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7. Another encouraging word to parents with respect to their children is, that principles of grace and a profession of godliness shall continue to future generations, Isa. lix. 21, "As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the Lord, my Spirit that is upon thee and my words which I have put in thy mouth shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and for ever." This is a large and long-lasting charter; God's spirit within his children, and the owning of his name with their lips, and this for ever! What can godly parents desire more? Whether this spirit import a spirit of prophecy or a spirit of sanctification, surely it is a rich kindness, that it shall run in this straight line and channel to many generations, that the name of God, as well as your name may be kept up in your family perpetually when you are dead and gone; O happy parents that have such children! happy children that had such parents! and blessed be God that embraceth both in the bosom of the covenant! That is a soul supporting word in Haggai ii. 5, " According to the word that I covenanted with" your fathers, even with "you, when you came out of Egypt, so my Spirit remaineth among you;" fear ye not, be not daunted, there were as many and great obstructions in the way of mercy then as now, yet grace overcame them, and I have not taken away my Spirit from you notwithstanding your multiplied provocations for two thousand years, but still it is among you and shall continue to many generations may not faith triumph in this promise?
8. The children of pious parents shall excite particular observation, Isa. lxi. 8, 9, "I will make an everlasting covenant with them, and their seed shall be among the Gentiles," that is, Gentile churches," and
their offspring among the people, all that see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which the Lord hath blessed." Men shall say to each other, do you not see the faithful child of such a believing father? O how many a precious day have we had with such a one's father, mother, or grandfather! this is the pious child of a zealous father, you see it is not in vain to seek and serve God, I remember the prayers and tears poured out for his child, and I see the blessed fruit thereof; God is a prayer hearing God: of some children we may say, as Paul to Timothy, 2 Tim. i. 5. "When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice, and I am persuaded that in thee also." His grandmother's name was Lois, which signifies better, his mother's name Eunice, signifying victor, and Timothy is the fear of God. If parents choose the better part, God will give them victory over the world, sin, and Satan; yea, they shall have power with God, and have God-fearing children, in whom others will observe and admire the grace of God.
9. Children's children to many generations are remembered with covenant kindness: so in the second commandment, Exod. xx. 6, "Showing mercy unto thousands," that is, of generations, "of them that love me and keep my commandments.*" This is transcendent mercy, punishment extending but to three or four of them, verse 5; you will say, mercy and justice are God's two arms, is the one longer than the other? Answer, no, they are equally infinite, but he maketh his church to feel more of his mercy than of his justice, "with the Lord there is mercy," why so? because "with him is plenteous redemption," Psal. cxxx.
* Deut. vii. 9.
7. It is a covenant of grace, and Christ interposeth as mediator of it: O the overflowings of free grace to many generations! Psal. ciii. 17, 18, "But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children." Mark it, it is called righteousness, to shew it is a discharge of his obligatian, by which he hath in some sort bound himself to parents to do good to their posterity, for it was mercy to Abraham to make a covenant, but it is truth and faithfulness to perform it to Jacob, and his rising seed many years after; as it is founded in his eternal purpose, and continues to eternity; and this is the reason of our hopes for the calling of the Jews, because they are beloved for their fathers' sake, or rather because of God's covenant with their ancestors, Rom. xi. 27, 28. O what encouragement is this to parents that God will not utterly cast off their seed, but will resume thoughts of love to them at last!
10. God will restore the wandering children of his people by seasonable and sanctified correction; † Psal. lxxxix. 29-35, "If his children forsake my law and walk not in my judgments," that is, if they forfeit the privileges promised, by non-performance of the conditions, "then will I visit their transgression with a rod, and their iniquity with stripes, nevertheless my loving kindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail." God hath adopted affliction to be a branch of covenant affection; it is a promise, I will visit, not so much a threatening, for in faithfulness he afflicts his children; he will not take so much pains with a slave as with a son;t he will make his children thank God for a chastisement; Lord, saith a godly parent, bring home my child though it + 2 Sam. vii. 14, 15. Psal. cxix. 75.
* Mic. vii. 20.
be by weeping cross; starve my prodigal son, or feed him with husks, that he may reflect on his father's plenteous table; afflict his body rather than suffer his soul to perish; cast him on a sick bed, rather than cast him into hell; let his purgatory be here and his heaven hereafter. Now our gracious God answers his children's prayers; good Hezekiah's prayers for his extravagant son Manasseh were answered by God's taking him among the thorns, binding him with fetters, and carrying him to Babylon, till he had humbled him to purpose, and made him know that Jehovah was God, 2 Chron. xxxiii. 11-13. Doubtless the natural as well as the spiritual father of the prodigal will welcome home the child, though broken on the wheel.
11. The covenant engageth for a blessing on parents' instruction and correction of their erring children: this is of great use, (1.) For instruction, Prov. xxii. 6, "Train up a child in the way he should go;" there is the parent's duty, do thy duty to set him right in the beginning of his way, so some read it, "and when he is old he will not depart from it," that is, not easily, or ordinarily, as if he had said, if thou that art the father wilt do thy duty faithfully, I will undertake to do my part; set thou their faces in the right road, and I will keep them in it; I will bless thy instructions, admonitions, counsels, and example, see Gen. xviii. 19, God saith of Abraham, "I know him that he will command his children, and his household after him;" you will say, what is he better for that? they will choose whether they will obey or not; nay, God saith, but I will undertake for them, "and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment." His labour shall not be in vain; I live, saith God, to make his words take impression on his surviving children, when he is dead? (2.) For correction you have a remarkable
promise, Prov. xxiii. 13, 14, "Withhold not correction from the child, for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die," I will take care of him; "thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell." O blessed scourging! surely such a scourge as fetcheth blood is easier than hell torments; but a benediction shall be upon that correction. That is a cruel parent, who would rather see his child a flaming faggot in the scorching fire, than try to whip folly out of him, that is cruel pity, better he should cry here, than wail hereafter, yea and curse thee for ever, who wouldst not speak a word or give him a tap, to prevent these intolerable torments. O the good that seasonable correction may do! if thou prevail not to make thy child good, yet thou wilt have comfort in the discharge of thy duty, there is good hope of both by the blessing of God, Prov. xxix. 17, "Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest, yea he shall give delight unto thy soul;" yet take this caution, that these promises must not be understood absolutely, necessarily, and universally producing this effect, but ordinarily so it is, and this is a sufficient motive to parents to do their duty, and encouragement therein.
12. The last encouragement to parents from the covenant of God, with respect to their surviving children, is, that God will take care of their outward concerns in the world, Prov. xx. 7; "the just man walketh in his integrity, his children are blessed after him," if their father hath not heaped up riches by cunning and covetous devices, and so leaves them but little in the world, yet he hath left them in the hands of a good Father, who will take care of them, when their earthly parents are gone; for this blessed covenant is not confined to the persons of the pious, but entailed on their posterity, Psal. cxii. 1, 2, "Blessed is the man that