All men are interested in a bargain.
We may not all have money to invest for dividends. We may not even have a bank account from which we seek a little interest on each dollar. And if we do have a little to deposit, we may not have the opportunity to “shop around” to determine which financial institution will give us the greatest amount of interest for the use of our money. There may be but one bank or one savings and loan association in the district where we live.
But all men watch the papers for bargain sales and wait with items of food or clothing until they are offered at a lower price than the current price. If we can save a few pennies here or there, it is the same as finding a few more pennies to supply our needs. It even looks more like a bargain to see it offered for ninety-nine cents rather than one dollar. There are even instances where the unsuspecting will buy two-for-a-quarter, thinking that they are getting a bargain, when the old price was twelve cents a piece.
But the question is whether we are as careful and concerned about spiritual advantages as we are about the material. Are we alert and looking for spiritual “dividends?” Do we weigh spiritual matters as carefully and seriously as we do the material? Are we interested in getting more, or even anything, of spiritual value and advantage for ourselves?
In writing on this subject of Double Dividends we have in mind particularly the field of the education and training of our children in the fear of God’s name. There is nothing so rewarding and that gives double dividends as the sincere, diligent, and faithful training of our children to the utmost of our power. In fact, in the measure that we do this to the utmost of our power, we receive those “dividends” or that “interest” upon our “investment.” And we speak of double dividends because it has a twofold reward. The child benefits from such training and instruction; but the parent as well benefits greatly by his activity with his children in the instruction from and based upon God’s Word.
I wish to thank Rev. Vanden Berg for republishing the firm convictions of the undersigned, which he wrote some eighteen years ago and to which he subscribes as fully today as then. After all, one does not like to republish his own writings, as though he has no new thoughts on the matter, or is too busy to restate it in the light of more recent developments. But, if what was written then was true in that day, it is even more so true and worthy of serious consideration today. If we had to write it over, we would not desire to weaken it and modify it, but enforce it and underscore it.
We are reminded in this connection of the history of Israel, which has been recorded upon the pages of Holy Writ for our instruction and warning. Israel was very distinctly told by God in the days of Joshua not to leave in the land any of the unbelievers, lest they corrupt the minds of the covenant seed with their idolatry and evil practices. That was for them the utmost of their power. They were to wipe out the Canaanites to the uttermost and to spare absolutely none but those who,—as Rahab,—revealed a sincere and true faith in God. This surely is not our calling today in the physical sense of the word. Nor is it our calling to get out of this world. But it is our calling to condemn all modern idolatry as surely as Israel was to wipe it out literally and physically. We are to destroy the idols of false doctrine before the eyes of our children by an unequivocal condemnation of all of them.
That also means that we are to cast out of our church-circles those who insist on maintaining evil practices and false—doctrines, to practice them before our children and to defend them in their presence, or who even seek to teach them to our covenant seed. We must strive for purity in our own circles, lest we encourage our covenant seed in the ways of evil by our silence or unconcern. We may be sure that when we look the other way when sin is committed before our eyes, our children are not going to look away from but look at these sins and duplicate them. Was that not the case with Noah in his drunkenness and his son Ham? Noah practiced evil, and his son delighted in beholding it. Noah fell into sin, but Ham did not run away from it. He ran towards it and invited his brother to seek it. And sins harbored, false doctrines permitted, and mental images of God that deny Him His glory and are maintained uncondemned will result in “dividends” of wickedness in the coming generations. We may wring our hands and decry the evil which we see and then stay where false doctrines are harbored and evil practices are defended, but we will find that our children will also harbor them and defend them and give us even more reason for wringing our hands and weeping in our souls because of these conditions. A strong condemnation of the evil is necessary; but where we cannot “destroy” these idols and men have put them behind a glass case out of our reach, we must take the next best step after condemning them in no uncertain terms. We must simply leave that “land.” It is utter folly to say that we should stay to exert our influence. When the heresies abound and the evil practices which we condemn flourish, it is high time to realize that our “influence” is no influence, that our efforts are worthless and that for our own good and the good of our children and grandchildren, we must separate. Only in that way can we ever expect “double dividends” for our children and for ourselves.
Of course, that refers to the schools where our children attend. And it refers to these schools all the way from kindergarten through college and university. Material considerations must not lead us to seek alzy of our education anywhere but where “the doctrines taught here in this Christian church” are taught. Granted that today because we have no schools of our own beyond the ninth grade,—and should strive with all our power, financially and otherwise to provide such schools for higher education as well,—there are schools where some of the doctrines taught “here in this Christian church” are taught. In the schools of the world none of them are taught or even may be taught. For “dividends” in our own lives and in the lives of our children, we certainly will not then send them to institutions of learning that deny the Triune existence of God, the divinity of Christ, His virgin birth, the personality of the Spirit, the infallibility of the Word of God, and the atonement through the blood of Christ. When there are institutions that still maintain these doctrines, be it in a weakened form and so that they speak of them only occasionally, this is far better than to attend or to send our children to institutions that deny these truths and openly teach atheism. We must remember that Jesus said, “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.” Matthew 12:30.
This all, of course, does not take away all calling to provide as soon as we can as complete an educational system as is possible for the instruction of our covenant seed in all the doctrines, that is, on the basis of all the doctrines taught in our churches. And our covenant seed has an obligation to train for the field of education so that there are teachers in all the subjects and for all the grades who can instruct in harmony with and with the beauty of the glorious doctrine which our covenant God has been pleased to preserve in our churches.
Nor does this mean that then, for all the rest, we can do to the least of our powers or nothing at all. The school is an extension of the home and not of the Church or of the State. And it is quite easy to wash one’s hands of the whole business by sending his children to a Protestant Reformed School and teacher(s) and boast of doing to the utmost of his power to have them instructed in the doctrine taught in our churches, only to send his children to the catechism classes of the church wholly unprepared or with only a suggestion of preparation. Christian training begins, we must remember, in the home, and the parents are responsible for it. Granted that parents are not able, as a rule, or have not the time to teach that which is taught in school, the parent who is too busy to see to it that his child knows the truth of Scripture as it is formulated in the questions and answers of his catechism book, is plainly too busy with material things. All do not have the same power to instruct, but all have the calling with all the power they do have to train at home and to see to it that the children apply themselves to the utmost of their power to the truths of Scripture and come, to the utmost of their power, prepared to the catechism class.
If no schools, at the moment, are in existence wherein all the doctrines taught in our churches are also taught, then the parent is doubly obliged to take his child aside, strive to learn what is being taught him, and to supply that which those who do not believe these truths are not able or willing to teach.
And, of course, we teach by our behavior and conduct as well. We teach obedience by our own submission to those in authority over us. We teach love and patience by our own controlled temper. We teach modesty and chastity by our own dress and speech. All these belong to the powers God has given us. And in the far more evil day than the one in which we wrote some eighteen years ago, our convictions are stronger than they were at that time that we need to branch out and strive diligently and collectively to provide instruction above the ninth grade level even into college and higher education of every kind. What is more, our actions along these lines also belong to the training of our children. We must train them to think in terms of reaching beyond our present stage. The power we exert is observed by them. It must be increased by them, when they take our places and we have gone to our reward. To that power belongs tact and good judgment and patience and perseverance and love. For, after all, the power of love must motivate and rule us in these endeavors. And then it is not love to our children, but love to God. When that is lacking, and we simply want to show what we also can do, or what we have done, it will all come to nought. It must be a love for our children that flows forth from a love to God. Our schools have been founded by that love, but the question today is whether that love is stagnant or vibrant and living. If we love God, nothing is too much or too costly; and no effort to realize that which is good for HIS children will be spared.
We then will also reap these “double dividends.” Our children will be blessed by the God who chose them from eternity. Scholastically they may not make such rapid progress as in larger schools with one teacher in one grade. And yet that must still be shown. Children from our schools have been honor roll students as well as those from other institutions of learning. What is more, as David says, “The fear of the Lord is the principle of wisdom.” Psalm 111:10. Our children are truly wise, for they see God and know the joy that is beyond and after this life. They learn in school to pray to Him, to put their trust in Him, to know their calling before Him. They see the folly of the wise men of this world. And again as the psalmist says it, “Thou through thy commandments has made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation.” Psalm 119:98, 99. And the purer in the truth the doctrines are upon which their daily instruction is based, the wiser they become and the more understanding they have. They receive a training and instruction that has value far beyond this life. The “dividends” which they reap are worth far more than this whole world full of gold and silver. God puts “gladness in” their “hearts, more than in the time when” the unbelievers’ “corn and wine increased.” Psalm 4:7. The benefit is simply incomparable, and these material things are not worthy to be compared with that benefit. Moth and rust will corrupt, and thieves will steal what men achieve apart from that truth. Through the truth our children will attain, by God’s grace, to that which no man can take from them and to that which will everlastingly satisfy and grow in its preciousness.
The other part of the “dividend” is for the faithful parent. He has the unspeakable joy to behold that God is pleased to gather His children out of our children. As the Apostle John states it, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in the truth.” III John 4. It gives utmost satisfaction to the believing parent to do to the utmost of his power to shield his child from the lie and evil and to provide him with the truth and the knowledge of righteousness. Here is no bank failure.
Here can be no stock market crash. He shall see his children’s children in the new Jerusalem. “Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children, whom thou mayest make princes in all the earth,” is God’s promise to the faithful parent in Psalm 45:16.