by Amelia Edith
The teachers of a people have need of a far greater wisdom than its
priests. The latter are but the mouthpiece of an oracle so clear that a
wayfaring man, though a fool, may understand it. The former are the
interpreters in the mysterious communings of ignorance with knowledge.
Only a few little children, says the self-sufficient and the
inefficient teacher. Twenty-five years' experience among little
children has taught me that in spiritual and moral perceptiveness, and
intuitive knowledge of character, they are far nearer to the angels
than we are.
Consider well what a mystery they are! Who ever saw two children
mentally alike? More fresh from the hands of the Maker, they still
retain the infinite variety which is one of the marks of his boundless
wealth of creation. In a few years, alas! they will take on the
stereotyped forms of the class to which they belong; but for a little
space heaven lies about them, and they dwell among usso much of
this world, and so much of that.
Twenty years ago I thought I understood little children; to-day
I am sure I do not: for now I know that every one has a hidden life of
its own, which it knows instinctively is foolishness to the world, and
which therefore it never reveals. Now, if you can humble yourself, can
become as a little child, can win a welcome to this inner life, let me
tell you that you have come very near to the kingdom of heaven. Better
than the writings of schoolmen, better than the lives of the saints,
will such an experience be for you; therefore treat it with reverence
and tenderness; for it is an epistle written by the finger of God on an
innocent and guileless heart.
Consider, too, what sublimity of faith these little ones possess!
The angels believe; for they know and see; men believeupon good
security and indisputable evidences; a little child believes in God
and loves its Saviour simply on your representation. O cold and
doubting hearts!asking science and philosophy, height and depth, to
explain; terrified but not instructed by the eternal silence of the
infinite spaces above you!humble yourselves, that you may be exalted;
become fools, that you may become wise! The human intellect is a blind
guide, but if you seek God through the heart, then a little
child can lead you.
In your intercourse with young children, try and estimate rightly
their delicate fancy; for they are the true poets.
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter darkness,
But trailing clouds of glory do they come.
And I think it was of them God thought when he made the flowers and
butterflies. Their little voices are the natural key of music, their
graceful carriage and sprightly abandon the very poetry of motion. As
Michael Angelo's imprisoned angel pleaded out of dumb marble, so the
divinity within them pleads in the beauty of their forms, the clear
heaven of their eyes, the white purity of their souls, for knowledge
Only a little child! O mother! saved by thy child-bearing in faith
and holiness; peradventure thou nursest an angel! O teacher! made
honorable by thine office, how knowest thou but what thy class is a
veritable school of the prophets, and that children set for the rise
and the fall of many in Israel are under thy hand?
We are accustomed to speak of the simplicity of a child, I know
that mysteries are revealed unto babes, hid from the men full of years
and high on the staff of worldly wisdom. And I remember that case in
old Jerusalem. He who spake as never man spake took a little child and
set him in the midst for an example. So, then, while given to our
charge they are also set for our instruction. Like them, we are to
receive the kingdom of God, believing without a cavil or a doubt in our
Father's declarations. Like them, we are to depend on our Father in
Heaven for our daily bread, being careful for nothing. Like them, we
are to retain no resentments, and if angry, to be easily pacified. Like
them, we are to be free from ambition and avarice, from pride and
disdain. These things are not natural to us, else Jesus had not said,
Ye must become as little children, and that except we do so
we shall not enter the kingdom of Heaven.
And that we might not err, God has set these visiting angels at our
firesides, and at our tables; he has made them bone of our bone and
flesh of our flesh; nay, he has placed them in the heavens like a
To beacon us to the abode
Where the eternal are.
Pass by the Learned, the Mighty, and the Wise, for they are dust;
but let us reverence the Little Children, for they are God's
messengers to us.