As the helplessness of a child, unable to defend itself from surrounding danger, makes a strong and effectual appeal to its parents for protection, so should its native ignorance, especially of the most important truths, and of those, a knowledge of which is essential to its well-being, both here and hereafter, make a still more powerful and affecting appeal, for instruction and careful training. The heathen early and faithfully train up their children to the precepts and practices of idolatry. And this is not only a dictate of that natural affection, which even heathenism has not totally quenched in the parental bosom, but it is, moreover, a principle of natural religion, which is incorporated even with the grossest system of superstition and error, that claims to be a religion.
You recognise your obligation to afford your children an academical education, or at least a knowledge of their own language, and of such other branches of common literature, as may qualify them for the vocation in life, which you design them to follow. But do you feel no obligation to instill into their minds and hearts the principles of heavenly wisdom? None, to educate them in the science of salvation? None, to impart to them a knowledge of God, which is eternal life, and of his word, which is able to make them truly wise, even ‘wise unto salvation,’ and to fit them for entering with advantage and happiness, upon that ever enduring state of exist-cure, on the verge of which they now stand!
You feel bound to train up your children to patriotic attachment to their country and its laws; with reverence for its authority, and jealousy for its honour. But do you not feel bound to train them up in loyal fidelity to the King of kings, and the God of nations, through whose merciful interference in our behalf, we are, as a nation. what we are? None, to educate them in holy allegiance to the Lord of lords, and source of all authority? None, to instill into them a becoming reverence for His law, and an unquenchable zeal for His honour and glory?
You feel bound, in all your plans, arrangements, and efforts, to consult the temporal interests of your children, and can this be more effectually promoted, than by the knowledge and favour of God? But are you indifferent to their everlasting welfare in the world to come? You cannot procure for them a more efficient, faithful, and enduring friend than Christ, who is emphatically the friend of sinners, He sticketh closer than a brother, and will never leave nor forsake them. Unlike the friendship of the world, which:
————is but a name,
A charm that lulls to sleep,
A shade that follows wealth and fame,
And leaves the wretch to weep,
his is as unchanging as his nature, ‘I am the Lord—I change not.’ He is a friend to help in time of need; when others either forsake us, or can afford us no aid. Should you leave your children orphans, He is the orphan’s God;—the father of the fatherless. For when father and mother forsake them, He will take them up.
You can not lay up for your children, a more enduring or more satisfying treasure, than that which is laid up in heaven, which neither moth nor rust can corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. Earthly riches take to themselves wings and fly away; and while they last, they are both unsatisfying and corrupting, without the grace of God accompanying them. Train up your children to be rich in faith, and heirs of that inheritance which is undefiled and that fadeth not away, and you will have secured for them that ‘which is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come,’ 1 Tim. 4:8. You feel bound to procure suitable remedies, and the skill of a physician, to counteract and heal the bodily maladies of your children; but are you not under higher obligations to provide for the cure of that deadly disease with which the souls of your children are by nature infected? Depravity is frequently, in Scripture, represented under the figure of a disease. ‘The whole head is sick, and the whole heart is faint. From the sole of the foot; even unto the head, there is no soundness in it, but wounds and bruises and putrefying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment,’ Isa. 1:5, 6. True religion is the balm of Gilead, and Christ is the great physician. Will you, then, permit this disease to continue its ravages upon the souls of your children, and terminate in the second death, without instructing them as to the only remedy, and urging them to apply to the only Physician? How grossly inconsistent is the solicitude of parents for their children, who, at thc same time, neglect their souls, which are of infinitely more importance, than any temporal concern can possibly be!