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Submission To Divine Providence In The Death Of Children by Philip Doddridge

II. PIOUS PARENTS, under such a Dispensation, may conclude it is well for them in particular,--because he, who hath done it, is their Covenant GOD.

THIS is the great Promise, to which all the Saints under the Old and New Testament are Heirs, I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a People[m]: And if we are interested in it, the happy Consequence is, that we being his, all our Concerns are his also; all are humbly resigned to him, -- and graciously administer'd by him, -- and incomparably better Blessings bestowed and secured, than any which the most afflictive Providence can remove.

IF we have any Share in this everlasting Covenant, all that we are or have, must, of course, have been solemnly surrender'd to GOD. And this is a Thought peculiarly applicable to the Case immediately in view. |Did I not,| may the Christian, in such a sad Circumstance, generally say, |did I not, in a very solemn Manner, bring this my Child to God in Baptism, and in that Ordinance recognize his Right to it? Did I not, with all humble Subjection to the Father of Spirits[n], and Father of Mercies[o], lay it down at his Feet, perhaps with an express, at least to be sure with a tacit Consent, that it should be disposed of by him, as his infinite Wisdom and Goodness should direct, whether for Life or for Death? And am I now to complain of him, because he has removed not only a Creature of his own, but one of the Children of his Family? Or shall I pretend, after all, to set up a Claim in Opposition to his? A Heathen Parent, even from the Light of Nature, might have learn'd silent Submission: How much more then a Christian Parent, who hath presented his Child to GOD in this initiatory Ordinance; and perhaps also many a time, both before and since, hath presented himself at the Table of the Lord! Have I not there taken that Cup of Blessings, with a declared Resolution of accepting every other Cup how bitter soever it might be, which my heavenly Father should see fit to put into my Hand[p]? When I have perhaps felt some painful Fore-bodings of what I am now suffering; I have, in my own Thoughts, particularly singled out that dear Object of my Cares and my Hopes, to lay it down anew at my Father's Feet, and say, Lord thou gavest it to me, and I resign it to thee; continue, or remove it, as thou pleasest. And did I then mean to trifle with GOD? Did I mean in effect to say, Lord, I will give it up, if thou wilt not take it?|

REFLECT farther, I beseech you, on your secret Retirements, and think, as surely some of you may, |How often have I there been on my Knees before GOD on account of this Child; and what was then my Language? Did I say, Lord, I absolutely insist on its Recovery; I cannot, on any Terms or any Considerations whatsoever, bear to think of losing it?| Sure we were none of us so indecently transported with the fondest Passion, as to be so rash with our Mouths as to utter such Things before the Great GOD[q]. Such Presumption had deserv'd a much heavier Punishment than we are now bearing, and, if not retracted, may perhaps still have it. -- Did not one or another of us rather say, |Lord, I would humbly intreat, with all due Submission to thy superior Wisdom and sovereign Pleasure, that my Child may live; but if it must be otherwise, not my Will, but thine be done[r]? I and mine are in thine Hand, do with me, and with them, as seemeth good in thy Sight[s]|. And do we now blame ourselves for this? Would we unsay it again, and, if possible, take ourselves and our Children out of his Hands, whom we have so often owned as all-wise and all-gracious, and have chosen as our great Guardian and theirs?

LET it farther be consider'd, it is done by that GOD who has accepted of this Surrender, so as to undertake the Administration of our Affairs: |He is become my Covenant GOD in Christ,| may the Christian say; |and, in consequence of that Covenant, he hath engaged to manage the Concerns and Interests of his People so, that all Things shall work together for good to them that love him[t]: And do I not love him? Answer, Oh my Heart, dost thou not love thy GOD much better than all the Blessings which Earth can boast, or which the Grave hath swallowed up? Wouldst thou resign thine Interest in him to recover these precious Spoils, to receive this dear Child from the Dust, a thousand times fairer and sweeter than before? Rather let Death devour every remaining Comfort, and leave me alone with him; with whom when I indeed am, I miss not the Creatures, but rather rejoice in their Absence, as I am then more intire with him whom my Soul loveth. And if I do indeed love him, this Promise is mine, and all Things, and therefore this sad Event in particular, shall work together for my good. Shall I not then say, It is well? What if it exceeded all the Stretch of my Thoughts, to conceive how it could, in any Instance, be so? What are my narrow Conceptions, that they should pretend to circumscribe infinite Wisdom, Faithfulness, and Mercy? Let me rather, with Abraham, give Glory to God, and in Hope believe against Hope[u]|.

ONCE more; let us consider how many invaluable Blessings are given us by this Covenant, and then judge whether we have not the utmost Reason to acquiesce in such an Event of Providence. |If I am in Covenant with God,| may the Believer say, |then he hath pardoned my Sins, and renewed my Heart, and hath made his blessed Spirit dwelling in me, the sacred Bond of an everlasting Union between him and my Soul. He is leading me through the Wilderness, and will, ere long, lead me out of it to the heavenly Canaan. And how far am I already arrived in my Journey thither, now that I am come to the Age of losing a Child! And when GOD hath done all this for me, is he rashly to be suspected of Unkindness? He that spared not his own Son[w], he that gave me with him his Spirit and his Kingdom, why doth he deny, or why doth he remove, any other Favour? Did he think the Life of this Child too great a Good to grant, when he thought not Christ and Glory too precious? Away with that Thought, Oh my unbelieving Heart, and with every Thought which would derogate from such rich amazing Grace, or would bring any thing in comparison with it. Art thou under these Obligations to him, and wilt thou yet complain? With what Grace, with what Decency canst thou dispute this, or any other Matter, with thy GOD? What Right have I yet to cry any more to the King?[x]| Would any of you, my Brethren, venture to say, |What tho' I be a Child of GOD, and an Heir of Glory, it matters not, for my Gourd is withered; that pleasant Plant which was opening so fair and so delightful, under the Shadow of which I expected long to have sate, and even the Rock of Ages cannot shelter me so well? I can behold that beloved Face no more, and therefore I will not look upward to behold the Face of GOD, I will not look forward to Christ and to Heaven?| Would this, my Friends, be the Language of a real Christian? Nay, are there not many abandon'd Sinners who would tremble at such Expressions? Yet is it not in effect the Language of our tumultuous Passions, when, like Rachel, we are mourning for our Children, and will not be comforted, because they are not[y]? Is it not our Language while we cannot, like the pious Shunamite in the Text, bring our afflicted Hearts to say, It is well?

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