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 the subject of dress of sufficient importance to be considered in connexion with the training and instruction of children?
Yes; we think it is, and that because it has so much to do with their health, and the formation of their character, and therefore with the shaping of their destiny both in this life and in the next. Especially is this true of girls.
2. Is it important, then, that children should have correct views on this topic imparted to them very early in life?
Yes; unless they are inspired while quite young with correct notions and feelings on this subject, they will be in danger of being either led astray and ruined by the shameless examples set them in every direction, or, having no intelligent and scriptural convictions on the matter, it will be a source of controversy and irritation all the way through life. I have no doubt that it is so with multitudes of sincere God-fearing women. They are either all indecision, or, having correct views on the subject, they refuse to carry them out at all costs.
There is only one straightforward course for women who hold the Bible as the rule of their life and practice, and that is, to utterly despise, and for ever renounce all obligation to follow the fashions of the ungodly world around them, and to openly avow this determination. In other words, they should boldly resolve to set the world at naught and dress as seems to them becoming godliness and good sense, and then uncompromisingly carry out their resolution. If Christian women would only act thus, it would save them not only heaps of money, but an amount of trouble and misery that cannot very well be overstated.
3. In dressing children, ought not parents to keep in view the sort of men and women they desire them to become in after life?
Certainly they ought. If parents want their children to turn out proud, vain, frothy, and worldly, let them dress them accordingly; that is to say, after the fashion of those who are such. If they want them to grow up sober, steady, thoughtful, and intelligent Saints, the true followers of Jesus Christ in simplicity and sacrifice, let them make the children wear such raiment as seems to correspond with this kind of spirit and character.
Be as careful in dressing the little ones meekly and after Salvation fashion as you are in dressing yourself. As we go about the country it pains us to see parents who are themselves dressed modestly, perhaps in Salvation Army uniform, decking out their infants and children in robes and ribbons altogether at variance with the mode in which they dress themselves. Some parents will pray in your presence-nay, before any number of people-that their children may become good Soldiers of Jesus Christ and of The Army, and there is no doubt they have a real ambition and a hopeful expectation that they will become such, and yet they will dress them up and decorate them in such a manner as seems flatly to contradict all they say.
While the children are under your control and influence, make them dress just as you will wish them to do after they go from under your direction. Remember that you are now forming the tastes and habits which they will carry out by-and-bye, so be careful what you accustom them to be.
4. How are children to be dealt with on this question?
(1.) First, and of chief importance, they should have a thoroughly honest and consistent example placed before them. Unless the example corresponds with the teaching, the teaching will be in vain. If you want your children to dress neatly and plainly, you must do so yourself.
(2.) Teach your children to avoid all kinds of dressing in any way calculated to injure health. Show them the evils of tight lacing, high-heeled narrow boots, heavy headgear, over-long dresses, and all such things, and make them despise everything of the kind which is unnatural and injurious, however attractive it may otherwise appear, or whoever else may wear it. Make them understand the importance of varying their clothes in the different seasons, wearing heavier apparel in winter, and lighter in summer. Make them understand the use of flannel, the evils of damp clothes, wet feet, and other things of the same kind. Do this while they are young. Reason with them on the subject. Show them why and wherefore they should do these things, and they will take care of themselves to an extent that will surprise you-and other people into the bargain. Moreover, they will soon acquire more wisdom than many men and women on the subject. (See chapter on "Health.")
(3.) Teach the children that their dress ought to endorse and support their profession of Salvation; that is, if they make one. If they say with their lips that they have renounced the world and all its pomps, why should they go straightway and give the lie to their profession by covering themselves with those things which are the chief signs and glories of the world? Don't let them do so, but on the contrary, if possible, let your children's dress confess their Lord and identify them with His people.
The children of Salvationists should be accustomed from childhood to the uniform, the Army badges, and other signs of Salvation. Put the colours on the baby. As soon as he is born, cover him with a Salvation robe, and let him be entered on The Salvation Army roll. If you want God to regard and favour your children as Salvationists, be sure that you acknowledge and confess them to the world as such. Seeing that by the clothes they wear the children can signify either that they belong to God or that they do not, it must be their duty to say even by their dress that they are on the side of Jehovah, and are willing for everybody else to know it. There is a sense in which the true Soldier may comply even in what is deemed so insignificant a matter as dress, with the statements of the Saviour, and avoid the terrible condemnation contained in them-
Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.-Matt. x. 32.
For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels.-Luke ix. 26.
(4.) Children should be trained to regard with pity and contempt all the pomp, pageantry, and pride of worldly fashion.
(5.) As soon as girls are old enough, they should be shown the utter folly and wickedness of any systematic dressing with the view of attracting the attention and admiration of men, or of outshining their companions and neighbours.
(6.) Be thorough in your practice, and make your children thorough also. We often see Salvationists and other professed followers of Christ dressing neatly, on the whole, or in Army style, and thereby making the impression on all about them that they wish to be regarded as on the side of the King, and yet wearing one or two fashionable things, trifling in themselves, but just enough to show that they are not saved from the desire to be well thought of by the fashion-loving world. Don't do so. Be out-and-out. Make a clean sweep of all that is likely to attract the admiration of worldly people, and so be done with all controversy upon the subject. Do not let your Lord have "somewhat against you" in carrying out, among other commands, the one given by the Holy Ghost through Paul, "Be not conformed to this world."
5. What ought Christian children to be taught with regard to the wearing of jewellery?
Exactly the same as is taught with regard to the wearing of any other fashionable adornments. A young lady once called upon a good man to ask his advice as to her liberty to wear some sort of gold or silver trinkets. The good man simply contented himself by quoting the passage The daughter of Zion hath despised thee." Whether this answer sufficiently satisfied the inquirer we do not recollect, but we think it was a good and sufficient reply, and one that should satisfy all sensible and sincere people.
6. Why should Christian children be taught to avoid worldly conformity in dress?
(1.) On account of its being a badge of servitude to Satan.
(2.) Because fashionable and showy dress is utterly incompatible with the spirit of Christian humility.
(3.) Because it is in direct contradiction to the express commands of God:-
Moreover the Lord saith, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go: therefore the Lord will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion.-Isa. iii. 16, 17.
Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. - Romans xii. 2.
Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel.-1 Peter iii. 3.
In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety, not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.-1 Tim. ii. 9, 10.
(4.) Children should be taught to despise fashionable dress because of the frightful waste of money and time which is involved in the vain attempt to follow and keep pace with the changing fashions of the day.
(5.) Because of the evil influences of fashionable dress upon others. Fashionable dress means IMITATION. YOU copy somebody else, and somebody else copies you. This is the very essence of what is called fashion. It is not because a style is becoming, or healthy, or neat that it is adopted, but simply because somebody, or, rather, because everybody else has adopted it. Hundreds of women are living practical comments on the saying, " You might as well be out of the world as out of the fashion." Therefore, to dress fashionably is not only for your children to copy some one else, but to be copied themselves. Consequently, if you dress your children up after this worldly style their example is almost certain to lead others seriously astray.
(6.) Avoid fashionable dress because it gratifies and feeds the vanity of children, and fills their heads with all manner of unnatural and injurious notions.
(7.) It opens the door in the hearts of the children for all sorts of flattery. Weak-headed, silly people will come round them: "What a beautiful frock that is!" "What a lovely hat you have on!" "How kind mamma was to give you such a duck of a ribbon!" etc., etc., all of which is most disgusting to sensible people. But alas! alas! the nonsense will often be eagerly received into the little unsuspecting hearts of the children; it will be frequently stored up in the memory, producing most disastrous effects upon the character.
(8.) Fashionable dress will create in the children unnatural and godless expectations. "If I am so pretty"-for there is generally the confounding a pretty dress with a pretty person-"perhaps I shall become a great lady, and live in a fine house, and not have to work, and have a fine gentleman for a husband." And numbers of other equally silly and injurious imaginations follow in the train.
(9.) Fashionable dress may lead your children to godless friendships and alliances. It is very unfortunate that people should be so weak, but we know there is no usage more common than for men and women to take people to be what their clothes signify. Specially will this be true of inexperienced, simple-minded children. They think it is a fine bird because it has fine feathers. And hence there is admiration and introduction; then come friendships and associations that are injurious to morals and religion. Keep your children clear of anything likely to bring about such results.
(10.) Fashionable dress, by feeding pride, is unfavourable to the formation of that spirit of simplicity and humility which is a condition of Salvation. "Except ye be converted and become as LITTLE CHILDREN," the Master said, "ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven."
Dressing the children in the stuck-up, peacock fashion of the world is calculated to create just the reverse of that humble, meek, and lowly spirit in which only it is possible for men, women, or children to go into the Kingdom.
(11.) Fashionable dress puts a barrier in the way of the Salvation of the children, seeing that all these pomps and vanities and methods of display have to be renounced at conversion. Innumerable instances could be given of the difficulties that boys and girls, and men and women, have experienced in renouncing rings and chains, and feathers, flowers, and fashionable apparel, when these things stood in the way of a full Salvation. Why do parents create and foster affections and conceits which will rend the heart with anguish when they have to be destroyed?
(12.) Fashionable dressing of children leads to all manner of evil results. We once heard a philanthropist say that the chaplain of one of the largest London prisons informed him that the three principal causes that brought girls and women there were intoxicating drink, trashy novel-reading, and fashionable dress, and he thought the latter as fatal as either of the others.
There is no doubt this is correct, and that these things often lead up to seduction and other forms of terrible sin, which come down with such crushing effect on almost all classes alike.
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