Christ discovered and revealed the child. That discovery and revelation are so familiar to us now, and His view of children has so permeated Christendom, and even the world, that we with difficulty realise that this was His revelation, and that out of it comes His stringent commandment concerning the child. It is almost incredible to those who do not think that, in the Roman world, the most advanced civilisation when Christ came, it was entirely optional whether a parent “ took up,” as it was called, and decided to rear, his own child. If he chose to strangle it and to throw it away, there was no law, no religion, no public sentiment to forbid him. Into that hard Roman world Christ came, and with unspeakable tenderness for children He took them in His arms and blessed them. He rebuked the rude, unfeeling grown-up people who would keep them back. He unveiled the amazing truth that “ their angels do always behold the face of the Father in heaven.” And He inveighed against anyone who should cause one of them to stumble, declaring that it would be better for such an one to have a great millstone tied to his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. It was tremendous ! It even sounds exaggerated. But such was the callousness of men about child life, and such was His own sense of its sacredness, that He took these strong measures to transform human judgments. And He succeeded. He changed the whole world’s opinion about children. And when the story of His own birth and infancy was consecrated in the exquisite stories which two of the evangelists took pains to record, the revolution of feeling was secured for all time. In b.c. a child might without offence be cast on the rubbish-heap. 198In a.d. every child came under the aureole of the Infant Jesus ; the innocents whom Herod slew at the time of His birth were regarded as holy, while the tyrant who slew them was treated as the worst of murderers. From that day onwards infanticide became in the eyes of men a sin, and even in the eyes of the law a crime. The holy water of baptism was put upon the children as soon as possible after their birth, to indicate that Christ claimed them and that they were born into His new spiritual kingdom of love and mercy. The age of the child had come, with the coming of the Child Jesus. And slowly, though alas ! so slowly, men have begun to realise the reverence due to children, not only to boys who are already adolescent and revealing the promise of a future (that reverence was recognised by Aristotle, and was not unfamiliar even in Rome), but to the infant at the moment of birth, and even before birth, from the moment of conception.