("Parental Solicitude" being a letter of James Smith to his children)
My dear children,
As your parent, I feel deeply concerned for both your present and everlasting welfare. Great will be my sorrow and distress — to see you associated with the worldly, the careless, or the profane — and to look forward with the fear of being everlastingly separated from you! O what an idea — to be separated forever! the parent enjoying unutterable blessedness — but the child enduring unspeakable, unending woe!
With all the solemn realities of eternity before me I write, and with the deepest solicitude I beg your attention. Allow me first, my dear child, to call your attention to the infinite value of your immortal SOUL. You have a soul which is immortal, destined to live forever. Live it must, live it will, and live forever; but it is capable of enduring most dreadful, fearful, and never-ending torments!
I tell you from the mouth of God —
that you have an immortal soul;
that there is a glorious heaven — and a dreadful hell;
that one or the other must be your eternal abode;
and I beseech you to consider seriously, reflect in time, and flee from the wrath to come!
Your nature is entirely depraved, and always has been! You were conceived in sin, shaped in iniquity, and brought forth under the curse of God! You have grown up hitherto in a sinful state:
every thought of your heart,
every word you have spoken,
every action you have performed,
is more or less sinful.
Your heart is a fountain so corrupt, that nothing pure can possibly proceed from it. God, says of your heart, my child, that it is "deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked!" Every variety of sin and wickedness lurks there! It may be concealed from your view, but yet it is there; and if temptation should present itself, or the Lord takes off his restraints — it would soon make its dreadful appearance.
There never was a sin committed by the vilest malefactor, or a crime perpetrated by the greatest monster of iniquity — but the seed of that sin or crime is to be found in your heart! "For from within, out of the heart," says Jesus, "proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, thefts, covetousness, wickedness; deceit, lust, an evil eye, pride, blasphemy, foolishness! All these evil things come from within and defile a man!" Well then may the Apostle say, "The carnal mind is enmity against God — for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be! So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God!"
Do you think that it is possible, my dear child, for anything good to come from a heart like this? But just such a heart is yours — and the reason you do not know it, is because spiritual darkness and ignorance are spread over your soul; the eyes of your understanding are darkened, and you are hardened through the deceitfulness of sin!