(J. A. James, “A Help to Domestic Happiness”)
What genuine believer can for a moment question whether his children’s eternal salvation ought to be the supreme solicitude of his heart?
If we look to the great bulk of mankind it is perfectly evident that true religion hardly enters into their view.
They are very willing that their children should go to
church; but as to any concern for the religious character,
and the formation of pious habits–they are as destitute
of everything of this kind, as if religion were a mere fable,
or were nothing more than a mere form. Their chief object
is either elegant and fashionable accomplishments, or
learning and science–and provided their children excel in
these, they never make any enquiry or feel any concern
whether they fear God. They would be not only surprised,
but would either laugh you to scorn, or scowl upon you
with indignation, for proposing such fanatical questions
in reference to their children! Yes, this is the way of the
greater part of parents, even in this religious country.
To train them up to shine and make a figure in society,
is all they seek.
Dreadful and murderous cruelty!
Degrading and groveling ambition!
To lose sight of the soul, and neglect salvation, and forget
immortality! To train them in every kind of knowledge but the
knowledge of religion! To instruct them in an acquaintance with
every kind of subject, but to leave them in ignorance of God
their Creator, their Preserver and Benefactor! To fit them to
act their part well on earth, and to leave them unprepared for
heaven! To qualify them to go with advantage through the
scenes of time, and then to leave them unfit for the glorious
and enduring scenes of eternity!
O strange fondness of irreligious parents!
O miserable destiny of their hapless offspring!
In direct opposition to this, the chief end of every Christian
parent must be the spiritual interests, the religious character,
the eternal salvation of his children. His highest ambition, his
most earnest prayer, his most vigorous pursuit, his eye, his
heart, and his hope should be engaged for their eternal welfare!
This should be the nature and exercise of his concern–“I am
desirous, if it pleases God, that my children should be blessed
with the enjoyment of reason, of health, of such a moderate
portion of worldly wealth, and worldly respectability as is
compatible with their station in life; and with a view to this
I will give them all the advantages of a suitable education.
But above and beyond this, I far more intensely desire, and
far more earnestly pray, and far more anxiously seek, that
they may have the fear of God in their hearts, may be made
partakers of true religion, and be everlastingly saved. And
provided God grants me the latter, by bestowing upon them
His grace, I shall feel that my chief object is accomplished,
and be quite reconciled to any circumstances which may
otherwise befall them. For rather would I see them in the
humble valley of poverty, if at the same time they were true
Christians–than on the very pinnacle of worldly grandeur,
but destitute of true piety.”
Such should be the views and feelings and desires of all true
Christian parents. Religion should be at the very center of all
their schemes and pursuits for their offspring. This should be
the guiding principle, the directing object, the great landmark
by which all their course should be steered.