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
Use 1. I might apply this to parents by way of advice and consolation.
1. Be godly yourselves. Carnal parents obstruct and stop up the course of mercy from descending upon their children as much as in them lieth; especially in giving up themselves to carnal practices and evil compliances for their children's sake. Haereditates transuent cum onere. Whatever hands they pass through, the burden continueth. Nay, further, this is not the best way to provide for your children, to drudge and toil like horses, and neglect heaven and happiness, to make them great, or to break God's laws to salve their interest. Besides the mischief you do yourselves, you do not profit them a whit. Fear God, be upright and charitable, careful of God's institutions, and then leave your children with God, and see if he will not provide for them. It argueth a great deal of infidelity when you think you cannot leave them well unless you leave them great. You renounce God, and set up a wedge of gold, if you think that will do them more good than the covenant and the promises of God.
2. Educate your children in God's fear. This will be the means to continue and increase the blessing. Look, as there is a double curse where the father is carnal and the son carnal, so there is a double blessing where the father is godly and the son godly; the blessing is still increased. Abraham laid the foundation, Isaac made an addition, Jacob increased it a little further; Joseph, who was the most eminent of all the patriarchs, he still carried on the blessing; therefore it is said, Gen. 49:26, 'The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of thy progenitors.' You may have great hopes when you see children taking kindly to religion, and zealous for their father's God. So in that passage, Gen. 18:19, 'I know that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment, that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.'
3. When you die, leave a charge with them: 1 Kings 2:2, 'Keep the charge of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself,' etc.; and 1 Chron. 28:9, ' And thou, Solomon, my son, know thou the God of thy fathers, and serve him with a perfect heart, and with a willing mind,' etc. It is the last time that you can do anything for God. Speeches of dying men have great weight in them, and are entertained with much reverence. Jacob's sons used that as their best plea: Gen. 50:16, 'Thy father did command before he died, saying,' etc. So the sons of Jonadab, the son of Rechab: Jer. 35:3, 'We will drink no wine, for our father commanded us, saying,' etc. There is most esteem had to a father's dying charge; it will stick by them far more than pressing discourses at another time. As Mr. Bolton charged his children, See that none of you meet in an unregenerate condition at the day of judgment.
Use 2. Is comfort to poor dying saints, when they leave a great charge behind them though you leave them no great matter, it is a good portion to lay up some prayers for them, to leave them a God in covenant with them. God doth strangely provide for the children of his people; a little holdeth out, like the widow's oil and meal. As to visible means, a man cannot tell how they live, yet live they do, and flourish, and by unexpected providences thrive into a great increase. Therefore moderate your fears and cares; God will provide. I look upon this meeting with joy of heart, as being in a great measure the fruit of the promise, and I hope you will go away refreshed with the sight of it, and increased in confidence, saying, 'Lord, the children of thy servant shall continue, they shall be established.'