and then knocks again. "Friend! I must have three loaves!" "Trouble me not: the door is now shut; I cannot rise and give thee!" He stands still. He turns to go home. He comes back. He knocks again. "Friend!" he cries. He puts his ear to the door. There is a sound inside, and then the light of a candle shines through the hole of the door. The bars of
Edward M. Bounds—The Reality of Prayer

Fifteenth Lesson. If Two Agree
If two agree;' Or, The Power of United Prayer Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my Name, there am I in the midst of them.--Matt. xviii. 19, 20. ONE of the first lessons of our Lord in His school of prayer was: Not to be seen of men. Enter thy inner chamber; be alone with the Father. When He has thus taught us that the
Andrew Murray—With Christ in the School of Prayer

The Third Wall.
The third wall falls of itself, as soon as the first two have fallen; for if the Pope acts contrary to the Scriptures, we are bound to stand by the Scriptures, to punish and to constrain him, according to Christ's commandment; "Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every
Martin Luther—First Principles of the Reformation

Gerhard Ter Steegen Matt. xviii. 12 O God, through Christ the living way, My Father and my God, So near, and I so far astray, Brought nigh Thee by His Blood. Myself, and this, and that, I sought Behind, around, before-- And yet the nearest found I not, Until I sought no more. O Love, Thou deep eternal tide, How dear are men to Thee! The Father's heart is opened wide By Jesus' Blood to me. It was Thyself, O God, who sought, With tender yearnings deep, The loveless sould who sought Thee not, The
Frances Bevan—Hymns of Ter Steegen, Suso, and Others

The School
Gerhard Ter Steegen Matt. xviii. 3 Where is the school for each and all, Where men become as children small, And little ones are great? Where love is all the task and rule, The fee our all, and all at school, Small, poor, of low estate? Where to unlearn all things I learn, From self and from all others turn, One Master hear and see? I learn and do one thing alone, And wholly give myself to One Who gives Himself to me. My task, possessing nought, to give; No life to have, yet ever live-- And ever
Frances Bevan—Hymns of Ter Steegen, Suso, and Others

Commentary on Matthew. Introduction.
According to Eusebius (H. E. vi. 36) the Commentaries on the Gospel of Matthew were written about the same time as the Contra Celsum, when Origen was over sixty years of age, and may therefore be probably assigned to the period 246-248. This statement is confirmed by internal evidence. In the portion here translated, books x.-xiv., he passes by the verses Matt. xviii. 12, 13, and refers for the exposition of them to his Homilies on Luke (book xiii. 29). Elsewhere, he refers his readers for a fuller
Origen—Origen's Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew

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