Help for Distressed Parents. OR, Counsels & Comforts FOR Godly Parents Afflicted with Ungodly Children; AND WARNINGS unto CHILDREN, to Beware of all those EVIL COURSES, Which would be Afflictive unto their PARENTS.
By Cotton Mather.
Boston, Printed by John Allen, for Vavasour Harris, and are to be Sold at the Sign of the Bible over-against the Blew Anchor. 1695.
Help for Distressed Parents. Offered, at the LECTURE in Boston, 14. d. 12. m. 1694.
Proverbs X. 1.
WHen the Child of Jephtah was by him to be made a Sacri|fice unto God, in those Dark|er Dayes, wherein the Fre|quency of Humane Sacrifices among all Nations, made a 〈◊〉 Confession of the Divine 〈◊〉, calling for no less a Sa|crifice than that of the Messiah, the Di|stressed Page [unnumbered]〈…〉 of that poor Iphigenia, [o 〈◊〉] Cried out, in Judg. 11. 3•Alas, my Daughter, Thou hast brought 〈◊〉 very Low, and thou art one of them which Trouble me. Though I am not of the Age to Feel it, yet I See daily, and ve|ry dismal Cause to Think it, That a more Abasing Trouble, cannot befal a Godly Parent, than to behold their own Chil|dren, by the Courses of Ungodliness, ma|king Themselves a Sacrifice unto the Devil Godly Parents, have such a Love to God in their own Souls, that it must needs be a terrible Trouble unto them, to see any of their own Children Herd|ding among the Haters of God. Godly Parents are so Gratefully Concerned for the Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ their Blessed Saviour, that it must needs be a terrible Trouble unto them, to see their own Children turn Traitors and Rebels unto that Blessed Lord. It is the Joy of all Parents, to see their own I|mage Conveyed unto their Children, as they are Humane Creatures; but it is the Grief of all Godly Parents to see their Children partakers of their Image, as they are Sinful Creatures; and therefore, 'tis the greatest of all their Cares, about their Children, to obtain the Image of God Renewed on them, in Knowledge, Holi|ness,Page [unnumbered] and Righteousness; but when 〈◊〉 thereof, they see the Image of 〈◊〉 horribly Defacing of them, and Expres|sed in all the motions of their Hearts and Lives; This causes them to say, Alas, my Children, You bring me very Low, you Trouble me exceedingly! Godly Parents are desirous of nothing for their poor Children, so much as This; That the Holy Spirit of God may take Possession of their Children, to make them Vessels of Honour for the Lord for ever; For This they are Praying, for This they are Weeping, for This they are Wishing before the Lord continually; yea, perhaps ma|ny months before their Children were Born, with Solemn Fasting and Prayer before the Lord, they implored such a Possession of the Holy Spirit for them. Now, to see these Children afterwards Possessed by the Evil Spirit, and 〈◊〉 Employed, and 〈…〉 Abused as in|struments of 〈◊〉 unto the most Faithful 〈◊〉 and 〈◊〉: Oh! 'Tis the bitterest of all Troubles, unto a Pa|rent that can understand the meaning of a Godly Sorrow. 'Tis the Hope which carries Godly Parents, chearfully through all their Troubles about their Infant Chil|dren: I am 〈…〉 up a Servant of the Lord, which, I 〈…〉 for ever Page [unnumbered]〈…〉 Praising of the Lord! But for 〈…〉 now to see these Children among the visible Servants of the Devil, Forsa|king, and Reproaching of the Lord; This Troubles them unutterably. It was a very Troublesome Thing which the Al|mighty Threatned, They shall bring forth Children, for the Murtherer. But unto a Child of God, it is a more Troublesome Thing, to Bring forth, and Bring up Children, for the Devil, that Everlasting Murderer! There are no Godly Parents, but who do a little apprehend the Evil that pursueth Sinners, and the Dreadful Vengeance of God, whereto the Ungod|ly are Exposed: Now for them to see their own Children among those Ungodly Sinners, must needs be an unspeakable Trou|ble unto them that, Know the Terror of the Lord. They Live in a continual A|gony over those miserable Children, and not a Day comes over their Heads, but they may say, I am afraid Lest that poor Child of mine, do full into Eternal Burn|ings! I am afraid, Lest the Child of my Bowels, the Child which I have so often had on my Knees, and in my Hands, and at my Table, do suddenly become a Prey to the Dragons of the Wilderness.
In a word; It is a sad Thing; to Page 5 be the Parent of a Fool: but a Godly Parent counts an Ungodly Child, a Fool; a Spiritual, and therefore an Egregious Fool: as very a Fool, as, The Wild Asses Colt.
But although the Trouble of Godly Parents mourning over Ungodly Children, be for the Pungency of it, Extraordinary; yet Alas, for he Frequency of it, it is very very Ordinary. Of this Heavy Trial, I may say with Him in another mat|ter, It is an Evil, which I have seen under the Sun, and it is common among men. And indeed, I do not see the Rising Generation in my own Countrey, so free from fearful Instances of Dege|neracy, but that there may be occasion enough to Discourse particularly upon such a Trial.
If a Godly Parent, have many Children, it is very seldome seen that All of them do prove Ungodly; but it is very often seen, that some of them do so; and Holy David is among the Examples, that Confirm this Observation. That Great and Good Man, who was a Man after Gods own Heart, a Penman of the Sa|cred Scripture, a Picture of the Mighty Jesus, a Person, of whose Actions there Page 6 is more mentioned in the Oracles of Heaven, than any one meer Mans what|soever; this Excellent Person, had a|mong his Children, Two Sons that are branded through all Ages for their Wickedness, and a Third that was no Better than he should be. Nevertheless, we are Certain that several of his Chil|dren prov'd Godly Persons; and it is Likely enough that the most of them did so. But most of all Happy was David, in his Beloved and Renowned Son Solomon; whose Inspired Books, in the Language whereof he much follow|ed, but in the Number thereof, Exceed|ed his Father,〈◊〉 him to have bin, An Holy Man of God.
Solomon himself had but One Son that we Read of; and He too was None of the Best. The only Son and How, of that Great Man, had such unhappy Symptoms upon him, that as we may guess from several Intimations, his Dis|tressed Father before his own Death, was often at a Loss, to think, what he would prove. [Ecel. 2. 13, 19.] Now 'twas very much for the Caution of that One Son, that he Wrote those Ex|cellent Proverbs, wherein we all Enjoy him and Admire him, as the true, Master Page 7 of Sentences. Do but carry in your minds, how sollicitous he was, left Rehe|boam should by his Male-Administrations Confound the Kingdom, and lest the Kingdome should by some Rooted Pre|judice, and by some Hasty Action, cast off Reheboam; you will therein have a Golden Key to Unlock these Proverbs of Israel.
The Text before you, is the first of those Proverbs: and I make no doubt, that Solomon had his own, Only, Silly Son, in his Eye, when he Wrote it; the first part of the Text, his Father had fulfilled in Himself; the last part of the Text, Himself had fulfilled in Reheboam. The Gladness of a Father, over a Wise Son, and the Sadness of a Mather, over a Foolish One, is in this Proverb Declared; Nevertheless, the Gladness of the Mother as well as the Father, over the Wise Son, and the Sadness of the Father as well as the Mother, over the Foolish One, is herein Implied. In the Concise Proverbs here, there is usually an 〈◊〉, to be so Compared, that something not Expressed, is to be fetch'd and learn't from each part as plainly to be understood. Yea, the Daughter as well as the Son, is herein also Compre|hended. Page 8 But yet it may be worth while to Enquire, Why 'tis rather the Gladness of the Father than of the Mother, that is here mentioned upon the Wise Child? Unto this I answer; 'Tis because the Father ordinarily has most Share in procuring, and most Sense in perceiving, the Wisdom of his Children. When Children are come to such Ma|turity, that their Wisdom does become Observable, ordinarily the Mother has more dismissed them from her Conver|sation, that the Father has from his: and the Father is many wayes more capable of the Joyful Resentments, ari|sing from the Wisdom of His, I say, His, Well Educated Children appearing now abroad in the World: the Child is now more Emphatically become, an Abner, that is to say, The Father Light; or, an Abigail, that is to say, The Fathers Joy. But if you will go on to Enquire, Why 'tis rather the Sadness of the Mo|ther, than of the Father that is mentioned upon the Foolish Child? Unto this I answer; 'Tis because when Children miscarry, the Mother is 〈◊〉 most Blamed for It: People will be most ready to say, and very Often say, it very Justly too, 'Twas 〈…〉 of them, that betray'd them into the Sinful Page 9 F••y which is now so bred in the Bone, that it will never out of the Flash. 'Tis also because when Children miscarry, the Mother is ordinarily most Sleighted by Them: 'Tis said, A Foolish man De|s•i•eth his Mother; the Sinful Folly of the Young Wretches, makes them to trample more upon Her that •are them, than they dare to do upon Him that Begat them. It may likewise be, Because when Children Turn Impious, the Mother, is many times more impatient of it, than the Father is. 'Twas Rebeckah, rather than Isaac, that was Weary of her Life,〈◊〉 a Child married against their 〈…〉 if the Child Sin at home, She sees 〈…〉 most of it; it abroad, She bears 〈…〉 worst of it; and so She becomes most 〈◊〉 uneasy at i•.
I suppose you take it for grant|ed, that the Godly Son, is the Wise One; for 'tis that Child alone, that is, The Child Wise unto Salvation: and the very First Advice of the Wise man, which we have in the Introduction unto the Proverbs is, That the Fear of the 〈◊〉 is the principal print of knowledge: in which Advice, we find his Father, ha• long before instructed him. So then, the Foolish Son, is the Wicked One; 〈…〉 person is called A 〈…〉〈…〉 of Page 10Solomon: at least Fifty •mes over; vea, and every Wicked Child, so perishing, I tell you, will at last call himself, A Fool, for more than Fifty millions of Ages.
There are two very Necessary CASES, which I would now speak unto.
The first CASE.
What is to be said for the Counsil and Comfort of Godly PARENTS Afflicted 〈◊〉Ungodly Children?
〈…〉 Children, are all without the 〈…〉 Symptoms of Regeneration upon 〈◊〉; all such as do more mind the 〈◊〉 o• this World, than the Great Salvation of their Souls; all such as continue in a Careless. Prayerless, Christ|less Estate, before the Lord. But the Brand of Ungodly Children, is most of all to be fixed upon, such as Vex the Hearts of their Parents, by an Unthank|ful, •ndutiful, Disobedient Behaviour, or by falling into any Damnable Hoe|resy,〈◊〉 any Scandalous Action, whatsoever.
If: any of you are Afflicted with and for, such miserable Children, Let these Lessons be acceptable to you.
Page 11 I. Though you are Afflicted with Un|godly Children, you must not be discou|raged as if you were altogether Singu|lar, in your Affliction. Godly Parents are full of Lamentations, over their Ungodly Children; and among the rest of their Lamentations, they often make That, in Lam. 1. 12. Behold, and See, if there be any Sorrow like unto my Sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith the Lord has Afflicted me, in the Day of his Fierce Anger. They conclude, that among the Children of God, there are none puni|shed with such Ungodly Children, and they suspect whether they be themselves indeed the Children of God, and not themselves Ungodly: Why? Because th•Fierce Anger of God, appears in their Affliction. But you are very much mi|staken! There are many Godly Parents, whose Children have given them cause to complain, like that Worthy Minister, who Printing a Little Book, Entituled, Parents Groans over their Wicked Children, Dedicated it unto his own Children, with these grievous words, There are some of you that have made me the Father of Fools. There is an Italian saying well|known, which intimates, That the man was not Born of Mankind, whose Fami|ly Page 12 has no Blemishes akin unto it. Even so, If in a Family of many Children, there should be some Ungodly One to Blemish it, this is a Thing whereof I may say, 'Tis Nothing but what is com|mon to man.
'Tis true, That the Eternal Election of God, most generally falls upon the Children of Godly Parents. We read in Psal. 103. 17. The Merey of the Lord is from Everlasting to Everlasting, upon them that Fear Him, and His Righteousness unto Childrens Children. Though they are not only, yet they are chiefly, the Children of Godly Parents, whom the Lords E|verlasting Purposes of Mercy take notice of. The Line of Election, does general|ly run in the Book of Life, after that manner, Mine Elect and their Off spring with them, are the Blessed of the Lord There are whole Constellations of passages in the Bible, which do signifie thus much unto us, That where God has Chosen any to Salvation, He generally Chooses others from the House which He has thus graciously begun to Look up|on. And I humbly conceive, that if an Account should now be taken of all that Fear God in the World, they would mostly appear to have sprung Page 13 from the Loins of God fearing Ancestors. 'Tis also true, That among the Chil|dren of Godly Parents, the most by far do Really become, The Lords for ever, and go to Heaven, where they shall be, For ever with the Lord. We read, in 1 Cor. 7. 14. about the Children of the Faithful, They are Holy. The Chil|dren of Godly Parents, we are bound in a Judgment of Charity to reckon, as much belonging unto the Lord, as Themselves. The most of them do Die in their Infancy; and God forbid, that we should imagine a Believer to have no better ground of Hope for his De|parted Offspring, than an Infidel. But of those that Live to be Adult also, very many, if not The most come to Serve the God of their Fathers. Inso|much, that our Brethren of the Anti|poedobaptist Perswasion, have no more Argument against Infant Baptism, from the Apostasie of those whom we Baptise in Childhood, than we might have, to speak of those that are Baptised in Ri|per Years. This I am sure of; 'Tis a Popish and a Cursed LYE, that the Children of Ministers do usually mis|carry more than Others; every Day confutes the LYE.
Nevertheless, the Great Soveraign of Page 14 the World, that He may Show the Soveraignty of His Grace, as He some|times will Convert the Children of a Wicked Parent, so He sometimes will Refuse the Children of a Godly One. God will make it Evident, that it is not in the power of One man, to give Grace unto another; yea, that it is not in the power of Parents which have Grace, to Convey That, as they do Sin, and Woe, unto their own Chil|dren; and hence, the Children of God|ly Parents, do sometimes prove unlike unto themselves.
Afflicted Parents! Will you hear the Names of some that have been your Fellow Sufferers?
The First Godly Parents in the World, were Adam and Eve, the First Parents of the World. Now, their first Child, and a Child in which they seem to have promised unto themselves a more than ordinary Satisfaction: he prov'd, as the Apostle calls him, A Child of the Devil: a most Bloody, Cursed, Unna|tural Monster was he!
Come to Our World: The best man in our New-World, 〈…〉; a Righteous and a Perfect Man in 〈◊〉 Generations. Yet this Godly Parent, this famous •reacher, who had but Three Sons, had a wicked Page 15Cham among them. Was there not an Ishmael among the Sons of Abraham? There may be Vipers among those who say, We have Abraham for our Father.
Isaac, was a most Godly Parent, of no more than Two Sons; and about One of them, though 'tis said, His Father Loved him, yet it is also said, The Lord Hated him.
However, 'tis said of Jacob, His Bles|sings prevailed above the Blessings of his Progenitors. All the Twelve Sons of that 〈◊〉, could lay their Claim to the Promises of God; which was a Blessing, that he had above his Progenitors.
Two Sons of Aaron, the Priest of the Lord, were Sons that perished by an Untimely Death, in and for their Con|tempt of God.
Two Sons of Eli, the Priest of the Lord, were 〈◊〉 Adulterous, A|bominable Sons of Be••al
Samuel, that 〈◊〉Judge of Israel, had it said unto him, in 1 Sam. 8. 15. Thy Sons do 〈…〉 in thy Wayes.
Jehoshaphat was a Godly Parent: but Jeh•ram, what was he, but a Child of Hell?
Hezekiah was 〈…〉 Parent; but, what was 〈…〉.
Page 16Josiah was a Godly Parent; but, what was Jehojakim the Son?
Would you have an Example from the New-Testament, as well as the Old? That Blessed man, Rabbi Simeon, who was a most Reverend Confessor of the Lord Jesus Christ: had, if the Learned mistake not, a Son, R. Gamaliel, who was an Unbeliever. I'le Exemplifie no further: Here's enough to let you see, That you are not Alone.
Now, the Result of all this, is thus much; You ought patiently to submit unto the Soveraign Will of God, in the Affliction that he has laid upon you. Art thou an Afflicted Parent? It is the Will of an Heavenly Father, that it should be so; and He therein deals no more Hardly with thee, than He hath sometimes dealt with His own dearest Children. 'Tis a Sour Cup that is given you; but say, The Cup that an Heavenly Father gives me, shall not I take it?
And there is this further to be said upon 〈◊〉 No Reasonable man will dare to Censure you, for the Affliction with which the Soveraign Hand of God, is thus Mortifying of you. Art thou an Afflicted Parent? Then, 〈◊〉 him that is Afflicted party will be 〈…〉 Friend. They that Fear God, will not Judge the Page 17worse of your State before Him, for the In which they see in your Children: They know that persons with Uncircum|cised Hearts, are Born of such as had themselves Experienced a Circumcision of God upon their Souls.
II. Since you are Afflicted with Ungod|ly Children, you should set your selves to make a Right Use of your Affliction. In|deed there are Scorpions at the End of the Rods, when God makes Rods of Children, to Scourge the Parents with them; and now 'tis time to do that thing, whereto we are called, in Mic. 6. 9. Hear the Rod. Parents, The Use that you should make of your deplorable Af|fliction, is to be in a suitable Examinati|on, Humination, and Reformation.
Have you any Ungodly Children? They may serve as Glasses, wherein you may Behold something of your Sinfulness before the Lord. Your own Original Sin, is written with 〈…〉 in all the Ungodliness or your Children. Your Children had never been Ungodly, if they had not from you been, Shapen in iniquity, and Conceived in Sin. Reflect 〈…〉The 〈◊〉 Nature which carries out this poor 〈◊〉, Page 18 unto all these Exorbitancies, 'tis by Me de|riv'd unto them; 'tis I, 'tis my Corruption, that is the Parent of an the Wickedness, in any Depraved and 〈◊〉 Offspring. It would be a very Lamentable Thing, if a man should, though out Occasionally & Involuntarily, Hurt one of his own Chil|dren. Man, Thou hast Poisoned all thy Children; Their Sinning against God, is but the Swelling of the Poison, that is by Thee Transfused into them. When thou 〈◊〉 them Sin, Oh! Re|member This, and Let thy Soul be Hum|bled in thee. And it is possible, That much of your Actual Sin may likewise be Read by you, in their Ungodliness.
These are especially, two sorts of Sins in your selves, after which the Ungodliness of your Children, should pro|voke your Enquiries.
First, Have not you formerly Grieved the Hearts of your own Parents? It may be, 'tis for Thus, that your Children are now Grieving of yours. When the Children of Jacob were in Distress, they could call to mind their Faulty Carri|age towards their Aged Parent, above Twenty Years ago, and now they cry'd in Gen. 42. 21. We are verily Guilty Page 19 concerning That, and therefore is this Di|stress come upon us. There is no Sin, so sure of Recompence in this Life, as that of, 〈◊〉 Grieving the Heart of a Parent. Yea, it is a Sin, that rarely, if ever, misses of an Exemplary Retaliation here. It was an Impudent Speech, but a True and a Sad One, uttered by a Young Varlet, who when his Father said, Never any man had such a Wicked Son; reply'd, Yes, my Grand father had. I beseech you, to call your selves unto an Account, Whether the Grand-Parents of the Children, that make you uneasie were not once as uneasie, upon your Account? Many a Father that is Heart broken by the Misdemeanours of his Children, may acknowledge with him, in Job 13. 26. Thou writest Bitter Things against me, & makest me to possess the Iniquities of my Youth. A just God, thus reminds him of his Old Iniquities, whereby the Heart of his Father before him was disturbed. The Sons of Jacob wretchedly abused him, with the Garments of their Absent Brother: But, I pray Syr, Did not you, a great while ago, Serve your Father Isaac so? Or,
Secondly; Have not you Sinned about these Untowardly Children? it may be, Page 20 the very Subjects of your Sin, are made the Authors of your Sorrow? I beseech you, to Search and Try your Wayes. Have 〈◊〉Instructed these Children as you should have done? The Philosopher, seeing once a Child misbehave himself, he gave a Box on the Ear, to the Fa|ther that should have Taught him other|wise. Truly, Many a Parent has cause to Chastise and Reproach himself, because of his Childrens misbehaviours. 'Tis of Him, that they have been, Better Fed than Taught. Or, Ask your selves, Whe|ther your Conduct in your House, has been according to that Rule, in Eph. 6. 4. Fathers, provoke not your Children to wrath, and yet bring them up in the Nar|ture and Admenition of the Lord. Have you not sometimes been too Fond of them? You have heard, what Sons they were, whereof 'tis said, Their Fa|thers do not Restrain them: You have heard, what Sons they were, of whom 'tis said, Their Father never Displeased them at any time. One truly says, There are other creatures, besides Apes, that bug their 〈◊〉 to Death. Or, Have you not 〈…〉 been too Fierce to them? The Severity〈◊〉 a Father in Austere Looks, Raging Words, Cruel Blows, and Rigid 〈…〉 the Authority of a FatherPage 21 unreasonably Strained, especially about their Callings, or their Matches, often, like Spanish Flies, raises those Plisters on the Minds of the Sons, that the Sons can show nothing but Ill Humour after it. Or, finally, Have you Pras'd for your Children, with Effectually fervent Supplications? There is cause to judge, that all the Children of Job were such, that none of them were Lost for ever. Now, 'tis noted, in Job 1. 5. Job offered Burnt Offerings, according to the Number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my Sons have Sinned, and have taken their Leave of God, [for so I take Leave to Translate it] in their Hearts; Thus did Job continually. Have any of your Children, so Sinned against God, as to Take their Leave of Serving Him? See whether you have Prayed for them Every One by Name, Every Day, since you have had them, that it might not be so?
If neither of these Two Enquiries, do Discover any Transgression in you then put a Third Interrogatory, of this Impor|tance: Whether, you have Thoroughly Repented of all your own Youthful Un|godliness, in any kind whatever. Your Hearts it may be, have never yet been Page 22 Endamed, unto a due degree of Revenge, against all your own Sins; and so God permits this New Occasion for it; Oh! thus is the Murderer that has kill'd my poor Child! Methinks, this may Enkindle in you a fresh Animosity against all Sins wherever you can discover it. When the Ungodly Absalom was afflicting of his Father, Then, as 'tis thought, the Old Man was awakened unto that Pe|tition, in Psal. 25. 7. Remember not the Sins of my Youth, nor my Transgressions, O Lord. Many a Godly person, had need of a Renewed Repentance, for the Youthful Iniquity of his Heels, which by their Forgetfulness they have now, even Laid at their Heels. Now, their Children afterwards are Left unto the ve|ry Same Iniquities, that so They may, with|suitable Recollections Repent of their own Iniquities, over and over again. And thus it is, especially, when Sins against the Se|venth Commandment, have not been agree|ably Repented of: Let him that hath Ear to hear, Hear what I say!
Yea. 'Tis the Expectation of God, that we should Bewayl the Sins of Or Children, as Our Own. When David said, Remember not the Sins of my Youth, nor my Transgressions, there are some Page 23 who take it so; q. d. Remember not the Sins of my Young Son, which are in some sort, my own Transgressions. You make the Sins of your Neighbours, your own〈◊〉 you are not, Vexed, Like Lot, and Grieved, Like David, for them. O but the Sins of your Children, are in some sort, already your own; and they will be much more so, if they do not Grieve you, and Vex you, and Cause you to Ly in the Dust before the Lord. Yea, Let a certain Horror take hold of you, to see, These poor Children, that are part of my self, do not keep thy Laws, O Lord And then, Let me tell you for your Consolation; As you should make this Use of the Ungodliness in your Children, To promote your own Repentance; Thus you may make this Use of your being Afflicted for that Ungodliness, to strength|en your Assurance. Are you much Af|flicted, when you see your Children Stran|gers unto God, unto Christ, unto Holi|ness? And are you more Afflicted for their Contrarietie unto God, and for the Guilt and Filth and Loss of their Souls, than for any thing else? This now, is a comfortable Mark, of a New Crea|ture in you: it showes that your Hearts are Blassed by the Great Matters of the Eternal World. It is said, of Ungodly Pa|rents,Page 24 in Job 21. 〈◊〉 14. Their Children Dance; and they 〈◊〉 unto God, we desire not the Knowledge of thy Wayes. If their Children can but be Dress'd up, in few Idle Gayeties, and perhaps usel•• Accomplishments, This is all that they care for; tho' the Souls of those poor Children are altogether Unacquainted with the Wayes of God. Whereas, This is it that kills You at the Heart; That poor Child of mine, is Well shaped, other|wise, but Christ is not yet Formed in the Soul of that Child! Or, That poor Child is Well clad, otherwise, but the Soul of the Child has not the Garments of Righteousness upon it! Or, This Child has Learnt ma|ny fine things! Oh! but they have not Learnt the Beginning of Wisdom yet! It showes, that you are indeed, Godly Parents; when you are thus concerned. They are Godly Parents, who are more afraid of their Childrens being Ungodly, than of their being any other way Unhappy. Thus, it was the Godly Speech of a Worthy Minister on his Death-bed, As for my Children, I am very sure, that if my Children Fear God, they shall not want; but if they do not Fear God, I wish they may want, until they do.
III. But is there not a Cure to be Page 25 Endeavoured? Being Afflicted with Un|godly Children, give not ever your En|deavours to get the Affliction Cured, in their Conversion unto God.
In the pursuance of this Blessed 〈◊〉 I would in the first place put in a Cau|tion, That you would by no means make your Children Desperate; for that will make the Cure so. Altho' you are never so much, and never so long Ex|asperated, if it be possible, do not ut|terly Cast them off, or, Lay them under Incurable Disobligation, Invincible Discou|ragement. When you pour out your Anger, never so vehemently, upon them, yet let them see your Love Tempering of it; and never Let your Passion carry you so far, that they shall think you have no Compassion for them. A Parent like Saul, of an Implacable Fury, will be like to Loose Children that were as Good as Jonathan himself. Alluding to what occurs in the Prophet [Jer. 31. 18, 19, 20.] In the Hottest Rage that you may have, against the Offences of an Ungodly Child, yet let them if it be possible, a little perceive those workings in your Parental Bowels; Ever since I spake against him, I earnestly Remember him still; therefore my bowels are Trou|bled Page 26 for him. It may be the Obstinate Ephraim will at length Bemoan himself, and say, I am Ashamed, yea, even Con|founded, for the Reproach of my Youth.
And unto this Caution, I would Im|portunately, add my Entreaty, That you would never suffer your Mouths, no, nor your Minds, to Curse your Children; for that will be the way, ne|ver to Cure them. Whatever Indignati|on may be Raised in You, by any Pre|varication of Theirs, do not fly out in|to any In Wishes concerning them; Your Ill Wishes will after an unknown man|ner Commissionate the Angels of Death to Execute quick Plagues upon them, which, doubtless, you will afterwards be sorry for. The Imprecations of a Parent, make an incredible Entail of Mischiefs, on the Execrated Children: Mischiefs, which the Greatest Monarchs have some|times been unable to Stand before. E|ven, an Idolatrous Micah, [Judg. 17. 23.] How sollicitous was he, that the Direful Curses, of his passionate, and provoked Mother, might not overtake him! A Graceless Child once making a Wry Mouth at his Mother, She thereat Enraged, then Wished, Wretch, I hope thou wilt come to make that Mouth upon Page 27 the Gallows; and that very thing, in the most particular Circumstances of it, was quickly and sadly accomplished.
Having 〈◊〉 these two Cautions, there are now Three Me 〈◊〉 of Cure, for your Ungodly Children, to be Recommend|ed. Reproofs, Restraints, and Requests.
First, Admonish your Ungodly Children, of all the Evils, whereinto they are precipitating themselves by their Ungodli|ness. Do, as Abraham, and as David, would have done; Solemnly Charge your Children, To keep the Way of the Lord; Solemnly Charge your Children, To Serve the Lord with a Perfect Heart, and a Willing Mind. If there be any peculiar, Paths of the Destroyer, which your Children, are too prone unto, Fre|quently, Fervently, Faithfully Lay before them the Destruction, whereto those Un|godly Paths will carry them. And that you may give these Admonitions, the more Effectually, give them Scripturally; Single out the Scriptures, which do plainly condemn the•Vices, and causing them to Read those awful Scriptures then with all the Solemnitie in the World, Charge them, That, as they 〈…〉 it, before God, and before you another day Page 28 they Conform themselves accordingly. Me thinks I see that brave woman, calling her Son before her, in Prov. 31. 1. and saying, What, my Son! and what, the Son of my Womb! and what, the Son of my Vows? Wilt thou give thy Strength to Women? Wilt thou Drink and Forget the Law? Parents, Go, and bestow such Lively Admonitions, upon the Children that are, A Grief of Mind, unto you; and Let them see the Grief of Mind, with which you Dispense those Admo|nitions.
Secondly, Curb and Check, and Cor|rect, as far as you can, all the Ungodli|ness, into the Excesses whereof your Un|godly Children would be Running. While your Children are under your Govern|ment, so Govern them, that they may not have their Way, when they shall be set upon Going out of the Way. While they are yet but Children, it is said, If thou beat them with the Rod, they shall not Dy; thou shalt Save their Soul from Hell. Better Whipt, than Damn'd And afterwards, Don't Humour your Children, in every Fantastical and Ex|eravagant Vanity, which you may see grateful unto their Unrenewed Hearts. Be as Ingenious as you can, to make a Thorn Hedges, against every Way of Page 29Sinning, which they would be Walking in; therefore Begin Betimes to observe their Doings, whether their Work be Pure, or whether it be Right. This I say, If you can't Cross your Children, in their Proud, Mad, Ungodly Inclina|tions, God will ere long make them Crosses unto you. Be especially Inquisi|tive, what Company they keep. If you Leave them to be, The Companions of Fools, they will soon be Destroy'd Fools themselves: Wherefore, do all you can to Rescue them from all the Snares, and Haunts of all Evil Company. O Forewarn them, and Withold them, as much as ever you can, from those Knots of Profane, Gaming, Scoffing, Drinking, and Unclean Wretches, that keep so many of our Young People, in the Bond of Iniquity for ever: and, the E|vening after the Sabbath, when, alas, there is more Villany, they say, done among us, than all the Nights of the Week besides, if they will Then be singularly Exposing themselves unto Temp|tation, don't you consent unto it, but confine them, with your own watchful Eye, at home upon them. I shall say no more; but set before you that word, in Prov. 29. 15. A Child Left unto him|self, brings his Mother to shame. It seems, Page 30 the Mother is usually most ready to let them have their Wills; and Lo, She payes for it.
Thirdly, Pray over your Ungodly Chil|dren; Pray without ceasing over them. Were the Spirit of God, poured out, upon your Ungodly Children, they would no longer be Ungodly. Now there is a Promise of God, in Luke 11. 13. Your Heavenly Father will give the Holy Spirit, unto them that ask him. And there is a further Promise of God, in Isa. 44. 3. I will pour my Spirit upon thy Seed, and my Blessing upon thy Offspring. Well then; Dearly Beloved, Having these Pro|mises plead them in Importunate Prayers before the Lord; Plead, and Beg, and Mourn and Weep, and Fast before the Lord, for this thing, Lord, I ask that the Outpourings of thy Spirit upon the Heart of this poor Child, may, Cure all the Ungodliness that is bound up in that Sinful Heart. It may be, the Lord will at last Answer, Concerning Ishmael, I have heard thee! If whole Churches would oftener keep Dayes of Prayer with Pasting, That the Spirit of God, and of Grace, may take a Saving Hold of their Posteritie, 'tis probable, there would not be so 〈…〉, as there is in the Ri|sing Page 31 Generation. It is Reported, that a Number of Praying Saints, did spend a whole Night in Prayer, for the success of a Sermon to be Preached the Day after, in a dark part of Scotland; and the Spirit of God so accompanied that one Sermon, that no less than Five Hun|dred Souls thereon, Believed and Turned unto the Lord.
However, Let all particular Parents continue in Prayer, with Fasting, that the Spirit of God may infuse His Ver|ticordious Grace, into their own Posteri|ty. Yea, Do it, with such undeniable Agony of Soul, as to say before the Lord, what Jacob, when Wrestling for the Salvation of his Children did, Lord, I will not go, except thou Bless me. Di|stressed Parents brought their Diseased Children unto the Lord Jesus Christ of old, and He helped them all. Yea, one came to our Lord, saying, [Mark 4. 17] Lord, I have brought unto thee my Son, which hath an Evil Spirit. Another came to our Lord, saying, [Matth. 15 22.] Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I have a Daughter grievously vexed with a Devil. And the Event was marvellous! Thus, go plead before the Lord! Lord, I have a Child that hath un Evil Spi|rit;Page 32 There is a Lying Devil, a Wanton Devil, a Drinking Devil, a Playing Devil, a Proud Devil, in this poor Child of mine: O magnify thy Grace, by Casting this De|vil out, and Saving the Soul of my poor Child, from the Fire, into which the De|vil is throwing of it. It may be, the Lord will do it for thee. While Au|stin was yet an Ungodly Child, his Gra|cious Mother kept crying to the Lord for him, at such a rate, that an Emi|nent Minister said unto her, Fier i non|potest ut Filius istarum Lachrymarum pereat; that is, It cannot be, that a Child of so many Tears should perish after all.
The Covenant of God is, in Gen. 17 7. I will be a God unto Thee, and unto thy Seed after Thee. Oh! Plead with God, His own Covenant of Grace; and Let your Prayers Extend it, even unto that Ungodly Child. Under the Invitation thereof say, as a Pious Parent once, Had L Twenty Children, I would not Rate the Lord, so much as one of them. Yea, Strive in Prayer, till, if it may be, you find the Spi|rit of God raising your Souls, unto a Parti|cular Faith for that Lost Child; a Particular Faith, I say, which tho' it be an Arbitrary, and somewhat Extraordinary Gift, of the Holy Spirit, unto some Godly Parents, yet Page 33 the Effects thereof have been in all Ages, Notorious, Illustrious, and Amazing. The Lord said unto Abraham, in Gen. 15. 5. Look towards Heaven; Tell the Stars, if thou canst Number them; so shall thy Seed be. An Ingenious Jew lately Converted unto Chri|stianitie, has Instructed me, That not only the Innumerable Multitude, but also the In|terminable Happiness, of the Faithful Chil|dren of Abraham, is here pointed at. The Hebrew word is a Note of Place. The Lord not only said, Number the Stars, if thou canst, SO shall thy Seed be; but also, Look towards Heaven, THERE shall thy Seed be. Even so, The God of Heaven some|times, does carry the Thoughts and Hopes of Godly Parents up to Heaven, where 〈◊〉 do with Triumphing Souls, ••hold the Lord Jesus Christ, Surrounded with His Holy Ones; and the Holy Spirit of God, now irresistibly bears in this perswasion npon their Souls, THERE shall thy Seed be; THERE shalt thou, and thy Children with thee, Glorifie me, for infinite millions of Ages. Parents, Go on pleading with God; it may be, the Spirit of God, may bring thee at last unto this Assurance, with Joy Un|speakable, and full of Glory. It is mentioned in the Life of 〈◊〉 Strict Walker with God, Mr. Blackerby〈…〉 had a strange Parti|cular Faith, for his 〈◊〉 many of his Page 34 Offspring at the Right Hand of the Lord Jesus Christ; and the Survivers accordingly saw, all his own Children prove Godly, and all his Grand Children prove Hopeful, and some of his Great Grand Children at this Day do Fear God. Oh the Blessednesses of such a man!
IV. Have you done all This? Then Despair not, though you do not present|ly Reap the Fruit of all. Delayes are no Denials; Nullum Tempus occurrit Regi. It may be, That after you are Dead and Gone, must be the Month wherein the Wild Asses are to be found, by the Grace of Heaven. The Angels may a long while hence, bring the Tidings to Heaven after you, That the Ungodly Child which you Left behind you, is now Turned unto God; So will you join in the Triumphs of Heaven over it, saying, This may Child was Dead, and is Alive, was Lost and is Found; Glory, Glory to God in the Highest for ever.
Or, Suppose you have seen your Un|godly, Children Dy before 〈◊〉 without Evident Marks of a Saving Change upon them: However still Hope the best. A famous man would say, If I see a Child that hath either a Godly Father, or a God|ly Page 35 Mother, I shall have Hope for Him a Long while: But if he has a Godly Father and Mother too, I'le never Leave Hoping for him, till I see him Turn'd off the Gallows. Who can tell, what the Grace of God may have done for them, in their Last Minutes? It may be, Between the Stirrup and the Ground. Yea, and if They should be Lost, who can tell, what the Lord may do for the Third Generation. Tho' the Son of Samuel were not as he should be, yet his Grand Son was a most Nota|able Prophet of the Lord. Or, if some of These be Lost, may not your Blessings be doubled in Others of your own? One Solomon makes amends for an Amnon, & an Absalom too. But, after all, you may say with David, 2 Sam. 23. 5 Altho' my House be not so with God, yet He has made with me a Covenant, ordered in all Things and Sure. The Almighty God has given you His Own Son, and all Things with Him, all Things in Him; That may sa|tisfy you, when your Children, be not as you would have them. This I am sure of; Ere Long the Will of God will so Swallow up our Will, that our Lost Chil|dren will be no more unto us than, The Children of Ethtopians.
Page 36 Thus has the Sad Case of Godly Pa|rents afflicted with Ungodly Children, been considered. But we may not pass unto what remains, until we have made some Reflections upon the Better Case of some other Godly Parents which hence arise unto us.
First. A Lesson of Easiness, is hence taught unto those that are Deny'd, or Depriv'd of Children. The strongest of all the Desires, which God has Implant|ed in the Nature of Man, To Live after Death with a sort of Jointed Eter|nitie in a Lasting Posteritie, is that, it seems, wherein God has Crossed you. But I am now to tell you, That your Condition in this Thing, is Easier, than the Condition of many Godly Persons, who have their Children about them. It was denounced as a sore Affliction upon Jechonias, in Jer. 22. 30. Write ye this man Childless. They that will have the Salathiel mentioned in our Lords Genealogy, to be the proper Son, of that Jechonias, yet a Son who was pre|vented from Succeeding his Father in his Royal State, choose to read it so, Write this man Desolate, or Distressed. In|deed, the Childless, are Childishly enough Page 37 oftentimes Distressed, as if they were De|solate, while they have not parts of Themselves to Leave their Name and their Wealth unto. But I can tell you of a worse thing far away than this; Write ye this man the Parent of Ungodly Chil|dren! and that is worse a thousand times.
Are you by Sterilitie Debar'd of Chil|dren? The Prophet of God has told you, That you may have a Name better than of Sons and of Daughters. If by Union with the Lord Jesus Christ, you come to have that Name. A Child of God, you have then a Better Name, than if you should be called, The Parent of never so many Sons or Daughters. An Absaloms Pillar, what is it worth? As for the Name of such a Parent, it is Better to have no such Name at all, than to have Wicked Sons or Daughters: They do all they can, to make your Name suffer abroad in the World, and Rot, and Stink, like their own. How many therefore have you heard wishing, O Utinam coelebs man •issem, et prole care|rem! or, It had been well for me, if I had never had Children thus to wound me! When the Romans made rueful Havock Page 38 among the Children of the Jews, it was Exclaimed, in Luc. 23. 29. Blessed are the Barren, and the Wombs that never Bare, and the Paps that never gave Suck. Truly, when you see Devils making Havock among the Wicked Children of many Troubled Parents, you may Bless your selves, and say, 'Tis better to be Barren, than to Bear and Suckle such Wick|ed Enemies of God! And at the same Time, you have an Advantage to Lay out your Estates upon those Pious Uses, for the Good of others, which will turn to a far more glorious Account, than if your Children had them.
Or, Are you Bereav'd of Children by Mortality? You may be satisfied concer|ning your Children〈◊〉 in their Infancy, That the 〈◊〉 God, will according to His 〈…〉 unto them, throughout Eternal Ages. My Bre|thren, This Blessing of 〈…〉 upon you, by the Lord Jesus Christ 〈◊〉 may inscribe upon their 〈◊〉 that Epitaph, OF SUCH IS THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN: or that Epitaph RESERVED FOR A GLORI|OUS RESURRECTION: or that Epi|taph, GONE, BUT NOT LOST. I Page 39 have seen such, in our Dormitories! Let no Believing Parent, upon the Death of Children, say with mistaken Jacob I am Bereaved of my Children, All these Things are against me. No, Do like Da|vid, upon the Death of a Child; altho' the Death happened before the Circum|cision of the Child; Rise from the Earth, Raise your Heart from the Grave where the Child is Laid; Cheerfully submit unto the Will of God, and say, Can I bring the Child back again? I shall go to it, It shall not Return to me. It was Ex|cellently well Express'd, by our Cele|brated ELIOT, when he was ask'd, how he could bear the Death of his Chil|dren: My desire was, That they should have Served God on Earth; but if God will choose to have them rather Serve Him in Heaven, I have nothing to object against it, but His Will be done. Be sure, you are now past the Danger of their making you the Parents of Wicked Children: It was foretold unto Eli, in 1 Sam. 2. 33. The man of thine, whom I shall not one off, shall be to Consume thine Eyes, & to Grieve thine Heart: And it is fulfill'd upon many among us; many, alas, how many, may say, That they have had more Sorrow for one Living Child, then for se|ven Page 40 Dead Ones: Oh! 'tis better for our Children to be safely Lodg'd among the Angels of God in Heaven, than for them to be Sinning against Him Like Devils on Earth.
But, Secondly, A Lesson of Thankful|ness, is hence taught, unto those that have Godly Children It may be, that some of you are Blessed with Sons as Young Plants growing up in their Youth, with Daughters as Corner Stones polished after the fashion of a Palace, with Chil|dren that are every way Vertuous and Laudable. These are Blessings indeed, and such Blessings, as many Godly Persons go without. Oh Give Thanks to God; and let His Free Grace alone, Let not your Merit, nor your 〈◊〉 have the Glory of it. When David had a Son Born unto him, which all the People of God, were Like to be the Better for; he sang upon it in Psal. 127. 3, 〈◊〉Lo, Children (so qualified) are an Heritage of the Lord. Blessed is the man, that hath his Quiver 〈◊〉 of such Arrowes! And when David saw that Son after|wards actually become a Leader un•o the People of God, how was the Heart of the Old man even transported with Page 41 it! said he, in 1 Kings 1. 48. Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who hath given me such a Son, mine Eyes even seeing of it. And that Son of his, afterwards, did often over, and over again intimate, what a Glad Father, and a Glad Mother, such Worthy Children made. You may, some of you, behold your Children presenting their Good Works before you, like Jacob his Venison, or, like Sampson his Honey, that so your Souls may Bless them. Do That! But I rather say, Oh Bless God for them. When Israel, had a Son, a Joseph, by whom his whole Fami|ly was not only Honoured, but Sustai|ned also; when Aaron had a Son, an Eleazar, whom he saw Ordained unto a Great Service in the Church of God; when Joab, had a Son, a Gideon, whom|he saw bravely testifying against the I dolatries of his Age; And when the Prophet Isaiah, had a Son, Shear jashub, whom the Lord joined in the same Commission with him, Go Thou, and thy Son unto the King: And when the Daugh|ter, though but a Daughter-in law, of Naomi, said unto her Godly Mother, Thy People shall be my People, and thy God shall be my God: Surely, They had a more than ordinary Satisfaction in that Page 42 Smile of God upon them. Children Walking in the Truth, made an Old John to say, I Rejoice greatly; though they were not his own: how Great would be the Rejoicing, of those, who have Children of their own; so Walking before the Lord! What said the Wise man, in Pro. 23. 15. My Son, if thy Heart be wise, my Heart shall be glad, even mine. A Roman Lady, having been shown the Jewels of the other Ladies in the City, whom she visited, They visited her, de|manding in like manner to see the Jewels of her Closer; she delay'd them, until her Children came home from School, and then bringing those Towa•dly Chil|dren before them, she said, Behold! Here are my Jewels! This I say, The Good God has Enriched you with Invaluable Jewels, in your Well-disposed Children, Yea, as Jewels indeed you will have them hanging about you, in the Joyful Day of God, when you shall Joyfully appear before Him, saying, Behold Me, and the Children which thou hast given Me! Oh! be very Thankful for them, Thankful, I say; But in the Name of God, I vehemently Admonish you, That you do not make Idols of them. If once you let any Vanitie overcome your Page 43 Minds, when you see what Praiseworthy Children you have; Mind what I say, either God may quickly Kill those Children, or Kill you with what you may Endure from Others of your Chil|dren.
But it remains, that we now pass on unto,
The Second CASE.
What may be said, for the Engaging of CHILDREN, to avoid those Cour|ses of Ungodliness, which will be Af|flictive unto their Godly Parents?
Wherefore now, Come, ye Children, Hearken to me, and I will Teach you the Fear of the Lord. You are to be Exhor|ted, Oh, that you would be Perswaded, seriously to Beware of Afflicting your Parents, by any Ungodly Principles, or Practices whatsoever. You know very well, Doubtless They have told you, what Ungodliness of yours, it is, that will Afflict them. Will you then penitently say, Father, If I have Sinned against Hea|ven, and in your Sight, I hope, through the Help of Heaven, it shall be so no more!Page 44 To prevail with you, That it may be so.
Consider, Firstly, How Importunate, How Ungainsayable, the Demands of your Afflicted Parents are, that you would A|bandon all the Courses of Ungodliness! Have not your Parents, with most Live|ly Exhortations called upon you? Yea, you have been your Fathers Children, Ten|der and Beloved in the Sight of your Mother; They have also Taught you, and said unto you, Oh! Get Wisdom, Get Understanding, Forget it not, it is the principal Thing. But, think now, ye Ungodly Children, think, what moving Things these Demands of your Parents are.
These your Godly Parents, They Live in a continual Anguish, and, they Go Mourning all the Day Long, as long as they see you Going on in the Wayes of your Ungodliness. When you were first Born unto your Parents, they fondly hoped concerning you, as in Gen 5. 29. This Child shall be a Comfort unto us! But alas, their Disappointed Souls, find that you are an Unspeaka|ble Trouble unto them, while you con|tinue in your Ungodliness; yea, you Page 45 bring them to that pass of the Psalmist, I am so Troubled, that I cannot speak! They Live in a Daily Fear concerning you; 'tis a Tormenting Fear, which you bring every Day upon them, Left you should be Sinning against the Lord, and Wronging of your own Souls; and Left you should Perish in your Unbelief. If you should be cut off in your Unrege|racy, They would not be able to bear the Anguish of their Souls about you, when they shall cry after you, like her, after her Lost Sons of old, Quo Pueri Estis profecti• or, Lord, what is become of them for Eternal Ages? Yea, and their Shame of you, is almost equal to their bear. As the Emperour Augustus call'd his Three Daughters, Tres Vomicas, Tria Carcinomata, three such Ulcers and Can|cers on him, that he was Ashamed of them: Even so, they are Ashamed of having you seen, as they would be of Impost hums on their Bodies.
But this is not all; I must further, and sadly tell you, You are in a fair way to be the Death of your poor Parents, if you will yet give your selves up, unto the Phrensies of Ungodliness: I tell you, You'l make Them to Dy be|fore Page 46 their Time: and what are you then, but Wicked Overmuch. Unworthy Crea|tures; How can you find in your Hearts to shorten the Lives of those, through whom you your selves have Derived your Lives? You do this, when you Chafe, and Cut, and Wast the Hearts of your Parents, by the Heart breaking Sight, of your Ungodliness, and make them e'n Weary of their Lives? I Re|member, that the Apostle Paul, reckon|ing up the Transgressors of the Ten Commandments, the Transgressors of the Fourth Commandment, he calls, The Profane; but the Transgressors of the Fifth Commandment, he calls, in 1 Tim. 1. 9. Murtherers of Fathers, and Murther|ers of Mothers. It seems, by breaking of the Fifth Commandment, you will break the Sixth also; yea, by being Unduti|ful Children, you will become the worst sort of Murtherers. These Aggrieved Pa|rents of yours, would with all their Hearts Lay down their own Lives im|mediately, if That would Effectually Recover you, out of all Ungodliness. As when David had an Ungodly Son, he Sigh'd, in 2 Sam. 18. 33 O my Son, my Son; I would to God, I had dyed for thee, my Son, my Son: Even so, your ParentsPage 47 are Sighing in your Ears, My Child, I had rather my self Dy to Night, than that thy Ungodly Soul should go where the Soul of Absalom is Lodg'd for ever; my Child! my Child! And is this the Return, that you make unto Them, ye Ungrateful Wretch|es; To Tire them out of their Lives, by your being Incurable in your Ungod|liness. Methinks, I overhear your Parents with weeping Eyes, and bleeding Hearts thus calling upon you, O Unthankful Chil|dren, After all that we have born, and all that we have done, for you, will you kill us by your Obstinate Ungodliness; we cannot Live, if you go on in Rebellions against the God of Heaven: But will you thus Requite you Parents, ye Foolish Children, and Un|wise! When the Murderers of Coesar were stabbing of him, he saw one among them that was very Near unto himself; whereupon with a mighty Passion he cried out, What? You, my Son! Have I a Son among you! Children, your Parents have e|nough to Humble them, enough to Consume them, enough to bring their Gray-hairs with Sorrow to the Grave, without any Help of yours. Oh! Do not put them to say, What? My Child; will you Stab me too? Parricides, or, Parent killers, have been thought such Unnatural Creatures, that Page 48 Great Law 〈◊〉 have made no Laws against 〈◊〉Vipers;•s thinking that Mankind would never afford such Trans|gressors. But 〈◊〉 has mentioned se|veral such Monstrous Devils; whose Names had best perish with them; I shall not mention them: and, 〈◊〉 have a care, Left my Ungodliness have such Effects upon thy Parents that thou sha• also deserve a Room in the History of 〈◊〉
Consider, Secondly, What Rich En|couragements you have to Abandon the Courses of Ungodliness and 〈◊〉 the Demands 〈…〉 You are altogether Bruttish if you 〈…〉 count it one of the Greatest Honour, or Pleasures, that you can 〈…〉 me the Comforts of the 〈…〉 whom God has given you 〈…〉 the Great Honour of a Great 〈◊〉 among the Romans〈…〉 of his Parents, and for 〈…〉 name or 〈…〉 put 〈…〉 Maxi|mum 〈…〉 Capere, 〈…〉 Parentes; Page 49 He was glad of nothing so much as This, That his Parents were yet Living, to see what Acceptance he found in the World. Indeed, There have some Chil|dren been so extraordinarily Circumstan|ced, as to be the Means of Converting their own Parents unto God. And Oh! Children, It cannot Enter into the Heart of man to conceive, What Jones must needs fill your Souls for ever; if by your Exemplary Pietie, your Poor, 〈◊〉, Carnal Parents, may be awakened, so 〈◊〉 Think upon their Wayes, as to Turn their Fert unto Gods Testimonies! It was 〈◊〉 Problem among the Ancient Philoso|phers, Whether a Child may not confer more Benefits on his Father, than he hath Recei|ved from him? How bravely will you determine it, in the Affirmative, if your Parents, may by you come to be Born again! Whereas, if your Parents Dy before they are yet Born Again, you may even Mourn over them, almost like that poor Italian, who visiting the Sepul|chre of his Father, first wash'd the Mo|nument with a Flood of Tears, and then with Sorrow and Horror fell down Dead upon it. But I suppose your Pa|rents already Converted; and say, 'Tis enough, if you may be the means of Page 50Comforting them. One could not speak a more Desirable Thing of you, than to say unto your Parents, for you, as they did unto old Naomi, in Ruth 4. 14, 15. Blessed be the Lord, who has not Left thee this Day without a Kinsman, who shall be unto thee a Restorer of thy Life, and a Nourisher of thine Old Age. If you may now Sweeten, and so Length|en, the Lives of your Parents, by all Godliness, and Helpfulness, as They will Bless God for you, so they will Autho|ritatively Bless you in the Name of God. You are advised in Eph. 6. 2. Honour thy Father and thy Mother which is the First Commandment (of the Second Table) with (a peculiar) Promise (an|neked unto it) The Promises of God unto Dutiful Children, carry in them all the Great and Precious Things that you can ask for! and the Parents of those Children, may so powerfully Chal|lenge them, that they shall, either in the Letter, or in the Better, be all of them infallibly accomplished. I take Notice, That in the Commandment, what we Translate, That thy Dayes may be Long, is to be read, That they may Prolong thy Dayes. They! Who? Thy Father, and thy Mother; THEY shall Prolong thy Page 51 Dayes, and make thee Happy, by their Blessing of thee, in the Name of the Lord, if thou carry it well unto them. Enable your Parents to plead thus before the Lord, on your behalf; Lord, This Child of mine has deserved so well of me, by many Dutiful Endeavours to answer my Desires, that if it were in my power to do him Good, he should never want any good Thing; wherefore, I bring him to Thee, O my God, for Thee to do him Good, and Preserve him, and Honour him, and Satisfy him with Long Life, and Show him thy Salvation. I assure you, these Blessings of your Obliged Parents, will cause you to Prosper wonderfully!
But there is this further to Encourage you, if you have Godly Parents: The Children of such Parents are under Ad|vantages for the Fear of God, above any in the World. With what Encou|raged Souls, does a Jacob say, The God of my Father has been with me! And a Moses, The God of my Father was my Help! And a David, O Lord, I am the Son of thy Handmaid. Oh, the many Prayers, Oh, the many Patterns, whereby your Parents, are hearing of you to Do well! And there are peculiar PromisesPage 52 which you have to Lay hold upon: What say you, to that Promise, in Psal. 112. 2. The Generation of the Upright shall be Blessed! Or that Promise, in Psal. 102. 28. The Children of thy Servants shall continue, and their Seed shall be Esta|blished for ever! You are, The Children of the Covenant; and you know how urgently the Apostle pressed the Jews unto Well doing, from that very Argu|ment. But wilt thou Despise this Privi|ledge; and wilt thou Go on still in thy Ungodliness? Thou Profane Esau, Thou shalt one Day, Rue this Madness, with Tears of Blood! For;
Consider, Thirdly, What a Fiery Ven|geance is pursuing of you, as Long as your Afflicted Parents, continue Afflicted with your Ungodliness. If the Grand-son of a Moses become an Idolater, he shall [as the Jewes remark upon Judg. 18. 30.] be destroy'd, as if a Menasseb had been his Father. Covenant breakers I find Ran|ked, and you shall find them Damned, among the worst of Sinners; but you that slight the Obligations laid upon you, by your Parents, Oh! you are among the worst of Covenant-breakers. Have you forgotten that Thunder of Heaven Page 53 in Psal. 9. 17. The Wicked shall be 〈◊〉 into Hell? Unto a Burning Hell are you Posting every Hour, ye Ungodly Children. But why so fast? I say, why so fast? Let me freely and fairly warn you, of This; The Godliness of your Pa|rents, will not Save you, from the Ever|lasting Destruction, which the Presence of the Lord, shall bring upon them that O|bey not the Gospel; Oh! Don't Think to say with your selves, we have Parents who Pray so much for us, that we shall do well enough, though we do nothing for our selves! For, I say unto you, that if you bear no Fruits of Godliness your selves, you shall Unavoidably be cast into the Un|quenchable Fire. Yea, When you come to Ly and Broil in that horrible Fire of the Wrath of God, all the Godliness of your Parents, will be but Oyl unto the Flame, in the Lowermost parts of the Hell reserved for you, and render the Reflections of your Consciences, the more Furious and Amazing, until the very Heavens be no more. Better thy Father had been an Indian or a Negroe! We read of one, in Luk. 16. 23, 24. In Hell, be Lift up his Eyes, being in Tor|ments; and he Cried, Father Abraham, have mercy on me; for I am Tormented in this Page 54 Name. Tormented indeed will They be, and None so Tormented as They, that in Hell shall call to mind, Oh! I am one that had an Abraham for my Father, and a Sarah for my Mother. My Believing Parents are Gone to Glory, and 〈…〉 Child of the Kingdom am here in Outer Darkness, weep|ing and Wailing, and Gnashing of my Teeth for ever! It was said in Lev. 21. 9. If the Daughter of any Priest profane her self, she profaneth her Father, she shall be Burnt with Fire: Behold, ye Children of Ministers, what will become of you, if you be Profane in your Behaviours! There is an Everlasting Fire prepared for you, even such an Everlasting Fire as the Apostate Angels, that Fallen Gene|ration of Ministers, are Damn'd unto. But indeed, all Christians are Priests in our Dayes: And there is a formidable Fire which their profane Children shall a|bove others, be Cruciated with. But that which will exceedingly Aggravate these Torments of your Damnation, will be the Encounter which you shall have with your Godly Parents, before the Glorious High Throne of the Lord Jesus Christ, in the Day of His Appearing. The Famous Mr. Bolton used those words to his Children on his Death bed, Let Page 55 none of you Dare to meet me at the Day of Judgment, in your Unregeneracy. Thus do I now say to you; Do, Go on in your Ungodliness; and how will you dare to meet your Godly Parents, before the Tri|bunal of the Lord Jesus Christ? how will you dare to meet them that have so ear|nestly been concerned for your Conversion? Those Parents which now Love you so dearly, and count nothing too much for you; if the Lord Jesus Christ then refer your Eternal Sentence unto Those very Parents, even They must concur with the Judge of all the Earth, in your Condemnation, and say, Lord, we cannot object against the Proceedings of thy Ju|stice upon these Ungodly Wretches; while they were our Children, all our pains to make them thy Servants, were Lost upon them; Wherefore we now know them no more, Let them depart among the Workers of Iniquitie. How will you bear to hear such Thunder-claps. And Oh! what an Infinite Consternation will fall upon your Souls, when your Fathers, your Mothers, will shake you off, and say, You have Troubled us, and now God shall Trouble you 〈…〉! Wretch! If Thy Heart strings were not Sinews of Iron, thou wouldest Relent at such Thoughts as these.
Page 56 But if this will not make thee Relent. I am afraid, thou art not far from the Fate of them, who Being often Reproved, and harden their Necks: That is, To he Destroy'd suddenly and without Remedy. It was a Remark upon the Sons of Elt, in 1 Sam. 2. 25. They hearkened not unto the voice of their Father, because the Lord would stay them. Children, I do solemn|ly Forewarn you of this Thing. If you don't Hearken unto your Parents, when they are advising of you, that you would not Afflict them, with Courses of Ungodliness, I am verily Afraid, That the Lord will Stay you, Ban you, Damn you, before you are aware. It was the Usage in Israel, to have that Anniversary Proclamation, from the Top of Mount Ebal, in Deut. 27. 16. Cursed be he that: sets Light by his Father, or his Mother And all the people shall say Amen. As it were from the Top of that Mount, I do here this day Loudly Proclame this unto you, The Curse of God, will make a Quick Work with you, if you go on to Af|flict your Fathers, or your Mothers, with your Ungodliness.
All Ages have been filled with Exam|ples, of Strange 〈…〉, which Un|dutiful Page 57 Children have been overtaken with. And few have Dy'd upon the Gallowes, at the Last, but what have gone Roaring out of the World, for this, Oh! 'Tis my Undutifulness unto my Parents, that has brought me hither! It would be a Long Work, to Repeat all, that well at|tested Narratives do Report of this mat|ter; But He only Relate, That our Bles|sed WILSON, once observing a Son to behave himself undutifully towards his Father, in the Ferry boat, which was carrying of them over, that Man of God, saw cause to speak unto that Young man after this manner, Young man, I am sorry to see you so little Regard your Father; I would seriously perswade you to Repent of your Undutifulness, or I will solemnly Assure you, I expect the Killing Judgments of God will overtake you, before a year come to an End. And behold, before that year was out, that Young man came 〈◊〉 a very Tragical and Untimely Death. In like manner, I must now speak to you this Day. Children, Regard the Desires and Commands of your Parents, and Forsake that Ungodliness whereby they will be grievously Afflicted: Or else 'Tis to be fear'd, That it won't be long Page 58 before the Indignation of God, set a Visible and a Terrible Mark upon you.
But methinks, I hear some of you now Enquiring,
What shall we do, that we may become A|greeable unto our Parents?
Do! Do This. In the first place, Be|come Religious; Repent of Sin, Believe on Christ, Give your selves up to God! Walk with the Wise: which is the Great Thing that your Parents have desired of you. And then, out of Duty to God, faithfully do your Duty to your, Parents; But know, that your Grand|Parents also are to be considered as your Parents, in your doing of this Duty. But what is the Duty? 'Tis This; Love your Parents heartily. You never can have but One Friend, which you are to Love above them, and for which you are to Leave them. What Joyes Them, Let That Joy you: What Grieves Them, Let That Grieve You. Make them to see, that you Love to be with them. Count it an Intolerable Calamity, to Sleep under their Displeasure. And be not able to see any Evil befalling of them; No; Say with Judah, in Gen. Page 59 44. 34. How shall I see Evil come upon my Father! O Discover a 〈◊〉 Affection to them, that have alwayes Express'd a Parental Affection to you.
Again, Honour your Parents mightily. Be not such Chams, as to Think Basely of them, or to Expose, and Reproach any of their Weaknesses. Be like Joseph, who Bowed unto his Father; be like Solo|mon who Bowed unto his Mother; Treat them with all the Reverence imaginable. Yea, though they should have their Lit|tle Infirmities, yet abate not of that Re|verence. The Call of Heaven is, Despise not thy Mother, when she is old. Even the Old Grand-mother must not be slighted Remember the Charge of God, in Le•. 19. 2. Ye shall Fear, every man his Mother, and his Father: Where the Mother is put, First, because the Fear of her, is First and most, Laid aside.
I add, Requite your Parents Gratefully. You owe them all that you are, all that you have; you'l never come out of their Debt. Pray for them every Day distinctly, zealously, as for your own Souls. Do for them every thing that you can; and let not the Stork among Page 60 the Birds of Heaven, be a witness a|gainst you. Are they fallen into any Decayes? Oh! Take a wondrous Delight in Relieving of them, unto the utmost of your Ability. To see an Aged Fa|ther, or an Aged Mother, nourished in thy House, 'twill be the Glory of that House: and God will Bless that House of thine, as He did the House of Obed Edom. The very Pagans have sometimes called These, Their Houshold Gods. A Mine of Gold found in thy Ground, would not Enrich thee so much, as for thee to send thy crazy Dam, such a Message as that, of Joseph, Thus saith thy Son, Come down to me, Tarry not; Thou shalt be Near to me. 'Tis the E|vangelical Injunction, in 1 Tim. 5. 4. Let them Learn, with Pietie at home, to Re|quite their Parents, for that is Good and Acceptable towards God. Thus, Dr. Taylor the Martyr, going to Suffer, said unto his Son, When thy Mother is waxen Old, Forsake her not, but provide for her to thy power, and see that she Lack nothing; so will God Bless thee, and give thee Long Life and Prosperity.
Finally, Obey your Parents Conscienti|ously. Yea, though you should be as Page 61 much above Twenty as Isaac was, when his Father bad him Ly down upon his Altar, yet I say, Obey them Conscienti|ously: For, This is well-pleasing to the Lord. And indeed our Lord Himself, Subject unto His Parents, did Exemplify it. The Father of the Rechabites forbad several Things unto them; and the Lord said afterwards unto them, in Jer. 35. 19. Because ye have Obeyed the Command|ments of your Father, Therefore thus saith the Lord of Hosts, Ye shall Stand before me for ever. Children, If your, Parents Command you any thing that is 〈◊〉 Sin|ful, you Sin, if you do not Obey them: How much more, if they Command you, to Hate and Shun, the Things that are Sinful: In all things of moment especially, in your Matches, you should' Ask the Counsils of your Parents. [Ju|dah, Married a Canaanitess, without his Fathers Consent; and he had a couple of Children so damnably wicked, that Almighty God Kill'd them with His own Hands!] And it is of no small moment for you• to Take their Counsils, whenever they give you what is Lawful, what is Wholsome. The Copies also which your Parents do set before you, in their Prayerful, Watchful, Fruitful Conversation; Page 62 Write after those Copies, when they may say, The Things which you have heard and seen in me, Do; and the God of Peace be with you! What shall I say? Learn every Truth which your Parents Infill; Seek every Grace which your Parents Commend; Shun every Sin, which your Parents Rebuke; Do eve|ry Work which your Parents Require; Be|ware of every Temptation, which your Pa|rents foresee: And as the Wise man says, My Son, keep thy Fathers Commandment, and Forsake not the Law of thy Mother.
Briefly, Let the Admonitions of your Pa|rents, never be forgotten with you. Trea|sure up their Admonitions, as the Sons of Cassius, did the Books of their Father; who being Threatned, That the Books of their Father should be Burnt, bravely Answered, Then must you Burn us too, for we have his Books in our Hearts. Let your Parents be thus acknowledged: and God Grant, that my own Children particularly, if he shall mercifully Give and Spare such Blessings un|to me, may when they 〈◊〉 up, Consider the Books written by their Father; as like|ly to be terrible witnesses against them, if they should not, as I trust in Him they will, Know & Serve the God of their Father. Children, Be advised by your Parents;〈◊〉 so you will make a Glad Father, so you will nor be the Heaviness of your Mother.
An Appendix Reporting some Remarkable Judgments of Heaven, upon Disobedient and Undutiful Children. From Undoubted Histories.
1. WHat a Lamentable Fate overtook the Rebellious Absolom, is well known unto all of us, that have the Happiness to be acquainted with the Sacred Oracles of the Scripture. Travel|lers Report That in the place where Absolom was Bu•ed, there is now a vast Heap of Stones, thus produced: It is Customary, for them that go by the place, to Throw a Stone upon it using these words, THUS IT SHALL BE DONE, UNTO THE SON, THAT REBELLETH AGAINST HIS FA|THER.
And what long since befel the Sons of 〈…〉 hath befallen many 〈…〉 in Later Ages, no Less than 〈…〉 whom the Trust of 〈…〉 of their Page [unnumbered]Parents, the Chronicles of Kingdoms have so Largely Related, as to Supersede any Collection thereof.
II. It is Reported by Manlius, that a Poor, Needy, Crooked Old man, Ad|dressed his Wealthy Son, for some Re|lief; but the Young and Proud Blade Chased his Father from him, as count|ing it a Dishonour to be Related unto one in such Abject Circumstances. The Aged Father went away, drown'd in Tears: but the God of Heaven struck that Unnatural Son, with an Incurable Madness; in which he continued Raving until he Dyed.
III. It is a Passage, which Dr. Beard,〈◊〉 his, Theatre of Gods Judgments, has Reported, from the, Theatnum Historioe, That a perverse and wicked Son did once Beat his Old Father, and then Drag him unto the Threshold of the House, by the Hair of the Head. Af|terwards, when he grew Old himself, (which was a 〈◊〉 Thing!) his own 〈◊〉 in like manner did Beat him; and Dragged him also by the Hair of the Head, out of Doors, into the Dist: whereas he 〈…〉I had been pul|led Page [unnumbered] only to the Threshold, I had been Right|ly Served!
III. Enguerus is our Author for it, that at Yuchi, an Ungodly Son; furious|ly Turned his Mother out of Doors, thrice in one Day, protesting, That he had as Liev see his House on Fire, as to have her continue there. And behold! on that very Day, his House was Fired, none knew how; and, it, with all that was in it, immediately Consumed.
IV. Mr. Swinneck, recites a Narrative, of a Yeoman in Leicestershire, who made over his House and Land, unto an Un|worthy Son, upon Marriage; Conditio|nally that his Son should keep him, du|ring his Life. But afterwards, there fell out some Difference between them, on which this Viper of a Son, bad his Fa|ther, Get him out of Doors, and call'd him, A Bursten Belly Slave, (as indeed the Old man had a Rupture.) The very next Day, as the Young man was walking in his Grounds, Mr. Goodman, the Minister of the Parish, Riding by, ask'd him, How he did? He answered, Very well! But before the Minister was out of light, the Young mans Bowels Page [unnumbered] Gushed out, and he miserably went home, carrying of them in his hands. He then sent for the Minister, own'd the Justice of God upon him for his Undutifulness unto his Father, and made his Will, wherein he Bequeathed unto his Father much of what he had, and that Night he Dyed.
V. It is now Twenty Years ago, that them was Preached and Printed in this Land, a Sermon, upon that Scripture Eccl. 7, 17. Be not overmuch Wicked, Why shouldest thou Dy before thy 〈◊〉? From whence I will take Leave to Transcribe in this place, the Ensuing Lines.
Breaches of the Fifth Commandment, are to be found among us; They 〈…〉 Evils, we may see them every where.
Mark What I say, IF EVER New En|gland BE DESTROYED, 〈◊〉 VERY SIN, OF 〈…〉 THE FIFTH COMMANDMENT, WILL BE THE 〈◊〉 OF THIS LAND.
Disobedience to 〈…〉 is often punished 〈…〉Page [unnumbered] is a Scripture, which, methinks may strike Terror, and Trembling, into the Souls of Disobedient Children: It is that in Prov. 30. 17. The Eye that mocketh his Father, and Despiseth to obey his Mo|ther, the Ravens of the Valley shall pick it out, and the young Eagles shall Eat it. Stubbornness and Contempt is to be seen in the Eye: The Eye that mocketh his Father, is, he that is Stubborn and Rebellious against his Father Well, A Father has many times that Wisdom and Authority, with him, that the Child dare not Disobey him, but he careth not for his Mother: Therefore 'tis added, He that Despiseth to obey his Mother. You Children, that Disobey your Mothers, hearken to This! The Bavens are like to Feed upon you; That is to say, Such Sinners shall come to an 〈◊〉 Death, and it may be, not have a Decent, Honourable Buri|al. It is to be fear'd, that such Chil|dren will come to the Gallowes, and be 〈…〉 up in Gibbets for the Ravens and 〈◊〉 to seed upon them, if they will
And it is greatly to be Observed, That the 〈…〉 those that 〈◊〉 upon the Gallowes, do confess, that they have Page [unnumbered] been Guilty of Disobedience to their Parents. Yea, God is so provoked, with such Wicked Children, as that 〈◊〉 doth Leave them sometimes Against Nature, to Destroy themselves, as a just punishment of their Unnatural Disobedi|ence. There was an Awful Exemple of this, which happened in this Coun|try, about Fifteen Years ago. A young man Drowned himself; but before 〈◊〉 did it; he 〈◊〉 a Writing, directed unto his Father, wherein he had such words as these. O Father, I have kept my Soul, as 〈…〉 as ever I could: my Ruine was the Pride and Stubbornness of my Tender Years, which should have been fetcht out with 〈◊〉 Correction. Diso|bedient Children, 〈◊〉 of it, and the Lord Strike it home to your Hearts.
A Catalogue of some other Books.
- 1. THe Call of the Gospel.
- 2. Military Duties: An Artillery Sermon.
- 3. Right Thoughts in Sad Hours.
- 4. Early Piety Exemplified.
- 5. Memorable Witchcrafts & Possessions.
- 6. Discourses, to Serve the Designs of Practical Godliness.
- 7. Souldiers Counselled and Comforted.
- 8. The Wonderful Works of God Com|memorated.
- 9. Work upon the Ark.
- 10. Speedy Repentance Urged.
- 11. A Publick Spirit.
- 12. A Companion for Communicants.
- 13. The Serviceable Man: An Electi|on Sermon.
- 14. Serious Thoughts in Dying Times.
- 15. Addresses to Old men, Young men, Little Children.
- 16. The Life of the Renowned John Eliot.
- 17. Expectanda: Or Things to be Look|ed for.
- 18. Little Flocks Guarded against Grie|vous Wolves.
- 19. Ornaments for the Daughters of Zion.
- 20. Blessed Unions Recommended.
- Page [unnumbered] 21. A Sacred Exorcism upon Sinful Discontent.
- 22. The Cause and Cure of a Woun|ded Spirit.
- 23. Meditations on the Day of Judgment.
- 24. A Midnight Cry.
- 25. Optanda: Good Men Described, and Good Things Propounded.
- 26. The Wonders of the Invisible World.
- 27. Awakenings for the Unregenerate.
- 28. Warnings from the Dead.
- 29. The Day, and the Work of the Day.
- 30. Winter Meditations.
- 31. Early Religion Urged.
- 32. The Short History of New England.
- 33. Durable Riches.
All by this Author.
UPon the 〈◊〉 of some Well disposed Persons, There is now in the Press, A Select Part of the CHURCH HISTO|RY of New England; Containing the Lives of Four Eminent and Renowned Persons, who all Successively Dy'd in the Immediate Service of One Church in Boston; to wit, Mr. JOHN COTTON, Mr. JOHN NORTON, Mr. JOHN WILSON, and Mr. JOHN DAVENPORT. With an Ap|pendix, Containing the Life of the Famous Mr. THOMAS HOOKER, Pastor of the Church at Hartford, in Connecticut.