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Parents Groans Over Their Ungodly Children

Parents Groans Over Their Ungodly Children (Part I)

The Christian community, especially the Reformed and Particular Baptist communities, have a dearth of books devoted to certain difficult subjects; domestic violence is one, rebellious children is another. I’m not exactly sure why this is so, but it’s true. It seems like Reformed and Particular Baptist believers should be the primary sources on hard subjects, but my quick searches have, for the most part, come up empty. I have however, discovered a few books, one of which I’ll discuss today.

Parents Groans Over Their Ungodly Children was penned by an English minister by the name of Edward Lawrence. He and his wife Deborah recorded the baptisms of their eight children, two of which ultimately rejected Christ and His Church. Their rejection grieved Lawrence with a profound sorrow. It’s a sorrow that laces the pages of the book he wrote for others struggling beneath that same weight. Anger, too, is a prominent feature. Lawrence’s goal here, was to reassure, to comfort, and to provide practical help.

Parents Groans Over Their Ungodly Children: Quotes & Passages

Lawrence opens with a brief word to his children. From the beginning, he notes something I think is probably true of all believing parents—we all find ourselves in a place we never dreamed possible. For Lawrence, this included authoring a book on ungodly children.

I had never been the author of a book of this title, had not two of you, but especially one, made me the father of fools.[1]

From here he passes to several practical points any Christian parent might impart to his or her child. Some of these are powerfully stated:

Let all your affairs pass through praying hearts;[2]

Be faithful in the truth, and then ye need not be afraid of yourselves or of any other. This is your greatest safety.[3]

Decline evil company. Do not go with them to hell, who will not go with you to heaven.[4]

Do what lies in you to make all persons holy and joyful, but make none sinful, angry, or sad. [5]

Exercise their love, but do not by your sins exercise their patience. Give all [persons] cause to bless God for you, but give not cause any to wish they had never known you.[6]

Kill those lusts that ye would feed with the fruit of other men’s labors.[7]

Deride and jeer no persons. Let your jests be harmless, and make not yourselves the fools of your company; but while ye are cheerful as men and women, lose not the favor of Christians.[8]

Be thankful to them who have showed mercy and kindness to me and you. Pray for them; inquire how it is with their posterity; and as ye are capable, do them good. Remember, “Thy own friend, and thy father’s friend forsake not” (Pro 27:10).[9]

Choose Him for your Father that cannot die. And as Mr. Bolton said to his children, so say I to you, “Do not dare to meet me at the Day of Judgment in an unregenerate state!”[10]


In his introduction, Lawrence makes some general remarks concerning the reality of unsaved children and the grief they cause their parents.

It is one great argument of the vanity of this world that we may be spoiled of all that is dear to us under the sun by the sins of other men.[11]

A common and sad instance of this is that the comforts of godly parents here are very much at the will and pleasure of their own children. [12]

I have seen pushback to this point. “You’ve done what you can, now let them go their own way. You’ve got to let go.” To this I reply, yes, and no. There is great value in acknowledging the limitation of my influence now that my children are older. But I’ve never yet figured out how to disconnect my heart from them. I love them. Dearly. Fiercely. And loving them, I cannot help but want Christ for them. I cannot help but long to see them on the other side of the grave, to worship with them in eternity. It is the greatest grief of my life that they refuse Him.

Had a good man all other delights that the creatures can yield and did wash his steps in butter and dip his foot in oil, nay suppose he had all the pleasures of godliness that are ordinarily attained in this life; yet he will be a man of sorrow if a wicked child make him the father of a fool.[13]

“And bitterness to her that bare him,” that is, to his good mother, called “her that bare him,” to aggravate the mother’s misery and the child’s sin. It cannot but torment the good mother to think that she did with so much sickness, pain, and sorrow bear and bring forth one that proves a child of the devil and is likely to be a firebrand of hell.[14]

To Be Continued

I hadn’t planned on making this a series but seeing as I’m pushing page 16 in my notes, it’s the obvious choice. Lawrence has so much to say, so much that ministered personally to me, and I would like to share and record it here for others.

[1] 71

[2] 74

[3] 77

[4] 82

[5] 83

[6] 92

[7] 99

[8] 102

[9] 120

[10] 125

[11] 126

[12] 127

[13] 141

[14] 155

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