A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Morning, November 8, 1868, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.
Did I not speak to you, saying, “Do not sin against the child?” (Genesis 42:22)
1. Thus Reuben reminded his brothers of his admonition concerning Joseph—so I would address you with regard to your own children.
2. I thought it fitting, beloved friends, since our friend Mr. Hammond is coming among us to labour for the conversion of the young, that I should as it were, this morning, deliver the preface to his series of services. Perhaps by enlisting the consideration and the affectionate prayers of God’s people for the young, I may be doing more to help my friend in his work than it would be possible for me to do by any other means.
3. Note the words of the text. “Did I not speak to you, saying, ‘Do not sin against the child?’” The essence of sin lies in its being committed against God. When men are fully convicted that they have disobeyed the Lord, and that this is “the head and front of their offending,” then they are brought to a true perception of the character of sin. Hence David’s penitential psalm has for its most acute cry, “Against you, you only, have I sinned, and done this evil in your sight.” Yet the sword of sin cuts both ways, it not only contends against God but against his creatures too. It is a double evil. Like a bursting shell, it scatters evil on every side. Every relationship which we sustain involves duty, and consequently, may be perverted into an occasion for sin. We are no sooner in this world than, as children, we sin against our parents; as members of a family we sin against brothers and sisters; and against playmates and acquaintances. We launch into the outside world, and around our barque sins dash like raging billows. As our various relationships are multiplied, our sins increase also: we sin against a husband or against a wife, against a servant or against a master, against a buyer or a seller. On all sides the roots of our soul suck up sin from the earth in which they spread. We sin in public and sin in private, sin against our poverty and against our wealth. Our evil nature, like the deadly upas (a) tree, distils its venom—the poison of sin, drops on all who come under our shadow. As the sea surrounds all shores, so sin beats with deadly waves upon all connected with our life. Our hundred handed sin assails both heaven and earth, time and eternity, great and small, old men and children.
4. The text calls us to consider one particular form of sin, namely, sinning against a child, and it is of that I intend to speak this morning, looking up to the great Father of spirits so that he would teach me to speak properly.
5. First, what is this which has been spoken to us? “Do not sin against the child.” Secondly, who said it? And, thirdly, what then?
6. I. First—and this will occupy most of our time this morning—WHAT IS THIS WHICH HAS BEEN SAID TO US? “Do not sin against the child.”
7. This warning may be suitable for everyone of us without exception, for those who are not parents, and who are not teachers of the young, are nevertheless bound to remember that they are in a commonwealth of which young people make up a very considerable part. Little eyes are so quick to observe the actions of those who are grown up, that adults should be careful what they do. Every man, by his own conduct, is, more or less, educating the rising generation of the nation. If a man acts amiss, if his speech is foul, if his conversation is polluted, he helps to educate children in the school of Belial. If, on the other hand, his ways are right, and by the grace of God he is made to act morally and to speak truthfully, he is doing something, it may be unconsciously, but still he is doing something to train up one for virtue and holiness. The exhalations of our moral conduct sweeten or defile the general atmosphere of society, and in this children, as well as others, are partakers. I would say to every man who is giving full sway to his passions, if nothing else will check you, at any rate pause awhile when those fair haired girls and lisping children are gazing upon you. If you do not care for angels, stop for the sake of that blue eyed boy. Do not let the leprosy of your sin pollute your offspring more than must be. Were you about to utter a lascivious sentence? Withhold it, I urge you, for it is not fit that little ears should so soon be desecrated by what has become common enough for you, but will as yet be shocking to them. Were you about to blaspheme? Is it not enough to curse your Maker? Why do you need to bring a second curse upon that harmless little one? Why teach those lips that will be all too ready to learn to speak the hideous word? Man, if any feeling is left in you, respect the purity of childhood, and let the presence of youth, if it is not a motive for sanctity, at any rate be a reason for restraint in open sin. Do not sin cruelly and wantonly against the child.
8. But I would not merely put it in a light which may suit the vilest. You, dear friend, whoever you may be, owe a service to your neighbour. You are to love him as yourself—and that word “neighbour” includes all mankind: the bond of the command is not limited to those who are over twenty-one, and have assumed the responsibilities of manhood; when God wrote this law, he meant it to take in the whole sweep of our race. The religion of Christ is a religion of love for manhood as such: it asks us to regard the babe upon its mother’s knee as well as the grey beard leaning upon his staff—to all it speaks of love toward all. You are bound, therefore, by the universal law, to have a love towards children; and, as in the first place, you are to refrain from doing or saying anything which would injure their morals for this life, so you are bound, as much as lies in you, to do all you can to train them by your own example of excellence and happiness in the path of righteousness. I put forth God’s claim and man’s claim, this morning, to all of you, a claim from which you cannot escape by any pretence whatever, a claim which cannot be forgotten without sin. We are all under obligations, both to old and young, to rich and poor, and especially I urge the claims of those who cannot speak for themselves as yet. To each and every child you are under an obligation as a member of the great human family, as a citizen in one great kingdom, to do nothing which may injure, and everything which may promote his future welfare. I summon before you all the host who gather at their mothers’ knees, and beseech you by the love for humanity not to drag these little ones down to hell.
9. To the parent the text speaks with a still small voice, to which I trust none of us will be deaf. “Do not sin against the child”—against your own dear child! Yet how many parents do so! If as I now speak, unconverted parents will be compelled to acknowledge the truthfulness of the accusations I shall lay against them, I hope they will be led to deep and true repentance. There are many parents who altogether neglect the religious education of their children. If their children were born without souls, they could not be more indifferent to their welfare than they now are. If it were revealed to them that their little ones when they slept in their coffins would be as the offspring of dogs and horses, which have no hereafter, they could not treat them in a more thoughtless fashion than they do now. Why, are there not many of you who, when you have sent your children to the Sunday School, think you have done all that is to be done for them; and even if this little is neglected, you are content. You never prayed for your babes—how can you? You do not know yet what it is to pray for yourselves in sincerity and truth; you never pointed your Samuels and Hannahs to the “Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.” How should you? Your own sin lies upon you unforgiven! You have never instructed the dear little ones in the danger of rebellion against God, and in the necessity of being reconciled to him through faith in the precious blood of Christ—how can we expect you to do this while you yourselves remain aliens and strangers to the blessed God, and have not submitted yourselves to the gospel of Jesus Christ? I remember a woman who was converted at an advanced age, who had been left years before a widow with many children; she was a most exemplary, moral, and industrious woman, and earning her living by most laborious work, she even managed to bring up all her family, and settle them in a suitable manner; but after her conversion I think I never saw more bitter tears than those which she shed when she said, “I took care to feed them and clothe their bodies, but I never thought of their souls. Alas! for me, I knew no better; but alas! for them, I left the chief thing undone. The other day I spoke to my oldest son about the things of God, and he told me religion was all a farce, he did not regard a word I said,” she said, “and well might he be an infidel when his mother never said a word by which he could have been led to be a believer.” Words were spoken by way of comfort to her, but like Rachel she refused to be comforted, because she said, and said truly, her great opportunity had been thrown away. The best time of effort for a mother had been allowed to pass away unused. Her harvest was passed, and her summer was ended, and her children were not saved. I trust some of you who are now godless may be brought to the same repentance; but I would have you saved such bitter regret by being led now to give your hearts to Christ while your children are still with you.
10. In speaking to parents, I put the charge in the mildest terms, and have said that some have done nothing to train their families for the Saviour, but graver accusations may be brought. Are there not some here who have done much the other way, much to quench the motions of the Spirit in the juvenile mind, much to harden the children’s hearts and to lull their consciences to sleep? It is a disgraceful fact that many fathers educate their children for the service of Satan. They are the devil’s lackeys, introducing their sons into the courts of the Evil One. When parents take their children to the theatre, what can they expect to be the result? When they send them to the beer shop, or let them see their drunkenness, what surer school of vice can they send them to? Parents who teach their children to sing the silly, frivolous, and perhaps licentious songs, are sacrificing them to Moloch. It is shameful when from a father’s lips the boy hears the first oath, and learns the alphabet of blasphemy. There are multitudes of parents upon whose head the blood of their children will certainly descend, because they have launched them on the sea of life with the rudder set towards the rocks, with a false chart, a deceitful compass, and every other appliance for securing eternal shipwreck. Doubtless there are some here, unconverted men and women, whose example has already come home to them in the ungrateful conduct of their sons. They have seen their children grow up to be estranged from them; and if they are therefore blaming the providence of God, let them pause awhile and ask themselves whether they ought not rather to blame themselves—are they not reaping according to their sowing? What are our children for the most part but what we make them by our training? and if they have grown up like ourselves, and our faults are mirrored in their characters, let us repent in dust and ashes before God, and never think it to be a harsh law that our sins against our children should recoil upon ourselves. Fathers and mothers who sin against your children, I fear you will be lost yourselves; but before that doom overtakes you, I urge you to remember that you will not perish alone in your iniquity, your household will suffer with you. If you have no care about your own souls, yet I urge you to think of the little ones entrusted to you. You have some in heaven whom sovereign mercy has caught away from the cradle and the breast, so that they may sing the praises of God for ever; I cannot bear to think that you should drag the others down to the pit of hell! For your own sake, for their sake, pause awhile, do not murder your own flesh and blood; repent of your own personal sins, and seek mercy at the hands of Jesus that you may henceforth never again sin against the child.
11. If these things come home forcibly to you who are unsaved, how much more to Christian parents! Do Christian parents ever sin against their children? We answer, Christian parents are not perfect. They are still in the body, and have yet to mourn over sins and shortcomings. And so, not condemning you who fear God—for who shall condemn whom Christ has justified?—yet let me, for the awakening of your consciences, and to drive you again to the blood of Jesus for pardon, remind you that we, alas! too often do sin against our children. We are under a double responsibility, not only because they are our children, but because God has given us salvation. We are bound, having the light, to give that light to all around us, but bound by other ties to give the light first to those who have sprung from our loins. If we deny our most loving efforts to our own households, we must surely be inhuman. Not only may we not talk about grace, we can scarcely boast about fulfilling the promptings of nature itself, if we have no compassion for our children’s souls. Yet what do you think, may not our inconsistencies be the reason why our children are not converted? May the boy never have been compelled to say, “My father hardly believes what he says, or else he could not act as he does?” Do you not think that in many families, where the parents are worldly and conformed to the world, it would be a great wonder if the sons and daughters were not ungodly? Are there not many Christians so busy making money, that they have no time to speak about soul concerns to their children? and if those children were to die, do you think those parents could excuse themselves? If their children died without hope, how would their parents quiet their consciences? Do we as a rule pray for our own children as we ought? Do we wrestle with God for them night and day? Do we ever spend an hour in pleading with the Most High that they might live in his sight? And if we have prayed, do we use such efforts for our children as deathbeds will make us wish that we had used? Have we spoken personally to them about their salvation? Having done it once, have we repeated it? If we fear that we have not touched the right chord of the heart, have we made up our minds to persevere in affectionate admonitions and earnest entreaties until every one of them shall be saved? I know that some of you have done so; I rejoice in some fathers and mothers in this congregation that they strive for the conversion of their children, and of these I may also add that, for the most part, they have seen the desire of their hearts. But where there has been no desire, and no prayer, and no effort, if the children die unsaved, what balm can heal the mother’s wounds? Oh you who have been baptized into Christ, and profess to have put on Christ; oh you who claim to love your Lord and Master, what shall we say to you, if your sons shall be unchastened like those of Eli, and shall therefore die in their sins? If your sons turn out to be Nadabs and Abihas and not Samuels, how can we console you if you have not wept over them? If they rebel like Absalom, who can wonder, if their father never poured out his heart before the Lord on their account? Do you expect to reap without sowing, or to gather where you have not scattered? Parental care can alone preserve household piety, and if that is gone, the pillars of the nation are removed. It is a bad day for any church when family piety is on the decline. Household religion has been the great defence of England against Popery. Do not tell me of your state paid clergy and their lofty prelates—give me family prayer, and the Pope may curse away as long as he likes. Give us the open catechism, and the children made to understand it; give us the Bible read from day to day, and godly parents inculcating gospel truths upon their little ones’ minds, and we may laugh to scorn all the powers of Pope or devil. But once let the family altar be forsaken, and let parents forget the natural duty of ordering their households before the Lord, and you may guard the church as you wish, your labour will be vain; you have cast down her hedges—the bear from the forest shall waste her; you have taken away the tower of the flock, and when the wolf comes he will find the sheep an easy prey. Christian parents, though I cannot address you this morning as I wish, yet with all my heart I would say to you, do not sin against the child by your bad example or by your negligence concerning his salvation, but seek the Holy Spirit so that for your own offspring you may fully discharge the solemn duties which providence and grace have thrown upon you.
12. The text has a word next to teachers, teachers especially of our Sunday Schools, though I hold that teachers of weekday schools, ought not to consider themselves exempted from seeking the good of the souls entrusted to them. Teachers of Sunday Schools, you have voluntarily assumed a position, the responsibility of which is not to be laid aside as long as you continue in the office. I beseech you, do not sin against the child. He comes to you this afternoon to learn something weighty and of eternal consequence, do not be dull and uninteresting, do not talk to him of unimportant matters, do not be cold and sleepy over your work, but tell him of Jesus lovingly, simply, earnestly. Do not lead him to feel that you yourself have no faith in what you teach. Be so earnest that he may see conviction gleaming from your eye, and may soon in return feel it flashing into his heart. Remember, other teachers have been prayerful over their children; they have brought their boys and girls to Jesus, and have won a blessing from the Master—will not you be prayerful too? If not, it would be better for those children that you had never been born, and that some better teacher had been placed over them. Do not sin against the child therefore by encumbering the ground and occupying a place which might have been far more profitably filled by a more earnest spirit. In the weekday do not sin against the child by conduct inconsistent with your profession. Do not sin against the child by neglecting him during the six days if you have opportunities for visitation. Seek his good at all times, follow him with your prayers and tears if you cannot with your personal visits and loving words. As God gives you opportunity, let importunate entreaties and fervent prayers go together—entreaties to him and prayers to God—and who knows if God shall give you his soul as a seal to your faithful ministry! Teacher, do not sin against the child by failure in anything to which conscience calls you. I am afraid in looking back upon our own Sunday School experience, some of us will have to acknowledge that we did sin against the children a great deal, that we made our class rather a school for teaching reading and repeating texts and singing hymns, than an occasion for aiming at heart renewal and immediate salvation. By the way, let me say while I am speaking to teachers, the word is equally applicable to some of you who are not teachers, but ought to be. In many of our churches the work of teaching the young is left to the very youngest—and advanced Christians usually decline the service. Is this as it should be? I take it that for this work the church ought to send forth her best men, and if any of you have ability for the teaching of youth, and are not using the talent, you are sinning against the child quite as much as if you undertook the work and did not perform it thoroughly. There have been Sunday Schools in this neighbourhood languishing for lack of teachers. We have letters constantly sent to us, “Can you not send us help?” and it is a crying shame that in a neighbourhood so blessed with the gospel there should be any Sunday School pining for lack of teachers to instruct the children. I am told that in some Sunday Schools, near this Tabernacle, there are sometimes fifty or a hundred children without teachers. I charge you, men and women who know Christ, while such spheres are before you, do not stand back from them, lest it be charged upon you in the day of judgment concerning these little ones, that you withheld from them the bread of life, and left them to die in the dark.
13. The text further bears with equal severity upon the preacher. I feel it chides and chastens me. Preaching is very often too obscure for children; the words are too long, the sentences too involved, the matter too mysterious. Well might the sermon be called, like matrimony in the prayer book, “an excellent mystery.” I believe I have as much as most of my brethren, sought out simple words, and many dear children have heard the word from me and have been profited, while many others of them delight to come to the Tabernacle to listen to the minister. Still, we who occupy the pulpit do not feed the lambs as we should do. We should give them not merely a word now and then, but if possible the whole discourse should be such as they can understand. Sacred simplicity should be so cultivated by the ambassador of Christ, that lads and lasses should hear intelligently under a good shepherd, and the least lamb should be able to find food. Is it always so with ministers? I have my confessions to make, and some of my brethren, if they are ever awakened to a sense of sin about the matter, will have even longer confessions to offer, since in our pulpits we too often do sin against the child.
14. But we must push on. I want the church of God, and especially this church, to attend carefully to the next few remarks. When teachers and others are earnest about the conversion of children, and some of them are converted, they then come into relationship with the church, and too often the Lord’s people need the advice, “Do not sin against the child.” How can a church so offend? It can do so by not believing in the conversion of children at all. I am persuaded there are hundreds of Christians who in their hearts altogether mistrust the worth of regeneration, unless the person born again is over sixteen or eighteen years of age; if the innermost thoughts of many professors could be spoken, it would be seen that they are at once suspicious of a conversion if the convert is only thirteen years of age, and yet would cheerfully endorse the same conversion if the person were thirty or seventy. There is a sad respect of persons among us still; a lingering belief that a certain period of years spent in sin must have elapsed before a work can be done. And yet if you were to think, the conversion of a child is in itself no more difficult than the conversion of a fully grown man. With God all things are possible, and if it were right to compare two equally divine works, it should seem to be an easier thing to renew the child than the man. There is less of the dire force of habit to overcome, there is less to forget, less to repent of. Though there is nothing spiritually good in us by nature, yet there is a certain simplicity about the child, and readiness of belief, and absence of quibbling and questioning, which is exceedingly helpful in receiving the truth. Where two things are both impossible, except with God, we may draw comparisons. I should really say that the conversion of the child appears to be the simpler work of the two, and how then we have come to imagine it not to be so I can scarcely tell. Surely that same Holy Spirit who can enter into the man of seventy, and overcome his sin, and make him to become like a little child, can enter also into the child, and overcome his natural depravity, and make him willing in the day of God’s power, and lead him to faith in Jesus. If salvation had to do with mysterious doctrines hard to be understood, if to be a Christian one needed to comprehend the Hebrew and the Greek languages, we might admit the difficulty of the conversion of little children; but if it is all so simple that he who runs may read, and he who reads may still continue to run, if it is all so plain as to be nothing more than this, “He who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ shall be saved,” why is a child not as capable of faith as a man, and why may it not be as probable that we may see numbers of children converted to God as that numbers of adults may give in their adhesion to the faith? Get rid of this base idea then, lest you be found sinning against the child. God can save children. He has saved many, he has proven to his unbelieving church the greatness of his power towards the little ones. Thrust out the thought then, and expect from this day that God will save the children as well as others.
15. Having believed that their conversion is possible, when you hear of it, be willing to believe it is so. I do not ask of children that they should be received into the church without examination; I do not claim for a youngster who declares that he is a believer in Christ, that he should be received into the church with any less rigorous examination than any adult; all I do ask is that he should not be tormented with needless suspicions, and looked upon as an impostor. Brethren, it would be very greatly sinning against children if the moment their little susceptible minds were made to feel terror on account of sin, we should put that down as repentance; or the moment they felt some joy at the thought of the love of Christ, we should assure them that they possessed faith. This would be to educate them in self-deception. We should not look to find in the young more than in the old; but as far as faith and repentance are concerned, we must require quite as much. I mean that the same repentance which is needful in an adult in order for salvation, is indispensable in a child; and the faith of God’s elect is the same faith in the youth as in the grayheaded man. Nothing short of real repentance and true faith in Christ can save anyone, and there is no difference in age at all in that respect. We ought, therefore, to expect in a child a sincere hatred for sin, a true sense of its evil, a conviction that he cannot save himself, and a simple reliance upon the work of Jesus which we expect in any other convert; less than this will leave young or old short of eternal life. Many say, “We must hope for the best, and we must not expect too much from a child”; but I reply, we should do that child most serious injury if we taught him to be satisfied with what is unsatisfactory, and to rest anywhere except in the Lord Jesus. We must expect as much, but what I plead for is, we must not expect more; for I am sure that there are some ministers and church members who discourage at once any profession of faith from boys and girls. “Oh! yes,” they say, “it is the morning cloud and the early dew; it will soon pass away.” They utter sharp and harsh things which, if the devil needed instruments would be the very ones to grieve tender hearts. They put on such frowns, and give themselves such lofty airs, that humble, timid children, shrink back and are to the church for many a day perhaps kept outside her pale. Let us judge them righteously, but let us not judge them censoriously. Let us be willing to receive them to baptism, and to the Lord’s table, and when they are received, instead of thinking of them as though they were less valuable than other members, let us consider them to be the very pride of the flock. I hate to hear people say, “They have received a pack of children into the church.” “A pack of children,” yes, and if Jesus carries them in his bosom, surely you are not imitating Christ, nor exhibiting much of his spirit when you look down upon them and despise them. To me one soul is as good as another. I rejoice as much, in the addition of the poorest mechanic to this church, as if he were a peer of the realm; I am as grateful to God when I hear of repentance in the young as in the aged, for souls’ after all are not affected in value by rank or age. Immortal spirits are all priceless, and not to be weighed in the scale with worlds. I urge you therefore rejoice if the Spirit of God dwells in the lowly or in the great in the young or in the old. He is the very same Spirit, he makes each renewed person equally his temple, and each saved one is equally a jewel of Christ, dear to the heart of the Eternal Father, beloved by him who redeemed all his people equally with his most precious blood. Let us not therefore as a church sin against the child.
16. II. WHO SAYS THIS TO US?
17. Nature says it first. The instincts of humanity cry, “Do not sin against the child. He is only a child; he is little; do not sin against him.” In the sacking of a town, in one of the old bloodthirsty wars, a soldier seized a little child, and was about to kill him in very wantonness, when the little one cried out, “Oh sir, do not kill me, sir, I am so little.” The appeal saved his life. For the same reason, do not harm your child or teach him poorly; he is so little, and he is as well so trustful, that it is treason to lead him astray. Be careful how you behave towards a soul which trusts in you so implicitly. Do not sin against the child. He is your own; you gave him birth. You see your own features in his smiling face. Will you lead your own child to hell? Will you be the destroyer of your own offspring? You love him; your heart overflows with affection for your child. Let grace turn the streams of affection in the channel of wisdom, so that the immortal nature of your child may receive the benefit.
18. Experience adds its voice to Nature, “Do not sin against the child.” Hundreds of parents have been brought with sorrow to the grave through the natural result of their own failures and trespasses in reference to their children. They taught the lesson of sin, and the children, having learned it, practised it upon their parents. If you would not stuff your pillow with thorns, do not sin against the child. Experience teaches us, too, from its brighter side, the excellence of holy behaviour in the household. How often parents have had the reward of educating their children well—how the father has leaned when he has grown weak upon the son’s strong shoulder, and the mother has found her dearest comfort upon earth in the daughter whom she had trained for Christ! Experience says, for your own sakes, lest you nurse an adder into your bosom, do not sin against the child; and for your own sake, that, just as arrows are in the hands of a mighty man, so may your sons and daughters be in later life, do not sin against the child.
19. Conscience repeats the same advice; that inward monitor does not cease to remind us of what is due to God and to his particular charge, the weak and feeble. Conscience tells us plainly that we must not toy with responsibilities so vast. “Take this child and nurse him for me,” said the daughter of Pharaoh to Moses’ mother, “and I will give you your wages”; and even so every babe who is placed into our lap by providence is put there for the very same reason, that we may train him for God, and obtain a reward of grace at the last.
20. The church adds her voice to that of conscience. “Do not sin against the child,” for the children are the church’s hope. Bring them to Christ, that he may put his hands upon them and bless them, that they may become the future teachers and preachers, the pillars and defence of Christ’s church below. Though some of us have lived only a few years in this world, we have lived long enough to see some of our most esteemed nonconforming families seduced by various motives into communion with the world’s religion and the world’s church. The mystery is not at all difficult to solve. The parents grew rich, and though they were still among us, they were not of us; pride separated them in spirit and their sons and daughters were introduced into other society than could be found among the humbler followers of Jesus—they became united to such fashionable company; and now the descendants of Dissenters are among the fiercest revilers of our holy faith. Better by far it would be for us to see our children carried to their graves as infants, to be mourned over with the resignation which a sure hope fosters, than that they should live to forsake the Lord God of their fathers, and to pull down what their fathers built up. That the sons of the Puritans should degenerate into Cavaliers, that the sturdy Protestant family should be led away with Puseyism, (b) that the godly father should be followed by a reckless son, is most deplorable, but so it has been in all generations, and so it will be still while parents sin against the child.
21. God himself, speaking from the excellent glory, this morning, says to each one of his servants here, “Do not sin against the child,” and I ask that if no other voice is heard, we may all bow before his glorious majesty, and ask for grace to be willing and obedient.
22. III. Thirdly, having heard the message, WHAT THEN? Only two things.
23. Does that exhortation not startle some of the unconverted and unawakened here? I think if I were as you are, sir, if I had lived to be sixty years of age, and my son had died through drunkenness, or my daughter were at this time living a godless life, and I were unconverted, it would shoot a pang through my heart to think that I should have brought such misery upon them through my neglect of divine things. A man often hesitates before he will plunge his family into the speculation which he himself would not hesitate to do. To be damned yourself is something terrible—condemned by God, withered and blasted for ever with his anger, cast away where hope can never come! Well, you may gird up your loins, and make your brow as brass, and say, “I will even run the risk of that, and fight the Eternal, and defy the fierceness of his wrath,” but can you bear to think that your offspring will probably fall into the same condemnation? Eyes will peer at you through the smoke of Tophet, and shall recognise you; then some such words as these shall be hissed into your ears. “A curse on you, oh man, the author of my miserable being, and the cause of my endless ruin. A curse be on you, and a sevenfold hell on you, my father, and on you, woman, who gave me birth, for you trained me for the service of the devil, and everlasting destruction fell on me through you. Oh inhuman wretches, to consign your own children to the flames! Fiends that you were, to teach me the ways of vanity and irreligious both by your example and your precepts.” Ah! sinner, this will multiply your torments; you shall be dragged down by your own children’s hands to lower depths of misery. I beseech you to stop and think, and if you cannot redeem the mischief which you have already done, yet repent of it, flee to the cross, be saved yourself, and maybe those of your household who are still spared, may, with yourself, be saved. Oh that divine grace might lead you, like the Philippian jailor, to cry out, “What must I do to be saved?” and then to hear the voice of promise, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved, and your house.” Oh, if my words could be as flashes of lightning, if every syllable I drop would be a flame of fire, I would be pleased, if thoughtless, ungodly ones would only turn to God and live.
Does not this command this morning press upon every Christian here,
not only upbraiding us, but as arousing our laggard energies,
stirring us to something more of diligence and effort? Will you not,
dear friends, this afternoon, pray that Mr. Hammond’s words may be
powerful among the throng of boys and girls? Will it not be a matter
of conscience with everyone here that at home you will plead with God
for a blessing? and during this week will you not maintain a gracious
concert of earnest prayer that the benediction may descend like
showers of gracious rain upon these young plants? Will you not give
us your best help if you see any movements of God’s Spirit? Will you
not join to cheer and to instruct the newborn converts? Will you not
consider whether you could not take a class in one of the surrounding
Sunday Schools? Will you not roll away that reproach which I
mentioned just now, which rests upon some of you, because there are
Sunday Schools without teachers? Parents, will you not pray for your
children, and even today seek to hold up Jesus before them? Will we
not all, God helping us, say within ourselves, that we will no
longer sin against the child, but in Jesus’ name seek to gather his
lambs and feed them for him? Amen.
(a) Upas: A fabulous tree alleged to have existed in Java, at
some distance from Batavia, with properties so poisonous as to
destroy all animal and vegetable life to a distance of fifteen or
sixteen miles around it. OED.
(b) Puseyism: A name given by opponents to the theological and
ecclesiastical principles and doctrines of Dr. Pusey and those
with whom he was associated in the “Oxford Movement” for the
revival of Catholic doctrine and observance in the Church of
England which began about 1833; more formally and courteously
called Tractarianism. OED.