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. What is the next condition of the successful training of children?
They should have correct teaching; that is, they must be made to understand, so far as they have capacity--
1. What they are, and what they may become.
2. The relation in which they stand to God.
3. Their relationship to those about them.
4. The kind of children God wants them to be,
5. Their privilege to know and enjoy God.
6. The sort of life God wants them to live.
God is as much concerned about the character and life of children as He is of grown up people. You will teach them to say every day of their lives, "Thy will be done," and you will desire that prayer to be answered in them, otherwise it will be useless for you to teach them to offer it. But how can your children do the will of God unless they are made to know what that will is? You must, therefore, teach them the exact truth about these important things as carefully as you seek to make them understand about earthly things -and even more so. Even when they have learned the truth about spiritual matters, you must lead them on to seek power to act in. accordance with it; and then the Spirit will set them free, and make them fit to go and help to set other children free.
2. But are children capable of understanding spiritual truths?
They will be if you teach them in a suitable way of course your teaching must be fitted to their intelligence and capacity.
(1.) So soon as the heart of the child can form any idea of God as a Supreme Being, the Holy Spirit will enable you to impress it with a sense of fear and love.
(2.) So soon as the child is capable of understanding that God has an authority over him, the Spirit will enable you to implant in him a feeling of respect for that authority.
(3.) As soon as the child is able to understand what it is to sin, or offend against that authority, the Spirit will enable you to produce conviction and a sense of sorrow for that offence, and to lead the child to seek forgiveness from God.
In teaching children, it must never be forgotten that we have the Divine assurance that a measure of the Holy Spirit is given to every human being, and that the Holy Spirit so given will co-operate with you in planting spiritual ideas, creating spiritual inspirations, and securing a real consecration of all that the child has to the service of the King.
3. At what age would you recommend that this religious instruction of children should commence?
You cannot begin too young. We fear that multitudes of persons fail with their children because they do not commence teaching them the things of the Kingdom. at a sufficiently early age.
If you have the Holy Ghost in your own heart, He will teach you. But we should say that you should begin to teach a child in this, as in other matters, as soon as it is capable of learning, and that will be as soon as it begins to take impressions from surrounding objects.
4. But will not such training as that which is proposed be calculated to make children melancholy?
Certainly not. For is it not exactly the sort of teaching and training that we give to adults, and do we not boast that to be properly saved and thoroughly given up to God ensures a. life of satisfaction and gladness? And if Salvation does this for men and women, why should it not for children?
But after all, the making of your children good is your first business, whether they axe happy or not. Happiness compared with this is a very small matter. Even if the whole-hearted following of Christ did fill men's hearts with sorrow, and little children's hearts too, that could not affect our obligation to teach the children to keep His commandments, and to imitate His example.
But We contend that goodness and happiness are inseparably joined together, and that the only way for children to be contented and cheerful is for them to be good, and the only way to goodness is by Jesus Christ. So shall "the peace of God keep [their] hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God " all their days.
5. But will not this teaching make children forward, destroy their simplicity, and fill them with conceit and unnatural self-importance?
We think not; nay, we are sure not! Of course, with children, as with adults, there may and will be instances in which the good intentions and wise instructions of God and man are perverted, and made the ministry of evil rather than good. We are not, however, to refrain from our efforts for the benefit of the children, because in some instances they may be perverted, any more than we should do in the case of adults. And we believe that the tendency of, the teaching which we propose will produce the fruits of the Spirit in the children, as surely as they will in men and women, some of which are enumerated by the Apostles: "The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance."
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