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herd, and whose angels do always behold the face of our Father which is in heaven? It is not all at once that heavenly things are learned; but it is by here a little, and there a little, that in the hidden parts God makes us to know wisdom. How many a thought that flashed upon our musings in childhood, how many a holy word that then fell dimly upon our ear, has been laid up in the inmost recesses of our heart, to spring up after many days, and gladden us by its unfolding life! And this is what no mental effort can forestall; for it is even as the seed cast into the ground, which in due time springs up, and grows, we know not how. The full-blown flower is folded up in the tiny bulb, and the spreading oak in the acorn; but it is surely a grievous fault to deal with the minds of children, as those who would lay open the yet colourless and scentless leaflets of a bud, to read within its bosom the richness of the future flower. And it is not thus that the bright hues and fragrancy which shine and shower might have unfolded at the length, can be forestalled ; for all that such haste and officiousness on our part can do, is to mar the promise, and to see the bud fade and wither in our grasp.
And if we could indeed so handle the mind of a child, and so adapt our explanation to the child's capacity, as to insure the understanding of every word, do we not ever find that the knowledge which, as it were, leaves us no more to learn, but which we can fully express in so many set phrases, whose meaning we have fathomed, is to us henceforth only a memory of the past, a tale that is told, whose interest for us, and influence over us, is exhausted? But we may rejoice that it is not thus with the truth of God; and that in this matter, to think that we so know any thing is only the proof that we know nothing yet as we ought to know. The same word which is milk to us in infancy, is meat for us in riper years, and strong meat for those that are of full age, who, by reason of use,
have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. It is written to children, as well as to young men and to fathers; and while all that is written is to the end that believing we may believe, going on, so to speak, from faith to faith ; how much at last remains untold, may be learned from the testimony of the disciple whom Jesus loved : “There are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written;" and it seems as if to reassure us of the truth, when startled at the largeness of the word, that the apostle ends it with, Amen.
It was beautifully said of the word of God by a holy bishop, that it was deep enough for the elephant to swim in, yet shallow enough for the little child to sport in. And as some of the fathers have spoken of it under another figure, it is like the manna, suited both in quality and measure to the need and appetite of each; and because they wist not what it was, they called it manna, which means, What is it? And how, then, can we tell it out to children, save as we bid them “ taste and see?”—not see and taste, after the way of man's wisdom, but taste and see, that the Lord is good, and so prove the sweetness of that life-giving, life-sustaining word, which is in us, and around us, and above us still
, life everlasting, life more abundantly, flowing in fuller measure as our hearts are enlarged to receive it. And even when we shall see face to face, and know even as also we are known, eternity will be but a continuous unfolding of the breadth and length and depth and height of the Love which passeth knowledge, and yet is summed up in this, that “the Word was made Flesh, and dwelt among us.
One may well love to think how those words of the Psalmist shall one day be fitted in the lips of the redeemed : “Many, O Lord my God, are Thy wonderful works which Thou hast done, and Thy thoughts which are to usward; they cannot be reckoned up in order unto Thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.”
And surely, then, it is no wonder if now we fail to think or speak of them aright; and yet the simple, humble, loving faith of a little child is all that is needed to receive thoughts beyond our thoughts, and words whose fulness no words of ours can measure.
The lengthiness of this note seems to call for an excuse; and the only one that the writer can offer is, that in thinking over the kind remarks of friends, one word has drawn on another, in the anxious desire to account for the adherence to the original plan in the three particulars alluded to, viz. the occasional allusion to uncertain traditions, the frequent omission of reference to authority, and the absence of a more systematic attempt to adapt the matter and the manner to a child's. capacity.
By the same JWriter.
HYMNS AND SCENES OF CHILDHOOD.
THE LADY ELLA.
OR, MAMMA'S VERSION OF AN OLD NURSERY TALE.