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parents bestow more care on their cattle than on their children's souls: they give their children nature, but deny them nurture: yea, they propagate corruption to them, but do not travail over them till Christ be formed in them: they glory in being fathers of their flesh, but cry not to the Father of spirits for the best, the spiritual life of their children. They promise at their baptism, to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, but know not what that meaneth, and have no heart to learn, that they may teach. Oh what account will these perjured parents give another day? Remember, God will call you to account, what answer will you give, when he shall say? "Where is the child's soul, that I committed to thy trust? what care hast thou taken of it? where are thy tears, prayers, groans, yearnings of bowels for thine own? didst thou not know that thy child had a soul? that its soul was polluted with sin? that it must be born again not only of water but of the Spirit; or it could not be saved? that though I was to be the efficient cause, yet thou must be the instrument to begin and carry on this work, and hast thou done any thing in this concern by faithful endeavours? or hast thou earnestly desired me to do that for thy child which thou couldst not? thou knowest thou hast done neither, and therefore thy child's blood shall be required at thy hands." What apology wilt thou then make for thyself? Dost thou think to come off by saying, I sent him to school to learn, or to the minister to be catechised? this is more than some will do, but is this all? is not paternal care thy personal duty? wast not thou charged with thy child's soul? may not God justly blast other teachers' pains as a punishment of thy negligence? and doth not thy bad example at home counteract all that others teach them? Woe, woe, to such wicked parents!
In the name of God I charge you, as you will not have your children accuse and reprobate you in hell for ever, concern yourselves deeply about their everlasting state; think, they can never do well, if they do not well for another world: they will never be dutiful to you, till they be obedient to God: train them up for God, and you consult at once God's glory, the good of the church and commonwealth, your own comfort, and their eternal felicity: true grace qualifies persons for every con
dition for he that is really good will be relatively good-a good king or subject, father or child, master or servant. Heathens knew this, that the way to form persons into a due mould of civil subjection is a literary and virtuous education: thus the king of Babylon conquering Judah ordered the king's seed and princes to be trained up in the learning of the Chaldeans:* and our own history tells us, that when the Romans conquered this island, Julius Agricola brought noblemen's sons to Rome, and caused them to be educated in liberal sciences, whereby they gradually tamed the furious temper of the Britons, so that the inhabitants here became of gentle spirit, and peaceable subjects: much more will Christianity and true piety bring persons into regular habits: it expels barbarity and produceth civility, hospitality, frugality, and yet a discreet liberality: a divine benediction is entailed upon sincere religion: "Godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come."+ If your children be pious they will be fit for any thing, and all things will conduce to their good.
And you, O children, suffer a word of exhortation from one who hath had experience of childhood, youth, and riper age, and is arrived at old age, who hath been a teacher of others above forty years, and may say to you as Augustus did to his mutinous army, "Hear me, young men, whom once when young old men heard and obeyed."‡ God forbid you should be headstrong sons of Belial, yokeless, and so run headlong into the pit of destruction. Be not like the wild ass's colt, break not through parents' tears, prayers, counsels, and commands, to make your way to hell: alas! that any young persons should desperately withstand the persuasions of ministers, the suggestions of the Spirit, the checks of their own consciences, the sad warnings of their undone companions, and the rod of God on their own backs, and haste through all these to the pit, without ever stopping till they be swallowed up in that infernal lake which burns with fire and brimstone: you will say, what will you have us to do? I answer, act as rational creatures, enure yourselves to solemn consideration: consider that you are creatures of a
Dan. i. 3, 4.
+ 1 Tim. iv. 8.
Audite me, juvenes, quem juvenem senes audierunt.
higher rank than brutes, that you have never-dying souls, that God made you to glorify and enjoy him; that he hath given you a rule to act by, in order to reach another state in another world, that sin hath depraved your natures, hath deprived you of God's image, and brought you under his curse; that Christ came to redeem sinners, that saving faith doth interest souls in Christ, and that faith is the gift of God; that in your baptism you were engaged to forsake the world, the flesh, and the devil; consider your sins since you were baptized, confess them to God; review and renew your baptismal vow, actually renounce all other claimants, and give up yourselves to the Lord, understandingly, deliberately, universally, and perpetually; regard Jesus Christ, as the way, the truth, and the life; espouse his interests; associate with God's people; obey all his commands; attend on him in all his ordinances; be sure you be sincere; exercise every grace; aim at perfection; keep a constant watch over your hearts and ways, maintaining a daily warfare against all spiritual enemies; prepare for death; and consider where you must lodge when the king of terrors lays his cold hand of arrest upon you; and make your accounts straight against that great reckoning day; especially be sure you put on Christ, and employ him as your advocate, that he may answer for you at that day.
These things I do but touch; for my great design is, to quicken and encourage parents on the behalf of their posterity; some of whom are left to themselves by the Lord to go astray, which occasioned Mr. Laurence's excellent Treatise on Parents' Groans; nor is it his case only, but many others also, some particular instances are fresh in our memory, which have brought some pious parents' grey hairs with sorrow to the grave. Some well known servants of God having never seen any hopeful symptoms of grace upon some or any of their children in their life time, and having on this account sad temptations to question the truth of God in his covenant; yet even in the very pangs of death they have embraced and clasped hard this blessed word, dying in the hopes of its efficacy for themselves and theirs; and the subject being recommended to me, was accordingly treated in a funeral discourse, which upon request, I was willing to transcribe, for the encouragement of poor afflicted
parents, who are bowed down with heart grief for their offending children. I confess the subject is novel and singular, and such as I have not seen any treatise upon: and having walked in an untrodden path, I hope I may obtain a pardon from God and man for any erratic movement, whilst the tendency is God's glory and the good of souls.
I hope none will reject this Treatise, because it seems a limited subject, as if they were not concerned in it, for as it is handled it extends to all, parents and children; yea such as have no 'children, are dealt with in this small Treatise, for their instruction and consolation. Such as it is I commend to believing, praying parents, following it with my poor prayers, that all the children of the covenant, may be covenanted souls, and that parents may be comforted with the grace of God in their posterity, and both may meet in glory; and if any reap and receive any advantage, I have my reward, and do humbly beg the incessant prayers of all that can pray,
poor servant of Christ and the church,
DYING PARENTS' LIVING HOPES
2 SAM. XXIII. 5.
Although my house be not so with God, yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure: for this is all my salvation, and all my desire, although he make it not to grow.
THESE words contain dying David's living comfort. The covenant was the only cordial to his fainting spirits; when the world looked dark about him, here light ariseth out of obscurity; just as it was with Oecolampadius when dying, and putting his hand on his breast, he cried, here is light enough:* so like David, a believer looking above, sees all good in the covenant; looking within, he sees the counterpart of it, and saith, here, here alone is light, by his light I walk through darkness. This shall be my vade mecum, my companion through this pilgrimage of the world, and this only shall be my viaticum, my support and supply when I pass through the valley of Hîc sat lucis. + Job xxix. 3.