Thursday, July 9, 2009


"Except ye become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven."
—Matt. xviii. 3.

Of Robert Louis Stevenson Mr. Sidney Colvin writes that "it was part of his genius that he never seemed to be cramped, like the rest of us, within the limits of his proper age, but to be child, boy, young man, and old man all at once." And Jesus bids me be sure that I keep the young lamb's heart amid the full-grown flocks.

I look into the face of the child. There are no hard and haughty lines of pride, there is no blatant self-assertion, in the features. Modesty is written there. And can I get back my vanished humility? I can. God the Spirit creates it when, in my conversion, He teaches me to abhor myself. And He fosters it more and more, as He confirms in me the conviction that not for a moment dare I dispense with God my Saviour and Keeper and Friend.

I survey the mind of the child. It is teachable. It comes soon to be aware of its ignorance, and it hungers and thirsts for knowledge of every description. And is there a mind anywhere, that God has touched, which does not feel itself in the presence of problems still to be deciphered, mysteries waiting to be unfolded, great tracts of truth of which it knows little? I have parted with the delusion of my own wisdom. I sit at the feet of my Prophet Christ.

I peer into the imagination of the child. It lives in a realm of miracle. " The corn was orient and immortal wheat," says Thomas Traherne ; " I thought it had stood from everlasting to everlasting. The dust and stones of the street were as precious as gold. The gates were the end of the world." As I grow older, I pass out of the magical country. But when I listen to the Holy Ghost, I am amongst the marvels of grace ; and they are more extraordinary than the marvels I have left behind. The sense of wonder is reborn.

I remember the affections of the child. They are the shrine of love, love unbounded and enthusiastic and outspoken. By and by I am less frank and more reticent. Convention, if not cynicism, has frozen the love-look in the eyes and the love-speech on the tongue. Is there anything that will break the ice? Yes, the sight of God's grace in Christ will. That brings back the spring. That makes my heart grateful, susceptible, responsive.

I note the hand of the child. It is not feverish and unquiet. It trusts. It lies in the father's hand, certain that the father will lead it aright. To the same peace and unruffled faith the new birth should conduct me. Confiding in Christ's Father and mine, I ought to have no gloomy fears, about either my outward or my eternal well-being. My feeble hand lies in His; His mighty hand is clasped round mine.

"Behold, my childhood is dead!" St. Augustine laments. But may my childhood be begotten anew into undying life. May I tread again that ancient track.


"And Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God."
—Gen. iii. 8.

Sin has entered my world and my heart.

I describe man's first disobedience as the Fall. Never was there a truer word. This is the melancholy Fall of falls. This is an unnatural movement. This is a descent from the shining tablelands to the saddest depths. I was made upright; but I sought out many inventions. I was meant to look upward to the skies ; but I permitted Satan to bind me with a spirit of infirmity, and now my gaze is fastened on the ground beneath my feet. God desired me to walk with Him in a Paradise of holiness and obedience and use and praise; but I spurned so high a sphere and sacred a fellowship, and turned my face to what is lower and worse. Have I not travelled down and down? Am I not chargeable with debasement, depravity, degeneracy?

I acknowledge that it is not the popular idea of sin. The literature of imagination—much of the fiction of my time and some of its poetry—is skillful in painting the wicked thing, until it appears gay and brilliant and free. There are philosophies and theologies which apologise for it, and teach me to view it almost as a necessity for my fuller life, or as a halting-place in the march of my soul to what is higher and holier. Society has a hundred affectations and excuses that hide its foulness, as I read of Greek assassins who concealed their death-bringing daggers under the greenery of myrtle leaves. It is a fall upward, I am told, and not a fall downward. On the Amazon a famous naturalist discovered a spider which spread itself out as a flower ; but the insects lighting on it found destruction instead of sweetness and honey. My sin is my sin, evil, poisonous, fatal, although it transmutes itself into an angel of goodness.

It is best for me to give it its proper name, best to admit sorrowfully that I have fallen from my original estate of righteousness and kinghood. If the process is unnatural, if it is a reversal of God's intention for me and a contradiction of my chief end, surely the likelihood is that it will be remedied, and that some way of return will be devised by which I can go back to the loftier levels I have left. If there has been descent, will there not be ascent as well ? Because I have wandered so very far from my first love, an almighty wisdom and power will be required to accomplish my recovery. Because my downgoing has been so wilful and deliberate, a divine grace must interpose on my behalf. But the primal will of my Lord for me cannot be finally defeated. And my Fall will have its check and stop and ending, when I repair by faith to the Seed of the woman Who bruises the head of the serpent.

A " greater Man restores us, and regains the blissful seat." Since my case is desperate, I will put all my trust in Him.