Everybody can bring up incidents here full of sweet teachings. A young father was wakened early one morning, while it was still dark, by his young son in the cradle at his side, asking for a drink. When his thirst was satisfied, and the father had lain down again, the little fellow asked if he might sing. But his singing became so lusty that an embargo had to be put upon the service of song for the sake of the other sleepers.
There was silence for a brief moment. Then it was broken again by the child's voice. "Father." "Yes, little lad." "Is your face turned this way?" And, with his heart strangely stirred and warmed, the father tenderly said, "Yes, laddie." And the night shined as the light, for the boy, because of his father's face. Ah! If we would remember that the Father's face is always turned this way. If ever we don't see clearly, it is because of our face's turning, not His.
One evening a little girl went to her father with a troubled face, and quivering lip, and said, "Papa, is God dead?" He was a Christian man, but had grown cold in his Christian life. One evidence of it was that family prayers in which he had once been faithful, had been omitted entirely. When the troubled face looked up into his with the strange question, he was surprised, and said, "Why, no, dear, why do you ask such a question?" "Because you never talk to Him any more the way you used to do." And the little unconscious preacher for God, with her troubled eyes, led her father into a new life.
A little fellow was just learning to spell, and was eagerly using his new knowledge all the time. His father was an infidel of the common sort that boasts of the infidelity and tries to push it on others. He had hung up a motto on the wall of his house. It read, "God is nowhere."
The child's eye wandered to the motto, and he commenced spelling: "G-o-d God, i-s is, n-o-w now, h-e-r-e here. God is now here." If a voice had suddenly spoken out of the clouds the father could not have been more surprised at the new meaning of his motto, nor more startled in spirit. His early training had been Christian. The result was that he adopted his son's spelling for life. "A little child shall lead them." (Isa_11:6 <http://www.crossbooks.com/verse.asp?ref=Isa+11:6>.) Is not the child God's best preacher?
A widowed mother was talking with her four-year-old daughter one evening. The father had died when the child was but a babe. The mother felt her loss very keenly. She had taught the little one faithfully about Jesus, and His care of us. And the teaching was taken with all the literalness of a child's understanding and interpretation.
This evening the mother was a bit depressed in spirit, and talking half to the child, and half to herself, she exclaimed, "Oh! I don't know how we shall ever get along without father." And God's little preacher looked up into her mother's face so earnestly and said so simply, "Why, mother, Jesus will take care of us." And a new warming sense of the power of what she had taught her daughter came into the mother's heart to steady and strengthen her, and still abides with her.
"A tender child of summers three,
Seeking her little bed at night,
Paused on the dark stair timidly.
'Oh! mother! take my hand,' said she,
'And then the dark will all be light.'
"We older children grope our way
From dark behind to dark before
And only when our hands we lay,
Dear Lord, in Thine, the night is day,
And there is darkness nevermore.
"Reach downward to the sunless days,
Wherein our guides are blind as we,
And faith is small and hope delays;
Take Thou the hands of prayer we raise,
And let us feel the light of Thee!" (John Greenleaf Whittier.)
And the babe is not limited in his blessed preaching to the immediate family circle. His influence upon the outer life of the world is immense. He affects the whole world's life through the inner circle. And he touches that outer circle directly, too, with a peculiarly potent subtle touch. Wherever a babe is taken, men will pay him deference. They will give special deference to a mother because of the babe in her arms. The look of that little new face influences all sorts of men and women far more than they show, and really more than they know.
"Full hard his face; for pelf and place,
Rough rivalry in bargains keen
Had made a man the mere machine
To grind and get of profits net
Enough to keep his balance clean.
To such a face a baby smiled;
The thing of iron became a child!
"Full false her face; with rapid pace
The alchemy of Fashion's wiles,
Transforming graces into guiles,
Made beauty's tryst, once angel-kissed,
The sportive haunt of hollow smiles.
Yet lo, when baby laughed and cooed
A soul from out that face was wooed!
"So any face, how low or base,
How marred or scarred by any ill,
To semblance of God's image will
Return again the instant when
Of baby's smile it drinks its fill.
For baby's smile is Love's device
To lure us back to Paradise!" (Louis M.) Waterman.)