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. Is it right and desirable that children should be allowed to take any personal and active part in the warfare God is carrying on against sin and the devil?
Yes; we think it is. And we think that all children, as we have already shown, ought to be trained in that way which seems the most likely to qualify them for taking their share in the fight with the greatest success.
2. Can you give any reason for this?
Yes; and at the onset we would ask how otherwise can little children have the religion of Jesus Christ at all? We have already seen that religion does not consist in holding certain opinions, going through a certain ceremonial of Bible-reading, hymn-singing, sermon-hearing, and the like; but in having the spirit of Jesus Christ, which is not only the spirit of Holiness, but of God-like benevolence and Divine love. And if little children have this spirit, they will pity other children who have it not, who are living in sin, and growing up to be wicked men and women on the way to Hell, and they will want to save them, and they will not be happy unless they can put forth some effort to do so.
This is all perfectly natural; and if children have this pitying love, and this earnest desire to benefit and bless and save people, what can be more rational than that they should be trained up from earliest childhood in those habits and methods of warfare which seem most likely to be successful? Nay, that they should be taught how, as little children, they can best serve the interests of Jesus Christ, and do the greatest amount of good?
3. Can you give any other reason why children should be trained up as Soldiers, and allowed to take a public part in the work of God?
Is it not a commonly received truth with regard to all life that, unless there be the exercise of it, it is certain to shrivel up and perish? And is not this equally true of spiritual life? We see every day an exemplification of it in professedly Christian men and women, around us, and there can be no question but that it is equally true of the spiritual life of little children.
If, then, you do not find them scope for the development of the life they have, and give them the opportunity for using their spiritual gifts, they will lose them, and either give up all profession of religion, or be content with nothing more than the form of it.
4. But can little children be made into Soldiers, and be taught and trained to do fighting of any value to the Kingdom of God?
Yes; and that a great deal easier than most grown-up people, just because they are so much more simple. We all know how readily children are led and influenced; how careless and indifferent they are to what is called public opinion; how easily they can be moulded into whatever shape you wish, or led to the discharge of whatever duty you may choose. And when they have the Spirit of God, and are wrought and fashioned in it, they will easily be made just the sort of Soldiers God delights in.
5. But what can the little ones do?
They can do for the little world in which they move as much as adults can for their big world. They can live holy lives. They can testify to the Power of God to save. They can sing the songs of Salvation so sweetly, that often proud, hard-hearted, grown-up people will be compelled to listen, and made to feel, and weep. They can pray-not, perhaps, with much oratorical glitter, or the ability to convey any great amount of information to the Almighty; but none the less they can intercede for souls, and pray the fervent effectual prayer which avails as much in a little child as in a man, when that prayer is wrought by the Holy Spirit. I know a lady who has done some hard fighting for God. I have heard her tell how she used to feel the burden of souls frequently, before she was twelve years old, so powerfully that she could have knelt in the street to pray for them. And doubtless she would have done so had there been a Salvation Army to make the opportunity for her.
Children can also warn other children-yes, and adults as well; not in a very loud and terrifying manner, it may be, but none the less likely to be listened to for all that. And they can exhort others to do the same. Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings the great Master has been, and shall be, clever enough to ordain results that shall show forth His praise.
6. Then you think real and abiding good comes from the Salvation work of little children?
Most certainly we do. When this world's history is brought to a close, and the records of soul-saving toil are made up, little as the children have been recognised and instructed on this subject, it will be found that a vast multitude have by them been led to the Saviour. What myriads there are already in Heaven,-fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, infidels, profligates, drunkards; in short, sinners, of all classes, and ages, and degrees of depravity-who after resisting the forcible appeals of the most eloquent preachers and all the combined efforts of the most powerful organisations, have fallen at the mercy-seat through the apparently feeble and simple words of little children! And, thank God! there is a multitude on earth, as well as in Heaven, whom the children have led to the Fountain.
We have none of us any idea what a mighty force can be created out of these despised and neglected little ones.
7. But is there not another very important consideration which should induce us to train children as Little Soldiers?
Yes, perhaps a more important one still; namely, that in so doing, we are preparing a mighty force for the Salvation War of the future. We see what a power the children might be made now in their own homes, among their companions, in their school grounds and neighbourhoods. We see what powerful missionaries to proud, or profligate, or drunken parents, the children might become.
We see how they can often find entrance where the doors are closed against their elders; and that in life and in death their words have frequently a power on those who love them, which no Minister, Deacon, or Salvation Army Officer could ever hope to wield. For all these reasons we say, teach, train, watch over, and care for the children.
But think, further, of the possibility of raising a multitude of men and women whose bodies have never been poisoned by vicious indulgences, whose minds have been enlightened and filled with the principles of Divine truth from their infancy, and whose hearts, from their earliest days, have been inspired with the love of Christ and possessed with the ONE SUPREME AMBITION to glorify the Father, dethrone the devil, destroy sin and save the world! And who in all their calculations for the future, reckon upon making any sacrifices, carrying any crosses, or enduring any sufferings necessary to crown the undertaking with victory!
We can see in such a force a dim foreshadowing of the time when all shall know Him, from the least unto the greatest. And to create such a force must be worthy of any amount of sacrifice and toil and care on our part. Let us make haste to be the means of converting, teaching, watching over, drilling and using the children, and it may yet be said not only of individuals, but of the nations, "a little child shall lead them."
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