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God hath provided such reviving cordials for you against the mournful time when they may be taken away.
And we, who have lost our parents, and have found relief in our extremities, from such declarations as these, should recollect it with pleasure, and often repeat our songs of grateful acknowledgment.
And I will farther add, we onght not only to rejoice and to be thankful on our own account, but also on account of those afflicted friends who may receive support from such strong consolations. We pity children that have lost their parents, and it is delightful to see other generous persons rising up to take care of the orphans, and in some respect to make up their loss. But how much more delightful it should be to us, to hear an Almighty God proclaiming himself as their great guardian, and saying, that when their Father and their mother forsake them, he will graciously take them up. How should we rejoice, that when we set ourselves to comfort and encourage them, we cannot only advance our own conjectures, but can thus speak to them in the language of God himself. And indeed this reflection may be applied to all the other promises. We ought to rejoice, that our pious friends have an interest in them, and that God hath consulted their support and consolation, as well
as our own.
And surely, when we are reflecting on such a promise as this, our affectionate thoughts and praises should arise to him, In whom all the promises of God are yea and amen*. It is natural to say,
• Whence is it that thou, the holy Majesty of heaven, wilt appear under such indearing and tender characters, to sinful mortals ! that thou wilt speak of taking them up! of bestowing one gracious look upon them, and much more of extending an arm of mercy to raise them from that helpless condition, in which they naturally lie, like abandoned out-casts! Whence is it that thou wilt take them into thy family now, and into thy kingdom at last!" for all this is intimated in this expression : “ Lord,” may each of us say, “I humbly ascribe it to the riches of thy gospel-grace. I would declare it to the everlasting honour of Jesus thy Son, that it is Through him we have received the adoption." 2. What an engagement should this be to young persons, to en
deavour to secure an interest in God through Christ !
* 2 Cor. i, 20.
presenting, to be far from being small* ; and surely, when
you consider how soon the best of your mortal friends may fail, you cannot but wish for an interest in them : But you wish it in vain, unless you seek it in the gospel way : unless you deliberately and resolutely chuse God for your Father in Christ, and devote yourselves to them in the bonds of an everlasting covenant. If you refuse this, you have reason to regard him under the character of an enemy; and to fear, that when he removes your friends, it is in judgment that he visits you with such a blow. Your hearts may justly meditate terror, if this be the case; especially when your pious parents are taken away. You are then deprived of their prayers, their exhortations, their advices, and their examples ; and so seem to be thrown farther out of the way of repentance and reformation. And let me add, that if Almighty grace doth not prevent it, the trouble which you now feel, in being separated from such dear relations while you continue on earth, will be the smallest part of your unhappiness; for you must finally be separated not only from all the most valuable persons you have ever known here, but, which is infinitely more, from the presence of the blessed God himself; must fall unpitied victims of the divine justice, and be delivered over to dwell with Your father the devil, whose works you have chosen to dot. And oh ! how unutterably dread. ful is it to think, that in the awful day, when this sentence is to be pronounced and executed upon you, there will not be one friend to plead in your favour ! That though your pious parents be then present, yet, in a most terrible sense, Father and mother will then forsake you indeed, and, instead of interposing their intreaties for you, will applaud the righteous vengeance that dooms you as obstinaie rebels to eternal death ; to those abodes of distinguished misery, which are prepared for such as have broke through all the peculiar advantages, which will then be found chargeable to your account. 3. Let what I have been saying be considered by parents, as an
encouragement cheerfully to leave their religious children in the hands of God, when providence shall see fit to make the separation.
When, through the riches of gospel grace, a christian parent sees his own eternal concerns so safe in a Redeemer's hands, that he can say, with respect to them, I Desire to departi; yet sometimes he feels reluctance mingling itself with
* Job xv. 11,
+ John vüi. 44,
| Phil. i. 23,
the holy desire, when he considers that he must leave his dear children behind him ; perhaps in a destitute, and always, if they be very young, in a hazardous condition. And this thought presses with peculiar weight on the minds of those who have lost the companion of their lives ; as upon their decease their children will become entirely orphans. But may it not revive you, to hear, that God will be their guardian, if they be willing to chuse him as such? Surely you may be abundantly satisfied with his care. Alas! what were you yourselves, with all your parental tenderness, but instruments which God made use of for conveying some few of his favors to them? And cannot he do that by others which he hath long been doing by you? Distrust not his power or his faithfulness; but turn all your anxious care about future events, into a religious concern to do your duty to your children, and, by all the most prudent and affectionate methods of address, to lead them into the early knowledge of God in Christ ; that so, through the mercies of an everlasting covenant, they may stand intitled to the special protection of an heavenly Father, who can never be separated from them; and who, as he is never unable, will never prove unwilling to help them. Once more ; 4. Let distressed orphans have an immediate and frequent re
course to such supporting considerations as these.
Do not allow yourselves to suspect the truth of these Ereeeding great and precious promises*, which have now been set before you; and, for your farther encouragement, consider in how many instances they have been confirmed by experience.
There are my friends, I am sure there are, those amongst us this day, who can set our seal to the truth of what has now been spoken, and can say in the language of the text, that when our father and our mother did both of them forsake us, then the Lord actually took us up, and proved a most gracious parent to us. He supplied the breaches that he made, and by a train of providence, which we cannot but admire in the review, raised up other friends for us ; and it may be, inspired almost with the tenderness of parents, persons who were ever unknown to us, when the last of our parents was taken away. Nay, perhaps, some of us may say, that the death of a valuable parent, which we feared would be our ruin, has proved in some of its then unthought-of consequences, on the whole, a very great mercy to us.
* 2 Pet, i, 4.
Let not your
Let such reflections as these encourage you, my young friends, for whose admonition and consolation this discourse was peculiarly intended, to hope, that as your afflictions are the same, your consolations will also be the same. heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid*. Your father and mother are dead, but your heavenly Father can never die. I would willingly hope, that it has been your early care to secure an interest in him; and I would solemnly charge it upon you, as you value your present peace or your eternal happiness, that it be the great business of your life to keep close to him ; and then
you may assure yourselves with the most cheerful confidence, that He will never fail nor forsake yout.
If therefore your hearts are almost overwhelmed within you, in the melancholy circumstances into which his providence has brought you, fly into his presence, prostrate yourselves be. fore him with humble importunity, and turn your tears of sorrow into tears of devotion.
“ Behold, Oh most compassionate Father,” may you reasonably and confidently say, “ behold thou hast plunged me even into the depths of distress ; but blessed be thy name, thou hast not left me to sink in them, without any support. I have this day received some kind assurances from thy word, and I now intreat thee to Remember that word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope!. My father and my mother have forsaken me : Lord, wilt thou not take me up ? Wilt thou indeed abandon me? Wilt thou add affliction to the afflicted ? the insupportable affliction of seeing myself deserted by thee, when I most evidently need thy succour? That be far from thee, Oh Lord, and be the unworthy suspicion far from me!—I have lost my most prudent and faithful counsellors, but I look unto thee, as the guide of my youth.--I have lost those who were once my guardians and my protectors; but I am come to take shelter under the shadow of thy wings.--Their eyes are closed, and their mouths are sealed up in death : No longer can they look with compassion on my sorrows; no longer can their converse cheer or delight me.
Oh! may thy compassionate eye regard me, and thy comforts delight my soul! Permit me, Oh God! an humble freedom in approaching to thee, and in pouring forth all my heart in thy presence.-My parents are now returned naked to their dust, and should my wants be ever so pressing, are now incapable of affording me any relief. May thy rich bounty supply me, thy unwearied
• John xiv, 27.
+ Deut. xxxi. 3.
Psal. cxix 49.
providence take care of me! But, above all, withhold not thy covenant blessings, and let me share in that eternal inheritance which thou hast prepared for all thy children in Christ.”
If these be the daily breathings of your souls before him, you have abundant reason to hope, that he will return an answer of peace. In all your difficulties he will wisely direct you; in all your sorrows he will compassionately relieve you ; in all your dangers he will powerfully protect you ; in all your wants he will bountifully supply you : In a word, you will be conducted safely, and I hope, notwithstanding this gloomy prospect, you will be conducted comfortably, through this mortal life, till you come at length To your Father's house in peace*. And wben you are arrived thither, and take a view of all the various occurrences of the way, you will see apparent reason to acknowledge, what is now so difficult to believe, that the present awful dispensation was sent with a gracious design, and that All the paths of your heavenly Father have been mercy and truth to yout. Amen.