THE CHILDREN FOR CHRIST.
'And when she saw that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months.'—Exod. ii. 2.
1 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months by his parents, because they saw he was a goodly child; and they were not afraid of the king's commandment.'—Heb. xi. 23.
THE story of Moses will lead us a step further in the study of the way in which the faith of parents will manifest itself in dealing with their children. It was faith that saw the goodliness of the child; it was faith that feared not the king's wrath; it was faith that hid the child and saved its life. In each child born of believing parents, faith sees the same goodliness, meets the same danger, and finds the same path of safety.
It was by faith Moses' parents saw he was a goodly child. The natural love of a parent's heart doubtless made the child a beautiful one in the mother's eye; but faith saw more than nature could. God opened the eyes, and there was the consciousness of something special, of a spiritual beauty, that made their babe doubly precious. And so the eye of faith sees in each little one a Divine goodliness. Is it not a being created in God's image, with the faint light of a Divine glory, of an immortal life, shining from it? Is it not an object of the great redemption; destined to be a partaker of the precious blood and the Holy Spirit of Jesus, to be the object of the joy of angels and God's everlasting love and pleasure 1 a child, whose worth exceeds that of the whole world? a child, that even in this life can be a brother of Jesus, a servant of God, a blessing for the immortal spirits of fellow-men? Surely faith may call the little one unspeakably fair, for it sees it shining as a jewel in the crown of the Lamb,—His joy and His glory. We have indeed a surer hope than ever Moses' parents had, and a brighter light in which the heavenly beauty of our little ones is reflected. O Father, open the eyes of all Thy people that, with each little babe Thou givest them, their faith may see that it is a goodly child.
It is faith that sees, but fears not the danger. Our children are still exposed to the same danger. Pharaoh had commanded that the children of God's people should all be destroyed. He knew that if the children were cut off, the people would soon die out. There would be no need of the trouble and danger of war; by a slow and silent but sure process the nation would be cut off. The Prince of this world still pursues the same policy. When parents take a decided stand for God, the world may despise or hate them; it soon learns that it is of little use to attempt to conquer them. But it knows a surer way. The spirit of the world claims possession of the children: if these are won, all are won. And too often, alas! Christian parents give their children a prey to the world. Children are allowed to grow up in comparative ignorance about the blessed Saviour, are entrusted to the care of irreligious or worldly teachers, are allowed to associate with those whose spirit and influence is altogether worldly. And in many a Christian home, where at one time, when the children were still young, all was earnest and decided; as they grew up, the tone became changed, and the power of religion was far less to be seen. And the Church, alas! is often too faithless or feeble to warn against it. How little it has realized that in the parental relation, and in baptism, it has a mighty hold on the Church of the future, and given to the instruction and encouragement of parents the prominent place its importance demands. To what a large extent the education of the young has been left to the State, and the secular school, and the spirit of the age, until the youthful heart has lost the simplicity and tenderness of which the Master spake when He said, ' Of such is the kingdom of heaven.' Oh! what thousands on thousands of the children of the kingdom are thus drowned in the mighty Nile of this world,—the fruitful stream of its pleasures and profits. Would God that the eyes of His people might be opened to the danger which threatens His Church! It is not infidelity or superstition, it is the spirit of worldliness in the homes of our Christian people, sacrificing the children to the ambition or society, to the riches or the friendship of the world, that is the greatest danger of Christ's Church. Were every home once won for Christ, a training-school for His service, we should find in this a secret of spiritual strength not less than all that ordinary preaching can accomplish.
It is faith that still finds the same path of safety. 'By faith Moses was hid by his parents.' They trusted God on behalf of this goodly child, one of the children of His covenant. 'By faith Moses was hid by his parents,'—these simple words tell us our duty, what our faith must do. Christian parent! hide thy child. And where? Oh, hide it in that safest refuge —' the shadow of the Almighty,' 'the secret of God's countenance.' Lay thy child from its birth daily there in faith, and let thy soul be filled with the consciousness that He has indeed taken charge of it. Let the mighty rock of God's strength and the tender covering of His feathers be its ark, while still it is all unconscious of temptation or danger. Let with the first dawn of reason, the clefts of the rock and the love of Jesus be the place of safety to which thou guidest its youthful feet. Hide it in the quiet of home life from the excitements of the world without, from the influence of a civilisation and culture which is of the earth. In that hiding, where the enemy cannot find, we have one of faith's highest duties. And when the time comes that it must come into contact with the world, oh! thou canst still entrust it to Him who is the Keeper of Israel,—let it be a settled thing with thy heart that He has accepted thy trust, has taken charge, and cannot disappoint thy faith. Commit thy child boldly to the waters in the ark of the covenant of thy God. Fear not the inexorable law which is continually being proclaimed,—' The children cannot be kept separate from the world— the children must go with the stream.' No, let faith hold it fast that thine are the children of a peculiar people, separated unto God; they must be kept separate for Him.
The reward of the faith of Moses' parents will be ours. Not only was Moses saved, he became the saviour of his people. Thy child, too, will not only be blessed, but also be made a blessing. Each child has not the calling of a Moses. But in His kingdom God needs not only a Moses, but a Moses' mother and a Moses' sister, for the fulfilment of His purposes. Let thy faith hut, like Moses' mother, do its work: God Himself will see to it that our labour is not in vain. The education Moses' mother gave her son during the years of his childhood was such as all the years of his training at Pharaoh's court could not obliterate. His parent's faith bore fruit in his faith, when he, at every cost, chose suffering with the people of God, and was not afraid of the wrath of the king, because he saw Him who is invisible. Let faith hide the child in the ark of God's love. Let faith, when God entrusts the child to its care, train the child for God and His people, and when the time comes that it must go into the world, were it even to live at Pharaoh's court, it will be safe in the power of faith and of God's keeping. A child of faith will not only receive a blessing for itself, but be a blessing to those around.
God grant that the Church may indeed become a' Moses' mother,' the faithful nurse of the children He entrusts to her care, 'hiding' them and keeping them separate from the world and its influence. He will give a wonderful fulfilment of the promise, wherever He finds the fulfilment of the duty: 'Take this child, nurse it for me: I will give thee thy wages.'
Gracious God! with my whole heart I thank Thee for the teaching of Thy Word, by which Thou preparest me to fulfil aright my holy calling as parent. I thank Thee for the example of Moses' parents, and pray that the grace that taught them in faith to save their child may be given to me too.
I acknowledge, Lord, that I do not sufficiently realize the value of my children, nor the danger to which they are exposed from the Prince and the Spirit of the world. Lord! teach me fully to recognise the danger and yet never to fear the commandment of the king. Open my eyes to see in the light of heaven that each little one is a goodly child, entrusted to my keeping and training for Thy work and kingdom. Help me in the humility and watchfulness and boldness of faith to keep them sheltered, to hide them from the power of the world and of sin. May my own life be the life of faith, hid with Christ in God, that my child may know no other dwelling-place.
And grant all this also to all Thy people, O my God. Let Thy Church awake to know her place in this world, and her calling to go out to the land to which God has called her. Let, in the training of the children, the mighty power of faith be seen, the difference between them that fear Thee and them that fear Thee not. O give us grace to rear our children for Thee. Amen.