ELDEST DAUGHTER OF THE LATE GENERAL BOOTH
JAMES CLARKE & CO., 13 & 14, FLEET STREET, E.C.4
DEDICATED IN TENDER LOVE TO MY TEN GRANDCHILDREN WITH THE PRAYER THAT THEY MAY ALL BECOME VALIANT SOLDIERS OF CHRIST
IT is a great pleasure for me to write a Foreword to this book, which has been long waited for. It is to be the first of a series; "Love and Courtship," "Marriage and Motherhood" will follow.
I have known the Marechale for many years, both before and since her marriage, and have been closely associated with her in her public and private life. I have thus had many opportunities of observing her singular success in training her own children, who have all been mightily influenced by their father's and mother's example and teaching. From their early years they have truly loved and served the Lord, and they are now blessedly owned in His service.
After a life-time's acquaintance I may be permitted to say how much I am personally indebted to her for the revelation she has ever been to me of "the love that never faileth." I have seen her in suffering and sorrow and loneliness, as well as in joy. Her faith and walk with God have made her victorious. She truly represents Him, and all who come into contact with her realise that He is the One only worth living for.
How often have I wished that I could have had her counsel in the upbringing of my own children! Every reader of this wise and tender book will enjoy that privilege, and I rejoice to think how much good, by the blessing of God, it is certain to do.
J. LIVINGSTONE LEARMONTH.
VI. SCHOOL LIFE
IX. HAVE FAITH FOR YOUR CHILDREN MINISTERING CHILDREN
XI. RECREATION AND PLEASURE
XIII. WHAT THE CHILDREN TEACH US!
XIV. BRING THEM TO THE LORD JESUS
FATHERHOOD and Motherhood have been placed on a very high pinnacle, for our God, when speaking of His own attributes, has compared Himself to a human father and mother. "Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him" (Psalm ciii. 13) "As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you" (Isaiah lxvi. 13).
In calling this book of friendly and earnest counsel "Our Children," I mean "yours and mine," associating myself with all my readers whom the Lord has blessed with little children.
I well remember one of my father's (the late General Booth's) visits to Paris, during my fifteen years of blessed life and work in that dear city. His great heart loved children, and he was so struck by their conduct that he said to me, on observing the conduct of the children, "Katie, you should write a book on training children." Many others have expressed the same wish, but I always felt a great reluctance to writing anything until the children should grow up. Now, however, that our five sons and five daughters are all of age, I feel constrained to indicate and to illustrate the principles which have guided me in training them for their life-work of service in Christ's Kingdom.
I write as a mother, not of two, three, four or six, but of ten children, all living. I did not write while they were small, and I was without experience. I write when they are grown up and after having been the confidante of each one of them.
Again and again, after delivering lectures on love, courtship and marriage, motherhood and children, I have been asked to publish them. So I will now take one, perhaps the most fascinating of all these themes--the training of children.
I remember my father saying to me one day, when I was but a young girl, "You must come and speak at a Mothers' Meeting this afternoon." I replied, "But what do I know about it? I cannot."
Yet my father was not to be disobeyed, so I went, a trembling heart. I sat next to a dear woman until the first speaker, a young man, had concluded. When he sat down, the woman startled me by turning to me and saying, "And a lot he knows about it."
I felt profound sympathy with her, and trembled a little more as I realised how little I knew about it."
To-day I can speak from a varied and wide experience. My one and only object in writing is to help young mothers who have to face the same difficulties and problems as I have faced. If nearly all my children are already engaged in the Lord's service, in one field or another, I do not take any credit, but praise Him who has helped me and their dear father to keep true to the first principles of Christianity, and to guide their feet from their tenderest years in paths of righteousness.
A lady once met me at Keswick when three of my sons, each over six feet, were with me.
"Are you not proud of them?" she said.
How strange the words sounded! "Proud!" I answered, "I only praise Him who has enabled me to bring them up for His glory."
Let not the reader think that I have never had my hours of depression, conflict and anguish with regard to the children. I remember serious illnesses, I can recall eight times when one or another child was given up for death. And good children as well as bad children can cause deep anxiety of heart and mind. But I have struggled, in all that concerned them, to keep the Kingdom first. This fact has brought me Divine comfort, when sometimes friends as well as foes have criticised and misjudged me.
If this little book brings any real help to young fathers and mothers, it will more than repay me for writing it, in the midst of much work and many pressing claims.
Artists all confess that the loveliest picture in the world is Raphael's "Madonna with the Divine Child." All the wonder, mystery and tenderness of mother-love are there, caught from the expression on faces the master genius had seen and loved. There is a prophet's question with which we are all familiar, "Can a woman forget the child she bare?" He answers, "They may forget," but the real mother-heart always rises up and protests, "Never!"
CHILDREN! Who can estimate the value of a child? Not gold, houses, or lands, possessions or honours, art, science, or fame, but a child! A living, breathing, throbbing thing; a brain to think, a heart to love; a being endowed with marvellous capacities, gifts and possibilities which may later lead and move multitudes. A child who may become a Voice for righteousness, justice and purity, and, inspired from above, shall impress cold, selfish men and women, and make them run to follow the Christ as rivers rush to seas.
What capital! How many there are who would give all they possess for a child! Among the Hebrews childlessness was a disgrace, an unspeakable sorrow; children were then indeed considered "a heritage from the Lord."
The Greek poets and artists have left many touching proofs of the mutual affection of parents and children. "Love your mother," said Euripides, "for there is no sweeter love than this."
The strength of the old Roman Republic lay just in its reverence for mothers and children. Of aged Cato it is recorded that "he was as careful not to utter an indecent word before his son, as he would have been in the presence of the Vestal Virgins." In the best and strictest Roman families, at all periods, the younger children were in the care of the mother, and the reverent modesty of boys and girls was one of the best features of true Roman home life. The Roman matron who said of her sons and daughters, "These are my jewels," came close to the Christian thought that "Little children, who love their Redeemer, are His jewels, precious jewels, His loved and His own."
Modern nations have lost the sense of the worth of the child. Mothers delegate their responsibilities to others--the child is looked upon as an encumbrance, not to be personally borne. In the eyes of the selfish, pleasure-seeking woman, who wants what she calls "a good time," they are to be avoided, and they are avoided!
Not long ago, when I was travelling, a dear little girl was playing about, sitting on some officers' knees, and by her sweet artlessness gaining the admiration of all. The mother turned to me with a gloomy face and said, "If it was not for her I should be earning £5 a week." She only expressed what thousands feel. The callousness and the appalling neglect of training alike come from the utter failure to estimate the children's worth. Seeing they do not value them, they have no adequate sense of responsibility. Law Courts, Reformatory Schools, High Schools, and the homes of tens of thousands, serve to demonstrate this fact--that the children go astray through want of home influence and control!
Surely motherhood is pre-eminently the vocation of woman. This is her sphere, a world almost hermetically sealed from others. God has made it so from the beginning. She has duties and responsibilities. She is called to self-denial and continual devotion; she must travel the road of suffering, endurance, and often veritable agony; but also she has rights, privileges, joys and Divine consolations which others cannot know, and cannot share.
Someone has said that "Woman joins hands with God in becoming a Mother!" and it is true.
If animals, vegetables and flowers need training, how much more do children! They are potential men and women, future citizens, fathers and mothers, forces, powers, which will live either to bless or curse the world. How impossible, then, to exaggerate the importance of "bringing up a child in the way it should go!"
During the last twenty-five years woman has been emancipated; every door has been opened to her. In the theatrical world she is the chief asset! We have women who are perfect actresses, singers, dancers by the thousand competing with Pavlova! We have to-day women who are musicians, artists, painters, scientists. The business world is run by women as much as men--typists, accountants, shop-keepers, telegraphists and telephonists. Women also enter the Bar; they become doctors; and even Parliament is not refused to them. Woman can be and do everything but train children; that is to a large extent a lost art among us!
The first question we have to settle in treating this most important subject is:
TO WHOM DOES THE CHILD BELONG?
Until this is clearly defined, we cannot proceed. To be undecided here is to be undecided everywhere and lose the battle. It is fatal. The answer to this question affects the whole destiny of the child; it goes into the whole manner of dealing with him, his entire education, his friendships, what he shall learn and not learn; it determines our aims and aspirations respecting his future--even in eating and drinking. To whom does this child belong?
It was a custom of mine to consecrate babies on the Continent. I remember on one occasion a lady driving up in her carriage to ask me to consecrate her infant daughter. I consented, but on reflection, my conscience forbade me, and I wrote her, declining.
The lady returned to ask why I refused.
I said, "Dear Madam, I cannot be any party to the lies which will be told on that infant's head; you do not renounce the world, its pomps and vanities; you wish her to shine and have all the advantages the world can give."
She retorted, "You consecrated So-and-So's child." I replied, "Yes, and if he had a hundred children I would do the same. I know their one ambition for all their children is first and foremost to see them become disciples of Christ."
Does the child belong to the world? To myself? Or to God? For whom am I to nurse and train him? This question should be settled before the child is born, but thousands of Christian parents allow the children to come to the age of twenty-one before there is any decision, and then it is too late to train them. They would say in theory, "They belong to God," but their conduct and practice belie their words. Christian parents--and I am writing chiefly for them--know that the child belongs to God.
They recognise as fully as Hannah of old, that the child is a most sacred trust, for which they must render an account of their stewardship. Others will have a more or less important part in influencing their child, but they, the parents, are above all others responsible for what he becomes!
It is impossible to find in literature a more beautiful record of the desire, the advent, and the consecration of a child, than in the case of Hannah. She had asked her child from God; she had vowed a vow that if God granted her request she would "give him unto the Lord for all the days of his life." She chose the name "Samuel" because she had "asked him of the Lord." She kept her vow and brought him to the Temple to abide there for ever.
Now my reader will exclaim, "We cannot give our children up in the same way." No, but we must, if we are Christians, realise that they should be given to God and trained for Him as truly as Samuel was. Oh! think of it! I am to nurse, train, form, my children for God and His Glory!
After God, the mother has the first right on earth to the child. The mother comes even before the father. Not that I would minimise the influence of a good father; far from it. I had one, and my children have had one, to whom we owe much invaluable teaching. But somehow the mother is the most important factor in the bringing up of a child. There is a more intimate relation, and often a greater confidence and understanding, between the mother and her child than any one else. God has made it so. The mother has the first chance. Before any Governments of this world can reach him; before any of the different schools of thought, ancient or modern, can affect him; before any vain sophistries or criticisms of God and His word can touch him; even before the Arch Enemy of our souls in a sense can injure him, or the world with its thousand voices can reach his ear and its soul-ensnaring delusions seduce him; before sordid worldly pleasures, and false empty joys can allure him; before either friends or foes can influence him--the mother has the first chance. This priceless treasure fresh from the hands of the Creator comes to her arms--Angels and Archangels must envy her--and on that mind, like a piece of clean, pure paper, she writes first. God help her if she fails to write upon it the true, the beautiful and the good. Many will write after her, but none will have the power to efface what she has written.
The mother has the first claim. Oh! how culpable she is when she so easily delegates her wonderful and God-given opportunity to others!
How amazing it is to me to see Christians and well-to-do parents hand over their children to servants, governesses, masters and schools, without even having taken the precaution to find out under what influences these children are to be brought, at this, the most critical time of their lives. Surely testimonials as to teaching and conduct are not enough for us! As parents have the making of their children to a large extent in their own hands, what care should be taken as to who shall have the charge of them!
Lately I have been asked to join an association of women preachers, married and unmarried. The main object is to encourage and increase the ministry of women. That this ministry can be reconciled with motherhood has been abundantly proved. But I have a real conscientious concern on this question where children are involved. If they are to be neglected for the preaching, I answer, "You are mistaken in your conception of God's will. The children should come first, for they are the first souls God will ask of you in the resurrection morning."
While all Christian women, mothers or not, are called to witness to the power of the Lord Jesus to save, and to work in different ways for His glory, few are called to the Ministry. How many men and women have an adequate realisation of the tremendous responsibility involved toward God and man, in the following of this Divine calling. Certificates, diplomas, perfect knowledge of the Bible are not sufficient proof for such a calling. Far more is needed for this vocation, and God never asks us to do something or go somewhere if it involves the neglect or sacrifice of a first pressing duty.
One will naturally ask how did I manage during my Evangelical Tours on the Continent? It is impossible here to give a complete answer to that question, but I would emphasise two points in connection with leaving my children; and no tongue can describe what it cost me to do so when they were young. First, to know that I was in God's will made it possible for me to BELIEVE for them.
Then, too, from time to time I had precious help from young women yielded to His service. One especially I name, Adale Coulon, a French convert, who has long been an invaluable aid, and on whom I could absolutely rely. She was an ideal nurse, and has remained in the family thirty-two years. Not only is she a true Christian, but she is devotedly attached to the children, whom she has seen grow up to follow the Master.
AFTER this question, To whom does the child belong? has been answered, the atmosphere into which it is brought is the next consideration.
We all know how sensitive flowers are to atmosphere. That is why we have greenhouses. But are not children a hundred times more sensitive?
In France I had an orphanage of illegitimate children. I would rather say with Lady Henry Somerset, when speaking of this class, "children of illegitimate parents," for we have nothing to do with the circumstances of our birth, and it is an unwarrantable insult to cast that stigma on any child. The fathers of some of the children I speak of were doing penal servitude; some of the mothers were actresses, and others were of a questionable character. Several of the little ones were thieves and liars.
One child of six years old I got away from immoral surroundings and adopted her myself. Two of my comrades almost despaired of her. "Shame on us all," I said, "if the grace of God is not strong enough in us to cast the devil out of a child of six."
After a week of special care, during which I dedicated one hour each day to teaching her, she gave her little heart to God, and grew up a Christian girl. Like many such children she was very intelligent, and soon acquired German, French and English. Later on I got her into a governess's situation, not revealing her secret. When she left, the children having gone to Boarding School, their father wrote me for a maid, adding, "My wife says she does not think you can have another like her! She was an angel in our home!"
Some years later, she married a Christian in Finland. I sent her, from Scotland, a little bag and a clock which were acknowledged in a letter blotted with tears, praising God for the way in which she had been saved. During the War their faith was severely tested, for they lost their comfortable little home, valued papers and the little clock, yet she wrote, "Our only hope is in Him who changes not." She returned to her native land (France), and was chosen to be head of an Orphanage, from where she now writes, "I do for these little boys what you did for me when naughty--I pray with them."
Another little girl in Lyons was sent to me. She was nine years old. Her little back was all covered with scars, and her wrists were marked. Her mother had done this. My helpers wrote me, "We really cannot keep her, as she contaminates the others."
I wrote, "Wait till I come." When she came before me she said, "I am too bad to stay here, I am going to walk the Boulevards."
I said, "Annette, I feel very tired, come and take tea with me."
"Me! alone with you," she said.
"Yes, Annette, and what would you like for tea?"
"Sausages," she replied. "Anything else?" "Jam!"
"Good, you shall have them."
When tea was over we had a heart to heart talk, and prayers and tears followed that tea.
I changed her diet, and ordered long walks and baths every day. I took a doll which closed its eyes, to a friend who, for a few shillings, dressed it in long clothes like a baby (the great joy of my childhood), and when bed-time came I brought this doll to her.
"Oh, how beautiful!" she exclaimed, lifting the dress and admiring its feet. "Look, she shuts her eyes."
"And it is for you," I said.
"For me alone? Oh, how beautiful!"
"Yes," I said, "but you can only have it at night; you can never see this doll in the day-time. Now what will you call it?" "After you," she said.
Oh, I thought, there shall be no reformatory school for you. "My name is Catherine," I said; so we christened the baby Catherine.
Leaving the room, I waited on the staircase, and on returning in a few minutes I found her fast asleep with the doll in her arms.
A few years later a lady wrote me for a girl to help her in her house, but the Matron said, "Send anyone but Annette! If I ever have a difficult case she helps me so!"
This is what atmosphere had done! The Spirit of Jesus Christ, love, and patience had driven out of this child all dirty ways, bad words, thieving and lying, and changed her utterly.
A child is extremely sensitive. When mother and father are quarrelling like cat and dog at the table, long before their child is three years old and can express himself, he notices and is influenced by their behaviour. When mother promises toys and never keeps her word, the child puts her down as a liar long before it says so. When hard words and hard looks are in evidence, children, although they may be silent, are deeply impressed.
How many children are being silently moulded into the likeness of father and mother! Father and mother swear, they will swear. Father and mother lie, they will lie. Father and mother are unkind, even cruel; they will be unkind and cruel. Father and mother worship money; they will worship money. Father and mother drink, they will drink. But let them come into another atmosphere, the atmosphere which the blessed Christ always creates, wherever He appears in flesh and blood. And the children will open and respond like flowers to the sun.
Home should be a little heaven; once the door is open, the atmosphere of love, peace and rest should greet one. Thousands have been saved for time and eternity through the blessed influence of home, and the woman makes the home, be she mother, sister or aunt.
Let me sound a note of warning here. Beware of making a god of order and tidiness! I have been in houses where everything was spick and span, but the principles of mercy and kindness were forgotten. Prescribed rules came first, and the rigid atmosphere struck at one's very heart! One felt that inanimate things were valued before human beings and their happiness. The comfort of a tired husband or friend, the supplying of a sudden call or need, are sacrificed to this home-destroying order. It was not the time, the cup of tea and kindly sympathy were not offered. Remember, oh! remember that the dear tired men and women, the suffering and lonely ones who break in on your prescribed order and rule to-day may be gone to-morrow, never to trouble you again.
Home, with its atmosphere of love, where "hearts are of each other sure," is the dearest place on earth. But how narrow and self-centred even a Christian home would become without the open door and the warm welcoming heart! "The stranger that is within thy gates" is a refrain running through the whole of the Old Testament, and in the Gospel story home-love is glorified when we read how the dying Saviour said to His disciple, "Behold thy Mother," and "from that hour that disciple took her to his own home."
IT almost seems superfluous to say that in order to train children one must love them. To succeed in any business, science or art, you must love it. If painting, music, literature, the sciences of astronomy, botany, and medicine demand time, trouble and self-denial, how much more does the science of training children!
It cannot be done from a mere sense of duty. And further, to possess this supreme gift does not necessarily mean that one must be married or have children of one's own. You and I, my reader, have known blessed women who had the great Mother heart, though they have never been mothers. They have been the truest and deepest lovers!
In the first letter I received from my mother, on the birth of my firstborn, I remember these words: "You will never have another hour to yourself." In a sense it has been true, and only love can supply the demands made on motherhood. Love toils. Love perseveres.
Love holds on in the dark.
Love waits through long, long years. Love hopes on, banishing fear. Love begets love. Love is its own reward. Love never fails.
One must not only love, but win love in return. There is an obedience from fear. Thousands of homes have proved this, and have also proved its failure. Commandments kept from motives of love are alone satisfactory to both parents and children. Children, who are the keenest judges in the world, know when worldly ambition, fame, money, or pleasures govern the home, and they equally know if love and the principles of Jesus Christ are the ruling power. The child who is won by love may wander from the way for a time, but when he is older he shall surely return to it.
During the war a young man known to me was tempted by his comrades to yield to a terrible sin. They laughed at his scruples, and made light of fears. He was in the greatest danger, when all of a sudden his mother's face rose before him, and he was saved. Another young man told me that he also was on the verge of yielding to temptation when he thought of his angel aunt who had brought him up: this was sufficient. Now what was it really that saved those young men? It was the memories which those faces recalled, the early training, the Sunday School, the Christian principles, the devotion, self-sacrifice and love lavished upon them, priceless love! They could not break away from that love!
The greatest of all picture galleries is memory. Take heed what kind of pictures you hang up in the children's minds! The manner in which you corrected that fault, your grief, your little talk, your tender kiss--all will come back again. Your sympathy when John or Mary failed in an examination, and your encouragement to try again. The glorious Christmas times--the home-coming of father or mother, the gaily lighted tree, the sweet songs of Christ's birth, the presents for all--are never-to-be-forgotten pictures. The strenuous times when there was little or no money, the self-denial, the gifts for others in still greater need, the prayers and the answered prayers. The boy or girl leaving home, the hidden grief of those whose love can never be repaid. The sorrow, it may be, because of the error or sin of some member of the family, and the generous forgiveness. And underneath all the outstanding, dominating, passionate thing, Love--a Love which turns earth into Heaven!
God stands for order; the Bible teaches this. No country, no community, and no home can be well governed without order. Order is in the highest interests of rulers and ruled. A disorderly home is an unhappy home, and there is nothing more injurious to children than disorderly habits and ways.
But to have order one will must be supreme. If the children are allowed to govern, then the parents lose their authority, and this is ruinous to the child and the home. Government from below is not of God. Yet how often do we see children veritable little tyrants! It is their wills that are consulted, not those of the parents, even to the choice of clothing, food, the hours for going to bed, and so forth, and if their wills are crossed what scenes and storms! How much misery could be saved to both parents and children, what tears and conflicts, heart-burning and regrets avoided, if it was understood from the start that father and mother were to rule. Have a few rules, but have them obeyed; for instance, an hour for rising, an hour for going to bed, an hour for meals; simple rules about outings, Sundays, property, money, friendships. Let your No be No, and your Yes, Yes.
"I want to go into the garden," said a little girl to her mother, as I was preparing to leave a house in which I had been a guest. "No," replied the mother, "it is too wet, and you must do your home work." "Good-bye, Marachale," said the hostess to me in the hall, as the luggage was going into the taxi. "Come again--Good-bye." "Mother, I want to go into the garden." "No, dear, not now." "Goodbye, dear friend," I said. "Mother," the child persisted, tugging at her dress, "I want to go into the garden." "All right, go!" that is ruination, yet how often we all see it enacted!
Children will rapidly fall into line if well trained. Let me give a few instances.
I was coming over on one of the great liners from New York, and in the cabin opposite mine was a lady who was going to see her widowed mother, who had lost four sons in the War. She had one little boy with her--a beautiful child of five summers, with a face like a little Samuel--but what a life he led his poor mother and us all! Do you think he would let the stewardess put him to bed? Not he! Although the mother was sick and ill and could hardly move, he would cry for her to undress him. He would cry for candy and cake at all hours; nor would he take his food from the stewardess. This went on for two or three days and nights, until one day I said, "Will you hand him over to me for an hour? Will you trust me with him?"
"She knew who I was, and said, "Oh, yes, take him." We were on deck then, and he was crying and whining. I took him by the hand to lead him downstairs. He began howling. I took no notice, simply led him along to my state-room, and shutting the door, said, "I am not going to give you cake and candy. You are a selfish, ugly little boy. I am going to do something."
I laid him on the bed and gave him a smart little whipping, as I would one of my own children, and left the cabin for a moment or two. Then, returning, I sat by his side and told him about a little boy I knew, thoughtful, kind, unselfish; what a joy he was in the home to Mamma and to everyone who knew him.
"What is the name of that little boy," he asked. Turning and looking into his blue eyes, I said, "You don't love your Mamma." "I do love Mamma," he replied. "No, I love your Mamma but you do not. Would you like to be like that little boy?"
The great tears welled up in his eyes, and he answered "Yes." Then I said, "You must get a new heart," and knelt down and prayed with him.
After washing his little face and hands and combing his hair, I brought him to his mother. What a change! The next morning I had a deputation of American and English ladies to thank me for a peaceful night, and his mother told me the first thing he said in the morning was," I want to see the lady."
Often he was on my knees during the voyage, listening to stories and never gave one bit of trouble during the rest of the journey.
When we were leaving the great liner many came forward to thank me for the meeting I had held on board and say farewell, but that little chap in the arms of his mother, throwing me kisses, touched me more than all else!
Think of the possibilities in a child like that, and what splendid ground to work upon! There are thousands like him who are simply neglected like a garden of weeds.
Here is another illustration. I was out walking in the country. On the opposite side of the road was a little boy about three or four years old. His mother was laden with parcels after shopping, and looked particularly tired. "Cawwy me, cawwy me, cawwy me," he said, tugging at her dress all the time.
"I can't, Harry, I have too many parcels to carry."
"Cawwy me, cawwy me," he continued, until I could stand it no longer. Crossing the road, I said:
"No! you walk up the hill yourself, with those beautiful little legs God has given you. Go on! Not another word."
Off he started, went straight along, looking back at me, with wide open eyes.
"Ah!" sighed the mother, "I have never seen him obey like that in his life."
"But, my dear friend, this is your fault," I replied.
When he got to the top I talked with him a few minutes. And now he wanted to help mother!
I had four little boys following each other, two of them with only sixteen months between, exceedingly different in character. In fact, there is such variety in the temperaments of the children that many have remarked that one would never have said they belonged to the same family! Two of these little boys began to quarrel. This occurred again and again, until I called them up and said, "Who clothes you?"
"You, mother," was the answer. "Who feeds you?" "You, mother."
"In whose house are you?" "In yours."
"Well, if that is so, I am not going to have my peace disturbed by quarrelsome children, and if I find any more quarrelling, I shall be obliged to put you in separate rooms upstairs upon bread and water for the day."
The quarrelling recurred. It was a beautiful day, and it cost me a great heart struggle to undress the little boys and put them to bed, but I had said it and must keep my word. When the afternoon came, a lady in the home and my secretary said, "You are not going to keep those little fellows upstairs this afternoon?" I answered in the affirmative.
"It is absolute cruelty," they observed.
Wearily the hours passed. I confess I could not keep my mind on my work.
Two little letters were brought to me. Here is one which I kept:
"I regret my haughtiness to-day and have asked God to forgive me, and I am so happy to tell you he has pardoned me. Now I come to you and ask your pardon. From to-day I will try to be really good. Pardon me for I have been very selfish. I do love my little brother, and I will not tease him any more or answer back.
"Your own son, who regrets so much,--
I went upstairs about four o'clock, not being able to resist longer, and the two little boys flew out of bed into my arms, asking me to kiss them. We knelt down together and had a blessed little prayer meeting, and I can assure you it made a mark upon their future conduct.
"Take this child away and nurse it for me," said Pharaoh's daughter to one who proved to be the child's own mother. The mother did something far finer than nursing the child for a princess; she nursed and trained him for God, so that "he chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season." He became great, very great, as a leader of the people of God. But who first led the little child?
THE mind is a wonderful possession, and words are poor vehicles to express the tremendous importance of the education of the child.
Some people hold the extraordinary view that children should not be influenced towards Christianity, but left without religious training. Hence we have not only schools for infidels' and socialists' children, where the story of God's love, shown in the life and death of His Son are studiously avoided, but Protestant schools where the Bible is entirely omitted. The argument is that children should be left unbiassed until they reach years of discretion.
"I have a friend," writes Coleridge, "who holds these views, and I asked him to come and admire my garden."
"How can I," he replied, "for I see that it is all overgrown with weeds."
"That," I answered, "is because it has not yet come to years of discretion, and I did not think it right to prejudice it in favour of strawberries and roses."
Many people think education merely refers to school life and lesson books, but education has a much deeper and wider meaning. It takes in the whole of life, it includes the formation of character and covers the entire moral training. It is far greater and more important than school instruction and book learning, for it is conduct which shows what we are, and conduct which decides our destiny. A child may not be able to read or write, and yet scorn to tell a lie, cheat or steal. Let us first treat the subject of our relationship towards others, beginning with father and mother, brothers and sisters.
Is not the conduct towards mothers and fathers a marked indication of the times in which we live? Think of the children you know, who treat their parents scandalously. I have felt the blood rush all over me to hear a boy of sixteen or twenty speak to father or mother at the breakfast table as if he was some lord, and they were inferior. On one such occasion, in a beautiful home, I asked the boy to come to my room to do something to my trunk. "Most willingly," he replied.
Once there, standing with my back to the door, I talked to that young man as he had never been talked to in his life.
"Who are you," I asked, "and where did you come from that you dare to speak to your mother as I heard you speak at lunch." He turned white.
"You are making a whip for your own back! One day you will put that dear face in a coffin, and have to think all your life how you treated her. And your father, who clothed and fed you, he sent you to that college, and you come back as if it was something you had gained by your own right, and you talk to your father as if he was a back number and knew nothing compared to you."
He was much impressed, and later we prayed together.
A gentleman and lady in an American city invited me to dinner with my secretary and my son. The father and mother seemed overjoyed at having us under their roof. All went well until, in the course of conversation, the grownup son began to tell a story. The father added a detail which had been forgotten, when the son turned on him saying, "Are you going to tell the story or I?" A horrid pause followed! Needless to say my meal was spoiled, and in the middle of the night again I heard the brutal tones of that voice, and saw the faces of father and mother.
Parents, do not allow your children to treat you disrespectfully. You can be on sweet loving terms with them, but never allow them to be disrespectful; it is a wrong to them.
Many a sad weary mother has come to me with bitterness in her soul because of the callous, impudent, heartless attitude of children, for whom she has sacrificed all her life. Now they treat her as a door-mat, taking all as their due, and making all their arrangements independently of her. Remember, you are their mother, or perhaps elder sister, or aunt, in charge, and remember your position. When you break down that wall of respect, or allow them to do so, your authority is at an end. They will never do it if you do not allow the beginning. The habit of treating father and mother with reverence will last a life-time, and will bring precious guidance to them, and joy to you. You have no right to be unselfish at the expense of their selfishness.
Education also includes the treatment of other children; and let us begin with sisters and brothers, where they are fortunate enough to have any. What an opportunity to develop unselfishness, generosity, thoughtfulness and courage!
How sweet to see brothers and sisters helping each other--true comrades in childhood--respecting each other's individuality and property, not taking so much as a toy without asking.
Education includes habits, and habits formed in childhood stick to us through life. How many grown-up persons have had a bitter fight because of bad habits allowed to form when no one thought them serious enough to correct. Habits make character, clean habits, tidy habits, beautiful habits, habits of the body, habits of the mind, habits at night, habits by day, habits of thoughtfulness for others, habits of truthfulness, of keeping the Lord's day and of prayer--all this is included in the word Education!
Again, what a valuable source of instruction for children are the great families of animal and bird life! How much cruelty do we find among even the very young towards helpless animals. I once stayed in a Baron's house outside Paris when a young girl. Green lawns, stately trees, beautiful flowers and lovely woods surrounded the home. I loved to rise early and go out alone. One morning I was arrested by the cries and squeals of something in pain. Going on a little further, I heard the cries repeated. What can it be? I thought. On searching, I found a little frog or lizard with its claws caught in a trap. A little further on I found a bird in the same position. I looked round to see who was doing this, and spied my young lord, a boy of about twelve. This was his business. I got hold of him and knocked him down. Not being strong enough to hold him, I sat on him, and then pulled his hair and his ears, pinched his legs and his cheeks, till he cried out: "I shall tell my mother."
"Go and tell her," I replied, "you little monster! With everything that money can buy, you yet find your amusement by causing pain to these innocent creatures!" Later I had a quiet opportunity of speaking to him, and he responded.
I remember so well a mother telling me that her child picked flies from the window and pulled their wings and legs off, before he was three years of age. Poor children! born with such instincts, they are not alone responsible. I know now what I did not know then. Teach your children early the beauty of animal life. Teach them about the birds. Instill a love for all creation into them. How true are the words of an American scholar, E. S. Buchanan, whom I number among my dearest friends:
He that hates the lowliest thing
Is deaf to the song the Angels sing;
The soul that loves not, knows not rest,
And only the soul that loves is blest.
I HAD a prejudice against schools, perhaps unwarranted. I do not think I have ever met a mother who has kept her boys so long with her, on account of the horror of schools. And what I suffered with the noise and inconvenience! But schools are good in many respects. Children find their level there, and discipline is good, and, above all, they have an opportunity of taking their stand for Jesus Christ. Children should not be sent away from home too young. A public school is a new world, and to send them there before their early principles are formed is courting disaster. It is no use crying out when your hand is burnt, if you put it into the fire. Take care what school you choose. I personally visited two or three before I put my lads in. In the course of conversation, one master said:
"On Sunday afternoons we discuss different characters, Shakespeare one day, Browning another, Confucius another, and Jesus Christ."
That ended the school for me. I was not going to put the children where Jesus Christ was placed on a par with Browning, Shakespeare or anyone else. Judge for yourself.
Daily schools are very good because the children do not lose the home influence; they can ask, "Is that true, Father?" and they have got mother to speak to. One of my boys said one day:
"I could not tell any lady what a boy did to me, and you are a lady, mother, I cannot tell you."
"You must tell mother," I replied. The result was a private letter to the master of the school, which brought one in return thanking me for having written. A watch was set, and a lad discovered who was corrupting the children.
In a day school you have a chance to correct what is wrong, you can put right in the child's mind what is puzzling him. There are good conscientious masters and mistresses, and I think if you took courage to go and see them when there is anything wrong, not only in the interests of your own child, but for the sake of the whole school--for the master has often no idea what is going on--they would not betray your confidence; on the contrary, they would be grateful and thank you.
A dear son of a friend of mine walked and ran five miles from school to his home because another boy acted in an impure way towards him. He grew up to be a fine man.
One can instill into children at a very early age a horror, a disgust, for the unclean in every form. One of my birthdays was approaching in Paris, and two of our little boys started out with their pennies to procure their little gifts. Knowing my admiration for pictures they decided on getting me some pretty post-cards. Upon entering the shop the woman behind the counter drew them aside and said, "I know what will please you," and opening a drawer she handed them some very suggestive and impure cards. The boy Augustine, who was twelve years old, took the packet in his hand, and after glancing at them threw them at her, saying "Comment ose tu nous montrer de tels saletes?" (" How dare you show us such dirty things?").
Before children go to school (I am not speaking of very young ones), you ought yourself to give them the clean water about the most sacred relationship in life, or someone else will give them the dirty water. You do it; it is far sweeter and more wholesome for your darlings to get the truth from you than from another source. It is a heartbreaking fact that thousands of beautiful boys and girls would have been morally saved if father or mother had spoken sooner. I know by experience the natural reticence we feel in approaching this subject. Begin with the birds and flowers, and remember there is nothing unclean in God's creation. When He made man, a perfect man, not a mutilated one, He pronounced him good. It was sin and selfishness that has marred His crowning work, MAN.
Speak, oh, speak, for your children's souls' sake; speak! As my beautiful mother used to say, "Be beforehand with the devil"; warn them, tell them what they do not know about their bodies; and tell them that thoughts, words and acts produce eternal consequences!
We said at the beginning of this book, that the decision "to whom the child belongs" settles the question of how it is to be trained. It settles the question also of what it shall learn and not learn.
My children had to suffer much in the schools on the Continent, where the standard of conduct was sometimes very low. Often I have witnessed their bitter tears, and prayed with them that they might hold out for the right. My little Vicky was once working for an examination, and had nearly succeeded, when she was accused by another girl of copying. Although she denied it she was not believed, and the teacher reproved her. She did not pass, and I felt it keenly and had counted on this distinction for her encouragement. All of a sudden she said to me, "Mother, would it not be much worse if I had to confess to you that I had copied?" That changed the whole aspect.
If you are sincere in the desire that your children should be disciples of the Lord Jesus before anything else, you will not send them to a school, college, or University where the authority of the Bible is disputed, or where the standards of conduct contained therein are questioned. St. Paul wrote in his day, that "the natural man" cannot understand "the things of the Spirit of God"; neither can he to-day. It is not difficult but impossible, as impossible as for a tiger to sing like a canary, or a thistle to bear grapes, because his reason is fallen as well as his heart. No man can rightly read or understand the Bible without the Holy Spirit. While a hearty tribute is due to many patient and hard-working teachers both in schools and colleges, to whom parents entrust their loved ones, numbers of those teachers having the highest moral and spiritual interests of their pupils at heart, yet when we come to the "unsearchable riches," spiritual life, divine power, and qualifications for service, how low are our colleges to-day! How many of our Professors have received the Holy Spirit as their Guide? how many have been really born again? If not, can they help to form the young Christian? On the contrary, hundreds who go under their tuition with hearts aglow, and lives consecrated, come away all "at sea," and with no Gospel to take to the heathen or anywhere else. Some Professors even give themselves trouble to destroy "the faith that was once delivered unto the saints," and have nothing to give in its place.
Do you want your children to be powers for God in this sin-blighted world? Shun these places, as you would the cholera. I am hearing every day of the deadly fruit of these institutions. A young lady who had recently finished her College course, was asked, "What do you speak about when visiting the poor?" She said, "Indeed, we do not know what to say, so we tell them to keep the house clean and wash themselves, etc." All for this world, nothing for the next.
Do you wonder that I have often been scandalised at the way Christian parents have looked upon education? The importance they have attached to it and their children's position in this life has far outweighed every other consideration. They have put "much learning" before the spiritual welfare of their children, and the Holy Spirit has been grieved thousands of times by this choice. Practically they have said, "Our children shall be educated even if they are lost." They have their desire, but leanness has been sent into their souls, and truly they are "very lean."
There is something very cruel in sending fresh young minds and earnest believers to a hot-bed of doubt and destructive criticism and expecting them to stand!
Personally, I would rather my children should learn to pray than to read, for there is the road which leads to the very best education and the highest of all sciences--the knowledge of God, the walk with God, the Love of God to a lost world, which no merely intellectual system can ever produce.
Do you ever punish? asks my reader. Yes, God punishes and God rewards, but if children are brought up on right lines from their earliest years they will need very little punishment.
The other day I heard of a dear little fellow who, having been naughty, was reproved, and told that he could not have any chocolates that day. It happened that that very afternoon a lady offered him a box and, opening it, said "Take one." He replied "Not to-day," and when she pressed him, he took the box home to his mother, saying, "I have not taken one!" That was a sense of honour in a child of seven years. And it was indeed a compliment to the mother's training.
I have whipped my children sometimes for serious faults, but never without following it up by prayer. On my re-entering the room on one occasion for our little private talk, E-- said, "Mother, did you hurt your hand very much?" On another occasion A-- said in his prayers, "Thank you, Jesus, for giving me such a good mamma, and let me die sooner than grieve her again."
One can be cruel in punishment without knowing it, chiefly because one does not enter into child life. Dark rooms and cupboards have a horror for children. Hasty blows on the head and ears are injurious to health, and it is very wrong to punish in any way that gives shocks to the nervous system. Thousands of boys and girls have been made hysterical, morbid and nervous for life through the insane treatment of parents, teachers and servants! No punishment should be given in haste or temper, for instinctively the child will know that it was far more an explosion of your temper than a chastisement administered for his good.
To my dying day shall I suffer at the memory of an incident that happened again and again in a day school, which I attended when about eight or ten years of age. A woman teacher used to call a boy of about fourteen years into the middle of the room and box his ears right and left because he did not know his lessons. I see that red face and those burning tears even now. In my outraged sense of justice I could have stamped on her!
My sister Emma--now in heaven--was treated by a governess in the same fashion again and again. One day I flew at the tormentor, pulled her hair down and smacked her face with all my might, and rushed away to my room. There was not a word of remonstrance on her part! At tea-time, there were chocolates on all our plates!
A minister of the Gospel, handicapped all his life by abnormal fear, told me that when he was a child, the nurse who put him to bed would say, to keep him quiet, that if he made a noise, a black man would come down the chimney and carry him off! He used to lay in terror hour after hour.
A child of good family was often whipped with a riding whip by her own mother, who came in and heard complaints against her. Three times the child tried to drown herself in the hand-basin. Later, with what devotion she worked for me in return for such love as she had never known!
Oh! how many have told me the same kind of thing! Study the child, and study the nature of the offence. To punish for forgetfulness or accident is wrong, but untruthfulness, wilful disobedience, laziness, cruelty to brother or sister or animals: these things should never be passed over.
Often a serious talk is quite sufficient, the tone of your voice, the earnestness of your manner, revealing how serious you think the offence, and above all, your prayer and the little one's prayer which follows are quite enough!
Upon one occasion, after an address to women on the training of children, a mother came to me about her little girl of ten, who, she said, was so disobedient and impudent.
"Do you ever pray with her?" I asked. She stared at me. "No."
I said, "If you are a Christian, that is the first thing you ought to do, and never punish without following it up by prayer--that is so important."
There was a recurrence of the child's naughty spirit, and she took her by the hand to her bedroom, where she knelt and prayed with tears. The little girl soon threw her arm round the mother's neck.
"Don't cry, Mother, I am a bad, bad girl, I will be good and no more make you cry."
A fortnight later the mother visited me again and said, "I have a different child now, I cannot thank you enough."
A very good plan for correcting children is, when they are in bed, to read a short story bringing out one fault or quality at a time. How often I have been amused to hear, from one bed after another, ejaculations--" Oh, Mother! how selfish! how cruel!" showing how the message was going home. Then follow it up by a few words of prayer and a good-night kiss. Never forget the kiss!
UP to a certain age you can control the friendships of your children. You are the true God appointed shepherds who can, with wisdom from on high and real tact, guide them, and often stop those mad infatuations which seize us all, especially at a certain age!
Hold before their eyes the traits of character which form true and lasting friendships, and they will soon judge for themselves.
Be young with your children, show sympathy with their feelings, desires and griefs. Do not act as a mother did the other day, when her little daughter came in from school weeping, to tell her of one of those sorrows which go so deep with some children. "Oh! go away, I cannot be bothered with you now." Next time, she will not bother you, but will go to Bill Smith or Mary Brown. What is a dinner, or the finishing of a dress or the ironing of clothes, compared to keeping the heart and confidence of your child? I know too well how trying interruptions are in the midst of work, but keep first things first. If that mother had simply said, "Oh, I am sorry, darling, after dinner you shall tell me all; do not cry!" that would have been enough.
How many lives have been ruined, hearts broken, and wretched marriages contracted, which oversight, sympathy and loving firm control in this matter would have prevented. Keep the confidence of your children at all costs; everything is included in that!
In all simplicity let me say: I have not met a person busier than myself, or one on whom have hung more varied duties and claims in so many directions, and yet I always tried to make time for the children. When I was at home, not only did I have their intimate prayer meeting where they prayed, but also superintended their going to bed. I made a law to have about twenty minutes alone with each child every week-end, and thus I could nip in the bud what might have come to flower.
How pained I have often been at my very heart to hear words like these, "I will tell you if you promise not to tell mother," "I would blow my brains out sooner than father should know," etc. And I have been obliged to make the promise of secrecy in order to bring help to both parties.
If you are really the friend of your children, they will make it a rule to tell you everything and ask your advice, not only in little things but in great things such as career and marriage. As they will grow older you will be their chief confidant. Many mothers who have brought up their children splendidly will agree with what I say.
Enough has been written of the romantic friendships which spring up between utter strangers, but not enough of the intimate lifelong attachments between parents and children. "Dad," wrote many a son from the trenches during the awful war, "I never knew till now what chums you and I had been." And what reward can a mother have like tributes such as these from the letters of her sons: "My soul is knit to your soul, your love to me is wonderful." "You have taught me more than all the Bible Schools on earth could do." "I am your companion, and no one can ever take your place." "I can never have any friend like you."
Have Faith for Your Children
The habit of scolding is fatal, it grows on one until it becomes second nature. It is exceedingly trying to have to correct the same fault again and again, but instead of saying, "That is just like you, you always do it," and nagging all the time, how much better it is to say, "Surely that was a mistake," "You were not thinking," "You will not do it again," or, "Supposing you were mother and I was your little girl, what would you do?"
When there is an effort, however small, to please you, encourage it, notice it. Lift your child in his own esteem, and let him see how pleased you are.
Have faith also for the backward, timid ones! Some time ago, I was entertained in a fine home. At supper time, when the children were all round the table, talking of the day's events, I noticed one child of about twelve sitting very silent and dull.
"Oh!" said the mother to her, "I suppose your lessons were not learned again."
The meal being over, I got hold of the child, and said:
"Bring your lessons to my room." She flushed with pleasure. She was very backward, but oh! the joy of that little face when she came home the next day to tell mother of good marks gained! In the evening I said:
"Bring me up my hot water, angel!" Then we had a few more words together, and I told her how prayer had helped me with my lessons. "Good night, angel; sleep well!" I cried.
When the mother went in to tuck them up that night, she said, "Oh, mother, she called me angel."
Before I left the house the mother came to me, saying:
"I have noticed a great difference in Florrie in every way since you have been here; you know she cannot get over your calling her 'angel. '"
"Oh," I replied, "that is a habit I have with all my children; but take my advice and try a little of my medicine!"
Again I repeat. Have faith for your children. Expect the best from them.
I remember when my third son was born, among the hills above the Lake of Geneva, I naturally wanted to have one of my boys called after my father, and at the same time, as was my custom, I wished to add a second name, and, on thinking of it, again and again "Immanuel" came back to me. When I mentioned this to one or two of my friends, they were rather shocked at the idea, which made me hesitate. Then I wrote to Dean Farrar and asked him what he thought about it. He answered in a beautiful and emphatic letter: "My dear Marechale, If I had a baby to-day I would call him Immanuel. Go on, do it, but do it in faith." So in faith I called my baby-boy William Immanuel. He is now thirty. Ask about him among the "down-and-outs" in and around San Francisco, and learn how faith is justified.
I have never understood why so many Christian parents choose for their children mere pagan names or names of pretty flowers! Give them the names of true heroes and heroines, names which will be ideals to live up to, names which will inspire them to take part in the greatest warfare and share the victories of the greatest Conqueror this world has ever seen.
INCLUDED in education is taking care that your children feel and act kindly to those less fortunate than themselves, the poor, the miserable. I had trouble with a nursery governess about this very thing. I wished her to take my little daughters to a poor quarter of the town, carrying gifts to the poor. She said she could not think of taking them to such a disreputable part of the city. I insisted, saying, "Do you think I want my children brought up to know nothing of and never see suffering?" At length she complied with my wish.
They returned delighted, one and another exclaiming, "Oh, mother, We saw a little crippled girl, and we sang to her, and she liked it so much and begged us to go again!" "and the woman you sent the flowers to was so pleased!" "and the other woman was so glad to get the tea and sugar! do let us go again!"
That is education. Do not let them grow up selfish, or thinking they have a right to things that other people are not fortunate enough to possess.
I remember a Sunday School class in which all the little girls were beautifully dressed. All but one, and she wore her plain week-day clothes on Sunday. The manner in which several of the former girls treated their poorer little sister was despicable. They laughed at her, whispered about her, and made fun of her. A Christian child of eleven years spoke to them, and although some would not listen she won one for the Saviour.
Make your children understand, from the first, that clothes are not a sign of superiority with God. Conduct, character and kindness weigh with Him.
I remember one day my sweet little Vicky breaking the rules in Paris. She suddenly crossed the street in the midst of the traffic, making my heart stand still! She was wending her way to a poor wretched man sitting on the opposite side of the Boulevard. For a moment she stood speaking to him, and I saw him smile at the child. On her return I asked, "What did you say to him, darling?" "Tu es malheureux--n'importe, Jesus t'aime--et moi je t'aime aussi." "You are unhappy, never mind, Jesus loves you, and I love you also!" she replied. How often we can state the first two facts, "You are unhappy, Jesus loves you," but we cannot add, "And I love you also." Until we can say and prove the latter, we have little or no weight with the poor world.
My husband was conducting powerful missions in Germany before the War, and he was assisted by our son William, who led a most blessed work among the children. Hundreds were brought under the power of the Gospel and truly converted. I have seen some of the letters from mothers praising God for the change in boys who had given them sorrow. Four years later, in Chicago, where William was labouring, I found him one morning weeping bitterly. On enquiring the cause he placed a letter before me. It was from a German mother telling him that his great friend, a beautiful Christian lad of nineteen was killed in the war. The following is an extract from the letter.
"My dear William, Your letter to my precious son cannot reach him in this world, for he is no more. The bullet that killed him went straight through the little Testament that you gave him. We shall meet him in the morning."
Bring your children up from the cradle to understand that they do not come into this world to live unto themselves, "but unto Him who died for them and rose again." It will make their lives so much easier later on. The best and highest one can wish for is that they may become faithful disciples of the Lord Jesus.
Recreation and Pleasure
RECREATION and play are as necessary as lessons, and children will enjoy these blessings far more in a Christian home than elsewhere. "Do your work well, and father and mother will look after your pleasures," I used to say.
You can plan readings around the fire; you can arrange outdoor games such as cricket, hockey and tennis; you can have tea parties, picnics, outings, and musical evenings, which will live for a life-time in their memories. Their hearty appreciation, their laughter and fun will be the sweetest music to your ears. All this can take place without the danger of taking them to cinemas or letting them run wild. Give them your society as much as possible. But my reader exclaims, "We have not the time for such supervision." Remember what we said at the beginning of this book. The children's interests, spiritual and temporal, must come before other things. Many of these pastimes do not require your presence, but let me say I do not believe there is any subject upon which Christians are more deceived or untruthful (perhaps unconsciously) than about time. No time for a prayer meeting, no time for a visit, no time for the children, no time for God's word! I have observed silently how time is spent by professing Christians--hours for unnecessary shopping, bridge parties, cards, social visits and, above all, gossip. You cannot train children without time. If you put selfish gratification first, you are not worthy to have them.
Games afford a great opportunity for training children on the lines of unselfishness and honour. The other day I heard a beautiful story. A little boy came home and told his mother that they had been beaten at football. He could not understand why the other side had won, for they had cheated, "and yet," he added, "God helped them to win."
When the mother told the father how disappointed he was, he called the child to him, saying, "I hear you won this afternoon." "No, father, you are mistaken, we were beaten." Then the father explained that he had gained a greater victory than a mere game, having gained the victory over his spirit. At night the child prayed, "Dear God, I am sorry that I was so rude to You this morning. I did not understand what real victory was until father explained."
It is very good for children to have pets to feed and care for; birds, rabbits, a little dog or a kitten. It develops kindness and personal responsibility.
The sweetest years of your life should be when your children are little. The training, teaching, moulding, and making them happy is an angel's work.
Always be natural! Let your children lead the open-air life; let them romp and race and swing and play; let them build huts and boats and fancy themselves pilgrims or pirates or Red Indians. Naturally there is some wear and tear and a certain amount of danger, but at all cost save your children from growing up too soft and timid for the real battle of life.
Risks! I remember how in Holland my husband once made some very large kites for the boys, and one day when a veritable hurricane was blowing they started off with the girls to fly them. Willie packed Baby into a basket, tying her up firmly with string, and tightly attached the basket to the tail of his kite. I arrived just in time to see it begin to rise from the ground, and to rescue my child from her perilous position! She was my Josephine, so named after one of my dearest of friends, Mrs. Josephine Butler.
Surely, this is a most potent factor in the science of training children. Be what you want your child to be. Be pure and your children will be pure, pure in thought and act. Be truthful, and your children will be truthful. Act on principle; stand for the great principles of justice and righteousness; stand for the suffering, lonely, and wronged, when it costs you something.
Be a real Christian and your life will reflect itself in the lives of your children. You may send them to Church and Sunday School till Doomsday, but that does not absolve you from being what you ought to be, or make up for the lack of your example.
It was what my mother was, more than what she preached, that influenced us eight children who speak for her now she has gone.
I remember a Bible lesson that dear mother was giving us on one of her Sundays at home. The Noah's Ark was on the table and we were all gathered round, but while we were talking there was a disturbance in the street. A man's voice recurred again and again and shouts and laughter came through the open window. At length mother rose to look out and we children followed her example. What a sight! A tall young man, surrounded by a ring of people; he was drunk and rolling from side to side, saying things that caused explosions of laughter, the crowd egging him on. Never shall I forget my mother! Her black eyes flashed fire, and without thinking of bonnet or cloak she ran down the front door steps into the midst of them, and taking hold of him cried to the crowd, "Shame on you, you are worse than he is!"
Then she led the staggering man up the steps into the parlour and sat him down in an armchair; but soon he was up again and with open arms went towards mother, saying, "Dance with me." "No, I cannot dance, I want to weep," she replied, "to see a fine young man like you in such a condition on Sunday afternoon." Dear Emma and I were looking on from behind a window curtain and taking it all in. "Katie," said mother, "go down to cook and tell her to make a good pot of tea and toast and bring it up." Off I started, enthused to do something to help in this wonderful rescue work. Mother soon poured out the tea, and he was lifting the cup to his lips with a shaking hand. He became silent, listening to her earnest words. Then we all knelt in prayer. "Go down, Katie, to Cook," said dear Mother, "and tell her to put on her hat and take him home." Hannah, a dear saved girl, soon appeared dressed and ready. "Hannah, you are to take this dear man home," "Yes, Mum." "Take him past every Public House, he is not to go into one." "No fear, Mum, not with me." "And you are to get his address and see his wife and children." Then, taking hold of his arm, Hannah proceeded down the steps on her errand of mercy.
That was a Bible lesson never, never to be forgotten. If dear Mother left us to preach in the Dome at Brighton or elsewhere, we all knew why, but her ruling passion was even more manifest in the rescue of one poor drunkard than in her burning appeals to the great multitude.
On one of my visits to Clacton-on-Sea during my mother's last illness, our eldest child, Catherine, two years of age, was frequently by her bedside. One day my dearest mother said to me, "I have a very special drawing to that child. She has wonderful sympathy, and will often look at me with her beautiful dark eyes, saying, 'Bobo? Bobo?' (the French baby language for pain) and then put her little hand on mine and smile. "Ah, Katie," she continued, "I would like to finish my life where I began, with the children, and you would trust me with yours." How tenderly I kissed her.
What the Children teach us!
How many parents have learned precious lessons from their children, lessons in faith, simplicity and obedience! My ardent desire to encourage those who have the care of little ones is my only excuse for recalling a few sayings "out of the mouths of babes," which have already been a blessing to many.
On returning from one of my missionary tours in France, I was putting my children to bed, after the bathing and the folding of clothes. They knelt in their little white night robes to pray. "Have I been good, Adele?" a little girl of seven asked her French nurse. "Yes," she replied. "Was I good, mamma, in the walk?" "Yes, Evelyn; now pray." The child prayed in turn with her sisters and brothers. When all were kissed and tucked up for the night, the rule was, no talking. I listened at the door to see if the rule were obeyed, when I heard a sob. On re-entering the room I found it came from Evelyn. "What is the matter, dear?" The little face was buried in the pillow, still sobbing. At last she spoke. "No! I was not good in the walk." "Well, darling, what was it? Tell mother." "Oh! I lent my ball to Toto (Theodore the little brother in the next bed), but I did not want to lend it in my heart." "Oh!" cried Toto in the dark, "don't, Evelyn, don't; do not cry. I am a little pig; I always want the new toys." And in distress he rose from his cot and asked forgiveness for his selfishness. And after prayer with both children they went sweetly to sleep. "The life is the light of men." Yes, and the life in one child is the light for another.
I think we miss much by not cultivating and practising direct, simple faith in God. Faith always enchanted Jesus when He was on earth, and it does now. Sins do not cut us off from God so much as unbelief does.
One of my little boys was very ill with a high fever. "Why do you want the doctor, mother? Why not go to Jesus now? He can heal me." The little one prayed. "Mother," he cried, "I am better." He rose, went into another room full of people, who knew he was ill, and said, with a radiant face, "Jesus has healed me." And he was healed.
Faith brings us into possession of divine gifts. If we were only empty of self-seeking, instruments at His disposal, having child-like faith in Him, we should find the supernatural becoming natural, and the Divine a daily experience in our lives.
How often does a child's question set us a-thinking! Our sweet little Catherine, when about eight years of age, said one morning: "Is God never selfish, Maman?" "Never," I replied.
"Then why did He not come Himself to die for us, instead of sending His Son?"
Thus the greatest theme in the world, the Atonement, arose before the mind of a child. "It was Himself in His Son," I replied, "who was a ransom for us. The Father and the Son suffered together. In giving His Son He gave Himself."
Our children were all born on the Continent of Europe, and when I began to realise that they were growing up without a knowledge of the English tongue, I secured the help of a young English girl.
She was putting the children to bed one night, when Theodore began crying bitterly for me to come and kiss him. I was at work in my office, at the head of a long flight of stairs. The young girl said, "Toto" (his pet name), "Jesus is here, and Maman is tired and cannot come down. You have Jesus, that is enough." At length he got exasperated, and rising up in his cot said, "Me don't rant Jesus, me rant my Muver." He was only expressing what the whole world feels, the longing for the personal touch. Even so, it is only when Jesus comes down into our lives as an intimate friend and guide, that the deepest need of our nature is met. Are we not born for such a relationship?
When my third son, William Immanuel, was a child, he always had the most singular idea that Jesus was a woman. One evening he was praying, "O Jesus, Thou art the best of all the ladies (la meilleure des toutes les dames) in Thy heavens." Augustine, a year older, who was kneeling by his side, corrected him. "Willie, Jesus was not a lady, He was a gentleman." Willie indignantly replied, "Tais toi, Gussy, je prie" (Be quiet, Gussy, I am praying), and repeated the ascription in precisely the same words.
A life-long friend, Mrs. Holman, Streatham, used to send me pictures and books for the children at Christmas, and oh, how much they were appreciated! One Christmas she sent a beautiful picture of the Child Jesus in the manger, with angels above His head. All the children were gathered around, and Willie began naming the angels after his sisters and brothers, "That is Evangeline, Victoire, Herbert, Augustine, Eric, Freda, Evelyn and Baby, and the one nearest the manger is me. Chere Petite! "he added, gazing at the child. "Willie," corrected Augustine, "Jesus was not a little girl, He was a little boy, you must say 'Cher Petit.'"
But Willie repeated, "Chere Petite." Then Augustine, losing patience, exclaimed, "I tell you Jesus was not a lady, He was a gentleman." Willie answered slowly and thoughtfully, "Perhaps later on he changed." A lady from Finland was sitting in the room when this dialogue took place. She had been converted from the religion of Theosophy to Christianity through reading one of my French books. Like myself, she was deeply interested in children. Calling Willie to her side, she asked, "Willie, why do you always think Jesus was a lady?" His answer came like a flash, "Parce-qu' Il fut si tendre envers nous" (Because he was so tender towards us). So to the mind of this child of seven, on which no school of thought had ever written, the chief characteristic of the Saviour was His tenderness, and he could not reconcile this so well with a man as he could with a woman.
I wrote an article, which was translated into three languages, on this child's answer. How many of us come out of our Seminaries and Universities with all else but that Infinite Tenderness!
Willie gave me a great deal of trouble when he was a little boy. A Baron once invited a large number of poor people in Amsterdam, among whom I was working, to visit his estate, that they might have a day of pleasure in his grounds, and he added, "Will you come with the five eldest of your children and stay the night here?" Now Willie was the youngest of the five. I turned to my eldest daughters and said, "I dare not take him, he will only disgrace me." For he talked morning, noon and night, and even in bed when the lights were out, he talked. When he heard that he was not to go, he came up to plead for himself.
"Can't you trust me? "he said.
"I am afraid not," I replied, "because you forget your promises. A great many ladies and gentlemen have been invited to dine with mother, and I cannot have you sitting next to me, and if you talked at table I should be ashamed and grieved."
"Maman, never in my life will I say a word at table." "Oh, take him, mother," pleaded his sisters. So Willie came.
When dressing him for dinner I reminded him of his promise. The first thing he did was to slide from top to bottom of the bannisters, making my heart stand still for fear his little head would strike the stone floor. Then with his shrill voice he called up the stairs, in hearing of the guests going in to dinner, "Maman, darling, do not worry, I will not say a word at table."
I was next to the Baron, Willie on the opposite side of the table some places down. The Baron asked me to pronounce the blessing. No sooner had "Amen" escaped my lips, than Willie exclaimed, "That gentleman over there never shut his eyes!" The gentleman was the Baron's son.
After much laughter the dinner proceeded. Conversation loosened, and all was going very well, when suddenly in a clear, childish voice which dominated all, Willie broke out again and said, "Oh Maman, if I had known that you were so charming, I would have come into the world long ago!"
Tableau! But with what startling effect have I not often used the child's irrepressible exclamation to light up the words of Jesus to the woman at the well, "If thou knewest the gift of God, and who is it that saith unto thee, Give me to drink, thou wouldst have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water."
"If you knew," I have said to thousands, "Who He is! If you knew the Saviour, your one and only Hope to save you from sin and self! If you knew the Love, the Pardon, the Peace and the Power He gives! If you knew HIM, the best and tenderest of Masters, you would have come long ago and yielded yourselves as His willing slaves."
And how many a sinner, saved by grace in middle life or even in old age, have I not heard exclaim, "Oh, if I had only known Him sooner, I would have come into His Kingdom long ago!"
Yet another time Willie accompanied me to a dinner in a beautiful home, where many guests were asked to meet me. All went well until the wines were being handed round. Naturally the boy was keenly noting all that happened. When the butler came to me there was an explosion: "Comment osez vous offvir a maman la boisson du diable?" ("How dare you offer maman the devil's drink?")
Consternation! I tried to cover the confusion and excuse Willie to my hostess, who was evidently annoyed and remarked, "I think you would be better if you took a little of it."
After the child was sent out to the lawn, earnest conversation followed, during which it was divulged to me that more than one member of that and other families present had become victims of the drink. When we remember how many beautiful lives, once radiant with hope, have ended on a drunkard's death-bed, is not the child's name for the accursed thing the right one--"la boisson du diable"?
Bring them to the Lord Jesus
THE last factor in the training of our children, and the most important of all, for in a sense it includes all, is to bring them to a personal knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, Without this all else fails. This is the Alpha and Omega, for what does it matter to what honours and fame our children attain, if "the God in Whose Hand their breath is, they have not glorified." They have missed their destiny.
It is surprising how reluctant many parents are to speak with their children on this most vital subject. Sometimes it is because they have little or no spiritual life themselves, sometimes the world and its pleasures, or the cares of this life, absorb them. Again, there is a strange timidity which holds them back, and sometimes they do not believe in the conversion of children. Multitudes have expressed the regret that no one ever spoke to them when young. They were both ready and hungry for the words of life, but no one spoke.
Remember it was the mothers who brought the children to Jesus, not the priests. Do not leave it to Sunday School teachers, ministers or friends, however good and precious their help is. You have the first right to show the way. Mrs. Wesley aimed at the conversion of each of her children when about five years of age. How many blessed earnest children of God will tell you it was in their childhood or early youth that they made the great decision.
What a joy I experienced in Ireland last year when my eldest grandchild, of boy of twelve summers, and truly yielded to God, told me alone in my room with charming simplicity that he was quite decided to be a missionary. "At first," he said, "I was going to be an engineer, but after my father had read to me the lives of Livingstone and other heroes for Christ, I changed my mind. I knew I must be a missionary--I could not be anything else."
Do not allow the golden months and years to pass without seeking the greatest of all pearls for your little ones. All my Parents' children, eight in number, and all my own came into touch with the Lord and made their decision very early. I do not mean that they did not sometimes fail and need correction as we older children have done, but I can say that they made their choice with all their little hearts. One of our dear boys grew cold and careless at school. His father, who has always had the deepest concern for the children's spiritual welfare, wrote him some earnest letters. His conscience was awakened, and after sobbing almost all night, he yielded himself again to God, and stood for his Master both at that school and another where he had plenty of opposition. This boy is now mightily used of God for the winning of souls in Western America.
I would impress upon all Christian parents the value of little prayer meetings, say once a week, at which you encourage the children to pray aloud. I do not mean parrot prayers, or a verse learned off, but a speaking out of their little hearts to God, realising His presence, praising Him, confessing their faults and telling their desires for others.
The Great Jehovah, Creator of Heaven and Earth, with all that in them is, puts Himself--oh, wonder of wonders--at the disposal of little children, reveals Himself to them and becomes their Friend. Who dare say that He is not found of children who truly seek Him? Who dare limit His power to hear and answer, to save, baptise and use children? My experience of children in prayer is wonderful. They sometimes prevail where we fail, and bring blessing and times of refreshing more speedily than the prayers of older Christians. Luther said, "When the children pray the giants are at work."
Not long ago I visited a dear Christian woman. She told me that for several years she had been bed-ridden, her leg causing her great pain day and night, and it was so swollen that she could not put it to the ground. Her little granddaughter of ten years of age came to visit her. One morning the child said, "Grandma, have you asked Jesus to heal you?" "Yes, dear, but I think it is not His will." The child looked earnestly at her and said, "Grandma, you are wrong; I believe He will heal you and you will get up and walk again." The child knelt down there and then, and putting her little hand on the poor leg prayed to Jesus for healing. The lady rose from her bed of pain and never returned!
A young couple entirely consecrated to God had been married eleven years and were childless. This was a great sorrow to the wife, who said one day to a Christian boy of sixteen, very dear to me, "Ah, your mother has ten children and we have not one." "Have you prayed about it?" said the lad. "Yes, but no answer has come." "I will pray now," said the boy, who, kneeling down poured out his heart to God that their request might be granted. Within a year, to the delight of the parents, a lovely little girl was born to them. Then a son came and still another little daughter. Oh, the sublime, simple faith of children!
During a mission in London, one evening after preaching I stepped inside the communion rail and asked someone to lead in prayer. One gentleman responded, and then a long, long pause followed. I pleaded again and again, with no response, when a child under the gallery rose and prayed. Words fail to describe the spontaneity, the power, and, above all, the simple faith of that prayer. It broke down the hard atmosphere, the whole congregation was visibly moved, and that evening we had a large number of decisions in the enquiry room, both old and young. The lady who entertained me suddenly left the church. I concluded that she was offended at my child Evelyn praying, as many have strong objections to anything of the kind. On returning I knocked at my hostess' locked bedroom door. She rose from her knees to open to me, saying, "I had to leave the church. I could not bear it. To think that a child like that could pray before that congregation, and I who have been a Christian all my life have never opened my mouth in public for my Saviour."
Prayer should be as natural to children as speaking to Father and Mother. Oh, cultivate this blessed habit and they will never lose it. When the future storms of life come, prayer will save them.
The simplicity and reality of children's prayers is often very striking. One night, when I was putting the children to bed, Willy began to pray at great length, as he usually did. I stopped him and said, "Willy, you have been a very naughty boy to-day, and I do not want a long prayer to-night; tell the Lord you have been a bad boy and ask for His forgiveness." "No! never in my life could I say such a thing!" he replied. "And why?" I asked. "Because that would discourage Him too much." Then a beautiful smile broke out on the child's face as he said, "Mother, I will tell Him that I will be good to-morrow; that will encourage Him."
Our eldest little girl, when she was seven years of age, prayed, "Oh, Lord, give me Thy peace, the peace of the worldlings passes away, but Thy peace remains."
One day I heard my youngest son, a schoolboy in his early teens, praying thus: "Precious Lord Jesus, I am in Your arms. I never knew You before, but now I see Thee, I hear Thee. Thou art all love, the great actor of love. The boys at school do not know Thee. They only talk of the Theatre and the Hippodrome, because they have not known Thee. I have had two great passions, my violin and stamp album, but now Thou shalt have the first place. I used to be afraid to die, but if I died I shall only see Thee quicker. Oh Precious Jesus I am altogether Thine."
Another boy, who had grown spiritually cold at school, begged to be allowed to attend a half-night prayer meeting. He was very silent for a long time, and about midnight I heard these words uttered with suppressed emotion: "Oh, Lord Jesus, You used to speak to me, and I used to speak to You, but now You no more speak to me and I no more speak to You. Come back. Come back and speak to me once more."
Leave your children in no doubt that God's love is "better than life." Burn this truth into their minds. One evening I called my three eldest boys, who had been giving me some trouble, into my bedroom, where a bright fire was burning, round which they seated themselves. I gave them tea, and then began a conversation which soon became very solemn and intimate. I said, "If you are going to live selfish lives, like the majority of people, just thinking of your own interests and pleasure, I would rather you die now. I would not weep very much, for I would know you were safe with the Lord, which would be ten thousand times better than leading a selfish existence down here." One of my sons reminded me of that talk the other day, saying that the impression of it remained with him all his life.
Having brought your children to the Lord Jesus, let them do something for Him. Give them the opportunity. Arrange little meetings for them. Although it was very difficult on the Continent, Catherine and Victoire, our two eldest girls, sometimes took little children's meetings in rooms or kitchens in France and Holland. Later on they with their brothers helped me in Paris when I returned there. Still later several of my children assisted me in Missions held in England, Scotland, Ireland, Canada and the States, where the Lord let us see thousands of souls won for His glory.
Teach your children the meaning of sacrifice, alike in small things and in great. A doll's perambulator was the keen desire of my Evangeline for her eighth birthday, and I went all over Amsterdam to find one with a handle tall enough for the child. At last the treasure was procured and her joy was full. Then Self-Denial week came along, with its lessons for young and old, and one morning early Evangeline wheeled her perambulator into my bedroom.
"What are you bringing it in here for, darling?"' I asked.
"This is my offering for Self-Denial Week."
"Oh, Voline, Mother took such trouble to get it for you."
"Father," she answered, "says one must not hold to any thing." And, though that offering was not accepted, the spirit of sacrifice was none the less real. She did well that it was in her heart.
Your children must early understand that the Christian life means a fight; that they must withstand the powers of darkness, and be equipped with the armour of God to meet the attacks of the enemy. Tell them cowards cannot be Christians, that the fearful will never win, and give them early the opportunity to be unselfish and to take their stand for Jesus Christ in schools and elsewhere.
Does any reader think that this is a hard, a gloomy outlook for children? Tens of thousands will tell you that it is the happiest and most glorious life. For He is the best, the sweetest and tenderest of Masters.
One day one of my sons asked me to name a joy that we shall not have in heaven. I thought of many joys, such as no separation, no more sin or failure, pain or tears, the re-union with lost loved ones, the presence of the Master. These were surely all the joys we longed for. What then, was the joy we should not find in heaven? "It is the joy of leading a soul to Calvary," he replied. The joy of seeing "the light which never shone on land or sea" illuminate the sad face, when the burden of sin has rolled away. The joy of being able to "save a soul from death and hide a multitude of sins."
May all our CHILDREN, dear reader, know this joy of joys! May they learn it from hearing our own joyful testimony:
There is a Light that shines on me,
The Light of Jesus' face
0 what a glory thus to be
The subject of His grace!
There is a Love constraining me
To go and seek the lost;
I yield, 0 Lord, my all to Thee,
To save at any cost!
REAPING AFTER SOWING
The reaping time is always a period of joy.
What a reward for the farmer when he sees the trees laden with fruit and the fields waving to God their sheaves of gold!
In the domain of art, music, sculpture, or painting, what compensation when the student sees his years of toil and perseverance crowned with success!
It is the same in every department of science, where strenuous labour and severe concentration have won recognition and victory.
But more than all is the satisfaction and joy complete when we see, as a result of training, splendid development and the traits of a beautiful Christian character bursting into bloom.
It is a blessed thing to give your children to the Lord at birth, but it is a thrice blessed thing to see those children choose themselves, year by year, the right way. "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." I have comforted some sorrowing parents by drawing their attention to the word "old," which may mean twenty, thirty, forty or sixty years.
Everyone knows that there are critical times in the lives of the young, and many dangerous rocks to pass.
The temptations and pitfalls which assail youth nowadays are tremendous!
The devil is a master in the art of ensnaring and destroying the souls of the young.
He lays a thousand traps. It is after twelve years of age a child needs a mother's care and guidance in a far larger and deeper sense than before that period.
Let the mother at all costs keep the confidence of her child, and be faithful in watching, correcting, guiding and loving: she will reap in time and eternity. And if the child should be self-willed and wander for a time, he will discover sooner or later that no one is as true and faithful a friend as his father or mother. I repeat the father, for surely, as I have said before, the influence of a good father can never be over-estimated.
My dear husband has ever taken a lively interest in the spiritual welfare of his children, and has led several of them, at different periods, into a very definite experience of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. My husband laboured faithfully for twenty years in the Salvation Army on the Continent of Europe, where many, many praise God for having been brought to a knowledge of the truth through his instrumentality. He is now an invalid.
Perhaps a few quotations from letters will encourage other parents; that is the only reason I insert them here:--
Our son Theodore writes on the eve of his Ordination:--
"I shall be ordained on the 4th of April. Remember me then! It is deepest comfort that you understand me. My call must come first. Remember, darling, that by far the easiest and pleasantest way for me would be to let go all, and go into money-making to help the family.
"Some are called to business, but I have had such a distinct and different call to the Ministry.
"Professor F. thinks a great deal of Lucille (who is engaged to Eric). She is a solid girl; far rather have a faithful, sensible, and truly loving one, than one of these butterflies, who lead a fellow such an endless chase, which often ends in separation!
"Lucille is charming, refined, and a perfect little lady.
"You will never know what separation from you costs me, in fact the most of me went with you on the boat.
"My heart aches and longs for your company and for the fellowship of your spirit. I have seen little of you during the last four years. These few days with you are as glorious sunshine in the midst of bitter winter.
"I understand more than you think of the agony through which you passed, but there is Victory ahead.
"It is faith in God that will win! I want more of your faith in me."
From William, working in California: "Dearest, darling, and best of mothers. Love, joy, peace, patience, wisdom, understanding, knowledge, grace and power be yours richly and overflow as would a glass of rich wine! May these be yours in a remarkable way so that all shall say: "It is not she, but Jesus in her!"
"Much as I would desire to be with you this coming Christmas, and to be with my family in Chicago, it is impossible to rend myself away from the slums of this horrid, lurid, down and out city.
"I am too weak to stand the long journey, although I am better.
"We are out on the streets every night, with an old chair and a band of faithful saints, battling with the powers of darkness, and struggling to get jewels for Jesus out of the gutters of this hell of a town.
"I preached, in spite of the pain from the swelling in my jaw. We prayed over it and it burst. I am buying things I need out of the money you sent.
"May I spend some on a turkey for my devoted comrades for their Christmas dinner, a fine, big turkey? I would love to treat them! There is no money in this work. Our gas-bill at the Home was not paid, and we prayed it down. Everything is run by faith. I have two fine young women in my Band who have left all for Jesus. Food was scarce, but it is better now. We daily pray a good deal, and study around the kitchen table. Newspapers are our table-cloths. We have opened a big Hall in the worst part of our town, jammed full with the down and outs, and wonderful conversions take place."
From my daughter Evelyn, leaving me for the States: "Precious Mother,
"You are so much in my thoughts. When in the cabin, my heart called out loudly for you. Your face rises before me, and all your tender solicitude on my behalf. I do want His thoughts for me, and I believe He will make it plain. I can only trust. Would I knew more of the blessed art! I must be ready to fall into line, whatever His plan may be! I found your sweet love-letter on my pillow, and shall always treasure it as a wonderful expression of your tenderness to me. Your words of faith sink deep. I so miss you. Theodore is a darling! Such a lovely boy! Give him my tenderest love. I shall tell them all in New York what a glorious time we have had in Ireland."
From our son Herbert in College:--"You see I write my epistles in diary form, to make sure that I do not forget anything, so you get three letters in one!!!
"Something wonderful has happened in my experience. I told you in my last that I was getting so parched and dry spiritually.
"Well, the Lord has told me that I need the infilling of the Holy Spirit, and purity of life, without which a preacher rapidly dwindles into a showy, rowdy and hollow sermon-machine.
"There are differences of views here, but no Institute, or College, or Organisation will ever limit me as to how much of God and His unsearchable riches I may have!"
Another letter says:--
"Oh! wonderful news I have to-day! On the first Sunday of this month, God visited me and broke my heart afresh. The revelation the Lord gave me was wonderful! He told me to pray early and late, pray, pray, before doing anything else."
Another son writes:--
". . . I am fighting my battles as best I can. I have no pyjamas. My shoes are worn out, but as a violin is more important, I wait. (The violin being a great bargain in money, the money was sent.)
"I very often think of you, and long to see you. When you first came over, being in London, I asked for travelling expenses, but Baby, Josephine, severely rebuked me, saying 'I should not act like a millionaire!' and quite right too! But the trouble is, you see, I am a millionaire, but in other goods than money, and can no more help acting like one than living in the fresh air. I take life and living quite as seriously as any orthodox Booth, but I have learnt to laugh at it sometimes, which is also a gift from God. miss you tenderly."
From our son, Eric, after my visiting his home in Fort Morgan, Colorado:--"Precious Mother,
"So you are gone! Your visit was like a dream, but too soon ended.
"Oh, these separations! How cruel! We had been looking forward all winter to having you in our little home.
"But I must not grumble! It is the happiness of others I must think of, and our loss is their gain.
"No words can describe my innermost heart. You were never so dear, so close as now.
"We have urged dear Theodore to go, for you know he can be a help to you at this time.
"It is the least we can do. Thank you so much for your gifts. The greatest honour we can have is for you to visit us in our home. I shall never forget your dedication service of little Baby Phyllis."
From my daughter Josephine at School:-- "Dear Mr. H--has invited me and a chum to dinner. The darling old couple have gone for a rest so T. and I have had a talk together.
"Now I know she has given up her all, and is going to follow Jesus, and we have had prayer. Such a treat! We do not get this opportunity at School.
"She is a simple, charming girl whom I know you would love.
"The last weeks have been very strenuous and full of fun and excitement. I am helping at two concerts, which are to aid London slum-children! The rush and every-day work tend to crush spiritual life but it's best to keep on believing. The disappointment about only seeing you four days is over whelming. Oh, mother, I am so longing to see you!"
William writes from the thick of the fight:--
"I am broke, as usual, but do not want help. You have enough on your shoulders. I live on soup and beans, and am the happiest man in the world!
"Two wonderful healings have taken place. A hunger for the full Gospel is everywhere. I am working very hard but God is with me. I will write you more later.
"There is much booze, murder, smoking and thieving. I visit the gaols every Saturday. Oh, the need of this poor, dying world! Oh, the need of Jesus! Sweet, precious Jesus! But your loving son longs to lay his weary head on your gentle breast."
From our son Herbert:--
"I have been wonderfully humbled and deepened and made more still and quiet and submissive to the Holy Ghost! Hallelujah! Glory! Oh! I have cast myself anew upon God these days for a realisation of His Will, in greater proportion than ever before! Pray for me, angel mother! My heart longs for you! I get irritated, because you are so preoccupied with a million other things, but I guess that is just as much a trial to you and more, than my consciousness of it is to me! By the Will and the Grace of God, I believe the Mission will be a success. Oh, how dependent, after all, are we on God, and upon His blessing. Our efforts and petty endeavours are nil, without His vitalising influence and electrical presence. Hallelujah! Glory to God! Oh! if I could tell you how my heart burns for the dying multitudes and masses around me.
"This town is so very, very wicked! I must reach them--and somehow, I am instinctively convinced that I am on the right track.
"Oh! I must have a real smack at the devil. You mention my buying soft collars, shirt, and chain for watch! Darling, every cent will go to this effort for dying souls.
I may, and am seriously thinking of selling my violin and suit of clothes. I must save the people! Someone must! Who shall be the one to do it in the strength of Jesus? What would Jesus do in my stead? He bled for them, He suffered agony! Oh, God, have mercy on me, on poor me! Bless you for your help, dear."
From Evelyn: "It is a quiet Sunday evening and my thoughts turn to you, my own dear one, so far away over the great blue ocean!
"I do so long for you, my own dear mother, and you know nobody can take your place in my heart!
"I am just now wearing your locket, and your face is there in all its sweetness and tenderness, but it cannot take the place of that real face, which is so infinitely precious.
"I am getting on splendidly in my music, and just to satisfy that little heart of yours, my friends think I play wonderfully well, although of course opinions differ--Josy has just sprained her foot, but that will pass away quickly! But how are you, my darling---are you looking after yourself? Don't overwork! PLEASE sleep and eat well! Dear Mother, I do hope they are looking after you.
"The daughter of a S. A. colonel told me how much her father enjoyed reading your life, and gave it to her to read--a charming girl!
"Darling, do write to me soon! I do so long to hear from you."
From Herbert:--"General epistle.
"Forgive me for not answering your darling letter earlier, and yours, Pah!
"It was precious comfort to Willie and me, and sounded in our ears like the faraway breezes vibrating with the ethereal and divine harmonies of heaven, and laden with the fragrant perfumes of the old home.
"I am holding on in faith for complete healing--my digestion is better--we have just got over our periodical colds.
"I wanted to earn a few dollars a week, so put up a notice, the burden of which was that I could teach French.
"Then I asked the Lord to send me pupils and He gave me two. I'm praying for the third one. Hallelujah! I have also just learnt to skate.
"We have just been studying a month. We've already had two exams., one on 'Doctrines of the Bible,' and the other on James and I. Peter.
"Many here seem self-satisfied, and don't seem to have much craving for something more, but on the other hand there are many who are really hungry for a further manifestation of the Lord's power, e.g., the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. The term 'Revival' really applies to Christians and not so much to worldlings.
"When on a winter's frozen day, while walking knee-deep in the snow, you knock against some substance and find an almost dead man, you restore that man by producing a 'revival' of life in his body, the sinners never need a revival--they need a resurrection.
"The Old Serpent and I have had hard fights--he bullies me, but Jesus shall be victor.
"For years my tendency has been to drift into a mummified, petrified, lethargic inertia, productive of, and resulting in physical slowness, etc.
"Very carefully have I studied and diagnosed my own case!
"A complete investigation and detailed treatise would smear with printer's ink quite a dozen volumes, quarto, octavo.
"Pray that the Lord will use me entirely, and arouse me to go on with His work."
From a Son.
"I must wake up the latent gift of writing that is within me, so I am sending an article to the Christian Workers' Magazine (organ of Moody Bible Institute).
"You are quite right, dear, I talk too much, I must act, but it will need grit and plod. I am making my life more consistent with my preaching.
"I find the world has still a fearful pull on me.
"Having now come to mature age, I find the pull harder than ever. But if there were nothing to resist, the life of a Christian would be jellyfish life! The struggle makes the man!"
From a Daughter:--"My dear, dear father,
"I thank you for your dear letter. I would like much to see you. I study my Bible every morning and that gives me strength for the day's work. I feel more and more that our family is destined to be missionaries, who will help to evangelise the world.
"We went to a very big Children's Concert in the Guild Hall. Kitty took part. A violin solo was beautifully played. We have enjoyed, too, another School Concert. The two boys took part.
"All the schoolboys sang beautifully.
"I believe that Jesus is coming soon and that we shall all go to meet Him.
"Your eldest daughter, who loves you with all her heart,
My daughter Frida writes:--"Sometimes when outwardly we are failures, inwardly He is beginning to build far bigger things than we can conceive.
"No one has an easy time in this world. Jesus did not. And do we want an easier place than the Carpenter had? Let us trust Him to complete the work in us, and not grieve Him by unbelief.
"If there was anything Jesus loved to meet in this world it was faith.
"Even the harlot Rahab because of her faith was saved.
"'The very hairs of our head are numbered.'"
From a Daughter:--
"We have not really lost Eric. He is even nearer to us than ever before, and he deserves the privilege of being beside Jesus."
From another Daughter in the States:--"Ninety-five of the ministers in New England are modernists, I believe. It's awful! The night I preached on The Blood one said to me: 'The blood of Jesus! it is of no more value to me than His skin or His spittle!!' Think of it! I became righteously angry and told him he was blaspheming, that I would not stay and listen to such language--that it would not offend me on the lips of a drunkard but on the lips of a minister of the Gospel--it was inexcusable.
"You can imagine how hard it has been to preach in his pulpit night after night, but we have had the cream of the Christian people of the town in the Church, who are hungry for the deeper things of God, and we have had some wonderful conversions.
"Last night twelve souls came out to the front. People tell us it is remarkable for New England--they do not believe in altar services here.
"The modernist attitude, as far as I can understand is this: that the Virgin Birth is neither here nor there, nor the Resurrection; that the Deity of Christ is not proved by these doctrines; it is His Life, not His Birth or Resurrection, but His Life, I repeat, that proves His Deity.
"Of course the modernists do not accept the Atonement as we do--modernism is very much like Christian Science, we are all Christ's, our sacrifices are like His sacrifices--the soldiers' in the war, etc.--a man even wrote in a book about the Christ Spirit in an oyster! I can see the beautiful illustration in the oyster, but that is not the point--the modernists exalt man, and man's reason is put above the Word--the Word is to be tested by our reason, and not our reason by the Word. The spirit that prevails here is so subtle and dangerous. It is difficult to express. The minister here insisted that he did not want doctrinal preaching, but human preaching.
"Of course we know that doctrine and argument alone do not convert. At the same time, human preaching without a doctrinal foundation is like flesh without a skeleton.
"When I was sick and added to your burdens on campaigns, I remember how uncomplaining and brave you were, and how tenderly you cared for me!
"Especially do I remember that night in Ireland, when you smuggled the chicken to me, and we burned the bones!
"Your book on 'Our Children' was fine. Of course you could have said much more, but it is delightfully suggestive and refreshing!
"A deeper, purer, stronger, and more passionate love never existed between two beings as exists between us."
The above letter is from my daughter Victoria who helped me in former times of great stress and strain and is now with her devoted husband doing great work for God in the States.
From my daughter Frida:--
"So glad to know ---- is praying. That is what does the work more than anything else. The personal touch with God alone, the mastering of our difficulties on one's knees. I believe that the Lord Jesus fought the whole battle in Gethsemane before He ever went to Calvary. It is that victory which makes our cross bright with jewels. How I love you; you are not only my natural Mother, but my spiritual Mother, for you led me first to know Him."
From my dear son, promoted to glory from Africa, July 8th, 1924, at the early age of twenty-eight:--
"17822, Northwood Avenue,
"February 28th, 1924. "My own dearest Mother,
"This is the memorable day when I first kissed my sweet little wife. It was five years ago to-day that we were engaged and she has certainly been a true helpmeet and valiant soldier of the Cross. God was certainly good to give me such a fine little wife.
". . . Words seem to fail as I come to write you at this another crisis in our lives for I feel that you above all have been praying that we might be led.
"Before I peeped into this world you covered me with your prayers as well as your consecrated life. Well do I remember the old Garrett in Barne, Holland, when we knelt down together and I gave my life to God. I believe that I was only four years old and yet an impression has been irrevocably implanted in my mind and heart. We were alone and yet not alone for the room was filled with the presence of another One, whose blessed presence was entering my heart to abide.
"It was you whose unflinching courage and faith inspired my young heart. I watched you under and in face of terrific and overwhelming circumstances. Times when the faith of one in a million would fail, yet you still went forward. I marvelled at your courage and superhuman faith, and only realised that the secret lay in your walk with God.
"I was slow to learn, backward, obstinate, yet you were patient, tender and in every sense of the word 'Notre Mere.'
"In spite of the tremendous and arduous there was nothing too small in our budding little lives that you did not share. Our eyes, our teeth, spines, in fact, our whole bodies received tender care.
"With the eye of an eagle and the love and patience of a dove you watched against every snare. It was you that sacrificed to give us a chance in life, and away at school I often felt the influence of your prayers, and your life of devotion for others was an inspiration to me.
"And later, when it was my turn to share your joys and sorrows in part, though it was mostly the latter, how privileged and rejoiced was my heart.
"And now as we turn to Africa, that continent so dark, I know how hard it will be for us to part. But our Lord has bade us occupy till He come, and we are obeying His command without reasoning till our work is done.
"It has rejoiced our hearts for us to realise that we will be seeing you again for we will have to go to Paris. Especially the thought that you will be seeing our little Phyllis. She is such a little Treasure . . .
"After a short stop at Rochester, we see Uncle and Auntie in New York. Then we sail on the 23rd April on the 'Berengaria,' this will put us in Southampton about the last of April. You will just be closing your campaign then.
"Oh, how my heart longs to see you, you were never so precious to me as you are now.
"Ever your own very flesh and blood through thick and thin,
"Absent from the body, present wlth the Lord."
Dear Eric never gave me five minutes real anxiety, but the last ten years revealed him to me--his self-sacrifice, his quiet endurance under peculiar difficulties, his faith and loyalty endeared him to my heart in an exceptional way--it is a joy to have his little widow of twenty-two, and the two charming children in my home at Highbury. Phyllis is now three years old and little Eric six months, born after his father's death!
My daughter-in-love has indeed passed through deep, deep waters and we have all seen that Faith has made her "More than Conqueror."
I will not ask Thee to account to me
For aught Thou dost;
For crosses sore, or paths I cannot see;
But I will trust.
No second causes shall perplex my soul,
Or stay from yielding all to Thy control.
The raging storm I dare not fight alone,
Ah, show Thy face!
Say, "It is I!" Thyself to me make known,
Ah, show Thy face!
Then what care I for darkest depths of woe,
Thine arms, 0 Christ, shall fold me close, I know!
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