In A Pastor’s Daughter, Louisa Payson Hopkins (a.k.a. Maria) recounted how her father, Edward Payson, taught her gospel truth. She recorded this riveting exchange with her father (pp129-130):
“Suppose you had been guilty of a crime for which you were tried; and of which, if you were convicted, the punishment would be death. While you are lying in prison, trembling, and fearing the result of the trial, there comes a man to you and says, ‘I will undertake to plead your cause, and to save you from punishment, on one condition. You must give up all other means of defence [sic]; you must employ no other advocate, but confide implicitly in me; on this condition, I will save you.’ Now, if you believed this man, and, without adopting any other means of defence, should feel perfectly secure as to the result of the trial, you would show that you had faith in his promise.”
“But, Papa, would it not be foolish to feel such confidence in a man that I knew nothing about? He might deceive me, and then it would be too late to adopt any other measures.”
“It certainly would be, in the case I have supposed. In order to make the similtude apply in all its circumstances, you must suppose that you had received the fullest possible proof of his power, skill, and benevolence; that he has already saved thousands who have confided in him; and that there was no other source from which help could possible come. Would it not then be the height of folly to reject his offers?”
“And has not Christ given you the fullest proofs of his ability and willingness to save you? Has he not saved all who have trusted in him? You cannot offer him a greater insult than to doubt either his power or his love.”
“Why doesn’t he save me, then?” said she, in a petulant tone, though she felt ashamed and frightened the moment the words had escaped her. Her father paused and looked at her solemnly, almost sternly, as he said, “Because you will not let him, Maria” and left the room.
Our highest parental duty is evangelizing our children. Our love for Christ and them requires supernatural patience, though. God alone must save them. Let’s be as careful and sober as Edward Payson, and willing to leave the room so God would do his humbling work of grace. As a father must wait prayerfully and patiently for the birth of his child, we likewise must wait for the new birth of a brother or sister in Christ.
Our children, Lord, in faith and pray’r,
We now devote to thee;
Let them thy cov’nant mercies share,
And thy salvation see.
Such helpless babes thou didst embrace,
While dwelling here below;
To us and ours, O God of grace,
The same compassion show.
In early days their hearts secure
From worldly snares, we pray;
O let them to the end endure
In ev’ry righteous way.
(Thomas Haweis, 1808)