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Great Obligations Attach to the Exercise of Procreative Powers—Prenatal Influences—"Train up a Child in the Way He Should Go!"—The Influence of Sunday Schools—The Confidence of Children—The Power of Suggestion in Child Training—Our Children in the Time of Trouble—Proper and Improper Amusements—Marriage of Children of New Creatures.
PARENTAL obligations are amongst the most momentous pertaining to the affairs of mankind. The power to propagate the human species, with all the possibilities connected and associated with the being thus brought into existence, is a wonderful one—the nearest approach of humanity to the divine power. Indeed, it is the exercise of divine power by man as God's agent. The possibilities connected with the birth of every child extend in opposite directions of advantage or disadvantage, good or evil, honor or dishonor, to wonderful extremes. Surely if mankind realized this matter from its true standpoint, it would lift the begetting of children from the plane of a passion and a relaxation of intellectual and moral principles to a consecrated plane, in which the responsibilities of fatherhood and motherhood would be realized in a manner and to a degree attained as yet surely by very few. These thoughts of obligation should extend not only to the child, whose mental and moral and physical characteristics are dependent upon the parent, but also to the Creator who intrusted to humanity this wonderful power of propagation, and to whom, as stewards, a reckoning, an accounting for the use of this divine power should be expected to be made.
These feelings of responsibility are intensified as we begin to realize that under the divine arrangement not only do the parents influence the character of the coming child in [F520] the moment of its begettal, but throughout the period of gestation. During that period the mind of the mother, her thoughts, her moods, her sentiments, are all being impressed upon the embryo child; and not only so, but at such a period the mother herself is specially susceptible to the influences surrounding her, many, if not all, of which are properly under the care of the husband. If the mother's mind be kept bright and cheerful and her heart happy, these will favorably influence the embryo; but if on the contrary she is harassed, worried, troubled, beset with contentions and perplexities, this distress will surely be impressed upon the embryo, giving a peevish or sad or ill-tempered disposition for life. If the prenatal surrounding conditions be those of debauchery and selfishness and meanness, is it any wonder that the embryo so impressed and the child born with such impressions should be mean, ignoble, and with tendencies toward debauchery, selfishness, etc.?
We are not to be understood as claiming that all the evil in the world is directly traceable to a parental legacy of sin and weakness bestowed upon the child in the period of gestation, nor even that it is all traceable to this and to the subsequent training of the child to manhood or womanhood. We admit that it is possible that some bad men and bad women were comparatively well born and well reared, even as Satan was created perfect and sinned wilfully under the Creator's tuition: yet we are seriously inclined to doubt if many of the bad characters ever had these two important assistances toward uprightness. We are in full agreement with the Scriptural declaration of a general rule: "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." How many parents, more or less disposed to question the truthfulness of this scripture, remember that the time to begin to train a child is at the moment of its begettal, and that a poorly begotten child needs to have trained out of it the weakness and foolishness and sin which were impressed upon it before birth?
We are not wishing to intimate the possibility of the birth [F521] of a perfect child under present fallen and imperfect conditions. On the contrary, we remember well the declaration of the Lord, "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?" We recognize that it is true of all that, "I was born in sin, shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me," and are merely urging that, whatever the world may see or not see on this subject, the Lord's people of the New Creation should realize the possibility of alleviating in some measure the stains and weaknesses which belong to the fallen race. They at least should see to it that their children are born with as noble characters as they can possibly bestow upon them under the divine arrangement. Fallen they will still be, and a Savior they will still need, and without him they could never attain either to perfection or to worthiness of eternal life. The natural man may perceive this truth to some extent and may profit by such suggestions as these but not to the extent that the New Creature may profit.
Strive how he will, the natural man is still natural—of the earth, earthy—and, hence, can impress upon his wife, and she upon the embryo, only such thoughts and sentiments as they themselves possess, and these are necessarily deficient in respect to the very highest sentiments—the spiritual. While the mind of the New Creature grasps the spiritual hopes and promises and ideals, and properly seeks to impress these upon so many as the Lord our God shall call by his truth and grace—seeks specially to develop children of God—nevertheless if for any reason they enter matrimonial relations, and consider it wise to propagate a human family, they have great advantage in this respect over the natural man and woman. They have loftier ideals, grander hopes, nobler aspirations, purer joys: and realizing the influence of their thoughts and emotions and sentiments upon the embryo child, such parents would be in a position to do for the child very much more indeed than could other parents for their offspring.
The world has gained a selfish wisdom somewhat along these lines. For instance, those interested in fine stock, [F522] cattle, horses, sheep, etc., not only give careful attention to proper mating, but, additionally, especially when endeavoring to breed fast horses, give careful attention to the mothers during the period of gestation. Their every need and comfort are provided for, their stables are clean, bright, well lighted; and without knowing to a certainty to what extent the mare may appreciate pictures, her stable walls display pictures of horses racing. Moreover, while in foal she is taken where she can see horses in competition, racing, etc. All this is designed to produce in the mother an ambition, the impression of which reflected upon her embryo foal will be helpful, advantageous to speed, and thus financially and otherwise profitable and pleasing to the owner.
Human parents have no such financial interest in their offspring; but they have or ought to have a far deeper and an unselfish interest. Their hopes and ambitions on behalf of their child should be to see them well endowed as respects mental and moral qualities. And although the New Creature cannot hope to beget his child to a spirit nature (since this is not his province), he could hope to give him such an earthly inheritance of good nature as would be closely in sympathy with things spiritual. Such certainly should be their desire, aim and hope. Many children have been begotten by honest, God-fearing parents and have been correspondingly blessed, and this influence, favorable to a high human standard, has gone wherever the Gospel of Christ has gone. Hence, we have higher types and standards more generally prevalent today in civilized lands than in heathen lands, notwithstanding the fact that Christian people generally have but imperfectly appreciated their privileges and responsibilities in connection with their children.
The sum of the argument is this: If the New Creatures mate, and purpose the bringing forth of offspring according to the flesh, they should school their minds and desires so that the moment of begettal should not only be one of mutual love and respect, but one of reverence for the Creator and of appreciation of the God-like power of procreation bestowed upon them. It should be, additionally, an [F523] occasion of prayer for the divine blessing; and every day and every hour subsequently, the interests of the child should be conserved in all of life's arrangements. It should not be considered a mere incident of life, but the most important thing. It would be a special occasion for the exercise of the graces of the spirit, which should previously have been cultivated to a considerable extent—faith in God and in his promises, hope, trust, patience, brotherly kindness, meekness, gentleness, love. These, of course, prevail at all times amongst those who are of the New Creation, but they should be on guard at such a time because of their realization that they are influencing, stamping, impressing character upon another generation.
So far as possible the home should be bright and cheerful, the mind directed to such channels as would be advantageous, reading, writing, mathematics and the practical duties of life. Heart culture should also be remembered—cultivation along lines in fullest accord with principles of justice, love and wisdom, with a continual recognition of the Lord in all of life's affairs; with loving confidences as between husband and wife, and kind and benevolent feelings toward the world in general. With benevolence, justice, love, associated with all of life's affairs, the conditions would be most favorable; but such a condition could scarcely be imagined without the fullest concurrence of the husband and without his careful provision and oversight; for, as already suggested, the mother at such a time is the least able to take the oversight of matters, even when they are those which properly belong to her own domain in the family. Then, also, the husband must be the more careful to lead in conversation in the right manner, to provide suitable and nourishing mental as well as material food, and above all to stir up his wife's pure mind in regard to the Lord and his glorious plan and all the features of the divine character, its wisdom, love, beneficence, justice and power.
Many Christian parents might reply to this, that they are not so circumstanced in life as to have all the conveniences and comforts and freedom from household and other cares [F524] at such a time. We answer, that we have merely marked out the ideal, and that it is for each of the Lord's children to seek to attain as nearly as possible to this ideal. But the New Creature should never forget that in this as in all the other experiences of life, the Lord by his grace and spirit makes up to him for all earthly disadvantages and lacks. Such an one, unfavorably circumstanced in any degree, should the more earnestly in prayer seek to have the heart filled with the peace of God which passeth all understanding, and to let that rule continually. One result of this peace in the heart is that, however much disorder may unavoidably surround the mother, the child would surely enjoy a larger measure of peace and love than otherwise—more than its brothers and sisters born under other circumstances would have. It should be less nervous and peevish, more composed and peaceable, more disposed for righteousness in principle and in conduct.
Nothing is further from our intention than to urge indiscriminate and frequent use of the rod in the training of children. We have cited these scriptures, however, to show the mistaken position of those who hold that corporal chastisement by parents, even when necessary, is wrong. The home that is ruled with the rod must of necessity be an unhappy home. The homes of the New Creatures should be ruled by love not by the rod. The rod is to be kept merely as an occasional necessity for enforcing the rules of love; and when it is administered it is to be wielded by the hand of love and never by the hand of anger. The New Creatures, governed by the spirit of a sound mind, learn gradually that order is one of heaven's first laws, and hence that it should be one of the first elements and characteristics of the homes of the New Creatures.
Order, however, does not of necessity mean absolute quiet, else the wilderness and the silent cities of the dead would be the only places where order would rule. Order may mean joy as well as peace, happiness as well as rest, liberty as well as law. Order means law—with New Creatures the Golden Rule and the Law of Love governing the head of the house and his helpmate, as well as governing the children, making of the parents ensamples to the children in all the Christian graces. Law, even the Law of Love, means rewards and punishments, and in the family the parents have the dispensing of these. According to their realized weaknesses they, in turn, need direction from the Heavenly Father that they may glorify him not only in their own hearts and wills, but that their homes shall be earthly ensamples of the homes of the righteous, the homes of those who have the mind of Christ.
Their rewards for their children should be in the provision of such comforts and blessings as circumstances, under control of a recognized providence, may permit. Their punishments may be more or less severe according to the wilfulness of the child, but never according to the standard of justice, never in the attempt to mete out to the child the full measure of what its conduct might justly demand—because we are not under justice ourselves, but under mercy, under love, and are to show mercy, not only in our dealings with others, but specially in our dealings with our own children, whose imperfections and blemishes are, doubtless, traceable in a greater or less degree to ourselves and our forebears. Love may sometimes punish by the refusal of a kiss, as it may sometimes reward by the giving of a kiss; it may sometimes for a season banish the unruly one from the company of the obedient and from the pleasures provided for them. The Law of Love may sometimes even exercise the rod of discipline to the extent of denying supper or of giving merely the necessities, bread and water, and withholding some of the additional comforts and luxuries; or may sometimes wield the literal rod of chastisement to enforce [F526] obedience, and thus preserve the order and blessings of the home, not only for the obedient children, but also for the chastised one, whom it hopes thus to bless and bring into full accord.
It is scarcely necessary to admonish the New Creation that they should not use angry or harsh words to their children; for such know that language of that kind is improper to any one under any circumstances. On the contrary, their "speech should be with grace," with love, with kindness, even when reproving. Nor is it necessary to suggest to the class we are addressing the impropriety of a hasty blow, which might do injury to the child not only physically—perhaps permanently injuring its hearing—but also wound its affections, develop in it a fear of the parent instead of love, which should be considered the only proper groundwork on which the obedience and order of the home are built. Furthermore, the hasty blow or cutting remark would be wrong, would indicate a wrong condition of mind on the part of the parent—a condition unfavorable to a proper, just decision of the matter along the lines of the Law of Love. The parent owes it to himself as a part of his own discipline, as well as to his child, that he shall never inflict a punishment which he has not sufficiently considered, and coolly and dispassionately found to be not more, but less, than justice might properly demand. He owes it to himself also that the child shall fully understand the situation, the necessity for the preservation of order in the home, that the happiness of the home may continue to the blessing of all its inmates; that the child understand thoroughly also that the parent has no anger toward him, no malice, no hatred, nothing but sympathy and love and the desire to do him good.
Earthly parents may attempt such control, but they will lack an important help in its prosecution; for not having submitted themselves fully and completely to the heavenly Father and his control and his Word, they cannot point, as would the New Creature, to the divine Law and their accountability, and their acknowledgment of and endeavors [F527] to be obedient to the same. Christian parents have—if they will use it—an immense leverage of advantage in dealing with their children. They should read to their children, from the Word, the divine sanction of parental authority—the divine requirement that a parent shall train up a child in the way he should go; and additionally he should point out the necessity for this—because we all are fallen and unable to come up to the divine standard, etc.; that all these means and corrections are necessary as helps to the counteraction of evil tendencies under which we have been born. It is a great mistake to suppose that children's minds do not appreciate these principles, do not appreciate right and wrong and the appropriateness of just penalties for wrongdoing, as well as of rewards for welldoing.
Many parents forget to look backward and to note at how early an age they themselves learned to appreciate principles of righteousness—to appreciate the parental care which neglected not to reprove, to correct, and even to chastise as seemed necessary. Let us recall, too, how keen was our sense of justice when we were children—how we mentally approved parental discipline when we understood its motive to be for the development of character, but how we resented it if we did not see a principle of justice, if we were reproved or otherwise punished for things of which we were not guilty, or if we were punished beyond a reasonable chastisement comporting with the offense. Not only is it the best and surest way of controlling a child thus to direct its mind along the lines of right and wrong, truth and falsehood, justice and injustice, but this constitutes also a training of the child in character, when it is most susceptible to parental influence. It is character-building at a time when the conscience and judgment of the child are in their formative condition, and when it properly recognizes the parent as its sole lawgiver. If this work of character-building be ignored in infancy, the work is many times more difficult in future years, besides the disadvantages that will accrue both to parent and child and neighbors and friends in the interim.
It is all-important, then, to notice that the training of a child does not consist solely in teaching it respecting its outward deportment in politeness, cleanliness, obedience, etc., but further, and indeed chiefly, in the establishment of right principles in the heart—proper recognition there of the mind of the Lord as being the only standard of living, both for old and young. The Golden Rule, the Law of Love, of generosity, meekness, patience, gentleness, forbearance, should be inculcated as respects the child's relationship to other members of the family, to playmates, etc. The child that is taught to be selfish, or one whose natural selfishness is not brought kindly to his attention (though not in the presence of others) and lovingly reproved and corrected, is missing a most important lesson at the most opportune moment.
The parent who neglects such an opportunity for giving instructions and corrections of the mind and judgment, as well as of outward conduct, is not only missing the most favorable opportunity in respect to his child, but is allowing weeds to grow in the heart garden where only the graces of the spirit should grow; and is thus laying up more or less of trouble for himself in dealing with that child throughout future years. Many of the heartaches and tears of well-intentioned parents over the waywardness, wilfulness, selfishness and "wild oats" of their children might have been spared them had they done their duty by those children in infancy. Furthermore, such parents lose a great blessing in their own experiences; for it is undoubtedly true that the parent who is properly training his child in unselfishness, love, obedience, reverence to God, helpfulness to his fellow-creatures, etc., etc., will be getting valuable experiences for himself—growing in grace, growing in knowledge and growing in love, while endeavoring to teach these principles to his child. He will learn, too, that the child will expect to find him illustrating in his daily conduct and in his relationship to God and to the members of his family, and to his fellowmen, the principles he seeks to inculcate in others. This will make him the more careful of his own words, his [F529] own conduct; and such carefulness, such circumspection of all the little affairs of life, public and private, will assuredly develop in such a parent more and more of the graces of the Lord's Spirit, thus making him more and more acceptable to the Lord, and preparing and perfecting him for the Kingdom.
The atmosphere of the home, however poor, should be one of purity. Absolute purity in thought, word and deed we know to be impossible in our present conditions, just as material purity is absolutely impossible where the air is full of soot and dust. But every Christian home should be as nearly absolutely clean as possible—as free from the outward soil and filth as circumstances will permit, and as free from moral obliquity and defilement as the imperfect earthen vessels can be made. Every child should be able to look back upon its home, however humble, however scantily furnished, as a clean place, a house of God, a holy place. He should be able to look back and in memory recall the voice of prayer at the family altar, the kind words of father or mother on various occasions, and the general spirit of peace and restfulness through contentment and submission to the divine providence. He should be able to sense the sweet odor of love pervading the home and associated with every member of it, manifesting itself in meekness, gentleness, kindness, helpfulness.
A child bred to and reared in such an atmosphere of love may be expected to desire to please the Lord and to obey him from the earliest moments of his consciousness; and from the time he reaches ten to twelve years of age he should be encouraged to consider the propriety of a full consecration to the Lord—to remember that his standing before the Lord during the period of immaturity of judgment is through the parent, but that in proportion as maturity of mind is reached the Lord expects a personal consecration. Should such a child thus trained, neglect or refuse to make consecration to the Lord, we may be sure that the home influences would still continue, although [F530] when years of maturity had been reached and no covenant with the Lord had been made, such an one may properly hesitate to approach the throne of grace—hesitate to claim of the Lord the blessing he has promised to those who are his, because he has refused to become his. Nevertheless, to such there will still cling a precious memory of the seasons of approach to the throne of grace and of divine watchcare over the home of infancy and over themselves, and there will continually be a longing for the divine protection and for the privilege of approaching the Creator with the cry, "Abba, Father," and the realization of relationship to him. Should such an one become a parent, he will instinctively feel a desire to train his children as he was trained, and all these influences will gradually draw more and more upon his heart, and the strong probabilities are that at least by that time he will consecrate. In any event, the influences of a godly home will have been with him, a holy protection from many of the excesses under which otherwise he might have fallen.
Contrast such a home, with its sweet odor of love, kindness, patience, gentleness, with the home in which the Lord's Spirit is not manifested—the home in which selfishness is the law, in which the child notes the quarrels between the parents, and how each seeks his own at the expense of the other, in which the child hears little but chiding, complaining, faultfinding, angry words, harsh sounds, etc. These become contagious amongst the children, and they in turn quarrel over their little affairs, speak angrily to each other, and keep the household in perpetual turmoil. The continued practice of selfishness in the home develops this organ in the mind and in the conduct of the child.
If in an angry voice the parent calls it "a little rascal," and the feelings of the child, at first hurt by such reflections against its character, become toughened, it gradually learns to glory in being a little rascal. When first it hears the angry and impatient mother exclaim, "I'll thrash you within an inch of your life!" or "I'll break your back!" no doubt there is a measure of terror conveyed by the words to [F531] the heart of the child, but it is not long in learning that these are idle threats, from which it has comparatively little to fear; and gradually as it learns that the civil laws of the land would not permit the parent to do it serious violence, the childish mind concludes that the parent had the will to do it evil, but simply lacked the liberty. From such a little mind much of the original instinct of love is driven out. It finds its parent equally untruthful in respect to promises—that the promises are frequently given without the slightest intention of their fulfilment. Thus the child is taught to lie, to threaten, to promise, to deceive others in respect to its real intentions. Is there any wonder that such a child grows up a hard character? The wonder, rather, is that between the bad training, the indifferent training and no training at all the civilized world is not a great deal worse than it is.
In all these matters the New Creature has a decided advantage over all others in respect to his children. They should, to begin with, be better born, better endowed at birth. And this prenatal endowment should be fostered from the very earliest moments of infancy. The babe of a few days is pretty sure to be nervous and irritable and distressed if the mother is so; an influence goes to the child, not only through the mother's milk, but telepathically, electrically, from her person to the child. What a general advantage, then, the New Creature has in the indwelling of the Spirit of the Lord, with its peace, love and joy; and how favored is the infant under such care! Humanly speaking, how great are its possibilities as compared with the possibilities of others in respect to noble manhood and womanhood; and, speaking from the standpoint of the Lord's Word, how great is its advantage when we remember that the children of the Lord's consecrated people, like themselves, are under the supervision of divine providence in respect to all of their affairs; that the children of believers, too, come under the terms of the promise that "all things shall work together for good" to them!
It is not difficult to see that the children of New Creatures have a tentatively justified standing with God, in virtue of the relationship of their parents to him and to them. As the disobedience and alienation of Adam and Eve from the heavenly Father brought alienation to all their offspring, so, too, the reconciliation of the Lord's people, through the merits of the great atonement, not only brings them back to harmony with God, but their children as well are counted justified through their parents, and on account of their parents, up to such a time as the child shall have an intelligence and will of his own. The question is more complex, however, when one parent is the Lord's and the other is a stranger and alien from him; but the Apostle assures us that in such a case God counts the child as his, through whichever one of its parents is the Lord's disciple. The influence of the believing parent, the consecrated parent, is counted as offsetting and overruling the influence of the unconsecrated parent, so far as the child is concerned. On this subject the Apostle says:
"The unbelieving husband is sanctified by the [believing] wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the [believing] husband [in respect to the subject under consideration, viz., the offspring of their wedlock]; else were your children unholy [sinners under condemnation, unjustified, unrelated to God, aliens from his care and blessing]; but now [in view of this provision of divine grace] are they holy [that is, in a tentatively justified state with God, through which he may treat them, not as enemies]." 1 Cor. 7:14
The question of the proper training of children may be a difficult one, but not too difficult for the Lord to manage; and, hence, the parent who has become a Christian may expect the Lord's grace proportionately to abound in respect to his affairs, and should seek the more earnestly for the wisdom [F533] and help that come from above, that he may be rightly able to discharge his duties under the most trying circumstances. The Lord's grace is sufficient for us in every condition. The fact of the one being a New Creature, and the other an unbeliever, or unconsecrated, does not alter the divine arrangement in respect to the headship of the family. This still devolves upon the husband, and if a New Creature he must direct in respect to the affairs of his family as best he is able under the circumstances, and guided by the promised wisdom from on high. If the wife be the New Creature, her soundness of mind, devotion to principles of righteousness, her gentleness, meekness, thoughtfulness, carefulness, should make her such a jewel in the family, should cause her light so to shine before her husband, that he might take pleasure in giving her practically the full control of the children, for which he would discern her to be specially adapted. Any rule or authority she should exercise, however, would be delegated by her husband, who, whether saint or sinner, is the responsible head of his family.
Likewise the husband, letting his light shine, should expect that ere long his wife, as well as his children, would discern his difference from irreligious men, his spirit of love, his gentleness and helpfulness, and spirit of a sound mind. Nevertheless, if these results, which ought to be expected, do not come—if the greater the faithfulness the worse the treatment from the unbelieving partner—even to the extent that a separation might be necessary, let us remember that the Lord's counsel forewarned us that such might be our experience; saying, "Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which shall try you"; and again, "A man's foes shall be they of his own household." And again, "I have not come to send peace on the earth but a sword." My message, although it is a message of peace and blessing in the present time, frequently results in strife, because the children of darkness hate the light, and because many of them, under the deception of the Adversary and the weaknesses of their [F534] own fallen nature, will wage a continual warfare against it. Think it not strange, consider it a part of your trial, endure it as a part of the divine will, until the Lord shall open up a door of escape.
Some who have become the Lord's consecrated people, members of the New Creation, appeal for advice, saying: "In my early Christian experience in the nominal Church I was mistaught. I was led to understand that when I got religion, got saved, I needed nothing more, but simply to go regularly to Church and pay my dues. I got little or no instruction respecting the necessity for rooting out sin and selfishness from my own heart, and receiving in its stead more and more of the Spirit of the Lord, with its wealth of love and all the inner graces associated therewith. I gave any extra time and energy to helping my husband in his business, and to striving to get up in the world, and was left in ignorance of the meaning of my begetting of the Spirit, and that I should be cultivating a newness of mind which would be striving less and less for the earthly things and more and more for the heavenly character and graces and power and growth. During this time my children were born. I presume they inherited these traits of mine which I was cultivating at the time I was carrying them, and after their birth I realized that they were sadly neglected as respects what I now see to be the proper training the child should receive, the proper duty of a parent who is a New Creature in Christ Jesus. Now my children are wild, wayward, selfish, disobedient. They not only lack reverence for God, but also lack reverence for me, and my religious views. What can I do with them? I realize the Lord's forgiveness, through Christ, for my ignorant failure of duty toward them in the past. I realize, too, that I am merely reaping what I sowed, and that my present experiences are only a just retribution for my carelessness of duty in the past. Oh, where was my Christian sense? How devoid I was of the spirit of a sound mind, and where were my religious instructors and guides, who not only mistaught me respecting the divine character and plan, but who did not even instruct [F535] me respecting the simplest of natural duties—my parental obligations? Alas, I perceive that I spent my money in their support for that which was not bread, for that which satisfieth not—temporally or spiritually! But now what is my duty? What course should I pursue? How may I rectify so far as possible my neglect of the past?"
Our reply to such inquiries is that in this as in other matters the Lord's people should not sorrow as those who have no hope. The Lord, undoubtedly, will be pleased to find us regretful for having failed of duty in the past, and he no doubt will be pleased to have us ask his forgiveness for such shortcomings, and to have us promise greater faithfulness henceforth in seeking for and pursuing our obligations toward those dependent upon us. He would surely be pleased to have us take present experiences with unruly children with patience, with forebearance, as a part of that chastisement for sins of omission or of commission in respect to their training; and thus received, these trials may serve for our polishing and preparation for the Kingdom.
As for the duty of such a parent toward such children, it would unquestionably be to begin by teaching them the lessons they should have been taught in infancy, concerning responsibility toward the Lord, the principles of right, of justice, of love toward each other and toward all. And this instruction should be given with great love and forebearance and patience, which would be a notable lesson to the child of the power of grace in the parent's heart. According to the age of the child and other related circumstances—the extent to which wrong principles had become rooted, etc.—results should be waited for with patience; and such restrictions as seemed absolutely necessary should be applied with gentleness and consideration and explanations. Parental authority should be established kindly, not rudely. Children who have been in the habit of ruling the household should not be expected to become good and obedient children instantaneously. Wisdom from on high should be sought in respect to the details of the home arrangements and government, for no outsider is competent [F536] to understand thoroughly all the affairs of the family of another, nor to give specific directions respecting its proper government.
Two principles should guide: First of all, love for the Lord and for the children, and this love should be guided and directed by the Word of God; and secondly, the Word of God, as the source of authority and instruction, should be continually appealed to. Furthermore, all parents should learn to treat children with consideration. Whether they be children properly trained or otherwise, they should realize that the parent respects their consciences and their judgments, and endeavors to deal with them in harmony with these elements of character. Especially as the child reaches a condition of manhood or womanhood should his or her reason be appealed to, and in the same proportion force and corporal chastisement should be abandoned.
The principle of justice, to which we have already referred, is to be found to some extent in almost every human being, and especially if the sense of justice is found to cooperate with selfishness. Thus, when the age of manhood or womanhood is reached the child instinctively feels that he has passed a line, and should no longer be treated as a child, but as a companion; should no longer be commanded in anything, but requested; should no longer be required to give a strict account in detail of all moneys earned, but should be permitted a larger discretion and personality than previously. Wise, just, loving parents should not attempt a violation of these rights of maturity; but rather seek from that period onward to deal with the child as with a younger brother or sister—as adviser and best friend. Good parents are sometimes unwise and unjust in this respect, and take advantage of the authority which the child has recognized up to this time. They ignore its new estate of manhood or womanhood, and attempt to perpetuate the imperativeness of parental authority as before; and these sometimes meet with a measure of success, but never, we believe, to their own real advantage nor to the real advantage of their children. They know, as well as does their child, that they are [F537] taking advantage of the docility of the child, and that if the child would set up a rebellion, matters would speedily be adjusted differently. They should consider that their course is prejudicial to the child's real affection for them. He sees this evidence of selfishness and injustice in the conduct of parents of whose sentiments he had previously thought differently. Filial love is thus sapped at its very roots, and the parents are apt to learn the mistake of such a course before they die, even if it succeed temporarily. We do not mean to imply that the obligations of the child toward the parent cease when the years of maturity are reached. Quite the contrary. We hold, in harmony with the civil law of the world, that a child is obligated to the maintenance of the parent so long as the parent shall live, and the child shall have the strength to provide the necessaries. Our argument is that while, prior to maturity, the parent had full control, after maturity the child has a personality and individuality which should be recognized and appealed to. It is the duty of the child to make provision for the parent, but properly appealed to, the provision should be the more promptly and lovingly made. The obligation of the child to aged parents for their support corresponds exactly with the responsibility of the parent for the care and reasonable support of the child in infancy and immaturity. The parent who has done justly and lovingly by his child will surely rarely be left to want while that child shall have strength to provide.
While considering the duties of parents toward the children, various questions arise respecting the proper amount of education, the reasonable restraints as respects the kind of reading and information with which the mind is stored. We are of those who appreciate highly the value of an education; and yet we believe that great wisdom should be exercised in respect to what constitutes an education. Education is like polish. Almost any stone may be made to look beautiful by careful polishing, but careful polishing is not alike valuable or helpful to all stones. In the case of a diamond or a ruby or other precious stone, polishing is absolutely necessary to the development of the latent qualities [F538] of the stone; without the facets, the glories and brilliancies of the stone could not be appreciated nor shed their luster. But the same polishing bestowed upon a cobblestone from the street would be a waste of energy; worse than that, it would make the cobblestone too valuable, too nice, for use as a cobblestone. Moreover, it would be less fit for its duties as a cobblestone after being faced than if it had been let alone, or merely chipped in a general way, to make it fit its place.
And so we perceive it is in respect to education, the polishing of the mind with a "classical course" in college. Some would be benefited by such a course, while others would be injured. Who has not seen men so educated that they could not occupy the place in life for which their natural talents fitted them? They were over-educated, and, like the man in the parable, they could yet dig, and to beg they were ashamed, and for anything else unfit. If in the Lord's providence the parents found that they had a child of very brilliant mind, and if that providence guided their affairs so that financial and other considerations opened the way for a collegiate course to such a child, they might well consider whether or not these indications were the Lord's direction in respect to their duty to the child, and should follow their convictions. Nevertheless, in sending him to college at the present time they should feel a great trepidation, a great fear, lest this outward polish in the wisdom of this world should efface all the polish of faith and character and heart which they as the parents and proper instructors of the child had been bestowing upon it from infancy and before.
The Lord's people of the New Creation should learn to appreciate the education of heart and character and faith in God as a superior education in every respect to anything that could be attained in the schools of this world—that the "wisdom from above, first pure, then peaceable, easy of entreatment, full of mercy and good works," is more to be desired than all the wisdom of earth. They should consider well whether their child was so thoroughly rooted and [F539] grounded in character, in principle, in loyalty to the Lord and his Word, that the infidel tendencies of the schools of our day, and their rationalistic teachings called Higher Criticism, Evolution, etc., could never displace the well-grounded faith in the Lord and in his Word. Indeed, the danger is so great that we would rather be inclined to be content with such education as could be obtained in the public schools and high schools or preparatory schools.
We write with full consciousness that to the worldly minded this advice is foolishness or worse. Nevertheless, we have learned to view matters from what we believe to be the divine standpoint, and recommend that all of the Lord's consecrated people shall endeavor in this and in all matters to seek this standpoint—the Lord's view of this matter. We might add, further, that in the strenuous times in which we are living, with the rush and bustle and nervousness of our day, the person who spends his life until twenty-one years of age in school, being polished for the activities of life, has missed another kind of schooling that is attained by the boy who, finishing his high school course at, say fourteen or fifteen years of age, has a further course of training in business of some kind, "climbing the ladder." By the time he has had six years schooling in practical business, the probabilities are that he will be much better able to cope with present conditions than the youth who has spent the same number of years under college training.
As for play: One of the chief advantages from play is the pleasurable exercise connected with it, for it is undoubtedly a fact that exercise taken with pleasure is much more profitable than exactly the same exercise would be if taken as a drudgery. By some unknown chemistry of our systems the mind and its moods have to do with all the functions of life. Our happy moods cooperate best with all the forces and functions of nature for the upbuilding of our systems and the repairing of its wastes. But it is a mistaken idea that insists that that which is useful is a drudgery and only that which is useless is a pleasure, a play. We are of the opinion [F540] that a wrong thought connected with this matter has led many reasonable people to cultivate playfulness and idleness when, on the contrary, they should have been resisting the natural impulses of the fallen nature in these directions. The kindergarten is a movement of comparatively recent times, in what we esteem to be a very right direction—the making of instruction pleasurable to the child. And all subsequent pleasure, favored by the wise parent, should be somewhat along the same line—nothing should be approved that is merely a waste of time and energy.
Relaxation and recreation should be secured chiefly through change of occupation, rather than through idleness or useless exercise. The little girl takes pleasure in dressing her doll and caring for it, and "playing house." The little boy "plays shop," and with sand, etc., as substitutes, he makes imaginary dealings in tea and coffee and sugar and potatoes; or he "plays horse," teamster, or imagines himself a preacher or a missionary or a schoolteacher or a doctor. All such plays are in the right direction, and should be encouraged in the little ones. As they grow older they should be drawn from these to consider it as a part of their recreation to help keep the home in order or to assist in the real store or shop with their parents or guardians or others. If they be taught to take pleasure in usefulness, helpfulness to others, financially or otherwise; if they be taught that idleness is a sin and a shame, a discredit to any person and a waste of valuable opportunities, they will be in a proper attitude to face the duties of life with pleasure, and not to envy those who waste both time and money in looking at a ball game, or in participating in something equally foolish and profitless.
Economy of time as well as of means should be inculcated from infancy—not with a view to cultivating selfishness, but an economy in accord with the divine will that nothing be wasted. The Master, after feeding the multitude, commanded that the fragments be gathered and not wasted, thus indicating his mind in respect to all affairs, that there be no wastefulness; that we recognize a responsibility [F541] toward him for every moment, every dollar, every day; not a responsibility which would keep us in fear, but a responsibility which delights to note the divine will, to be as fully in accord with it as possible, and which realizes that such a course is pleasing to the Lord, and, therefore, may be thoroughly enjoyed.
As the child grows and realizes how much there is in the world to learn, he should be encouraged to read, but from the first he should be taught to discriminate wisely between the "chips" of fiction and the "apples" of knowledge. He should be shown that every chip stored away in his mind is worse than valueless, an injury or encumbrance, besides having cost valuable time, which might have been used to advantage in storing up knowledge, shortly so necessary in the proper discharge of the duties of life. He should be encouraged to read such books as would give information, and not novels. He should know considerable respecting the history of his native land, and have a reasonable knowledge of the remainder of the world. He can secure these through histories: we do not mean merely the histories which give the order of kingdoms and battles and generals but more particularly such works as show the social, moral and intellectual development of the ages past, and of the world as it is today. In a pleasant and kindly manner the child should be shown the importance of such information as a feature of education for his future—his reason and judgment should be appealed to, and thus his will enlisted in favor of such educative reading, and in opposition to all weedy, trashy, dreamy literature, that will do him harm and leave him unprepared for the duties of life.
"One of the most awful thoughts connected with this [F542] subject is the permanence of foul impressions in the human memory. Years ago—no matter how many, and whether in this country or another need not be told—a gentlewoman lay upon her deathbed. She was still young and had lived a more than usually sheltered life. In every act and word she had been purity incarnate. It was not believed that she had ever had an opportunity to hear one foul syllable in all her life. Yet, in her delirium, she poured out in the hearing of friends and attendants a torrent of obscene imprecations at which they stood aghast. Where she could ever have heard such words they could not imagine, and they never learned. But were they therefore to infer that she had secretly loved and gloated over them? Not so. The true inference is this, that, having heard them in some evil hour, she had utterly detested them, and that, in her very effort to forget them, she had so fixed them in her memory that they abode with her until the hour of death. That is not only the charitable view, it is the just view, and it is the reasonable view. But it would not always hold. When the mind and the imagination have been opened and kept open for many hours or days to the reception of unclean thoughts, and the contemplation of obscene pictures, who shall tell the depraving effect of such mental association? Of all the evil things in this world of many evils, we know none so awfully appalling in its subtlety and permanence of corrupting influence as a bad book written by a man of genius."
The religious element of the child's mind requires special training, and in this the Christian parent should be his tutor. In the present confused condition of the world on religious subjects, and their more advanced attitude as respects common school and public instruction, any attempt to teach any kind of religion is sure to be in opposition to the prejudices or conscientious convictions of some of those interested. Hence, justice demands that public schools be freed from all religious coloring, instruction, forms and ceremonies. Notwithstanding our reverence for the Bible as the Word of God, we believe that the fact that the Jews are [F543] opposed to the teachings of the New Testament, that many under the influence of Higher Criticism are opposed to much of the Old Testament as well as the New, that some infidels, skeptics, Buddhists, Theosophists, etc., are opposed to the Bible entirely, while others disagree with the common translation—in view also of the fact that all of these classes are taxed for the support of the schools and required to take advantage of them—it would be both just and wise to omit religious exercises in the schools, and ignore the Bible as a religious book, intruding it, if at all, merely as an ancient history, rather than give offense to so many who do not agree with us.
In view of our recognized reverence for the Bible as the inspired Word of God, this suggestion may possibly seem strange to some; but we believe it to be the proper course, in harmony with the Golden Rule. True, we may be in so small a minority that our influence, if we chose to exert it, would be powerless, nor should New Creatures consider it their duty to become advocates of this, any more than of other moral reforms. All New Creatures have a higher, a grander mission in connection with the development of the New Creation, and can, therefore, well afford to leave all such moral reforms in the hands of the world for the present, until the Kingdom comes. Nevertheless, it is eminently proper that we should have the spirit of a sound mind and fullest accord with justice, even though no suitable opportunity for expressing our sentiments on this subject shall ever occur.
In any event, surely six hours a day for five days in the week, and for less than six years in a lifetime, is quite little enough to be devoted to the numerous lessons in secular matters which are crowded upon the children of our day. This appropriation of time for secular study leaves to the parents, and their chosen spiritual guides, quite an abundance of time for imparting whatever kind of religious instruction may seem best to them. Out of 168 hours of each week secular studies surely deserve all of the thirty hours [F544] per week appropriated to them—especially in view of the fact that the strenuous times in which we live frequently hinder the child from getting more than three years of such training.
The Sunday School has become a great institution throughout Christendom. If it be considered in the light of a children's social club, which draws them together once a week and directs their minds out of the ordinary workday channels and in a general social and religious direction, it might be esteemed that the Sunday School has accomplished considerable in the world—especially for the lower classes of society. As for the effect of Sunday Schools upon the children of believers, we regard it as injurious. We are aware, however, that such a sentiment will be thought extreme until our reasons are fully appreciated. They are these:
(1) The Sunday Schools have been injurious to Christian parents, in that they have led them to consider themselves relieved of the parental responsibility placed upon them by the Lord. The Sunday School teacher is often thoroughly incapable for such a responsibility, often a novice as respects children and their proper training—seldom one who professes entire consecration and begetting of the holy Spirit. Such a teacher is given the place of the parent in respect to the most important of all parental duties. The loss experienced by Christian parents, through this arrangement, is almost incalculable. It is a recognized principle in spiritual things that he that watereth others is himself watered. And so the parent who diligently instructs and guides his children in moral and spiritual matters not only confers a blessing upon them, but receives a great blessing in connection with the service himself. This blessing Christian parents of today are missing, because of having unwittingly departed from the divine arrangement.
(2) The Sunday School is a decided disadvantage to the children of Christian parents, because they do not get from the Sunday School teachers the kind of instruction which [F545] the intelligent and conscientious parent could and should give.
(3) The Sunday School arrangement is reacting disadvantageously upon both parent and child from another standpoint: it is causing the children to lose respect for their parents, and is cultivating thus a lack of parental dignity on the one hand, and of filial reverence on the other. Undoubtedly it has much to do with the present-day condition of the so-called "Christian world," in the matter of disobedience to parents, family insubordination, etc. The religious organs of the human mind lie on the top of the head, and should be the dominating ones when they are active and properly developed. Veneration is one of these, and it needs directing. If the child sees that the parent venerates God and his Word, and is instructed from this source, he has before him an object lesson which should be valuable to him throughout life, going down in turn to his children; but if he sees the parent's veneration turned from God and his Word and directed toward a clerical class, so as to receive supposed divine messages through them, and without the exercise of reason or the study of God's Word, the influence upon the child is that of superstition and subordination to priest-craft—an unhealthy condition as respects spiritual development.
If in addition the child be sent to a Sunday School teacher to receive instruction respecting the Bible, the lesson to the infant mind is that the parent is incapable of giving this instruction; and that as the parent is instructed by a clergy of a supposedly superior rank, if not of a different nature, so the child is to consider his Sunday School teacher from a somewhat similar standpoint. The entire effect is to rob the parent of the child's esteem and reverence.
On the contrary, the child who has been properly taught from the Scriptural standpoint, that God has spoken through his Word, and that he has arranged that some of his children shall assist others in the expounding and understanding of the Word, and that the parent is one of these instructed ones, and a fully authorized priest of God in his [F546] own family, to teach—the appointed teacher of his own family—that child unconsciously attaches a religious reverence to the parent as God intended. And thus the divine arrangement would give that parent a larger measure of wholesome influence over his child while life shall last. Furthermore, the parent, after having inculcated the Scripture lessons, after having pointed out from the Word of God the divine standards of life, of character, of thought and word and action, and the Golden Rule of life—such a parent would find himself greatly strengthened in his own practice of the teachings of the Word. He would feel bound to exemplify his own teaching, and would realize that even infant minds are able to make applications of these religious rules to the affairs of daily life.
Such a parent would find himself seeking to live nearer and nearer to the standard which he proclaims as the divine one; and in case of failure in any special degree would get a blessing from making a confession of his failure before those cognizant of it, even if they were his own children. Thus all—parents and children—would learn more and more to appreciate the divine standard, and to look to the Lord for mercy and forgiveness; and thus even occasional shortcomings of the parent might become to the child permanent lessons in humility and contrition and submission to divine law.
(4) Evidently many make as great a mistake in respect to the proper functions of the Sunday School as in respect to their thought that the Lord and the apostles erred in not establishing the Church in its present sectarian condition—in imagining that in dividing the Church of Christ they have accomplished a work of wisdom; that greater results are attained through denominationalism and creed divisions than would have been obtained had the Lord's plan been strictly followed, viz., "One Lord, one faith, one baptism," one Church.
The Sunday School as originally started was proper enough. It began as a "ragged school" in Gloucester, England, [F547] in 1781, A.D. Robert Raikes, editor of the Gloucester Journal, a Christian man, employed four Christian women to teach the children of from ten to fourteen years of age reading, writing, sewing, etc., from 10 A.M. until noon every Sunday; and on Sunday afternoon to teach them the catechism and take them to church. From that small beginning the great Sunday School work of the present time has developed. The plan was evidently a good one, and not at all out of accord with the institutions of the Lord and of the apostles. It only came to be out of harmony with these when it displaced the Christian parent as the preceptor of his children.
Our advice to every member of the New Creation is that, whatever the mistakes of the past in respect to neglect of parental responsibilities as the religious teachers of their own children, they should begin to recognize and fulfil this duty at once—the circumstances, etc., varying with the ages of the children, and with the degree of insubordination and parental disrespect which they may have already taken on, which should be plucked up gently, gradually, lovingly, with the remembrance that the fault has been largely that of the parent in the neglect of a divinely appointed responsibility. Neither we nor others are wiser than God, nor should we or others presume to improve upon the general principles laid down by the Head of the Church and the twelve apostles whom he appointed to be our instructors and guides. Hence we are not to reverence or perpetuate institutions of men, however they may have become intrenched, and however grand and imposing may be their appearance and their claims. They must all be judged by the one standard—the divine Word. If they agree not with the Lord's Word it is because there is "no light in them"—they are not of God. Isa. 8:20
If the confidence of the child in the parent have its roots in a recognition of the fact that the parent is a member of [F548] the Royal Priesthood, a child of God, and that the parent has fellowship with God through prayer and is instructed by God through his Word—ministers being merely assistants in the understanding of the Word, etc.—and if additionally, the spirit of love and its various graces of meekness and patience and kindness pervade the home and flow through its various channels, and if the parents seek and exercise the wisdom that cometh from above, pure, peaceable, merciful, the child's confidence will naturally rest in that parent in respect to all of life's affairs. Then the many questions naturally presenting themselves to the opening mind—religious, moral, secular, social and physical—will all be carried most naturally to such a parent.
Such questions should be expected and invited, and should be given wise and respectful answers, according to the age of the child. Confidential questions should never be treated lightly nor confidences broken. Many a parent forfeits the future confidence of his child by making light of its sentiments or secrets. We do not mean that all questions should be answered in full (regardless of age); a very partial answer may be wisest sometimes, with the suggestion that a full explanation of the matter will be given later—perhaps setting a date—as for instance, "I will explain the matter to you fully when you are thirteen years of age if your mind and character then seem to be sufficiently developed to make this the proper course. You may come to me with the question then, and in the meantime should dismiss it entirely from your mind."
To the rightly trained child this course will at once commend itself, and in any event it should understand that the parent's word is positive, that it had not been given without mature consideration, and that once given it must stand, until some further information on the subject should alter the judgment of the parent. A proper observance of the Lord's words, "Let your yea by yea, and your nay, nay," would save many parents much trouble, and greatly promote the general peace and order of the household. From [F549] earliest infancy the child should learn obedience, and that without a repetition of the command. But this in turn implies a recognition on the part of the parent of his responsibilities, and a desire on his part to grant all the reasonable requests of his children, so far as his circumstances will permit. Love, wisdom, and justice must combine in the parent in order to make his power and authority valuable to the home and all of its members.
Few recognize the importance of the human will in respect to health and sickness, joy and pain, obedience and disobedience, right doing and wrong doing—indeed in respect to every act and word and thought of life. And the child-will is specially susceptible to impressions and suggestions while the child-mind is opening to the affairs of life, and the foundations of its character are being laid. Suggestion and mind-impression stand related to clairvoyance, hypnotism and the subtle influence exercised by Christian Scientists—but we are advocating only those suggestions which are truthful, helpful, strengthening to the child's will and in full accord with the divine Word, and no more.
The Bible is full of suggestion—all proper preaching is in the nature of suggestion—that selfish and sinful thoughts and acts bring divine disfavor and react to our disadvantage; but that loving thoughts, words and deeds yield blessed fruits to others as well as to ourselves for the future as well as for the present. Mark how the Apostle, after pointing out the results of wilful sinning to be Second Death, turns and declares suggestively, and therefore helpfully to many: "But we are not of them that draw back, but of those who believe to the saving of their souls." (Heb. 10:39) The suggestions of Christian Science are, on the contrary, false—"There is no sin, no sickness, no pain, no death"; consequently also no redemption, no Savior, no restitution. There is a wide difference between such false suggestions and the proper ones which God's Word and [F550] God's messengers present, viz., a suggestion of the Truth—of God's love and merciful provision in Christ for the full recovery of all who willingly obey him.
Applying this law of good and truthful suggestion to his child is the secret of a parent's success.* Some parents apply the principle continually without being aware of it, and they are the successful parents. For instance, the mother who every morning greets her child with a cheery face and voice, gives her child a happy suggestion, good for it both mentally and physically. While dressing it, her little talk about the pretty wee birdies and about the big sun looking in at the window and calling all to get up and be good and happy, and learn more lessons about God, and to be helpful to each other, are additional profitable suggestions; whereas a complaint about "another scorching day" would be a suggestion of heat, discomfort and discontent, breeding unhappiness.
*Employers, managers, superintendents of penal and reformatory institutions—in fact every one can profitably apply this principle of good and true and noble and honest suggestion to those under their influence and to their own minds. Indeed many of the most successful in life are already practicing it, but unconsciously. What are hope and laudable ambition but mental suggestions?
If, instead of sunshine, there is rain and a gloomy outlook, it will only make matters worse to think of the day gloomily and to suggest gloomy thoughts to others. Rainy days have their blessings for us as well as for others, and our minds should be quick to note these and to pass them along by suggestion to companions. The mother should anticipate the child's disappointment by calling its attention to the beautiful rain which God has provided for giving the flowers and trees and grass a drink and a bath to refresh them, that they may be bright and cheerful to us and yield their increase; and provided also for the cattle and for us to drink and bathe and be clean and happy, and praise him and love him and serve him. Another helpful suggestion can perhaps there be introduced, viz., that this will be an opportunity [F551] for wearing storm cloak and heavy boots, and how thankful we should be that we have these and a rainproof home and school. Or the suggestion can be given that, "My little boy and girl must take good care to avoid mud and water puddles, so as always to look neat and tidy, and neither track mud into the schoolhouse nor into the home. Pigs like the mud and have little sense about anything, and therefore must be kept in a pen; but God gives us reason and power to appreciate the beautiful and the clean. Therefore to copy after pigs and lower animals in uncleanness, etc., is to dishonor ourselves and our Creator and tends to degradation. It is honorable for anyone to get dirty in some useful and necessary employment, but no one should get dirtier than necessary nor take rest or ease until he had cleaned up." We need not point out how profitable these suggestion lessons would prove—not only to the child but also to the parent.* Discontent, one of the serious evils of our day, would find little to stimulate its growth in a family in which all were intent on giving happifying suggestions to themselves and each other.
*The parent who thus greets his or her little child must of course have first cultivated happy suggestions in his own heart; and this being true, it follows that such good and happifying suggestions will not be confined to the children, but will likewise flow out to the wife, husband, neighbors, employees, etc.; and even the dumb animals will be blessed by it. It is possible for the "natural" man or woman to practice this to some extent, but surely only in those begotten of the holy Spirit of the Truth the Love of God can be expected to realize success in the highest measure in this new life, which begins even here under the reign of Satan to scatter blessings which ere long under the Kingdom of Messiah shall "bless all the families of the earth."
The same method should be adopted in the guidance of the child's dietary in sickness or health. Never should the child have aches or pains suggested, for the mind will almost certainly fasten upon these and tend to aggravate any weakness or pain, nor should aches and ailments be made the topic of conversation—especially not at table, where every thought and influence should be cheerful, healthful. [F552] The good suggestion should be given early and be oft repeated: "Is my little boy feeling happy this morning? Does he love papa and mamma and sister and brother and doggie? Yes, that's right—I thought so! Is he hungry for some nice breakfast?—some nice porridge with sugar and milk and cracker and bread and butter and jam? Now we must remember not to eat any cucumbers today—nor unripe apples; these give my little boy the stomachache. Instead we will have something else for him specially good for him. Won't that be nice? There will be corn on the table today, but that would not be good for my little man, and so when the dish passes he will say, 'No, thank you!' He wants to be well and strong as God wants him to be and as papa and mamma desire to see him. That will be a good lesson in self-denial, too, and papa and mamma will take pleasure in seeing their little boy (or girl) learning this great lesson, so necessary to true manhood and womanhood. God wants all Christians to practice self-denial in respect to sins and in respect to everything which would hinder his cause in any degree. And even worldly people all recognize that the person who is a slave to his appetites is pitiably weak and unmanly or unwomanly. Now papa and mamma will be watching to see how strong is the will power of their little boy and we feel sure he will succeed bravely." How highly God appreciates self-control is shown by the Scripture statement, "Better is he that ruleth his own spirit [will] than he that taketh a city." Prov. 16:32
On moral questions lessons by suggestion are equally potent for good or evil. Let us do evil, is a powerful incentive to evil deeds. Let us do good, is a powerful incentive to well-doing. Hence the right and the wrong, the true and the false, the noble and the ignoble, should be frequently appealed to every day, in everything—the true, noble and right being shown in their true grandeur, as approved not only by our Lord and Creator, but also by the noblest and best of men and women, whom alone we should emulate. The child-mind, thus taught early and persistently to admire [F553] the noble and the true, has a bulwark reared in his mind against mean and dishonorable conduct in general. If never sanctified by the Truth, if never begotten of the Spirit, he has deeply laid the character needful to noble manhood or womanhood, and if sanctified and begotten of the Spirit, he or she will have the larger opportunities for successful service, both in the present and the future life.
In the event of the child's disobedience and hence its need for reproof or correction, it should be admonished from the standpoint of sympathy and confidence in its good intentions. "I know that my little girl whom I love so much and endeavor continually to make happy, and to train as the Lord would approve, did not willingly disobey me. I am sure this disobedience was rather the result of following the example of others and not sufficiently exerting her will to do as mamma told her to do. I believe that this time I shall forgive you and not punish you at all, except that tonight I will give you no good night kiss—just to impress the matter upon your mind, my dear. Now you'll try still harder next time to exercise self-control and do as I direct—won't you, dear? I am sure you will!" Next time take the matter still more seriously, but never question the child's proper desires or intentions. "I am so sorry that my little daughter failed again. I do not doubt your good intentions, dear, but I am sorry to see that you do not exercise your will power in the matter as I am sure you could do, and as I earnestly hope you will do in the future. It is necessary, my child, that I do my duty toward you and punish you, though it would be far more to my pleasure to commend you. I trust I may soon be enabled to rejoice with you in your victory over this besetment. The matter affects far more than is directly involved in the disobedience; it affects your entire future, for if you do not now learn to say 'No' to temptation you will fail also in the more important and weighty questions of life as they present themselves in the future. But I am confident that my love and confidence and instructions will yet bear fruit. And remember, my child, that our very defeats, as in [F554] this case of yours, may become helps to us, if we but set our wills the more firmly for the right. We learn to be specially on guard at points where we find by experience that we are weak. Let us bow before the Lord and ask his blessing, that this failure may be a profitable lesson, and ask his assistance in laying it to heart, that your conduct may be more pleasing to him when next you are assailed by temptation."
All suggestions should take into consideration the Lord—"The fear [reverence] of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." Scripture text cards in every room in the house should continually remind parents and children and visiting friends that the Lord's will is the only standard recognized, that the Lord is cognizant of all our doings and affairs, and that God is "for us," his newly begotten ones, and for all who are seeking righteousness in humility.
Those of the New Creation now living who recognize the fact that we are in the "harvest" time, that the separation of the "wheat" and its gathering into the "barn" is in progress, and that ere long the great time of trouble will be upon the whole world, and especially upon nominal Christendom, feel a deep interest in their children, and a desire to arrange for them as wisely as possible in that time of trouble. In view of the fact which the Scriptures make prominent, that the trouble will extend to all classes and involve all institutions of the present time, financial, social, religious, political, it would not be reasonable for us to expect that the children of the New Creation would be miraculously exempted from these troubles: nor need we think to find a place on earth where they would be isolated under natural conditions. When the time shall come that men shall cast their gold and silver into the streets, and they shall not be able to deliver them (Ezek. 7:19; Zeph. 1:18), gold and silver, bank notes and bonds evidently will be of little value, and will fail to procure either protection or comforts or luxuries. If we look away, then, to country places, where we [F555] might suppose that food at least would be obtainable, we have the intimation of the Scriptures that the distress of those days will affect the country places as well as the cities: "There shall be no peace to him that goeth out nor to him that cometh in, for I have set every man against his neighbor." Zech. 8:10
There is just one promise which seems to hold during that time of trouble, and it appears to be a general one, applicable to all who are meek and lovers of righteousness. This class should include all mature children of the consecrated ones, who have been rightly taught in the precepts of the Lord, rightly instructed out of his Word. The promise reads, "Seek meekness, seek righteousness; it may be that ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord's anger." Zeph. 2:3
Christian parents sometimes feel loath to leave their dear ones, even though full of confidence that they themselves would be with the Lord immediately they should pass through the veil—that they would be changed and partake of the powers of the First Resurrection, and be with the Lord and all his holy ones and share his glory. The new mind is sometimes thus hindered, and made anxious in respect to the members of the family left behind—desirous of continuing with them for their counsel, assistance and guidance. Such should realize that having given their all to the Lord, in accepting them the Lord accepted all of their proper interests; and that they may wisely commit to his loving care every earthly concern. As they more and more learn of the lengths and breadths and heights and depths of love divine, and how ultimately the benefits of the great redemption shall extend to every member of Adam's race, they will gain the greater confidence and trust in the Lord in respect to their dear ones. Additionally, such should remember that they themselves, on the other side the veil, will have still as good an opportunity of watching over the interests of their loved ones as they now have, and a much better opportunity than now to exercise a protecting care over them—a providential guidance in their affairs under [F556] divine wisdom, with which they will then concur absolutely.
What, then, is the best provision possible for the New Creation to make for their children according to the flesh? We answer that the best provision is in their proper training. This, as already shown, would include a reasonable education in the common branches, and a particular training and instruction in matters pertaining to God—in reverence for him and his Word, in faith in his promises, and in the cultivation of those characteristics pointed out in the Scriptures as the divine will, the Golden Rule. Such children, if left without one dollar of earthly wealth, are rich; because they have in heart and in head and in molded character a kind of riches which neither moth nor rust nor anarchy nor any other thing in the world can take from them. They will be rich toward God, as the Apostle expresses it, and as again he declares, "Godliness with contentment is great gain," great riches. Earnestly striving by the grace of God to thus properly equip and qualify their children for every emergency—both for the life that now is and that which is to come—the New Creatures may feel comparatively free from all concern respecting temporal interests, remembering that the same Lord who has provided things needful and expedient in the past is both able and willing to continue his supervision and provision, adapted to all the circumstances and conditions of that time as well as this—for those who love and trust him.
Mirth and humor are elements of our human nature, too often educated out of all proportion to the more serious and useful qualities. Babies are spoiled by being kept in a constant excitement of amusement until their contentment is destroyed and they will cry for amusement. This thought of amusement continues during childhood, when the child should be entertaining itself investigating the affairs of life and asking explanations of its parents or of books. Desire to be amused thus cultivated, in due time craves the theater [F557] and the nonsense of the clown. Members of the New Creation should from first to last train their offspring along opposite lines—to be actors in the great drama of life, to deprecate shams, and to seek to perform as great acts of usefulness and benevolence on the world-stage as their talents and opportunities will permit.
We have already noted the Apostolic injunction to the New Creatures, that those who marry do well, but those who marry not do better. This advice, however, is not applicable to their unconsecrated children. Concerning the latter the Apostle writes: "I will [advise], therefore, that the younger women [of the congregation but not of the Church—believers, but not consecrated or sanctified] marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the Adversary to speak reproachfully." 1 Tim. 5:14
Many of the New Creation we believe err seriously, though unintentionally, on this subject. They realize quite correctly that in the majority of cases marriage not only brings increased responsibilities but bitter disappointments and sorrows and heartaches. But if the sons or daughters have reached marriageable age and have not given their hearts in marriage to the Lord, neither will they be prepared to see the wisdom of following the Apostle's advice—given only to the New Creation—that it is only better to marry "than to burn" with uncontrollable desires.
Let us remember that God provided marriage for the natural man and woman—Adam and Eve—before sin entered the world, and that although the marital relation may be abused, as can every other proper thing, and although it is generally terribly abused, nevertheless this is not the fault of marriage, but of its abuse. "Let marriage be had in honor among all, and let the [marriage] bed be undefiled: for fornicators and adulterers God will judge." Heb. 13:4
It is but natural that grown children should be disinclined to take the advice of even the best of parents on this [F558] subject—the whole trend of nature is in the opposite direction; and besides, they have the example of their parents. If, neglecting the Lord's counsel that they surrender to him, they conclude to learn the lessons of life by experience rather than by precept, the sooner they begin the better. Many of life's lessons can best be learned by marital experiences; and to this end it is preferable that the newly married be thrown as much as possible upon their own resources—that is, that they be encouraged to start a separate home of their own, etc. They will thus learn the more quickly to appreciate self-reliance, fortitude, patience, mutual forbearance and cooperation.
Under what the Apostle designates "the present distress" (1 Cor. 7:26), we would even favor what would be considered early marriages. The man at twenty-one and the woman eighteen we would consider preferable in some respects to riper ages, before habits of thought and conduct have become too fixed. The married couple should twine about each other; hence, pliancy of sentiment is desirable—especially on the part of the female, who should accept as a partner only such an one as she could reverence and look up to and, so far as recognized principles would permit, she would be pleased to yield to. Besides, the greater elasticity of the physical frame of the young mother will be to her advantage in enduring her peculiar share of the curse. (Gen. 3:16) Let us not forget either the valuable experiences accruing to every proper parent in his attempt to provide for and train his children. These lessons may draw them to the Heavenly Father more quickly than would any other, and that is the thing to be desired above all others by the New Creation for their offspring.
Wise parents will not attempt to frustrate the natural desire of their children for marriage, but, cooperating wisely, will endeavor with their wisdom to aid them in mating properly. And the properly trained are not likely to ignore the advice of the loving and careful parent, in the most important transaction of the natural life. However, at such a [F559] moment let not the indulgent parent forget that the mating should be on the same plane—unbeliever with unbeliever—justified with justified, sanctified with sanctified—as already set forth. In other words, if their sons or daughters be unconsecrated they are not to endeavor to mate them with one of the New Creation, who should marry "only in the Lord"; but are to recognize that such a union of diverse natures would probably be disadvantageous to both, and at all events is contrary to the divine injunction that his people marry "only in the Lord."
Parents will do well to remember that as clean bodies will assist their children to clean minds, so healthy bodies are valuable adjuncts to healthy minds. Every New Creature should, with his "spirit of a sound mind," be sufficiently a philosopher to guide his offspring to the attainment and preservation of as much physical health as their constitutions will permit. Pure air, pure water, pure food and pure exercise, mental and physical, are at the foundation of the best utilization of what we have received from our parents and have transmitted to our children.
Every parent should know that foggy air is not "fresh air," and that so far as is compatible with reasonable ventilation it should be excluded from the lungs; that indoor ventilation should include all the sunshine possible, and that the delicate should not be out in the damp atmosphere of the early mornings and late evenings. He should note the cleanliness of all vessels, etc., connected with the water supply and inculcate scrupulous care. He should see to it that every child has some prescribed work to do proportioned to its strength and years, and that he does it well and carefully; and this work should be partly physical and partly mental. The character of the reading and studying, no less than that of the physical labor, should have close inspection, and should change from time to time—for the proper rounding out of mind and body, in preparation for [F560] the various duties of life. The child should realize the parental interest in him, and should know that it is prompted by love for his future welfare and is of divine obligation.
(1) Those foods highly nitrogenized, which go to build up flesh, muscle, sinew. Of these are flesh, fish, fowl, eggs, peas, beans. Of such food five ounces daily is esteemed a full ration for an average man in an average occupation—children proportionately less. These foods are injured by too much cooking.
(2) Those foods composed largely of starch and sugar, which supply the nervous energy—vigor, activity, vim, heat. Of these are wheat, potatoes, corn, oats, rice, and their various products—bread, crackers, puddings, etc. These should be freshly cooked and well cooked to be most nutritious and easy of assimilation—and this in proportion to the natural weakness of the digestion. In our day of machinery and easy travel the wear and tear on nervous energy is much greater than upon the muscular fiber; hence food of this kind should be eaten in much larger quantities than the first named. The ration for an average man would be twenty ounces per day—growing children requiring a little more than a proportionate quantity because of their intense activity of mind and body.
(3) Those foods—fruits and vegetables—which, composed chiefly of water, are rich in bio-chemic salts, have a great value. Not only do their salts of lime, potash, etc., assist in bone-making and as nerve foods and regulators, but their watery fibrous elements (as in cabbage, turnips, etc.), which contribute nothing to our nourishment, assist in scouring and cleansing the bowels and thus keep the more concentrated richer foods from clogging in the system. Some of these, such as squash, beets, sweet apples, etc., have also nutritive value proportioned to their sweetness. And some, strongly acid, act as thinners and purifiers of the blood. Of [F561] these are grapes, sour apples, lemons, oranges, etc. Of liquid in some form—milk, soups, or watery fruits and vegetables, or plain water itself, an average man should use at least five pounds (equal five pints) daily—children proportionately. The food contains enough liquid for meal times. The drinking of water should be done an hour or more after meals. These figures show that most people use far too little water and vegetables.
It should be remarked, further, that many of the articles set down amongst the starchy foods (wheat, corn, oats, etc.) contain also nitrogenous qualities—so that where necessary for the sake of economy or for any reason a purely vegetable dietary could be arranged at a very small cost that would nourish the family well, in brain, brawn and vigor.
An uneven balancing of these foods (especially of the second, the most important) tends to disease—either oversupply causes the blood to become too rich and sluggish and causes pimples and boils, or a dark-coated tongue and headache and gout, and leads to a stuffy cold; or a deficiency of nourishment to meet the demands of nature causes weakness, nervousness, a white-coated tongue, and is apt to lead also to a cold. Children should be taught to note their own symptoms and eat accordingly—to counteract disease at its inception, or preferably to prevent it by moderation and good judgment at the table. But all have not alike sound judgment in such matters; hence all the more should the parents, who by God's grace have the "spirit of a sound mind," so regulate and proportion and alternate the food supply of their tables that eaters thereat might have little need for special carefulness or selection—the variety being rather by rotation than by many kinds at one time.
We are not advocating a "fad," nor seeking to divert the minds of the New Creation away from the spiritual food and to fasten it upon physical health and what shall we eat, what shall we drink, etc....after which things the Gentiles seek. No; we are seeking chiefly the spiritual. But while our minds and conversation are dealing specially with the spiritual, it is our duty to use the soundest judgment we possess [F562] in the care of our children, committed to us by God's providence.
A word in conclusion on this matter of diet. Horses and cattle eat without apparent mentalization—good or bad—and some of the brutalized members of the human family do the same, but they are few. Hence at every meal there is apt to be something to excite either pleasant or unpleasant sentiments—love, joy, peace, hope, etc., or anger, malice, hatred, strife, etc. Mental moods are now recognized as having a powerful influence upon digestion. By some alchemy, not clearly understood, the excitement of an angry and malicious mood affects the nerves so as to interfere with digestion, while cheerful and happifying influences act in the reverse manner. The New Creature, himself, may inwardly preserve his "peace of God" under multitudinous unfavorable surroundings, but not so others: hence if he be the responsible head of a family it is his duty to look after the peace of the household by so far as possible keeping the table converse upon pleasant and profitable if not religious topics.
When committing the interests of our own health and that of our children to the Lord we should be sure that to the best of our ability we are using as wisely as possible the blessings and privileges already bestowed upon us. Then, and not otherwise, may we appropriate to our comfort the assurance that all things are working for our good.