Shall we gather about the child with the Master Himself in our midst, and listen anew to some of the teaching? There are certain simple traits that stand out in the child character before the hurt of sin has gotten in enough to spoil or destroy them.
First of all is purity. There is no thought of evil in the child mind. The circumstance, or word, or incident, or presence, that suggests evil of some sort to others is wholly free of any such suggestion to him. To the pure all things are pure. To the pure thought of the child all life is pure. The thing that suggests to many an opportunity of indulging some wrong desire, or ascribing a wrong motive, is quite free of that thought to his pure mind.
This suggests at once how unnatural a thing sin is. Evil must be taught to the child by speech, or example, or absorption, else he will not know it. The purity of early childhood is one of God's Eden gifts, and tells us constantly of the purity that belongs to us, and that we may have again.
And a child's trust is wonderful beyond any comparison. No words can tell how simply and fully he trusts, nor what a blessing the trusting spirit is. His trust is simple and full. No suspicion ever enters in. No sense of fear intrudes its disturbing presence. The trust is all the more striking because he must depend wholly upon others for everything. A child never knows fear until he is taught it. His fearlessness in the presence of danger is superb, and is itself a powerful defence against the danger.
And then the trait to which the Master called special attention that day is most marked. Nothing can surpass the child-spirit of humility. There is an utter absence of any self-thinking or self-seeking. There is a fine lack of self-consciousness. The child has not yet become conscious of himself. There is no self-fire burning in his eye. His humility thus far is perfect. Humility is lack of self-consciousness. The child thinks wholly of others, so far as he has wakened up enough to think at all.
And simplicity adds its great charm. There is a perfect naturalness and frank directness about a child that is wholly unaffected. The conventional standards and requirements of life are blessedly unknown, and so cannot disturb. There is no democratic simplicity equal to a child's. He knows no distinction of class or rank. Everyone is taken wholly upon his own merits. Man's stamp on the guinea is wholly ignored. Only the gold attracts. The child is the greatest of all levellers. All comers are received on the same footing.
And fully as marked as these, and as attractive, is the child's remarkable openness, his open-mindedness to all that comes. Indeed, he seems to be nothing but a huge opening, eagerly accepting and absorbing all that comes. He takes in all that comes as purest gospel. His questions are proverbial. And he is a wise parent who takes utmost pains to answer every question thoughtfully, and intelligently, and yet in simplest language, as he must do; even though it seem like taking a protracted postgraduate university course, with more variety than any such course ever knew.