The Little Ones
—Cradle Roll Day
A Word of Appreciation to the Parents on the Occasion of Cradle Roll Day.
THE LESSON—That the proper early home training of children for Christ will save future heartaches and anguish.
It is well to make of Cradle Roll Day an occasion of profit and inspiration to the parents of the little ones. Perhaps you don't get a chance to speak to them very often. Your words to them on this occasion, when a day has been set aside for the special consideration of the children in whom their hearts and hopes are centered, will best serve their purpose if they are directed to make the parents feel sure that you, also, are deeply interested in their little ones.
"We are delighted today to see so many of our little Cradle Roll boys and girls—and we are just as pleased to look into the faces of their fathers and mothers. Why? Well, just because we want these parents to know that we love their children and that we are grateful to them for coming with them today to observe this happy time together.
"We want these fathers and mothers to know that while we are trying to teach the way of unselfishness and love to these older boys and girls, and while we are waiting for the time to come when these little visitors of today will be old enough to be with us regularly, we are convinced that the home training for seven days in the week is higher and more lasting than an hour of teaching in the Sunday school under the best of teachers. So it is with joy that we know that these parents are beginning with the babyhood of their children to tell them of Him who blessed the little ones and said, 'of such is the kingdom of heaven.' We are glad we may look forward to the time when we, in the Sunday school, may also have a part in this training.
"Let us hear a little story this morning: Once upon a time a young lad, while idly spending his time in a grove surrounding his eastern home, carved with his knife in the bark of a young birch tree three words which his mother had taught him to say. [As you continue the narrative, draw the small tree and merely indicate the words and the heart next referred to, completing Fig. 104.] The first word had three letters, the second had two letters and the third four letters. And around them he drew a little heart, as his mother had taught him to do. And when he had finished it, he ran away to his play and forgot all about it.
"Years afterward, when he had grown to young manhood, he returned to the home which he had not seen for a long time. As he went once more to the grove, he came upon a birch tree and stopped to look at some words carved upon its bark, with a heart drawn about them. Memory carried him back to the days of his childhood—it was the same tree, grown big and strong, and with it the heart had grown large and the words were there strong and plain. They could not be removed without greatly marring the tree. Here are the heart and the words: [Add lines to revise Fig. 104 to Fig. 105.] As he looked upon the words, they thrilled him with tender emotions as he remembered that it was his mother who had taught him this beautiful sentiment. 'If I had written there an unkind word,' he reflected, 'that, too, would have been as permanent and lasting.'
"And now for the application: We are told that some fathers and mothers, through a false idea of what is of lasting good to their children, permit them, in their inexperience, to learn to do things in a way which will mean sorrow and anguish in the end. Of course, I understand that this could not ever happen to any of these fathers and mothers and these children! The application is for those who aren't here! If the boy rebels against school, he will bless, in later years, the hand which made his attendance compulsory. If he can see no harm in the use of unkind or offensive words, but is compelled by a loving parent to turn his mind and his speech to lofty things, he will later bless that one who saved him from his error. If, in the years when he has grown through babyhood and childhood to youth, a strong, but gentle, hand bars for him the way which leads to evil companions and bad habits, he will praise and bless that restraining hand when the years of discretion show him how close was his step to the brink of a fatal precipice.
"With the same hand which bars the way to wrong must the parent write the words, 'God is Love,' on the heart of each little one. The clear, pure truth cannot be told too often. In after years, as memory brings these children back to your loving arms, back to their little downy beds, they will be comforted with the realization that the words have become so deep-seated that nothing can eradicate them, even after death has closed their eyelids.
"Some one has described the eyes of a child as 'clear wells of undefiled thought,' and God forbid that as their eyes are lifted to ours, full of innocence and confidence, we should give them anything but the purest, most helpful truth as Christ reveals it to us. We pledge ourselves earnestly to do this."
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