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"HE took them up in his arms and BLESSED them."
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A DISCOURSE TO CHILDREN. BY THE REV. MOSES HEMMENWAY, D. D. ALSO, THE CONVERSION AND DEATH OF JOSEPH: AN AFFECTING STORY, FOUNDED ON FACT. EMBELLISHED WITH TWO ELEGANT EN­GRAVINGS.

PUBLISHED ACCORDING TO ACT OF CONGRESS.

PRINTED AT PORTLAND, BY THOMAS [...]. WAIT. 1792.

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A DISCOURSE TO CHILDREN, &c.

MARK X. 13, 14, 16.And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them; and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said, suffer lit­tle children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven.And he took them up in his arms, put his bands upon them, and blessed them.

THERE are several things contained in this history, very worthy of notice.—Parents as well as children may hence be in­structed, and encouraged in their duty. But what I have now to offer is directed to you who are children. And be assured, [...] our friend who addresses you; who wishes your good and happiness as sincerely as he does his own; who has himself been a child like you; who knows the heart, and remembers well the feelings of a child; and is much con­cerned that you may escape the dangers, and [Page 4] improve the advantages of this early part of life. The importance of this you may not be so sensible of at present, as they who have had opportunity for longer observation and experience.

Will you attend now to a few observations on the text you have heard read? viz.

  • First. That Christ loves little children, and takes kind notice of them.
  • Secondly. That he would have them come to him, and is much displeased with those who hinder or discourage them.
  • Thirdly. That children belong to the kingdom of heaven.
  • Fourthly. That the blessing of Christ shall be upon such children, as come to him for it.

I. Christ has great love for little chil­dren. He takes as much notice of them, and has as much kindness for them, as for any. How kindly and lovingly did he treat these children who were brought to him. He did not chide them for coming. He would not let them go, till he had taken them up into his arms, put his hands upon them, prayed for them, and given them his blessing. His words and his actions towards them were full of love and tenderness.

Among the Jews, good men used to put their hands upon the heads of their children, [Page 5] and upon others who desired their blessing, and to pray for them. And it has also been a pious custom, among christians, for children to ask their parents blessing, and to receive it, kneeling. And though it may not be much practised at present, yet it seems to have been a fit means of cherishing, in parents & children, a sense of their duty towards each other. I mention this, that you may better understand why these children were brought to Christ. It was, that he might put his hands upon them and bless them.

When Christ's disciples would have hind­red their coming, it greatly displeased him. Such was his love for children that he could not bear to have them slighted, or rebuked, when they were coming to him. And he is as much displeased now with those who dis­courage children from seeking the blessings of his grace. No man ever had, or shewed so much love to little children as Christ. You have heard what kind words he spoke con­cerning them. Suffer little children to come to me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven. If you had heard him speak these words, and then seen him take them up in his arms to bless them, would it not have affected you? Could you ever have forgotten such expressions of love?

It was for the love he had for children, as well as others, that Christ came into the world, and went through much labour and hardship, and at last died upon the cross. All this he did to save them from the pains of ev­erlasting [Page 6] death, to which they were exposed, beacuse of sin. For alas! we are all sinners, and have offended God our maker. Our hearts incline to be wicked. We often do, what we ought not, and neglect to do what God has commanded. We are full of evil thoughts. We often speak and act amiss.—Now, sin displeases God, who is angry with the wicked; and the word of God assures us, that "The wages of sin are death." Chil­dren, as well as others, are sinners, and so must be in a sad condition, unless they be for­given, and reconciled to God.

Though God be merciful and willing to forgive sinners, upon their repentance, yet none can be delivered from sin and death without a Saviour. God, in his great mercy, appointed Christ, his eternal son, to be the saviour of men. And so great was the love of Christ, that he was willing to be the saviour, to come into the world, and become a man, to live a life of affliction, and suffer the pains of death, for our salvation. This shews the greatness of his love to us. And remember, that Christ has done and suffered all this for children, as well as others, that they might be saved. Parents have great love for their children. You cannot conceive the tender concern they feel for you, when you are in trouble, or in danger. But no parents ever had so much love for their dearest children, or were willing to do and suffer so much for them, as Christ has done.

When he took flesh upon him, he shewed [Page 7] his great love to children, by becoming a child himself. He had a design herein of special kindness; that he might, from his own experience, have a fellow feeling of the afflictions and infirmities of that tender age; that children might be the more encouraged to carry all their complaints to him, who knows how to pity and comfort them; re­membering, that himself was once a child. Another design which Christ had, in becom­ing a child like you, was to teach children, by his example, how they should behave.—When you read, that Jesus increased in wis­dom, and in favour with God and man, this should teach you, that children must endea­vour to learn every thing that is good, and behave so well, that God and all good men may love them. They should be dutiful and obedient to their parents, as Christ was.—They should attend religious duties, in the house of God, as well as in private, as the child Jesus went up to the temple to worship with his parents. All this shews the pecu­liar love of Christ to children.

And though he has left this world, and gone up to heaven, where he reigns over all, upon a glorious throne, he has now the same love for children. He does not forget you, though you are so apt to forget him. He sees and takes notice of you by day and night.—He keeps you alive, and in health. He feeds and cloaths you, and gives you all your good things. If he send affliction upon you, he means it for your good; as parents, some­times, [Page 8] correct children, when they are wick­ed, in hopes it will do them good. When your friends are kind to you, it is Christ, who puts it into their hearts. He also takes care, that you have all the good instruction you re­ceive from the word of God, from good books, and from your friends, that you may know what you must do to be saved. And if you get good by the instructions, which you re­ceive, if ever you feel any desire to forsake sin, and become religious, it is Christ, who by his grace, has given this turn to your minds, and made you sensible of the wisdom and happi­ness of remembering your creator, in the days of your youth. And now Christ is in heaven, he is preparing a place, for those little ones, who belong to him, who love, and obey him.

Ought you not, then, dear children, to give Christ your hearts and endeavor to please him? When children are wicked, they great­ly displease Christ. But when they love him, and strive to do, as he commands, to learn that which is good, to obey their parents, to worship God, and behave themselves, as Christ did, when he was a child; and if they offend are sorry for it, beg forgivness for Christ's sake, and are careful to do so no more, this is pleasing to him, and he loves them the more. If Christ were here in the world, would you not wish to go to him, to see him, to hear him speak, to be acquainted with him, instruc­ted by him, and become his disciples?—I have then something to tell you, which you [Page 9] have great reason to hearken to with joy and thankfulness: And that is,

II. That Christ would have little children come to him. This you may remember was the second observation on the text.

You have heard that Christ was much dis­pleased with his disciples, when they would have hindred those little children who were coming to him. 'Let them come,' says he, 'and forbid them not.' And it is now his will, that children should come to him, and he is as free as ever to receive and bless them. He would have parents bring their little babes who cannot come themselves. These he would have brought, and given to him in baptism. It is his will, that children come, and give themselves to him, as soon as they are capable. Parents should teach and encourage their children, lead and guide them to Christ, that they may know him, become acquaint­ed with him, and receive his blessing. Christ now invites you all to come, and would receive you as gladly as ever a kind parent took up his little child, that went to him.

But it may be asked, how shall we come to Christ, now he is in heaven, and we upon earth?

I answer, though our bodies cannot come to his body, now he is in heaven, and we upon earth, yet we may go to him with our minds, and hearts, by thinking of him, believing on him, loving him, seeking instruction from his word, consenting, heartily, to have him for [Page 10] our Saviour, to obey his commands, and sub­mit to his disposal; trusting in his promises, and hoping for pardon and the favor of God, only, for the sake of his merits. If you be­lieve that he is such a person as the scriptures declare him to be, if you desire and seek Sal­vation from him, as he encourages and di­rects you; this is coming to him with your hearts, this is what he calls and invites you to do. And he is willing to save every one of you, from sin and ruin, if you thus look to him for it.

But that you may understand what it is to come to Christ in a right manner, and as he would have you do, I will endeavor to instruct [...]ou, as plainly as I can in a few words.

You must be sensible that you are sinners, that as such the great God is very angry with you, and you must be forever undone, if you die without being forgiven, and reconciled to him.

You must be convinced, that Christ only can save you from sin, and everlasting destruction, and make your peace with God, that he is able and willing to save all, who desire and seek Salvation from him, as it is offered in the gospel.

You must be sensible, that you can do noth­ing for which you can deserve, that God should shew you mercy, pardon your sins, and save your souls, that you are not able of yourselves to change your wicked hearts, and make your­selves good—that if you are pardoned and saved, it must be for the sake of Christs merit [Page 11] and his interceding for you with God; and that he by his grace must incline your hearts to love and fear God, and keep his command­ments. You must not therefore depend upon your own righteousness and strength for Sal­vation, but on the righteousness and grace of Christ.

You must be truly willing and desirous to have Christ for your Saviour, to be taught by his word and spirit and to own him as your master and Lord, to govern and keep you from sin and danger, and bring you safely to heaven. You must give yourselves wholly to him, and to God, through him; heartily sorrowing for all your sins, and resolving with­out delay to forsake them all, and to do your duty to God and man; hoping for assistance and acceptance, through the grace and merit of Christ. This must be your steady resolution and endeavor, as long as you live.

In this manner Christ would have all chil­dren come to him, as soon as they are capa­ble. And they are capable, as soon as they have understanding to receive instruction, con­cerning their need of a saviour, and that Christ is able and willing to save them, upon their seeking Salvation from him, according to the gospel.

The displeasure Christ expressed at those, who would have kept children away from him, shews, that it was his will, that they should come. He plainly expressed his will­ingness when he said "Suffer little children to come to me, and forbid them not." His [Page 12] coming into the world, and doing and suffer­ing so much to save them, from the pains of everlasting death, is a clear proof, that he would most willingly have them come, and re­ceive the blessings of grace, which he has pur­chased for children, as well as others, with his precious blood.

Should not parents then be concerned to be workers together, with Christ, for the salva­tion of their children, by training them up in the way wherein they should go, by praying with and for them, and leading them by their example, that so they may be the instruments of guiding and leading them to Christ, that they may be blessed in him?

And ought you not, my dear children, to give yourselves up, most freely, to the kind and most merciful Saviour who would have you come to him, that you may have everlast­ing life, and is waiting with open arms, to re­ceive and bless you?

Will you slight and disobey the invitation of him, who only can save you? If any of you should persist in refusing him, and the grace and mercy he offers, you will be miserable creatures. How shall we escape, if we neg­lect so great salvation!

But if you will receive, and give yourselves to Christ and submit to him, as your teacher, your Lord, and Saviour, now in the days of your youth, you will be happy forever. God, and Christ, and angels, and good men, will re­joice over, and love you. You shall want nothing that is for your real good. You shall [Page 13] find more comfort and joy, in serving God than in all the pleasures which sin or the world can give. You shall be happy in life and in death, and you cannot conceive how great your happiness will be in heaven, after this life is ended.

Remember, that now is the accepted time, and day of Salvation. You must not delay one day or moment. If you do not now come to a full and hearty resolution to hear the voice of Christ, in his word, and give yourselves up to God through him, I fear greatly that I have lost my labor, and done you no good.—"O that you were wise to consider your latter end," and "that you would know, in this your day, the things which belong to your peace." You know that children may die, as well as others. And if any of you should die, without an interest in Christ, and before your peace is made with God, my heart akes to think what must become of you. To day, then if you will hear the voice of Christ, har­den [...] your hearts. Seek the Lord while he [...] be found, call upon him, while he is nea [...].

I might further press the exhortation from the consideration of those vows and bonds un­der which, I suppose, the most of you have been laid in your baptism, when the token of your interest in the covenant, and of your be­ing members of the church, was put upon you. This is a good reason, why children should come to Christ. It is the reason which Christ himself has given—"Suffer little chil­dren [Page 14] to come to me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven—But this brings us to the third observation.

III. Little children belong to the kingdom of heaven.—There will be no need of arguing this point after Christ himself has affirmed it. He is a faithful and true witness.

It gives me joy, and may well fill you with wonder and thankfulness, that Christ has as­sured you, that children belong to the king­dom of heaven.

If we understand by the kingdom of heav­en, the state of the blessed after this life is ended, little children are capable of enjoying the hap­piness of heaven, and many of them are heirs of this blessedness. Young babes will go to heaven as well as older people. And so may children of some age and understanding, such as you are. Some good thing was found in young Abijah; and Josiah, while he was yet young, began to seek God. And many while they were very young, have been lovely ex­amples of early piety. You may read an ac­count of several of these in the Token for chil­dren and other books. Now such as are good, however young they may be, are heirs of the kingdom of glory.

Or if the kingdom of heaven be understood to mean the visible church (which I take to be the meaning of the word in our text) it is still true, that children belong to the church, as well as their parents. God has taken them into his covenant, and therefore they are bap­tized [Page 15] and are to be watched over by the church, that they be not drawn into wicked practices, but taught to know and fear and serve God. They are bound to this by the covenant God has put them under, and by their baptism, in which they are given to God, and Christ to be his servants.

And as it is a special favor for you to have been born members of the church, and so be­long to the kingdom of heaven upon earth, this is a special reason why you should be con­cerned to come and freely give up yourselves to Christ, and to God through him, now you are grown to some measure of capacity and understanding in things of religion. God's covenant, which you are under, binds you to him. You are of the number of his people, and planted in his vineyard. It is required and expected that you should be an example to those whom he has not thus taken into the number of his covenant people, and admitted as members of his church. It will be a sad aggravation of the wickedness of children, when they forsake their fathers' God, after they have been laid under the bonds of the covenant, and have had greater advantages than others for knowing and serving him. God will be more displeased with such, and deal more severely with them, than with those who have not been so favored by him. Such wicked children of the kingdom will be case out into outer darkness, and heaten with many stripes. "For to whom much is given, of them shall much be required."

[Page 16] But it should also be seriously considered, that children who belong to the church, have special encouragement to come to Christ for the blessings of grace, to seek their father's God, and devote themselves to him. Special encouragements are proposed to early seeking—"They who seek me early shall find me." The children of the covenant may plead this their relation to God, in their prayers to him, for his converting grace. "Turn thou me and I shall be turned, for thou art the Lord my God." And there are many promises in the word of God, which express his gracious purpose of shewing special favor and mercy to such children as are in covenant with him: that he will give them a new heart: that he will circumcise their hearts to love him: that he will pour his spirit and blessing upon them. These promises give you great reason to hope, that your seeking the Lord will not be in vain—"He hath not said to the seed of Jacob, the children of the covenant, seek ye me in vain." And though these promises do not make it certain that all such children shall have their hearts inclined to love and serve God, yet these promises make it certain, that God will bestow his special, converting, sanc­tifying grace on the children of the church. And as you are of that number, you have special reason to hope and seek for it.

Should not this encourage your hopes, and enliven your endeavors, in seeking such great and necessary blessings when come so near to you? God forbid, that any of you should [Page 17] miss of obtaining salvation, after his promise has brought it home to your house. I know not how to express my love and concern for you better than in the words of king David to his beloved son—"My son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart, and willing mind; for the Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts. If thou seek him he will be sound of thee, but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off forever."

I have a few things more to mention before I finish this head.

Your being children of the kingdom of heaven is a consideration which should move you to take care not to keep company with such as are wicked▪ For what communion hath light with darkness—what fellowship can the servants of Christ have with the children of the wicked one? Have no fellowship with the works of darkness, nor be partakers with other mens sins; but rather reprove them, and so keep yourselves pure. Be companions of those who fear God. "He that walketh with the wise shall be wise, but a companion of fools shall be destroyed." Again,

Remember that you are under the [...] of the church. And always receive instruction and admonition from ministers, from parents, and other christian friends, with thankfulness and due respect. Have an obedient ear for good counsels and reproofs, and make the best improvement of them. Further,

Attend diligently upon those ordinances [Page 18] which Christ has given to the church, for the spiritual benefit of its members particularly, study the word of God which is a special pri­vilege committed to the church, that you may, as was said of Timothy, know the scrip­tures from your childhood. They are able to make you wise to salvation. Attend the wor­ship and means of instruction in the house of God whenever you can, and endeavor to get good by them. And though children are not to come to the Lord's table till they appear to be, in a measure, capable and disposed to do this in a pious remembrance of Christ, agreeably to the nature and design of this holy ordinance; yet they should labor after such at­tainments in Christianity as to be prepared to come. And as soon as evidence of this ap­pears, they should no longer delay to offer themselves, and ask to be admitted to the table of the Lord.

And forget not in your prayers to ask the blessing of Christ upon the church of which you are members, and particularly upon your teachers. Yea, I would, in the words of the Apostle, beseech you for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the spirit, that you strive together with me in your prayers to God for me.

Presume not that your state is safe, or that you are intitled to the blessedness of the king­dom of glory, merely because you are children of the kingdom of heaven as outwardly ad­ministered upon earth. "Think not to say with yourselves, we have Abraham to our [Page 19] father"—This will not avail if we have not the faith, and walk not in the steps of Abra­ham, and are not, as he was, "the friends of God." Not every one who saith Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doth the will our father who is in heaven. If you continue in the word of Christ, then are you his disciples indeed: and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free and happy. But remember that many of the children of the kingdom will be cast out. To such of them as are workers of iniquity, Christ will say, I know you not, depart from me. Christ has asserted your right to the privileges of the church to encour­age you to come to him, but not to embolden you to forsake him.

IV. To draw to a close. If you come to Christ as you are invited in the gospel, in obe­dience to his call, and upon the encourage­ments he holds forth, you shall receive his blessing. And then you will be blessed in­deed. This you may remember was the fourth remark from the text which was mentioned for your notice and consideration.

The story I have been endeavoring to im­prove for your instruction, informs us, that Christ took the little children into his arms and blessed them. Then might have been seen the fulfilment of the words of the pro­phet, spoken concerning him—"He shall gather the lambs in his arms and carry them in his bosom."

[Page 20] Happy children! you will say, whom Christ held in his arms and blessed. Yea rather, I would say, happy are you, if you hear his voice to day, when he speaks to you from heaven, inviting you to him. For bless­ed are they who have not seen him, and yet believe. Blessed are they who hear his word and keep it.

I am not able to represent the number and excellency of the blessings, he will then bestow upon you. He will bless you, by giving him­self and his unsearchable riches to you. He will bless you with the pardon of all your sins, and a right to all the privileges of the chil­dren of God. He will bless you, in adorning your souls with the robes of a perfect righteous­ness, and with the beauties of holiness. He will bless to you all your blessings, and all your troubles. What shall I say more? He will bless you by giving you grace, and glory, and all good things.

Chuse you then this day, my dear children, the glorious redeemer for your Lord and Sa­viour. Give him you whole hearts. Come to him. Take his yoke upon you and learn of him, for he is meek and lowly in heart: then you shall find rest to your souls. He will be your never failing friend till you die, and then he will come and carry you up to heaven, where you will be happy forever.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost be with you.

AMEN.

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"Divide if among the poor friends of the LORD JESUS."
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THE STORY OF JOSEPH.

IN London there lived a poor ignorant man, named Joseph. It was his employment to go on errands and carry parcels. One day as he passed the streets, his attention being excited by music, from a neighboring place of worship, he drew near and entered.

It was Dr. Calamy's church. The text was, "this is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief."

From this passage the Dr. preached in the clearest manner, the ancient apostolic gospel.

While the gay and polite audience admir­ed more the ingenuity, than the piety of the preacher, poor Joseph, in tattered clothing, fixed his eyes on the Dr. and listened with eagerness and wonder. After service, as he went homeward, he often said to himself "Joseph never heard this before: Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, [Page 22] like Joseph; and this is a true and faithful saying."

Not many days after be was taken sick, with a fever, and often repeated "Joseph is the chief of sinners! Joseph is the chief of sinners! But Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, and Joseph loves him for this." Some pious persons asked him how he felt in his mind. He answered, Joseph has nothing to say for himself, only that he is the chief of sinners, and as Christ Jesus came into the world to save such, why may not Joseph, after all, be saved? A gentleman having found out where Joseph heard the words, upon which he dwelt with so much constancy and delight, went and informed Dr. Calamy.

The Dr. readily hastened to see Joseph, but found him extremely feeble and low. The instant the Dr. spoke, he knew his voice, and exclaimed with a trembling tone, "Oh sir, you are the friend of the Lord Jesus whom I heard the other day speak so well of him, and I love you for what you then said. Joseph is the chief of sinners, Jesus Christ has come to save such, and why not poor Joseph? Oh, pray to that Jesus for me, tell him that Joseph thinks he loves him, for coming to save such sinners as he is." The Dr. prayed. Joseph very affectionately thanked him. Then reaching his hand under his pillow, drew from thence an old rag, in which were tied five guineas.

He thus addressed the Dr. looking earnest­ly at him, "Joseph laid up this to keep him [Page 23] in his old age. But Joseph will never see old age. Take it and divide it among the poor friends of the Lord Jesus, and tell them Jo­seph gave it them for his sake, who came into the world to save sinners, of whom he is the chief." Having said this, he instantly expir­ed; leaving the world a memorable proof of the efficacy of the christian religion, and a use­ful lesson of humility, of love to the Saviour of men, and of charity to his poor.

Dr. Calamy left this tender scene, not how­ever till he had shed many tears over poor Joseph. He had, in so artless a manner, dis­covered his sincere love to the Lord Jesus, his hope in his mercy, and his unaffected kindness and charity to his poor friends, as quite over­came, and melted the Doctor's heart.

He used, often, to relate this story, as one of the most affecting occurrences of his life.

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