11. Even a child is known by his doings,† whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.
Let parents watch their children’s early habits, tempers, and doings. Generally the discerning eye will mark something in the budding of the young tree, by which the tree in maturity may be known. The child will tell what the man will be. No wise parent will pass over little faults, as if it was only a child doing childish things. Everything should be looked at as the index of the secret principle, and the work or word should be judged by the principle. If a child be deceitful, quarrelsome, obstinate, rebellious, selfish, how can we help trembling for his growth? A docile, truth-loving, obedient, generous child — how joyous is the prospect of the blossom and fruit from this hopeful budding! From the childhood of Samuel,† Timothy,† much more of the Savior,† we could not but anticipate what the manhood would be. The early purity and right principles promised abundant and most blessed fruit.
But do we mourn over the evil of our child, specially when tracing it to its original source? Oh! let it be our stimulus to earnest and persevering prayer, and to the diligent use of the appointed means for that entire change of heart and nature, which we so intensely desire. Take the child to the covenant of grace. Put the finger on the parental promise (Genesis 17:7), and plead — “Remember the word unto thy servant, whereunto thou hast caused me to hope.” (Psalm 119:49.) The answer may be delayed. But “though it tarry, wait for it. For at the end it shall come; it shall not tarry.” (Habakkuk 2:3.) Meanwhile “live by faith” (Hebrews 10:38, 39.); work in faith. Never forget that we serve “the God of Hope.” Despair not of his grace. Doubt not his faithfulness. Hold on in active energy and patient hope. The tears of despondency shall be changed into tears of joy, giving a happy glow of warmth to every tender remonstrance, and animating every prudential effort. Thus the prodigal shall yet return. “The end of the LORD” will put unbelief to shame. (James 5:11.) Sore indeed was the trial of the faith of Augustine’s mother. But most glorious was the crown of her patient wrestling constancy. And ever since has the judgment of the godly Archbishop — ‘It is impossible that the child of so many prayers could ever perish’ — been treasured up in the Church, as an axiom of accredited warrant, and cheering support.