HINDERING THE CHILDREN
A Child’s Relationship with Almighty God.—The most fatal way of despising the child falls under the third educational law of the Gospels; it is to overlook and make light of his natural relationship with Almighty God. “Suffer the little children to come unto Me,” says the Saviour, as if that were the natural thing for the children to do, the thing they do when they are not hindered by their elders. And perhaps it is not too beautiful a thing to believe in this redeemed world, that, as the babe turns to his mother though he has no power to say her name, as the flowers turn to the sun, so the hearts of the children turn to their Saviour and God with unconscious delight and trust.
Now listen to what goes on in many a nursery:—‘God does not love you, you naughty, wicked boy!’ ‘He will send you to the bad, wicked place,’ and so on; and this is all the practical teaching about the ways of his ‘almighty Lover’ that the child gets!—never a word of how God does love and cherish the little children all day long, and fill their hours with delight.
Add to this, listless perfunctory prayers, idle discussions of Divine things in their presence, light use of holy words, few signs whereby the child can read that the things of God are more to his parents than any things of the world, and the child is hindered, tacitly forbidden to “come unto Me,”—and this, often, by parents who in the depths of their hearts desire nothing in comparison with God.
The mischief lies in that same foolish undervaluing of the children, in the notion that the child can have no spiritual life until it please his elders to kindle the flame.