It is with earnest desire to help some parent or teacher in the divine work of soul nurture, that this volume is offered. There is no attempt to add to knowledge in Child Study or Psychology, but rather to interpret certain of their fundamental facts and principles with reference to Religious Training.
Fundamental principles of development.
Row upon row they stretched, fifteen acres of regal chrysanthemums, roses pink, yellow, white and red, fragile lilies of the valley, carnations and vivid orchids, no two alike, yet all expressions of plant life. Skilled gardeners from England and Germany were busy with these exquisite flower children, watering, pruning and training upon slender cords, that every bud might come to perfect unfolding. The laws of the plant world and the law of each individual flower were well known to them. They knew that all required sunshine and soil, warmth and moisture, but in varying amount. The chrysanthemums grew in the sunlight, while only a few days before cutting could the lilies of the valley be released from their darkened beds. All needed cultivation but not in the same way. Some were massed, while yonder were thousands of carnations, and every one sole monarch of its own little garden plot. Painstakingly and completely, day after day, the needs of each frail life were met, until the flowers grown in this greatest of Canadian greenhouses have become renowned far across the border for their unsurpassed beauty, coloring and size.
The quiet walk between the glorious masses of bloom that October afternoon brought a vision of a greater Child garden, with an infinite variety of human plants to be tended, every one with its own individuality, needs, possibilities and a divine purpose for it cherished in the heart of the Heavenly Gardener. The work of nurture He has given to parents and teachers, longing unspeakably that it shall be so wise and tender that His plan for every life may be realized.
But as the earnest soul takes up the task, it seems so bewildering. “Three little ones in the home, and every one different! Ten boys in the Sunday School class and no two alike! Where does nurture begin? How is it carried on?”
Though the differences in human lives are countless, there are certain great likenesses. All have life, needs, possibilities; they all grow and develop in the same general way. From these common likenesses have been formulated a few principles which are as helpful to a child gardener as a knowledge of the laws of plant life to one who nurtures roses and carnations. Their understanding is not dependent upon physical parenthood. God will interpret the meaning to any one whom He calls into fellowship with Himself in the matchless work of soul culture.
I. The First Principle deals with the nature of life—What is it? Some answer must be given in order to arrive at an aim, a method, and an inspiration for work. If a child is only a beautiful figure upon which to display dainty garments, the mother has a plain pathway marked out for her. If a boy is a capacity to be filled, or a machine to grind out facts or dollars, the teacher’s course of action is clear.