Among the most interesting of the many deep mysteries that invite inquiry, above, around, and within us, one, not the least attractive to me, has long been the communion, that an infant soul, or rather the soul of an infant, holds with its God. To deny the existence of such communion would be rash—to substantiate such denial, I think, would be impossible. Even those who limit infant salvation to the seed of believers, and to the baptized, which I do not, must own that the disembodied spirit of an infant can become a participator in the joys of heaven, however early it may be called away; and surely, in an earthly creature, shapen in wickedness, conceived in sin, and born under the curse, with the latent seeds of every evil inherent in its nature, there must be a work wrought, to fit it for the habitations of unsullied purity and everlasting joy. That a soul must be regenerate by the power of the Holy Ghost, before it can enter the kingdom of heaven, is readily admitted: and that God can so regenerate a child, even before its eyes have opened to behold the light of day, we have distinct proof in Scripture. His work accomplished, will any one venture to assert, that, because the undeveloped state of the mental faculties, and feebleness of the bodily organs, preclude the manifestation to us of what is passing between the soul and its God, therefore nothing does pass ? I cannot believe it. I remember an instance of a confirmed idiot, whose faculties up to the age of thirty or forty, had acquired no greater degree of expansion than was seen in the cradle ; but who, during her last illness, at that age, gave most incontestible proofs of a glorious work wrought in her soul, by the power of divine grace, which she seemed enabled to communicate to those about her, for their special encouragement in tasks so apparently hopeless : for, in other things, she was an idiot to the last. Now, of all cases, the infant and the idiot most nearly assimilate—I speak, of course, of extremely young infants—and I am assured that God can—that he does—work in the soul, without the customary medium of the bodily and mental faculties. Who, by searching, can here trace his steps ? No one : but it is a very sweet thought to engage us over the cradle of a baby; sweeter still, when we look upon its coffin.
When the Lord has willed it, that some tender babe should be carried to his bosom, before it has tasted the cup of mental or spiritual distress, this work goes on. Those who choose, may limit it to a particular class: I firmly believe it of every child of Adam, whose days are numbered and ended before " they by reason of use, have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil." I do not suppose that an early death brings them necessarily within the bonds of the covenant: but I do believe that, being chosen in Christ, along with others, before the foundation of the world, these infants are mercifully spared the stern conflict awaiting those who are brought up for the church militant; they are caught away to swell the countless multitude of the church triumphant. In this contemplation, I see, as it were, unnumbered victims continually rescued from the grasp of Satan, in those regions of the earth whose inhabitants sit in darkness and in the shadow of death: and I rejoice, that in no quarter of this magnificent globe is his empire perfect; his power unresisted; or the prey safe within his iron grasp. Such views must be, in a measure, speculative; but their foundation is the sure word of God, from which this sweet and soothing doctrine can very fairly be educed. My own mind is not troubled with a doubt upon the subject; and very few things does this visible world afford that draw from my heart such a full and fervent Hallelujah, as the tiny coffin, with its little white pall, carried perhaps, under the arm of a sorrowful father, while the mother or sister steps behind, in tears of natural grief. I can weep with them, for it is a sore trial to a parent's heart: but over the baby I do and jnust rejoice, writh joy unspeakable and full of glory.
There is a little flower of exquisite delicacy, which springs up among the heath and rough grass, in uncultivated spots. Its form is that of a single bell, closely resembling the Canterbury bell of our gardens, and its texture transparently fine. The stem rises perhaps two inches from the ground, and there, in the attitude of a snow-drop, depends this soft little cup, dissimilar in many respects from the well-known blue-bell of the heaths, and wearing the grey tint of its kindred autumnal sky, rather than the sprightly azure of summer. The aspect of this wild-flower is so infantile, so fragile, so etherial, that we wonder to recognize it among the hardy heather, and the rugged grasses where it usually dwells. We see it in our path one day; the next it is gone, leaving no perceptible vacancy among its thickly-spread neighbours, except to the eye of those who marked its lovely form unfolding to the bleak winds, and anticipated how short a sojourn such a thing of gossamer would make in such a clime.
I have loved this little flower from childhood, and have often stepped aside to avoid placing my foot upon its innocent-looking head : but I never connected it, until very recently, with a living object. That association has, however, been formed; and fondly shall I henceforth welcome the pale, solitary blue-bell of the hills—it now typifies one of the loveliest and most touching links that connect this dark, rough world with the pure and shining habitations above.
They say that all babies are alike; it is not true: for, to one who observes them with the intense interest that they merit, there is, even among the newly-born, an endless, boundless variety. There is a trait of grandeur, proper to the offspring of man's majestic race, while yet unconscious of the workings of inbred sin, that throws over them a general aspect peculiar to that privileged age; but it is like the sun-beam upon a garden of dewy flowers—a general brilliancy sparkling over all, and by no means affecting their individuality of character. None of them have yet put on the external livery of Satan, though all are born in bondage to his yoke : but some have received the secret seal of adoption, and are passing onward to the kingdom of glory, never to know the defiling touch of the wicked one. Elect, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, destined for an early entrance into the inheritance of the saints in light, born into visible existence, washed, sanctified, justified, by a process equally rapid, mysterious, and sublime, they pass before our eyes, and glide away to the bosom of their God. Most happy, most privileged of all created beings, save only the angels who, having never fallen under the condemnation of disobedience, know not the drop of bitterness that extorts a cry from the new-born babe.