T.V. Moore on “God’s University”

Moore takes the Biblical position that we should look to the Scriptures to understand both the problem of and the remedy for juvenile delinquency.

To the extent that the youth of Moore’s day were involved in the common vices of the era, he began exploring the problem by looking at the failure of the family to train its young people in the ways of piety and obedience in the Lord. And although he speaks with conviction about the necessity for parents to inculcate obedience in their children at an early age, he also emphasizes above all love as the guiding principle of family well-being.

 

In 1853, the Board of Managers for the House of Refuge in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania organized a contest to draw attention to the problem of juvenile delinquency. Prize money was offered and, ultimately, three prize essays were published in 1855, which dealt with the problem in dramatically different ways, as evidenced by at least the first two titles: (1) “The State’s Care of Its Children: Considered as a Check on Juvenile Delinquency;” (2) “God’s University; or, The Family Considered as a Government, a School, and a Church, the Divinely Appointed Institute for Training the Young, for the Life that Now is, and for that which is to Come”; and (3) “An Essay on Juvenile Delinquency.” The author of the second essay, which is highlighted here, is Thomas Verner Moore.

Whereas the first essay emphasizes the role of the state in restraining juvenile delinquency, and the third essay emphasizes education as the chief remedy for the problem, Moore takes the Biblical position that we should look to the Scriptures to understand both the problem and the remedy. And in doing so, he focuses our attention squarely on the role of the family, God’s institution, designed especially for the good of society and the seminary of the church. (In the words of the English Puritan William Gouge, “The family is a seminary of the church and commonwealth”)

To the extent that the youth of Moore’s day were involved in the common vices of the era, he began exploring the problem by looking at the failure of the family to train its young people in the ways of piety and obedience in the Lord. And although he speaks with conviction about the necessity for parents to inculcate obedience in their children at an early age, he also emphasizes above all love as the guiding principle of family well-being.

The grand agent in executing family laws, is love. This should manifest itself in words, looks, and tones, to be properly effective. The parent whose cold and repulsive manner represses all confiding familiarity in the child, is building a wall of ice between himself and his offspring, which even the warmth of love cannot penetrate. The child should be early taught to confide his feelings freely to his parent, by the open and loving manner of the parent, or he will seek companions and confidants elsewhere.

But family religion involves more than family worship. As all religion is included in love, so all family religion is contained in family love; and where there is this genuine love to God and one another, the family is not only a church, but an earthly type of heaven.

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