“AND, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”
Brother H. H. Bentley, whose address is 580 Decatur St., Atlanta, Ga., asks that we give “a little talk” upon Sunday Schools, and Old Baptist parents allowing their children to attend the same. We are willing to give such as we have upon the subject, which no doubt is one of importance, and one which has perhaps been neglected. It is good for us all to be reminded often of our obligations to God in all things. Our children are the gift of God to us, and we should endeavor to do all in our power for their welfare. We should instil, if possible, every honest and upright principle in them, beginning in their infancy; we should teach them to honor father and mother, to respect old age, to be kind and gentle toward each other; we should take them to meetings with us, teach them to respect the day of rest, Sunday, (so called) because the law of our country demands it, teach them as far as we can of God and his almighty power. As far as we are able we should educate our children and give them a profession or trade, that they may be independent, prepared to take care of themselves when it becomes necessary. All this is the duty of the Old Baptist parent to the child, but this is not the duty of the Sunday School teacher concerning our children. A believer should never feel that he can trust an unbeliever to instruct his child in the Sunday School.
The original design of the Sunday School was to teach poor children, whose parents were not able to send them to regular schools, to read and write. After a short time the Bible was read to the children, and little by little the original design of Sunday Schools disappeared until not a shadow of it remains. To-day, children are taught a lie in Sunday Schools: they are taught that God wants to save them if they will only let him; if they will be good God will love and bless them here and take them to heaven when they die. Does not this teaching fill the mind of the child with the idea or belief that God is subject to him in the salvation of his soul! What could be a greater falsehood!
No harm can be done by us in reading the Bible to our children, and in talking to them of God and his power to save, but to send or allow them to attend Sunday School is inconsistent. Why should we be willing for our children to go where we ourselves would not go? It is sometimes said, The Lord is able to keep our children and to bring them out even should they unite with other denominations. None of us doubt the power of God, but this should not make us indifferent concerning the welfare of our children; the Lord is just as able to take our children from the gambling den or the saloon as he is to separate them from the Sunday School, but we do not want them to frequent such places. The idea to let them go and if the Lord wants to manifest them as his he will do so, if not all our carefulness amounts to nothing, is more fatalism than predestination. Sunday Schools, where a lie is taught, and where God is dishonored, and where his people are ridiculed, is no place for our children, hence let us keep them away from such places; if we cannot teach them the truth let us see to it that they are not taught false doctrine. The children of the Israelites were not permitted to mingle with the nations round about or to worship their idols; why should the children of spiritual Israel be allowed to do so?
The text at the head of this writing is the stronghold of those who believe in Sunday Schools, but it has no bearing whatever upon that subject; the apostle is admonishing children to obey their “parents in the Lord;” he tells them it is right to do so. These parents in the Lord are fathers and mothers in Israel, hence it is right for the children to obey and honor them; it is the commandment of God that they may live (spiritually) long upon the earth; if they disobey and dishonor them they die to their confidence and fellowship.
How well we all remember when we were little children in the church, and how at that time we honored and obeyed those older in grace and experience, how we recognized their superior judgment in all things pertaining to the christian life and order of the house of God. The fathers are not to provoke the children to wrath, this is not the way to bring up children either in our homes or in the church. All are children when they unite with the church, though they may be well stricken with years, and all need to be kindly and affectionately dealt with by the fathers and mothers in the Lord; those who were once children are now qualified, through the training of others, to bring up children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; it is in this way that the order of the house is maintained. Solomon said, “Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Surely this cannot refer to natural children, for many of them do depart from the moral training of good and faithful parents. Solomon and Paul are in perfect accord upon this subject; it is the child in the church to which Solomon refers. If he is brought up in the way he should go, he will not depart from it; to be instructed in doctrine and in the order of the house is “the way.” When he becomes a man, instead of departing he is qualified to instruct others who are young in experience, hence those who were babes become fathers and mothers in Israel.
Let us “be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners,” but let us beware of antichrist in all its forms. We know well that it is not in the power of natural men to teach spiritual things, if so, some of us would have known them much sooner than we did. The Scriptures belong to the man of God, that he may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. In the New Testament we find no example or authority for Sunday Schools, therefore whatever is unwarranted by the word of God we may be sure is false, being only the notion of men.
May the Lord deliver us and our children from the snares of the devil. K.
Editorial – Elder H. C. Ker
Signs Of The Times
Volume 74, No. 10
May 15, 1906