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them in any other sense. And in this sense, we find by observation and experience, that he often does visit the iniquity of the fathers upon the children that hate him, from generation to generation; and that he does show mercy to thousands of children who love him, and keep his commandments. And thus he blesses obedient children for the sake of their pious parents, and punishes disobedient children for the sake of their wicked parents.

2. It appears from what has been said upon this subject, that God is highly pleased with pious parents who faithfully discharge their duty towards their children. He generally and indefinitely promises to show mercy to their children for their sake, so far as is consistent with his perfect wisdom and goodness in governing the world; which is a peculiar mark of his approbation of their fidelity. He knows how near and dear their children are to them, and what pure and high satisfaction they take in the piety and prosperity of their offspring. They view any good bestowed upon them, as bestowed upon themselves. They have no greater joy than to see their children both pious and prosperous, walking in the truth. It was a great satisfaction to Abraham, to see his son Isaac made pious and prosperous, for the sake of his parental fidelity. It was a

, great satisfaction to David that God gave his son Solomon a wise and understanding heart, and crowned him with power, riches and glory for his sake. When one man bestows favor upon another for the sake of a third person, it is a peculiar and delicate expression of his love and respect of that person, for whose sake he bestows the favor. It was a strong and delicate expression of David's love and friendship to Jonathan, when he showed kindness to Mephibosheth, for Jonathan his father's sake. So God's showing kindness to the children of pious parents for their parental faithfulness, is a peculiar and high expression of his approbation of their conduct in training them up in the way they should go; especially, if God bestows great spiritual, as well as temporal favors upon them. There is great reason to think that, according to his general and indefinite promise, he often does bestow the greatest and richest blessings upon children, for their pious parents' sake. great many instances, he undoubtedly grants their children the renewing and sanctifying influences of his Holy Spirit, and prepares them for great prosperity and usefulness in the world. There are a vast many ways in which God can show favor to children for their parents' sake, and by which he manifests his peculiar approbation of parental faithfulness.

3. It appears from what has been said, that God is highly displeased with those parents who are unfaithful in respect to their


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duty to their children. He generally and indefinitely threatens to punish their disobedient children unto the third and fourth generation, which is as long as parents ever live to see their children, and the evils they suffer in this life. His threatening to unfaithful parents seems to be more definite than his promise to faithful parents. He threatens to visit the iniquity of unfaithful parents upon their children who hate him, unto the third and fourth generation; which seems to imply that their children shall hate him unto the third and fourth generation. That is, he will bring spiritual, as well as natural evils upon them, for so long a period. He will withhold from them his special grace, as well as his special temporal blessings. Unholy parents have as strong natural affection for their children, as pious parents have for theirs. It gives them peculiar pain and anxiety to see their children pursuing such evil courses as lead to poverty and reproach in this world, and to eternal misery in the next. The sufferings of their children are often as affecting to them as their own sufferings, and sometimes much harder to bear. This all men know; and upon this ground, the enemies of parents often revenge upon them by punishing their children. The king of Babylon “slew the sons of Zedekiah in Riblah before his eyes.” This he did to torture the feelings of their father. God says he will punish the children of unfaithful parents before their eyes, to strike daggers in their hearts for their unfaithfulness. God still visits the iniquity of the fathers upon the children. He suffers them to walk in the way of their hearts and in the sight of their eyes, and to prepare themselves for both temporal and eternal ruin; which wrings the hearts of unfaithful parents with the keenest sorrow and self reproach.

4. God appears infinitely wise in treating children according to the mode he has established in the second commandment. To bless children for their fathers' sake, and to punish them for their fathers' sake, is directly suited to touch parents in their tenderest part.

When God addresses their understandings, or consciences, they are extremely apt to disregard his voice; but when he speaks to their hearts, they can hardly help feeling what he says. When he tells them how kindly and mercifully he will treat their children, if they will only conduct towards them as they ought to conduct towards them, it is calculated to awaken all their tender feelings towards the objects that lie nearest to their hearts. And he has plainly told them how they ought to conduct towards them. “ Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord, and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words which I command you this day shall

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be in thine heart. And thou shalt teach them diligently to thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” This is as much as to say to parents, “ Only give your children this religious instruction from supreme love to me, and I will show them mercy and grant them every temporal and spiritual good, which infinite wisdom and goodness shall see fit to bestow.

desire that I should treat them in a better manner? I lodge the holiness and happiness of your children in your own hands and hearts. It depends upon your fidelity, whether you shall see your children holy and happy, in this world and the next.” Can parents reasonably desire any greater encouragement to give up their children to God, to give them a religious education, to set before them an amiable example of piety, and to carry them to God, and pray, “O that our children may live before thee?”

, On the other hand, what could God say more directly suited to prevent parents from being unfaithful to their children, than to tell them that, if they are unfaithful, he will visit their iniquity of unfaithfulness upon their children and children's children, unto the third and fourth generation? How can they bear to see the fatal consequences of their unfaithfulness in the sin and misery of their children? If any motives can deter parents. from neglecting their duty towards their children, it would seem that the motive which God sets before them in the second commandment, must have this happy effect. In a word, we cannot conceive that God could have established a wiser or better mode of conduct, than his blessing and punishing children for their father's sake. It is suited to promote virtue and restrain vice in both parents and children, from generation to generation, to the end of time.

5. It appears from what has been said, that children have great reason to be thankful for pious and faithful parents. All children have derived, or might have derived great spiritual and temporal benefit from the faithfulness of their parents; and all pious children are thankful to God for parental faithfulness. They are thankful that they were given up to God in sincerity, that they were instructed, advised, admonished and restrained by their pious parents. They are thankful for their example and prayers, and for all that they have done to draw down di. vine blessings upon them in time and eternity. Moses was thankful that God was not only his God, but his father's God. “ The Lord is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation; he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father's God, and I will exalt him.” But whether children are gracious or graceless, obedient or disobedient, they ought



to be thankful for the fidelity of their pious parents. Their ingratitude and disobedience, under faithful parental instruction, are extremely sinful and displeasing to God. They abuse one of the most rare and distinguishing privileges. But few children enjoy such precious privileges, because there are but few faithful parents. It is one of the most ominous marks of deep depravity in children and youth, to despise and abuse pious parental instruction; and it is generally followed by a very vicious and abandoned life. Those who break over a pious and religious education, generally break over all other restraints and become prodigies in wickedness. But were children and youth ever more disposed to despise and abuse pious parental instruction, than at this day? Where is pious parental instruction and faithfulness more despised and abused, than in this place? Is there scarcely a pious child or youth to be found, even in religious families; or any in irreligious families? What is to be expected, if God does not visit the iniquity of fathers upon themselves? Will he not visit their iniquities upon their children, unto the third and fourth generation ?

6. From this subject, we learn the solemn importance of parents being religious. They are expressly required to bring up

their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. They are bound by the supreme authority of their Creator and Lawgiver, to give their children a pious and religious education. But are graceless parents prepared to give their children such an education ? While they neglect to give up themselves to God, will they not neglect to give up their children to God? While they neglect to give their supreme affection to God, will they not neglect to teach their children to remember and love their Creator supremely? While they neglect to obey God's commands, will they not neglect to command their children and households to keep the way of the Lord and obey his commands? While they neglect to pray for themselves, will they not neglect to pray for their children ? Just so long as parents remain destitute of grace, they will remain morally incapable of giving their children a pious and religious education; and suffer them to walk in the way of their hearts, and in the sight of their eyes, in the broad path to endless ruin. The tender mercies of the wicked are cruel. The indulgence of unholy parents to their children is extremely cruel; for it exposes them to sin and misery in this world, and in the world to come. And can it afford them consolation to expect that God will spare them, and visit their iniquities upon their children, whom they love as their own souls? Can they bear to see their children sinking in sin and wretchedness? But how can they prevent these dire evils? God tells them how. He requires them to love him with all their heart, and with all their mind, and with all their strength, and to teach their children to keep his commands; and he will show_mercy to thousands of such dutiful and obedient children. To how many parents does this subject apply! How many are there that have not given their hearts, their names, their children, and their lives to God! How ungratefully are they treating God! How unkindly are they treating their children! And how unwisely are they treating themselves! Will not God visit them for their negligence ? Or, if he does not visit them, will he not visit their children, and their children's children?

Finally, uninstructed, unadvised, undedicated and unrestrained children and youth are to be pitied. They know not what they do, while they pursue vanity, and indulge the corruptions of their hearts. They are ringleaders in every sinful and soul destroying practice. "If they are condemned and reproved, they have able defenders — their unfaithful parents. They are out of the reach of all who wish and endeavor to instruct and reform them. But while they are to be pitied, how justly are those children and youth to be condemned, who follow their example, instead of following the instructions and admonitions and examples of their own pious parents!

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