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their supreme affections to himself. It was very ungrateful in them to love the gift more than the giver; to give that place in their affections to their child, which God once filled, and ought always to have filled. It was no less kind than wise in God, to give them a fair opportunity of exercising and manifesting unfeigned submission and supreme affection to himself, under a clear view of his awful and amiable sovereignty. God treated Job in the same manner, for the same purpose of trying his faith, and love, and submission, and of teaching the world that all real saints love him better than sons or daughters, or any earthly enjoyments. And we may well suppose, that when God bereaves pious parents of their children, he means to try their hearts, and give them an opportunity of displaying before the eyes of the world the beauties of holiness. I may add,

8. That another reason why God sometimes bereaves parents of their little children, is because he intends to make their bereavement the means of their own conversion. Such sensible and severe strokes of Providence have led thoughtless, careless, and prayerless parents, to attend to the things of their everlasting peace. And if we may rely on the account that parents often give of their conversion, we may conclude that God does, in a great many instances, make use of the death of children, to convert their unconverted parents. Those who make a profession of religion, frequently ascribe their first serious impressions to the afflictive and bereaving hand of God in taking away from their hearts and arms the dearest objects of their affections. Those who come upon the stage of life with high hopes of worldly prosperity, stand in peculiar need of being taught its vanity. And to bear the yoke in their youth, by the loss of children, is adapted in a peculiar manner to blast their hopes, and turn their attention from the world to God, and to prepare them to meet God in all the future dispensations of his providence. It is therefore one of his gracious purposes, in bereaving young parents of their young children, to prepare them to embrace the gospel, and to devote themselves and their children to him, without the least reserve.

IMPROVEMENT.

1. If so great a proportion of mankind die in childhood and youth, as has been stated, then all adult persons have great reason of gratitude for the preservation of life. It is because they have obtained help from God, that they continue unto this day among the living. Those who have arrived to the age of twenty-one, have lived to bury almost half of mankind; and among others they have buried fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, and some of their nearest and dearest connections. Those who have arrived to the age of forty-five, have buried nearly three quarters of mankind; those who have reached seventy years, have buried more than three quarters of their contemporaries; and those whose lives have been protracted to eighty or ninety years, can scarcely find a contemporary in the world. This last class of the superannuated are a wonder to many, and especially to themselves. When they look back, and recollect how many different scenes they have passed through, how many dangers, accidents and diseases they have escaped, and how many mercies have followed them all their days, they have abundant reason to say, with the warmest gratitude, “ It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed!” Of all men in the world, some of the aged, perhaps, have the most reason to bless God for his sparing and distinguishing goodness: But innumerable others are under the same kind, though not the same degree of obligation to gratitude and praise, to the Former of their bodies and the Father of their spirits, for carrying them in the arms of his providence, and preserving their lives so long in this dying world. The man of seventy, the man of forty-five, and the man of twenty-one, can ascribe it to nothing but the mere unmerited mercy of God, that he has survived so many that have fallen on his right hand and left. How many aged has he followed to the grave, and how many infants, children and youths has he seen laid in the dust! By all the deaths you have seen, and by all the visible dangers you have escaped, God has been telling you, in a manner more impressive than words, that you are born to die, that the grave is your house, and eternity your long home; and can it be that it is still your inward thought that your houses and your lives shall continue for ever, and that you shall never see corruption ? Can any justify it to themselves, that when they have eyes, they will not see; that when they have ears to hear, they will not hear; and that when they have eternal interests at stake, they will not feel? Among all the creatures of God, mankind, in this dying world and probationary state, are in the most dangerous condition. Here it depends on their choice, whether they shall gain eternal good, or lose eternal good, or suffer eternal misery. And the day of death, which may come suddenly and unexpectedly, will convey them to the mansions of heaven, or to the regions of darkness and despair. It infinitely concerns them to prepare for death and eternity before they close their eyes upon this world, and open them in that world from whence they shall never return.

“ He that hath ears to hear, let him hear."

2. If God so often takes away infants and little children by death, then those parents have peculiar reason for gratitude to God, who have never suffered a single breach in their young and rising families. There are some such highly favored parents, who have never been called to see any of their dear children in the agonies of death ; but have the great and singular satisfaction to see them living and flourishing, like olive plants, around their table. A family of children may be an increasing source of happiness to parents while they live, when they die, and after they are dead; but houses and lands, and all other worldly enjoyments, are continually fading and diminishing by the ravages of time, and become useless at death. Children may be growing into usefulness and importance after their parents are laid in the dust, who may anticipate the good they may do and enjoy, before they meet them in eternity. It is, therefore, an unspeakable favor to parents, that their children are spared, and may live to be a continued and increasing comfort to them, both before and after they leave the world. But how many parents are ungrateful to God for the peculiar favor of sparing the lives of their chil. dren. They neither give them to God, nor are willing that they should give themselves to God. They wish to see them live, and grow rich and great in the world, instead of renouncing the world and the things of the world, and serving God and their generation, and preparing for a happy death and a blessed immortality beyond the grave. As children may be the greatest source of earthly comfort to parents, so they may be the greatest source of sorrow and grief to parents, both in time and eternity. It depends, in a great measure, upon parents themselves, whether the spared lives of their children shall prove a source of joy or sorrow to them before and after their own death. If they would consult their own and their children's temporal and spiritual good, let them do their duty to their children, that they may do their duty to them, and to God. The goodness of God calls upon them, in the most endearing manner, to instruct, correct, and restrain their children early and properly. If they neglect this important duty, they have reason to fear that God will either take them out of their hands, or preserve them as a rod to chastise them for their criminal ingratitude and negligence.

3. If God so often and so early takes away children from their parents, then it is of very serious importance that parents should be truly religious. Graceless parents are unfit to do their duty to their children while they live, and equally unfit to

do their duty to God, when he takes them away.

As soon as any become parents, the lives and souls of their children are committed to their trust. Their natural affections generally induce them to take care of their lives and health, whether they are religious or irreligious. But if they have no true love to God, they will have no true love to the souls of their children, and of course will neither give them to God, nor instruct them in duty, nor restrain them from walking in the ways of their heart, and in the sight of their eyes. It is of the most solemn consequence, therefore, that parents should give their hearts to God and their children to him. For without vital piety they are unprepared to glorify God, if he should bereave them of their children, by true submission to his correcting hand. Or if he should spare the lives of their children, they are totally disqualified to discharge the important and self-denying duties ihey owe to them, as well as to themselves. It is a melancholy consideration, that there are so many parents who are living without religion in their hearts, and without the practice of it in their families, and totally neglect to prepare themselves and their children for living or dying. Though they wish to shut God out of their hearts and out of their houses, yet he can send death into their windows, to strip them of the dear objects of their affections, and blast all their earthly hopes and prospects; and what ground have they to expect that they shall escape the marks of his just displeasure ? He can cause either prosperity or adversity to destroy both them and their children. "Evil pursueth sinners, and will certainly sooner or later overtake ihem, unless they repent and reform. And is it not high time that there should be a thorough reformation in irreligious families? How numerous are such families at present! And how rapidly are they multiplying! What reason is there to hope that children will be reformed, if their parents are not?

What reason is there to expect that children will read the Bible, if their parents neglect it; or that children will pray, if their parents neglect it; or that children will attend public worship, if their parents neglect it; or that children will keep the Sabbath, if iheir parents neglect it; or that children will reverence the name of God, if their parents profane it; or that children will avoid any evil courses which their parents pursue ? How great, then, is the necessity and importance of younger parents especially, becoming pious, and walking within their houses with a perfect and upright heart, and giving their children a pions education! They are continually liable to mortal diseases and fatal accidents. Can you neglect to pray for them? You do neglect to pray for them, so long as you neglect to pray for yourselves. Your neglect of your own souls is alarming.

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VOL. III.

It presages your own ruin, and the ruin of generations yet to

come.

4. If God may answer many wise and benevolent purposes by the death of little children, then those who are lamenting the sudden and surprising death of their lovely and only child,* ought to be cordially submissive to the bereaving and afflictive hand of God. They have no ground to complain that there is no sorrow like unto their sorrow, for death has reigned over little children from Adam to Moses, and from Moses to this day. Millions of parents in every age hare been called to suffer the loss of their young and tender offspring, and every day and every where the hearts of parents are bleeding under the bereaving hand of God. How often have parents been called to see their dear little ones struck dead by lightning; or drowned in deep waters; or consumed to ashes in a burning house; or scorched to death by accidental and inextinguishable flames! All these are awful and heart-affecting circumstances of death; but at the same time they signally display the holy and sovereign hand of God. It highly becomes the present mourners to say to God as David did, “I was dumb and opened not my mouth, because thou didst it.” He who gave them their child, had a right to take her away at what time and in what manner he pleased. The Judge of all the earth has done right, and it only remains for them to feel and conduct right, and all will be well. They have no ground to murmur, when God has had so many reasons to afflict them, and can answer so many valuable purposes by it. He may convince them of their ingratitude for preserving their own lives so long, and for the gift of the child he has taken from them. He may convince them of their neglect of giving up themselves and their child to him. He may teach them their own frailty and mortality, and lead them to cordial submission to his amiable and awful sovereignty in the dispensations of providence and grace. He may prepare them, by bearing the yoke in the morning of life, for all future duties, trials, and events. And if he should teach them all these important lessons of instruction, they will have reason and be disposed to say, that it has been good for them to have been bereaved and sorely afficted. If their hearts are tender and teachable, they will certainly find peculiar benefit from their present heavy trials; but if ihey refuse submission, and consequently refuse to be comforted, they will add weight to their affliction, and give it a tendency to harden, stupify, and destroy. Their situation calls for immediate attention and submission on

* A child of Mr. Seneca Hill.

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