The GOSPEL TRUTH
THE TRAINING OF CHILDREN ....OR,
HOW TO MAKE THE CHILDREN INTO
SAINTS AND SOLDIERS OF JESUS CHRIST
GENERAL OF THE SALVATION ARMY
1888 - SECOND EDITION
1. Having explained in the last chapter the difference between training and teaching, will you show more particularly in what respect this training is to be given?
Children must be trained in habits favourable to their happiness, usefulness, and Salvation.
2. What do you mean by habit?
I mean that something within us which leads us to do a thing or leave a thing undone one time, because we have done that thing or left it undone many times before. That is to say, a child getting up at an early hour for several mornings together, will find it easy, if he does not actually prefer, to get up at that hour in future.
3. Are people very much influenced in their conduct by habit?
Yes, very much so, and no persons more so than children. Almost everybody do things not so much because they ought to do them as from custom, or, in other words, because they have done them frequently before. Therefore, make it the habit of your children to do right. Do this when they are young. "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it" is only an illustration of this. Habits formed in childhood are stronger by far than those formed in riper years.
4. Is there any one habit in a child which you consider of greater importance than any other?
Yes; perhaps there is none of such infinite value, both to the welfare of the child and to the happiness and welfare of, everyone about him, as that of obedience.
5. What do you mean by obedience?
I MEAN THAT THE CHILD SHALL DO EXACTLY AS HE IS TOLD WITHOUT HESITATION, AND THAT THIS OBEDIENCE SHALL BE RENDERED WITHOUT ANY CONSIDERATION OF PUNISHMENT OR REWARD.
6. What is intended by training in obedience?
I mean that the habit and custom of obedience must be so created and strengthened in the child that he shall find it natural and easy to obey those in authority over him so far as he has ability to do so.
7. Is not the training of children in this habit of ready and joyful obedience very important?
Most certainly. In fact, the want of it is perhaps the reason for the greater number of those deplorable failures in training which we see in every direction both in the religious world and outside of it. You may teach and pray, weep over and labour for the happiness and Salvation of your children in the most self-sacrificing manner, and use every other means to promote their welfare, but without a willing and joyful spirit of obedience to your wishes and commands, all will be thrown away. Without this spirit there is little room to hope for the happiness of your children either in this world or the next.
Here is the ground on which ordinarily the first battle in the right training of children has to be fought, and the sooner it is begun and over in your favour, the better both for you and them.
Pushed to a point, the question may be put--Shall a child grow up with the notion that he is to have his own way or your way? He will want the former, and in many cases will make a very strong fight for it; but you must hold out,-have no compromise, have no half measures. He must come to understand that it is for his own good and for every body else's good that he shall accept your will and word as his law, and do as you wish and command, whether he likes it or not, and that without any reasoning or questioning whatever.
8. Is it not surprising that in many families where there is so much religious teaching and prayer, and real devotion, all parental authority is set at naught, or nearly so?
Yes; there are few things more surprising, except it be the pitiable wailing and lamentation set up every now and then by parents, concerning their own helplessness in the matter. For, alas! it is no uncommon thing to see children, and not very old ones either, who not only disregard the authority of their parents, but openly ridicule any occasional claims such parents may make in the vain attempt to gain any respect or obedience. And this occurs in families where the children are supposed to be in the process of quite a religious training. At home, abroad, at work, at play, the children will either regard commands with indifference, or they will argue, and contradict, or set up their own judgment in opposition, and flatly refuse to comply. In other instances, where the children are too young to argue and contradict in words, they will whine and cry and throw -themselves about with passionate exclamations, making their parents, and everybody else who happen to be present to witness their humiliation, supremely wretched. Instead of the parents, such little untaught children show themselves to be the masters of the situation.
9. But does not the absence of obedience to the authority of parents lead to much misery?
Yes, alas! it is the certain cause of much wretchedness. Show me a family where the children constantly contend for their own way, and where they have their own way, and I will show you a family of misery already begun-wait a bit, and it will be perfected. Show me a family-from the youngest child, just old enough to know his right hand from his left, up to the oldest, a strapping young fellow, far on in his teens-where each member accepts without demur the will of father and mother as their own, and honours that will with a loving, faithful obedience, and I will show you a family possessed of peace and strength and usefulness and happiness here-a family on the highway to have all this blessedness completed in Paradise
Spoiled, self-willed children make their homes miserable while young, and break the hearts of their parents in riper years. They grow up utterly unfit to become husbands or wives or parents themselves; and too often, unless prevented by the strong arm of God's mercy, as soon as left to themselves, throw off all regard for His rule, and end in damnation in the world to come. There, alas! it is to be feared, they not unfrequently meet their foolish, overindulgent parents, to reproach them for withholding that necessary and legitimate authority, which, under God, might have saved them from such a fate.
10. How to all this to be remedied; or rather, how is this misery to be prevented?
Let it be the law of your house, that under all and every circumstance, your wishes as a parent shall be obeyed. You axe responsible to God for the character and consequences of your commands, and also for seeing them carried out; and you will be called upon in the last great day to say how this duty has been discharged. You must, therefore, see the importance of this habit of obedience in your child, and be determined to have it formed.
Consider the matter well. Think how helpless a captain would be in the command or guidance of his ship unless he could rely upon the uniform obedience of his crew. Think how helpless an officer would be in the day of battle unless he could reckon with every confidence on the fulfilment of his orders by his troops. And in your home think how powerless you will be to guide your children, and establish them in habits of duty, love, and righteousness towards God and man, unless you can reckon, under all. circumstances, upon unbroken, unswerving obedience.
11. I presume, then, you mean that before the child comes to understand his duty to obey GOD, he must be made to obey his PARENTS and those in authority over him?
Exactly so. As we have observed before, a parent stands in the place of God to his child, and is regarded with his first opening intelligence with all the awe and reverence his little mind is capable of. If this authority be maintained and increased by the wise and holy conduct of the parent, the child will not dare to think of doing otherwise than obey; and so when the existence of God is revealed to the child, and His claims for service are pressed upon him by the Holy Spirit, the child will find it comparatively easy to transfer this obedient reverence from the parent to God.
12. But is it not very difficult to create in the minds of little children, or big ones either, this habit of always doing as they are wished?
No; if you will take the counsels we propose to give you, and act upon them, not allowing any foolish fondness to turn you from your purpose, you will not find it difficult at all.
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