Come Ye Children: Obtaining Our Lord’s Heart For Loving And Teaching Children, by Charles H. Spurgeon
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Aneko Press. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
Thanks to the ongoing Christian Classics series from the publisher, the public can now read an updated version in modern English of another excellent work by Charles Spurgeon . This particular book is focused on the religious instruction of children and is focused to an audience that includes parents as well as teachers. Although I have no children of my own, this book was certainly relevant to me as a Sabbath School teacher of children approaching their teenage years. The author shows himself to be as passionate concerning what the Bible says about children and teaching them and bringing them to an awareness of their fallen human nature and their need for salvation in Christ Jesus as he is concerning salvation for anyone else. Although the text has been updated into modern English from Spurgeon’s slightly archaic register of more than a century ago, one can still read in this book the sort of wit and sarcasm that the author directed in his time against those who were too proud to humble themselves to deal with little children in a thoughtful and godly way.
In terms of its contents, this book consists of 23 chapters, each of which could have been a sermon, that take up about 160 pages of text. The first few chapters of the book look at children as lambs and point out Jesus’ kindness and care for children and the fact that they desperately need the Lord as much as everyone else does, although he claims that the ground of a child’s heart is often more fertile than that of more cynical adults. The author then looks at Timothy and his teachers–including Paul, his mother, and his grandmother, using this as an occasion to provide a few chapters of advice on teaching children and being a good example for them and encouraging teachers that their students really can understand the Bible. This discussion of the efficacy of teaching God’s ways as early as possible leads to the final six chapters of the book that contain a look at three godly people who learned God’s ways as a child, the wary steward of Ahab Obadiah, Abijah the godly son of the wicked Jeroboam, and the Shunammite’s son raised back to life through Elisha’s prayers. Thus the author not only gives his own encouragement to the teaching of God’s words to little ones but spends a great deal of time providing worthwhile biblical examples as well.
While I would not agree with everything that the author says–I am especially skeptical about his ideas concerning the universal salvation of small children–there is much in this book that I found worthy to appreciate, not least because of my own experience as a teacher of the Bible to children. While children are not always attentive, I have frequently found children to be greatly interested in the Bible and what it has to say if you address them where they are and ask thoughtful questions and show yourself to be interested in what you are talking about. Likewise, I first had faith in God myself as a child and this faith was viewed with some skepticism by some of the adults around, and so this author’s commentary and his defense of the legitimacy of the faith of the young in God rings very true to me from both scripture and experience. This is a small book but one that is worthy to appreciate, especially for Christian parents and those engaged in religious instruction.
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