The first part of this article written by Sister C H Jannaway in 1895 appeared in the previous issue of The Lampstand. The circumstances in the world have changed considerably in the last 100 years, and some of the situations she refers to may not be generally applicable in our present ecclesial environment but the principles behind her advice to families are still relevant and timely today.

When ecclesial meetings are within reach, it is advisable to let the elder children attend them. The instruction which the meetings provide is beneficial, and the witnessing of the public and collective acknowledgment of God tends to keep Him to the front in relation to the children’s minds. It was the custom in Israel— and Israel’s customs have been recorded for our admonition—at the reading of the law to gather together men, women and children, “all that had understanding”.

If a Christadelphian Sunday School is accessible it will afford great help both to parents and children. It furthers the home tuition, and provides a stimulus for the children. Parents should interest themselves in their young folk’s behaviour at the school. Right doing is as important an element in the truth as right knowing. The faithful preparation of lessons should be encouraged, and insisted upon; and to facilitate it a period of quiet and leisure should be secured to the children. Obedience and a respectful manner to the teachers should also be inculcated. Order, subjection to those in authority, fear rendered to whom fear is due, honour to whom honour is due, courteous behaviour to all—these are Divine requirements, and should be faithfully instilled into the minds of the young. Teachers should not be made the subjects of criticism in the scholars’ hearing, nor spoken of in a way that would lower them in the scholars’ estimation.

Some parents say that they have no time for engaging in home tuition. Many are undoubtedly sorely pressed for time. But there are few indeed who cannot manage to introduce a little Bible instruction each day. Amongst the brotherhood there is at least one instance (probably there are many more) of parents in very humble circumstances— the father at work from morn till night, and the mother with almost every moment consumed in attending to a large family—who have faithfully brought up their children in the fear of God. If ever there was an instance in which parents could say, “We have no time”, it could have been said in this instance. These parents, however, plodded on faithfully, laying hold of the little opportunities which presented, and now they are gladdened by their children’s obedience to the faith. What a crown of rejoicing will these children be to them in the day of Christ’s appearing! “They that turn many to righteousness shall shine as the stars for ever and ever”, and their lustre will not be diminished if amongst the “many” are to be found their own offspring. Yet another instance of creating opportunities under difficulties suggests itself. In this case the father was in the Truth, and the mother opposed to it. Every Sunday morning, and again in the evening, the father (who was in isolation) was to be found with his elder children around him instructing them in the Word, or allowing them to witness his obedience to the command: “This do in remembrance of me”. The failure to find time is frequently due to a non-recognition of duty. In most cases the cause lies in a distaste for the work. This is evident when parents engage in enlightening the alien, and neglect their own offspring. If there really must be a choice between the two, the children should undoubtedly come first. What mother would busy herself in making warm garments for the poor, whilst her own babes were perishing with cold? Or what father would devote his means to feeding the destitute whilst his own children lacked bread? Surely none. And yet as regards the moral training of the children this is precisely the anomaly that frequently presents itself. Brethren and sisters are busy hither and thither with the work of the Truth, and their own children are deprived of that nurture and admonition which God has directed the parents to bestow. There are duties in the Truth in which others share, and can assist, but the daily training of the children rests wholly with parents. God does not expect much from those who can only do little. Let the little be done, and God will bless and reward it. Those who do nothing stand in danger of having the words “slothful and unprofitable servant” addressed to them.

There are many little things the observance of which forms steps in the right direction. The children can be kept from drinking in apostate teaching. Too much emphasis cannot be laid upon this. Their silly nursery tales can be discarded , and some of the beautiful, truthful narratives of the Scriptures can be made to take their place. Much information concerning God and His works can thus be conveyed. So far as a child’s interest and understanding are concerned Bible stories are far more appealing than any other stories under the sun. Did ever a child tire of hearing of the flood, of Joseph, of Moses in the bulrushes, or of the passage through the Red Sea? The great feature in such stories is that they will not have to be subsequently expunged from the mind, but will form a foundation to which stone upon stone can be added. Then at least ten minutes might be occupied either at breakfast or at tea-time in giving a little instruction in the things of God. Meal-times form a favourable opportunity because all are then gathered together. Let parents who are pressed for time make a beginning on these lines, and they will eventually create an interest in and liking for their task. As they get more practised and expert in their work, they will probably find that they can launch out into better and greater things. If God should see fit, He will open up ways and means to those who make the subject a matter of strong endeavour and earnest prayer. It must not be expected that everything will

work without any hindrance. Some caller, perchance, or one of those infantile calamities which so commonly occur in a family of little ones, may put a stop to the lesson one day, but the interruption should not prevent the resumption of the lesson on the following day. All success is dependent upon overcoming difficulties. Where these are allowed to reign, nothing is accomplished. Many parents, especially mothers, have to surmount great difficulties in instructing their children. Let them take courage. The promise is to him that overcometh. Faith, patience, and endurance will bring them to the end of their labours, and these “God is not unrighteous to forget”.

The question is sometimes asked: Is it right for children to play and frolic? Undoubtedly. He who made the lambkin to skip in the meadow, also made the gleeful eye and the bounding step of the little child. Boys and girls playing in the streets of Jerusalem will be one of the beautiful features of the Kingdom. The little ones should not be cut off from fun and enjoyment. The parents should aim at providing and supervising the frolic rather than at putting a stop to it. If the children of God-fearing brethren and sisters live near, by all means should the little ones be allowed to mingle freely in each other’s company. If the children have to be cut off from companions because of injurious influences, then let the parents themselves when possible have a game with them.