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feareth the Lord, that delighteth greatly in his commandments, his seed shall be mighty upon earth, the generation of the upright shall be blessed." Correspondent with this, I call to mind an anecdote, told me by a reverend minister in London, who knew a poor and pious preacher in Wiltshire, that had many children, and little to maintain them, one asked him, how he thought they could shift when he was gone, he answered, I am not at all afraid about that, I am more afraid for them if they should ride up and down London streets in their coaches; which came to pass, for some of them came to be aldermen of that famous city. Our frequent experience confirms this truth, that God takes care of his upright-hearted servants' seed when they are laid in the dust; let us remember holy David's observation, Psal. xxxvii. 25, "I have been young, and now am old, yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread." If there have been some few exceptions, yet these do not destroy the truth of a general proposition; howbeit temporal promises were more express and positive to the Jews of old, than to Christians in the times of the gospel, which consists more in spiritual things. But this will remain a truth that children of pious parents are usually provided for comfortably, even in things that concern this life, if it tends to God's glory, and their good, and if God see it good in his infinite wisdom, which limitations must always be annexed to temporal promises; but if they be poor, defamed, sick, in prisons, or banished, yet "all these work together for their good," Rom. viii. 28.
ANSWER TO AN OBJECTION AGAINST THE PREMISES.
III. ANOTHER thing in the general division of the doctrinal part, is an answer to a main objection, which is the following:
You have produced many promises as branches of the gospel covenant, that the children of godly parents, shall have converting grace, that God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost shall be theirs, that they are heirs of gospel privileges, that they shall be sanctified, and be useful instruments in the church, that they shall adorn their profession with a holy conversation, and if they should wander that God will restore them; that he will bless parents' instructions, and corrections, and take care of their outward concerns, &c.
Now do we not see by daily observation the direct contrary to all this, how many worthy ministers have had worthless sons? how many profligate children are there of gracious parents? nay, do we not see some children of pious parents miscarry more than others of their civil but worldly neighbours, more proud, scorners of godliness, companions of drunkards, swearers, debauched persons, who have proved a great dishonour to God, scandal to religion, grief to real Christians, and heart-breaking to their parents, have even so prejudiced the spirits of wicked men, that they say, this religion is but a fancy, praying so much is needless, and what is become of the covenant you so mnch boasted of? nay, have we not seen some children of pious parents live and die visibly graceless, under tokens of God's wrath, yea, hastening their death by intemperance and unbridled wickedness? how is this consistent
with all that you have spoken? how is God true to his covenant?
This is a sad truth, and cannot be denied, an awful consideration, which possibly hath staggered the faith of some, and strengthened the hands of wicked men against the power of godliness, and is too palpable an observation to be denied. But yet I hope to throw some light on this awful providence from the holy scriptures by proposing these seven considerations:
1. Some of the children of God's people can set their seal to God's faithfulness, in the covenant made to their parents and their seed; this illustrates God's truth and the goodness of religion. I doubt not but some children of the covenant can speak the language of Solomon, in 1 Kings viii. 23, 24, "Lord God of Israel, there is no God like unto thee, who keepest covenant and mercy with thy servants that walk before thee with all their heart, who hast kept with thy servant David my father, that which thou promisedst him, thou spakest also with thy mouth, and hast fulfilled it with thine hand as it is this day;" will not some stand forth and say, I bless God for pious parents, my soul hath found the benefit of their prayers, and the fruit of God's promise, I prefer this charter to all earthly privileges; let others say what they please, I will for ever adore free grace, that brought me forth under so good a covenant, it is better to me than to be born of a royal race, and being heir to a crown, “he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation, my father's God, and I will exalt him;"* and cannot one and another parent say, God hath "spoken well of his servant's house for a great while to come;"† behold I see the buds of grace in this or that child, and a saving growing work in another; blessed be free grace, I can * Exod. xv. 2. † 2 Sam. vii. 19.
hold forth this token for good against all the cavils of profane spirits, and against my own unbelieving fears.
2. God never forsakes the children of pious parents till they forsake him; poor children run away from God before he turns them off, 1 Chron. xxviii. 9, "If thou seek him he will be found of thee, but if thou forsake him he will cast thee off for ever." If Solomon, or any other child or children of a pious father, put on a cloak of religion, to please parents or accomplish a selfish purpose while they live, and cast off religion, and perversely turn their backs on God, and embrace wicked ways; without true repentance they have freed God from any obligation to perform his promise, because they have voluntarily discarded the condition on their part; now being at ripe age, when they are fit to make a choice, it is a voluntary act, proceeding from their own wilfulness, "You will not come unto me;"* and then it becomes a judicial act in God to forsake them, because they first forsook him; and neither they nor their parents can bring any charge against God for withdrawing from them that grace which they have abused, and which he is not bound to give them.
3. Parents have no reason to call God to an account for non-performance of the terms of the covenant, but themselves for their neglect of duty to their children; this is ordinarily the reason of their children's miscarriage: even pious parents are too apt to miss it, by over-fondness and negligence in their education, not admonishing, counselling, or correcting them; David had been too indulgent to Adonijah in not crossing him, and doubtless his conscience disturbed him for his ambition; this is a plain case, good Eli honoured his sons above God, 1 Sam. ii. 29, by permitting them to * John v. 40.
dishonour him, choosing rather to offend God by connivance at their sin, than displease them by sharp rebukes, effectual restraints, and severe punishments, for as a father, and as a magistrate he ought to have curbed them therefore God saith, "I will judge his house for ever, for the iniquity which he knoweth of, because his sous made themselves vile, and he restrained them not." O what secret twitches do the consciences of parents give them, when their children grow up and take not good ways! alas, I sinned against God, and now God leaves them to themselves; I have no cause to censure God, but condemn myself; God is righteous, their sin is a glass in which to see my own. Lord humble me, and convince them; O pardon my iniquity, that I may pray believingly for my offspring.
4. God may pass by the immediate descendants of his faithful children and work upon their more remote posterity: free grace sometimes runs under ground for a season and breaks out at a distance, a son is bad, but grace lays hold on a grandson; Jehoshaphat was a good man, 2 Chron. xx. 32, but Jehoram, his son, proved wicked, 2 Chron. xxi. 6; also Ahaziah, his grandson, walked in the ways of the house of Ahab, 2 Chron. xxii. 3, 4; Uzziah did right in the sight of the Lord, 2 Chron. xxvi. 4; and Jotham, his son, 2 Chron. xxvii. 2-6; but Ahaz, the next descendant, cast off the fear of God, 2 Chron. xxviii. 1, 2; yet electing love broke out again in good Hezekiah, 2 Chron. xxix. 2; it continued however dormant for a considerable time, and laid not hold of Manasseh, 2 Chron. xxxiii. 2. Some even think his repentance was forced, and not sincere and saving; however the grace of God withdrew from Amon his son, 2 Chron. xxxiii. 22; but laid hold on good Josiah, his grand