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selves all that tenderness and care from him, which David, and other saints of old, expected and found. He hath said to every one of us, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee*; and for our peculiar support under the loss of the dearest and most useful relatives, he has more particularly added, A Father of the fatherless, and a Judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation+.

When our friends are dead, we are generally more sensible of their value, than we were before: But let the tenderest heart, under the immediate impression of this severe calamity, set itself to paint the character of a departed friend in all its most amiable colours; let it reckon up all the advantages, which fondness could have taught it to hope for; and I will answer for it, that all this, and a great deal more, is to be found in God. Let the dejected orphan, that is even now weeping over the dust of a parent, yea, of both its parents, say, what these parents, in the greatest supposable advantages of cha.. racter and circumstance, could have done for its support, and its consolation; and the complaints of the most pathetic sorrow shall suggest thoughts, which may serve in a great measure, to answer themselves, and to engage the mind joyfully to acquiesce in the divine care, though deserted by the best of parents, or any other friends, however hopeful or useful.

"Alas," will a dutiful and affectionate child be ready to say, in such a circumstance, " do you ask, what my parents were? They were my dearest, my kindest, my most valuable friends-Their counsels guided me ;-their care protected me-their daily converse was the joy of my life ;-their tender condolance revived me under my sorrows;-their liberal bounty supplied my necessities. Is it to be inquired, what they were? Say rather, what were they not? And now they are gone, where must I seek such friends? And how justly may I say, that my dearest comforts and hopes lie buried with their precious


Let us more particularly survey each of these thoughts, and consider with how much greater advantage each of these particulars is to be found in the paternal care and favour of God.

1. Could your parents have advised you in difficulties and perplexities? God is much more able to do it,

You will perhaps say, "Our poor giddy unpractised minds

† Psal. Ixviii. 5.

Heb. xiii. 5.

have been hurried with a variety of schemes and projects, and we have soon found ourselves bewildered and lost; but then it has been the greatest pleasure to us to apply to our parents, from whose more advanced age, and riper experience, we might well hope for considerable assistance. We were sure they would not upbraid our ignorance, or despise us for our weakness; but would give us their best advice, with endearing tenderness, and a cordial concern for our welfare." I allow, my friends, that if they were wise and good, which we now suppose, they were valuable counsellors indeed; and that it was your duty, and your happiness, to use them as such while living, and as such to lament them, now they are here no more. Yet, were they ever so prudent, you must still acknowledge they were fallible creatures. They could only form probable conjectures concerning the future consequences of things; and as those conjectures were always precarious, so, no doubt, they were sometimes erroneous; and you were, perhaps, in some instances, misled by their mistaken apprehensions: But the only wise God knows the end from the beginning; his views of the most distant futurities are not conjectural, but certain; and his wisdom is far more superior to that of the most sagacious and experienced mortal, than the wisdom of such a mortal can be superior to that of an infant. It is He that teaches man knowledge*, in whatever degree he possesses it. He instructed our parents, that they might instruct us; and he has expressly promised his direction to all those that humbly seek it. The meek will he guide in judgment, and the meek will he teach his wayt. You may therefore, according to his own instruction and command, cry unto him, My father, thou art the guide of my youth; and you will find him such a guide, as can give Wisdom to the simple, and to the young man knowledge and discretion§.

2. Could your earthly parents have protected you from injuries? God is much more able to do it.

Nature has implanted even in irrational animals such a regard to the safety of their offspring, that many of the most weak and timorous of them become strangely courageous in their defence. The little bird, that will at other times fly from every noise and every motion, will hover over her young, when they are assaulted with danger; and, rather than she will forsake them will share in their ruin. It is easy to perceive the spirit of parents

§ Prov. i. 4.

Psal. xciv. 10. † Psal. xxv. 9.

Jer. iii. 4.

you are satisfied with his paternal care, and how cheerfully you can refer yourselves to his wise and gracious disposal. Our Lord intimates, that we may use such a holy boldness with God, when he teaches us to say, Our Father, which art in heaven; and the apostle farther expresses it, when he speaks of The spirit of adoption, as teaching us to cry, Abba, Father↑.

4. Could your earthly parents have pitied your sorrows and complaints? The like compassions may you expect from God, if you apply to him under the character of a Father.

It is natural for a child, when any thing grieves it, to go to its parents, and complain to them; and if they cannot redress the grievance, at least they will be ready to condole it. Now we are expressly told in the word of God, that, Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him. And how much more valuable are the compassions of God, than those of our earthly parents could possibly have been! In many cases theirs was only a mourning pity, and all, that they could often do for our relief, was to sit down and weep over us; to afflict themselves with us, and to give us their company in distress: But the compassions of an almighty God can redress the grievances which he commisserates. Be our afflictions ever so many or ever so great; in sickness and in pain; in the agonies of conscience, or the agonies of death; when parents and other friends are but Miserable comforters, he alone can support the soul; can soothe it into serenity and peace; and can exalt it to the most triumphant joy.

5. Could your earthly parents have supplied your wants, and have made provision for your future subsistence? God is infinitely more able and ready to do it for his children.

In our years of infancy, though we had hardly any thing we could call our own, we made ourselves easy in this, that our parents would take care of us; and sometimes the circumstances of families are such, that their care is almost all that the children have to depend upon. When this is the case, none can wonder, that it is considered as a great aggravation of the loss. But surely when God proclaims himself A Father to the fatherless, he intends to suggest some encouragement to such helpless orphans as these; and it becomes them to take the comfort of it.

Mat, vi. 9. + Rom, viii. 15. Psal, ciii. 13. § Job xvi. 2. || 1 Psal. Ixviii. 5%

Earthly parents may sometimes be so indigent that they cannot, and sometimes so unkind that they will not, relieve their children, at least in such a proportion as their necessities require. But the Most high God is the possessor of heaven and earth*, and his goodness is as extensive as his dominion; we may therefore conclude, that He will not suffer the soul of the righteous to famish+. There is not one parent in ten thousand so unnatural, as that he should stand by, and see his child perish for hunger, while it was in the power of his hand to relieve him. Now our Lord hath taught us to argue thus, If ye, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give good things unto them that ask him?

God has the estates, and the hearts of all in his hands; and therefore can, with the utmost ease, raise up friends to us in the most abandoned circumstances, who shall act the part of parents to us, and do more for us than they could have done. And it is farther to be remembered, that the bounties of God are far more excellent than those of any mortal friend could possibly be. Their bounty, be it ever so great, cannot reach beyond the grave; but It is our Father's good pleasure to give us a kingdoms, incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away: In the believing, though distant views of which, we are rich amidst the extremest poverty, and happy in the most miserable circumstances that can be consistent with such a hope. You see then, on the whole, how much more the good man may find in God, than he can possibly lose in the most valuable earthly parents.

It only remains, that I conclude the discourse with a few reflections on this second observation.

1. Let us thankfully acknowledge the gracious provision, which God has made to support his people under the loss of parents and friends,

We should bless his name, that he does not leave us to sink under the burthen, or at best to collect some uncertain comfort from the precarious conclusions of our unassisted reason; but that, through the blood and righteousness of his Son, he has given his plain and express promise, for the encouragement of such inconsiderable and undeserving creatures.

You, whose parents are living, ought to be thankful, that

Gen. xiv. 19. + Prov. x. 3.

Mat. vii 11. § Luke xii. 32. || 1 Pet. i. 4:

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 ought 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 endeavour to secure an interest in God through Christ! You must own the consolations, which I have now been re

* 2 Cor. i. 20.

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