Images de page

thereto, by confideration of the honour of God, and their eternal welfare, that depend on it.

II. The fecond general head was to fhew, Whe are the ftanding and rifing generation, the fathers and the children, among whom this propagation of religion is to pafs. And this must be ftated according to the language of the Holy Ghoft, and the analogy of other parts of fcripture, if we would rightly fee whofe is this duty. In general I shall premife,

1. All fuperiors and inferiors are in fcriptureftyle comprehended under fathers and children. This is plain from the fifth commandment, which under the name of father and mother, whofe relatives children are, prescribes the mutual duties of fuperiors and inferiors. Therefore every one is to propagate religion to his inferiors.

2. Forafmuch as there is no perfect and abfolute equality among men, but fome who are inferior in one respect to others, may be fuperior to them in another respect; it is the duty of equals and inferiors to propagate religion among themselves, and to their fuperiors, mutually communicating their light and warmth.

3. Some may belong to the standing generation in one refpect, who belong to the rifing one in another; as a perfon who is inferior to fome, and fuperior to others. So they are to have it propagated to them, and they are to propagate it to others again.

4. laftly, The fame command of God that binds the ftanding generation and fathers to propagate religion, binds the rifing generation and children to receive it. God by binding parents to inftruct,

binds the children to receive inftruction. And they that are the rifing generation now, will be the standing in a little. But more particularly,

1. Fathers of the ftate, magiftrates fupreme or fubordinate, are to propagate religion to their political children, their fubjects. 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, If.xlix. 23. Kings fhall be thy surfing-fathers, and their queens thy nurfing-mothers. And it is one of the blackest symptoms of the corruption of the world, that oft-times they are found fet to extirpate religion.

2. Fathers in the church, minifters and other ruling church-officers, to their ecclefiaftical children, the people whom they are fet over, 2 Kings ii. 12. It is for this very end they are put in office. Hence fays the Apostle, Heb. xiii. 17. Obey them that have the rule over you, and fubmit yourfelves for they watch for your fouls, as they that must give account that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you. Jefus Chrift brought this religion from heaven, employed his apoftles to propagate it: to them they fucceed in the office of propagating religion; and must see to make it their bufinefs, as they will be anfwerable.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

3. Fathers of families to their children. For every family ought to be a church, wherein holy worship, doctrine, difcipline, and government ought to be maintained, by the heads thereof. And particularly,

ift, Fathers and mothers to the children procreated of their bodies. This is the chief thing in the

text, The father to the children fhall make known thy truth. Compared with Gen. xviii. 19. I know him, that he will command his children, and his household after him, and they fhall 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 fee to their fouls, that they may be recovered out of the loft ftate they are in by nature. It will be but a forry kindnefs, to be concerned for their provifion 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, juftice and natural affection to them.

2dly, They are to do it alfo to all others in their family, whether they be servants, or whatever they be, if they be members of the family for fhorter or longer time. Being in your family, ye are inftead 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 houfehold, Gen. xviii. 19. forecited. And whofoever have the chief authority in a family, though they be fervants themselves, are the fathers of it in this fenfe.

4. Fathers in gifts or grace, to those who are children in these refpects in comparison of them, 1 John ii. 12. 13. So Jofeph 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. xii. 7. So teachers are called fathers, Ger.

iv. 20.; and the Spirit of God the common father, 1 Sam. x. 12. 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 juft for oftentation, and instead of helping, to brangle, and confound, and perplex the weaker

with them.

5. Fathers in years, to those who are children in refpect of age to them, i Tim. v. 1. 2. It is Elihu's obferve; Job xxxii. 7. that days Should Speak, and multitude of years should teach wifdom. The more days the more experience, the more access to improve in knowledge; and fo to be the more useful to the younger. Mind then, that your fuperiority in years conftitutes you fathers to thofe younger than you. Ye will not forget it in point of the regard ye expect from them, and God allows you it, 1 Pet. v. 5.; buɛ then ye should make confcience of the duty too, propagating religion to them.

Thus ye fee the standing and rifing generation. And if these fathers would fet themselves to the propagating of religion to their refpective children, the work would go on.

III. The third general head was to fhew, In what refpects it is the fpecial business of life. The bufinefs of life appointed by the great Mafter is manifold; but the fum of it is to honour God, Rem. xi. ult. ; and the chief branch thereof, the fpecial business of life, is to propagate_religion, the standing to the rifing generation. This will appear in the following particulars.

1. It is the business of life, that would have oeen the bufinefs of it though fin had never enter S


ed into the world. The business of the lawyer, and physician, and many handicrafts now in the world, owe their original and neceffity to fin's entrance. Nay, the very bufinefs of our own falvation does fo too; for if Adam had stood the time of trial, all his pofterity's eternal happiness would have been thereby fecured to their hand. God having fettled the manner of the propagation * of mankind, as Gen. i. 28. it was an evidence that the fucceeding generations were not to be created in their prime as Adam was; but to be born infants, and grow up by degrees, in knowledge of religion and other things, as appears from Luke ii. ult. And this would have afforded this business.

2. It is the business of life, that moft fingly looks to the honour of God. God is honoured by our working out our own falvation: but then our own advantage bears great stroke in it allowably, as well. as his honour; but this is a bufinefs carried on not for ourselves, but for God allenarly; and in that refpect is the more noble. Hence we find the Apostle willing, for the great end of the propagation of religion, either to live or die, to put off his own eternal happiness for a time, Philip. i. 26. downwards. And he prefers one's edifying the church, to his own comfort, 1 Cor. xiv. 4. 5. He edifies the church that edifies his houfe, Neh. iii. 28.30.

3. It is the bufinefs of life, that is the end of life and falvation given to the elect, and all their comforts and enjoyments. Hence faid our Lord to Peter, Luke xxii. 32. I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not; and when thou art converted, ftrengthen thy brethren. We get life and falvation by believing in Chrift; and are as really


« PrécédentContinuer »