Planning and Prevailing for Children
Parents plan for earthly advantages. If they live too far from where they work, they plan on moving nearer. If they want special school privileges, they plan to move, even though it means extra expense. If they want better health, they sell out and go to a different climate. But, strange too say, these same parents, for the sake of a little cheaper rent or a few extra dimes, seem content to live so far from a good church that the children cannot go regularly to a spiritual Sunday School, or attend old-time revival meetings. What is the result? These children grow up to be Sabbath breakers, marry into the wrong families and in the end the parents shed more tears, and pay out more money than would have been the case had they considered that the salvation of their household was the first and most important thing in the world.
One reason why many children do not become Christians is that the parents have not had them seek the Lord while they were small. The question arises, “How old should a child be before he becomes a Christian?” We would answer, just as young as he shows any inclination, and parents and guardians should encourage and woo that inclination. It is considered wise for children to begin the study of music, elocution, and art very young, and why not let them begin the Christian life as early? The Catholics say, “Give me a child until he is seven years old and you can have him after that.” But we Protestants let our children go until they are in their teens, then let them decide for themselves and they usually; decide wrong.
We ought by all means to insist upon our children’s being saved just as early as possible. I have known of little ones three, four, and five years of age who were gloriously blest, and when they are saved that young they will likely never depart from God, provided the parents deal gently and wisely with them. They may fail at times and lose grace, as children do, but the method that will keep them is never to tell them they are backslidden, but simply let them pray and ask forgiveness. If they once decide that they are entirely backslidden they will be tempted to go into sin deeper. Let them fell, “Of course I’m a Christian, I would never be anything else. If I get angry or speak unkindly, I will apologize and go right on.” This will help hold them until they become established.
We should prevail in prayer for our children’s salvation. Mrs. Catherine Booth said she had no time to raise children who would not be Christian. She made them feel from the start that there was nothing else to do but to serve the Lord. Her method was a success. A young lady, a minister’s daughter, attended one of our schools. Though twelve years of age, her parents had never seriously talked with her about her soul’s salvation; consequently she had never sought the Lord. While in a school revival she was very stubborn, and it was only after much persuasion that she yielded to Christ, and even then she did not stand long.