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Preaching on the Plains, Chapter Three – Early Training

In Preaching on the Plains, Rev. David K. Myers, D.D. on June 22, 2010 at 8:10 pm

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Preaching on the Plains
Chapter III.

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
(Proverbs 22:6)

Suffer an old man of 77 now to think of a few things about the training of a child toward his life work as a Christian. In fact, the training of his life before he becomes a Christian. I have spoken herein of my mother being a Baptist. She was this, even though she spent her married life as the wife of a Presbyterian elder. The important thing was that she was truly a Christian. From my earliest memory the things she did were to the end of instilling in her children Christian and moral values. I can recall just a scrap of a lullaby she sang to me. It was the story of a lad who wandered to the railroad tracks. I listened always enthralled. The bottom line ended, “He never came back from the railroad track. And that was the end of _____”. The name I do not remember but it rhymed with “track”. It made me dead earnest at that point, I would never go near a railroad track, lest the dire result would come to me also.

One of my earliest memories associated with a church was of one week night when, after being put to sleep, I awoke. I found the house deserted. But I was sure where my parents were! They were not at home so they were at church! So in my white night-gown I sallied forth and faithful old black Joe, the family dog, attended me. And we went the city block or two to the church. We walked in the front door and my memory is the doog and I were greeted with a shout of laughter by the worshippers at the mid week prayer meeting or Sunday night Service whichever it was. As I remember my mother’s face was a deep red as she hurried back, gathered boy of three and the dog and hurried home with us. As recently as last Yuletide a letter came from a long family friend. A very fine Christian whose maiden name was Lazetta Mottashed wrote from Texas and corrected my impression in an earlier greeting to her saying I came that night in a dirty night gown and a dog. But she replied, “No, you had a very clean white gown and a dirty dog!” She spoke of the amusement of all at the scene in an earlier letter.

Now the important part of this was its relationship to moral teaching and the gospel church. It was before me at an early age. My mother never did flippant things in her training us. She was too busy raising four boys for that. And though she was Baptist by conviction, this is one thing of force to me as a Presbyterian. I believe in Infant Baptism; not that it is a saving ordinance in itself. It is not. As Titus 3: 5,6 as quoted on a previous page shows. But because the Lord said in the Great Commission:

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” (Matthew 28:19)

The word here in the above quotation for “teach” is from the less familiar in the Greek original of that word. it is “mathetuo” – “make disciple of”. The lexicons appear to indicate that it stresses the outward matters of truths to be taught. In other words, just as we endeavor to train our children even in outward duties to show them right from wrong, and the kind of life that is moral, right, and Christian. This we do from the very first with our children and before they reach the age of discretion and can choose salvation through faith. We pray at meal times, saying “grace” . . . I have seen babes as it were in child’s high chairs bowing their heads because they see their parents doing so. “Make disciples”. These the Great Commission tells us to baptize. Now it is plain to me that an adult who is not saved is not a disciple. But a child who has the promise by godly parents that they will bring him up being disciplined and on this basis I believe should receive baptism. And the promise is strong: “and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6). There is every hope the child, when it is older, will become a believer.

These things we have seen in our children. Two, the sons, are ministers of the Gospel. The two others are girls, and are truly saved and believe the gospel. I felt it was necessary to obey the standard our Lord set before the apostles. “Disciple” or teach all nations, baptizing them (who are being taught).

Later in life when Mother was in her eighties, I happened on a visit at home to speak of my views in the matter. When ended my mother said, honestly, “I can’t see it”. I felt glad that while we differed, this was the first time the subject ever arose between us.

Mother was a faithful disciplinarian. When we were young if we misbehaved we could expect consequences. If she felt one of us deserved it, she would punish us duly. Her favorite method was to make us go out and cut a switch from a lilac bush outside the house with which she was to chastise us. And it would never do to pick a small slender one which bent or broke easily. She would make us go out at once and pick another one. I recall that on some occasions if she felt more than one needed chastising, we would get it together. An older brother of mine had a habit of falling down on all fours, feigning at once he was greatly hurt before a blow would be struck, crying out. I would fall with him and I’m afraid I tried a regular trick on him for a while. I would be, too, on my fours, but would creep close to him, thinking his body would be higher and it would protect me from the blows. One time, though, he became aware of this, and thrust me off saying, “Get away there!”

But Mother, if stern and just, was never cruel. The force of her rule in her house was realized by us years later when we were all home together on vacations. The four of us were in quite an argument which waxed rather warm. We did not mind. We were used to it, in fact, I think, liked it. But Mother, hearing us, came into the room and feeling we were out of order, commanded us to desist at once! My eldest brother, I think, was then in his 60s, my two elder below him were in their 50s. I may have been in my late 40s. The eldest was trained in agriculture but had been employed otherwise. The second eldest was a banker, and the third, a teacher. When Mother left the room we laughed to one another, not in ridicule, but because the force of our mother’s discipline had been such that even in such late years, at her command we just stopped automatically. It was custom to us!

Mother lived to 95. She was a happy, contented lady. One of her remarks was, “The Devil does not have any happy old people”. She always carefully picked the churches she would attend, insisting that only those who preached the old time Gospel of Christ, His Redeeming Atonement, and His Resurrection, and His Power to save all who came to Him, would have her support! She was the first one in her father’s family to be converted, but lived to see all her family saved. Her mother was of Pennsylvania Dutch (German) “Dunker” (Baptist) background but married a husband who became an alcoholic. He came to Christ at her leading on his death bed. The training our mother gave us when we were children found all four boys confessed to become Christians. Ernest, the eldest, most conscientious and kind, died last May (1980). He declared he knew the time to the moment when he was saved as a lad. Andrew, a banker in Las Vegas, New Mexico, and Edwin, the teacher — we would all rise up and call our mother blessed, I am sure, together. I say this for I think many would disagree with the methods of discipline who read these memoirs. May I make a gentle assent, however to the diligent discipline of a conscientious mother.

“Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.” (Proverbs 22:15)

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