The History of Leith

March 14, 2012


1. Your boys and girls are growing up. Perhaps the
older of them are grown up, and the next are also
becoming adult. Are they Communicants? They ought
to be. They have been baptised. They are members of
the Church by their Baptism. They have been instructed
in Christ; you have seen to that. And now they are of
full age. In other matters they are undertaking for
themselves their responsibilities. Why not in this also ?
It is time. And there is a question between yoii and your
Lord about your offspring unsettled until they have for
themselves confessed Him, and have claimed their
inheritance in the Church, and have eaten of that Bread,
and have drunk of that Cup. It is a question, no doubt,
also between their Saviour and themselves. But, in the
first place, it is between the Lord Christ and you; for
they are the fruit of your body, and by nature you arc
answerable for them ; and you stood for them at the font
and took their vows upon you, and the vows are there
still, upon you, and you are answerable for them to their
2. “But” perhaps you say, ” in these things you leave
your children to themselves.” It is not rare nowadays to
find parents who excuse themselves for neglect of their
duty to their children by a false delicacy as to ” influencing
them” in religious matters. “They must judge for
themselves,” a man will say ; ” I do not like to influence
them in so solemn a thing.” Then why did you promise
to do it? They were baptised on your promise to influence
them. You have brought them into the tremendous
responsibility of Baptism, and now you are too delicate
and too conscientious to influence them ! Was there
ever anything so absurd ? Do you not influence them in
other things of less importance? Do you not advise them for
their good about their habits, about their choice of friends,
about their choice of business or trade, about their
marriages? You must be a most careless and useless
parent if you do not. But in this weightiest matter of all
you will leave them unhelped, unguided ! If man
answers to God for anything, you will answer to Him for
this, my brother.
3. Probably you hope that others may influence them.
You hope that they will get among good companions, and
these will lead them in a good way. Vou have chosen
their schools in the hope that there the influences may be
good. You have taken them to church, and you have
sent them to Sunday Schools and to classes, hoping that
some earnest teacher would influence them, or hoping
that the minister would influence them, the minister, the
teachers, the companions are to influence them, but not
you! And why? Because you are their parent—and they are
your own children ! What a reason ! Whose business
is it to influence them, if not yours? Might you not
influence another man’s children for their good? Why
then not your own ? Might you not say a word in season
to persuade a stranger to the right way? Why then not
your own flesh and blood ? Is it wrong to influence
people to choose the Lord Jesus and to confess Him ? or
only wrong to influence your own family? For God’s
sake, and for your own sake, and for your poor children’s
sake put away such nonsensical cant, and go and do your
duty. Tell them that they are baptised members of
Christ, and that now it is their privilege to take His vows
upon themselves. Open up the matter with them. Help
them to know their own minds. ^Bring the subject before
them in its solemnity of obligation and its wealth of
promise. It is very likely that they have been expecting
you to speak of it, have wondered that you did not, have
waited for you to take the initiative ; or, perhaps, they
have^hought that this must be of small importance, if
you had nothing to say of it.
4. What has hindered yon from speaking to them ”
Has it been a real and honest doubt whether to do so is
right ? Then you may dismiss the doubt. It is right for
you to do all that you can to make your children see what
their calling in Christ is, and to induce them to accept it
joyfully. It is more than right—it is your bounden duty
to do so. It is more than a duty—it is your solemn
obligation under the vow which you made when you stood
for your child at baptism. Imitate the fatherhood of
God. Does He leave you, His child, uninfluenced?
Does He not plead with you, persuade you, warn you,
command you, to believe in His Son Jesus Christ, and to
confess Him, and to serve Him? Follow this example
in your fatherhood to your own sons and daughters.
Or has it been that you have a difficulty in speaking to
your children about their souls and their life in Christ?
Alas, if now you have to begin with this which ought to
be the end and crown of much teaching. Yet better to
begin now than to be condemned for utter unfaithfulness.
Or is it that you are ashamed ? Is it that your own life
is careless, and your own membership of Christ slack, and
your own religion so inconsistent that you know that your
son, your daughter, would not respect your advice on such
a matter? O unhappy father, wretched mother, if that
is the case. Behold how God judges you in your tie to
your children. By them God shows you how untrue you
are to Him. You cannot fulfil your charge to your
children, because you do not fulfil your own due to God.
Repent and turn to Him for your children’s sake and for
your own.
5. But you have tried, and you have failed? Well, if
that be so, there is probably need for humility and
penitence on your part; for these younsj creatures have
been in your hands all their lives. How is it that they
are indifferent? Why do they not regard your counsel?
Are you blameless in this? Go and confess this failure to
God, and implore Him to take away this reproach. It
is a terrible breakdown if, after all your training, your
children turn away from their Lord.
Yet try again, patiently, and after prayer for wisdom.
Try wisely, gently, carefully. Put your council on right
grounds, religious grounds. Do not say, “Everyone
does it.” Do not say, “Do as others do at your age.”
Do not say, “There is so and so, your companion,
becoming a Communicant.” But tell your child of his

baptism and of your vows for him ; tell him that now he
may take these on himself ; tell him that Christ’s yoke is
easy and His burden light; tell him of his need of grace,
and how at the Lord’s Table the baptised receive more
grace and always more. Tell him of his baptismal
inheritance and of the joy of claiming it. Tell him of
Christ’s battle in this world, and how a true man desires
to take his place in the fighting line of the Church. And
ask -him if he is to be always in the drillyard. Speak
wisely and truly to him, and see whether you speak in
6. If he hesitates or has difficulties, advise him at hast
meantime to attend the meetings or classes of preparation.
Leave the rest unsettled, until he has attended these, and
has learnt what the Sacraments are and the truth that
lies round about them. This is often most helpful. It
has often the best results. And it is generally easily
It will be perhaps no hurt to your lad though he should
attend these instructions more than once. For the most
part we give far less time and less pains to instruct our
“young communicants” than is done in other countries.
What are six or ten lectures at such a time—the greatest
crisis in life? Encourage your children to attend such
classes even before they are old enough to become communicants.
7. The age for that purpose is put far too late in
modern custom among us. For a long time after the
Reformation it was usual for lads and girls to become
communicants at an age when with us they are still in
the Sunday School. Begin early to speak of the matter
in your family. Prepare the way for it. Lead up to it.
Set it before your children as a hope and a reward of
faithfulness that by and by they may the earlier go to the
Holy Table and receive the gifts of God.
Be certain that you are God’s minister to them for this
end. Their rows are -upon YOU.

source-South Leith Church

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