George Scott Railton – raised right!

George Scott Railton

Unknown to too many, Commissioner George Scott Railton was one of the most powerful men of God in the annals of Christian history. He lived a life of total surrender and died in a train station, sick and still boldly attempting to further the gospel of his Lord Jesus Christ throughout the Earth. This he had broadly done as William Booth’s key man, during the early development of the still prominent Salvation Army.

How may a Christian parent raise their child to be such a man. Here is a rare glimpse into a pattern of child rearing worthy of being imitated, as quoted from his famous biography, Commission Railton, written by two who knew him well, Eileen Douglas and Mildred Duff.


This early influence it may have been which later led the Commissioner to attach such importance to prayer and singing in Salvation Army Meetings. He evidently had scant use for ‘preaching’ from his earliest youth. In these days of child study and moral suasion, his views upon corporal punishment and its effect upon himself will be of interest to some parents:

“My dear mother made upon me an unalterable impression in favor of the old-fashioned whipping system, to which I ever cling. She made me absolutely sure, firstly, that nothing could by an possibility remain hidden from her; and, secondly, that upon the discovery of any wilful disobedience or other conduct deserving of it, a whipping would follow. She made of whipping always a solemn means of grace. She never struck one of us an odd blow. When worthy of the whipping I would be sent upstairs, and then before punishment she always prayed with me and talked with me as to the will of God until I felt intensely my guilt before Him and longed for the whipping to be over. I do not believe the whipping itself was over-severe, or need to be, but it was all terrible enough to be a perpetual safeguard against every temptation, and an eternal memory for good.

“The wisdom of the plan always strikes me as opposed to the weak folly that either leaves children unchecked or inflicts such punishments as shutting up, or putting to bed, which really affects the rest of the family more than the culprit, and cannot constitute anything like the same dread which I felt.

“The texts most effectually put into me were: ‘Thou God seest me,’ ‘Lying lips are an abomination unto the Lord,’’The eye that mocketh at his father and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out,’ ‘Though hand join in hand, sin shall not go unpunished.”

These verses seem strangely opposite to those most commonly chosen for the children of today, but they are characteristic of that special era. The dawning spiritual life of little George was, as he himself found in the light of mature years, a strange contradiction. Yes, we see how wonderfully it enabled him in the days ahead to grapple with and win those who had spent a lifetime in rebellion against God. He says:

“My parents did all that the dearest and best and most conscientious could to guard me from all evil, and to win me for God; but the clearest light they could give, and the alluring influence of their quietly joyous and constant service to God and  men, only made more terribly evident my own natural dislike to God and to His service in any form.”

(Douglas, Eileen, and Mildred Duff. Commissioner Railton. London: The Salvationist Publishing and Supplies, Ltd., 1921. pgs. 4-5. Print.

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