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unlefs God fees fit to blefs and profper SERM. them. This Truth the wife Man con- III. firms by feveral plain Inftances, appealing to our Experience, whether it is not fo in the ufual Course of Things: As, whether, Pf. cxxvii. in the first Foundation of Societies and 1. Governments, the Policy of the Founder avails so much to the Profperity of a City or Country, as the Bleffing of God upon the People, and the Fear of God in their Hearts, intitling them to this Bleffing: Or, whether the Care of the Soldier and Magiftrate is fufficient to defend them, when, by turning Rebels to their God, they caft themselves out of the Protection
of his good Providence. And thus alfo, Ver. 2. it is to no Purpose for the Tradesman to rife up early, and fit up late, to eat the Bread of Carefulness, and to deny himfelf the Neceffaries of Life; he will never thrive, unless God profpers his Labour; and many a Man who doth not take Half the Pains which he doth, and gives with a liberal Hand to the Poor, and enjoys the Comfort of those good Things he is poffeffed of, yet grows rich, and his Wealth increases fo faft upon him, that he can hardly reconcile his Incomes with his Expences; for which no other Account can be given but this, that God bleffes his EnVOL. II. E deavours,
SERM. deavours, and, like Jofeph in Prison, profall that he fets his Hand to do. And, after the fame Manner, Children are the Ver. 3. Heritage of the Lord, and the Fruit of the Womb is his Reward, i. e. it is not in the Power of the strongest and most healthy Perfons, (though, according to the Laws of Nature, fuch Perfons should seldom fail of obtaining their Wishes, Nature defigning above all Things the Increase of Mankind, yet) even the moft healthy Perfons cannot have Children when they please to inherit the Riches they have got: But the Lord referves to himself the free Gift of them; and, as Parents give those Eftates they have an abfolute Propriety in, to which of their Children they please: So God beftows thefe Bleffings on those Perfons whom he thinks most worthy of them, and the Fruit of the Womb is his Reward. The Words, being thus underftood, afford us thefe two Confidera'tions:
I. THAT Children ought to be esteemed Bleffings, and that he, who has a numerous Off-fpring, ought to be thankful to God for them: For Children are the Heritage of the Lord.
II. THAT God is the fole Author and SERM. Difpofer of these Bleffings: The Fruit of III. the Womb is his Reward.
I. THAT it is a happy and blessed Thing to be the Parent of a numerous Off-Spring. Happy is the Man who hath his Quiver full of fuch Arrows as these. For,
1. First, SUCH a Man is a public Bleffing to the Kingdom in which he lives. The Riches of every Kingdom confist in the Number and Multitude of its Inhabitants; a populous Country is always a rich one, let the Soil be never fo barren, or exposed to the Inclemency of the Heavens: On the Contrary, the Wealth of the Indies cannot inrich a Country depopulated either by Sword, Famine, or the arbitrary Government and Tyranny of its Prince. Of which we have a remarkable Instance in the Spanish Monarchy, which by fending out too numerous Colonies of its Inhabitants, like a Body deprived of its beft Blood and Spirits, droops and decays; and, what is moft ftrange, is impoverished, and in Debt, though continually fed with the Gold of Ophir, and fupplied with the inexhaustible Mines of Potofi and Peru: Whereas a neighbouring Commonwealth, E 2 poffeffed
SERM. poffeffed only of a little Spot of Ground, III. hardly fufficient to afford Graves for its Inhabitants, or to pay for keeping up the Banks and repairing the Sluices, daily improves in its Riches and Power, and is able to oppose the greatest Monarch in the World. For having many Backs to cloath, and Mouths to feed, they are forced to fupply, with Labour and Traffick, what is wanting in the Produce of their Soil; and the preffing Neceffities they lie under are Spurs to Induftry, and oblige them to double their Diligence, and to fupply the Defects of their native Country, with the Superfluities of other Nations; so true is that of the Satyrift, Ingenii largitor venter, Neceffity is the Mother of Arts.
FROM both thefe Examples it is eafy to collect, that the Wealth of a Kingdom confifts in the Number of its Inhabitants, and that a Nation then flourishes moft, when the People increafe and grow too numerous to be maintained by the Country which bred them, of which, I fhall add only one Inftance more. The Romans who were famous through the civilifed World, for the Wisdom of their Laws, and the Prudence of their Politics, feem to have acted by this Maxim from the firft Foundation of their Government;
and, to have endeavoured, by all Means SE EM. poffible, to augment the Number of their III. People, and rather chofe to make their City the Afylum of the worst of Men, than to want Inhabitants. To this End they framed so many honorary Laws, and granted fo many and great Privileges to the Parents of many Children; and this Policy has, in fome Measure, been taken up by a neighbouring Prince, as a Means to fupply the Wants of thofe Multitudes of People exhaufted in his Wars, and forced to seek their Bread abroad for the Teftimony of a good Confcience. From all which we may infer, that that Person, whom God has bleffed with a numerous Off-fpring, is a public Benefactor to his Country, and repays with Interest those Advantages he has received from it; that Life and Being he derived from his Parents, which is the Bafis and Foundation of all other Bleffings, this he communicates to others, and, hereby, not only contracts that venerable Name of the Father of a Family, but also thofe more facred Titles of King and God to his Children and natural Subjects. And therefore,
2. A NUMEROUS Off-fpring is a valuable Bleffing with refpect to private Families, and that mutual Comfort and E 3