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him when you take your food, for he has said by his apostle, "Whether ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
When Jesus had given thanks, he brake the bread and gave it to his disciples, and they passed it all around among the vast congregation of people seated on the side of the mountain. "And they did all eat and were filled." Not one of all the number was neglected; not one desired more. After they had eaten, seven baskets full of the broken food were gathered up. In one account of such a miracle as this, we are informed that Jesus said to his disciples, "Gather up the fragments that nothing be lost." If he had not said this, we should know by the example given us here that it is not right to waste food, even though it be but the broken remains of our meals. Surely children will notice this example of the blessed Saviour, and be very careful to imitate one which it is so easy for them to follow.
Until we come to the thirty-eighth verse, we do not know how numerous the company was which Jesus fed with seven loaves and a few little fishes. "Four thousand men, besides women and children." Perhaps you do not realize how many people this would be. It is as many as there are in a large village. Enough to make more than four hundred families. All these were supplied with food, without any time or labor for preparing it. "The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof;" and the Saviour could just as easily give the people food prepared to eat, as he could cause the grain to spring from the ground, and make the fire and water for us to cook with; but it is
not common for him to do this, therefore it was a miracle.
Does not this account show you the love, and care, and compassion of God? Does it not lead you to feel grateful for the ten thousand proofs of his loving kindness and tender mercy by which you are surrounded? Besides the common blessings, without which you could not be comfortable, think of the many things you have to enjoy which you could do without, and still be happy. But your Heavenly Father not only intends that you shall be happy, but very happy; therefore he made the flowers to perfume your path, and the birds, and the rustling leaves, and the bubbling brook to delight your ears. Therefore he dressed the green earth in beauty, and spread above your head the spangled curtain of the heavens. Therefore he made the music of your mother's voice, and the sweet smiles of your brothers and sisters, and the hallowed tones which convey your father's counsels.
"At work, at play, at home, abroad,
OUR SAVIOUR'S RULE OF FORGIVENESS.
MATT. Xviii. 21, 22.
21. Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times ?
22. Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, until seven times but, until seventy times seven.
FROM the first of the verses above, we learn that one of our Saviour's disciples came to him with a request that he would inform him how often he should forgive his brother, if he sinned against him. By his brother, he meant any person with whom he associated; and, by sinning against him, doing that which injured him. At the same time that he asked the question, he seemed to fix on seven as the greatest number of times he ought to grant forgiveness. Peter was a christian, and we cannot suppose he wished to cherish revenge. No doubt he felt disposed to be forbearing and forgiving; but the love, and pity, and forgiveness of the Saviour exceeds that of the best of men, "as far as the heavens are higher than the earth." See what a rule he gave to his disciple, and to me, and you also. "I say not unto you, until seven times, but, until seventy times seven." If the same person offends you hundreds of times, you should forgive him, and feel towards him just as though he had never injured you.
I have had very large acquaintance with children of all ages, and it seems to me there is nothing
more needed among them than forgiving dispositions. To forgive your companion is to excuse him entirely for having injured you, and not wish to have him punished, nor desire even to remember that he has ever done wrong. But children often seem anxious to have their companions corrected, if they suppose they have done them the least injury. I have known a boy even choose to be punished himself, that his companion might be punished too, rather than settle the difficulty between them by forgiveness. Little children, three or four years old, will sometimes remain sullen and stubborn for several minutes, before they can be persuaded to kiss each other, forget their little quarrels, and go lovingly to play together. This shows that an unforgiving spirit is deeply rooted in our nature, and that children ought, as soon as they are able to read the Bible, to study the rule which Jesus has given us.
One of my dear little friends, who has gone before me into eternity, used to remember this rule. He was once standing by me when I was talking with a little boy who had been striking his companion, because, as he said, he had hurt him. I was trying to lead him to understand and feel that he should not injure another because he had injured him, when the child whom I first mentioned, said to me, "he should forgive him if he hurt him seventy times seven.' Where did you get that rule? said I. "In the Testament," he answered. "It is our Saviour's rule." It gave me much pleasure then to know that my little friend remembered so well the words of Jesus Christ, and it gave me still greater pleasure to observe that he
was not one of those children who are unwilling to forgive.
It is very common for children to say, when called to account for injuring their companions, "Well, he injured me." As if they were entirely innocent, and fully excused for doing wrong to one who has done wrong to them. But this is a rule they have made, and not the Saviour. He says, "Resist not evil." "Do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you." Forgive," not seven times, but "seventy times seven.' Do you think, my dear reader, that you will ever be able to follow these rules? You will find it very hard, if you have a companion who is so wicked as to wish to make you unhappy, to keep forgiving him, and trying to love him as well as if he had never offended you. Yet if you would obey the Saviour, and have him for your friend, you must endeavor to forgive; and if you find your heart hard, and unwilling to obey the rule, you should ask God to give you a forgiving spirit.
Remember how often you do wrong, and need the forgiveness of others. Your parents, your brothers and sisters, and all with whom you associate, it may be, find much in you which needs to be forgiven; but especially think how often you offend your Heavenly Father, and need his forgiving love. All sin is exceedingly offensive to God. He cannot approve of any action or thought which is not pure, entirely free from sin; but our thoughts, and every action of our lives are defiled by sin; so that if God dealt with us, as children sometimes wish their companions to be dealt with, we should now be suffering punishment, instead