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It will be my business from these words, I. To consider the reflections which may naturally arise in the
mind of a pious parent, on the death of a wicked child.
And, II. To draw some inferences from such a survey. Oh! that
all, and especially the degenerate children of religious parents, would attend with a becoming seriousness !
I. I am to consider the reflections which may naturally arise in the mind of a pious parent, on the death of a wicked child.
I cannot pretend to enumerate them all, or to describe them in such pathetic language as a bleeding heart will speak itself on so sad an occasion ; but probably the chief of them may be such as these.
will thegratitude, and use the pleasures hereafter forward to future
1. A pious parent will reflect on such an occasion, that his ex
pectation from his child have been sadly disappointed in the past course of his life.
Parents are apt to flatter themselves with fond hopes from their infant offspring; they look upon them as the blossoms of future delight and support. They comfort themselves under the other burthens of life, and the additional cares and labours which a growing family brings upon them, by looking forward to future years, and anticipating the pleasures hereafter to arise from the duty, gratitude, and usefulness of their children, “ But alas !" will the good man say ; " Could I have seen what this poor creature would have proved, instead of rejoicing in his birth, I should have mourned over it as a calamity to me and my family. I promised myself other things. My heart trembled for him in the various dangers of infancy and childhood. I congratulated myself on his arrival at a more confirmed age. But When I looked that, this pleasant plant should have brought forth grapes, behold, it brought forth wild grapes*. Well did Solomon say, A foolish son is a grief to his father, and a bitterness to her that bare hint: So, alas, have we found. Oh! how often has our authority been affronted, and our love slighted, for a mere trifle? Or when he was treating us better, what a thorn has it been to our very hearts, to think that our child was in a state of spiritual death, and on the borders of that eternal ruin, into which we have reason to fear he is now
Prov, xvii. 25.
fallen. So that with regard to what is past, we have cause to say, Blessed, in comparison of us, are the barren, that never bare, and the breasts that never gave suck*.” These thoughts will be aggravated, when in the next place,
2. The pious parent reflects with concern on the fruitless pains
he has taken for the reformation and conversion of his child.
65 He that searches my heart,” will the christian say, “is witness, that next to its concern for my own salvation, it knows not a more affectionate wish than this, That Christ might be formed in the soul of my childrent; That how little soever of this world I could give them, they might be the children of God, and the heirs of glory. And with relation to this unhappy creature, I was not entirely wanting in such endeavours as lay in my power. What knowledge of the things of God I myself had, I was willing to communicate to him ; I urged them seriously upon him; I frequently reminded him of them; and, to supply the defects of my personal instructions, I put the book of God into' his hands, and engaged him in an early and constant attendance on public ordinances. When I saw him wandering in the paths of folly and sin, I endeavoured to convince him of the fatal consequences of such courses, and in the most affectionate manner to dissuade him from them. I have again and again urged him to pray for himself; and I have frequently been praying for him. I have desired that he might be remembered in our worshipping assemblies; I have borne bim on my heart before God in the family and the closet, and God alone knows with what overflowing tenderness. How importunately have I pleaded, and how unwilling have I been to take any denial! But alas ! all my prayers and my tears have heen like water spilt on the ground ; and in all the endeavours I have been using for his conversion and salvation, I have been labouring in vain, and spending my time and my strength for noughti. Nay, as to him, it has proved worse than in vain ; for every instruction, and every correction, every reproof, and every prayer, has aggravated his guilt, and increased his misery ; so that on the whole, while I thought I was acting the kindest and most affectionate part, I was only treasuring up for my child aggravated wrath and damnation. But this leads me to add,
• Luke xxiii. 09.
+ Gal. ir. 19.
Isa. xlix. 4.
3. That the pious parent, on such an occasion, cannot but
deeply reflect on that state of everlasting ruin, into which
he has reason to fear that his child is fallen. ." Oh !” will the afflicted christian say, how comparatively light would my sorrows be, if, while I am looking on the breathless corps, and mourning the disappointment of my hopes as to the present life, I could by faith look forward to a world of glory, and see the branch of my family which is cut off from earth, transplanted thither, and flourishing there : Joy would then mingle itself with my parental sorrows, and praises with my tears. But alas ! I have reason to apprehend, it was cut down, that it might be cast into the burnings. On the former supposition I might have comforted myself with the thoughts of meeting my child again, of meeting him on terms of infinite advantage, no more to be separated from him. But now alas ! I have not only lost my child for a while, but I have lost him for ever ; for the unhappy creature died a stranger to God and Christ, and therefore what can I imagine, but that he is fallen into the hands of divine vengeance? Overwhelming thought! While he lived, my bowels yearned for him when he was under any affliction ; when I saw him struggling with illness and pain, I pitied him, and I wept over him. Oh, how can I bear to think, that he is now Tormented in that flame*, and that God is pouring forth on him the vials of his wrath! Oh! that the blood of the parent could redeem the soul of the child, bow willingly, how gladly, would I part with it! O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son !" But once more, 4. The pious parent cannot but be much distressed in such
a circumstance as this, at the thoughts of meeting his child at the tribunal of Christ.
“ It would be mournful,” may the good man say, “ to think that I should see him no more; yet, as the matter now stands, even that would be some alleviation of my distress ; But the immutable decrees of God forbid it. I know, that when all The dead, small and great, stand before his thronet, I and my child must appear together there; and Oh! what a dreadful interview will it be! When God committed his education to my care, he did, as it were, put his soul into my hands, and at my hands will he require an account of it. And when he comes to
by ich sooner, wo of its place* : repealed.
make the enquiry, what will the issue be? Will my son accuse me, or must I be a witness against him? How terrible an office! To bear my testimony for the condemnation of one whom I tenderly loved, of one whose soul I would have died to deliver ! I know I shall not dare to interpose in his favour, and plead the cause of my Saviour's enemy; or if I were so far transported by the fondness of a Father, I should plead in vain. Sooner, much sooner, would the Mountains be removed for me, or the earth carried out of its place*, than the sentence of heaven, its final solemn sentence would be repealed. And if it must not be repealed, how shall I bear to hear it pronounced, to see it executed ; to hear my own child separated by an everlasting curse from the presence of the Lord, to see the ministers of divine wrath hurrying away the helpless creature, and dragging him down to unquenchable burnings? Oh that, if no shelter must be allowed him, God would hide me in the grave till this tremendous scene of his indignation be overpast ; lest the anguish of a parent mingle itself with the joys of a rising saint, and to me overcast the triumphs of the day !” Hardly can a good man refrain from such sentiments as these, though some of them be dictated by passion, rather than by reason.
After this survey of the reflections, which such a sad event might naturally produce, I would proceed to draw some inferences from it; yet I cannot but delay them for a few moments, in compassion to the sorrows of those pious parents, if any such be amongst us, whose case this has been. Are there any of you, christians, that experimentally know the anguish of such thoughts as these? Any of you, that have thus been mourning over your children, when God has on a sudden called them to his bar, with all their follies and sins on their head, without giving you any probable hope, that his grace had first recalled them to himself, and washed their souls in the blood of a Redeemer ?
It grieves me, my friends, to have been forced by a sense of duty, as I have now been, so largely to represent a scene, which must call up your sorrows afresh. But permit me to remind you, that, even in this dreadful circumstance, The consolations of God are not smallt. Your hopes in your children have been sadly blasted; but you have hopes in God, your heavenly Father, which nothing can shake. You have reason to fear, their souls are lost ; but is it nothing to you to reflect, that your own are given you as a prey ? And that though your house be not so with God, as in this respect you
* Job xviii, 4.
+ Job xv, 11.
our of Chrishay hope, that your Godt.
could most affectionately wish it, Yet he has made with you an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure*. As to these unhappy creatures who are now lost, you have indeed Laboured in vain, and spent your strength for nought; but still your word is with the Lord, and your reward with your Godt. and you, like the faithful minister, may hope, that you shall be unto God, A sweet savour of Christ, not only in them that are saved, but even in them that perishs. And as to the final interview, which appears so grievous in the prospect, remember, that you are not to carry along with you the fond instincts of nature into a world of perfection and glory. All your passions will then be refined; your wills so entirely resolved into the will of God, and your souls so completely satisfied with his presence and his love, that no creature-regards will be able to disturb their sacred serenity. You will look on the whole assembly of the enemies of God with so deep an apprehension of the ma. lignity of their character, and of the wisdom and equity of that divine sentence by which they fall, that you will not distinguish any of thein from the rest, by the sentiments of a painful compassion. Nor will your concern for them, who now lie nearest to your heart, prevent your concurrence in that song of triumph, so proper to the solemnities of that awful day : Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty ; just and true are thy ways thou King of saintss. In the mean time, let the expectation of so happy an improvement of your temper, moderate the excess of your present sorrows; and when they are moderated aright, the remainder of them will be a Sadness of the countenance, by which the heart may be made better|l. And now,
II. I proceed to draw some inferences from the sad survey we have been taking, of the pious parent's reflections on the death of a wicked child. And hence we may infer, 1. That wicked children are acting a very cruel and unnatural
part, while they are exposing their pious parents to such reflections as these.
I say it with a sorrowful heart, but so it is, that I fear there are several of you, my young friends, who live in the neglect of your own souls, and whose consciences will presently charge it upon you. How soon that awful Being, whom you now forget, may Cut off the number of your months in the midsts, and add *2 Sam, xxiii. 5. + Isa. xlix. 4. 1 2 Cor. ii. 15. § Rev. xv. 3.
Eccles. vi. 3. Job xxi 21,