And Reuben answered them, saying, Spoke I not to you, saying, Do not sin against the child; and you would not hear? therefore…
I. How MAY WE SIN AGAINST A CHILD?
1. We may sin against a child first of all by spoiling him. If the peach trees and plum trees that are nailed to the garden walls by a hundred little pieces of cloth could but think and speak, they might very likely say to the gardener so busily at work with the hammer — "Why fasten us up like this, and forbid our beautiful branches from running on the ground or playing in the breeze. How unkind it is to put so many restraints upon us and leave us so little liberty; let us just for this season run over the wall, along by the wall, or away from the wall, or any way we please." But the gardener, with a smile, would reply, "It is out of kindness I do it, not from mere caprice. Wait until the spring has glided into summer, and all thy branches are decked with snowy bloom. Wait until the summer has mellowed into autumn, and then when thy boughs are laden with fruit, which they never could have borne but for these restrictions, then you will see that all has been done for thy good and to make thy fruit the richer." So, parents, out of very kindness to the child you must sometimes say, "No," and place restrictions on him.
2. There is a second way in which you may sin against a child, the very reverse of that just mentioned, and it is by harshness.
3. A third way of sinning against a child is by bad example. It is Gilfillan who remarks that "any fault in a parent, any inconsistency, any disproportion between profession and practice, or precept and practice, falls upon the child's eye with the force and precision of sunbeams on a daguerreotype plate." On what other ground can you account for the awful proficiency in sin which you find in many a little one?
4. There is a fourth way of sinning against a child which I do not for a moment suppose is followed by any present. It is by selling a child for gain. Would that my Master might enable me to express in language strong enough the indignant thoughts that burn within my breast concerning this miserable traffic in children's souls. Joseph is not the only child that has been sold for a few pieces of silver. Do you ask me what I mean and to what I refer? I answer to the thoughtless wicked practice of setting the child to any kind of work, and placing him amidst any kind of companionship so as to have the benefit of the few pence he may earn. Better starve without it than live by it, for it is nothing less than blood money.
5. Our next point is one that will, I doubt not, include many present. You may sin against the child by neglecting the means for its salvation.
II. THERE ARE MANY REASONS WHY WE SHOULD NOT SIN AGAINST THE CHILD.
1. Sin not against him, because he is a child. If you must sin against some one, sin against one of your own size and strength, but it is a dastardly thing and Cowardly to sin against a child. The little thing's innocence ought to be its safe. guard, and its very weakness should prove its protection.
2. Sin not against the child, because by so doing you may blast his whole life. You may with your foot so alter the course of that tiny little mountain rivulet that, instead of flowing gently down and widening as it goes until it glides through the smiling valley, refreshing thirsty man and beast, it leaps from rock to rock, from crag to crag, falling at last with hideous roar clown some black precipice. Oh, the fatal result of turning its course so near the spring.
3. Do not sin, moreover, against the child, because children are Christ's favourites. He ever showed a peculiar sympathy with and care over children.
(A. G. Brown.)
His blood is required. —
Parallel VersesKJV: And Reuben answered them, saying, Spake I not unto you, saying, Do not sin against the child; and ye would not hear? therefore, behold, also his blood is required.