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. In what further habit is it important that children should be established?
In the grace and beauty of humility. By that I mean they should be humble, not thinking "more highly of themselves than they ought to think."
2. Why is this important?
Because pride, which is the opposite to humility, is the greatest hindrance to the earthly happiness of the children, both when they are young and when they are grown, and the greatest obstacle to their Salvation, also.
3. Then it follows that nothing should be practised in your dealings with children calculated to engender or foster pride?
Most certainly. Unless parents want to lay the foundation of future misery in their little ones, they must beware of every word, look, and act likely to increase the spirit of pride.
4. Is it possible for parents to deal with their children so as to encourage this injurious spirit?
Alas! the great majority of parents, from the earliest years, do this. Very much of their intercourse with their children is calculated to create within them the ridiculous and ruinous conceit that they are better than others. While God has said, "Blessed are the meek," they teach their children, by their words and acts, to feel and think that only those are happy who are of a proud and haughty spirit, and whose chief glory is the ability to maintain their own-dignity-in short, that "Blessed are the proud."
5. Is not this course most irrational?
Yes. Such parents profess to believe that their children are born into the world with this smouldering hellish fire in their hearts, which, unless extinguished, will blaze up and destroy their earthly and everlasting happiness. And yet, instead of doing all they can to extinguish it, they just supply the fuel necessary to feed it.
6. Will you explain by what conduct parents create and foster the spirit of pride in their children?
They flatter and praise them because of certain gifts which they suppose them to possess, and so make them think they are superior to other children, and therefore ought to be more noticed, and to receive more kindness, and have more liberty given them. Thus their conceit is fed and their self-consequence increased, until they look down upon other children, and feel altogether above the humble reverent service they owe to God, and the generous benevolent sympathy and service they owe to those around them.
7. What kind of training is calculated to destroy this spirit?
(1.) Always remember that the seeds of pride are in the hearts of the children. Your work is to repress and destroy them.
(2.) Never flatter your children on account of any gifts they may be thought to possess. The less notice you take of children the safer it is for them
I remember being at the table once with a gentleman-a prominent official in a Christian church, and a great friend of Sunday schools. Presently a young girl of some fourteen summers entered the room. it Here, said the father, introducing her to me, "is my eldest daughter, the fairest of the fair." Yes, there she was, dressed up in worldly vanity by the mother to match the injudicious praise of the father, each having about an equal share in feeding the passions of vanity, pride, and self-conceit in the breast of the poor child. Doubtless there was no harm meant; it was only thoughtlessness. But it was thoughtlessness wonderfully adapted to strengthen that which was most obnoxious to God and the greatest barrier in the way of her Salvation. This sort of thing is of everyday occurrence. Parents begin to praise their children's faces and little abilities as soon as ever they can understand anything at all, verily worshipping before them, and offering through their eyes and ears the incense of unceasing flattery.
(3.) Pour contempt on any manifestation of pride and conceit in your children themselves. When you find them showing off in their new clothes, or their books, while very young; or, when grown older, you find them swelling and boasting of their ability, or their station in society, or anything else, immediately suppress the weak, foolish, vain spirit, and make them understand how hateful it is to you; how foreign to the proper spirit of a Salvationist, and how hateful to their Father in Heaven.
(4.) As you never praise your children in their presence, never allow anyone else to do so. If any foolish people attempt this with your children in your presence, and you cannot silence them in any other way, openly rebuke them. Make them understand that your children cannot bear it, and that it is not good for them. You may by so doing, not only benefit your children, but teach your visitor a valuable and instructive lesson.
(5.) Never exhibit the attainments of your children public. Do not let them perform their wonderful tasks, or show off their dress or abilities in any way before strangers.
What a common usage it is for little children to be taught to go about exhibiting for admiration any new garment they may be wearing! And what an equally common thing it is for visitors to seek favour, or open the conversation, with little ones, by praising their frocks or their faces.
(6). Never talk about young children in their presence. They understand much more than you imagine of what you say, and if they cannot understand your words they can read your faces.
(7.) Never foster the spirit of pride and haughtiness by allowing children to treat servants as though they were persons of an inferior grade of being. In many families where servants are kept, this spirit is not only tolerated, but cherished. The children look down upon them, and treat them as though they were beings with neither rights nor feelings, whom it is their privilege to domineer over and order about at their lordly pleasure. Make the young people treat the servants with that respect which their superior age, knowledge, and the responsible position they occupy, entitle them to receive.
Indeed, the servants' position in some houses cannot be much better, whether for man or woman, than that of slavery, such little petulant, selfish, proud tyrants are the children allowed to be. What training can be imagined better qualified to engender that spirit of haughtiness and pride so incompatible with the spirit of Him who "took upon Himself the form of a servant, and made Himself of no reputation.
We say again to parents, and all whom it may concern, if you don't want the accursed fire of pride to burn, starve it out by keeping away as far as possible that fuel which is calculated to feed the flame.
(8.) Make your children understand that the only kind of superiority that is worthy of them, the only kind that you esteem, or that will be esteemed by God, the only kind that will ENDURE, is that which consists in love, and truth, and humility, and self-sacrifice, and every good and perfect work.
And be sure you make them see also that for these and every other good thing they possess, and every other good work they can perform, all the credit and glory belong to God.
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