Let the baptized child then be looked upon as already belonging to Christ. Let the parents not worry as though it could not be His until it experiences a change of heart. That heart has been changed. The germs of faith and love are there. If the parent appreciates this fact and does his part, there will be developed, very early, the truest confidence and trust in Christ, and the purest love to God. From the germs will grow the beautiful plant of child-trust and child-love. The graces of the new life may be thus early drawn out, so that the child, in after years, will never know of a time when it did not trust and love, and as a result of this love, hate sin. This is the ideal of God’s Word. It is the ideal which every Christian parent should strive to realize in the children given by God, and given to God in His own ordinance. How can it be done? Of this, more in the next chapter.
HOME INFLUENCE AND TRAINING
IN THEIR RELATION TO
THE KEEPING OF THE BAPTISMAL COVENANT.
According to the last chapter, it is indeed a high and holy ideal that every Christian parent should set before him in regard to his children. Every child that God gives to a Christian parent is to be so treated that, from the hour of its baptism, it is to be a son or daughter of God. It is to be so fostered and nurtured and trained that, from its earliest self-consciousness, it is to grow day by day in knowledge and in Grace. As it increases in stature, so it is to increase in wisdom and in favor with God and man.
In order that this may be realized, it is first of all necessary that there be the proper surroundings. We cannot expect that parent to draw out these graces of the new life in the child, who is not himself imbued with a spirit of living faith and fervent love to Christ. In the beautiful words of Luthardt: “Religion must first approach the child in the form of life, and afterward in the form of instruction. Let religion be the atmosphere by which the child is surrounded, the air which it breathes. The whole spirit of the home, its order, its practice—that world in which the child finds himself so soon as he knows himself—this it is which must make religion appear to him a thing natural and self-evident.”
And this is especially important for the mother. It is while resting on the mother’s bosom and playing at the mother’s knee, that the child is receiving impressions that are stones for character building. The father, of course, is not released from responsibility. He too is to set a holy example, to make impressions for good and to use all his influence to direct the thoughts and inclinations of the child upward. The man who does not help in the religious training of his own children is not fit to be a father. But it is after all with the mother that the little child spends most of its time and receives most of its impressions. Oh, that every mother were a Hannah, an Elizabeth, an Eunice. Then would there be more Samuels, Johns and Timothys. Let us have more of the spirit of Christ in the heart of the mother and father, and in the home. Let the child learn, with the first dawnings of self-consciousness, that Jesus is known and loved and honored in the home, and there will be no trouble about the future.