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his soul. Eternal life is contained and comprehended in it.
I wave all these, and shall consider the text in a twofold light, in a domestic, and in a personal respect.
The former refers to David's house, the latter to his personal experience; this blessed covenant was David's chief relief, in both these cases: from the former observe,
That notwithstanding the sins and sufferings in a pious man's family which occasion much grief to his spirit, yet he is supported and satisfied with God's gracious gospel covenant.
From the latter acceptation observe,
That covenant relation is the foundation of a dying Christian's safety, satisfaction, and salvation.
It is the former observation on which I shall at present enlarge.
THE SINS AND SUFFERINGS OF FAMILIES OFTEN OCCASION THE GRIEF OF PARENTS.
THE principal point which I propose for consideration relates to David's family, for he mentions his house in the beginning of the text; and in the latter end of the verse there is also a reference to it, "although he make it," that is, my house, "not to grow," that is, to increase in number, power, or honour.
The former part of the verse is variously rendered,
Nor is my house so great, or of כי לא כן ביתי עם אל
so much worth with God.* Alas, what is my house at best, my pedigree is without distinction. David disdains not to reflect on his humble origin, though advanced to the culminating point of civil and spiritual promotion, as a king and prophet: he magnifies God, and degrades, yea, nullifies himself, 2 Sam. vii. 18, "Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house that thou hast brought me hitherto?" Others thus, there is more in the covenant than this my house before God. All the families in the world amount not to so much as one Messiah, he, he only is the noble flourishing branch springing out of my family, who is worth us all, who conveys life and vigour to us all, this is the rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch growing out of its roots, and they shall hang on him all the glory of his father's house;|| my whole family would fall into ruin but for him, on whose behalf it must be upheld, that he may be born in it; yea, who only upholds it.
Others thus; although my family and kingdom be not so holy, as to perform the conditions of the covenant so exactly as God requireth, though we are guilty in many respects before God, and he hath scourged us sore, yet God's covenant is the ground of my hope for my family, and I doubt not but my Lord will make it good.§
And what David saith of his family, any child of God may say of his, except in the peculiar case of the Messiah springing out of his loins. Thence we may safely derive this
Doct. That notwithstanding the sins and sufferings in a pious man's family, which occasion much grief to
* Nec tanta est domus mea apud Deum.
+ Plus est quàm hæc domus mea ante Deum.-Chald. Jon.
+ Isa. xi, 1. || Isa. xxii. 24.
§ Quamvis non sit ita.
his spirit, yet he is supported and satisfied with God's gracious gospel covenant.
In handling this point I shall
I. Premise some things proper to be known.
III. Answer a main objection.
IV. Make a short application.
I. The things to be premised are these: What may befall a godly man's family? Why these are a grief to his spirit? What is the covenant that supports him? What is in the covenant to bear him up?
A little may be advanced on each of these.
First, What may fall out in a pious man's family which may occasion his grief?
I shall mention these two things in answer: Corruptions breaking out, and afflictions breaking in on his house; sin and suffering, and indeed suffering is the proper fruit of sinning.
1. Corruption may break out in pious families; I shall not need to instance in Adam's, Noah's, Abraham's, Isaac's, or even in Jacob's, Aaron's, Samuel's, &c. I shall keep to David's. Alas, corruption broke out sadly, both in himself and in his children.
(1.) David was guilty of sins of omission, possibly not instructing, restraining, or not punishing Amnon and Absalom, and not crossing Adonijah, 1 Kings i. 6, David was too indulgent for which he smarted.* He was also guilty of foul sins of commission; as adultery, and the murder of his faithful servant Uriah, 2 Sam. xi. 4, 27, rashness towards Mephibosheth, 2 Sam. xix. 29, sometimes lying, changing his behaviour, &c.
(2.) His children too were deeply guilty, Amnon of incest, Absalom of rebellion, and Adonijah of ambition.†
• 2 Sam. xii. 9-12.
+ 2 Sam. xiii. 10-14. xv. 1. 1 Kings i. 7.
Alas, that there should be found such gross abominations in pious David's family, yet this was not his case only; it is said of Samuel, that his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes and perverted judgment, 1 Sam. viii. 3.
2. And what a flood gate of troubles did these sins open, which gushed in upon him, deep called to deep, all God's waves and billows went over him,* remember David and all his afflictions, saith he, how numerous, how ponderous!t some of his children dying in the height of their career, by the visible hand of justice, one died in infancy to punish his iniquity; besides foreign enemies; he had a gloomy morning, noon, and evening, what bloody wars with Saul and his house, with Philistines and Ammonites! what sad tragedies, insurrections, commotions, and confusions, threatening a total extirpation, so that David might call some child Beriah, as Ephraim did because it went evil with his house, 1 Chron. vii. 21-23, and so it hath done with many a good man's house.
Secondly, Why are these breakings out of sin, and prevalence of sufferings in their families, such a grief to pious householders?
With respect to the first, it must needs trouble
1. Because by sin God is greatly displeased, his name much dishonoured, religion discredited, the hearts of genuine believers saddened, the wicked scandalized and hardened; motes in professors are beams, are mountains in the eyes of profane; what will they say? they are no better than we, what are they but a pack of hypocrites? to what purpose is all their whining and praying? Our children conduct themselves as civilly as theirs, where is the covenant
• Psal. xlii. 7.
+ Psal. cxxxii. 1.
2 Sam. xii. 14.
they boast of? Hence David, Psal. xlii. 3, "My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, where is thy God?"
2. They are greatly afflicted with the sins of children, because the beloved of their souls are endangered, they are pieces of themselves, as their own souls, how can I endure to see my own flesh scorched, and tormented in eternal flaines? Oh! shall the child that came out of my loins be separated from God, a companion with devils, a fire-brand in hell? the mention of it sinks my spirits. Is all my labour lost? shall the soul of my child perish? Oh! who can endure to think of it? no wonder if that be the first of Solomon's Proverbs, chap. x. 1, "A wise son maketh a glad father; but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother." Yea, he frequently repeats it ;* other afflictions lie on the back, this goes to the heart, see Rom. ix. 1-3.
3. Consciousness in parents of their own guilt, makes children's miscarriages more uneasy and afflictive. Oh! I read my sin in my child's folly; alas, omission of due instruction, admonition, or correction hath brought my child to this, I may thank myself, I have taught my offspring by my bad example, I have not watched over them, prayed for them, or been so jealous of them, as to offer sacrifice for them continually, as I find Job did, chap. i. 5; who can tell, but if I had been faithful, I might have prevented all this? Oh! my child's sin brings my youthful vanities to my remembrance, thus I dealt with my father, to this pitch I arrived, God hath punished my sin with my child's; I am verily guilty, this cuts deep, Jer. iv. 18.
4. The affliction is heavier because it doth in some measure weaken the confidence of parents in the covenant, and endanger their faith in the promise. Pious Prov. xv. 20. xvii. 25.