THE CHILDREN FOR CHRIST.
The Heritage of Holiness.
'Now are your children holy.'—1 Cor. vii. 14.
LET us bless God for this precious sentence. There is not a deeper or more distinctly Divine word in Scripture than holy; in this statement the whole treasure of holiness, with all that revelation teaches us concerning it, is made the heritage of our children. God's holiness and our children are meant for each other; as parents we are the God-ordained links for bringing them into perfect union. If we would do this we must know to understand and apply this precious truth. The revelation of God's holiness was a very gradual one, because it was the opening up of the mystery of the Holy Trinity. There was first holiness as seen in God, its source and fountain; then in Christ, the Holy One of God, our sanctification; then in the Holy Spirit, as the Spirit of holiness in the Church. It is only by gradual steps that we can rise from the lower to the higher use of the word, and enter into the fulness of Divine meaning which the word has as used of our children.
Holy. The word expresses a relation. Whatever was separated unto God and made His property was called holy. 'The Lord will show who are His and who is holy: the man whom the Lord shall choose, he is holy.' Apart from the moral character, even an inanimate object, whatever had been given to God, and taken by Him to be His own, was holy. And so the first and simplest thought our faith must take in and fill with spiritual meaning is this: our children belong to God. The very fact of their being born of believing parents make them His in a very special sense. Just as in olden times the children of the slave were the property of the master as much as the slave himself, so the Lord's redeemed, who love to call themselves His bond-servants, have no desire to look upon their children in any other light than themselves—wholly and absolutely His. 'Now are your children holy.'
Holy. The word suggests a destiny. It is of great importance, as we study the word holy in Scripture, to notice how everything that is called holy had a use and purpose; every holy day and thing, place and person, had its service to fulfil. Let the Christian parent beware of looking upon holiness as a mere means to an end, simply as the way to get safe to heaven. Oh, it is infinitely more! Let him consent to it, that his child is God's property, to be used in this world only as God directs, to be trained with the one purpose of doing God's will, and showing forth God's glory. The more clearly this is apprehended and made the distinct object of the work of prayer and education, the more speedily shall we be led to grasp what the word holy contains in its higher meaning, and what the path is to realize the blessing it offers.
Holy. The word is the pledge of a Divine lifepower. Though we find that God Himself uses the word holy sometimes of external relation or privilege, and at others of real spiritual blessing, we must remember that the former always had the latter in view as its aim. Let us beware of emptying the word holy of its Divine truth and power. If God calls our children holy because of the covenant in which He has taken them up, it is because they are born, have their life from a believing parent, who is holy in Christ, and therefore are holy too. The child of true believers, having soul and body under the rule and indwelling of the Holy Spirit, inherits from his parents, not only the sinful nature, but habits and tendencies and dispositions which the child of the heathen or the infidel does not share. These are the true seed-germs of holiness, the working of the Holy Spirit from the mother's womb. Even where it cannot be seen, and is but very feeble, there is a secret heritage of the seed of holiness implanted in the child of the believer. And with this there is given, in the word holy, the promise of the Divine life and power to make to the child a reality and a personal possession what is his in covenant and in the being born of a holy parentage. There is secured to him that Holy Spirit in whom the holiness of God has reached its full manifestation. In promising the Holy Spirit to His disciples, our Lord said He would be a river of living water flowing from them to others. The believer has a power to influence those with whom he comes in contact; his faith is to save his household, since the child bom of him inherits a blessing in the very life he receives from one who is sanctified by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. In the mother's womb the child can receive the Holy Spirit. Oh, let us be sure of it, when God gives our child the name of holy, there is the beginning and the pledge of a Divine power, even the work of His own Holy Spirit. Let nothing less than this be what our heart reads in God's words: Your children are holy.
Holy. The word describes a character. God's holiness is His infinite moral perfection; that He hates and destroys the evil, that He loves and works the good. Holiness is the Divine energy of which perfect righteousness and infinite love are the revelation. It is correspondence with Himself that God seeks and that He gives. 'Be ye holy; I am holy; I make holy.' In calling your children holy God invites you to have them partakers of His holiness; without this, holiness is but a name and a shadow. It is the work of the Christian parent to train his children in such dispositions and habits, such ways of thinking and feeling and acting, as shall be in harmony with the faith, that they are holy in Christ and belong to the Holy Spirit, as shall be a preparation for His dwelling in them and using them as His temple. 'Holy in all manner of conversation' is what your children are to be; their young child-life separated from the world, its spirit and its service; consecrated to God, His Spirit, and His will.
It is as we begin to understand the word,'Your children are holy,' clearly, that we shall know to apply it rightly. We shall find it a word of great power in our dealings both with God and with our children. With God it will be the strength of our prayer and faith. We shall feel liberty to claim that we be not sent away with a mere possibility, a promise without fulfilment, a covenant - right without a personal experience. No. We may be sure that when our children are called holy, all that is implied in the word holy is meant for them. As we study the wonderful word in the story of Israel, in the character of God, in the person of Jesus, in the work of the Spirit of holiness, we shall find in God's 'Your children are holy' the assurance that it is all for them. As we plead for the conversion of our children, we shall say with holy boldness, Hast not Thou said they are holy? As we plead still more earnestly that they may not only be saved, but truly and fully sanctified, vessels meet for the Master's use, we shall most confidently cry, O Thou who hast laid the name of holy on them, it cannot be Thy will it should mean anything less than all Thy power and love can give. As in its light we confess how little we have realized the holiness of our parentage and the holiness of our children, the blessed heritage of holiness they have in us as believing parents, we shall yield ourselves more than ever to train them as holy to the Lord.
And so the word will exercise its mighty influence in our dealings with our children. We shall think of our home and family as His home, the dwelling-place of His holiness. We shall learn to look upon sin in our children, upon the spirit of the world, or conformity to it, as at utter variance with a child which the Holy God has set apart for holiness. We shall write holiness to the Lord upon our doorposts. We shall realize that the first need of a parent, whose children God calls holy, is to be very holy; that personal holiness is the indispensable condition for educating a holy child. 'Your children holy' will lead us to look to our own position, 'Ye are holy in Christ Jesus,' and to our own example and conduct as the channel through which the knowledge and the love and the power of holiness are to come to them. And as we hear the words we have known only as spoken of Jesus used by God Himself of each child as it is born,' that holy thing which is born of thee, ' 'thy holy child,' we shall realize that nothing but a life in the holiness of God, a life entirely under the leading of the Spirit of holiness, can fit us for watching over and training the children God has given us.
O my God! my meditations on this word of the Holy Spirit have made me feel deeply the need of His Divine light to teach me what it means to Thee. Lord, show me, I pray Thee, what the thoughts and the purposes of Thy heart are when Thou sayest to Thy believing people, whom Thou hast sanctified in Christ,'Your children are holy.' Show me, my God, how in this word there is secured to my child all that treasure of sanctification which is prepared in Christ, and which the Spirit of sanctification makes our personal possession.
O blessed God! Thou art the Thrice Holy; the glory which the seraphim praise and worship without ceasing is the glory of Thy holiness; in it all Thy attributes have their perfection and their beauty. Thou hast revealed Thyself as the Holy One who makes holy, Thy Son as Thy Holy One, Thy Spirit as the Spirit of holiness. Thou callest Thy people Thy holy ones, and even of their little ones thou sayest,' Your children are holy.'
O my God! Thy words are never like men's words, empty thoughts; they are full of meaning, of life, and of power. Oh, make these words of Thine quick and powerful in our hearts, that we may understand and rejoice in and hold fast the infinite blessing they bring us. And grant, Lord, that as we love and train, as we pray and believe for, our children, it may all be with this one object as our motive and aim, that we and they may be holy to the Lord, realizing and showing forth the glory of His holiness. Amen.