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. Ought all children to be alike trained in habits of industry?
Yes. No matter what the circumstances or condition of the child may be, or what station in life his parents may occupy, he should be taught that labour is the law of his existence-that work is a duty which he owes alike to God, to himself, and to his generation. This is very important; and great injury has been done to the children in particular and to the world in general, by the disregard of this principle. With many people who are what is called "well-to-do," it is quite a common thing for children to be made to feel that because their parents are wealthy, and because they are likely to have some independent means of support, it is not necessary for them to do any kind of hard work. In this way thousands go from school without any purpose in life, spend their days in idleness, and, as a natural consequence, become enervated and spiritless both in body and mind for want of the stimulus and exercise which employment brings to both. So they present the devil with perpetual opportunities for temptation.
2. Do not many children grow up with the opinion that hard work is in itself an evil, only to be tolerated, even in saving the souls of men, when it is necessary for the purpose of earning daily bread?
Yes. There is no doubt many entertain this opinion, and would never engage in any kind of labour, but that, without it, they would have to starve.
People of this class work at secular trades, callings, and professions, and engage in religious movements only to obtain a living. And if it were not for the living, it is fair to assume that many would not work at all, either in one form or another.
One of the great attractions of Heaven to such people consists in the idea that there will be nothing to do there. They expect their days will pass lying on a bed of roses, listening to music under a cloudless sky, with nothing disagreeable to disturb them.
3. Ought children to be taught to work hard?
(1.) Teach them first that all the holy beings in God's universe set them an example in this direction. Show them that Jesus Christ, who is our Model Man, and the imitation of whose life is the highest expression of true religion, continually "went about doing good." A great many of His followers now-a-days,who cannot pretend to any such independent means as were at His command, if they care about doing good at all, think it quite sufficient to make other people do the "going about," at the most giving a small subscription towards supporting them in doing so. Teach your children that it is their duty not only to give the subscription, if they have the ability, but to do some of the "going about" as well. Further, show them that they will do this if they have the Spirit of Christ, and if they have not His Spirit they are none of His.
(2.) Make your children understand that work is a condition of happiness. Nothing will alter this. No people are more miserable than those who have nothing to do and who have to invent all manner of schemes and contrivances to kill time and get the days over. Such people's lives are a burden to them, and existence becomes uninteresting and wearisome, generally speaking, long before it comes to an end.
(3.) Teach the children that God demands that they shall make the interests of His Kingdom of first importance in all they undertake, irrespective of any circumstances or consequences.
4. But may it not be asked whether such an expenditure of anxiety and time will allow of that devotion to the interests of their earthly trade or profession, necessary to gain support for themselves and the families that may be dependent on them?
To this we answer, with all confidence, that there are the most positive assurances in the Bible that Divine protection will be shown and provision made for all those who make their earthly labours and aims secondary to the still higher objects of the glory of God and the Salvation of men. Explain to your children that Jesus Christ promised that those who seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness shall have all these things-the necessary food and raiment-added unto them. That is to say, if your children look after the Lord's business, the Lord will look after theirs.
Nevertheless, there is nothing in a life supremely devoted to the glory of God and the good of men, that is inconsistent with that necessary attention to the ordinary business of every-day life, which, with His blessing, will command a fair share of earthly prosperity. The experience of God's faithful people proves this in all ages of the world.
5. Do you teach that all children should forego secular labour and become entirely engaged in soul-saving work, and thus dependent upon the contributions of others for their support?
Oh, dear no! The parents and guardians of children must be guided by circumstances, by the leading of the Spirit of God, and by their own judgment, as to what department or kind of labour the children should be set apart for. But in every case the children should be taught that, whether they build houses, cultivate land, or are wholly employed as Soldiers of Salvation, all their labour, all their scheming and plans should have for their ultimate end the subjugation of the world to Christ, and the bringing-in of the complete rule and reign of the Great King.
Teach them that every act of their lives may be made religious, so that whatever work they may have to perform-however menial it may appear to unbelieving eyes-if it be done, not with eye-service to please men merely or for any earthly remuneration, it shall be Divine, and so command notice and approbation and reward at the hands of God.
6. Can anything be done with children In early life calculated to assist the formation of good business habits In the future?
Most certainly there can. The foundation of such habits can be laid in children when very young indeed. For instance,
(1.) Commence in early childhood the imposition of such tasks and duties as are suited to their intelligence and capacity. Forward and intelligent children should begin what they will understand to be work, at, say, three years of age; backward and less intelligent children a little later. These tasks should be carefully performed at regular hours, and for them they should be rewarded, if done carefully and well, or reproved if the work is done otherwise. By so dealing with your children, habits of discipline will be formed in early life which will make it as easy for them to be industrious afterwards as it is with others to be lazy.
(2.) Let your children begin, as soon as they are able, to dress, and wash, and wait upon themselves. The habits of many children are ruined utterly by having a mother or servant always at their beck and call, waiting upon them hand and foot. It is laughable to see some little things ordering their parents to pick up their toys and wait upon them in matters where they are quite able to do for themselves. I am not sure whether it is not a safe rule to say, "Never do for a child that which it is capable of doing, or of being taught to do, for itself."
(3.) The children should be taught to perform such work as they have placed in their hands, with all their might. If they play, let them play; but when they profess to work, let them do that work to the utmost extent of their ability. Take trouble to make them pay attention and keep their minds fixed upon their lessons or tasks, or whatever they may have given them to do, while they are at it. Far better that the time devoted to work should be shortened and all the energies of the children be taxed during that period, than extended with only a desultory and partial attention.
(4.) Cultivate in children the habit of doing things well. Make them understand that whatever is worth doing at all should be done to the best of their ability. Create within them an honest pride in turning things out as near perfection as is possible, and thus you will very early have a hatred of "scamped " and patched-up work, which will be extremely useful to them in the future.
(5.) Teach them to think little of trouble when any important work is to be done, or any valuable end to be gained. Few things are more deplorable and contemptible than the lazy, helpless, shiftless spirit so common. Many people are willing to run the risk of losing any amount of goodness and happiness, both for this world and the next, for themselves and for others, rather than put forth some little self-sacrificing exertion. If this spirit should be in any of your children, get it out of them. Make them willing to go through any reasonable amount of toil and inconvenience in order to do a good turn for their brothers and sisters, or comrades, or any one else about them.
(6.) As soon as able to understand it, make them love punctuality. Create in them a horror of being late for meals, or late for school, or late for meetings, or any other engagement. Show them that the difference in being five minutes late and five minutes early is only a matter of habit, and that one usage is just as easy as the other, while the latter habit will have a great deal to do, not only with their own comfort, but with the comfort of other people.
(7.) Make your children systematic; that is, make them regular and orderly in all they do from the time when they begin to do anything at all. You can begin by teaching them to put away their toys when done with, instead of leaving them on the floor to be trampled on; folding up their clothes, keeping their school-books in order, and in many other ways. Some children are systematic by nature, and will give you very little trouble on this score; with others it will be quite different. Still, you can do a very great deal in the direction of making such habits of order and neatness as will be of untold comfort and profit to them through life.
(8.) Teach your children habits of economy. No matter whether they have much or little, make them understand the value of money. If they have little they will find valuable use for all they can get, and if they have much they cannot afford to waste it, considering the crying need of the world for the bread that perisheth and for that which endureth unto everlasting life. Don't make them misers, teaching them to save in order that they may store. On the contrary, cultivate all the generous impulses of their nature, but at the same time make them abhor the wasteful and extravagant habits which may prove so injurious to them in the future.
(9.) Make your children Soldiers of Christ in reality as soon as they manifest the possession of His Spirit, and understand His warfare. Not only enlist them in the ranks, and bring them into the enjoyment of the bounty, but teach them how actually to engage in the fight. Keep them at it, and so accustom them early to endure as good Soldiers. Then, when, like the Apostle, they reach the end of life, they shall, on its review, be able to say with him, literally and truthfully,I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.-2 Tim. iv. 6.
And if you do your duty properly they will be able to add to it, "My parents taught me how to fight, and introduced me to the War."
7. Ought not children to be taught to carry out the highest principles of truth and honour in whatever business relations they may fulfil?
Certainly. Teach them that all deception and cheating, and every approach to these things, are mean and dishonourable and devilish; and that they become all the more so if they are practised with a view to any so-called profit of money or reputation. Send your children into life to carry out to the uttermost the principles of truth and righteousness, cost them what it may.
And not only make them think, but make them feel that it will be more worthy of them, more for their happiness, more gratifying to you, and far more pleasing to God, for them to walk through the world in poverty with truth and honour, than to ride through it in a gilded chariot with chicanery, cheating, and deception sitting by their side. This disgust for what is untrue will help them when they come to trade and commerce, or whatever calling or profession in life they may adopt. They will be as likely to be faithful to the claims of truth and duty in making a house-door, or building a wall, or selling tea, bacon, or woollen cloth, as they would be on their knees in prayer before God, giving a religious address from a platform, or performing any other of what men term religious duties.
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