Prov. 8:17, “Those that seek me early shall find me.” Commonly regarded as teaching that it is the duty of little children to give their hearts to Jesus, and that they do this far more easily in youth than in after years.
We are far from presumptuously limiting God, by denying that His saving work can be accomplished in a child’s heart. “It is a mercy to be under the saving influence of religion when young—a special favour to be in Christ in one’s youth. Christian parents feel inexpressible joy in seeing their children called in early life.”—John Hazelton. There were saved children in the early church (Eph. 6:1).
We however deny that a child is in a more salvable condition than an adult. His conscience is generally very susceptible to moral influence. His emotions are easily wrought upon by moral appeals. His transgressions are not in magnitude and multitude what those of aged sinners are—but sin is essentially the same in all hearts, and none can be saved apart from regenerating grace and the blood of Jesus. The most guileless child is incapable of spiritual acts, and has a mind which is enmity against God, without His grace.
It requires, therefore, the putting forth of “the exceeding greatness of God’s power” ere a child can savingly enter the Kingdom of God.
It is most uncertain whether the above text refers to children at all. It is rendered by W. Newman, D.D., “Those that seek me earnestly shall find me;” while it is generally admitted that “making the Lord the first object of research,” “seeking Him above all things else,” is the sense intended. It is a fact, that wherever person have grace to seek the Lord with all their heart they will assuredly find Him, whether they are old or young. “Moreover, it does not state that we are the first to love and find God, and not He us, which would contradict Isa. 65:1; Rom. 5:6-8; 1 John 4:10-19; but the object of the passage is to remove desponding doubts from the godly, and to assure them that God loves them, and presents Himself in the way, so as to be found by those that are led to seek Him (cf. Heb. 11:6).”—A.R. Faussett, A.M.