THE CHILDREN FOR CHRIST.
A Faith Home.
'One cometh from the ruler's house, saying, Thy daughter is dead ; trouble not the Master. But when Jesus heard it, he answered him, saying, Fear not; believe only, and she shall be made whole.'—Ltjke viii. 49, 50.
FEAR not; only believe! to how many thousands that word has been the messenger of comfort and hope, as they struggled under the burden of sin, or sought for help in trial or difficulty! It told them that there was deliverance from fear in believing in Jesus; faith can banish fear. And yet, how many who have found a blessing in the word have forgotten that it is a word that specially belongs to parents. In every other use is but a loan; it is as parents that we have full right to it. It is Jesus, the Lord of the home, of parents and children, who speaks: Fear not, only believe. The word reminds of the needful double lesson,—in our children there is every reason for fear, in Jesus every reason for faith.
When we look at our children, there is every cause for fear. When we think of the evil nature they inherit from us, and the mighty power Satan has in this world into which they are entering, we may well fear. When we see, both in Scripture and in the world around us, how often the bright promise of childhood is blighted, and the children of a religious home depart into the ways of evil and of death, we may well fear. When we think of the dangers to which they often are exposed, in the very nurses that surround their infancy, in the little friends of their childhood, in the schools through which they must pass, in the spirit of the world with which they must come into contact, in the literature and the amusements and the business from which they cannot be kept separate, we may well fear.
And then, when we think of our children, and realize how feeble and unfit and unfaithful we are to take charge of them,the fear grows stronger whether they will indeed secure the blessing prepared for them. We know how the atmosphere we create and breathe through our home is stronger than all precept or external practice. We are deeply conscious of how much there still is of worldliness and selfishness, how much that is not in the fulness of the Spirit and the love of God; and we tremble at the thought of how our children may suffer from our lack of grace. We have reason to fear: would God that there were more of earnest, heartyfear of the power of sin and death!
To such the word of Jesus comes: Tear not; only believe. Only believe: for faith is the one condition through which the power and the salvation of God are given. Only believe: for it is by faith that we throw ourselves and our children on Jesus and secure His blessing. Only believe: let faith look upon God's covenant with us and our seed, and see how He engages to give us all the grace we need as parents, as well as all the grace our children need. Only believe: it is faith that is the mighty renewing power in a man's life that teaches him to obey, and do all that God has commanded. Only believe: this is the one thing Jesus asks of the parent who truly seeks his child's deliverance from sin and death, and fears lest he fail of securing it.
This is now the one lesson we must seek to learn, that of a parent who has come to Christ with his child the first duty is faith. Just as with the penitent sinner, or the believer seeking more grace, all things are possible to him that believeth. Our domestic, as our personal life, must be a life of faith. We must not only have the heart, but the home too, purified by faith. Faith is the one thing God asks for in His children; and if the family constitution be indeed Divine, and a holy parentage God's first means of grace to the little ones, we cannot be too earnest in reminding each other that parental faith is the only spring of parental duty and parental obedience, parental happiness and parental blessing. Only believe! must be written on the doorposts of our homes. It must be the animating power of all we are and do for our children. It must indeed be, in the fullest sense of the word, our only care and aim: Jesus said, Only believe.
To realize this truth, it may be well to remember what God's Word says of faith and its actings in that portion so specially devoted to it (Heb. xi.). There we read: Faith understands; faith offers a more excellent sacrifice; faith pleases God; faith saves the household; faith obeys when it is called; faith receives strength to bear a child; faith offers up the child; faith blesses the children; faith hides the little one; faith saves the first-born. Faith is first the spiritual understanding that receives the revelation of God and His purpose; it hears His voice; it listens to His call; it believes His promises. Then it is a Divine energy, a living principle of action that carries out God's will, and inherits all His blessing. And that it is very specially the parent's grace we see in what is said of Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Jacob, Moses' parents, and Moses. It was in each case faith that made it possible, made it simple and easy, as parents, to do what made them the channels of a Divine blessing to their children.
And so still the power to understand God's purpose with our children, to save our household, to obey God's will in all its rule, to offer our children to God, to bless our sons, and to save them from the destroyer, depends upon our faith. The living Christ, in whom is our salvation and our strength, every needed blessing and grace for us and our children,—it is He who speaks, Only believe. It is in the knowledge of what He is, it is in His presence, that such a faith is possible and must prevail. Has He not, if we are indeed His, redeemed our children as well as ourselves from the power of sin 1 Has He not come to make the covenant of promise, 'thy God and the God of thy house,' a brighter and fuller reality than ever it was to Abraham? Has He not secured for us, in the Holy Spirit, a power from on high to fulfil every obligation that rests on us as God's children, this one, too, of keeping our children for Him to whom we belong? lias He not made true all the promises given of old, of God's Spirit upon our offspring, of God's Word not departing from the mouth of our seed's seed for evermore, in that one word on the day of Pentecost, 'the promise is to you and to your children'? Can we not count upon Him to give for us and each child just what we need, if only we believe?
'Only believe:' let us take the command literally; faith has never yet been disappointed. Living faith will teach us to see new beauty and preciousness in our children. Living faith will waken in us new earnestness and desire in everything to hold and to train them for God alone. Living faith will give its own hopeful and confiding tone to all our intercourse with God for them, and all our intercourse with them too. The name of Faith Home has been appropriated to certain special institutions; we shall boldly claim it as the name of our own dear home, because everything is done in the faith of Jesus. The birth of our children, and our love to them, our prayer with and for them, our watching against their sins and our reproving them, our teaching and training, their lessons and employments and pleasure,—all will be under the inspiring and regulating power of this: Only believe.
It need hardly be said that such a faith life in the home is not possible without the faith life in the heart. We cannot be to our children more than we are to God. 'It is no longer I that live, but Christ that liveth in me j I live by the faith of the Son of God:' this must be the language of the father, the mother, who would have theirs a faith home. It is not only in moments of special need and prayer, or when we are in direct contact with the children, that Jesus says, Only believe. No, day by day, hour by hour, it must be, I live by the faith of the Son of God.
Christian parent! this life is for you. Learn only with each new morning to say: For this day I accept Jesus for all my duties as believer and as parent. Commit simply, commit fully to Him every duty, every difficulty, every circumstance, every moment, and say then confidently, I know in whom I have believed. It is He who spake to me as parent the blessed word, Only believe; and I am persuaded that what I have committed to Him He is able to keep. This is the blessed secret of a faith life and a faith home.
Blessed Saviour! I thank Thee for this precious word. I have long heard and understood that it is by faith alone the sinner is saved. I have begun to understand and experience something of what it is that a saved sinner is to live entirely by faith, and every hour to receive from Thee the life Thou hast engaged to live in him. Lord, teach me the additional lesson that in the homelife faith is just as much the power of blessing, and that in all my intercourse with my family Thy word still is, Fear not, only believe. O Jesus, Thou art not only the sinner's, but the parent's, Friend; in nothing wilt Thou delight so much to reveal Thy saving and sanctifying power as in the family life which Thou hast redeemed to the service of Thy kingdom.
O my Lord! I do pray Thee to teach me and all parents how impossible it is to train our children aright, or be a blessing to them, except as we live the life of faith. Open our eyes to see all that Thou offerest to our faith, and how our love to them, our influence on them, our education and our training, may all be inspired and purified and perfected by the faith in the power of Thy finished redemption and Thy abiding presence. Show us how all our own feebleness and our fears, all the waywardness of our children and all the wickedness in the world that tempts them, can be fully met by Thy power and Thy love, if we only trust Thee. O Lord Jesus! do teach us to know Thee as the Saviour of our children from their very birth, and in the homes we have to form for them. And let our whole life and intercourse with them, day by day, every day and all the day, be in the faith of the Son of God, who loved us, and gave Himself for us. Amen.