Parents could not bear to be so misrepresented to their children, and what condemnation would be sufficient for teachers who would turn the hearts of children against their father, poisoning the very springs of life. Yet this wrong is done to God. In general, children taught by their own parents do not suffer so much from these misrepresentations of God, as those who have been left with servants and ignorant teachers, themselves warped by a wrong early training. Fathers and mothers must have within themselves too much intuition of the Fatherhood of God not to give another tone to their teaching, and probably it is from fathers and mothers, as they are in themselves symbols of God’s almighty power and unmeasured love, that the first ideas of Him can best reach the minds of little children.
But it is rare that circumstances admit the continuance of this best instruction. For one reason or another children pass on to other teachers and, except for what can be given directly by the clergy, must depend on them for further religious instruction. This further teaching, covering, say, eight years of school life, ten to eighteen, falls more or less into two periods, one in which the essentials of Christian life and doctrine have to be learned, the other in which more direct preparation may be made for the warfare of faith which must be encountered when the years of school life are over. It is a great stewardship to be entrusted with the training of God’s royal family of children, during these years on which their after life almost entirely depends, and “it is required among stewards that a man may be found faithful.” For other branches of teaching it is more easy to ascertain that the necessary qualifications are not wanting, but in this the qualifications lie so deeply hidden between God and the conscience that they must often be taken for granted, and the responsibility lies all the more directly with the teacher who has to live the life, as well as to know the truth, and love both truth and life in order to make them loved. These are qualifications that are never attained, because they must always be in process of attainment, only one who is constantly growing in grace and love and knowledge can give the true appreciation of what that grace and love and knowledge are in their bearing on human life: to be rather than to know is therefore a primary qualification. Inseparably bound up with it is the thinking right thoughts concerning what is to be taught.