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all this for want of a timely, and prudent preventing care. O' thers, there are, of the rude and ignorant multitude, who are bred themielves, much like the beasts they daily converse withal; and so they are fitly deicribed, Job xxx. 6, 7. Go into their houses, and you may sooner find in the window, or upon the shelf, a pack of cards, than a bible or a catechism; their beds, and tables, difser little, or not at all, from the stalls, and cribs where beasts lie down, and seed inrespect of any worship of Gcd among them; or if, for sashion-sake, a sew words be huddled over, in the eveuing, when their bodies are tired, the man saith something, he scarce knows what, the wise is asleep in one corner, the children in another, and the servants in a third. This is the education multitudes of parents give their children all the week, and when the sabbath comes, the most they learn to know at church, is, where their own seatstands, and that it is necessary to speak with such a neighbour after prayers, about such or such a bargain, or business for the next week.
And others there are, who breed their children as prosanely, as these do sottishly; teaching them, by their examples, the newest oaths, that were last minted in hell, and to revile, and scoff all serious godliness, and the sincere prosessors of it, smiling to hear with what an emphasis they can talk in the dialect of devils, and how wittily they can droll upon godly ministers, and Christians •
Such samilies are nurseries for hell; and though God, by an extraordinary hand of providence, now and then snatches afoul, byconversion, from among them, as a brand out of the fire; yet, generally, they die as they live, going " to the generation "of their sathers, where they shall never see light," Psal. xlbt. 19. I know education, and regeneration, are two things; but I also know one is frequently made the "instrument of working "the other, and that the * savour of what first seasons out "youth (generally) abides to old age," Prov. xxii. 6< We may observe, all the world over, how tenacious men are of that which is T/rarfifarxfxJ'°Tot, delivered to them by their parents. 0 what a cut must it be, to the heart of that sather whose fop's lise shall tell his conscience what a prosane son's lips once told his sather to his sace!" If I have done evil, I have learnt it of "you f." Had they selt more of your prudent correction, it might have prevented their destruction. Prov. xxiii. 14. "Thou "shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soulfroa*
* ghiD femel eji imbuta recent, isc. f Si mule seei, a te didici.
"hell." That this is a common beaten path to hell, is beyond all question; but how to bar it up, and stop the multitudes that are engaged in it to their own ruin, this is the labour, this is the work. I cannot be large, but i will offer a sew weighty considerations.
The first way to hell barred.
1. Let all parents consider, what a searful thing it is to be the instruments of ruining, for ever, those that received their beings instrumentally from them, and to seek whose good they if and obliged, by all the laws of God, and nature.
In vain are all your cares, and studies for their bodies, whilst their souls perish, for want of knowledge. You rejoiced at their birth, but they will have cause to curie the day they were born of you, and lay, "Let the day perish wherein I was born, and
the night in which 1 was conceived." You were sollicitous for their bodies, but careless of their fouls; earnest to see them rich, but indifserent whether they were gracious; you neglected to teach them the way of salvation, but the devil did not neglect to teach them the way of .sin. . You will oneway wish you had never been partnts, when the doleful cries of your damned children fball ring such notes as these in your ears:
* O curled sather! O cruel, merciless mother 1 whose examples 'have drawn me after you, into all this misery. You had time 'enough, and motives enough, to have warned me of this
* place, and misery, whilst my heart was tender, and my afsec'tions pliable: Had it not been as easy to have put a bible, as
* a play-book before me? To have chastised me when I pro'voked God, by sin, as when I provoked you about a trifle?
* One word, spoken in season, might have saved my foul; one 'reproof, wisely given, and set on by your example, might ■ have preserved me. Had it not been the same pains to have 'asked me, child, what wilt thou do to be saved? As, what
* wilt thou do to live in the world? Or had I but observed any 'serious religion in you, had I but found, or heard my sather,
* or mother upon their knees, in prayer, it might have awaken
* ed me to a consideration of my condtion. In my youth I was 'shame-saced, searful, credulous, audapt so imitate; had you
* but had wisdom, as other parents have, to have taken hold of 'any of these handles in time, you had rescued my soul from 'hell. Nay, so cruel have you been to your own child, thn you 'allowed me no time (if I had had a disposition) for any exercise 'of religion; yea, you have quenched and stifled the sparks of
* convictions, and better inclinations, that sometimes were in,
Vol. III. K k k
'my heart. O happy had it been, if I had never been born o( • you,- or seen your faces.' This must be the result, and issue of your negligence, except God, by some other hand (which is no thanks 10 you) rescue them from their impending ruin.
2. Let all children, whale unhappy lot it is to be born of, and educated by, carnal and irreligious parents, consider, God hath endued them with reason,- and a conscience of their own, to enable them to make a better choice than their parents did, and that there is no taking sanctuary from the wrath of God in their parent's examples. We read, in i Kings xiv. 13. of a good Abijah, " in whom was found some good thing towards "the Lord God of Israel, in the house of Jeroboam." Here was a child that would not follow his wicked father to hell, though he had both the authority of a father, and of a king over him. "You must honour your parents, but still you must '• preser your God before them $." God will never lay it to your account as your sin, but place it to the account of your -duty, and comfort, that you refused to follow them in the paths of lin, and destruction. No law of God, no tie of nature binds you to obey their commands, or tread in their steps, farther than they command in God's authority, and name, and walk in his ways. Your temptations, indeed, are strong, and disadvantages great; but the greater will the mercy of your deliverance be: It wiil be no plea for yon, at the judgment-seat, to fay, Lord, my father, or mother did so, and so, before me, and I thought I might sasely follow them; or thus, and thus, they commanded me, and 1 thought I was bound, by thy command, to obey them. Therefore look to your own fouls, if they are so desperate as to cast away their own. If some children had not minded their own salvation, more than their parents minded it, they had never been saved.
3. Let this consideration work upon the hearts, and bowels of all serious Christians, to pity, and help those that are like to perish under this temptation; and if their parents be so ignorant, that they cannot, or so negligent, that they do not instruct and warn their own children; you that at any time have an opportunity to help them, have compassion on them, and do it. *Tis true, they are none of your children by nature; but would it not be a singular honour, and comfort to you, if God (hould make them so by grace? Thousands of children (and, it may be some of you) are more indebted to mere strangers, upon this account, than to their nearest relations; you know no: how
t Amandui gtnitor, fed fr-afouendus Creator. . .
much good an occasional word may do them: All hare trot ability to be so publicly useful this way, as a late worthy minister of onr own nation hath been, who, in companion to the dark, and barbarous corners in Wales, where ignorance, and pover• ty shut up the way of salvation to them, at a vast expence procured the translation, and printing of the bible in their own tongue, and freely sent it among them. O you that have the bowels of Christians in you, pity, and help them! What is it, for the saving of a precious foul, to drop a serious exhortation, as you have opportunity, upon them, to bestow a bible, or suitable book upon them? Believe it, these little sums of shillings, and pence, io bestowed, will stand for more, in the audit day, than all the hundreds, and thousands, other ways expended. The stand way to hell discovered.
II. A second way to hell, in which multitudes are found hastening to their own damnation, is, the way of affected ignorance. The generality of people, even in a land enlightened with the gospel, are found gtosly ignorant of Christ, the true; and only way to heaven, and of repentance, and saith, the only way to Christ; and thus the people perish for want of knowledge, Hcs. iv. 6. if the tree of knowledge had teen hedged ia from the common people, as it is in popish countries; and it had been criminal to find a bible in our houses, there might have been some cloak, and pretence for our ignorance: But to be stupidly ignorant of the most obvious, plain, aud necessary truths, and yet bred up among bibles, and ministers! O how ominous a darknets is this, foreboding the blackness of darkness for ever ! For if the hiding of the gospel from the hearts of men be a token to them that they are lost souls, how much notional light soever they may have ; much more must they be lost to arl intents, from whose hearts, and heads too, it is judicially hidden. They that know not God, are in th£ catalogue of th« damned, 2 Thess. i. 8. and if this be lise eternal, to know the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent; then this must be death eternal, to be grosly and affectedly ignorant both of God, the end, and Christ, the way, by the rule of true opposition, John xvii. 3.
Look over the several countries in the prosefting world; g© ioto the samilies of country sarmers, day labourers, and poor people, and except here and there a samily, or person, into whose heart God hath graciously stlined; what barbarous, brutish ignorance overspreads them: They converse, from morning to night, w}th beasts, though they have souls, which arc
lit companions for angels, and capable of sweet converse with God. The earth hath opened her mouth, and swallowed up all their time, strength, thoughts, and fouls, as it did the bodies of Corah, and his company. They know the value of a horse, or cow, but know not the worth ot Christ, pardon, or their own souls: They mind daily what work they have to do with, their hands, but forget all they have to do upon their knees; their whole care is to pay their fine, or rent to their landlord, but not a thought who shalt pay their debts to God. They are so far from putting unnecessary business aside, to make way for the service of God, that God's iervice is put aside as an unnecessary business, to make way for the world: The world holds them fast till they are asleep, and will be sure to visit them, as soon as their eyes are open, that there may be no vacancy, or door of opportunity left open for a thought of their fouls, or another lise, to slip in: Or if at any time they think, or speak of these matters, then the world, like Pharaoh, when lsiael spake of sacrificing, is sure to speak of more work. And thus they live, and die, without knowledge; there is no key of knowledge (as it is fitly called, Luke xi. 52.) to open the door of the soul to Christ; he, and his ministers, therefore, must stand without; pity they may, but help they cannot, till knowledge open the door; Satan is ruler of the darkness of this world, Eph. vi. 12. that is, of all blind, and ignorant souls. Ignorance is the chain with which he binds them fast to himself, and till that chain be knocked off, by divine illumination, they cannot be emancipated, and made free of Christ's kingdom; Acts xxvi. 18. •' To turn them from darkness to *' light, and from the power of Satan to God." Ignorance, indeed, incapacitates a man to commit the unpardonable sin; but what is he the nearer, whilst it disposes him to all other sins which damn, as well as that? By ignorance it is, that all the essays of the gospel, for men'3 salvation, are frustrated; that naked assent is put in the place of saving faith, morality mistaken for regeneration, a sew dead duties laid in the room of Christ, and his righteousness. Indeed it would fill a greater book than this is, to shew the mischievous effects of ignorance, and how many ways it destroys the precious souls of men: but seeing I can speak but little in this place to it, let me bar up this way to hell, if it be possible, by a sew serious considerations. The second way to hell shut up. 1. Let the ignorant consider, God hath created their souls with a capacity of knowing him, and enjoying him, as well as Others that are famed in the world for knowledge, and wisdom,