Teaching The Young

We draw the attention of our readers to the important fact that truth, and truth alone, as recorded in the Scriptures, should be set before the understanding of children, as far as they are able to receive the impression of the form of sound words.

What Should They Be Taught?

1. That God is the Author of all that is good, and the Doer of every good and right action, whether that action be performed immediately by Himself, or whether He uses a creature as His instrument to accomplish the deed. It is therefore said, “Phineas, the son of Eleazer, the son of Aaron the priest, hath turned My wrath away from the children of Israel, while he was zealous for My sake among them, that I consumed not the children of Israel in My jealousy.” (Numbers 25:11)

So too, in Isaiah 28:23-29. God claims to be the Author of all natural wisdom in cultivating the earth: “This also cometh from the LORD of hosts. Which is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working.” This is the universal language of the Word of truth, whereon God is set forth as the first great Cause of all that is honourable among men. He must first give, and man receive, every naturally good thing, before that which is pleasing to Him be performed by the creature.

Also, God must give wisdom that man may know His Creator, before any knowledge of Him may be acquired. Paul, when speaking of spiritual knowledge, says: “But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God…” (Galatians 4:9) Here their knowledge of God is founded on His first knowing them in covenant engagement. This first great truth children should me made to know, and be instructed that as every good thing comes from God, so every good action done by men be traced back to its original source – God.

2. Children ought to be plainly and simply taught something of the nature of the fall of man, and that every evil thought (instructed at the same time to recognize the firey darts of the wicked one), word, or deed, is not of God, but comes from their own wicked hearts. God may bless such instruction to prevent the growth of man’s natural belief in creature power, which is so ready to spring up at every application of false doctrine. Tell them that if they have any inclination to do what is right, such as to speak the truth, obey their parents, or feel sorry for any sin they have committed, that this inclination comes from God, and they are indebted to Him for it.

3. They should be taught about Jesus Christ, who He is, and what He came in to the world to do…to save sinners. And when He said “It is finished”; and “I have glorified Thee on the earth; I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do,” that the salvation of His people was then completed.

4. Let them be told that if a person lives in sin, he gives no proof that he is a child of God; and that if he lives and dies in sin, there can be no evidence that the fear of God was in His heart; according to the Scripture: “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor theives, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” (1st Corinthians 6:9-10)

Children should be taught that persons that practice such things are not gracious people, even if they make a profession of religion. By this means their young minds may be kept from blaspheming God’s name on account of the evil life of professors.

5. They should be instructed that the Holy Spirit regenerates God’s people, and implants spiritual life in them; that all real religion begins and is carried on by the Holy Spirit; that all knowledge of the truth comes from God; and to Him they are indebted for every thing which is better than being in hell; for to be there is what man deserves for their sins.

Were the young carefully instructed in these principles, they would not be brought up in a false notion either of themselves or of God, which is frequently done. And, indeed, the awful error of teaching them that heaven or hell rests on their own actions is fearful to contemplate. Upon this untruth are founded all general and even disguised invitations to sinners; and their effect is to deceive, instead of becoming a benefit to their hearers. God’s Word reads: “Of His own will begat He us with the word of truth.” (James 1:18) And, “no lie is of the truth” (1st John 2:21) . How then can a lie be instrumental in begetting these?

There was a natural knowledge of God given to Israel, called “the form of knowledge, and the truth in the law.” (Romans 2:20); which was distinct from the knowledge of God in Christ Jesus. To them He addresses Himself according to the nature of the Revelation He had given them: “And He humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knowest not, neither did thy fathers know; that He might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by everh word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.” (Deuteronomy 8:3) Here Israel was taught that man’a life was entirely dependent on God.

Again Israel was warned of the pride of the heart in attributing success to themselves: “And thou say in thy heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth. But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God; for it is He that giveth thee power to get wealth.” (Deuteronomy 8:17-18)

Does this not prove how hateful the idea of creature power is to God? Yea, God forbids it even in the ordinary course of life: “Go to now, ye that say, Today or tomorrow we will go in to such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell and get gain; Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, if the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.” (James 4:13-15)

Teachers of the young cannot be too particular in giving God all the glory for every good thing that has taken place, either in heaven or on earth.

What reasons can there be for persons professing the doctrines of grace purposely to omit expressing what the faithful men of the old paths were continually wont to say; “God’s biddings are enablings”? The LORD help you who are concerned in teaching others to be particular on this point for the truth’s sake, and for the honour of the name of God.

Joseph Hatton – 1883

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