These traits are to have a fierce fight for life as, with the growing years, the child comes more into contact with life, and as his powers of observation and absorption grow. Acquaintance with sin and wrong and wavering moral standards, will threaten his native purity. Knowledge of danger and of the evil purposes of men breeds fear and distrust. Consciousness of self and of one's powers will tend very decidedly to teeter over into an undue sense of one's value.
With that will likely come an increasing lack of consciousness of God, through whose presence and touch only, can come full power in our native gifts. The artificial standards which run all through life will lay sharp, steady siege to his simplicity. Prejudices and superstitions and half-truths which he has accepted as purest gospel will seriously affect that rare openness of mind. -This is in some part a picture of the child as he comes to us fresh from the hand of God. Sin and fear, self-seeking and artificial distinctions, and the mind closed or partially closed by prejudice and misinformation and half-knowledge, are all acquired by touch with man, after he has left the hand of God.
God is still setting the child in our midst that we may learn all anew the rare likeness in which we were made. This is the fine maturity of character to grow in knowledge of life, and yet to retain the early winsome child traits.
To know sin, and yet keep pure; to know of danger and difficulty and the need of being keenly alert against them, and yet be unfaltering in one's trust of the Father, and the outcome; to take one's place in the ranks, and play the full part assigned us with good self-reliance and full use of one's gifts, and yet to have the Master in so big that the thought of one's self falls into its true place, this is great achievement.
To know the proper, needful conventionalities and fit into them, and yet retain the sweet simplicity of the child spirit; to recognize the true worth of a man under all veneerings, and do full deference to all the Father's other children regardless of the accidental, outer trappings of gold or patch; and, maybe rarest of all, to keep an open mind to truth, in the midst of all the unconscious prejudices and preconceptions, from which no one seems wholly free,—all of this is to be growing up into the fine image of God. It is slow growth, too, but it may be sure and steady, And it takes very close companioning with the Original of the image, too. But He is very eager for that.
This child character is a bit of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. That glory, in the desert cloud and on the mount, in the shifting Tent and the Solomon temple, always cast an awe over the spirits of men as they looked. The heavens above, and the earth beneath, are telling that wondrous glory by night and by day. But His glory was seen most when Jesus walked among men in His simple, true humanity.
It is seen most to-day in the man and woman who in their fine matured strength retain these babe traits. And that glory may be seen daily in our midst, in the babe, with his sweet purity and unfailing trust, his humility and simplicity and openness. The babe is a new spirit fresh from the touch and from the presence of God, with His great wondrous glory just fresh upon his life.
"And sometimes I can plainly see
A glory fills the nursery;
The morning star shines in his eyes;
He answers far-off harmonies
With notes ethereal, exquisite,
So tender, joyous, thrilling-sweet,
The spirit's inward ear they reach
And tell me things past human speech." (Ella Broadus Robertson.)