Mr. Barnard's DISCOURSES On the Great Concern of Parents; And The Important Duty of Children. On April 7. 1737.


A Call to Parents, and Children.

OR, The Great Concern OF PARENTS; AND The Important Duty OF CHILDREN.

The first being the Subject of the publick Exercises, on the Lord's Day; the second delivered to a reli­gious Society of Young Men, the Evening after; on April 24. 1737.

By Iohn Barnard, M. A. Pastor of a Church in Marblehead.

For, I know him, that he will command his Children, and his Houshold after him, and they shall keep the Way of the Lord, to do Iustice and Iudgment.

Gen. XVIII.19.

BOSTON: Printed by T. Fleet, for DANIEL HENCHMAN, over against the Brick Meeting House in Cornhill. 1737.

[Page 1]

THE Great Concern OF PARENTS.

1 Chron. XXVIII.9.

And thou, Solomon, my Son, know thou the God of thy Father, and serve Him, with a perfect Heart, and with a willing Mind; for the Lord searcheth all Hearts, and understandeth all the Imaginations of the Thoughts; if thou seek Him, He will be found of thee; but if thou for­sake Him, He will cast thee off forever.

THESE are the Words of David, King of Israel, to his Son Solomon, who was to suc­ceed him in the Throne. David was now grown old, and full of Days, and ready to give up the Ghost, and be gathered unto his Fathers; but, before he expires, he assembles all Israel unto him, the Princes of their Tribes, and the Captains of the Companies, &c. that is to say, their several Heads and Rulers, as the representative Body of all Israel; and before them all, he declares what had been the secret, [Page 2] settled Purpose, and Intention of his Heart, namely to build an House to the Name of the Lord God of Is­rael: and tho' God had forbidden him to build an House to His Name, because he had been a Man of War, and had shed much Blood; (War and Blood being but ill Materials to build the House, the Church of God with;) yet God had promised him, that one that should proceed out of his Loins, should both sit upon his Throne, and build Him an House. This Promise we find recorded in, II. Sam. VII.12, 13. where God, by Nathan the Prophet, says to David, When thy Days are fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy Fathers, I will set up thy Seed after thee,— he shall build an House for my Name, and I will establish the Throne of his Kingdom forever. At length God confined this Promise to a particular Person of the Seed of David, and foretells his Birth and Name; I. Chron. XXII.9. Behold a Son shall be born unto thee, who shall be a Man of Rest, and I will give him Rest from all his Enemies round about; for his Name shall be Solomon, and I will give Peace and Quietness unto Israel in his Days; he shall build an House for My Name.

And now that God had so far made good His Pro­mise, unto His Servant David, as to give him a Son, called Solomon, and of all his Sons, of which he had many, had chosen this his Son to sit upon the Throne of his Kingdom; David, before he died, saw to the conferring of the royal Dignity upon this his Son, and ordered Solomon to be proclaimed King. Accordingly he was so: and, probably, at this general assembling of all the Heads of Israel, and upon the return of the Nobles to David, with Solomon at the Head of them, from their triumphant Circuit to proclaim him King, David now, before them all, lays his solemn and dying Charge, both upon the People, and upon his Son.

First, he lays his solemn Charge upon the whole People, in their Heads and Rulers, ver. 8. now there­fore, in the Sight of all Israel, the Congregation of the [Page 3] Lord, and in the Audience of our God, keep and seek for all the Commandments of the Lord your God; that ye may possess this good Land, and leave it for an Inheritance for your Children after you forever. As if he had said, I do most solemnly charge you all, before God, and all this Congregation, as ever you expect to be a prosperous People, and that God should make this Land a good Land unto you, and continue you, and your Children in the quiet Possession of it, that ye be exceeding care­ful to walk in God's Way, in Obedience to all His Commands.

Secondly, he goes on more particularly to Charge his Son Solomon, in the Words of my Text; saying, And thou, Solomon, my Son, know thou the God of thy Father, and serve Him with a perfect Heart, and a willing Mind; for the Lord searcheth all Hearts, and understandeth all the Imaginations of the Thoughts; if thou seek Him, He will be found of thee; but if thou for­sake Him, He will cast thee off forever. The two Things remarkable in the Words, on which I shall ground my Discourse, and the Service before me this Day, are the Persons concerned, and the great and important Busi­ness that was before them.

1. As for the Persons here concerned, you may ob­serve, (1.) Who is the Speaker, namely David, the King of Israel, and Father of Solomon. (2.) Who is the Person spoken to, namely Solomon, the Son, and Successor, of David, who was now but a young Man, most probably under Twenty Years of Age.

2. We have the great and important Business that was before them, or the solemn Charge of the Father unto the Son, viz. to know, and serve the Lord, and that with a perfect Heart, and a willing Mind. So that here we have the great concern of a pious Father, David, for his Son, Solomon, while he was yet but a young Man, viz. that he should be established in the Knowledge, and Service, of the true God: He did not think his royal State, and Grandure, excused him from [Page 4] a due concern of Mind, and a vigorous Endeavour, that his Son should live religiously: which is expressive of what ought to be the Care of all Parents, that their Children may become vertuous, and religious Children. And then as David recommends this to his Son Solomon, above all other Things, as what he ought to have a more special Regard to, it shews us what is, and ought to be, the great, and important Concern, of all Young People. For we may observe that David enforces this Charge with several very weighty Reasons; as, (1) because the Lord searcheth all Hearts, and knoweth all the Imaginations of the Thoughts. (2) God will be found of them that seek Him. (3) He will forever cast off them that forsake Him. All of which shews that nothing can be of greater Concernment unto Young People, than early to devote themselves unto God, and His Service, and to be hearty, and diligent therein. From the Words, thus briefly discanted on, I shall observe Two Doctrinal Propositions, the first to be discoursed on publickly, this Day; the other to be more privately handled in the Evening.

I. Doc. It should be the great Concern of Parents▪ that their Children may be such as truely know, and serve God.

II. Doc. It should be the most important Concern of Young People, to know, and serve, the Lord, with a perfect Heart, and a willing Mind. The First of these Heads I shall, by Divine Assistance, speak to you from, as the Subject of my publick Discourse this Day; namely,

I. Doc. It should be the great Concern of Parents, that their Children may be such as truely know, and serve God. Under Parents may well be comprehended Masters; and under Children may be understood Ser­vants, as well as our natural Offspring. And what I [Page 5] say ought to be the Concern of all Parents, will be the Concern of every truely Religious Parent, and Master, that his Children, and Servants, may be such as shall know, and serve the Lord.

You see how greatly David was concerned for this, above all Things, in his dying Charge to his Son, Solomon, Thou, Solomon, my Son, know thou the God of thy Father, and serve Him. David was himself a faith­ful Servant of God, and, as King in Israel, he sought to bring all Israel to the sincere and hearty Service of God; now therefore keep, and seek, for all the Command­ments of the Lord your God, that ye may possess this good Land. As to his own particular Family, you see how concerned, and determined he was, that, if possible, it should consist only of vertuous, and religious Persons; in Psalm CI. says he, ver. 4. a froward Heart shall depart from me, I will not know a wicked Person; and ver. 6, 7. he that walketh in a perfect Way, he shall serve me; he that worketh Deceit, shall not dwell in my House; he that telleth Lies shall not tarry in my Sight. And you plainly see, when he comes to give his last, and most serious Directions, and Charges, to his be­loved Solomon, his Son, and Heir to his Crown, they do not consist of a Collection of Arcana Imperii, Secrets of State, and worldly Policy; or how to govern a People by dark Intreagues, deep Fetches, and secret Maxims of Will and Pleasure; and by what Methods of griping, squeesing, and oppression, to aggrandize himself; but his great Concern for him was, that, with a perfect Heart, and a willing Mind, he might know, and serve, the God of his Father. This seemed to swal­low up the whole Concern, and Care, of his dying Father for him. Yea, he knew that this comprehend­ed, and superceded, all other Directions, that a wise and vertuous Man ought to observe; and would be attended with all the comfortable, and happy, Cir­cumstances, that a Man of Thought could reasonably desire

[Page 6]Herein David's Example serveth for an Instruction unto us, upon whom the Ends of the World are come, to teach us, what we are to be chiefly concerned about, even the well educating of the rising Generation, and the forming of them unto Vertue, and Sobriety, to Religion, and Godliness, that we may leave a Godly Seed behind us, when we have finished our Course. And as this was not thought to be beneath the Care of King David, surely it will not be looked upon as be­neath any Parent to use his best Endeavours, that his Children may be well instructed in the Knowledge, and Service, of the true God.

In the prosecuting this Subject, I shall only con­sider,

I. How Parents should express their very great Concern, that their Children may know, and serve God: Or, what Methods Parents are to take, that their Chil­dren may be such. And then,

II. I shall mention some Things as very good Rea­sons, why Parents should be greatly concerned herein. These two Heads will be as so many Directions, and Motives, unto all Parents, in this great Affair.

I. I am to consider, how Parents should express their very great Concern, that their Children may know and serve the Lord; or, what Methods Parents are to take, that their Children may be such as shall know, and serve God. And tho' it be a certain Truth, that Parents cannot give Grace unto their Children, nor does Vertue run in the Blood, yet there are several Things required of Parents, as a likely and probable Means, to make their Children, and Servants, such as truely serve God. And I shall comprehend what I have to offer under these several Heads.

[Page 7]I. The bringing of them to the publick Worship of God.

II. The upholding the Worship of God in their Families.

III. The religious instructing and teaching of them.

IV. The religious and prudent Government of them.

In these several Ways, and by these Means, Parents are to express their very great Concern, and do their Part, that their Children may come to the Knowledge, and Service of God. I shall therefore speak something to each of these in their Order.

I. Parents are to be very careful to bring their Chil­dren to the Publick Worship of God, that they may know, and serve Him. For without a conscientious Care to bring their Children to the Publick Worship of God, it can hardly be expected, that they will be at any great Pains themselves to teach them their Duty; or if they should have some Disposition to teach them, it can scarce be imagined, that the Children will be so well, and effectually taught, the Knowledge, and Ser­vice of God, as they would be under the Instruction, and Guidance of God's own Ordinance. The Publick Worship of God is a Method of God's own Appoint­ment for all Persons to be taught the Knowledge of God, and how to serve Him: therefore the Prophet says, Isa. 11.3. Many People shall go, and say, come ye, and let us go up to the Mountain of the Lord, to the House of the God of Iacob, and He will teach us His Ways, and we will walk in His Paths; for out of Zion shall go forth the Law, and the Word of the Lord from Ierusalem. Here, by the Publick Worship of God, I intend two Things; namely,

[Page 8]1. The bringing of them unto the holy Baptism of the Lord, by which they are firstly initiated into His Church, and in their infant State brought under a publick Dedi­cation to His Service. And then,

2. As soon as they are capable of understanding any thing, to oblige them to a constant, and devout, atten­dance upon all the publick Ordinances of God.

1. Parents are to bring their Children in their In­fancy unto the holy Baptism of the Lord. By this sacred Rite of Baptism, the Children of God's People are firstly initiated into His visible Church, are made visible Members of the Body of Christ, and have a foederal Right, both to the Service of God, and the Blessings of His Covenant annexed thereto. Thus God gave it in Charge unto Abraham, the Father of the Faithful, to bring his Children under an early Dedica­tion unto God, and to give them up to the Lord, in their Infancy: and accordingly appointed the Rite of Circumcision to be administred unto his Children, at Eight Days old, as an Earnest and Pledge of their be­ing the Lord's, and by which they were made visible Members of the Church of God. Therefore said God unto him, Gen. XVII.10, 12. This is my Covenant, which ye shall keep between Me, and you, and thy Seed after thee; every Man-Child among you shall be circum­cised;— he that is eight Days old among you shall be cir­cumcised. So that when God took Abraham into Cove­nant with Himself, He took his Infant-Seed with him into that holy Covenant. And, I think, it is remarka­ble, that God never took any Person into Covenant with Himself, but at the same Time He received his Seed with him into that Covenant: and the Rite of Circumcision the Apostle styles, the Seal of the Righte­ousness of Faith. Rom. IV.11. That is, a visible Evidence, and Confirmation of the Covenant of God with His People; that He would be their God, and that they should be His People. And tho', since the Coming of Christ into the World, the visible Seal of [Page 9] the Covenant is altered, and the Rite of Circumcision, which had a Typical Reference to the Messiah to come, is abolished, with the other Iewish Rites and Ceremo­nies, yet it has pleased God not to leave His People, in the Days of the Gospel, without a visible Token of their special Relation to Him, but He has appointed the Rite of Baptism, the more expressive, and the more easy and gentle Sign, in the Room of Circumcision. Therefore you find Jesus Christ puts it into the Com­mission which he gave to His Ministers after His Resurrection, when He had received all Power in Heaven, and in Earth, Mat. XXVIII. to go, and teach all Nations, baptizing them, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. And not only are the Children a Part of the all Nations, but they were particularly a Part of the Nation of the Iews, who were included in the Covenant of God; and we no where find our Blessed Lord, in the Days of the Gospel, cutting them off from that Covenant; nor can it be imagined that the Children of Believers, under the milder, and more gracious Dispensation of Christianity, should be shut out of the Covenant, and intirely de­barred the Priviledges they were admitted to, under the Mosaic. Therefore, we not only read in the New Testament, of whole Housholds being baptised, which generally consist of Children, as well as grown Persons; but the Apostle, calling upon the Converts to be bap­tised, uses this Argument, Act. II.39. For the Pro­mise is unto you, and to your Children, and unto all that are afar off, (which intends the Gentiles,) even as many as the Lord, our God, shall call: which most plainly infers, that the Children, as well as the Parents, were to be baptised, or else the Argument he makes Use of is of no Force, nor was there any Occasion to mention Children in it.

So that it is the Duty of Parents to bring their infant Children, in the Days of the Gospel, unto the Baptism of the Lord, that they may visibly become [Page 10] the Children of God, and the Promise may belong unto them; that being thus early devoted unto God, and His Service, they may be brought into the Way of the Blessing, and have an assurance of an Opportu­nity of knowing, and serving God, if they live unto Years of Understanding; and may be secure of the promised Mercy of God if they die in their Infancy. As Israel of old, were obliged to circumcise all their Males, so are Christians obliged to obtain Baptism for their Children; and as God was angry with those that neglected the Rite of Circumcision, so is He displeased with those Parents that neglect to bring their Children to Baptism: and greatly faulty are those Parents who neglect this first Duty unto their Children, and do not express their due Concern that their Children should become the Servants of the most high God. But then,

2. As soon as Children are capable of understanding, their Parents should oblige them unto a constant and devout attendance upon the Publick Ordinances of God. Since Faith cometh by Hearing, and hearing by the Word of God, and it pleased God by the Foolishness of preaching to save them that believe; as the Apostle in­forms us; therefore it is the Duty of Parents to bring their Children, where they may hear the Word of God explained to them, that they may be led into the Mean­ing of it, and so come to the Knowledge of their Duty; and this as soon as they are capable of receiving any Benefit by the Instruction that is given them, and that they may early be accustomed to the religious Acknow­ledgments of God. The House, and Ordinances, of God, are, unto the Souls, as the Pool of Bethesda was unto the Diseased Bodies of Persons; an Angel at cer­tain Times descended, and troubled the Waters, and then, whosoever first stepped into the Waters, was healed of whatsoever Disease he had upon him; so God, by His Divine Power, to make those Ordinances the blessed Means of conveying spiritual Good, unto [Page 11] the Souls of those that devoutly attend upon them; both to heal them of their Ignorance, and of their Dis­orders, their Blindness, and their Lameness; that is to give them the Knowledge of God, and to dispose, and enable them to serve Him. In this House, and in these Ordinances, God Himself is in a more peculiar Manner present, there He giveth forth His Word, and there He commandeth the Blessing to descend. He says, as, Exod. XX.24. in all Places where I record my Name, I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee.

If therefore you would have your Children in the Way of the Blessing, bring them betimes into the Sanc­tuary of God, where He records His Name. I do not mean, that Parents should bring their Children unto the Publick Worship of God, while they are only ca­pable of giving Disturbance to it; but that as soon as their Children begin to understand what is said, and know how to submit to Restraints, they should inure them to attend upon the Duties of Publick Worship; and not suffer the frivolous Excuses, of their not being fine enough, to hinder them from bringing them unto the House of God. Surely, you would not, any of you, withold from them the Food of their Bodies, and suffer them to starve, because their Cloaths were not so good as others. And what Concern can you have for the Spiritual and Eternal Welfare of the Souls of your Children, if, because you imagine, in the Pride of your Hearts, their Cloaths are not good enough to be seen in, you withold from them the Food of their Souls? O, let then the great Concern of Parents for their Chil­dren put them upon bringing them early to the House of God. You know not how early a seasonable Word may meet them, and impress their young Minds, and stick by them, and do them good all their Days after. Let us then see your Children flocking, with you, unto the House of God, as Doves unto the Windows, the Place of their Shelter and Defence from the Birds of Prey. And while you oblige them to a constant at­tendance [Page 12] upon the Publick Worship of God, take Care also that your Children behave with Seriousness and Reverence, and give Diligence to remember what they hear in the House of God; and therefore demand of them an Account of what they hear, that they may hear with greater Attention, and that their Memories may be stored with Divine Truths. As the Children grow up into Years of more Understanding, endeavour to acquaint them with the Vow of their Baptism, the Nature and Use of it, and the Obligation they are under to take it upon themselves, by a publick Renewal of their Baptismal Covenant: and excite and stir them up to approach to the holy Table of the Lord, that they, with you, may feast upon the dear Memorials of the dying Love of Christ, and you may rejoice toge­ther in the Service of God, and in the Hope of the Glory of God. But I proceed to say,

II. Parents should be careful to uphold the Worship of God in their Families; and in this Way express their concern that their Children may know and serve the Lord. This is but a natural and most reasonable Service; Nature leads to the Worship of the God we have our Dependance on, and in the very Instances in which we depend upon Him; and what can be more rational? It may be this is a very much neglected Duty at this Day, and may be one of the greatest Causes of the decay of Religion, and the prevailing Disorders and Immoralities, that are to be observed in the Behaviour of so many. The Parents have not at­tained to so much Religion themselves, as to worship God in their Families, and, by this Means, their Chil­dren are brought up like Heathen, Pagan Children, who know almost nothing of God, and are averse to His Service. How many graceless Families are there, in which the Young People never heard any thing of the religious Worship of God? And thus they are sadly taught to live without God in the World. But I [Page 13] beseech you, as ever you would deserve the Name of Christians *, yea, as ever you would answer to the Re­lation of Parents in the Family, that, from this Time forward, you would all of you make Conscience of upholding the Worship of God in your Families.

This belongs to the Masters and Heads of Families, and, by the Way, to Masters of Vessels also, whose Company are a Family; such should be very careful to preserve the religious Acknowledgment of God in their several Families. How else can they be con­cerned, as they ought to be, that their Children, and those under them, should be such as know the Lord, and serve Him, with a perfect Heart and a willing Mind, when they will not so much as serve Him them­selves, or let their young People see that they serve Him? Now in this religious Worship of God in the Family, two Things are specially intended.

1. The diligent and devout Reading of the Word of God. And that because it is the Sacred Scripture, the Word of God, that is peculiarly adapted to this End, to acquaint us with the Knowledge of God, what an infinitely Great, and Wise, and Good, and Holy a God He is; and to inform us in the Will of God, and so direct and assist us in our serving of Him. Thus the holy Scriptures teach us what God is, and what He requires of us, and are profitable for Doctrine, Reproof, Correction, and Instruction in Righteousness; that we may be thereby furnished unto all good Works; and are able to make us wise unto Salvation. II. Tim. III.15, 16, 17.

If therefore Parents, and Masters of Families would have their Children, and Servants, well informed, and directed, they must in no Day, in which they are at [Page 14] Home with their Families, neglect the Reading of the Word of God among their young Folks. And inasmuch as there are also other good Books, which serve to explain Divine Truths, and open the Myste­ries of the Kingdom of God, and of Christ, and plainly and strongly enforce our Belief of the Articles, and practice of the Duties of our holy Religion, and are great Helps to bring young People to the Knowledge and Service of God; those also should be read in the Family, and the Children and Servants should be obli­ged themselves to read them at proper Seasons. But however, the Bible, that Book of Books, as containing the only Canon of our Faith and Practice, should be daily and devoutly read, as Part of the religious Wor­ship of the Family.

2. Serious and earnest Prayer must be upheld by Parents in their Families. This Duty of Family Prayer is so natural, and so necessary to the Life of Christianity, and indeed of all true Religion, that I cannot see how any Man can have the Face to pretend to be a Christian, that lives in the Neglect of it. And what Concern, I beseech you, can that Parent or Master have for his Children and Servants knowing and serving God, who so casts off the Fear of God, as thus to re­strain Prayer before Him? The Light of Nature taught the Heathen to rear up their Family Altars, and the very Turks pray in their Families, and shall not Christians! Are there not Family Wants to be sup­plied? And are there no Family Protections and Deli­verances to be desired? Do not Families need Directi­on and Guidance, and the Divine Blessing in all their Affairs? And who can so much as reasonably hope to obtain all this without so much as asking and praying for it? It was said of David, I. Chron. XVI.43. So David returned to bless his House; and the Apostle exhorts Masters, Col. IV.2. to continue in Prayer. It is an evident Allusion to the continual Offering and Sacrifice under the Law; that is, the Morning and [Page 15] Evening Sacrifice; and is as if the Apostle had said, Ye Masters, be careful to maintain your daily Prayers, Morning and Evening; call your Families and young People together, and pray with them daily. Every Master of a Family should take the proper Season, Evening and Morning, to offer up, with their Families, this their Sacrifice unto God, and the lifting up of their Hands should be like the continual Burnt-Offering. And I do most solemnly Charge you that are Parents, and Masters of Families, as you will answer it to God another Day, that you do not dare to live in the wilful Neglect of this plain and known Duty. To which I may add your religious Worship of God in your Houses at your Meals. Is it not a lamentable Thing, to see them that call themselves Christians take no more Notice of God, when they seed upon His Bounty, than the very Swine do? This is a most shameful and scandalous Neglect of God; and may well provoke Him to make your Table to become a Snare unto you, and to turn the Blessings of your Food into a Curse; and to make your Meat and Drink, instead of being wholesom and nourishing to you, and a Means to lengthen out your Life, to be rather the Means of con­veying Diseases and Pains unto you, and of shortening your Days, and hastening Death upon you. Therefore, as you would hope for Health and Strength from your Food, never sit down together at Me [...], without uni­tedly asking the Divine Blessing upon your Food, nor rise up from the Table, without giving God Thanks for what you have received.

But I foresee several Objections, which unthoughtful and irreligious People are prone to make Use of, as Excuses of their Neglect to worship God in their Houses, and with their Family; which I must remove the Force of, and shew you that they are all but vain frivolous Excuses. As now,

Ob. 1. Some will pretend they want Time for this Duty; they are, they say, so hurried in the World, and [Page 16] their Straights are so many, and their Wants so great, that they can spare no Time, from the Business of the World, for the Worship of God with their Families.

An. But how vain is this Excuse? if it were for no other Reason but this, That God is the Lord of all our Time. Does not God give you all the Time you have for your Business, and the Concerns of your Bodies? and what! shall not so small a Portion of it, be daily devoted to Him, and employed in His Ser­vice, as is requisite for Family Worship; which needeth not to be long and tedious.

But besides; what is it that you spend all your Time about? Is it the Hurry and Business of this World? Is it that you may provide for the Support and Comfort of the Bodies of your Children, that they may not want Bread to eat, and Raiment to put on? And say now, are the Concerns of this World to be so much preferred to the Concerns of the eternal World, as not to allow you so little a Pittance of Time for the Duties of Religion daily? Or can you think it reasonable, that you should not be as careful to provide for the Souls of your Children, as you say you are for their Bodies? Are the great and important Affairs of your own Souls, and the Souls of your Children, to be neglected for the sake of the really more trifling Affairs of the Body? Anon this World, and the Enjoyments of it, will not be any ways profitable to you, nor yours; but your serious Religion and Godliness will be every way, and forever profitable unto you.

Nay more; what Business will go on the heavier for your Family Religion? It is a true Saying, Prayer hinders no Business. Hinder it? No; it forwards it. It is like Oyl to the Wheels, which move the smoother, and the faster for it; as it engages the Direction, Assistance, and Blessing of God upon all your Affairs.

But after all, (which abundantly shews the Vanity of the Pretence,) who is there of you all that does not idly consume more Time, every Day you live, than the [Page 17] religious Duties of the Family requires? Thou canst not only find to Eat, and Sleep; (and yet one would think that so small a Part of Time might well enough be spared from Sleep, if you could find no other,) but you can find Time every Day for idle Chat, and vari­ous Diversions, and it may be for hard Drinking, and Gaming, and Tavern-haunting, and contriving and exe­cuting some sinful Purpose or other. Never more then say, that thou hast not Time to worship God in thy Family.

Ob. 2. Another pleads in Excuse for his Neglect of Family Worship, I know not how to pray before others; I would pray in my Family, but I am asha­med; I have not Confidence to perform this Duty.

An. This also is a vain Excuse. For, who is there of you that is ashamed to confess your real Wants, and ask the Help of any Friend, who you think is able and willing to help you, especially in any important Affair? or, would you go without his Help, rather than ask it before others, when you are sensible your Condition is generally known to all about you? and therefore what just Reason can you have for your being ashamed to ask the Help of God, confessing your Wants to Him, in much greater and more necessary Concerns than what any earthly Friend can help you in, tho' you are put upon doing of it before those that know your Wants, and are Sharers with you in them?

Besides; are not those in your Family, whom you are to pray with, and before, your greatest Intimates, and Dependants? as your Consort; your Children and Servants. And are Men wont to be ashamed to use such a Liberty of Speech before them as is needful? If indeed there should happen to be any Shimei, or Rabshekah in the Family, one that reproaches the living God, and mocks and reviles you, and your Offerings, it were better that you should turn such an one out of your Doors, than that you should shut God out of your House; for while you neglect to pray in your Family, you say unto the Almighty, depart from us.

[Page 18]You would pray in your Family, but you are asha­med, you say; — So then, you acknowledge it to be your Duty, but you hope to be excused in the Neglect of it, by something which you call Shame. But, is not what you call Shame, so far from a vertuous Mo­desty, that it is really a vitious averseness in you to your Duty? And can you suppose that your own sinful averseness to your Duty is a good Excuse for your Neglect of it? Remember the Words of Christ, which seem very much levelled against such as you are, Mark VIII.38. Whosoever shall be ashamed of me, and of my Words, in this adulterous and sinful Generation, of him also shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when he cometh in the Glory of the Father, with the holy Angels. Be asha­med to pray Man! No; thou hast infinitely more Cause to be ashamed to live without Prayer in thy Family, because all the while thou dost so thou livest in Sin.

Ob. 3. But says a Third, I can't utter myself. I believe they do well to pray in their Families that are able; but I am not gifted for it; and where God has not given the Gift, He does not require the Exercise of it; so that I may well be excused.

An. How do you know you are not gifted for this Duty, when you have never made the Tryal? But sup­pose that you cannot pray so elegantly, in such beautiful Phrases, and smooth Words, and handsom Periods, or with such a flow of Thought, as you think you observe in others; yet you may pray affectionately, graciously, and therefore acceptably. God regardeth not the Ora­tory of Words and Phrases, but that of the Heart, which consisteth in Sincerity and Truth; the sincere hearty Desires of the Soul, breathed out with a suitable Earnestness and Fervour; this maketh Melody in the Ears of God, be the Words ever so plain, and the Ac­cents broken. Therefore the wise Man says, Prov. XV.8. The Prayer of the Upright is His Delight. God taketh Pleasure in the sincere Prayers of His People, [Page 19] tho' they should be but what Hezekiah styled his, like the Chattering of a Crane or Swallow.

It is very much to be feared, that when you say you cannot pray, you want Words, and the like; the real secret Purpose of your Hearts is that you will not. And I think, I may offer you this plain Conviction of it, namely; That if the Civil Magistrate should set a Mulct of Five Pounds by the Week, for every Master of a Family that neglected the religious Worship of God with his Houshold, I suppose this would soon put the weakest of you all upon finding Words to pray in. Or suppose you were to gain Five Pounds a Week, so long as you upheld Family Worship; who is there of you that would neglect it any one Day in the Week? Now this plainly shews that it is not want of Words, but want of Will, that is the real Ground of this Neg­lect, whatever is pretended.

Besides you do not know how it may please God to assist you if you will but make Conscience of attending your Duty. Go home and try to pray; you that have hitherto neglected it in your Families, pray as you are able; and he that opened the Ears of the Deaf, can loose the Tongue of the Stammerer, and give a Door of utterance to you, beyond what you now imagine. Go then; and beg of God to help you to pray; and make use of the best Helps you can to direct and assist you in Prayer; especially, let the Lord's Prayer, that excellent Platform, be your Directory; and endeavour to turn what you read, and what you hear from the Word of God, into Prayer. Come; break the Ice▪ and the Difficulty will be over. By the Use, Prayer will grow more familiar and easy unto you, and you may gain the Gift of Prayer by accustoming of your self to Prayer. Say not then, any longer, that you can't pray, that you want Words, and are destitute of the Gift of Prayer; you have gained the Gift of Speech by accustoming of yourselves to try to speak, and so would you the Gift of Prayer in like Manner. Let [Page 20] then every Parent, every Master of a Family, be per­suaded to set upon the Practice of Family Religion, and suffer not so important and necessary a Duty to be neglected, upon any Pretences whatever. As you would have your Families to escape the Divine Fury, which God will pour out upon the Families that call not upon His Name, and be made to prosper, as the House of Obed Edom where the Ark of God was de­posited; and as you would have your Children and Servants to know and serve God in this World, and to enjoy Him forever hereafter, and you yourselves enjoy inward and endless Peace in their Peace, O, be exceed­ing careful, from henceforth to uphold the Worship of God in your Houses, and with your Families. But I pass to say,

III. Parents should be very careful religiously to teach and instruct their Children, that they may know, and serve the Lord. It is true, it should be the Con­cern of Parents to have their Children instructed in Civility, and good Manners, that it may not be said of them, they are better fed, than taught. They should carefully teach them how to behave themselves, and especially to carry it mannerly to all their Superiours, and respectfully to their Equals and Inferiours; that they reverence the hoary Head, and rise up at the Presence of the old Man; that they may not think they have a Right to carry it to their Superiours, and the aged, as if they were their Equals, and treat them with an unmannerly Speech and Behaviour; as is too common with many.

Besides; Parents should take Care, that as their Children grow up, they are instructed in some profita­ble Trade and Imployment, for necessary Uses; that they may not prove unprofitable Members of the Com­monwealth, and, like the idle Drone, live upon the Labour of others, while they bring nothing to the Hive.

[Page 21]But what I am now more specially concerned about is, the religious Instruction of their Children; tho' indeed good Manners, and Civility, and useful Employments would well enough fall under the Head of Religion, as being required by it.

Under the Former Head I have considered Parents as Priests offering up spiritual Sacrifices, in their Fa­milies, acceptable unto God by Jesus Christ: And here I am to consider them as Prophets, whose Business it is to teach and instruct their Families. So David did his Son Solomon, not only in this solemn Charge in my Text, but at other Times in his Youth and Nonage; and therefore Solomon says, Prov. IV.3, 4. I was my Father's Son, tender and only beloved in the Sight of my Mother; He taught me also, and said unto me, let thine Heart retain my Words, keep my Commandments and live. This Duty of Instruction belongs, not only unto the Father of the Family, but to the Mother also, who oftentimes has very much the Advantage of the Father, by being more at Home with the Children, in their Infancy, and so has great Opportunities to communicate Instruction to them. And that I may be a little distinct, I shall speak to parental Instruction under these Heads.

1. The instilling the Principles and Rudiments of Religion into them.

2. The Catechising of them.

3. The setting a good Example before them.

1. Parents should be concerned to teach and instruct their Children, by instilling into them the Principles and Rudiments of Religion, and acquainting them with the Knowledge of their Duty to God, and to their Fel­low Creatures. This is a Work that must be carefully heeded, and be begun betimes, that, if possible, their young Minds may be prepossessed with Principles of Religion and Vertue, before bad Practices fix their Disposition to Vice: so soon as there are any appear­ances of the first Glimmerings of Reason and Under­standing, [Page 22] while they are scarce weaned from the Milk, and drawn from the Breast, when they but begin to understand what is said to them, and to lisp out a few Words; Parents should be ever now and then drop­ing some sacred Truth into their young Breasts. So God required of his People of old, Deut. XI.18, 19. Ye shall lay up these my Words in your Heart, and Soul,— and ye shall teach them your Children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thy House, and when thou walkest by the Way, when thou lyest down, and when thou risest up. That is, they should improve every Opportunity to teach them, setting before them Precept upon Precept, and droping into them here a little, and there a little; that their Minds may be stored with those Principles of Religion, which may be of Use and Service to them all their Lives after. Thus they should acquaint them, that there is a GOD, who made them, and all Creatures, to whom they owe the highest Honour, and Reverence, and Obedience. They should get some proper Portions of the sacred Scripture into their Memory, and, as soon as they can, learn them to read the Word of God, that they may be acquainted with Divine Truths; that they may know what a holy God, the Lord is, who hates all Sin and Wickedness; and that He is a most powerful God, and is able to punish severely all their Disobedience; and that He is a most good God, who will plentifully reward all that love and serve Him. Show them what a miserable State and Condition they are brought into, by the Fall of the first Adam, from whom they derive a corrupt Nature, and are exposed unto the Anger of God. And acquaint them with the wonderful Compassion and Love of God to them, in providing JESUS CHRIST, the second Adam, to reco­ver them from Misery, and bring them to Happiness. Teach them, who this JESUS CHRIST is, even the only-begotten Son of God, appearing in our Nature, that He might be a Saviour for Sinners: and instill into them, what Iesus Christ hath done, and suffered, [Page 23] to save us from Wrath, and bring us unto God. En­deavour to shew them, what they must do to be saved by Him, that they must love God, believe in Christ, and live a holy Life. Inform their young Minds in all the great, and Master Duties, of Christianity, con­sisting in Piety and Devotion unto God, in Justice and Charity unto Men, and in Temperance and Sobriety in the Government of themselves. Thus teach them the Way of God in Truth; and teach them to pray, and allow them Time to go alone, and read the Word of God, and pray to Him; and cause them to learn the Creed, the Ten Commandments, and the Lord's Prayer, that they may not be ignorant of any of the Things, which they are to believe, or practise, or pray for. 'Tis observed, that a continual droping make Impression upon a Stone; thus let Parents be continually droping something of Religion upon their Children, and Ser­vants, (to which I must add their fervent Prayers for them,) that their young Hearts may be suitably im­pressed thereby, that they may be well informed in the Knowledge of God, and their Duty, and be, in some good Measure, disposed for the Service of God.

2. Parents should also teach their Children by Cate­chising of them. The catechising of Children has been, from old Times, looked upon as one of the best Means of instructing of them, because it commands their At­tention, and treasures up in their Memory the great and fundamental Principles of Christianity: it obliges them to regard what they are taught, because it obliges them to give Answer unto the Questions that are put to them. And unless Children are well instructed in their Catechism, which is a short Compendium of the Principles of Religion, they will be in great Danger of being drawn away by Seducers, and such as lay in wait to deceive; and so run into many Errors, and Follies, which will prove pernicious to them: and the want of this is one great Reason of the Ignorance of Persons, in the Doctrines, and Duties, of Christianity, [Page 24] and why they profit so little under the publick Preach­ing of the Word. Therefore this Way of instructing of Children should be carefully attended by Parents. See to it then that your Children learn their Catechism; and not only oblige them to get it by Heart, or into their Memory, but catechise them upon their Cate­chism; that is, put such pertinent short Questions unto them, as, by their Answer to which, you may dis­cover whether they understand their Catechism, and the Principles of Religion, or no. Our Saviour said to His Disciples, Mat. XIII.51. have you understood all these Things? So Parents should enquire of their Chil­dren what their Understanding and Knowledge is in the Doctrines of the Gospel, and the Way of Salvation by Iesus Christ.

Examine also their Experiences, as they grow up into more Years; enquire, whether they have felt the Power of the Word of God upon their Hearts; what Efficacy the Truths they have heard, and read, and learned, have upon their Hearts, and Lives. Enquire, whether they do now believe the Truths of God; whether they do indeed love God, and Christ, and Holiness, and hate all Sin. Examine, what are their Thoughts of God, and the Way of Holiness; what Apprehensions they have of Sin, and Wrath; and whe­ther a Saviour from Sin and Wrath, is not greatly desired by them, and would, above all Things, be most welcome to them.

And because Parents should be always jealous for their Children, lest, as the Serpent beguiled Eve, thro' his Subtlety, so, their Minds should be corrupted, and turned aside from the Ways of God, and Happiness, therefore they should endeavour to find out what Temp­tations they are most liable unto, and shew them the Danger of them, and guard them against them. Exa­mine also, their Life and Walk; call them to an Ac­count, and catechise them, ever now and then, about their Conduct and Behaviour, whether they make Con­science [Page 25] of reading the Word of God, and whether they pray to God, Morning and Evening. Enquire into their Company; what Company they mostly frequent, and associate themselves with; that, thro' your Neg­lect, they may not be the Companions of Fools, but may walk with the wise, and be like them. Parents will find a vast Advantage by their thus catechising of their Children, and that it will prove one of the best Methods to encrease their Knowledge and Vertue.


3. Parents ought to teach their Children by their own vertuous, and religious Example. So David taught his Son Solomon, and his other Children, and his Servants, and says▪ Psal. CI.2. I will behave myself wisely, in a perfect Way; and will walk within my House with a perfect Heart. Example we say goes beyond Precept; and no Example so forcible as that of a Pa­rent; and therefore Parents should be exceeding care­ful, to set a good Example of Religion, and Vertue before their Children, and so powerfully allure and draw them to the practice of their Duty; and never suffer them to see any bad Example in you, lest your Authority in commanding, and the Force of your In­struction be utterly lost upon them. It was a good Rule among the wiser Romans, Maxima Reverentia debetur Pueris. The greatest Reverence is due to Chil­dren. That is, Parents should take great Heed to what they say, and do, before them, because they will soon learn to imitate you.

Never then, suffer your Children to see your Na­kedness, by your allowing yourselves in any sinful Folly before them. Never let them see you disguised with indecent Passion, or with strong Drink; never suffer them to hear you tell a Lie, or profanely Cursing and Swearing; never let them see you guilty of the least Act of Fraud and Injustice in your Dealing. Alas! Vice will be naturally enough learned; there will be no Need of encouraging of it by Example.

[Page 26]Nay; how can it be supposed that your Children should hearken to your Instruction, when they see you live directly contrary to it yourselves? Therefore if you would have your Children taught effectually to know and serve God, not only say to them what they ought to do, but, be very careful to let them see, that you endeavour, in all Things, to abound in the Service of God; that you consciously avoid every sinful Thing, and shun the very Appearance of Evil, and willingly neglect no one Duty. Then may you be able to say to them, in the Strain of the Apostle, I. Cor. XI.1. Be ye Followers of me, as I am of Christ. Set before your Children the Example of a sober, a righteous, a godly Life and Conversation; and in all Things shew yourselves a Pattern of good Works, otherwise, ‘you will find it very hard to perswade them to do that, which they see you do not practice yourselves.’ Thus should Parents be very careful to teach and instruct their Children.

IV. Parents should be very careful to uphold a religious, and prudent Government of their Children, and Families. A Master of a Family is, and by the Law of God, and Nature, ought to be, King in his House; the Rule and Government thereof is laid upon him; and his great Care should be to rule his Houshold well, that it may be a well ordered and governed Society. And here there are these Things considerable in Parents Government of their Children.

  • 1. To cultivate their Modesty.
  • 2. To inure them to Diligence.
  • 3. To subdue their Wills and accustom them to Obedience.
  • 4. To restrain them from Evil.
  • 5. To lay their solemn Charges upon them.
  • 6. To reprove them.
  • 7. To correct them.

To each of these briefly,

[Page 27]1. Parents should be very careful in the Government of their Children to cultivate their Modesty. There is the Passion of Shame founded in our Nature, even as of Love, Hope, Fear, and the like; and Modesty is but a regular Exercise of this Passion of Shame, as a Guard upon us to prevent our doing any thing which we know to be amiss. We see something of this Passi­on early discovering itself in Children, even before they can speak. Now tho' a vitious Bashfulness ought to be prudently corrected, yet Modesty ought by all Means to be cultivated; because this will be one of the greatest Restraints upon Children to withold them from the Fury of unbridled Appetites and Passions, and, grow­ing up with them, will be a very great Praeventive of what is mean, and base, and sinful. Whereas when once a Child has cast off the Restraints of Modesty, he will run wild; the Reins will be laid upon the Neck of his Appetites and Passions, and there will be nothing, within himself, to hold him in, which will render every thing within him the less forcible. Parents, therefore, should be exceeding careful, not to extinguish, but, to cultivate, and improve this natural Modesty in their Children, that they may be afraid to offend, as one of the best natural Foundations for a regular and vertuous Life, and a prudent Conduct in the World.

2. Parents should be careful to inure their Children to Diligence. It is a great Mistake, and Fault, in the bringing up of Children to allow them the greatest Part of their Time for Idleness, and to do nothing but Play, and beat about the Streets. What can it be supposed such Children will be good for, when they are grown up? ‘Idleness is the Bane and Ruin of Children; it is the unbending of their Spirits, the Rust of their Faculties.’ They that contract idle and vitious Habits in their Youth, very difficultly get rid of them when they are grown up, and are not likely to love Work, nor Vertue; being indisposed, by a vitious Education, to both of them; therefore begin betimes to accustom [Page 28] Children to Diligence in some Employment or other. While they are unfit for any thing of hard Labour, keep them within Doors, at their Book, and at some little Services they may be capable of; any Business, rather than let them be idle. Of Idleness comes no good, but in all Labour there is some Profit. Children may very soon begin to earn something, if they were wisely employed by their Parents; and by being em­ployed the Devil would be kept more out of their Fingers, as the homely Proverb expresses it; that is, they would find but little Time to contrive, and less to execute, any wicked Purposes, which their Idleness would give them Leisure for. By inuring them to Diligence in their Youth, Labour would become more familiar, and less burdensome, to them, when they are grown up; and their Diligence would tend to make them great, in Mind, and in Purse. Solomon therefore observes, Prov. X.4. The diligent Hand maketh rich, whereas he becometh poor, that dealeth with a slack Hand: and, Prov. XXII.29. Seest thou a Man diligent in his Business, he shall stand before Kings, he shall not stand before mean Men.

3. Parents should carefully subdue the Wills of their Children, and accustom them to Obedience and Sub­mission. There is great Prudence requisite in this, and a constant steady Hand in holding in the Appetites of young People; and perhaps, herein lies the Secret, and Strength of Government. Children will very soon dis­cover the Strength of their Appetite, and Violence of their Will, even before they can speak; and if they are always cockered, and allowed to have their Wills, for Fear, forsook, their Spirits should be broke, it is easy to foresee, that there will be the utmost Danger of their breaking their Parents Spirits, and Hearts too, and of their proving Pests in every Relation, when they are grown up. 'Tis the Observation of the wise Man, Prov. XXIX.15. a Child left to himself bringeth his Mother to Shame. But by having their Wills subdued, [Page 29] and being accustomed unto Obedience, and Submission, they will know how to behave themselves, when they are Men, in every Relation, and bear it patiently that their Wills are not complied with in all Things. They should, therefore, be very early made sensible, that they ought not, in Reason, to have their Will, in such Things wherein it may be they strongly desire it; and they should never, upon any Terms, be allowed to run away with their Will over their Parents. For this will soon make them stubborn, and disobedient. Make them, therefore, to know, that they owe Obedience and Sub­mission, and that you always expect to be obeyed by them, whenever you call them, whatever you order them, or deny them, that is consistent with Reason, and the Will of God. Let them know, that this is the first Commandment with Promise, as the Apostle speaks, Eph. VI.1. Children obey your Parents; and that you are determined with yourselves, and resolute, that they shall obey you.

4. Parents should carefully restrain their Children from every evil Way and Work. It was articled against good old Eli, that his Children made themselves vile, and he restrained them not. I. Sam. III.13. Child­hood and Youth is naturally full of Warmth and Heat, and the Appetites and Passions, are prone to be very fierce and unruly, and hurry them away rashly into many Indecencies, and Enormities; therefore Parents had need to be very watchful over their Children, and keep a jealous Eye upon them, to observe and mark the workings of their Inclination, that they may timely restrain them, and prevent their turning aside into crooked and bye Paths. As they observe the Ten­dency of their Nature to this or the other Vice, they should prudently lay their Restraints upon them, to keep them from indulging their natural vitious Appetite and Inclination. And this they should do, by, first, shewing them the evil Nature, and bad Consequences of their taking such or such vitious Courses: and then, [Page 30] by letting of them know that they will forfeit their Favour and Affection, if they allow themselves in them. They should also restrain them, by witholding from them, as much as may be, the Opportunities of their running into bad Practices: and therefore restrain them from bad Company, that they may not learn their evil Manners, and do like them; and restrain them from gading, and wandering abroad, with a lawless Liberty, at unseasonable Hours; and especially from their strole­ing about, and sporting themselves, on the Lord's-Day Evening, as the Manner of too many is, by which the Efficacy of the best of Days, and the holy Services thereof, is very much lost upon them. For such Li­berties will naturally tend to corrupt them, and draw them into Mischief, whereas a Restraint therefrom will very much keep them out of Harm's way, and pre­vent the Occasion, and Temptation, and Opportunity, of many Sins.

5. Parents should be careful to lay their solemn Charges upon their Children. So David did upon So­lomon, in my Text, thou, Solomon, my Son, know thou the God of thy Father; and God says of Abraham, Gen. XVIII.19. I know him, that he will command his Children, and his Houshold after him, and they shall keep the Way of the Lord. O! that it might be said so of all Parents, and Heads of Families, that they will command their Children, and Housholds after them, to keep the Way of the Lord, then might we hope to see God Himself adding the Encouragement, that they shall be a vertuous, and a prosperous Generation. The parental Charges are the Exhortations and Counsels and Warnings, backed with the authoritative Injuncti­ons of a Father; and one would be ready to think, that the wholsome Counsels of a Father, strengthened by his Commands, should go a great Way to influence the Children to their Duty. We exhorted and charged every one of you, as a Father doth his Children: said the Apostle, I. Thes. II.11. Parents, therefore, should [Page 31] take a proper Opportunity, alone with their young People, to exhort, and perswade them, to that which is vertuous, and laudable, and add their weighty and solemn Charges upon their Children, to observe, and do, according to their Instruction. Solomon says, Prov. IV.3, 4. I was my Father's Son, he taught me also, and said unto me, let thine Heart retain my Words, keep my Commandments and live. So let Parents command their Children to love, and fear, and serve God, and carefully shun all the Paths of the Destroyer; charge them, to embrace the offered Salvation of the Gospel, to believe in Christ, that they may be accepted, thro' Him, to the everlasting Mercy of God; charge them, to go alone, every Day, and pour out a Prayer unto God, to pardon, and sanctify them, to preserve, and guide them, to make them Blessings, and eternally save them; and that they do not dare to live without Prayer, so much as one Day of their Lives: charge them, not to hearken to the Enticements and Allurements of Sinners, nor suffer themselves to be drawn away with the evil Example of the Wicked, lest they partake in their Punishment: charge them, to commune with their own Hearts, to think, who made them, and what was the End wherefore God gave a Being to them, what they are doing, how they answer the End of their Make, where they are going, and what their present Course will end in, and what will become of them: charge them, to think seriously, of Death, and Judg­ment, of Heaven, and Hell, and of the boundless Eternity that is before them. Oh! if they would but think closely of a vast Eternity, for a few Moments every Day, the Thoughts hereof might be a Means of their eternal Salvation.

6. Parents should be careful to reprove their Chil­dren. The wise Man says, Prov. VI.23. The Re­proofs of Instruction are the way of Life. Young People are very prone to give themselves a Loose, and wander out of the Path of Life, and take a Course that is very [Page 32] contrary to Religion and Vertue, and therefore their Parents should carefully and prudently administer Re­proofs unto them, that they may, if possible, recover them from every ill Path, and turn them into the Way of Life, that they may not die. There are few or no Families so happy, but the Parents may observe, that their young Folks do, and say, what they ought not; and when they observe such Things in them, they should be very sure in a proper Time, and Manner, to reprove them for it; lest by their not bearing their Testimony against their evil Practices, their Children and Servants, take Encouragement, and grow bold and hardened therein. Where, indeed, a gentle Reproof and Admonition will answer the End, as it may with some Tempers, for a Reproof entereth more into a wise Man, than an hundred Stripes into a Fool, there it may be sufficient to reprove with all mildness; but where such gentle Reproofs, upon Experience, are found to be insufficient, there Parents ought to proceed to a more sharp Rebuke, that his Words may be strong and forcible, and carry Weight and Authority with them, and let the Children see that you are in Earnest, and mean to be heard. And especially, if the Faults which they are guilty of are gross, the Reproof should be the more sharp and pungent, and set home with the greater Force upon them, that they may feel the Re­proofs of Wisdom, and fear and do no more so wick­edly. And lastly;

7. Parents should carefully and wisely correct their Children. It may be that Admonitions and Reproofs, by Words, will not be sufficient to govern the young People, (as with many Tempers they will not,) if so, then Parents ought to proceed from Words to Blows, and lay the Reproof home upon them, that they may feel the Smart of it; and not suffer any fond Indul­gence to divert the needful Correction. Prov. XIX.18. Chast [...] thy Son, while there is Hope, and let not thy Soul spare for his crying. It is not enough in great and [Page 33] atrocious Crimes, such as Lying, Stealing, Sabbath-breaking, Cursing and Swearing, and palpable Disobe­dience, and contempt of parental Authority, to say, as old Eli, nay; my Sons, it is not a good Report which I hear; why do you such things? But there must be a proceeding unto Family Correction, and the Rod must teach to do better. Prov. XXIX.15. The Rod and Reproof give Wisdom. If Reproof, by Words, will do, there is then no need of the Rod; but if Words will not prevail with them to mend their Manners, the Rod must then be made use of; for the Rod was made for the Fool's Back, as the Whip for the Horse. Some Children are of such a Make and Temper, that nothing but the Rod of Correction will cause their Folly to depart from them. If therefore the Parent would have Joy in his Child he must not withold Correction from him, when it is due. Prov. XXIX.17. Correct thy Son, and he shall give thee Rest; yea, he shall give De­light unto thy Soul. Nay; if thou hast any Love unto thy Child, and wouldst not harden thyself against thy own Flesh, be careful to correct him, when he needeth it, that thou mayest preserve him, from the greatest of Miseries. Prov. XXIII.13, 14. Withold not Cor­rection from the Child; for if thou beatest him with the Rod, he shall not die; thou shalt beat him with the Rod, and shalt deliver his Soul from Hell. So that oftentimes the Correction of the Rod, and of Stripes, is absolutely necessary, in the parental Government, and may be a Means of delivering the Child from the Snares of Death, and the Path Way that leadeth down to Hell. Thus should Parents uphold a religious and prudent Govern­ment of their Children, and Families.

But then, in the Government of their Children, Pa­rents should be careful to observe these Two Rules.

1. Never to correct in a Passion. Parents ought never to strike in their Fury, any more than a Judge to punish in his Wrath; lest the Correction be looked upon but as the Effect of Passion, and not the necessary [Page 34] Penalty of any violated Law, and so all the good Ends of it be lost. ‘There can be nothing so well done in a Passion, but what may be done much better out of it.’ First, endeavour calmly to convince the Child that he has acted very foolishly, and deserves to be corrected; and then, shew him the Obligations you lie under to God, and him, to correct him; and remem­ber, in your Correction, that the Wrath of Man work­eth not the Righteousness of God; and always endea­vour to preserve a Calmness of Temper, when yet you must shew your Displeasure at every Thing that is vitious.

2. Be not over rigorous in your Government. Too flack Reins of Government will weaken the Autho­rity, and procure Contempt; and too streight and se­vere Management will provoke to Mutiny and Re­bellion. Temper therefore your Family Government, with a suitable Degree of Mildness. The Apostolical Direction is, (Ephes. VI.4.) Fathers provoke not your Children to Wrath; but bring them up in the Nurture and Admonition of the Lord. Let our mildness procure their Love to you, at the same Time that your steady Authority excites them to fear you; so will you have the Command of the two main Springs of their Nature, and the more easily bring them up in the Nurture and Admonition of the Lord. In short; don't be always chiding, and finding Fault; nor perpetually, and cru­elly correcting; constant chiding is the Way never to mend; perpetual Correction hardens, and does not reform.

I doubt not but that many Children are ruined for want of observing these two plain Rules; their Parents never chide, nor correct, but in a Passion, and are too rigorous and severe; and by this Means the Children are lost and undone, by being hardened in their evil Ways; when a more steady, mild, yet close and taut Government might have served them. For he that sees you love him, while you correct him, will on likely to [Page 35] hear your Reproofs; while he, that thinks you hate him, will disregard them all.

Thus I have shewed how Parents are to manifest their Concern, that their Children may know, and serve the Lord: by bringing them to the Publick Worship of God, by their own upholding the Worship of God in their Families, by a religious Instruction of their Children and Servants, and by a religious and prudent Government of them. And in all of these Parents should be careful to be seasonable, pertinent, and autho­rative, in what they do; begin early with them, adapt themselves, as they are able, to each particular Temper, and Disposition, and Case; and be very careful in all to preserve their own Authority, and never suffer a Child to get the Mastery of them.

But I must hasten to the Second Thing I proposed, namely,

II. To mention some Things as very good Reasons, why Parents should be greatly concerned, that their Children may be such as shall truely know and serve the Lord. And I shall Name a few Things, as Heads of Argument to enforce and press this Duty very strongly upon all Parents; namely, that they owe it unto God, to their Children, to the Publick, and unto themselves.

I. This is what Parents owe unto God, to use utmost Care that their Children may be taught the Knowledge and Service of the Lord.

For this is what God has positively required of them. How often does God enjoin this Duty upon Parents, in the Old Testament? Thus God gives it in Charge to them, by His Servant Moses, Deut. IV.9, 10. Take heed unto thyself, and keep thy Soul diligent­ly, lest thou forget the Things which thou hast seen, and lest they depart from thine Heart all the Days of thy Life; but teach thou thy Sons, and thy Sons Sons; espe­cially, [Page 36] the Day which thou stoodest before the Lord thy God in Horeb, (that is, when the Law was given from Mount Sinai,) when the Lord said unto me, gather me the Peo­ple together, and I will make them hear my Words, that they may learn to fear me, all the Days they shall be upon the Earth, and that they may teach their Children. So again, we read, Deut. VI 6, 7. These Words which I command thee this Day shall be in thine Heart; and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy Children, and shalt talk to them when thou sittest in thine House, and when thou walkest by the Way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. Thus also we are told, Psal. LXXVIII.5, 6, 7. He established a Testimony in Ia­cob, and appointed a Law in Israel, which he commanded our Fathers, that they should make them known unto their Children; that the Generation to come might know them, even the Children which should be born, who should arise and declare them unto their Children, that they might set their Hope in God, and not forget the Works of God, but keep His Commandments. And many Commands of like Import have we in the New Testament, particu­larly that in Ephes. VI.4. Parents provoke not your Children to Wrath, but bring them up in the Nurture and Admonition of the Lord.

But besides all these, and many more, plain and positive Commands, the Honour of God and His In­terest calls for it. For, what is the Interest of God in the World, but the Advancement of the Glory of His Name, a shewing forth the Honour of His Dominion and Power, His Holiness and Goodness, in a People formed to serve Him? Thus the Interest and Honour of God is embarked in His Church, which is His visible Kingdom in the World. And how shall this Interest of God be promoted, if Parents are not careful to hand Religion down, in the Truth and Purity of it, to their Posterity? If this Duty should be generally neglected, a Generation, or two, will wear out the Name and Service of God, and so His Church, and [Page 37] Kingdom, and Interest would be no more to be found in the World: and therefore Parents should be careful to instruct their Children in the Knowledge and Ser­vice of God, that Religion may be transmitted to Posterity, and God may have a holy Seed to serve him, on Earth, when they are dead and gone. And every truely Godly Parent will have an Eye to this End, and be careful thus to promote the Interest of God; and it is the Duty of all Parents so to do, because they are under all imaginable Obligations, by the Law of Crea­tion, and Preservation, and Benefaction, to do all they can to advance the Honour of God in the World.

II. Parents owe it also unto their Children and Fa­milies, to be very careful thus to teach them the Know­ledge and Service of God. Because Parents owe it unto their Children, to take all the Care they can of them, to promote their Welfare. 'Tis inwrought into their very Nature to provide Food, and Raiment, for them. The Sea Monster draws out her Breast unto her young ones; and the Apostle tells us, I. Tim. V.8▪ if any provide not for his own, and specially them of his own House, he hath denied the Faith, and is worse than an Infidel. And what? O Parent! Dost thou not owe it unto thy Child, to be concerned for his Soul, as well as for his Body? Wilt thou not do all thou canst to promote his eternal Interest, as well as his temporal one? Nay; I beseech you, O Parent, hast not thou communicated unto him that sinful sinning Heart and Nature, which brings thy Child, the Fruit of thy own Body, under the Wrath and Curse of God? And will you not then be most deeply concerned how he may escape this Curse, and may not be miserable forever? Will you not use your own best Endeavours, that all the Disorders of his Nature may be rectified, and that he may be made meet for the Heavenly Inheritance.

Yea; think, O Parent! hast thou not taught thy Child to Sin? Has he not learned many Vices of thee, [Page 38] thro' thy own Vitiousness, or thy Weakness, or Inad­vertency? And will you not then be concerned to do what you can to unlearn him that which is Evil, and to teach him that which is Good, that thy Child may be happy? Do not the Bonds of Nature and Religion oblige thee to procure the Happiness of thy Children? Are not your Children a Part of yourselves? And can you bear to think of their perishing forever in everlast­ing Burning? Look upon the tender Lambs, and think; these, even these delightful and engaging Offspring of thine own Bowels must, one Day, very probably, lie down in Hell, surrounded with devouring Fire, and become a Prey to Devils, and that forever, if you do not take a seasonable and prudent Care to prevent it! And will not the Thoughts hereof startle thee, and make thine Heart to bleed within thee? Art thou more cruel to thy Children than the Ostrich, and the wild Beasts of the Wilderness?

If the Body of thy Child were sick, doubtless thou wouldst be concerned to recover its Health. Why, Man! The Soul of thy Child is sick, nigh unto Death: and wilt thou do nothing to save the Soul of that poor little Thing? Should it tumble into the Water, and be in Danger of drowning, wouldst not thou, if thou wert near to it, put forth thy Hand to save it? Why, Man! the Soul of thy Child is in infinite Danger of perishing in the Lake of Fire; and wilt thou not bestir thyself to pluck it as a Brand out of the Burning? Hast thou no Mercy? no Pity and Compassion on the Fruit of the Womb, or the Child that thou hast begotten? Nay; art thou lost to all Justice and Equity? that thou wilt not do thy Part to repair the Injury thou hast done unto it? See then, how strong thy Obligations are to do thy best, that thy Children, and Servants, may be such as shall know and serve God, that they may be happy forever.

[Page 39]III. Parents owe it unto the Publick, to teach their Children the Knowledge, and Service of God. Hast thou any Regard to the publick Welfare of the World, and the Place where thou livest? then oughtest thou to be very careful that thy Children may be well taught. As Families are generally made up of Children, and young People, so by them the Town, and Nation, and Kingdom are encreased and supported: and since the Nation and People, we belong to, and the Town where we dwell, are continued, and upheld by the rising Ge­neration, in the several particular Families, therefore the Welfare of the State, and Place of our Abode, is very much dependent upon the regular Conduct, and Behaviour of those Children, when they are grown up to Years of Maturity and Manhood. If then they are not well instructed, and formed, for Religion, and Vertue, how can it otherwise be expected than that they should prove mere Burdens, and Plagues, in the Places where they dwell? Their ungovernable Tempers, their immoral and vitious Behaviour, will throw all into Confusion, and prove hurtful to all about them; either by direct Injuries done by them, or by the bad Ex­ample they will set before others. For there is no such Cement of the Unity of a People as true Religion, nor any such sure Foundation of their Prosperity as the Fear of God; while lewd and immoral Practices bring Ruin upon a People. Prov. XIV.34. Righteousness exalteth a Nation; but Sin is a Reproach to any People If therefore the Children that rise up are not taught the Knowledge and Service of God, not only will they bring the Curse of God, upon the Place where they dwell, as a Punishment for the Wickedness of its In­habitants, but they will, in a natural Way bring innu­merable Mischiefs and Confusions upon themselves. For what will there be to restrain a People, from every one doing what is right in his own Eyes, when once a Sense of God and Religion is lost among them. [Page 40] Their Passions will have a full run, and be continually stirring up, and fomenting Strife and Divisions; their Lusts and Appetites will have no Restraint upon them, and this will lead them to prey upon one another, in all the Ways of Injustice, and Fraud, Oppression, and Rapine: and if ever such ill educated Persons should come to Places of Honour and Preferment among a People, it would be but so much the worse for that People, because of the greater Opportunity such would have for the Indulgence of their Lusts and Passions. So that out of Regard to the publick Weal, which every one ought to have at Heart, Parents should be greatly concerned, that their Children may be such as shall know, and serve the Lord; that Temperance, and Justice, and brotherly Love, and all the social Vertues may render the Welfare of that People, strong and lasting. This will be the Way for your Children to be Blessings in the World. Hence is that Advice of Solomon's, Prov. XXII.6. Train up a Child in the Way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it. He will walk in those Paths of Vertue, when he is a Man; and so become a Blessing to the World in his Day.

IV. Parents ought thus to endeavour, that their Children may be such as shall know and serve the Lord, out of Regard unto themselves. If, O Parent! thou hast no Regard to any one else, yet wilt thou have no Respect unto thyself, to thy own Benefit and Advantage, to thy own Comfort and Happiness here, and hereafter? Why then it ought to be thy great Care, to bring up thy Children religiously, in the Service of God. For what Prospect can you have that your Children, and Servants, will be dutiful, and obe­dient unto you, if they are not in some Measure influ­enced thereunto by the Fear of God? If thou leavest thy Children to themselves, thou canst expect no other but that they will be a Vexation, and Grief of Heart [Page 41] to thee. They will do such Things as shall be a Bur­den to thee, as long as thou livest. But if thy Children are well trained up, in the Knowledge, and Service of God, then they will make thy Heart glad; as he said, Prov. X.1. a wise Son maketh a glad Father. It will be the Joy of thy Soul to see him act prudently, wisely, vertuously; and to hear others commending of him for a fine well-bred young Man. Whereas, says Solomon, in the forecited Place, a foolish Son is the Hea­viness of his Mother. His irregular Life will be a Heaviness unto thee, much beyond that of following him to his Grave, in his Infancy. And, it may be, he will by his unrestrained Folly and Wickedness, expose thee to publick Shame: as the same wise Man says, Prov. XXIX.15. a Child left to himself, bringeth his Mother to Shame.

But besides all this Sorrow and Vexation and Shame, that a Child, left unto himself, will bring thee unto; what dost thou think will be thy Portion hereafter, for thy Neglect of thy Children! God has committed your Children, and your Servants also, unto your Care, that you may bring them up in His Service; He does, as it were, say unto thee, here, take Care of the Soul of this young Person, to teach and instruct it in My Will, in the Knowledge of Me, and its Duty to Me; I charge you, at your Peril, that you lead it in a right Way; if it perish at last, thro' your Default, I will require its Blood at your Hands. O! what everlast­ing Shame, and Confusion of Face, will it involve you in, to have the infinitely Great and Holy God saying unto you, in the Day of Account, what is become of the poor Soul of that Child which I committed unto your Care? Unnatural Wretch that thou art; thou hast vilely neglected it, and instead of promoting its Hap­piness, hast but furthered its endless Misery! And what a Sting will it be unto thee, in the Place of Torment? to have thy perishing Children then cry out against thee for thy hard Heartedness! How will it pierce thee [Page 42] to thy Soul? to hear them roar upon thee; O thou cruel Parent! who hast despised and neglected thy own Offspring! If you had done your Duty to us, we should have escaped this Place of Torment, and have been happy forever! ‘Cursed be the Man that begat us, and the Paps that gave us Suck! 'Tis to you that we must in a great Measure owe our everlasting undoing!’ Oh! what Horror and Amazement, what inexpressible Anguish and Torment, of Soul, will this fill you withal? and how will it add unto the Flames that will prey upon you! So that by all the Ties of Nature, Interest, and Religion, Parents are obliged to take Care to teach their Children to know and serve God.

Thus I have finished the First Doctrine, and leave the Second to be discoursed on, this Evening, to a Number of young Men. And having been practical thro' the whole of my treating on this Subject, all I shall add shall be,

An earnest Perswasion unto all Parents, from the Considerations I have mentioned, and as I have directed and shewed you how to use your best Endeavours, that your Children may be among the happy Number of those that know and serve the Lord. This will afford you inconceivable Satisfaction, and cause Joy in Hea­ven itself; and for this they will bless God that ever they knew you; this will yield you Comfort in a Dying Hour, and give you the Prospect of an happy and endless meeting with them, in the Kingdom of God above; and enable you to say, with a holy Transport of Soul, Behold me, and the Children which God hath graciously given to me! Wherefore come to Ioshua's Resolution, with which I now conclude, Ios. XXIV.15. As for me, and my House, we will serve the Lord.

[Page 43]

THE Important Duty OF CHILDREN.

I Chron. XXVIII.9.

And thou, Solomon, my Son, know thou the God of thy Father, and serve Him, with a perfect Heart, and with a willing Mind; for the Lord searcheth all Hearts, and understandeth all the Imaginations of the Thoughts; if thou seek Him, He will be found of thee; but if thou for­sake Him, He will cast thee off forever.

I Have, in Publick to Day, discoursed some Things upon these Words, before many of you that are here present, and have observed that they are the Words of King David, to Solomon, his Son; and in them, we have the Father's great Concern, that his Child may know and serve the Lord. From whence I have discoursed on this Doctrine,

1. Doc. That it should be the great Concern of Parents, that their Children may be such as shall know and serve the Lord.

[Page 44]But then, the Words are spoken unto Solomon, a Young Man, under Twenty Years of Age, and shew him what his great Concern should be, namely, to serve God, with a perfect Heart, and a willing Mind; and that because God knoweth the Heart, and will ac­cept such as so serve Him, and reject them that do it not. From whence I have noted this as a Second Doctrine, viz.

2. Doc. That it should be the most important Con­cern of Young People, to know, and serve, the Lord, with a perfect Heart, and a willing Mind.

This Doctrine I reserved to be discoursed on, by the Help of God, this Evening, unto you my Young People; and in the handling of it, I shall endeavour to shew you,

I. What is to be understood by knowing God.

II Wherein consists the Service of God.

III. That God is to be served with a perfect Heart, and a willing Mind.

IV. And then I shall evidence this to be the most important Concern of Young People; where I shall consider the Arguments made use of in the Text. I begin with the first of these, viz.

I. What is to be understood by knowing God? Kknow thou the God of thy Father. Now, the Know­ledge of God may well be understood to comprehend these Three Things in it.

  • 1. That there is a God.
  • 2. What this God is. And,
  • 3. What this God requireth of us.

[Page 45]1. To know God, comprehends in it the Knowledge that there is a God. For if the Mind is not first inform­ed, and does not give Credit to the Information, that verily there is a GOD, some supream, and infinitely power­ful, and wise Agent, from whom all Things originate, there can be no Foundation for the Knowledge of Him, nor for any Service to Him. This therefore is the first Thing in the Knowledge of GOD, to have the Mind firmly impressed with the Belief of the Being of GOD. Hence we are told, Heb. XI.6. He that cometh unto God, must believe that he is. This is the first Thing that Young People should get their Minds well in­formed in the Belief of, that there is a GOD, a Supream Being, who is the first Cause, and the last End of all Things; That there is a GOD, who gave Being unto all this World; That this GOD made us, and formed us, and fashioned us, and furnished us with all our Powers, of Choice, and of Action. Therefore the Preacher says, Eccl. XII.1. Remember thy Creator, in the Days of thy Youth. So soon as you come to Years of Understanding, you should remember that there is a GOD, who is thy Creator, and the Creator of all Things in Heaven and in Earth. While your Minds are soft and tender you should receive the Impressions of the Being of the great GOD upon them, that the Be­lief hereof may have its due Influence upon you all your Life after. The Belief of a GOD, of all Perfecti­ons, the Maker, and Ruler, of all Worlds, and to whom you must be accountable, should be deeply rooted in your Minds; and serious Thoughts of this GOD should be often present with you. And indeed, you can look no where without seeing some plain Evidences and Proofs of the Being of a God. Young as you are, you are capable of seeing GOD in all Things; for as the Psalmist said, (Psal. XIX.1.) The Heavens declare the Glory of God; and the Firmament sheweth His handy Work. And so the Apostle (Rom. I.20.) says, The [...] Things of Him, from the Creation of the [Page 46] World, are clearly seen, being understood by the Things that are made; even His Eternal Power and Godhead. This is the first Thing to know that there is a GOD.

2. The Knowledge of God includes in it, the Know­ledge of what this God is. Not that Youth are able fully to understand what sort of a Being the Lord is: For so the most ripened Years cannot attain unto the Knowledge of God; because there is no finding out of the Almighty unto Perfection. Yea, the very An­gels of Heaven cannot so know God. For no finite Mind can comprehend that which is Infinite. But yet, so much of God may be known by us, as it hath pleased God to manifest of Himself unto us, as neces­sary to our serving of Him. And thus Young People should be concerned to know God. As now,

They should know that the Lord is a great God. That this God has all Power in His own Hands, and can do whatsoever He pleases. For what cannot He do that made a World out of nothing? You are to know, as Iob expresses it, Iob XLII.2. That God can do every thing, and that no Thought can be witholden from Him: and therefore to know that this God can punish severely those that dare to offend Him, and that He is able to protect, and reward, those that faithfully serve Him.

Again; you are to know, that this God is an infi­nitely good God; whose Goodness is seen in His giving Being to you, in His constant preserving of you, and bountifully supplying of all your Wants. Thou art Good, and doest Good; said the Psalmist, Psal. CXIX.68. Yea, God is good unto all, and His tender Mercies are over all His Works. Psal. CXLV.9. So soon as you arrive at the Use of Reason, you should well ac­quaint yourselves with the Goodness of God unto you, that you may be allured thereby unto all Fidelity in His Service. And need you to look far to see the Instances of His Goodness to you? Or can you forget [Page 47] the Author of your Lives, your constant Preserver, and Benefactor, from whom you receive your All?

Again; you are to know that this God is a very Holy God; that He has no Pleasure in Wickedness, neither shall Evil dwell with Him, but He perfectly hateth all Sin and Iniquity, and cannot by any Means approve of it. Hab. I.13. Thou art of purer Eyes than to behold Evil, and canst not look upon Iniquity. You should therefore early know, and bear it in Mind, not only, that God is Himself at an infinite Distance from all moral Evil, but, that He hates all Sin where­soever He sees it; and because Sin is the abominable Thing which the Soul of the Lord hates, therefore He hateth all the Workers of Iniquity.

Again; you are to know that this God is every where present, and perfectly knows all Things, all Persons, and all their Actions. So says God, by His Prophet, Ier. XXIII.24. Can any hide himself, in secret Places, that I shall not see him? saith the Lord: do not I fill Heaven and Earth? saith the Lord. Young as you are, you are to know, and realize it, that God sees you wherever you are; that He knows all your Actions, Words, and Thoughts, and you cannot hide yourselves, nor what you do, or say, or think, from His View.

Finally; you are to know, that the Lord is a God of Truth, and that it is impossible unto God to Lie, Heb. VI.18. You are to know, that God is true in what He hath spoken, and all His Sayings are faithful, and worthy of all Acceptation, and God will be true to His Word, and accomplish the Thing that hath gone out of His Mouth, both in fulfiling His Threatening upon His Enemies, and His Promises unto His Friends. These, and the other adorable Perfections and Attri­butes of God, you are to have your Minds well in­formed in the Knowledge of. But I may not en­large.

[Page 48]3. To know God includes in it, the Knowledge of what God requires of us: or, the Knowledge of the Mind and Will of God concerning us. This Know­ledge of God is attainable Two Ways;

First, by the Light of Nature. Something of God, and of His Mind and Will concerning us, is to be seen by a due Exercise of our natural Reason and Con­science. But this is such a very dim and obscure Knowledge of God, and of His Mind and Will con­cerning us, which, after all our Pains, we can attain to by the Light of Nature, that our best, and safest, Knowledge of God, and His Mind, is,

Secondly, From His holy Word. For it hath plea­sed God to make a full, and clear, Revelation of Him­self, and His Mind and Will unto the World, con­firmed by many Signs and Wonders, and diverse Miracles, and Gifts of the Holy Ghost; and therein He hath shewed to us, that He is, and what He is, and what doth the Lord our God require of us, so far as is necessary to be known by us. Now, it concerns Young People to endeavour to know God as He hath revealed Himself unto them, to attend unto the Light of Nature, and to take heed unto the Word of God, as a more sure Word of Prophecy, a Light that shineth in a dark Place. Therefore Young Persons should learn betimes to read the Word of God; and, being capable of reading it, they should make Conscience of daily accustoming themselves to read some Portion thereof; and meditate on that holy Word; that they may be acquainted with the Mind and Will of God concerning them, and know what they are to believe, and what to practise, in the Service of God. For if they know not their Master's Will, how shall they be able to perform it? And especially, according to the Gospel Revelation, they should endeavour to know God in CHRIST; that is, to understand the great Doctrines of the Gospel relating to the Person, Na­tures, and Offices, and Benefits of Jesus Christ; to [Page 49] acquaint themselves with the wonderful Grace and Mercy of God in providing a Saviour, and sending His own Son into the World, to suffer and die for Sinners, that He might bring us unto God: that they may be led by the Knowledge hereof to the Faith of the Son of God, and to eternal Life thro' Him. This is to know God; and this is the Knowledge which it cannot be good that the Soul should be without.

II. The Second Thing I proposed to take Notice of under this Doctrine, is, to shew you, wherein consisteth the Service of God. Young People should be con­cerned not only to know God, but to serve Him; and that they may be enabled to serve Him, it is necessary for them to know what that Service is which is expected from them. Here then we may enquire, what is in­tended by, and included in, that Service which Young Persons, and which indeed, all Persons should yield unto God? And this includes in it, in the general, a Compliance with whatsoever the Lord our God re­quireth of us, a doing what God has commanded us, and a living up to the Rules which He hath prescribed to us in His holy Word: and so it includes in it our whole Duty. But to be a little more particular; it includes in it,

  • 1. The Duties of Piety.
  • 2. The Duties of Sobriety.
  • 3. The Duties of Justice. And
  • 4. The Duties of Charity.

1. The Service of God includes in it▪ all the Duties of Piety which are due unto God Himself. These are Duties which Young Persons are concerned be­times to engage in; it being one of the first Lessons they are to learn, to reverence God. Thus,

They are to believe in God, and in His Son Jesus Christ. For this is the great Command of the Gospel, and what God requires of every one that hears His Word, to believe in Him, and to believe in Christ. [Page 50] So said our Saviour, Ioh. XIV.1. Ye believe in God, believe also in me: and Ioh. VI.29. This is the Work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent. This is so necessary a Part of our Duty unto God, that without it no Man can serve God acceptably; for, without Faith it is impossible to please God. Heb. XI.6. The Faith of the Divine Being, and of His Son Jesus Christ, as the great Mediator, thro' whom alone we have access to God, and acceptance with Him, being the Fundamental Principle of the Christian Religion. You must therefore get a Principle of Faith in God, and Faith in Christ, as the Son of God, and Saviour of Sinners, into your Hearts, as the grand Spring of all your spiritual and acceptable Service, without which you can never find Favour with God: because, out of Christ, God is a consuming Fire unto guilty Sinners, but in Christ He is a God reconciling a guilty World unto Himself.

Repentance towards God, is another Duty of Piety which Young Persons should carefully attend upon, that they may serve God. That is they should turn from all Sin unto the living God. For all Sin is a carrying the Heart off from God unto the Creature, unto Self, unto the World, and unto the Devil; and Repentance is the Soul's renouncing these Usurpers, and refusing to be any longer in Subjection unto foreign Lords, and returning to its Duty unto its rightful So­vereign, and subjecting itself unto the living Iehovah. And inasmuch as you were all born Sinners, being conceived in Sin, and shapen in Iniquity; and have lived Sinners, having broken the holy Law of God many Times, within the few Years you have been in the World; therefore you had need to come unto Re­pentance: and this is what God in a peculiar Manner requires, now that the Gospel hath enlightned the World, and shewn you the Evil of Sin, and the dread­ful Consequents of it, and a Saviour from it. Act. XVII.30. The Times of Ignorance God winked at, but [Page 51] now hath commanded all Men, every where, to repent. And because you owe your whole selves, and all your Time to the Service of God, and none to Sin; and there is Danger lest by Continuance in Sin you grow hardened therein; therefore you should now in your Youth forsake every evil Way, and endeavour after an universal Conformity unto the Will of God.

Again; Young Persons ought to pray to God. This is another Duty of Piety, which God requires of all Persons, and of Young ones, that they pray to Him; that they be sensible of their intire Dependance upon Him for every good Thing, both respecting their Bodies, and their Souls, for Time, and for Eter­nity; and that in a Sense thereof they come humbly before Him, and pour out their Heart's Desire unto Him, in all Things by Prayer and Supplication making known their Requests unto Him; that they beg it of God to preserve them from Dangers, to lead them in a right Way, to keep them from sinning, and bestow their daily Bread upon them, and give them His Grace, and unite them unto His Son, and finally bring them to Glory. Our Saviour, therefore, spake a Para­ble, to this Intent, That Men ought always to pray, and not to faint: Luke XVIII.1. and directs you, to enter into your Closet, and when you have shut the Door, to pray to your Father which seeth in secret. Mat. VI.6. And this will be a comfortable Token for Good upon you, that God has begun His Work in you, when it can be said of you, as of Saul, Act. IX.11. behold, he prayeth. But then remember, in your Prayers, that you are to give Thanks unto God for all the Instances of His Goodness, Bounty, and Mercy to you. And how lovely is the Spectacle, in the Eyes of God, to see Young Persons thus going alone, and earnestly presenting their Supplications and Acknowledgments to Him? This is a grateful Sacrifice with which God is well pleased.

[Page 52]And finally; 'Tis a Work of Piety, which Young Persons are concerned in, to do all they can for the Honour and Glory of God. The Apostle gives us this Rule, I. Cor. X.30. Whether ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the Glory of God. Young Persons should remember, that they, as well as all Things else, were made for this great End, to glorify God; and therefore they should endeavour the Ad­vancement of this high and noble End all the Ways they are capable of. All your natural, civil, and re­ligious Actions should be performed with a single Eye to the Glory of God. Be ready to do all you can for the building up of the Church of God; and become yourselves living Stones in that Temple of the Lord; and think not much to lay yourselves out, to spend, and be spent, in the Service of God; and to improve of your worldly Interest in such Works of Piety as may tend to the Glory of God. Thus are you to serve God in the Duties of Piety.

2. The Service of God includes in it all the Duties of Sobriety. And thus Young Persons are to serve God, by behaving themselves with Sobriety, in the Government and Regulation of their Appetites and Passions, in the Temperance, Chastity, and Purity of their Manners, and Behaviour.

Thus Young Persons should be sober in their Tem­perance, and restraining their inordinate Appetites and Desires after the World and the Things thereof. Ex­hort young Men to be sober-minded, said the Apostle, Tit. II.6. They are to be sober in their Meats and Drinks, and not allow themselves in Gluttony and Drunkenness, nor in too great Curiosity about the Qua­lity of them, but be contented with what they have. They are to be temperate in their Apparel, and not craving after every new and slanting Fashion, hastening, if possible, to be one of the first in it, nor going to the Extent of it, which will be but an Indication of a vain Mind: but preserve a due Mediocrity, and use [Page 53] the World, (and the Things thereof,) so as not to abuse it, (nor them themselves with it,) because the Fashion of this World passeth away. I. Cor. VII.31.

Again; Young Persons should be sober in the Chastity and Purity of their Manners; behaving them­selves with Modesty, and Shamefacedness, carrying themselves with all Circumspection and good Behaviour before their Superiours, rising up at the Face of the old Man, and giving that Honour and Reverence to their Parents, natural, spiritual, and civil, and ready Obedience and Submission to them, which the Word of God requires of them. They should be careful also to remember and observe the Apostle's Rule, II. Tim. II.22. Flee youthful Lusts. They should preserve them­selves pure and chaste from all unclean Lusts, and learn to possess their Vessels in Sanctification and Honour, and be careful not to allow themselves in any lewd Talk, and evil Communication, in any impure or im­modest Words, or Actions, and, as much as may be, drive impure Thoughts out of their Minds, and not suffer them to lodge within them.

Again; Young Persons should be sober in the regu­lar Government of their Tongues. They should not suffer that unruly Member, the Tongue, to run at large, but lay their seasonable and prudent Restraints upon it, and keep it under the Bit. They should hate and ab­hor Lying, as a base and odious Vice, proceeding from a meanness of Soul, and which render them abomina­ble and contemptible both in the Sight of God and Man. Eph. IV.15. wherefore, putting away lying, speak every Man the Truth with his Neighbour. They should always be careful to speak the Words of Truth and Soberness. And they should be careful to banish all impious and profane Language from their Mouths; that their Mouths may not be set against the Heavens, and belch out their Blasphemies against the God that made them. They should be careful never to allow themselves to take the Name of God in vain, by [Page 54] customary Oaths in Conversation, much less in their solemn Testimony to any Thing; because this will be to dishonour God, and not to serve Him; and God will not hold him guiltless that taketh His Name in vain. Exod. XX.7. They should also guard aginst all re­proachful and injurious Talk, all Whispering and evil Speaking; and take Care that they do not raise, or spread false Reports of their Neighbours; nor should they suffer railing and reviling Language, and bad Names, or Cursing, to proceed out of their Mouths. And be not too talkative. "A young prating Fool is an uncomely Sight." Let your Words therefore be few, sober, seasoned with Grace, that they may minister that which is grateful to the Hearer.

Once more; Young Persons should be sober in the Government of their Passions, lest they betray them into many Mischiefs. Youth is naturally hot, and is very apt to be soon angry, and easily provoked, and suddenly kindle into a Flame. If therefore you would be the Servants of God, you must carefully watch over your Passions, and timely suppress them, when you first per­ceive them to begin to stir and rise. Don't allow your­selves to be soon angry, nor suffer your Anger to grow up into Rage and Fury; but if you have just cause to be angry, as possibly sometimes you may, yet remember the Apostle's Rule, Eph. IV.26. be angry, and sin not; which you cannot be, if your Anger be causeless, or exceed due Bounds, in the Measure, or Duration of it; and therefore the Apostle adds, let not the Sun go down upon your Wrath. Especially take heed never to harbour Malice and Revenge in your Hearts. Beware of doing Evil unto others, because you think they have done some ill Thing to you. Rom. XII.19. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give Place to Wrath; for it is written, Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord. Learn to do Good for Evil, and bless them that curse you, and pray for them that despitefully use and intreat you, that you may be the [Page 55] Children of the highest. In such Instances as these should Young Persons serve God in Sobriety.

3. The Service of God includes in it the Duties of Justice. For as God is a righteous God, just and right is He, so He requireth Justice and Righteousness of all His Servants, and will not allow of any designed Un­righteousness in them. Young Persons should therefore get early established in the Principles of Justice, that they may ever do that which is equal and right, and observe that Golden Rule of our Saviour's, Mat. VII.12. All Things whatsoever ye would that Men should do unto you, do you so unto them. Always think what you would look upon as just and right, and fitting that other Persons should do unto you, were they in your Circumstances, and do you be careful to do unto them accordingly.

Thus be strictly just, in your Care never to wrong any Man, by taking any Thing from him, without his Knowledge, or against his Will. Are you Children? Rob not your Parents. For if you take any Thing from them which they know not of, or are not willing you should have, you are guilty of stealing from them; and this is one of the highest Instances of Injustice. Are you Servants? Do not wrong your Masters, or Mistresses, by purloining and pilfering, or wasting of their Goods, or consuming their Time idly; this would be an Iniquity which you would have Cause sadly to repent of. Young People, it is true, are ready to think, that there is no great Harm in these Things; yet, know it, that God will look upon all such Things as Breaches of His holy Commandment, and will call to a sad Account, and severely punish therefor, if such Sins are not repented of. Exhort Servants, said the Apostle, Tit. II.9, 10. to be obedient unto their own Masters;— not purloining but shewing all good Fidelity. And is not the robbing of your Neighbour's Orchard, or Garden, a stealing from them, as well as the robbing of their Vessels, and Houses? Yes surely, God will [Page 56] esteem it so; and therefore such Young Persons as would serve the Lord, must be very careful to abstain from all such Acts of Injustice.

Again; Be strictly just, in your Diligence in your Business. The Apostle says, Col. III.22. Servants obey in all things your Masters according to the Flesh, not with Eye-Service, as pleasing Men, but in singleness of Heart, fearing God. Be not Eye-Servants, that will attend your Business no longer than while your Parents, or Masters, Eye is upon you; but be as diligent when they are absent, as when they are present: otherwise you are unfaithful, and rob them of so much of the Service which you might have done them. And so when you shall be employed by others, remember faithfully to attend the Business you are employed about; and do not idle away your Time, and spend and con­sume it, in vain Chat, and Diversions, when you should be at Work; because this would be to cheat and wrong them that employ you: but shew all good Fi­delity, that you may adorn the Doctrine of God your Saviour in all Things.

Again; Be just in all your Dealing, and Commerce. Let no Man go beyond, or defraud his Brother, in any Matter; because the Lord is the avenger of all such. I. Thes. IV.6. Always deal fair, and square, and above-board. Never impose upon the Ignorance, and Credulity, of any one: Never make Use of double Weights, and Measures: Never circumvent, over­reach, and trick your Neighbour: Never suffer your selves to make false Entries, and bring in wrong Ac­counts: for all such unjust Dealing is Robbery.

Finally; Let there be Justice in your Words, as well as in your Actions. See that your Words are true; and endeavour to make good all your Promises and Engagements. Remember to make no rash Pro­mises. See to it that the Thing you promise be within your Power to perform, by the ordinary Providence of God, and then, when once your Word is engaged▪ [Page 57] be exceeding careful to fulfil what you have promised; that no Man may have just Cause to complain of you, that you are not a Man of your Word; that you are unfaithful, and not to be depended on.

All of this is included in the Service of God; be­cause God very peremptorily requires this Justice, and Righteousness, and Truth, in all Men. And the careful Observation hereof will be a comfortable Sign to you, that you are indeed the Children and Servants of God. For says the Apostle, I. Ioh. II.29. If ye know that He is righteous, ye know that every one that doth Righte­ousness is born of Him.

4. The Service of God includes in it the Duties of Charity. For God is Love, and requires Love, and Charity of all His Servants. And therefore the Apostle tells us, that all our Faith is nothing without Charity, I. Cor. XIII.2. and in Col. III.14. above all these things put on Charity, which is the Bond of Perfectness, And our Saviour gave it as a sure Badge of His Dis­ciples; Ioh. XIII.35. By this shall all Men know that ye are my Disciples, if ye have Love one unto another. So that those that would serve God must live in the Exercise of the Duties of Charity. And therefore those Young Persons who would make it their Concern to serve God, must be careful of this, as well as of all other Parts of their Duty.

Thus Young Persons should cultivate and improve their natural Disposition to Pity and Compassion, and not allow themselves in any thing that will tend to har­den their Minds into Savageness and Cruelty: for this humane Affection of Pity and Compassion will be of great Use to them, to restrain them from Acts of In­justice, and Oppression, and very much dispose them to Kindness and Benignity. Therefore says the Apos­tle, I. Pet. III.8. have Compassion on one another, be pitiful, be courteous.

This Charity Young Persons should exercise in their inward Affection; in their hearty Love and Good Will [Page 58] unto all their Fellow-Creatures, in the general; but especially unto all good Men, the Houshold of Faith, and those of the same Family, and Society with them; that they may preserve the Unity of the Spirit in the Bond of Peace, in the Family, in the Church, and in the State.

This Charity they should also be careful to express in their Actions; by a kind, courteous, affable Car­riage, and Behaviour; being ready unto all good and kind Offices to all about them; and as they are able, to help the indigent and miserable, and to relieve the poor and distressed; and to assist one another in all difficult Affairs; and to advise and counsel one another for their good.

And especially should this Charity be exercised to the Souls of others; by counseling and admonishing one another in Love, by endeavours to strengthen and encourage one another in the steady persevering Practice of all Religion and Vertue, under all Discouragements, Temptations, and Trials.

Particularly is this Charity required and expected from you, of this Society, who are very much formed upon this Bottom, that you may assist each other, by your kind Watch, your faithful Advice, your wholsom Admonitions, and your earnest Prayers with and for each other; that you may endear yourselves to one another, and help one another forward in the Way to Zion, to your mutual Edification, and Comfort.

Thus, in these hints, I have shewed you what it is to serve God; and you see it is comprehensive of your whole Duty unto God, to yourselves, and to your Neighbour, and that in all the various Branches of your personal and relative Duty; for so the Grace of God, which hath appeared to us, bringing Salvation, teacheth us, that denying Ungodliness and worldly Lust, we should live soberly, righteously, and Godly, in this present World. Tit. II.12.

[Page 59]III. The Third Thing I proposed to consider is, that God is to be served with a perfect Heart, and a willing Mind. So says my Text, know thou the God of thy Father, and serve Him, with a perfect Heart, and a willing Mind. I will consider each of these distinctly, tho' but briefly.

1. You are to serve God with a perfect Heart. That is, with an Heart sincerely devoted unto the Ser­vice of God, an Heart free from all Guile and Hypo­crisy. It does not mean, that you should serve God with an unerring, sinless, Perfection of Heart, accord­ing to the strict Demand of the Law; for so no Man can serve God. For there is not a just Man upon Earth that doth good, and sinneth not. Prov. VII.20. Tho' you are to press after the greatest Attainments in Grace and Holiness, and not be contented with any low Mea­sures and Degrees attained unto.

But it means an Evangelical Perfection of Heart, that is, an Heart that is sincere, without any reigning and allowed Deceit and Guile. This is the Character of the truely good Man, Ioh. I.47. Behold, an Isra­elite indeed, in whom there is no Guile. And the Blessing belongs to such a Man, in whose Spirit there is no Guile. Psal. XXXII.2. This of a perfect Heart, or Since­rity, is the very "Life and Soul of all other Graces and Vertues," without which they are but vain Appearances, and empty Shadows, and have nothing solid, and sub­stantial in them; and notwithstanding all the goodly Shew which any Man may make, if he be destitute of Sincerity, he is after all but a fair Hypocrite, whose outside indeed is gay and splendid, but within he is full of Rottenness and Stench. And therefore Young Per­sons should take special Care, that in all their Pretensions to the Service of God, they begin at the Heart, and see that they are sincere in what they do, lest they be found at last to have unhappily deluded themselves, and their Fellow-Creatures to their undoing. For Sincerity is [Page 60] the only Thing that will render you acceptable unto God, without which your Sacrifices will be an Abomi­nation unto the Lord, as being heartless and corrupt: and if Men, (who are often and easily imposed upon,) should at length discover your Hypocrisy, you will but become loathsom unto them; for all Men abhor to be cheated by an Impostor. God demands it of you, Prov. XXIII.26. My Son, give me thy Heart. This is what God chiefly aimeth at, without this nothing will please Him; and for the sake of this He will be ready to overlook many Imperfections.

And what is there that, without Sincerity, can esta­blish and confirm you in the Service of God, and make you Proof against the Temptations and Allurements you will meet withal, to turn you aside from the Paths of Vertue? If there is not Soundness and Integrity to preserve you, you will be more easily warped from your Duty, and be prevailed with for the sake of some worldly Gain and Advantage, or to gratify the Hu­mour of some you may be in Friendship with, or have some Dependance on, to give over the Service of God, and turn aside from the holy Commandment. There­fore, above all Things, see to it that your Hearts are right with God, and sound in His Statutes; then shall you have no Cause to be ashamed, when, in Sincerity and Truth, you have respect unto all His Command­ments.

2. You are to serve God with a willing Mind. That is, with a Mind freely engaging in the Service of God, so that it may be truely your own Choice. A willing Mind is here opposed unto outward Constraint, and what a Man may be compelled and forced to; as a perfect Heart is opposed to inward Hypocrisy and Guile. And it imports, as if David had said to Solo­mon *, if you only serve God to please me, and think, when I am dead and gone, to give over this Service, [Page 61] this will be no real Benefit to you. God requires Voluntariness in His Servants. Psal. CX.3. Thy Peo­ple shall be a willing People in the Day of thy Power.

Thus Young People are to serve God willingly, freely, out of Choice, because they choose to serve Him: knowing him to be the best of Masters, they are therefore to renounce all others, and determine with themselves to serve Him forever. Let not, then, the Service of God which you, my Children, engage in, be only to please Men. As you may not serve God only to be seen of Men, but in Sincerity; so neither are you to serve Him only because your Pa­rents, or your Masters, or your Friends, would have you to do so, but it must be with a willing Mind. Your Parents, or Masters, or Friends, may first lead you into the Thought of serving God, and shew you how you are to serve Him, and charge you to serve Him; but after all, your Service must be the Result of your own Understanding and Choice, or it will not be a reasonable Service. You must serve God because you are convinced that you ought to serve Him, and resolve to serve Him: that is because God will have you to serve Him, and you are now willing to have your Will resolved into the Divine Will; and are willing to be, and do, what God would have you to be and do. So Ioshua puts it to the Choice of the People▪ to let them know what his own Choice was; Iosh. XXIV.15. Chuse you whom you will serve; but as for me, and my House, we will serve the Lord. He was determined with himself to serve God out of Choice, and he would have all the People to be free and willing in the serving of Him also. And so should you chuse to serve God, as an act of your Will and Choice, moved by an enlightened Understanding, and the re­gular working of your Affections; because God is most worthy of your Service, and because you love God, and are loth to offend Him. And when the Service of God becomes thus the Act of your Will and Choice, [Page 62] you will then be likely to abide by it, and hold on therein unto the End, and not suffer any thing to move you therefrom, but continue stedfast, and immovable, always abounding in the Work of the Lord, till you come to the End of your Faith, the Salvation of your Souls. This may suffice for the Third Head; I pass to the last Thing I proposed, viz.

IV. To evidence this to be the most important Concern of Young People, thus to know, and serve the Lord, with a perfect Heart, and with a willing Mind.

And here, as I said, I shall consider the Force of the Arguments made Use of in the Text. Particu­larly,

1. God searcheth all Hearts, and understandeth the Imagination of the Thoughts.

2. If you seek Him, He will be found of you.

3. If you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever. They are Arguments of great Weight, and one would think, should have a mighty Force upon the Mind, to determine it for the Service of God. I may not now draw them out at their Length, but only hint at Things.

1. God searcheth all Hearts, and understandeth all the Imaginations of the Thoughts, and therefore it concerns Young People to serve Him, with a perfect Heart, and with a willing Mind. The Omnipresence, and Omniscience of God is a very good Reason, why all His rational Creatures should serve Him faithfully; because He perfectly knows whether they serve Him or no, and He cannot be imposed upon with an exter­nal Show and Pretence. The Lord is a God of Know­ledge, by Him Actions are weighed; His Understand­ing is infinite; and therefore He is perfectly well acquainted, not only, with all your Actions, but with the Thoughts and Intentions of your Hearts: and so He knows whom you serve, whether God, or the [Page 63] Devil; and how you serve, whether sincerely and wil­lingly, or only in Pretence and by Constraint.

God knoweth all your Actions. Young People are very ready to imagine, that if they are out of the Pre­sence of any Man, that then no Eye seeth them; and the Thought of their being in secret, and hidden from humane Sight, is, oftentimes, a very great Encourage­ment unto them to commit many Sins, which they would not have the Face to allow themselves in, if any Man were present. But remember, O Young Man, when you are tempted to Sin under the Pretence of Secrecy, that, tho' Men do not see you, yet, the holy and flaming Eyes of God are upon you, and God seeth in the Darkness of the Night, as well as in the light­some Day. Psal. CXXXIX.11.

And remember that God searches the innermost Parts of your Heart, and knoweth every Imagination of your Thoughts; so that you cannot contrive, and purpose any secret Wickedness in your Heart, nor harbour an unclean, or revengeful Thought there, but God is acquainted with it. God says, Ier. XVII.10. I, the Lord, search the Heart, I try the Reins; even to give unto every Man according to the Fruit of his doings. And will you dare then to sin, in the Presence, and under the Eye, of the Heart-searching God? O, serve Him in Sincerity; because He sees and knows what you do; and you cannot deceive God, as you may a Man.

2. If you seek Him, He will be found of you, and therefore should you serve God with a perfect Heart, and with a willing Mind. If you thus seek God, by making Religion your great Concern, by endeavouring to know the Mind of God, and sincerely and heartily to practise according to His Will, then God will be found of you: that is, you shall obtain that Blessing from God, which He has promised to bestow upon His faithful Servants. For that is to find God; to find Favour with Him, and obtain the Blessing from Him, [Page 64] to find Him to be what He has said He is, and to find Him to be unto you what He has said He will be. And thus you will most certainly find Him, if you serve Him with a perfect Heart, and a willing Mind; and the sooner you begin thus to seek and serve the Lord, the sooner you will find Him; and by begin­ning early, you will have the longer Time to serve Him in, and so much the greater will your Rewards be. How strong a Reason and Motive should this be unto you, to serve God, with a perfect Heart, and a willing Mind, seeing that this is the Way to the Bles­sing? Then God will be found of you, as your God, your Friend, your Portion, and your All; and you may then safely depend upon Him for the Blessings of this World, that are needful for you. For Godliness has the Promise of the Life that now is. I. Tim. IV.8. Then God will bless your Labour and Employment; for the Meek will He guide in Judgment; the Meek will He teach his Way, and lead them in a plain Path. Then God will be your Shepherd, and comfortably provide for you; for there is no Want unto them that fear the Lord; they shall want nothing that would be good for them. Then God will be your Shade at your Right Hand, to preserve you in Times of Danger, and keep you from Evil, that it shall not grieve you; or, to sanctify all afflictive Evils unto you, and make you real Gainers by them. Then shall you find God the Foun­tain of Grace and Comfort unto you, who will make His Grace sufficient for you, and strengthen you in your Christian Course, that you may run therein and not be weary, and walk and not faint; who will succour you and support you under Temptations, deliver you out of them, and make your tried Faith; to be more pre­cious than Gold; who will speak Peace to your Souls; afford you Rejoicing in the Testimony of your Con­sciences, the Witnessings of His Spirit, and fill you with all Joy in believing.

[Page 65]Then shall you find God in another and better World; find Him to be better unto you than your present Hopes, and most enlarged Desires. This God will be your God forever; your Guide unto Death, and thro' it, and the unchangeable Portion of your Souls. You shall then find Mercy with God, in the last and great Day; for He has prepared Rewards in Heaven for His Servants that serve Him; and when you leave this World, a World of Sin and Sorrow, He will fetch you away unto Himself, to the World of Purity and Joy, to live in His more immediate Presence, to serve Him in His heavenly Temple, and to be ever­lastingly Happy in His Favour. And Oh! How abundantly will this recompence you for all the Labour and Toil you have taken, all the Patience and Self-denial you have exercised, in your most constant and unwearied Endeavours to serve, and honour, and glo­rify, so great, and so good a God, as the Lord is. O, let the Thoughts hereof strengthen your Hearts and Hands, and mightily encourage you unto all Fidelity, and Perseverance, in His Service, now in your Youth, and to the latest old Age.

3. But if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever. If you will not serve God with a perfect Heart, and a willing Mind, but all your Religion is mere shew and Pretence, and your Hearts are estranged from God, while you draw nigh unto Him with your Mouths; or if after you have listed yourselves in His Service, and given up your Names to Him, you at length prove Deserters, and turn away from His holy Commandment; know assured, that God will cast you off; He will not own you for His Servants, nor be­stow the least Reward upon you; but will throw you out of His Family, reject you, and cast you out of His Favour, and you shall have no Right to any Blessing from Him.

Nay; you shall have no Right to the Blessings of Earth. For no Man can have any Right to his daily [Page 66] Bread, but by Vertue of the Covenant of God, which they that forsake God have no Interest in; and there­fore they can have no good Grounds to hope for any Success in their Business, for any daily Provision for them, or for Protection and Safety in Time of Dan­ger.

However if you forsake God, and serve Sin, and walk in the Ways of your own Heart, and in the Sight of your own Eyes, serving diverse Lusts and Pleasures, be it known unto you, that God will cast you off for­ever. That is, He will everlastingly reject you, disown you, and say to you, as, Mat. VII.23. I profess unto you, I never knew you; depart from Me, ye that work Iniquity. And what is this? but the very Essence of Hell! the Consummation of the Misery of the damned! To be forced to depart from God, the only Fountain of all Good! This is the Perfection of Misery! Oh! therefore serve God now, with a perfect Heart, and a willing Mind, that God may not reject you forever, and render your Condition unhappy beyond Expres­sion.

Thus I have endeavoured to handle this Text and Doctrine in the most practical Manner, fitting of it to your Capacity, and to your Condition, and have been all along exhorting of you unto the Duties pointed at in it.

Use. And now suffer me, my Children, to close all with an earnest Address unto you, that you would all of you look upon this, as it really is, your greatest, and most important Concern, to know and serve the God of your Fathers, with a perfect Heart, and with a willing Mind. You are making some outward Shew and Profession that you do so. For this End you are assembled together this Evening, and this is the great Design of your stated Meetings on the Evening of every Lord's-Day, that you may acquaint yourselves more and more with the Mind and Will of God, and that you may be directed and assisted in serving of [Page 67] Him, in Obedience to His Will. And we rejoice that you thus begin to be concerned for your Souls, and your own Salvation, that you are in any Measure wil­ling to know, and desirous to perform your Duty to God and your own Souls; and truely I have no greater Joy, my Children, than to see you walking in the Truth. And Oh! may this be the happy Result of your Meetings. May you find, from your own Expe­rience, that it is infinitely better for you thus to serve God, in the Duties of Prayer, Reading, Catechising, than to spend the Lord's-Day Evening in gading abroad, in Sport and Sin, and lose the Relish of the holy Things of the House, and Day of God; as is the unreasonable and vitious Practice of too many among us. Oh! may you find God, and be found of Him: may you find Him meeting with you, and assist­ing of you in your Devotions, and commanding a Blessing to rest upon you; may He fill you with Knowledge, and Understanding, and the fear of the Lord, and furnish you abundantly with that Wisdom which is from above, which is first pure, then peace­able, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of Mercy and good Fruits, without Partiality, without Hypo­crisy; and make you lovely and pleasant Spectacles unto Men, and Angels: and when you have served God, and your Generation according to the Will of God, in this World, may you be received to the blessed abode of Light, and Life, and Joy, to dwell in the Presence of God, and of Christ, forever and ever.

And inasmuch as here is a great Assembly of Young People met together with you, at this Time, and Place *, I would most earnestly call upon you all to serve the Lord now, in the Days of your Youth.

And therefore,

[Page 68]Remember, that the Time of your Youth is the fittest Season to begin the great Work of God, and of your own Souls in. Is it not the most reasonable and fitting, that the great God, who made you, and on whom you depend for all, should have the very Prime and Best of your Days and Strength? But besides it is the most fit and proper Season for you to begin to serve God in; because it is the Time of your Choice, as it is called, Eccl. XII.1. and you are not yet fixed in the Ways of Sin, as you will be some Years hence, if you should go on in a sinful Course of Life; when it will be more hard and difficult for you to alter the corrupt Bent of the Mind. "Youth is the Age of Discipline; the properest Season to receive Instruction, and most apt to learn; a young Tree is easily bent, when 'tis very difficult to bend an old One. And it is most highly reasonable ‘to do that which must be done one Time or other, when it is easiest to be done; when we may do it with the greatest Advantages, and are likely to meet with the least and weakest Opposi­tion.’ Such is the Time of Youth, and therefore the fittest Season to enter upon the Service of God.

And remember, there is no Time so pleasing and acceptable as the Time of Youth is. Tho' God will reject none that truely turn to Him, and sincerely list themselves in His Service, in any Part of their Lives; they that have stood idle until the Eleventh Hour, if they will then hearken to the Call of God, and enter into his Vineyard, and faithfully labour in it, shall at Night receive their Penny: Yet, who are so grateful and pleasing, and endeared unto God, as those that begin to serve Him betimes? A Young David is beautiful in the Eyes of his God; a Young Iosiah seems to be the Care and Favourite of Heaven. God required the first Fruits, and the first Born, under the Law, to be devoted to Him, to sanctify, and procure a Blessing upon all the rest: and so the first of your Days should be consecrated unto the Service of God, that you may [Page 69] enjoy His Blessing in them all. Doubtless, the holy Angels of God behold, with Delight and Joy, your early Dedication to God; and it will be very pleasing unto all thinking Persons, to see Young People acting prudently, behaving with Discretion and Sobriety, and living religiously; but it will be much more pleasing unto God Himself. God will remember with Plea­sure the Kindness of thy Youth, the Love of thine Espousals, when thou early wentest after Him. No Disciple so acceptable to our Blessed Lord, as Iohn, the youngest of the Disciples, who lay in the Bosom of Jesus, and whom he peculiarly loved.

And remember, That, for ought you can tell, the Time of your Youth may be the only Time that ever you shall have to serve God in. If you should foolish­ly think of deferring this great Work, of repenting of your Sins, and living a Life of Faith, and Holiness, until old Age overtake you, you don't know but God may cut you off betimes, while you are yet in your Youth, and send you down to Hell; and what then will become of you! Oh! my Children! you cannot begin to serve God too soon; you may defer too late; because you know not how soon Death and Judgment may overtake you; and if Death and Judgment should overtake you, before you have seriously given your selves up to God in Christ, and have sincerely engaged in the Service of God, by a fixed Resolution, and honest Endeavour, to mortify Sin, and lead a holy Life, it would have been better for you that you never had been born.

But if, in your Youth, you serve God with a perfect Heart, and a willing Mind, and bring your Heart and Soul under a Consecration to God, and make it your constant Endeavour to do the Things that are pleasing in His Sight, then let Death come when it will, the Day of your Death will be better unto you than the Day of your Birth; because the Day of your entering upon the Possession of Eternal Life. [...] Let the [Page 70] Thoughts hereof awaken you now to serve the Lord, while you are yet in your Youth, and have the pro­perest, if not the only, Opportunity therefor.

And, in a Word, remember you have been baptised, and were brought under the most solemn Obligations, (the most of you,) in your very Infancy, to be the Servants of the most high God. You have been de­voted to God, by your Parents, and you are false to God, and false to your Parents, and false to yourselves, if you serve Him not. Therefore, thou my Son, (my Children,) know thou the God of thy Father▪ and serve Him, with a perfect Heart, and with a willing Mind; for the Lord searcheth all Hearts, and understandeth all the Imaginations of the Thoughts; if thou seek Him, He will be found of thee; but if thou forsake Him, He will cast thee off forever.


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