"Dread the Sinfulness of an Unchanged Heart!"

My dear Wilberforce,

Shall I have no cause of heartache at my return, when I inquire how my child has behaved; how he attended to his learning; how he has adhered to truth in his words? Shall I be comforted with the glad tidings that your heart, and your conscience, and your ways, all seem to partake of a happy influence, that you show your love to mamma by keeping her commandments, that you pray to God to forgive your sins and hourly offences? Do the four walls of your little chamber bear witness to your prayers and supplications for yourself and me? Do the sun’s rays, as they early penetrate your window in the morning, find you early and active to rise, to read, to labor, and to seek to grow in grace? (... a description of a thunderstorm forms occasion for the following exhortations.)

But what is this lightning compared with that which made Moses quake and tremble at Mount Sinai? Or what were even the latter, when contrasted with those of God’s wrath against sinners? Thunder and lightning is a fine emblem of divine justice and threatenings. You have need to "flee from the wrath to come." "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." The wicked, and all the people that forget God, shall be turned into hell. Do you forget Him? If so, what shall be your portion? If you say you do not forget Him, how do you prove it?

"I see the right and approve it, yet pursue the wrong" is the character of too many nominal (name) Christians. I would not have it to be yours. An enlightened but unconverted mind has eyes and tongue to approve what is right; but the feet follow the paths of evil. A converted heart alone walks in the steps of Him who is "the way, the truth, and the life." Say

To me, 0 Lord, be Thou "the way."

To me, be Thou "the truth."

To me, 0 Savior, be "the life,"

Thou Guardian of my youth.

So shall that "way" be my delight,

That "truth" shall make me free.

That "life" shall raise me from the dead,

And then I’ll live to thee.

I sincerely hope you are beginning to be truly sensible of the danger of sin and the necessity of seeking the Lord

very early. Your life is an uncertainty, at best; occasional indispositions [cross-providences] should remind you that you may never arrive at man’s estate [adulthood]. If you are to die a boy, we must look for a boy’s religion, a boy’s knowledge, a boy’s faith, a boy’s Savior, a boy’s salvation. Or else we must look for a boy’s ignorance, a boy’s obstinacy, a boy’s unbelief, a boy’s idolatry, a boy’s destruction. Remember all this and beware of sin. Dread the sinfulness of an unchanged heart. Pray for a new one, pray for grace and pardon, and a soul conformed to the image of Christ Jesus. Pray for wisdom, for the destruction of pride, vain conceit, and self-sufficiency. "Be not slothful in business; but fervent in spirit, serving the Lord."

Friends here inquire after you; but it is in the full hope that you go on well, creditably, obediently, industriously, humbly, and Christianly. Love to all, from

Your affectionate father,

Rev. Legh Richmond