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say, to be indifferent about wealth, is the temper of mind which has annexed to it the first blessing pronounced in the Gospel ; it is the first thing required, in order to enter into the Kingdom of heaven. And persons in the Gospels were sometimes commanded and encouraged to give up their worldly possessions, in order to obtain this perfection; as our Lord said to the rich young man, “If thou wouldst be perfeet, sell that thou hast and give to the poor.” Now this was very generally practised by the early Christians, so that the most eminent Saints and Martyrs of God were in this respect like children, that they had no worldly possessions to occupy their thoughts. And there has been a practice in some Churches for men and women to relinquish all their property, and live together in societies; where all that was needful was provided for them, without any anxious concern of theirs ; and thus they came to this state and this circumstance of childhood, that it is free from worldly cares.
There are many other points in which the condition of a child is like that of the most perfect Christian. A child is necessarily free from many bad passions, which are common among men, but which the good Christian knows not, such as sins of impurity. It is that one thing in which the Christian state is mentioned by our blessed LORD as being like that of Angels, when He says, that they “shall be equal to the Angels" of God hereafter; the point of resemblance which He mentions, has respect to this child-like innocence and purity. It is in this point the most perfect Christians are like the Angels of God, and like little children.
Again, there are many things in the state of children, that make childhood to be the very pattern and example of humility. A child has to look up for every thing, and can look down on none. And this is the state of the best Christian, to be looking up always, and to look down upon none; to be ever looking up to his FATHER which is in heaven, and ever esteeming others better than himself. A child has to depend on others for what he wants, to be supported day by day without any care for the morrow. And this is the state of faith,-a perfect reliance on God's Providence day by day, casting “all our care upon Him, for He careth for us :" this is the frame of mind that we have all to seek more and more. Again, children are subject to keen pains and sorrows, and yet are for the most part usually full of hope and cheerfulness; their tears are soon forgotten and pass away; and this is the rule that St. Paul gives for the Christian, that he should be “in weeping as if he wept not, and rejoicing as if he rejoiced not.” Again, childhood is especially the season of hope: whatever occurs to them of evil, the hopes of children are still lively and strong; and hope is one of the highest of Christian graces found in the perfect Christian. What St. Paul says of charity is in some sense true of childhood also, that it “hopeth all things, believeth all things." Children have not yet learned to distrust mankind, and have no conflicting interests to occasion envy and ill-will, and therefore their hearts are more open to love. Children have ever to learn from others, to lean upon others, to gain every thing they enjoy or know from others, and therefore childhood is also the season of faith. They are obliged to live by faith, to take things upon trust, and the more they do so the better they are.
Now we have all in these things to learn of children, and to be like them in the Kingdom of God: not to lean on our own understandings, but more and more to depend upon God; not to entertain anxious thought for the morrow; to avoid as far as we can all suspicion and distrust of others, for it is far better to be deceived sometimes than to be always distrustful; but above all things, to learn of them that humility which exalts in the sight of God and good Angels, and that purity of heart without which no one shall see the Lord.
There is another point of view in which childhood is to be considered. Childhood is the period of painful training, of discipline and schooling, not of self-will and self-indulgence. It is not only subject to all those natural evils and pains which we inherit from our first parents, those many bodily sicknesses and sufferings of mind which childhood is especially liable to; but our early years must be given up to laborious care and study, or we shall be ignorant and useless for the rest of our lives. We must be put under restraint, as children, if we would not be utterly lost as men; we must be kept to things which are most contrary to our natural inclinations; our desires must be checked, and many things denied them which they are most earnestly bent on. Children must be ever kept under control ; and such control is not pleasing but grievous.
And this also is the state of the good Christian ; for, besides all those evils which he is subject to as a child of Adam, he is always schooling and disciplining himself, going contrary to his own inclinations and desires. His happiness is, indeed, far greater on this account; his hope of Heaven is more lively; his faith more perfected; and his charity increased, by all this course of self-denial : in like manner, children are indeed far more happy for the restraint and training which they are obliged to submit to, and, upon the whole, more cheerful than they would be if left to self-indulgence and idleness. But still this matters not; they must be seasons of discipline to both : without training and care and study in youth, manhood is lost; and without care and training and discipline to the Christian, Heaven is lost and forfeited. Thus childhood is to the Christian a glass in which he may look at his Christian state; his earthly childhood is a shadow of his childhood in things heavenly.
Thus it is that our blessed Lord brings us back to childhood again, as it were a second time; in like manner as in Him we are brought back to that Paradise which we had lost in Adam. We are in Christ brought back to Paradise ; but that Paradise is not in this life a garden of Eden, full of every thing to delight us, but the garden of Gethsemane, which is watered by the blood of Christ, and the scene of His agonies. This is the garden in which He takes us to watch and pray with Him. But blessed indeed is that place, and fruitful in all good! So also He takeş us back to childhood, teaching us to be as little children ; but it is a childhood not of ease and indulgence, but of restraint and discipline; but it is full of hope, because it is a pledge and assurance of that New Birth which shall be in Heaven, when they that are thought worthy shall be children of God and like the Angels of Heaven ;—that Paradise wherein is the tree of life, by that river which proceedeth from out of the throne of God.
But if childhood is to be so honoured in our sight, and the pattern of innocence and humility to ourselves, how careful ought we to be of the childhood of others; for on account of its exceeding value and worth in God's sight the highest Angels of Heaven watch over it: and if any one shall cause one of these little ones to fall, it shall be "better for him that a mill-stone were hanged about his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Of all things in this world, nothing is so precious as the purity of childhood. How carefully ought we to prize and value and protect it! not only because we have therein a soul fresh from the hands of the CREATOR, but also because we have a soul fresh from the new creation of holy Baptism. We know not what strugglings of the Holy Spirit there are with a child,-how the Holy ONE, the High And LOFTY ONE that inhabiteth eternity, converses with his secret spirit. Our blessed LORD was Himself hidden for many years, though He was the eternal Son of God. He was not known or recognized by those around Him; they saw nothing in Him of “the Arm of the Lord,” and “the Mighty Power of God.” In like manner, in many a child in whom HE most assuredly resides and lives, and grows with his growth, and strengthens with his strength, yet He is unseen and unknown. Surely men know not what it is to have the charge committed to them of baptized children, of Christ's little ones! Men of the world in the present day talk much of education, but they know not what it is to look on children as the Scriptures and the Church of God do. They would make children to be men like themselves in every thing that is worldly; whereas all wisdom which is worthy of the name they have themselves to learn of children. What they wish is, to have children to unlearn that which is alone worthy to be learned; to lose the freshness of God's hand upon their souls, while it is yet unspoiled by the world.
If men, in order to be good Christians, must learn of children, then surely all our care ought to be to prevent children from learning those feelings, those passions, and those habits which are common among mankind,—those things which made our blessed Saviour turn to men with awful warnings, and the absence of which made Him so tenderly to yearn over children. Nothing is so much to be deplored in a child as to find in him that covetousness or ambition, that distrust of his fellow-creatures, that worldly prudence and deceit, which is to be found among men,—that cowardice and want of faith which keeps men from doing what they know they ought to do.
Make a child desirous to get on in the world, to know the value of money, as it is said, and eager and zealous to rise higher than others in the world, and you have done far to undo the work of God, to take away that which makes a child so precious in God's sight. It is a lesson which children learn too soon, although the greatest pains are taken to rear them in heavenly-mindedness, and to keep them unspotted from the world. You do that for them which you have daily to ask God to undo for yourself, in order that you may be admitted into Heaven. The great trial and difficulty which some good men have all their lives, is to purify and cleanse their hearts from those things which they have contracted from a wrong education, from the teaching of their parents and instructors.
And what is far more powerful than wrong teaching and misguided instruction, is bad example; careless living will teach a child more powerfully than the most careful schooling. Where is the use of telling a child that this world is nothing, but that Heaven and Hell are all in all, and the only things worth caring for, if all your words and actions show that you yourself think very differently? Where is the good of teaching him that the meekness of CHRIST is the example for all Christians to follow, if you yourselves reprove and correct them with ill temper, and speak of others and to each other with anger and impatience ? Which will be most powerful, your words or your example ?
Those that have the care of the young should consider that they have committed into their hands the most sacred pledge that God has to afford : they should consider it the strongest engagement that could be given them to amend the whole of their own conduct, in order that they may not be the ruin both of themselves and of others. Our blessed LORD said of His disciples, " for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.” May we also, without irreverence, and in some sense not unbecoming us, venture to apply these words to ourselves also, after His adorable example, and labour to sanctify ourselves for the sake of others; not only that our prayers for them may be heard, but that our words and actions may lead them to holiness, and not far from it. Disease passes from one to another, no body knows how, particularly among those of the same family, and who are living under the same roof: and it is precisely the same with example : “ with the clean thou shalt be clean, with the holy thou shalt be holy : with the froward thou shalt learn frowardness.” No one can injure and destroy himself without injuring and destroying others also; no one can be