A Sermon Preached Before the Sons of the Clergy
The children of thy servants shall continue and their seed shall be established before thee. Psalm 102:28
3. Observe the blessing. Some of you, it may be, came to town poor and ill provided, your parents, out of their short allowance, being not able to supply you better; but you brought the blessing of the covenant along with you, and that was stock enough to set up withal; and so mercies have wonderfully increased with you. Jacob taketh notice of this: Gen. 32:10, 'I am not worthy of all the mercy and all the truth which thou hast showed to thy servant; for with my staff came I over this Jordan, and now am I become two troops.' Mark, he taketh notice not only of mercy, but truth. By truth I understand God's faithfulness engaged in the covenant of his fathers; for elsewhere I observe that truth is thus understood and applied to Jacob: Micah 7:20, 'Thou wilt perform thy mercy to Abraham, and thy truth to Jacob, which thou hast sworn to our fathers of old.' The covenant is made in mercy, and made good by truth. Mercy first openeth the door of grace, and truth keepeth it open; and therefore mercy to Abraham, because the covenant is made with him; and truth to Jacob, to whom it is made good. Well then, own the blessing of the covenant: Lord, when I came to town, I was a poor lad of mean estate, could hope for little, and would be even glad to live; and afterwards, when a young beginner, full of doubts and fears; but Lord, out of thy mercy and truth, thou hast provided liberally for me, and brought me from mean estate to large and plentiful means. Basil saith it is a useful speculation to consider how we grow up onto estate, and come to enjoy what we have. It maketh us humble to remember mean beginnings, and thankful to observe the gradual increase of our comforts; and it decreaseth dependence when we see the mere blessing of the covenant hath carried us through, and provided such large and rich supplies for us. Oh! surely he is a faithful God in keeping mercy for thousands of them that love him. Now I come more particularly to speak of the meeting of this day. Let it be like a meeting of ministers' sons. If you would have the ministers' blessing upon you, show somewhat of ministerial graces. There are two graces which a minister should chiefly show forth--sobriety and hospitality, or bounty to the poor. You are not ministers all of you, yet you should savour of the stock from whence you sprang; and show your extraction, that you were bred in families where sobriety and hospitality were in great respect. It is said of the earth that was taken from the banks of Nilus, that it sympathiseth with the river and place from whence it was taken; at that time when the river swelleth and overfloweth, the earth will be more heavy and damp than at other times; and when it decreaseth, it groweth dry and light again. I apply it thus: You are not ministers, yet you should not forget the hole of the pit out of which you were digged, but savour of a ministerial education to the last, in being temperate and charitable.
[1.] Let me press you to sobriety and temperance. At a feast men grow more loose, and abate of their severity and awe. Certainly there needs caution. When Job's sons were feasting, the father falleth a-sacrificing. Let it be a sober meeting, as becometh ministers' sons. You have begun well; let not your crown fall to the dust. Do but consider what a dishonour it will be, not to yourselves only, but to this holy calling, yea, to the Lord himself, when from a feast of ministers' sons, some shall go away with staggering feet, inflamed countenances, and a faltering tongue. Oh! let it not be. You do well to begin with a sermon to season your hearts; and you will do as well to end and conclude with a psalm, that it may look like one of the sober and holy love-feasts the old christians used.
[2.] Let me press you to charity. This is the great end of the meeting, and therefore must not be left out or neglected. The occasions and wants of ministers and ministers' widows are many and great. Now let them know that you have received the ministerial blessing. This is the necessary acknowledgment, that you have received all from God. Let him that gave you all that you have receive a part back again for the relief of his poor servants. Give as ministers' sons, in a liberal, plentiful manner, that the world may know from what kind of stock you came.