Father and mother, if I am damned — it is by copying the example you placed before me!
(Archibald Brown, "Do Not Sin Against the Child!" 1870)
"Do not sin against the child!" Genesis 42:22
One way of sinning against a child is by bad example. The characters of the parents are carefully watched and imitated by their children.
You profess, dear friend, to be a Christian, and your child knows you are a member of this church. He has seen you partake of the Lord's supper — and then, when you have gone home, he has in a moment detected the discrepancy between your behavior at church — and your daily life at home. The angry temper — the selfish spirit — the worldly conversation — all these have been so many sins against the child! By some evil example seen by them in early life, an impression may be made upon their souls, the effects of which will remain to their dying day — and beyond!
Oh, how dreadful the thought, that by our own hypocritical lives we may be sinning against the little darlings we often feel we could die for. God forbid, that at the last great day, any of our children should turn to us with blanched cheek and say, "Father and mother, if I am damned — it is by copying the example you placed before me!"
You may also sin against the child by neglecting the means of its salvation. Do you have to confess before the Lord, that the eternal interests of your children find but a small space in your PRAYERS? O do not sin so against the child — he is worth praying for!
What are you DOING to try and bring them to Jesus? Do you ever, with the tear in your eye, tell them of the love of Jesus? Have you ever tried to show them their need of a Savior, and pointed them to Him who said, "Let the little children to come to Me?"
These are solemn questions, for I say to you dear parents in all love and from the very depths of my heart, "If you neglect the means for bringing your little ones to Christ, you are sinning against the child — and his blood will be required of you!" "If you do not teach them — the devil will."
O friends, it is a crying shame, that in our prayer meetings there are to be found men who pray as if they were dying to see the world converted — and yet never pray for their own children! It is a sad, sad fact that there are many who seem wondrously in earnest about the conversion of strangers — who yet let their own children go to Hell without a warning or entreaty!