Friday, December 7, 2012

Manton on Psalm 102:28 (Part 7)

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.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Manton on Psalm 102:28 (Part 6)

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 3. Advice to the children of godly parents.

I shall first speak to them in the general, and then to this day's meeting more particularly. In the general--

1. Bless God for this privilege. Better be the child of a godly than wealthy parent. I hope none are of so vile a spirit as to hate and contemn your parents because of their piety. Certainly it is a great privilege when you can go to God, and plead your Father's covenant: Psa. 116:14, 'Lord, I am thy servant, and the son of thine handmaid.' So did Solomon: 1 Kings 3:25, 26, 'Lord, make good thy word to thy servant David, my father.' That you are not born of infidels, or popish parents, nor fautors and upholders of superstition and formality, but in a strict, serious, godly family, it is a great advantage that you have. It is better to be the sons of faithful ministers than of nobles.

2. Do not interrupt and break off the blessing. It is the greatest unworthiness that can be to be ungodly children of godly parents, and to cast off the God of your fathers: Jer. 2:12, 'Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this!' He would have the sun to look pale upon such a wickedness, and the spheres to cast out their stars, that a people should cast off their God. Solomon continued alliance with Hiram because by had been a lover of David; and it is his advice to others, ' Thine own friend, and thy father's friend, forsake thou not.' Surely, then, not the father's God. Wilt thou be a traitor to thy father's God? 'Be astonished, O ye heavens!' None stain their blood so much as you that forsake the sincerity and strictness of religion which your fathers professed. Treasons in the posterity are counted a stain to noble ancestors; so is apostasy and loss of church privileges in you. It is an excellent thing to see the power of religion preserved from father to son: Heb. 11:9, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are called 'heirs of the same promise.' Pliny writeth that it was counted a great honour and point of felicity that in one house of the Curios there were three excellent orators one after another, and of the Fabii three presidents of the senate in the same succession. Oh, what an honour is it when there is a constant succession from father to the son, from the son to the grandchild, and all heirs of the same promise! The third descent, they say, maketh a gentleman in a new and opulent family. Here is Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, all heirs of the same promise; this is the true noble blood, a holy kindred, true gentry; otherwise omnis sanguis concolor--all blood is of a colour. It is high honour to be born of such a race. My father, my grandfather, and great-grandfather were all servants of the Lord, and will you cut off the entail? Christians, I must speak to you not only as sons of private christians, but as the sons of ministers, of whom special holiness is required, and which will engage a special blessing to their posterity, and will you stop the course of it? Oh! let not the ministerial blessing be worn out of your generations. I remember one observeth of the Jews, that as long as the strength and virtue of manna continued in their constitutions, they were a fortunate, valorous, and brave people; but when, after some successions of generations, that it was worn out, they grew pusillanimous and base. The ministerial blessing, while that lasteth, the posterity thrive, and by a wonderful providence arrive to great increase, many times from small beginnings. Oh! therefore keep up the warmth and vigour of godliness in your families, and then you will transmit the blessing to ages to come, and the children that are yet unborn. But alas! many times, through our carelessness and default, in the next generation it is worn out; as Phylostratus said of the son of Rufus, Perrinthius, a great master, 'As for his son, I have nothing else to say but that he was his son.' If that be all your honour, that you are the son of such an eminent man, but have nothing worthy in you that will be a sorry commendation; much more it you should fall to looseness and riot, you are the stain of your parents, and put them to shame when they are dead and gone. There is a notable place, Lev. 21:9, 'The daughter of any priest, if she shall play the whore, she profaneth her father, and shall be burnt with fire.' Let us comment on this text a little. Under the daughter, saith Calvin, the sons were also comprised; but if that were not, the daughter of the priest suiteth with your case; for the sons of priests were priests, which you are not now in the times of the gospel; and her case was more like your, who are not always public persons. Now it is said, 'She profaneth her father.' How? That is, she was a defilement to his name and house. And so the Septuagint, to onoma tou patrou auteu aute bebeloi, she is a reproach to the dignity of his office. Ministers must be not only good in their own persons, but in their relations, ruling their children and their own houses well. Eli's sons were a disgrace and shame to their father; so will you be, if you be nought. Men judge of the parents by the behaviour of their children. Yea, that is not all; the reflection will not only be personal, but as they will judge of the parents by the children, so of the calling by the persons; yea, and of God by the calling. It reflects upon God at last; as the people 'abhorred the offering of the Lord because of the wickedness of Eli's sons,' 1 Sam. 2:17. The heathens thought it a disgrace to the persons of their gods if their ministers were detected of impurity; and that is the reason of the great punishment there mentioned, 'She shall be burnt with fire.' The punishment of the priest's daughter was greater than that of any other woman. Others were not to die for simple fornication, neither man nor woman; but the man to marry her, or to pay a sum of money, Exod. 22:16, 17; but she is to be burnt. Austin observeth the same of the Romans, Lib. de Civit. Dei, cap. 5, Nam et ipsi Romani antiqui in stupor detectas vestales sacerdotes, vivas etiam defodiebant: adulteras autem faeminas, quamvis aliqua damnatione, nulla tamen morte plectebant; usque adeo gravius quae putabant adyta divina quam humana cubilia vindicabant. They were zealous for the honour of their gods, and therefore punished the faults of their ministers the more severely. Well then, if you would preserve the name of your ancestors to posterity, show it in the gravity of your conversations. Your offences will be a disgrace to them, and by them to God.

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