When a candidate for admission comes before session in revival times, I ask him only seven or eight questions; but when he comes during a cold state of religion, I ask him twenty questions, and get the elders to ask him as many more. In other words, I have more faith in conversions under special religious influence than under ordinary.
The best luck I ever had in fishing was when I dropped the net in the bay and brought up at one haul twenty bluefish, with only three or four moss-bunkers, and the poorest luck I ever had was when, after standing two hours in the soggy meadow with one hook on the line, I felt I had a bite, and began to pull, more and more persuaded of the great size of the captive, until I flung to the shore a snapping-turtle. As a gospel fisherman I would rather run the risk of a large haul than of a solitary angling. I can soon sort out and throw overboard the few moss-bunkers.
Oh for great awakenings all over Christendom!
We have had a drought so long we can stand a freshet. Let the Hudson and the Thames and the Susquehanna rise and overflow the lowlands, and the earth be full of the knowledge of God as the waters fill the seas. That time is hastening, probably!
Take first the statement that unless our children are saved in early life they probably never will be. They who go over the twentieth year without Christ are apt to go all the way without Him. Grace, like flower-seed, needs to be sown in spring. The first fifteen years of life, and often the first six, decide the eternal destiny.
The first thing to do with a lamb is to put it in the arms of the Great Shepherd. Of course we must observe natural laws. Give a child excessive meat diet, and it will grow up sensual, and catechism three times a day, and sixty grains in each dose, won’t prevent it. Talk much in your child’s presence about the fashions, and it will be fond of dress, notwithstanding all your lectures on humility. Fill your house with gossip, and your children will tattle. Culture them as much as you will, but give them plenty of money to spend, and they will go to destruction.
But while we are to use common sense in every direction respecting a child, the first thing is to strive for its conversion, and there is nothing more potent than family prayers. No child ever gets over having heard parents pray for him. I had many sound threshings when I was a boy (not as many as I ought to have had, for I was the last child and my parents let me off), but the most memorable scene in my childhood was father and mother at morning and evening prayers. I cannot forget it, for I used often to be squirming around on the floor and looking at them while they were praying. Your son may go to the ends of the earth, and run through the whole catalogue of transgression, but he will remember the family altar, and it will be a check, and a call, and perhaps his redemption.