The Biblical word ''conversion'' is in its place, even when it concerns godly children. For even in them the Spirit of God must work both an awakening to a sense of sin and real conversion, if their relation to God shall continue to be right when they grow up.
The awakening in godly children will take its time-it must needs so be, as they grow up, to clearly see the indwelling sinfulness and the corruption of the lost nature. But this must be revealed to them.
To begin with it will mostly be particular sins the child will see-as disobedience, evil, bitter words, lies and other bad ways.
But when the child by direction of Christian parents, God's Word and the Spirit learns to take note of these definite outbursts of sin and feel sorry for them, then it lives under the discipline of the Spirit and the awakening will gradually progress as the child grows and develops.
But the awakening must develop further-and deeper.
The child must learn to know more than the definite sins of commission in word and deed-it must also learn to acknowledge the sins of omission, sins in thoughts, sins in desires, as real sins.
When the sex life awakens in the growing child, sensual and impure thoughts are apt to awaken also, and the spirit of vanity and pride will push forward in the lost nature with the desire to be just like the worldly children in sinful pleasures.
This and much more will arise from the depth of the lost and corrupt nature-even in the praying child.
So much of what is being read, seen and heard in our times, is in the direction just to awaken and nourish the lower desires in children and young people.
"One secret thought
With evil fraught,
Which in the heart was cherished,
Havoc of God's grace hath wrought,
And the soul hath perished."
Thoughtful Christian parents have no easy task now.
But the child needs to see these evil thoughts and inclinations, which it is prone to caress in the heart, as sin against God.
And the convicting power of the Spirit will now be of help to the inner life and point out the sinfulness of the sins in the depth of the heart.
It is also the work of the Holy Spirit to reveal to the child how helpless, poor and needy it stands over against these evil powers of sin in the lost nature. And how impure the heart is in the presence of a Holy God and how guilty under His righteous judgment upon sinful and lost man.
The work of the Holy Spirit has now led the child forward to a true awakening. It is more or less contrite under the law and feels unhappy and miserable in the inner man.
And now it realizes that it can no longer get along with the child-faith it had. Because it had not been much of an experienced personal faith before--it could not possibly have been so in the early stages of childhood as the child believed only what it had been taught.
Neither had the child in a conscious manner appropriated unto itself the free grace of God, because it had not felt the evil root of sin in the lost nature.
Nevertheless the faith was true and the praying child was really a child of God ever since it in baptism received the washing of regeneration. But in the conscious spiritual awakening the child has begun to know its own sinfulness and guilt before God, so that it can no longer live on the early faith.
At this time of awakening and breaking up of the heart, as it were, the child by the Spirit is brought to the parting of the ways to a real choice and here it is that the conversion of a good, pious child comes in.
If the child now in this age of transition--passing from childhood to youth--bows in humility and obedience before the light it has received and chooses to deny sin, live entirely for God, and cling in faith to the word of grace, full and free, as it is in Jesus, then it comes through the narrow gate of conversion--comes into the conscious and personal experienced life of conversion and faith in God.
Now all things become new for him or her, even though they had lived the childhood life of faith in God the whole time since they had received the Christian baptism.
However, the conversion of godly children and conversion of those who have gone entirely away from God are not similar in all things. But both classes have the same experience of their own sinfulness and of God's wonderful grace toward the lost sinner, so they both in a very real sense share the blessings of the spiritual fellowship and they together rejoice in the "communion of saints."
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