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grateful treatment from you ; but as it will, through grace, secure to you, their dear offspring, the entertainments of a religious life, and the prospects of a glorious immortality.'
These reflections will give them inexpressible pleasure in a variety of circumstances. Their daily converse with you will be more agrecable to them, than it could otherwise be, when they discern the lively impressions of religion upon your spirits, and perceive that you have a relish for those truths and promises of the gospel, which are their joy and Song in the house of their pilgrimage*. It will sometimes add a sweetness to the social exercises of devotion, to think that your souls are engaged with theirs, and regaled with the same sublime and transporting entertainments. And when they have reason to apprehend that you are retired for the duties of the closet, it will cheer their hearts to think, “ Now is my child with his heavenly Father. Now has he separated himself from those vain amusements, which most of the same age pursue, that he may converse with God and his own soul, and be prepared for the business and the pleasures of heaven. And I hope, God is smiling upon him, and teaching him, hy happy experience, that those pious labours are not in vain.”
With such consolations will their hearts be supported in all the occurrences, which providence may allot, either to you, or them. If they meet with prosperity in their worldly affairs, and have a prospect of leaving you in plentiful circumstances, it will be a satisfaction to them to think, that they shall not consign their estates to those, who will meanly hoard up the income of them, or throw it away in foolish and hurtful lusts ; but to persons who will consider themselves as the stewards of God, and will endeavour to use what he has given to them for the honour of their Lord, and the good of mankind. Or if they can give you but little, this thought will relieve them, that they commend
you to the care of a guardian and a father, who is able abundantly to supply your necessities, and who has engaged, by the promises of his covenant, that Those who fear him shall want no good thingt. They will have the pleasure to think, that, how low soever your outward condition may be, you will be rich in grace, and in the entertainments of religion now, and in the glories of the heavenly inheritance at last. When they are themselves sinking under the decays of nature, their vigour and cheerfulness will be renewed in yours: Or should yours be impaired by an afflictive providence, they will have the satisfaction of believing, that those afflictions proceed from a divine love, and shall at length turn to your advantage. It will revive their hearts in their dying moments to think, that when they are sleeping in the dust, you will stand up in their places, and support the interest of God in the world, with a fidelity and zeal perhaps superior to theirs. Or if an afflictive stroke should take you away before them, they will not mourn over your graves, As those that have no hope* Faith will teach them to mingle praises with their tears, while it assures them, that though dead to them, you are living with God in glory; that you are preferred to an attendance on his throne above, where they may hope shortly to meet you on the most advantageous terms.
Psal. cxix. 54.
* Psal. xxxiv. 9. lxxxiv, 11.
This is but a faint and imperfect description of the satisfaction, which your parents would find in your early piety. And it follows from hence, as a necessary consequence, that if they see you grow up in the neglect of religion, it will pierce their hearts with proportionable sorrow.
It is possible, that you may arrive at such a daring degree of wickedness, as to treat them with negligence and contempt, or perhaps to answer all their melting expostulations with insults and rage. Such ungrateful and rebellious monsters we have heard of; and would to God, that every parent in this assembly could say, that he had only heard of them! But should you preserve some sense of humanity and decency; nay, should you behave towards them in the most dutiful and obliging manner, yet they must still mourn over you; and even your tenderness and complaisance to them would sometimes come in to add a more sensible anguish to their affliction. It would cut them to the heart to think, that such dear, and, in other respects, amiable children, were still the enemies of God, and the heirs of destruction. When they heard the vengeance of God denounced against sinners, and read the awful threatnings of his word, they would tremble to think, that those terrible thunders were levelled against you. How little could they rejoice in that health, or plenty, which they saw you were abusing to your aggravated ruin! And how would they be terrified when any distemper seized you, lest it should be the messenger to bear you away to eternal misery! If they were themselves dying, how mournfully must they take their leave of you, in the apprehension of seeing you no more till the day of accounts, and seeing you then in ignoming and horror at the left hand of the judge! Or if they saw you removed by an early death, to what hopeless sorrows would they be abandoned! With what unknown agonies would they adopt that pathetic lamentation of David, Oh my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom, would to God I had died for thee! Oh Absalom, my son, my son* !
* 1 Thess. iv. 13.
By such a variety of considerations does it appear, that the comfort and happiness of your pious parents does very much depend upon your temper and behaviour. And the arguinent is confirmed by the repeated testimony of the wisest of men, under the influence of the divine spirit. He tells us again and again, that A wise son maketh a glad father t; that Whoso loveth wisdom rejoiceth his fathers; and that The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice ; and he that begetteth a wise child, shall have joy of him ş. On the other hand, he tells us, that A foolish son is the heaviness of his mother || : And though the tenderness of her sex may make the mother peculiarly sensible of the affiction, yet it is not confined to her; for he tells us elsewhere, that A foolish son is a grief to his father, as well as bitterness to her that bare him **; yea, A foolish son is the calamity of his father+t: And once more, He that begetteth a fool, doth it to his sorrow; and the father of a fool has no joy II; for the wickedness of his son impairs his relish for the other enjoyments of life.
Such a multitude of passages to the same purpose. seem intended to teach us the importance, as well as the certainty of the argument. And it is more than hinted at in those remarkable words, My son, if thy heart be wise, my heart shall rejoice, even mine gg: As if he had said, Make a serious pause, and diligently weigh the importance of that thought, that thy piety will be an inexpressible joy to me, to thy father. And then, as if that were not enough, it is immediately added, Yea, my
reins also shall rejoice, shall feel unutterable pleasure diffusing itself through all the secret recesses of my soul, when thy lips speak right things ||II, which may manifest an heart under the influence of prudence, and of religion.
And let me intreat you, my friends, to reflect for a few moments on the weight of the argument, that you may judge whether it will not bear all the stress which Solomon lays upon it. The happiness of your parents is in question ; and can you slight that ? Consider how much you owe to your parents, as they were the instruments of your being, and bave been under God, the principal support of it. Think of the tenderness with which they watched around your cradles, and of the many kind offices which they performed for you in your helpless infancy; which parental tenderness, made delightful to them, when hardly any thing else could have made them tolerable. Think how liberally they have long contributed towards the supply of your wants; and in how many instances they have denied themselves, that they might gratify you. Think how they have rejoiced with you in your joys, and mourned with you in your sorrows; how they have been terrified at your real dangers; and perhaps often disquieted with those timorous apprehensions, which fondness, rather than reason, has suggested to them. And under the impression of these reflections, say, whether it may not reasonably be expected, that you should have a most affectionate regard to their repose and comfort, and think with horror of becoming their grief and their torment.
* 2 Sam. xviii. 33, + Prov. x. 1. xv. 20. | Prov. xxix. 3.
Prov. xxiii. 24. | Prov. x, 1. ** Prov. xvi. 25. ++ Prov. xix. 13, 11 Prov. xvii. 21.
Prov. xxiii. 15. See the like emphatical form of speaking, ver. 24, 25. HH Prov xxii. 16.
I may add, that as the parents of some amongst you are declining under the infirmities of age, and on that account the objects of a respectful compassion to all, they should be so especially to you who are their children ; for it may be, these infirmities have been hastened upon them bx an excess of tenderness and concern for you. And will you Add afflictions to the afflicted, and bring down with sorrow to the grave* those venerable hoary heads, which you have perhaps made grey before their time? Surely you must abhor the thought, or God and man must abhor
you. But I would not entertain so harsh a suspicion; I charitably hope, that you are not only impressed with this consideration, but will likewise be somewhat concerned, when you hear : 3. That the comfort and happiness of faithful ministers will
be greatly affected by the character of the rising generation.
St. John assures The elect lady, that he rejoiced greatly, when he found her children walking in the trutht; and a variety of arguments concur to prove, that no pious minister can be indifferent in the case before us,
If we have any thing of humanity and generosity in our tempers, we must be concerned for your seriousness, on account
Gen. xli, 38.
+ % John ver. 4.
of that influence which it has on the happiness of all about you, and particularly on that of your christian parents. Many of them are the ornaments and glory of our assemblies, and the most dear and intimate of our friends; we are obliged therefore to take part with them in their sorrows and their joys, with relation to you their children. It must sensibly afflict us to see, that while their wisdom and their piety might command the reverence and the love of all that know them, enemies should arise against them out of their own houses, and that even the children of their bowels should prove their tormentors : Those dear children, from whom they fondly promised themselves the delight and support of their declining years. And, when they come and tell us the tender story, when they freely open to us their sorrows and their fears on your account, and carnestly beg our prayers for you, that whatever they suffer, you may not be for ever undone, we are hardly able to stand it; but nature, as well as religion, teaches us to echo back their sighs, and to return their tears.
Thus we are concerned for the rising generation, as we sympathize with those whose happiness is apparently affected by it : But besides this, you may easily apprehend, that much of the comfort of our lives does immediately depend upon And this will be peculiarly obvious with regard to those of Us, who are in our younger years, and are entering on the work of God amongst you*.
Should God spare us to future years, we nust expect to survive many of our aged friends; and when your parents are gone, whither must we look for the comfort of our remaining days, but to you their children? And must it not wound us to the heart, to see a Generation of vipers rising up, instead of those pious friends, with whom We have taken sweet counsel together, and gone to the house of God in companyt? Can we easily bear to see the temples and altars of God forsaken, or to see them attended only by wretched hypocrites, who wear the Form of godliness, while they are strangers and enemies to the Power of its? Must we lose the pleasure of addressing you in public, as true christians, on the most comfortable and joyful subjects of discourse ; and be obliged continually to speak to you in thunders, as those who have no right to the consola
• N. B. This was the case of the author when this sermon was preached at Kibworth, May 18, 1724, † Psal, lv. 14,
I Tiui, üi. 5.