IV. Not as a Child.

"I do not know how that may be," said the mother, lifting her head, and looking through almost blinding tears, into the face of her friend. "The poet may be right, and, "Not as a child shall I again behold him, but the thought brings no comfort. I have lost my child, and my heart looks eagerly forward to a reunion with him in heaven; to the blessed hour when I shall again hold him in my arms."

"As a babe?"

"Oh, yes. As a darling babe, pure, and beautiful as a cherub."

"But would you have him linger in babyhood forever?" asked the friend.

The mother did not reply.

"Did you expect him always to remain a child here? Would perpetual infancy have satisfied your maternal heart? Had you not already begun to look forward to the period when intellectual manhood would come with its crowning honors?"

"It is true," sighed the mother.

"As it would have been here, so will it be there. Here, the growth of his body would have been parallel, if I may so speak, with the growth of his mind. The natural and the visible would have developed in harmony with the spiritual and the invisible. Your child would have grown to manhood intellectually, as well as bodily. And you would not have had it otherwise. Growth--development--the going on to perfection, are the laws of life; and more emphatically so as appertaining to the life of the human soul. That life, in all its high activities, burns still in the soul of your lost darling, and he will grow, in the world of angelic spirits to which our Father has removed him, up to the full stature of an angel, a glorified form of intelligence and wisdom. He cannot linger in feeble babyhood; in the innocence of simple ignorance; but must advance with the heavenly cycles of changing and renewing states."

"And this is all the comfort you bring to my yearning heart?" said the mother. "My darling, if all you say be true, is lost to me forever."

"He was not yours, but God's." The friend spoke softly, yet with a firm utterance.

"He was mine to love," replied the bereaved one.

"And your love would confer upon its precious object the richest blessings. Dear friend! Lift your thoughts a little way above the clouds that sorrow has gathered around your heart, and let perception come into an atmosphere radiant with light from the Sun of Truth. Think of your child as destined to become, in the better world to which God has removed him, a wise and loving angel. Picture to your imagination the higher happiness, springing from higher capacities and higher uses, which must crown the angelic life. Doing this, and loving your lost darling, I know that you cannot ask for him a perpetual babyhood in heaven."

"I will ask nothing for him but what 'Our Father' pleaseth to give," said the mother, in calmer tones. "My love is selfish, I know. I called that babe mine--mine in the broadest sense--yet he was God's, as every other creature is his--one of the stones in his living temple--one of the members of his kingdom. It does not comfort me in my great sorrow to think that, as a child, I shall not again behold him, but rays of new light are streaming into my mind, and I see things in new aspects and new relations. Out of this deep affliction good will arise."

"Just as certainly," added the friend, "as that the Sun shines and the dew falls. It will be better for you, and better for the child. To both will come a resurrection into higher and purer life."