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stroyers. Prov. 28: 24. This is the worst of theft, in God's account.
Are you not, or have you not been ungrateful to parents? Leaving them to shift for themselves in those straits into which you have helped to bring them. Oh consider it, children, this is an evil which God will surely avenge, except ye repent. What! to be hardened against thine own flesh; to be cruel to thine own parents, that with so much tenderness fed thee, when else thou hadst perished!
If any one of my readers be guilty of these evils, to humble you for them, and reclaim you from them, I desire that these few considerations may be laid to heart.
The effects of your obedience or disobedience will remain upon you and yours to many generations. If you be obedient children in the Lord, both you and yours may reap the fruits of your obedience in multitudes of sweet mercies for many generations. So runs the promise, "Honor thy father and mother, that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth." Eph. 6:2, 3. You know what an eye of favor God cast upon the Rechabites for this. Jeremiah, 35:8-19. And as his blessings are, by promise, entailed on the obedient, so is his curse upon the disobe dient: "Whoso curseth his father or his mother, his lamp shall be put out in obscure darkness," Prov. 20: 20; that is, the lamp of his life shall be quenched by death, yea, say others, and his soul also, by the blackness of darkness in hell.
Though other sins do, this sin seldom escapes exemplary punishment, even in this world.
Heathens will rise up in judgment against you, and condemn you. They never had such precepts or examples as you, and yet some of them would rather have chosen death, than done as you do. But why speak I of
heathens the stork in the heavens, yea, the beasts of the earth, condemn the disobedience of children.
These are sins inconsistent with the true fear of God, in whomsoever they are found. A man is indeed what he is in his family. He that is a bad child can never be a good christian. Either bring testimonies of your godliness from your relatives, or it may be well suspected to be no better than counterfeit. Never talk of your obedience to God, whilst your disobedience to the just commands of your parents gives you the lie.
A parting time is coming, when death will break up the family; and when that time comes, Oh! how bitter will the remembrance of these things be! Surely this will be more insupportable to you than their death, if the Lord open your eyes, and give you repentance.
2. Have you such a pattern of obedience and tender love to parents? Then, children, imitate your pattern, as it becomes christians, and take Christ for your example. Whatsoever your parents be, see that your conduct towards them is such as becomes your profession of Christ.
If your parents are godly, Oh beware of grieving them by any unbecoming conduct. Art thou a christian indeed? thou wilt then reckon thyself obliged to them in a double bond, both of grace and nature. Oh what a mercy would some children esteem it, if they had parents fearing the Lord, as you have!
If they be carnal, walk circumspectly, in the most careful and punctual discharge of your duties; for how knowest thou, Oh child, but hereby thou mayest win thy parents wouldst thou but humbly and seriously entreat and persuade them to mind the ways of holiness, speaking to them at fit seasons, with all humility and reverence, expressing your wishes by relating some pertinent history, or proposing some excellent example, leaving their own conscience to draw the conclusion,
and make the application; it is possible they might ponder your words in their hearts, as Mary did Christ's. Luke, 2:49, 51. And would you but add to all this your earnest cries to heaven for them, and your own daily example, that they may have nothing to complain of you; and thus wait with patience for the desired effect; Oh, what a blessed instrument might you be of their everlasting good!
3. Let those who have children that fear the Lord, and endeavor to imitate Christ in these duties, account them a singular treasure and heritage from him, and give them all due encouragement. How many have no children; and how many have such as are the very reproach and heart-breaking of their parents, bringing down their hoary heads with sorrow to the grave! If God have given you the blessing of godly children, you can never be sufficiently thankful for such a favor. Oh that ever God should honor you to train up children for heaven! What a comfort must it be to you, whatever troubles you meet with abroad, when you come home among godly children, that are careful to sweeten your life by their obedience! Especially, what a comfort is it, when you come to die, that you leave them allied to Christ, and so need not be anxious how it shall be with them when you are gone! Take heed of discouraging such children, from whom so much glory may arise to God, and so much comfort to yourselves. Thus let Christ's pattern be improved, who by such eminent holiness in all his relations, left you an example that you should follow his steps.
THIRD OF CHRIST'S WORDS UPON THE CROSS-TO THE
"And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise." Luke, 23: 43.
In this scripture you have the third excellent saying of Christ upon the cross, expressing the riches of free grace to the penitent thief; a man that had spent his life in wickedness, and for his wickedness was now to die. His conduct had been vile and profane, but now his heart was broken for it; he proves a convert, yea, the first-fruits of the blood of the cross. In the former verse he manifests his faith; "Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom." In this Christ manifests his pardon and gracious acceptance of him; "Verily I say unto thee, To-day shalt thou be with met in paradise." In which consider,
1. The matter or substance of the promise made by Christ, that he shall be with him in paradise. By paradise he means heaven itself, which is here shadowed to us by a place of delight and pleasure. This is the receptacle of gracious souls, when separated from their bodies. And that paradise signifies heaven itself, and not a third place, as some have imagined, is evident from 2 Cor. 12:2, 4; where the apostle calls the same place by the names of the third heaven, and paradise. This is the place of blessedness designed for the people of God. So you find, Rev. 2:7; "To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God;" that is, to have the
fullest and most intimate communion with Jesus Christ in heaven. And this is the substance of Christ's promise to the tnief: "Thos," that, theu in spirit, or thou in the noblest part, thy soul, "shålt be with me in paradise."
2. The person to whom Christ makes this excellent and glorious promise was one that had lived sinfully and profanely; a very vile and wretched man, now justly under condemnation. But the Lord gave him a penitent believing heart. Now, almost at the last gasp, he is soundly, in an extraordinary way, converted; and, being converted, he owns and professes Christ amidst all the shame and reproach of his death; vindicates his innocency, and humbly supplicates for mercy; "Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom."
3. The set time for the performance of this gracious fromise is, to-day; this very day, shalt thou be with me in glory; not after the resurrection, but immediately from the time of thy dissolution, thou shalt enjoy blessedness.
4. We have here the confirmation and seal of this most comfortable promise to him with Christ's solemn asseveration; "Verily I say unto thee." Higher security cannot be given. I that am able to perform what I promise, for heaven and the glory thereof are mine: I that am faithful and true to my promises, and have never forfeited my credit with any; I say it, I solemnly confirm it: "Verily I say unto thee, to-day shalt thou be with me in paradise." Hence we have three plain obvious truths for our instruction and consolation.
1. There is a future eternal state, into which souls pass at death.
2. All believers are, at their death, immediately received into a state of glory and eternal happiness.
3. God may, though he seldom doth, prepare men for this glory, immediately before their dissolution by death.