After so long a time I once more resume my pen to continue my remarks on some prominent errors. The fifth comes next in rotation, which is, “Holding that the natural man knoweth not the things of the Spirit, neither can he discern them, & yet that parents and guardians ought to, and can teach their children the things of the Kingdom of God.” Now we hold that, either the Apostle erred in making the above statement to the church at Corinth, or the modern doctrine which contradicts him is error, one or the other must be in fault, the only way to avoid the delemma or condemning the Apostle, is to try to make it appear that he is not understood, and bring other Scriptures to shew that he contradicts himself because he enjoins it on other churches to train up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. – But without at this time attempting to reconcile these apparent discrepancies, we will go back to the beginning, and commence with the Old Testament, and then come forward, into the New, endeavoring to bring the whole subject with us, we shall not take every text, but will omit no important ones relating to this matter. One of the first passages which speak of training up children and households is in Gen. xviii, 19. Here the Lord declares that Abraham will command his children and his household after him &c.
Now the letter of this is not true, for Abraham did not do it, for they proved to be a rebellious house and God destroyed them utterly. But the spirit of it is a glorious truth, for Abraham was a type of Christ, who has commanded his children after him, and the household of faith, they have kept the Statutes of the Lord, and his law is written in their hearts, we could also refer to Joshua, and to many others, to Proverbs where the wise man says, “Train up a child in the way he should go &c.” – But all this refers to Christ, he only can train up his children in the way they should go. Natural children are not in that way, and it is absurd to talk of training up the children of the Devil in the way they should go; the same wise man says to the same Father “Thou shalt beat him with the rod and save his soul from Hell.” But what modern parent believes that he can beat his child to Heaven? But Christ with the rod of correction which he uses, and with which he scourges every son whom he receiveth, drives folly from the heart of his children. The old covenant enjoined on all parents under it to teach their children the fear of the Lord; there was no other way of teaching instituted for that generation, they were to teach rising up and sitting down, going out and coming in, by the way side, and on all occasions, every man his neighbor and his children saying “Know ye the Lord,” that was Gods command by Moses, and was the only way in which the knowledge of God and his works was to be retained among them, and while that covenant, and dispensation remained in force as a testament, this way was right in Israel. But hear what the Lord says on this very subject, Jer. xxxi, 31,32,33, and 34, “Behold the days come saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and house of Judah. Not according to the covenant that I made with their Fathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, which covenant they brake. But this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days saith the Lord. I will put my law in their inward parts and write it in their hearts, and will be their God & they shall be my people. And (observe) they shall teach no more every man his neighbor &c., saying know ye the Lord, for all (Israel) they shall know me from the least to the greatest of them, for I will forgive their iniquity, & will remember their sin no more,” here was an entire new mode brought to view, which was to supersede the old entirely, the old was legal, and by literal teaching from Priest to people, and from Parents to children, communicated the natural knowledge of God, or all that could be known of his eternal power and Godhead by the things that were made, and works of natural creation. But now a better covenant is promised, and better in relation to this very subject; for this knowledge they did not retain, and this fear which was taught by the precept of men. God did not approve; so gave a new institution, new in every part, and in all respects different from the old one. Had the Lord not spoken especially of another mode of teaching and that this new dispensation, was entirely a contrast to the other, some room for doubting would have remained, but “Behold I make all things new,” wipes away the whole. Now we ask in all candor, if the way of teaching under the old covenant was from parents to children orally, and God himself declares that, under the new administration, they shall no more teach in this manner, but that “all thy children shall be taught of the Lord,” and the spirit of truth, should lead into all truth, and that no man knoweth the things of a man but by the Spirit of a man. So no man knoweth the things the of God but the Spirit of God, that we have received the Spirit of God that we might know the things of God, and that the natural man can neither discern nor receive them. How can Sunday schools, and all the connected plans of modern invention to raise children up into a more likely situation to be noticed by the Lord, find a foundation in scripture? That those who hold to the old covenant, and profess to be a continuation of the Jewish church, find support for these practices in the same Scriptures that transforms circumcision into sprinkling is no wonder, but that those who profess to be separated by the Gospel of the grace of God, to the new covenant, and believe that without faith it is impossible to please God, should so practice is astonishing. A man must be born of the flesh, and he must be born of the Spirit, before he can be taught the things of the Spirit, thus have we disposed of the subject, as a subject, in gross, we will now notice a passage or two in the New Testament which has stumbled some who otherwise stand fir, we shall consider the whole comprised under one and a correct answer to this answers the whole, “Train up your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord,” nurture is food, admonition is discipline, and neither can be applied out of the church of God, the nurture of the Lord is the food of his table, can natural children eat it? No: the Apostle is writing to those members of the church where both Parents and children, servants and Masters, were all christians, shewing to both, and all how the Gospel taught all the parties to believe; any other view than this will destroy the whole testimony of Christ & the Apostles, and fritters the great plan of salvation down to a mere moral system, inferior to the Law of Moses, we shall here lave the matter unless some one should bring forward some objections, which we are willing to hear and able to answer, that is we are able to maintain the above laid down doctrine, from the Scripture, and are willing to exhibit the light God has given us. But we do hope and wish that if any objections are made, they will have more weight than some which have been made to some of our statements, particularly to our remarks on creeds, and councils, “I always thought they were right,” is poor proof, where thus saith the Lord is left out, we always Bow with reverence before that Great and terrible name. But our hat moves not in the presence of Mr. Tradition. Farewell.
Signs of the Times
Volume 2, No. 4
January 22, 1834