« PreviousContinue »
our own walk before them, that they may be brought to copy after us. Those precepts that are illuminated with example, are most ready to take. Beware of casting an ill example before their
eyes ; for the corruption of nature lies thar way; and he that fins before a child, fins twice ; for his fin lies fair to be repeated by the young fpectator.
(3.). By dependence on the Lord for a blessing on the means used for their good. Hence says the Apostle, 2 Cor. x. 4. The weapons of our war. fare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong bolds. Whoever he be that plants, if God give not the increase there will be none, 1 Cor. iii. 6. That is a great truth in all cales, 'in spiritual as well as worldìy things, 1 Sam. By strength all no man prevail
. If a man should use the best arguments, the strongest motives, the most feasible measures, for bringing others into the way of religion ; and upon the suitableness of the means promise himself success, he takes the way moft likely to render them ineffectual. The word spoken needs to be mixed with faith in the speaker. And he is most likely to succeed that uses the means of God's appointment for doing good, with entire dependence on the Lord for fuccess.
(4.) lastly, By prayer for them. Thus it is promised concerning Christ, Psal. lxxii
. 15. that prayer Shall be made for him continually, viz. that his kingdom may come, by the daily coming in of new subjects to him. Since the success of all that we can do for the good of the rising generation depends on the Lord's bleffing, it is necessary that we plead for them at the throne of grace, quickening ourselves
thereto, by consideration of the honour of God, and their eternal welfare, that depend on it.
II. The second general head was to shew, who are the standing and rising generation, the fathers and the children, among whom this propagation of religion is to pafs. And this must be stated according to the language of the Holy Ghost, and the analogy of other parts of scripture, if we would rightly see whose is this duty. In general I shall premise,
1. All superiors and inferiors are in scripturestyle comprehended under fathers and children. This is plain from the fifth commandment, which under the name of father and mother, whose relatives children are, prescribes the mutual duties of superiors and inferiors. Therefore every one is to propagate religion to his inferiors.
2. Forasmuch as there is no perfect and absolute equality among men, but some who are inferior in one respect to others, may be superior to them in anotber respect; it is the duty of equals and inferiors to propagate religion among themselves, and to their superiors, mutually communicating their light and warmth.
3. Some may belong to the standing generation in one respect, who belong to the rising one in ano ther ; as a person who is inferior to fome, and superior to others. So they are to have it - propagated to them, and they are to propagate it to others again.
4. lastly, The same command of God that binds the standing generation and fathers to propagate religion, binds the rising generation and children to receive it. God by binding parents to inftruet,
binds the children to receive instruction. And they that are the rising generation now, will be the standing in a little. But more particularly,
f. Fathers of the state, magistrates Tupreme or fubordinate, are to propagate religion to their political children, their subjects. They are God's vicegerents on earth, clothed with dominion and authority over others, to be employed for God in whose name they act. Hence is that promise, 1. xlix. 23. Kingsmall be thy nursing-fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers. And it is one of the blackest symptoms of the corruption of the world, that oft-times they are found fer to extir
ཨལ།:t} ༈ pate religion !!!
2. Fathers in the church, ministers and other ruling church-officers, to their ecclefiaftical children, the people whom they are fer over, 2 King's ii. 12.
It is for this very end they are put in of fice. Hence says the Apostle, Heb. xiii. 17. 0bey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves : for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you, Jesus Christ brought this religion from heaven, employed his apostles to propagate it to them they succeed in the office of propagating religion; and must see to make it their businefs, as they will be answerable. In
3. Fathers of families to their childreni For every family ought to be a church, wherein-koly worship, doctrine, discipline, and government ought to be maintained, by the heads thereof. And particularly,
11, Fathers and mothers to the children procreated of their bodies. This is the chief thiog in the
text, The father to the children shall make known thy truth. Compared with Gen. xviii. 19. I know him, that he will command his children, and his household af. ter him, and they mall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment. It is but an inferior part of your charge, to provide meat and cloaths for your children, and to put them in a way of living the chief part is to see to their fouls, that they may be recovered out of the lost state they are in by nature.
It will be but a forry kindness, to be concerned · for their provision in time, if ye neglect them as
to their eternal concerns. It is by them your name is to be propagated, and you are to propagate God's name to them, in point of gratitude to God, justice and natural affection to them.
2dly, They are to do it also to all others in their family, whether they be servants, or whatever they be, if they be members of the family for forter or longer time. Being in your family, ye are instead of fathers and mothers to them, and owe them that benefit. Hence masters are called fathers, 2 Kings v. 13.; and the duty of propagating religion is expressly extended to one's household, Gen. xviii. 19. forecited. And whosoever have the chief authority in a family, though they be servants themselves, are the fathers of it in this fense.
4. Fathers in gifts or grace, to those who are children in thefe respects in comparison of them, 1 John ii. 12. 13. So Fofeph was a father to Pharaoh, Gen. xlv. 8. If God has bestowed on you more gifts or grace than on others; mind ye are thereby made fathers to those that are weaker than you, and are obliged to communicate your light to them, 1 Cor. xji. 7. So teachers are called fathers, Gen.
iv. 20.; and the Spirit of God the common father, 1 Sam. X. 1 2. It will then make a dreadful reckoning, for men to have gifts, and not lay them out for the benefit of others; to use their gifts just for ostentation, and instead of helping, to brangle, and confound, and perplex the weaker with them.
5. Fathers in years, to those who are children in respect of age to them, I Tim. v. 1. 2. It is Elihu's observe, Job xxxii
. 7. that days Should Speak, and multitude of year's should teach wisdom. The more days the more experience, the more access to improve in knowledge ; and so to be the more useful to the younger. Mind then, that your superiority in years constitutes you fathers to those younger than you. Ye will not forget it in point of the regard ye expect from them, and God allows you it, i Pet. v. 5. ; but
should make conscience of the duty too, propagating religion to them.
Thus ye see the standing and rising generation. And if these fathers would set themselves to the propagating of religion to their respective children, the work would go on.
III. The third general head was to shew, in what respects it is che special business of life. The business of life appointed by the great Master is manifold; but the sum of it is to honour God, Rom. xi. ult. ; and the chief branch thereof; the special business of life, is to propagate religion, the standing to the rising generation. This will appear in the following particulars.
1. It is the business of life, that would have been the business of it though fin had never enter