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while the promise is meant to teach parents, that if they really desire to have the blessing of God entailed on their posterity, they must labour chiefly to implant piety. Oh, blessed indeed is that Parent who herein fears God, and herein hopes in his mercy!
Under this head, however, we require carefully to observe, that death, in itself considered, is by no means to be regarded as an unequivocal mark of the divine displeasure. Death, indeed, in all instances, must ever prove a trial, and it is sent as such; but it does not, it even cannot interrupt the descent of this blessing. Nay, however strange it may seem, death, which generally breaks the chain of connexion between most sublunary things, when God becomes his own interpreter, may prove to be a link in the chain of the Christian parent's blessings. “ All things, sin only excepted, “ work together for good ;" or, as Tyndal says, “ for the best, to them that love God, -to them who are the called according to his purpose.” But, in such a case, is this possible? says the confounded, or distressed and bereaved Christian parent. I reply, it is not merely possible: it is certain ; because “ all things are yours.” Death is yours—even death, is, by a peculiar right, and by an emphasis of interest, yours: nay, “whether life or death, things present or things to come : all things are yours ; for Christ's, and Christ is God's.” Thus it is, that though such bereavements produce an anguish which painful experience alone can explain, the Christian comes to understand that there is in the house of God " a place and a name, better than of sons and of daughters.” Besides even cases, which, to the careless eye, may seem like judgment, and like nothing else, under the
emollient hand of time, admit of an explanation, and, to the afflicted party, of an experience which has not unfrequently constrained them to say with Milton :
This is my favour'd lot,
I will not argue that, nor will repine. These remarks I have here preferred, as I am fully aware of at least one instance, recorded prominently in the sacred page, which may seem to militate against the general doctrine of conscientious training being followed with its reward in this life.' This instance, however, constitutes a link in by far the most mysterious chain of providential dealing towards a human being of which we read. Still, let it be laid before us, with all its distressing accompaniments. It may turn out to be confirmatory of the blessing of God, resting on a conscientious and consistent parent, and of that blessing descending to his posterity. I refer to Job, and the loss of his ten children in one day !
" The loss of one child has often been more than an affectionate parent could support with decent resignation; but for a whole family, educated with pious care, and for years insinuating into their father's affections; who were all grown up; living in harmony and in affluence, in health and credit; who were likely to perpetuate his name and prosperity;"_for such a family to be all cut off at once—suddenlywhen engaged in feasting together, on their eldest brother's birth-day!-"this, added to all the preceding unprecedented misfortunes, was sufficient, and more than sufficient, to have driven most men distracted."
And what advantage was it now to Job, that he had done his utmost to secure the divine favour resting on his numerous and affectionate children? Of these seasons of festivity he had not been without some previous apprehension ; but still in them he had detected nothing sinful: otherwise the same high authority which could secure the unanimous attendance of his children, at his usual family sacrifice, next morning, could as easily have put an end to such proceed. ings altogether. But no; his practice then was but a signal proof of his eminent and habitual watchfulness over their best interests; and, by Satan, the day was seized upon with ingenious malignity, only to render the stroke more severe. What advantage, then, did Job derive? What form or shape of blessing rested on his anguished heart, on the evening of that eventful day, after all his care, and all his burnt-sacrifices ? Oh ! let us only imagine, for one moment, that he had not so conducted himself; nay, that he had not done so towards only one single child, whether son or daughter; that he had acted like Eli with Hophni and Phineas, or even like David with Absalom or Adonijah;
would he so soon have been able to express himself as he did? Would he so soon have been able to have said, “ Blessed be the name of the Lord ?" I believe not. Here then is, even now, one form of blessing, and that, far from an inferior one, which rested on the head of this deeply-afflicted parent. And though, afterwards, the still accumulating weight extorted from him some impatient expressions, which many have inconsiderately opposed to the scriptural commendation of his patience: although Job afterwards cried—“O remember that my life is wind:
eye shall no more see good ; thine eyes are upon me, and I can live no longer ;” in all this he was mistaken. Good he lived to see, greater than he had ever known : greater good in his own experience greater in his family--greater in his substance, and in all that concerned him.
The commencement of Jehovah, however, is particularly worthy of observation. In the very depths of the earth, covered with disease, and still bereft of all he once possessed, is Job selected to the high office of a mediator before God. As much as to say, that a good man, when at his lowest, might even then rank high above all around him in divine favour; that though he walk in darkness, without a ray of the sun of providence to beam upon him: so far from this being an index of his actual condition in the sight of God, it might be the reverse. What an answer, then, was Job, in this low condition, to many of the false, though, in other respects, powerful reasoning of his friends ? « Offer up for yourselves a burnt-offering," said Jehovah to them, “ and my servant Job shall pray for you; for him will I accept (though he has been, and is still despised of men); lest I deal with you after your folly.”
Immediately after this marked and singular vindication of his character, the imputation of which had been to him the bitterest ingredient in his cup of wo, see the Almighty turning his captivity, or reversing his affliction, by redressing, individually, every griev
His health is re-established : his high respectability of character more than returns; his relatives and neighbours, who once stood aloof, or shuddered at the sight of him, come bending around him-either
afraid of disregarding such a favourite of Heaven, or eager to obtain the benefit of his intercessions and instructions. Instead of being considered the greatest sinner in the land, he is raised, not merely to the authority of a judge among men, as he had been before; he has been elevated to the higher ground of a mediator. To crown the whole, as a testimony that his beloved children were not in the same condition with his other perishable property ; that they were “ not lost, but gone before ;" he has precisely the same number of sons, and the same of daughters, by the same mother! The property of Job, in every kind, had been exactly doubled. Now, the number of children being restored to him in this world, has been supposed to indicate, that, with those who had gone before, these were doubled also. But whatever may be thought of this conjecture, there can be no doubt that Job was singularly blest in both families. Both were distinguished at once for obedience to him, and affectionate harmony among themselves. The former family has been already noticed ; and the latter had so acted as to be ranked with the former among the number of the blessings by which God had distinguished him. His sons, and his sons' sons, even to the fourth generation, dwelt around him ; and for each of his daughters he provided an inheri
among their brethren.” For one hundred and forty years also did this extraordinary man survive to enjoy his family comforts; so that, instead of being written childless, or his grey hairs descending with sorrow to the grave, he leaves a numerous posterity, and does not expire till he is old and full of days,” or satisfied with life.