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To the Right Honourable Philip Lord Wharton.
THE concernedness your lordship hath for the worthy branches of your noble family, is demonstrated to all whom you esteem friends, by the constant solicitation with which you close your letters, Remember me and my family in your prayers, by which your lordship at once testifies your natural affection and true piety; your earnest desire of the best good, and the means by which that must come from God, even on the wings of believing prayer. Your lordship's request hath the force of a command; the obligations laid upon many hundreds both of ministers and people, extort from us, in point of gratitude, both many thanksgivings to God, and renewed supplications for your lordship, that the blessing of Abraham may successively continue in your noble family, that it may be blessed, and be a blessing. O happy family! where the precious pearl of covenant grace enamels the gold ring of worldly honour! It is true, the divine oracles say, not many mighty, not many noble are called. A good lady added, blessed be God, that it saith, not, not any. Once at least God will have an emperor, a Constantine saved. Augustine saith, a poor Lazarus is laid in rich Abraham's bosom. Sacred writ records a noble Theophilus, and an elect lady. And ecclesiastical history furnisheth us with a large catalogue of illustrious members of noble families, attached to the house of the Lord, which like fixed stars of the first magnitude, have shone bright in their proper orbits, and shed a heavenly influence among their inferiors. In which rank God hath placed your honour; whose morning star of early piety con
tinues still shining bright to a good old age, and hath cast many resplendent beams of favour upon indigent persons, and spread the savour of divine knowledge amongst the ignorant; for which the loins of the poor, and souls of the instructed will bless you in this, and the other world. I doubt not, my lord, but your gracious spirit echoes to the dying speech of holy David, to whom a succession of piety in his seed was more eligible than of royalty and large revenues. What can be compared to this one comprehensive promise, I will be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee: yet this is the rich privilege of God's covenanted servants. Mines of gold, mountains of pearl, can bear no proportion to this one word, my God; This is light in darkness, life in death, a heaven in the midst of hell. The sense of this is the only cordial to the fainting spirits of God's afflicted children. Yea, saith one, if but one little drop of divine love, should fall into a lost soul in hell, it would sweeten or swallow up the bitter torments. And next to the privilege of God's being our God, his being our children's God claims the pre-eminence. For parents' anxious thoughts run out for their children's well being in this and another world. If God help us to own him, he will not forsake us or ours. It is true grace comes not by succession, yet oft in succession. The line of covenant love reacheth to many generations; and the more numerous pious predecessors are, the greater is the shower of blessings. So a learned man reads that paternal benediction of Jacob to Joseph, "The blessings of thy father are strong with the blessings of my progenitors ;"* as the more waters run into one channel, the deeper it grows. Your lordship then may hope for multiplied and accumulative blessings on your noble progeny, if that be sound divinity, which was a maxim amongst the Jewish rabbies, that the divine glory rests on noble stems: however beams of love reflect with greatest lustre when descending on honourable personages. Therefore should we pray most ardently, for those of highest rank, as having the greatest capacity of doing most good; and a pious man, or minister, must not only with David, “serve his own generation by the will of God," but with the blessed apostle Peter, "endeavour that posterity may be able after their
Gen. xlix. 26.
+ Acts xiii. 36.
decease to have divine truths always in remembrance." my lord, hath been the great care of your houour; and as natural motions have more velocity towards the end, so the nearer your lordship approacheth to your centre and haven, the more sedulous and active are you to lay a foundation for religion in future generations; thereby also laying up in store for yourself a good foundation for the time to come, so laying hold on eternal life. For the accomplishing of this great purpose, a poor inconsiderable worm casts his mite into my Lord's treasury, and prostrates himself at your lordship's feet, in this dedication, in testimony of my sincere gratitude for your unparalleled kindness and condescension to so humble a person. Withal recommending this small Treatise to your lordship, to encourage your heart, and strengthen your hands in God, under the painful breaches in your noble family; venturing it into a critical world under your lordship's auspicious name; not doubting a pardon for this boldness, and a candid acceptance; following it with my poor prayers, that it may obtain its desired success among the rising generation, and may excite parents to improve this blessed covenant; hoping that when your lordship hath filled up your days with grace, and your soul hath been transplanted into the celestial paradise; some of your seed will rise up in your room as plants of renown, to bear your image and name, and follow your gracious example while sun and moon endure; which is the daily prayer of,
Your humble and devoted servant,
• 2 Pet. i. 15.
+1 Tim. vi. 19.
THERE is nothing in the world (I am very confident) lies so near the heart of a gracious Christian, next to the glory of God and his own soul's eternal happiness, as the spiritual good of his dear children; nature binds him to love his own: Christianity regulates and spiritualizes this love: fondness is not true love, but faithfulnesss: love to their bodies without love to their souls is nothing but animal attachment: it is like a doting on the casket, and throwing away the jewel, the soul is the man, the unseen part is the best part: where the soul is lodged, when parted from the body, there must the body lodge, in heaven or hell: oh that men understood and well digested this! surely they would not so unweariedly toil and exhaust themselves to get estates for their children, and take no care of their precious souls, and know not when they die, whether "he that comes after them will be a wise man or a fool:*" if he be a wise man, a little will serve him, with God's blessing: if wicked, he puts a sword into the hand of a fool to do himself and others a greater mischief. Oh, how much better is it for their own peace and their children's profit to plead the covenant of grace, to instruct, correct, admonish, counsel, comfort, and encourage their children in the ways of God, and use their utmost endeavour to make them God's children: an ancient thus writes: "God commands parents to hoard up discipline, not money for their children, things of a perpetual not perishing nature.”+ What a base and sordid thing is it to prefer a hog to a son! to provide for an animal and cast out a child! and yet most
Eccl. ii. 19.
+ Disciplinam parentes Deus jubet thesaurizare filiis, non pecuniam, perennia præcipit non peritura conferre.—Sabrian ad Eccles, cath. lib. 3. p. 441.