By Evan D. Burns
Writing in a letter to his sons who were studying in Worcester, Adoniram Judson pled with them to relentlessly pursue God. This warm letter exemplifies his affection for Jesus, his heavenly-minded spirituality, his consecrated piety, and his evangelistic spirit. Moreover, Judson’s earnest words serve as an extraordinary window into his fatherly heart, which is not always demonstrated clearly by his numerous biographers. If I had one letter to write to my sons, would I say this?
Is it possible that I have letters from you at last? I had waited so long that I began to think it would never be. And I am so glad to hear of your welfare, and especially that you have both been under religious impressions, and that Elnathan begins to entertain a hope in Christ! O, this is the most blessed news. Go on, my dear boys, and not rest until you have made your calling and election sure. I believe that you both and Abby Ann will become true Christians, and meet me in heaven; for I never pray without praying for your conversion, and I think I pray in faith. Go to school, attend to your studies, be good scholars, try to get a good education; but, O, heaven is all. Life, life, eternal life! Without this, without an interest in the Lord of life, you are lost, lost forever. Dear Adoniram, give your heart at once to the Saviour. Don’t go to sleep without doing it. Try, try for your life. Don’t mind what anybody may say to the contrary, nor how much foolish boys may laugh at you. Love the dear Saviour, who has loved you unto death. Dear sons, so soon as you have a good hope in Christ that your sins are pardoned, and that Christ loves you, urge your pastor and the church to baptize and receive you into communion. They will hold back, thinking you are too young, and must give more evidence. But don’t be discouraged. Push on. Determine to do it. Determine to stand by Christ, come what will. That is the way to get to heaven. . . . Will Elnathan tell me what little book it was that was so much blessed to him? I have forgotten what I sent him. I have sent you copies of your mother’s Memoir. You will be delighted to read it, so beautifully and so truthfully is it written. Ever love to cherish the memory of your own dear mother—how much she loved you to the last gasp—and prepare to follow her to heaven.
Your fond father,
Edward Judson, The Life of Adoniram Judson, 523; Quoted also in Francis Wayland, A Memoir of the Life and Labors of the Rev. Adoniram Judson, 2:307-308.
Evan D. Burns (Ph.D. Candidate, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is on faculty at Asia Biblical Theological Seminary, and he lives in Thailand with his wife and twin sons. They are missionaries with Training Leaders International.