When the life shall learn that the most blessed joy that inheres in right actions is not human approval but God’s favor, and for His sake, with face steadfastly set, the right is followed, even though shorn of all external attractiveness, the highest development possible for a soul has been realized.
The Sunday School is such an important factor in religious training that a special application of the foregoing discussion to its methods and work seems wise. It is evident that plans can not be detailed, but only some principles underlying the methods be suggested.
In the first department known as the Cradle Roll, nurture can be given by the Sunday School only as it touches the parents. Any Cradle Roll work that culminates in the sentiment of securing the babies’ names and calling them, “Our Sweet Peas”, has missed its purpose. A peculiar opportunity comes with the flood tide of new parental love. “If I had not been a Christian when my boy was born, I could very easily have been led to Christ, my heart was so tender and full of gratitude,” said the father of an only son.
The Sunday School will nurture its babes through choosing as Cradle Roll Superintendent, a consecrated Christian woman, trained in the school of life’s experience, who can come close to other mothers because she, too, has known the valley of the shadow and the sacred joy of a new born life in her arms. A unique opportunity is hers to lead the parents to Christ or into closer fellowship with Him, and to help them understand the meaning of the life He has lent them.
The Beginners’ Department will care for the years between three and six. Nurture will be concerned first with the teacher.
The Teacher.—The child’s conception of Christ will be what he sees in the teacher. He can not conceive of any love or tenderness or gentleness greater than appears in her. A mother came to the teacher of her little boy one day and said, “John was playing on the floor this afternoon, and all at once he stopped and watched me, and then said, ’Mamma, I wish you were as much like Jesus as my teacher is’” The lesson, the music, the prayer and all the differentiation of the day and place tend to elevate the teacher above those who share his daily life, and envelop her with an atmosphere more mystic and holy. She is connected not with clothes and bread and butter episodes, but wholly with the thought of Jesus, and stands by His side in the child’s thought and love, and if he love not the teacher whom he has seen, he can not love God whom he has not seen. Even the physical charm of the teacher will make his picture of the Christ more beautiful. Nurture demands above all else that the teacher of a Beginners’ Class suggest “One altogether lovely,” to the sensitive, imaginative and imitative soul of the child, for her message to him is ever silently, but irresistibly, “Be ye imitators of me as I am of Christ.”