A Plea for Work Among the Young.

Mark 16:15  •  12 min. read  •  grade level: 7
THE above text is amply sufficient to cover the title of this paper. The need of the rising generation presses heavily on the writer's spirit, and it is his earnest prayer that God may use this appeal to stir up many hearts to take an active interest in: work among the young.
It would be difficult to understand why any should be indifferent in this particular did we not remember that our hearts are the same as those of the disciples of old, who rebuked those who sought to bring "little children" to Jesus that He might lay His blessed hands on them and pray. The Lord had to rebuke the rebukers. May we never be rebuked because we are not in the spirit of our Master!
“Lift up Your Eyes, and Look on the Fields.”
The children of thirty years ago are the parents of to day. A new generation is at our doors. Masses of children, rapidly approaching manhood, have yet to be evangelized. Evangelists long for virgin soil. Here it is, lying at their very feet. In every city and town, in every village and hamlet, there is an audience ready to their hand. "Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest." Look till your heart is stirred and you are driven to your knees before God about it.
The State of Christendom.
Three evils are rapidly overspreading the land and eating out the heart of all spiritual life—indifference, ritualism, and rationalism. A few years ago, in this country at least, the Scriptures were reverenced, and men trembled under the power of the Word. To-day the great majority never or rarely darken the door of a building where the gospel is preached.
Take your stand on the outskirts of any large city on a Sunday morning in summer. See the stream of pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists, who are evidently "lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God." And if, saddened at the sight, you turn to many of the churches and chapels, it is only to be made the more sorrowful. In them the other two evils are too plainly evident. On many a so-called Protestant church door might be written, "This way to Rome." With such the children are held in high esteem, for their hope lies with the rising generation. Only a few weeks ago the writer ventured to invite some young men and lads to a gospel preaching. They turned upon him with, scorn, insult, abuse, and venom.
On inquiry he learned, to his grief, that they formed the choir of a very ritualistic church close by. Their spirit resembled that of the Dark Ages.
On the other hand, religious infidelity, under the name of "Higher Criticism," has taken possession of many a pulpit. Once infidelity was outside the churches; now, alas I it is inside as well. Scarcely one fundamental doctrine of Christianity but is assailed. The inspiration of Scripture is denied, the atonement flouted, the person of Christ attacked, the supernatural refused, and creation, miracles, and even the. resurrection, all explained as natural phenomena!
In this atmosphere the rising generation is being reared. Shall nothing be done to reach them? Shall nothing be done to gain their ears? Do not let us hide ourselves behind generalities or distort the sovereignty of our God and make it a stalking-horse for our indolence. Let us be up and doing. Let each ask, What can I do to forward this blessed work?
Scripture puts children and childlike simplicity in a most blessed place. We cannot forbear quoting one passage in full, ample enough, surely, to ' engage our prayerful interest in the young.
“At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And. 'Jesus called a little child unto Him, and set him in the midst of them, and said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in My name receiveth Me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in Me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea." (Matt. 18:1-61At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? 2And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, 3And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. 4Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. 6But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. (Matthew 18:1‑6).)
How unlike are God's thoughts and ways to ours! We should have chosen great persons for great communications. God reveals them to "babes," and out of the mouths of "babes and sucklings He has perfected praise." Children, little children, babes, sucklings—what a list Scripture presents!
Bible Testimony to God's Working Among the Young.
Joseph evidently was blessed by God before he was seventeen years old, for when he was sold into Egypt at that age he had enough spiritual decision to withstand temptations of no ordinary kind; and at the comparatively young age of thirty stood Second only to Pharaoh. And Samuel is described as "the child Samuel" when the Lord made Himself known to him. David was "but a youth" when he met the giant, and even then could recount how that the Lord had delivered him from the paw of the lion and the bear when as a lad he kept his father's sheep in the wilderness. Jeroboam's child was taken away because of all his father's house he was the only one in whom was found any good thing-toward the Lord God of Israel. “Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign... And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in all the way of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or the left. "Paul could write to Timothy," that from a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”
Personal Testimony.
More are saved at: seven than at seventy. The overwhelming consensus of testimony is that the vast majority of those whom God blesses are blessed when young. Very few are reached over forty; very many under fourteen. Aged sinners are saved to show what God can do, but He-claims the young. Ask a hundred Christians when they were converted, and it will but confirm this testimony. Only last night at tea the writer tested this. Ten Christians were seated round the table. Seven out of the ten testified that they had been brought to God when under twenty. The writer himself was saved at eleven.
John Wesley was the subject of God's dealing in a very manifest way when a little boy learning his alphabet. Whitefield, the prince of open-air preachers, was reached when a lad in his mother's public-house—the "Blue Bell"—at Gloucester.
C. H. Spurgeon was but a raw youth when, one wintry morning in a dissenting chapel in Colchester, the Lord reached him. Examples might easily be multiplied, but enough has been cited to show what an encouraging field the evangelizing of the young presents.
"Who Will Go for Us?”
The grateful, cleansed prophet, Isaiah, on hearing this voice of the Lord, cried, "Here am I; send me." Oh that many of the Lord's people would as earnestly cry, "Send me"! It is no use going unless we are sent. We shall be failures if we essay to do that for which God has not fitted us. But we can all do something. ALL CAN PRAY. "I exhort," wrote Paul to Timothy, "that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men"; and the expression "all men" embraces all mankind, and therefore the young. If you pray, you sympathize. If you sympathize, you will show it in deeds, not alone in words. You will, at any rate, encourage the work. May I ask you, Have the young a special place in your prayers and sympathy?
One great mistake is to think that anyone can work among the young. We say, "Oh! he's a children's man," as if that meant something childish in the man. Let us seek to have a due sense of the importance of this Christ like work. When Elisha raised the Shunammite's son, we read, "he stretched himself upon the child." We should have thought that to put a living man's mouth on a dead child's mouth, a living man's eyes on a dead child's eyes, a living man's hands on a dead child's hands would require contraction rather than stretching. Believe me, if anyone imagines that the work is anything but of prime importance, he makes a great mistake. Indeed, many an acceptable preacher quite fails to get the interest and attention of the children. We appeal not to great minds and gifts, but to great simplicity, great faith, great tact, the love that hopeth all things, endureth all things, that suffereth long, and is kind. What need of inexhaustible patience, that first mark of an apostle, in such a work!
Ways and Means.
Some may be called to address from the public platform large audiences, others may be able to gather but half a dozen children into their drawing-room or kitchen, as the case may be. My first and greatest desire is for your prayers, then act in faith; and do not go beyond your faith, but pray do not lag behind it.
In the winter months in big cities how easily a band of earnest young Christians can gather the children into a suitable hall, and by means of clear, earnest, simple preaching, illustrated by the blackboard it may be, secure the attention of the children, and gain a hearing for the gospel. The Scriptures abound in incident and illustration, and with eyes, ears, and hearts open we may likewise glean incidents from everyday life, and illustrations from sea, land, and sky.
Then in summer what opportunities there are for open-air or tent services in the villages and country places! On foot or by bicycle, distant spots may be visited, and the whole country-side for a radius of many miles worked. Did not our blessed Lord visit the villages? One day a mountain was His pulpit, another day a fishing-boat. Oh, if our hearts were more like His, how simply we should avail ourselves of opportunities I Then, again, how happily and healthily a summer holiday may be spent at some seaside place where children abound, and opportunities occur leading to great results, if only used aright. And what shall we say of dark Roman Catholic and heathen lands? What need! What openings for faith, courage, and tact! Much that we have already stated applies with tenfold force here. May God light candles in many a dark corner of the earth!
An Appeal for Work Among All Classes of Children.
"To the poor the gospel is preached," is as applicable to work among the young as among their elders. The children of the slums are more accessible than the children of the upper classes. The rich hedge themselves round with artificial barriers. Therefore there is need to ask that all classes of children shall be remembered.
One helpful principle is this-whilst all should remember the multitudes and the poor, we should seek to reach the children in the class to which we ourselves belong. Some Christians have position in this world. In Scripture we have not only the simple fishermen of Galilee, but Paul, the university graduate; Zenas, the lawyer; Luke, the beloved physician; Cornelius, the converted army officer; the most excellent Theophilus; those of Cæsar’s household; the elect lady and her children. What an opportunity lies within the grasp of those who are in good positions in this life that are denied their poorer brethren! How pleasant and natural it would be for such to gather the children of their neighborhood into their drawing-rooms, and thus seek an entrance for the gospel into circles naturally difficult of access. When the heart is filled with love for Christ and for souls, what blessed opportunities are ours! May we not miss them! Missed, they are beyond recall. Truly, "now is the accepted time.”
“Lord,... What Shall This Man Do?”
Peter, impetuous, warm-hearted, and blundering, asked the Lord this question concerning John. The blessed Lord answered by saying; "If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou Me." In effect-but how delicately and gently it was done!-He said, "Mind your own business, and don't interfere with another servant." Most important advice, and well worthy of our consideration. So, please, let it be clearly understood that the writer of this paper desires only to put principles and suggestions before his readers, not to dictate to them what to do. He would fain stir up himself and others, especially his younger brethren, to fresh and deeper exercise as to this important field of service.
Concluding Considerations.
The facility of work among the young is alike its charm and danger. Older folks are under the bias of mature years, their minds made up on important questions, and less open to conviction. With the children this is not so. Sectarian partisanship has not yet gained a hold upon their minds and prejudices. They are ready to hear anybody and believe anything. For one adult ready to listen to the gospel, you can find ten children. Their minds are open to impressions and their memories receptive of the most lasting memories life is capable of.
This is the charm of work among the young. But in the very charm what danger besets the worker! He may be inclined to forget that, whilst all this is helpful on our side of things, on God's side it is as much a miracle of grace and power to convert a child as to reach a grown-up person. The work in their souls is as important and sacred. Then let us be careful not to take advantage of their plastic and receptive minds. Let us be careful not to push them beyond their faith or exercise, nor to lightly heal wounds of God's own, making till by the Spirit He applies the healing balm and ointment. Work among the young is a very blessed, gracious privilege, but it demands much prayer, seriousness, and dependence, as well as brightness, tact, patience, and love.
"Also I heard the voice, of the Lord, saying; Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us? Then said I, Here am I;, send me.”
A. J. P.