What Dr. Torrey Thinks Of “Child Conversion”
Paragraphs from his great sermon on this subject.
Children need to be converted and born again. There are a good many in our day who do not believe that. They talk about the children “growing up into the kingdom,” but unless the children accept Jesus Christ and are definitely converted and born again they are not in the kingdom and cannot grow up into it.
I know of a little child of four years of age whose father and mother were infidels, grandfather and grandmother were infidels, and all of her uncles and aunts were infidels, but that child definitely accepted Christ at four years of age, and all the infidel influence of her family could not shake her faith. She lived four beautiful earnest Christian years, and then God took her home to Himself.
A little girl of eleven was converted in our first mission in Liverpool. If I remember correctly she was the daughter of a saloonkeeper. When we went to Liverpool the next year for our second mission the vicar of one of the churches wrote me saying, “We have in our parish a little girl who was converted in your first mission in Liverpool, and she has been an angel of light in the whole parish. I know of sixty-seven persons whom she has led to Christ in the past year.”
One afternoon in a meeting in a city in Australia hundreds of children professed to accept Jesus Christ. I do not think the ministers thought much of it, but if they had been men and women, bankers, lawyers, etc., they would have thought more of the results, but what consequence is a child. That night when I gave out the invitation, among those that arose was a finely dressed gentleman and his wife. The minister standing beside me on the platform became very excited and said, “Look there, look there.” I replied, “I am looking, what about it?” He said, “What do you suppose he means?” I replied, “He means what he says, that he accepts Christ.” “But,” he said, “That man has been the mayor of our city, and he is now president of our racing association. What can he mean?” I went down to the gentleman and his wife and found that they had both definitely accepted Christ. As I finished my conversation with him, he said, “Would you like to know what led us to do what we have done tonight? My little boy was at your children’s meeting this afternoon and accepted Christ, and he came home and told his mother and me that we must come and accept Christ too, and that is the reason we came and accepted Christ.” No one seemed to think it meant much when that little boy decided for Christ, but if he had not, the former mayor and his wife would not have been converted.
When the children are converted they should be received into the church. When an adult is converted we are very anxious to get him into the Church as soon as possible. We would move heaven and Earth to get him in. But when a child is converted, we try to keep him out. This policy is madness. But people say if the child is thoroughly converted it will stand fast. Why don’t we say that about the adult? Because we want their money and their influence in the Church. This is a shameful thing to be forced to say, but facts warrant it. When a child is born into our home, do we leave that child outside the home on the porch, saying if the child is truly born it will not starve or freeze? Why then should we pursue this mad policy about the children that are born again? Why do we not give more attention to them than we do even to the adults?
Whatever the Chicago Avenue Church* does, let it do its full duty regarding the children. We may rejoice in the great company of drunkards who have been rescued by the Chicago Avenue Church, and who are now among the most active members of our Board of Elders and Deacons. I rejoice too, but how many children have gone through Chicago Avenue Sunday School, and are now out in the world, that might have been saved if we had done all in our power for Christ and the Church?
*Editor’s note: The Chicago Avenue Church was renamed in 1908 as The Moody Church. Dr. Reuben Archer Torrey served as Senior Pastor from 1894 to 1906.