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« on: October 19, 2006, 07:50:21 PM »

The Christian Father's Present to His Children

by John Angell James

As a Christian, the author of the following volume believes that there is a state of everlasting happiness prepared beyond the grave for those, and those only, who are partakers of pure and undefiled religion. And, as a parent, he will freely confess, his supreme solicitude is, that his children, by a patient continuance in well doing, might seek for glory, honor, immortality--and finally possess themselves of eternal life. He is not insensible to the worth of temporal advantages; he is neither cynic nor ascetic. He appreciates the true value of wealth, learning, science, and reputation--which he desires, in such measure as God shall see fit to bestow, both for himself and his children. He has conquered the world--but does not despise it; he resists its yoke as a master--but values its ministrations as a servant.

Still, however, he views the present state of earthly affairs as a 'splendid pageant'--the fashion of which passes away to give place to the glory which shall never be moved. "He looks not at the things which are seen—but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal—but the things which are not seen are eternal." It is on this ground that he attaches so much importance to a true religious education. To those, if such there should be, who imagine that he is too anxious about this matter, and has said too much about it, he has simply to reply, that "he believes, therefore has he spoken." The man who does not make the eternal welfare of his children the supreme end of all his conduct towards them, may profess to believe as a Christian—but certainly acts as an Atheist! Besides, if this end be secured, the most likely step is taken for accomplishing every other; as "godliness is profitable for all things, having the promise of the life that now is, as well as that which is to come."

With these views, the Author has embodied in the following volume his own parental wishes, objects, and pursuits. Much that is here written, has been the subject of his personal converse with his children, and should God spare his life, will still continue to be the topics of his instruction.

What is beneficial to his own family, the author thought might be no less useful to others--and this was another reason which induced him to publish. The multiplication of books of this kind, even if they make small pretensions to classic elegance of composition, is to be looked upon as a benefit, provided they contain sound scriptural sentiments, and an obvious tendency to produce right moral impressions. Books are sometimes read merely because they are new; it is desirable therefore, to gratify this appetite for novelty, when at the same time we can strengthen and build up the moral character by a supply of wholesome and nutritious spiritual food. Nor is it always necessary that new books should contain new topics, or new modes of illustration, anymore than it is necessary that there should be a perpetual change in the kinds of food, in order to attain to bodily strength. Whatever varieties may be introduced by the wisdom that is sensual, bread will still remain the staff of life. So there are some primitive truths and subjects, which, whatever novelties and curiosities may be introduced for the gratification of religious taste, must still be repeated--as essential to the formation of religious character.

The author has not selected the sermonic form of discussion, because some of his topics did not admit of it; and also because sermons are perhaps the least inviting species of reading to young people. Letters would not have been liable to these objections; but, upon the whole, he preferred the form of chapters, in which the style of direct address is preserved. The advantage of this style is obvious; it not only keeps up the reader's interest—but, as every parent who presents this volume to his children adopts the advice as his own, such young people, by an easy effort of the imagination, lose sight of the author, and read the language of their own father. If anything is necessary to secure this effect, beyond the simple act of presenting this book, it might be immediately obtained by an inscription to the child, written by the parents own hand upon the fly-leaf.

The author scarcely need say that this work is not intended for young people below the age of fourteen. In the composition of the book, a seeming difficulty sometimes occurs; what is just touched upon in one place, is more expanded in others; and some subjects are intentionally repeated. To give additional interest to the volume, numerous extracts, and some anecdotes are introduced, which tend to relieve the dullness of didactic composition, and prevent the tedium of unvarying monotony.

In the references which the author has given to books, both in the chapter on that subject and in marginal notes, he does not wish to be considered as laying down, much less limiting, for young people a perfect course of reading; but as simply directing them to some works, which, among others, ought by no means to be neglected.

Once more let it be stated, and stated with all possible emphasis, that the chief design of this work is to form the pious character of its readers, and to implant those virtues which shall live, and flourish, and dignify, and delight--infinite ages, after every object that is dear to avarice or pride, to learning or science, to taste or ambition--shall have perished in the conflagration of the universe!


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« Reply #1 on: October 19, 2006, 08:14:44 PM »

An Address to Christian Parents
 

My Dear Friends—
It is a situation of tremendous responsibility to be a parent—for the manner in which you discharge the duties of this relation, you must give an account in that dreadful day when the secrets of all hearts shall be judged by Jesus Christ. With every babe that God entrusts to your care, he in effect sends the solemn injunction—"Take this child, and bring it up for me"—and at the final audit, will inquire in what manner you have obeyed the command. It will not then be sufficient to plead the strength of your affection, nor the ceaseless efforts to which it gave rise; for if these efforts were not directed to a right end, if all your solicitude was lavished upon inferior objects, you will receive the rebuke of Him that sits upon the throne.

It is of infinite importance that you should contemplate your children in their true character. They are animal beings, and therefore it is highly proper that you should use every effort to provide them with suitable food, clothing, habitations—and everything else that can conduce to the comfort of their present existence. They are social beings, and it is important that you should qualify them to enjoy the comforts, and discharge the duties of social life. They are rational beings, and it is your duty to furnish them with every possible advantage for the culture of their minds.

But if you look no further than this, you leave out of sight the grandest and most important relations in which they can be seen, and will of course neglect the most important of your duties towards them—for they are IMMORTAL beings—the stamp of eternity is upon them—everlasting ages are before them! They are like the rest of the human race—depraved, guilty, and condemned creatures; and consequently in danger of eternal misery. Yet are they, through the mercy of God, and the mediation of Christ, creatures capable of attaining to glory, honor, immortality, and eternal life. Looking upon them in this light (and this is the light in which you profess to contemplate them)—what should be your chief concern concerning them, and what your conduct towards them?

Recognizing in your children beings placed in this world in a state of probation, and hastening to eternal happiness or torment, will you be contented to seek for them anything short of eternal salvation? Even a Deist, who has any belief of a future state of reward and punishment, does not act consistently, unless he is supremely desirous of the everlasting welfare of his children. None but an avowed Atheist can, with the least propriety, fix his aim lower for his children than the possession of a happy immortality.

But, in the case of a Christian parent, it is in the highest degree inconsistent, absurd, cruel, and wicked ever to lose sight of this in the arrangements which he makes for his family, or in the manner of conducting himself towards them. Do you really believe in the ruin of the human race by sin—and their recovery by Christ? In the existence of such states as heaven and hell? In the necessity of a life of faith and holiness—in order to escape the one and secure the other? Then act up to these solemn convictions, not only in reference to your own salvation—but to the salvation of your children. Let a supreme concern for their immortal interests be at the bottom of all your conduct, and be interwoven with all your parental habits. Let them have, in the fullest sense of the term, a CHRISTIAN EDUCATION. Act so towards them and for them, as that you shall be able to say to them, however they may turn out—"I take you to record that I am clear of your blood."

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« Reply #2 on: October 19, 2006, 08:15:54 PM »

But my principal object in this address is to point out what appear to me to be the most prevailing OBSTACLES to success in the religious education of children.

That, in many cases, the means employed by Christian parents for their children's spiritual welfare are unsuccessful, is a melancholy fact, established by abundant, and, I fear, accumulating evidence. I am not now speaking of those families (and are there indeed such?) where scarcely the semblance of domestic piety or instruction is to be found, where no family altar is seen, no family prayer is heard, no parental admonition is delivered! What! this cruel, wicked, ruinous neglect of their children's immortal interests in the families of professors! Monstrous inconsistency! shocking dereliction of principle! No wonder that their children go astray! This is easily accounted for. Some of the most profligate young people that I know, have issued from such households. Their prejudices against true religion, and their enmity to its forms, are greater than those of the children of avowed worldlings. Inconsistent, hypocritical, negligent professors of religion, frequently excite in their sons and daughters an unconquerable aversion and disgust against true piety, which seems to produce in them a determination to place themselves at the furthest possible remove from its influence.

But I am now speaking of the failure of a religious education, where it has been, in some measure, carried on; instances of which are by no means infrequent. Too often do we hear the echo of David's sorrowful complaint, uttered by the distressed and disappointed Christian father, "Although my house be not so with God." Too often do we see the child of many prayers and many hopes forgetting the instructions he has received, and running with the multitude to do evil. Far be it from me to add affliction to affliction, by saying that this is to be traced, in every case, to parental neglect. I would not thus, as it were, pour vinegar upon the bleeding wounds with which filial impiety has lacerated many a father's mind. I would not thus cause the wretched parent to exclaim—"Reproach has broken my heart, already half-broken by my child's misconduct." I know that in many cases no blame whatever could be thrown on the parent; and that it was the depravity of the child alone, which nothing could subdue but the power of the Holy Spirit, that led to the melancholy result. The best possible scheme of Christian education, most judiciously directed, and most perseveringly maintained, has, in some cases, totally failed. God is a sovereign, and He has mercy on whom He will have mercy. Still, however, there is in the 'use of means' a tendency in a religious education to secure the desired result; and God usually does bless, with His saving influence, such efforts. "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." This is certainly true, as a general rule, though there are many exceptions to it.

I shall now lay before you the principal obstacles to the success of religious education, as they strike my mind.

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« Reply #3 on: October 19, 2006, 08:17:10 PM »



First—It is frequently too negligently and capriciously maintained, even where it is not totally omitted.

It is obvious, that, if at all attended to, it should be attended to with anxious EARNESTNESS, systematic ORDER, and perpetual REGULARITY. It should not be maintained as a dull form, an unpleasant drudgery—but as a matter of deep and delightful interest. The heart of the parent should be entirely and obviously engaged. A part of every returning Sabbath should be spent by him in the instruction of his filial charge; and his concern should be embodied, more or less, with the whole habit of parental conduct. The father may lead the usual devotions at the family altar; the mother may join with him in teaching their children catechism, hymns, and scripture; but, if this be unattended by serious admonition, visible anxiety, and strenuous effort to lead their children to think seriously on true religion, as a matter of infinite importance—little good can be expected. A cold, formal, capricious system of religious instruction, is rather likely to create prejudice against true religion—than bias in its favor.

Then again, a religious education should be CONSISTENT—it should extend to everything that is likely to assist in the formation of character. It should not be merely instruction—but a complete whole. It should select the schools, the companions, the amusements, the books of youth; for if it does nothing more than merely teach a form of sound words to the understanding and to the memory—while the impression of the heart and the formation of the character are neglected—very little is to be expected from such efforts. A handful of seed, scattered now and then upon the ground, without order or perseverance, might as rationally be expected to produce a good crop—as that a mere lukewarm, capricious, religious education, should be followed by true piety. If the parent be not visibly in earnest, it cannot be expected that the child will be so.

True religion, by every Christian parent, is theoretically acknowledged to be the most important thing in the world; but if in practice the father appears a thousand times more anxious for the son to be a good scholar than a real Christian, and the mother more solicitous for the daughter to be a good dancer or musician than a child of God, they may teach what they like in the way of good doctrine—but they are not to look for genuine piety as the result. Genuine piety can only be expected where it is really taught and inculcated, as the one thing needful.


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« Reply #4 on: October 19, 2006, 08:19:26 PM »

Secondly—The relaxation of domestic discipline is another obstacle in the way of a successful religious education.

A parent is invested by God with a degree of authority over his children, which he cannot neglect to use, without being guilty of trampling under foot the institutions of heaven. Every family is a community, the government of which is strictly authoritarian—though not tyrannical. Every father is a sovereign—though not an oppressor. He is a law giver—and not merely a counselor. And his will should be law—not merely advice. He is to command, to restrain, to punish—and children are required to obey. He is, if necessary, to threaten, to rebuke, to chastise—and they are to submit with reverence. He is to decide what books shall be read, what companions invited, what engagements formed, and how time is to be spent. If he sees anything wrong, he is not to interpose merely with the timid, feeble, ineffectual protest of Eli—"Why do you thus, my sons?" but with the firm though mild prohibition. He must rule his own house—and by the whole of his conduct make his children feel that obedience is his due and his demand.

The lack of discipline, wherever it exists—is followed by confusion and domestic anarchy. Everything goes wrong in the absence of this. A gardener may sow the choicest seeds; but if he neglects to pluck up weeds, and prune wild overgrowth, he must not expect to see his flowers grow, or his garden flourish. And so a parent may deliver the best instructions; but if he does not, by discipline, eradicate evil tempers, correct bad habits, repress wicked corruptions, nothing excellent can be looked for. He may be a good prophet and a good priest; but if he be not also a good KING—all else is vain! When once a man breaks his scepter—or lends it to his children as a plaything—he may give up his hopes of success from a religious education.

I have seen the evil resulting from a lack of discipline in innumerable families, both among my brethren in the ministry and others. Frightful instances of disorder and immorality are now present to my mind, which I could almost wish to forget. The misfortune, in many families is, that discipline is unsteady and capricious—sometimes carried even to tyranny itself—at others relaxed into a total suspension of law; so that the children are at one time trembling like slaves—at others revolting like rebels; at one time groaning beneath an iron yoke—at others rioting in a state of lawlessness. This is a most mischievous system, and its effects are generally, just what might be expected.

In some cases discipline commences too late—in others it ceases too early. A father's magisterial office is coexistent with his parental relation. A child, as soon as he can reason, should be made to feel that obedience is due to parents; for if he grows up to boyhood before he is subject to the mild rule of paternal authority, he will, very probably, like an untamed bullock, resist the yoke. On the other hand—as long as children continue beneath the parental roof, they are to be subject to the rules of domestic discipline. Many parents greatly err in abdicating the throne in favor of a son or daughter, because the child is becoming a man or a woman. It is truly pitiable to see a boy or girl of fifteen, just returned from school, allowed to sow the seeds of revolt in the domestic community, and to act in opposition to parental authority, until the too compliant father gives the reins of government into the children's hands—or else by his conduct declares his children to be in a state of independence.

There need not be any contest for power—for where a child has been accustomed to obey, even from an infant, the yoke of obedience will generally be light and easy. If not, and a rebellious temper begins to show itself early, a judicious father should be on his guard, and allow no encroachments on his authority; while, at the same time, the increased power of his authority, like the increased pressure of the atmosphere, should be felt without being seen—and this will make it irresistible.

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« Reply #5 on: October 19, 2006, 08:20:44 PM »

Thirdly—undue severity, in the other extreme, is as injurious as unlimited indulgence.

If injudicious fondness has slain its tens of thousands—unnecessary harshness has destroyed its thousands! By an authority which cannot err, we are told that the cords of love are the bands of a man. There is an irresistible power in love. The human mind is so constituted as to yield readily to the influence of kindness. Men are more easily led to their duty—than driven to it. A child, says an eastern proverb, may lead the elephant by a single hair.

Love seems so essential an element of parental character that there is something shockingly revolting—not only in a cruel—not only in an unkind or severe—but even in a cold-hearted father. Study the parental character as it is exhibited in that most exquisitely touching moral picture—the parable of the Prodigal Son. When a father governs entirely by cold, bare, harsh authority—by mere commands, prohibitions and threats—by frowns, untempered with smiles; when the 'friend' is never blended with the 'law-giver', nor authority modified with love; when his conduct produces only a servile fear in the hearts of his children, instead of a spontaneous affection; when he is served from a dread of the effects of disobedience rather than from a sense of the pleasure of obedience; when he is rather dreaded in the family circle as a frowning spectre, than hailed as the guardian angel of its joys; when even accidents raise a storm, or faults produce a hurricane of passion in his bosom; when offenders are driven to equivocation or lying, with the hope of averting by concealment those severe corrections which disclosure always entails; when unnecessary interruptions are made to innocent enjoyments; when, in fact, nothing of the 'father'—but everything of the 'tyrant' is seen—can we expect true religion to grow in such a soil as this? We may as rationally as we may look for the tenderest hot-house plant to thrive amid the rigors of an arctic frost!

It is useless for such a father to teach true religion; he chills the soul of his pupils; he hardens their hearts against impression; he prepares them to rush with eager haste to their ruin as soon as they have thrown off the yoke of his bondage; and to employ their liberty, as affording the means of unbridled gratification. Like a company of African slaves, they are at first tortured by their thraldom, and by that very bondage, trained up to convert their sudden emancipation into a means of destruction.

Let parents, then, in all their conduct, blend the 'law-giver' and the 'friend'—temper authority with kindness—and realize in their measure that representation of Deity which Dr. Watts has given us, where he says, "Sweet majesty and dreadful love—sit smiling on his brow."

In short, let them so act, that their children shall be convinced that their law is holy, and their commandment is holy, and just, and good—and that to be so governed is to be blessed.

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« Reply #6 on: October 19, 2006, 08:22:54 PM »

Fourthly—The inconsistent conduct of parents themselves, is a frequent and powerful obstacle to success in religious education.

Example has been affirmed to be omnipotent, and its power, like that of gravitation, to be in proportion to the nearness of the attracting body. What, then, must be the influence of parental example? Now, as I am speaking of pious parents, it is of course assumed that they do exhibit, in some measure, the reality of true religion; but may not the reality often be seen, where much of the beauty of true godliness is obscured, just as the sun is beheld when his effulgence is quenched in a mist; or as a lovely prospect is seen through the haze, which veils the beauty of the scene, though it does not altogether conceal its extent.

True religion may be seen in dim outline by the children, in their parents' conduct—but it may be attended with so many minor inconsistencies, such a mist of imperfections, that it presents little to conciliate their regard, or raise their esteem. There is so much worldly-mindedness, so much conformity to fashionable follies, so much irregularity of domestic piety, such frequent sallies of unchristian temper, such inconsolable grief and querulous complaint under the trials of life, such frequent animosities towards their fellow Christians, observable in the conduct of some Christians—that their children see true religion to the greatest possible disadvantage, and the consequence is, that it either lowers their standard of piety, or inspires a disgust towards it altogether.

Parents, as you would wish your instructions and admonitions to your family to be successful—enforce them by the power of a holy example. It is not enough for you to be generally pious—but you should be wholly pious; not only to be real disciples—but eminent ones; not only sincere Christians—but consistent ones. Your standard of true religion should be very high. To some parents I would give this advice, "Say less about religion to your children—or else manifest more of its influence. Leave off family prayer—or else leave off family sins." Beware how you act—for all your actions are seen at home. Never talk of true religion but with reverence. Do not be forward to speak of the faults of your fellow Christians, and when the subject is introduced, let it be in a spirit of charity towards the offender, and of decided abhorrence of the fault. Many parents have done irreparable injury to their children's minds by a proneness to find out, to talk of, and almost to rejoice over the inconsistencies of professing Christians. Never cavil at, nor find fault with the religious exercises of the minister you attend; but rather commend his discourses, in order that your children may listen to them with greater attention. Direct their views to the most eminent Christians, and point out to them the loveliness of exemplary piety. In short, seeing that your example may be expected so much to aid or to frustrate your efforts for the conversion of your children, consider "what manner of people ought you to be in all holy conversation and godliness."

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« Reply #7 on: October 19, 2006, 08:25:12 PM »

Fifthly—Another obstacle to the success of religious instruction is sometimes found in the wild conduct of an elder branch of the family, especially in the case of a dissipated son.

The elder branches of a family are found, in general, to have considerable influence over the rest, and oftentimes to give the tone of morals to the others; they are looked up to by their younger brothers and sisters; they bring companions, books, amusements into the house; and thus form the character of their juniors. It is of great consequence therefore that parents should pay particular attention to their elder children; and if unhappily the habits of these should be decidedly unfriendly to the religious improvement of the rest, they should be removed, if possible, from the family. One profligate son may lead all his brothers astray. I have seen this, in some cases, most painfully verified. A parent may feel unwilling to send from home a wicked child, under the apprehension that he will grow worse and worse; but kindness to him in this way is cruelty to the others. Wickedness is contagious, especially when the diseased person is a brother.

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« Reply #8 on: October 19, 2006, 08:26:06 PM »

Sixthly—Bad companions out of the house counteract all the influence of religious instruction delivered at home.

A Christian parent should ever be on the alert to watch the associations which his children are inclined to form. On this subject I have said much to the young themselves in the following work; but it is a subject which equally concerns the parent. One ill-chosen friend of your child, may undo all the good you are the means of doing at home. It is impossible for you to be sufficiently vigilant on this point. From their very infancy encourage them to look up to you as the selectors of their companions; impress them with the necessity of this, and form in them a habit of consulting you at all times. Never encourage an association which is not likely to have a decidedly friendly influence on their religious character. This caution was never more necessary than in the present age. Young people are brought very much together by the religious institutions which are now formed, and altogether there is a great probability that in such a circle, suitable companions will be found, yet it is too much even for charity to believe that all the active young friends of Sunday Schools, Juvenile Missionary Societies, etc., are fit companions for our sons and our daughters.

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« Reply #9 on: October 19, 2006, 08:28:18 PM »

Seventhly—The schisms which sometimes arise in our churches, and embitter the minds of Christians against each other, have a very unfriendly influence upon the minds of the young.

They see so much that is opposite to the spirit and genius of Christianity in both parties, and enter so deeply into the views and feelings of one of them, that either their attention is drawn off from the essentials of true religion—or their prejudices raised against them. I look upon this as one of the most painful and mischievous consequences of ecclesiastical contentions.

Eighthly—The neglect of young people by our churches and their pastors, is another impediment to the success of domestic religious instruction.

This, however, does not so much appertain to parents in their separate capacity, as in their relation as members of a Christian society, and even in this relation it belongs less to them, than to their pastors. There is a blank yet to be filled up in reference to the treatment of the young who are not in church communion. We need something that shall recognize the young, interest them, attract them, guard them.

Ninthly—The spirit of filial independence, which is sanctioned by the habits, if not by the opinions of the age, is another hindrance, and the last which I shall mention, to the good effect contemplated and desired by a religious education.

The disposition, which is but too apparent in this age to enlarge the privileges of the children by diminishing the prerogative of their parents, is neither for the comfort of the latter, nor for the well-being of the former. Rebellion against parental authority can never be in any case a blessing, and all wise parents, together with all wise youth, will unite in supporting that just parental authority, which, however the precocious manhood of some might feel it to be an oppression, the more natural and slowly approaching maturity of others will acknowledge to be a blessing. Children who find the parental yoke a burden, are not very likely to look upon the yoke of Christ as a benefit.

Such, my dear friends, as they appear to my mind, are the principal obstacles to the success of those efforts which are carried on by many for the religious education of their children. Seriously consider them; and, having looked at them, endeavor to avoid them. Survey them as the mariner does the flame of the lighthouse, for the purpose of avoiding the rock on which it is placed. Recognize your children, as every Christian parent should do, not only as animal, rational, social beings—but as immortal creatures, lost sinners—being invited to eternal life through the mediation of Christ. And while you neglect not any one means that can promote their comfort, reputation, and usefulness in this world—concentrate your chief solicitude, and employ your noblest energies, in a scriptural, judicious, persevering scheme of true religious education. "You fathers, provoke not your children to wrath—but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord."

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PS 91:2 I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in Him will I trust
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« Reply #10 on: October 19, 2006, 08:35:55 PM »

THE ANXIETY OF A CHRISTIAN PARENT FOR
THE SPIRITUAL WELFARE OF HIS CHILDREN

 
My Dear Children—
Never did I pass a more truly solemn or interesting moment than that in which my first-born child was put into my arms, and when I felt that I was a father. A new solicitude was then produced in my bosom, which every succeeding day has tended to confirm and strengthen. I looked up to heaven and breathed over my babe the petition of Abraham for his son—"O! that Ishmael might live before you!" Recognizing, in the little helpless being which had been introduced into our world, a creature born for eternity, and who, when the sun shall be extinguished, would be still soaring in heaven—or sinking in hell, I returned to the closet of private devotion, and solemnly dedicated the child to the God who had given me the precious blessing; and earnestly prayed that whatever might be his lot in this world—he might be a partaker of true piety, and numbered with the saints in glory everlasting.

During the days of your infancy I and your godly mother watched you, with all the fondness of a parent's heart. We have smiled upon you when you were slumbering in healthful repose; we have wept over you when tossed with feverish restlessness and pain; we have been the delighted spectators of your childish playfulness; we have witnessed with pleasure the development of your intellectual powers, and have often listened, with somewhat of pride, to the commendations bestowed upon your person and attainments. But amid all, one deep solicitude took hold of our minds, which nothing could either divert or abate; and that was, a deep concern for your spiritual welfare—for your religious character.

You cannot doubt, my children, that your parents love you. In all your recollections, we have a witness to this. We have, as you know, done everything to promote your welfare; and, so far as was compatible with this object, your pleasure also. We have never denied you a gratification which our duty and ability allowed us to impart; and if at any time we have been severe in reproof, even this was 'a dreadful form of love'. We have spared no expense in your education—in short, love, an intense love, of which you can at present form no adequate conception, has been the secret spring of all our conduct towards you; and, as the strongest proof and purest effort of our affection, we wish you to be partakers of true piety. Did we not cherish this concern, we would feel that amid every other expression of regard, we were acting towards you a most cruel and unnatural part.

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PS 91:2 I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in Him will I trust
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« Reply #11 on: October 19, 2006, 08:36:53 PM »

Genuine love desires and seeks for the objects on which it is fixed the greatest benefits of which they are capable; and as you have a capacity to serve, and enjoy, and glorify God by true religion, how can we love you in reality, if we do not covet for you this high and holy distinction? We would feel that our love had exhausted itself upon trifles, and had let go objects of immense, infinite, eternal consequence—if it were not to concentrate all its prayers, desires, and efforts in your personal true religion.

Almost every parent has some one object, which he desires, above all others, on behalf of his children. Some are anxious that their offspring may shine as warriors; others, that theirs may be surrounded with the milder radiance of literary, scientific, and commercial fame. Our supreme ambition for you is, that whatever situation you occupy, you may adorn it with the beauties of holiness, and discharge its duties under the influence of Christian principles. Much as we desire your respectability in life (and we will not conceal our hope that you will occupy no base place in society), yet we would rather see you in the most obscure, and even menial situation, provided you were partakers of true piety, than behold you on the loftiest pinnacle of the temple of fame, the objects of universal admiration—if, at the same time, your hearts were destitute of the fear of God. We might, indeed, in the latter case, be tempted to watch your ascending progress, and hear the plaudits with which your elevation was followed, with something of a parent's vanity; but, when we retired from the dazzling scene to the seat of serious reflection, the spell would be instantly broken, and we would sorrowfully exclaim—"Alas my son, what is all this, in the absence of true religion—but soaring high, to have the greater fall!"

You must be aware, my dear children, that all our conduct towards you has been conducted upon these principles. Before you were capable of receiving instruction, we presented ceaseless prayer to God for your personal piety. As soon as reason dawned, we poured the light of religious instruction upon your mind, by the aid of pious books and conversation. You cannot remember the time when these efforts commenced. How often have you retired with us, to become the subjects of our earnest supplications at the throne of grace! You have been the witnesses of our agony for your eternal welfare. Have we not instructed, warned, admonished, encouraged you, as we laid open to your view the narrow path which leads to eternal life? Have we not been guided by this object in the selection of schools for your education, companions for your recreation, books for your perusal? Has not this been so interwoven with all our conduct, that, if at any time you had been asked the question—"What is the chief object of your parents' solicitude on your account?" you must have said, at once—"For my being truly pious." Yes, my children, this is most strictly true. At home, abroad, in sickness and in health, in prosperity and in adversity—this is the ruling solicitude of our bosoms.

How intently have we marked the development of your character, to see if our fondest wishes were likely to be gratified. We have observed your deportment under the sound of the gospel, and when you have appeared listless and uninterested, it has been as wormwood in our cup—while, on the other hand, when we have seen you listening with attention, quietly wiping away the tear of emotion—or retiring pensive and serious to your closet, we have rejoiced more than they which find great spoil. When we have looked on the conduct of any pious youth, we have uttered the wish, "O that my child were like him!" and have directed your attention to his character, as that which we wished you to make the model of your own. When, on the other hand, we have witnessed the behavior of some prodigal son, who has been the grief of his parents, the thought has been like a dagger to our heart, "What if my child should turn out thus!"

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« Reply #12 on: October 19, 2006, 08:40:45 PM »

1. Now, we cherish all this solicitude on OUR OWN account. We candidly assure you that nothing short of this will make us happy. Your piety is the only thing that will make us rejoice that we are your parents. How can we endure to see our children choosing any other ways than those of wisdom—and any other path than that of life? How could we bear the sight, to behold you traveling along the broad road which leads to destruction, and running with the multitude to do evil? "O God, hide us from this sad spectacle, in the grave, and before that time comes, take us to our rest." But how would it embitter our last moments, and plant our dying pillow with thorns, to leave you on earth in an unconverted state; following us to the grave—but not to heaven. Or should you be called to die before us, and take possession of the tomb, how could we stand at "the dreadful post of observation, darker every hour," without one ray of hope for you, to cheer our wretched spirits? How could we sustain the dreadful thought, which in spite of ourselves would sometimes steal across the bosom, that the very next moment after you had passed beyond our kind attentions—you would be received to the torments which know neither end nor mitigation? And when you had departed under such circumstances, what could heal our wounds—or dry our tears?

Should you become truly pious, this circumstance will impart to our bosoms a felicity which no language could enable me to describe. It will sweeten all our communion with you, establish our confidence, allay our fears, awaken our hopes. If we are prosperous, it will delight us to think that we are not acquiring wealth for those who will squander it on their lusts—but who will employ it for the glory of God when we are in dust. Or if we are poor, it will cheer us to reflect, that though we cannot leave you the riches of this world, we see you in possession of the favor of God, a portion which, after comforting you on earth, will enrich you through eternity. My dear children, if you are anxious to comfort the hearts of your parents, if you would fulfill our joy, if you would repay all our labor, concern, affection, if you would most effectually discharge all the obligations which you cannot deny you owe us—Fear God, and choose the ways of true religion—this, this alone will make us happy.

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« Reply #13 on: October 19, 2006, 08:49:34 PM »

2. We cherish this solicitude on behalf of the CHURCH, and the cause of God.

We see every year conveyed to the tombs of their fathers, some valued and valuable members of the Christian church. We are perpetually called to witness the desolations of the 'last enemy' in the garden of the Lord. How often do we exclaim over the corpse of some eminent Christian and benefactor, "Departed saint, how heavy the loss we have sustained by your removal to a better state! Who now shall fill up your vacant seat, and bless like you both the church and the world?" My children, under these bereavements, to whom should we look but to you? To whom should we turn but to the children of the kingdom, for subjects of the kingdom? You are the property of the church. It has a claim upon you. Will you not own it, and discharge it? Must we see the walls of the spiritual house mouldering away, and you, the rightful materials with which it should be repaired, withheld? We love the church, we long for its prosperity, we pray for its increase, and it cannot but be deeply distressing to us to witness the ravages of death, and, at the same time, to see the lack of true religion in those young people whose parents during their life filled places of honor and usefulness in the fellowship of the faithful.

We are anxious for your being pious that you might be the instruments of blessing the world by the propagation of true religion. The moral condition of the world is too bad for description. If it be ever improved—it must be done by Christians. True piety is the only real reformer of mankind. A spirit of active benevolence has happily risen up, rich in purposes and means, for the benefit of the human race. But the men, in whose bosoms it now lives and moves, are not immortal upon earth; they too must sleep in dust, and who then shall succeed them at their post and enter into their labors? Who will catch their falling mantle, and carry on their glorious undertaking for the salvation of millions? If it ever be done, it must be done of course by those who are now rising into life. The propagation of true religion to the next generation, and to distant nations, depends on you, and on others of your age. While I write, the groans of creation are ascending, and future ages are rising up to plead with you, that you would bow to the influence of true religion, as the only way of extending it to them.

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PS 91:2 I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in Him will I trust
airIam2worship
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« Reply #14 on: October 19, 2006, 08:50:55 PM »

3. But we are chiefly anxious, after all, on YOUR OWN account.

My children, the concern which we feel on this head, is far too intense for language. Here I may truly say, "poor is thought, and poor expression." If piety were to be obtained for you only by purchase, and I were rich in the possession of worlds, I would beggar myself to the last farthing to render you a Christian—and think the purchase cheap! "Godliness is profitable for all things, having the promise of the life that now is, as well as that which is to come." As I shall have more than one chapter on the advantages of piety, it will not be necessary to enlarge upon them here, any further than to say, that true godliness will save you from much present danger and trouble, promote your temporal interests, prepare you for the darkest scenes of adversity, comfort you on a dying bed, and finally conduct you to everlasting glory. The lack of true piety ensure the reverse of all this. Sooner or later such a destitution will bring misery on earth, and be followed with eternal torments in hell.

What then, my children, are all worldly acquirements and possessions, without true piety? What are the accomplishments of taste, the elegancies of wealth, the wreaths of fame—but as the fragrant and many-colored garland which adorns the miserable victim about to be sacrificed at the 'shrine of this world'? Authentic genius, a vigorous understanding, a well-stored mind, and all this adorned by the most amiable temper and most pleasing demeanor, will neither comfort under the trials of life, nor save their lovely possessor from the worm that never dies and the fire that is never quenched. Oh no—they may qualify for earth—but not for heaven. Alas! alas! that such estimable qualities should all perish for lack of that piety which alone can give immortality and perfection to the excellences of the human character!

Can you wonder, then, at the solicitude we feel for your personal true religion, when such interests are involved in this momentous concern?
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No monetary donations accepted. "Freely you
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PS 91:2 I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in Him will I trust
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