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Ethiopians unto him,"* and in the new testament it is repeated again and again, “Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God, faith which worketh by love, and a new creature." You boast of your pious parents, as the Jews once did, and claim the privileges of Abraham's seed, but alas, you may be a "generation of vipers," as John the Baptist tells them, and "of your father the devil," as our Lord saith, except you "have the faith and do the works of Abraham."|| A famous family will avail nothing without personal piety; without holiness in your hearts and lives you cannot be saved; think not that God is bound, and you are loose; the covenant is mutual and reciprocal, you cannot expect the privileges without performing the conditions.
3. It is a distressing observation, and often proves too true, that if the children of God's people turn apostates they become the worst of men, and run deeper into sin, and further from God than many, yea, any others. The sons of good old Eli ran into unparalleled wickedness, 1 Sam. ii. 12, 22. We have many sad instances of Cain, Ham, Ishmael, Esau, Amnon, and Absalom; of Solomon, Rehoboam, and Manasseh, and few recovered, and with great difficulty. The tribe of Dan, Jacob's son, turned idolaters, and scarce ever returned to God, therefore are not reckoned amongst the "sealed ones," Rev. vii. 5-8; because they set up Micah's graven image, and had Jonathan, the son of Gershom, as priest to the tribe of Dan, and his sons after him, until "the day of the captivity of the land," Judg. xviii. 30, 31. The Israelites are said to overpass the deeds of the wicked,§ that is, of hea
* Amos ix. 7. Matt. iii. 7-9.
+ 1 Cor. vii. 19. Gal. v. 6. vi. 15.
thens; yea, they go beyond Sodom and her daughters, and change God's judgment more than the heathen.* The reason is clear, because they sin against more light, love, helps, means, convictions, pious examples, as well as a good education, and therefore are justly forsaken of God, and left to greater abominations. Oh tremble lest this be your case!
4. The children of pious parents may be cast into eternal torments. Abraham the father of the faithful may have a son lifting up his eyes in tormenting flames. The children of the kingdom shall be cast out into "outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth,”‡ they that would not weep penitently here, must weep despairingly hereafter; they that scorned rebukes from parents, must have dreadful rebukes from God and conscience, their education was with saints, their conclusion with devils. There have many gone to hell with baptismal water on their faces. Baptized Magus must perish with his money; he was in the "gall of bitterness, and bonds of iniquity," and thus dragged to hell. Yea, the damnation of such sinners will be characterized with more vengeance than others; the worm of conscience will bite harder, being fed with more materials to strengthen her; the flame will be hotter, having more fuel; the higher men are exalted towards heaven, if they reach it not, the lower do they fall to hell, and in hell; § if they plead their birth-right, as when a criminal pleaded that he was a gentleman, and the judge told him, he should therefore have a higher gallows; or as lord Sturton, who was hanged for murder in a silken halter; so must these well-bred persons be dealt with, the more they know of their master's will, the more stripes are laid on
Matt. viii. 12 Luke xii. 47
them; the more they glory in their privileges, the more misery in their loss, and the higher their hopes, the greater their disappointment; these are both hypocrites and apostates, whose sin and shame are more aggravated and augmented than others.* O what flaming faggots, and scorching oil, will parent's prayers, tears, counsels, admonitions, exhortations be to dissolute young men when they shall see their parents glorified, and themselves condemned; read Prov. v. 11-13.
INSTRUCTION MAY BE DERIVED FROM THE SUBJECT UNDER CONSIDERATION.
THERE are four classes of persons concerned in the doctrine under discussion, who may be instructed in their respective duties from it. Children of uncovenanted parents, children of covenanted parents, persons married without children, and persons that have a family.
A few words may be addressed to each of these.
1. There are some children attending on God in ordinances whose immediate parents were not in covenant with God, and knew him not. You may lay this to heart and lament it as your infelicity, but this is no bar to your reception with God; for how can you tell but some of your remote ancestors might be godly? or if not, grace is free, "those that come unto him, he will in no wise cast out;"t you may and must venture; * Matt. xxiv. 51. ↑ John vi. 37.
sinners of the Gentiles are grafted into the true olive, even contrary to nature, when they were wild by nature, so mayest thou be.* Jephthah was a bastard, thrust out by his brethren, but received by God.† Be not discouraged, though thou be sinful, and thy parents sinful, yet "God is no respecter of persons;" barbarian and Scythian, all are one in Christ Jesus; grace makes, but regards no difference. And if the grace of God hath passed over others' heads to touch your hearts, (1.) Adore the sovereign actings of free grace, give God glory, discriminating grace should have the crown set upon its head. I was, may one say, doubly polluted in my birth, from my first, and immediate parents. O what a privilege that I should be permitted to enter into the congregation of the Lord; that God should receive me amongst his saints on earth, and give me hopes of heaven, O wonder of grace!
(2.) Be humble all your days, and low in your own eyes. Young professors are apt to be proud, but it ill becomes you of all persons to be proud, whom God hath lifted up from the dunghill, to sit with princes the king's children, read and apply, 2 Sam. vii. 18—20.
(3.) Make up your parents' deficiency by your own diligence, what time was lost in your childhood and youth, now redeem; the more ignorant your parents were, the more knowledge do you acquire; the further they were from God, the nearer do you get to him; the more disadvantages you have had, the more pains must you take for your souls, seeing it is of absolute necessity.
(4.) If God have laid hold on your hearts, be more laborious for the good of your families. You have had sad experience of the want of careful education,
* Rom. xi. 24.
Col. iii. 11. Gal. iii. 28.
+ Judg. xi. 1, 2, 29.
let not your children have the same, but instruct them, pray for them, do what you can to bring them into covenant with God, give them not occasion to complain of your neglect also.
2. Children of covenanted parents, God forbid you should act contrary to your baptismal covenant relation, or act inconsistently with your obligations, that thorns should grow instead of lillies, or offensive weeds, where sweet smelling-flowers have been seen; it is dreadful that cursing should be heard, where prayers have been offered, or idle profane songs, where hosannas have been addressed to the King of heaven.
(1.) Review and renew your baptismal covenant. You were early devoted to God in minority, confirm it now at age; you took bounty money to be the Lord's soldiers, to fight against Satan, the world, and the flesh. Beg the graces and privileges exhibited and sealed in that ordinance, "regeneration, adoption, mortification, union to Christ, remission of sin;" say, Lord, didst thou promise before I could ask them, and now wilt thou not bestow them, when I am become an humble suitor for them? I here produce thy charter, the deed of gift under thine own hand; thou didst in my infancy confer a right, give me now possession of it, let me know the seed was sown by the crop growing up, that I may at last reap the blessed harvest.
(2.) Repent for your breach of covenant. Alas, I have not come up to my vow in baptism; I have failed by omission, transgressed by commission, my conscience condemns me, God may justly censure me for transgressing his laws, changing his ordinances, breaking the everlasting covenant, † I have abused his kindness, rejected his gracious offers, neglected his worship, and
*Tit. iii. 5. Rom. vi. 1, 2. Gal. iii. 26. Acts xxii. 16. + Isa. xxiv. 5.