Train - Initiate, and so, educate.
The way he should go - Or, according to the tenor of his way, i. e., the path especially belonging to, especially fitted for, the individual‘s character. The proverb enjoins the closest possible study of each child‘s temperament and the adaptation of “his way of life” to that.
Train up a child in the way he should go - The Hebrew of this clause is curious: דרכו פי על לנער חנך chanoch lannaar al pi darco, "Initiate the child at the opening (the mouth) of his path." When he comes to the opening of the way of life, being able to walk alone, and to choose; stop at this entrance, and begin a series of instructions, how he is to conduct himself in every step he takes. Show him the duties, the dangers, and the blessings of the path; give him directions how to perform the duties, how to escape the dangers, and how to secure the blessings, which all lie before him. Fix these on his mind by daily inculcation, till their impression is become indelible; then lead him to practice by slow and almost imperceptible degrees, till each indelible impression becomes a strongly radicated habit. Beg incessantly the blessing of God on all this teaching and discipline; and then you have obeyed the injunction of the wisest of men. Nor is there any likelihood that such impressions shall ever be effaced, or that such habits shall ever be destroyed.
חנך chanac, which we translate train up or initiate, signifies also dedicate; and is often used for the consecrating any thing, house, or person, to the service of God. Dedicate, therefore, in the first instance, your child to God; and nurse, teach, and discipline him as God's child, whom he has intrusted to your care. These things observed, and illustrated by your own conduct, the child (you have God's word for it) will never depart from the path of life. Coverdale translates the passage thus: "Yf thou teachest a childe what waye he shoulde go, he shall not leave it when he is olde." Coverdale's Bible, for generally giving the true sense of a passage, and in elegant language for the time, has no equal in any of the translations which have followed since. Horace's maxim is nearly like that of Solomon: -
Fingit equum tenera docilem cervice magister
Ire viam, quam monstrat eques; venaticus, ex quo
Tempore cervinam pellem latravit in aula,
Militat in sylvis catulus. Nunc adbibe puro
Pectore verba, puer; nunc te melioribus ofter.
Quo semel est imbuta recens, servabit odorem
Hor. Ep. lib. i., ep. 2, ver. 64.
"The docile colt is form'd with gentle skill
To move obedient to his rider's will.
In the loud hall the hound is taught to bay
The buckskin trail'd, then challenges his prey
Through the wild woods. Thus, in your hour of youth
From pure instruction quaff the words of truth:
The odours of the wine that first shall stain
The virgin vessel, it shall long retain."
Children may be trained for the service of sin or for the service of righteousness. Solomon says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6. This language is positive. The training that Solomon enjoins is to direct, educate, develop. But in order for parents to do this work, they must themselves understand the “way” the child should go. It is impossible for parents to give their children proper training unless they first give themselves to God, learning of the Great Teacher lessons of obedience to His will. CT 108.1
Physical training, the development of the body, is far more easily given than spiritual training. The nursery, the playground, the workshop; the sowing of the seed, and the gathering of the harvest—all these give physical training. Under ordinarily favorable circumstances a child naturally gains healthful vigor and a proper development of the bodily organs. Yet even in physical lines the child should be carefully trained. CT 108.2
Soul culture, which gives purity and elevation to the thoughts and fragrance to word and act, requires more painstaking effort. It takes patience to keep every evil motive weeded from the garden of the heart. The spiritual training should in no case be neglected; for “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Psalm 111:10. By some, education is placed next to religion, but true education is religion. The Bible should be the child's first textbook. From this book, parents are to give wise instruction. The word of God is to be made the rule of the life. From it the children are to learn that God is their Father; and from the beautiful lessons of His word they are to gain a knowledge of His character. Through the inculcation of its principles they are to learn to do justice and judgment. CT 108.3Read in context »
It is the nicest work ever assumed by men and women to deal with youthful minds. The greatest care should be taken in the education of youth to so vary the manner of instruction as to call forth the high and noble powers of the mind. Parents and schoolteachers are certainly disqualified to properly educate children if they have not first learned the lesson of self-control, patience, forbearance, gentleness, and love. What an important position for parents, guardians, and teachers! There are very few who realize the most essential wants of the mind and how to direct the developing intellect, the growing thoughts and feelings of youth. 3T 131.1Read in context »
No work ever undertaken by man requires greater care and skill than the proper training and education of youth and children. There are no influences so potent as those which surround us in our early years. Says the wise man, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” The nature of man is threefold, and the training enjoined by Solomon comprehends the right development of the physical, intellectual, and moral powers. To perform this work aright, parents and teachers must themselves understand “the way the child should go.” This embraces more than a knowledge of books or the learning of the schools. It comprehends the practice of temperance, brotherly kindness, and godliness; the discharge of our duty to ourselves, to our neighbors, and to God. FE 57.1
The training of children must be conducted on a different principle from that which governs the training of irrational animals. The brute has only to be accustomed to submit to its master; but the child must be taught to control himself. The will must be trained to obey the dictates of reason and conscience. A child may be so disciplined as to have, like the beast, no will of its own, his individuality being lost in that of his teacher. Such training is unwise, and its effect disastrous. Children thus educated will be deficient in firmness and decision. They are not taught to act from principle; the reasoning powers are not strengthened by exercise. So far as possible, every child should be trained to self-reliance. By calling into exercise the various faculties, he will learn where he is strongest, and in what he is deficient. A wise instructor will give special attention to the development of the weaker traits, that the child may form a well-balanced, harmonious character. FE 57.2Read in context »
Some will acknowledge the evil of sinful indulgences, yet will excuse themselves by saying that they cannot overcome their passions. This is a terrible admission for any person to make who names Christ. “Let everyone that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” Why is this weakness? It is because the animal propensities have been strengthened by exercise until they have gained the ascendancy over the higher powers. Men and women lack principle. They are dying spiritually because they have so long pampered their natural appetites that their power of self-government seems gone. The lower passions of their nature have taken the reins, and that which should be the governing power has become the servant of corrupt passion. The soul is held in lowest bondage. Sensuality has quenched the desire for holiness and withered spiritual prosperity. 2T 348.1
My soul mourns for the youth who are forming characters in this degenerate age. I tremble for their parents also; for I have been shown that as a general thing they do not understand their obligations to train up their children in the way they should go. Custom and fashion are consulted, and the children soon learn to be swayed by these and are corrupted; while their indulgent parents are themselves benumbed and asleep to their danger. But very few of the youth are free from corrupt habits. They are excused from physical exercise to a great degree for fear they will overwork. The parents bear burdens themselves which their children should bear. Overwork is bad, but the result of indolence is more to be dreaded. Idleness leads to the indulgence of corrupt habits. Industry does not weary and exhaust one-fifth part as much as the pernicious habit of self-abuse. If simple, well-regulated labor exhausts your children, be assured, parents, there is something, aside from their labor, which is enervating their systems and producing a sense of constant weariness. Give your children physical labor, which will call into exercise the nerves and muscles. The weariness attending such labor will lessen their inclination to indulge in vicious habits. Idleness is a curse. It produces licentious habits. 2T 348.2
Many cases have been presented before me, and as I have had a view of their inner lives, my soul has been sick and disgusted with the rotten-heartedness of human beings who profess godliness and talk of translation to heaven. I have frequently asked myself: Whom can I trust? Who is free from iniquity? 2T 349.1Read in context »
The order and prosperity of the kingdom depended upon the good order of the church. And the prosperity, harmony, and order of the church depended upon the good order and thorough discipline of families. God punishes the unfaithfulness of parents, to whom He has entrusted the duty of maintaining the principles of parental government, which lie at the foundation of church discipline and the prosperity of the nation. One undisciplined child has frequently marred the peace and harmony of a church, and incited a nation to murmuring and rebellion. In a most solemn manner the Lord has enjoined upon children their duty to affectionately respect and honor their parents. And on the other hand He requires parents to train up their children and with unceasing diligence to educate them with regard to the claims of His law and to instruct them in the knowledge and fear of God. These injunctions which God laid upon the Jews with so much solemnity, rest with equal weight upon Christian parents. Those who neglect the light and instruction which God has given in His word in regard to training their children and commanding their households after them, will have a fearful account to settle. Aaron's criminal neglect to command the respect and reverence of his sons resulted in their death. 3T 294.1Read in context »
It is often the case that parents are not careful to surround their children with right influences. In choosing a home they think more of their worldly interests than of the moral and social atmosphere, and the children form associations that are unfavorable to the development of piety and the formation of right characters. Then parents allow the world to engross their time, strength, and thought; and when the Sabbath comes, it finds them so utterly exhausted that they have nought to render to God on His holy day, no sweet piety to grace the home and make the Sabbath a delight to their children. They are seldom visited by a minister, for they have placed themselves out of reach of religious privileges. An apathy steals over the soul. The children are contaminated by evil communications, and the tenderness of soul that they once felt dies away and is forgotten. 5T 320.1
Parents who denounce the Canaanites for offering their children to Moloch, what are you doing? You are making a most costly offering to your mammon god; and then, when your children grow up unloved and unlovely in character, when they show decided impiety and a tendency to infidelity, you blame the faith you profess because it was unable to save them. You are reaping that which you have sown—the result of your selfish love of the world and neglect of the means of grace. You moved your families into places of temptation, and the ark of God, your glory and defense, you did not consider essential; and the Lord has not worked a miracle to deliver your children from temptation. 5T 320.2
You who profess to love God, take Jesus with you wherever you go; and, like the patriarchs of old, erect an altar to the Lord wherever you pitch your tent. A reformation in this respect is needed, a reformation that shall be deep and broad. Parents need to reform; ministers need to reform. They need God in their households. They need to build the waste places of Zion, to set up her gates and make strong her walls for a defense of the people. 5T 320.3Read in context »