The Essence of Biblical Parenting, Adam Clarke

A most injurious and destructive maxim has lately been advanced by a few individuals, which it is to be hoped is disowned by the class of Christians to which they belong, though the authors affect to be thought Christians, and rational ones, too; the sum of the maxim is this:  “Children ought not to be taught religion for fear of having their minds biased to some particular creed, but they should be left to themselves till they are capable of making a choice, and choose to make one.”

This maxim is in flat opposition to the command of God, and those who teach it show how little they are affected by the religion they profess.  If they felt it to be good for any thing, they would certainly wish their children to possess it; but they do not teach religion to their children, because they feel it to be of no use to themselves.

Now the Christian religion properly applied saves the soul, and fills the heart with love to God and man; for the love of God is shed abroad in the heart of a genuine believer, by the Holy Ghost given to him.  These persons have no such love, because they have not the religion that inspires it; and the spurious religion which admits of the maxim above mentioned, is not the religion of God, and consequently better untaught than taught.

But what can be said to those parents who, possessing a better faith, equally neglect the instruction of their children in the things of God!  They are highly criminal; and if their children perish through neglect, which is very probable, what a dreadful account must they give in the great day!

Parents!  Hear what the Lord saith unto you:  Ye shall diligently teach your children that there is one Lord, Jehovah, Elohim; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost:  and that they must love him with all their heart, with all their soul, and with all their might.  And as children are heedless, apt to forget, liable to be carried away by sensible things, repeat and re-repeat the instruction, and add line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little, carefully studying time, place, and circumstances, that your labor be not in vain:  show it in its amiableness, excite attention by exciting interest; show how good, how useful, how blessed, how ennobling, how glorious it is.  Whet these things on their hearts till the keenest edge is raised on the strongest desire, till they can say, “Whom have I in heaven but thee?  And there is none upon earth I desire besides thee!” *

Whom have I in heaven but You?
And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.
(Psalm 73:25)

Clarke, Adam.  (1762-1832).  Complete commentary on the whole Bible (on Deuteronomy 6).


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