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

1. WHEN GOD takes away our Children from us, it is a very affecting Lesson of the Vanity of the World.

THERE is hardly a Child born into it, on whom the Parents do not look with some pleasing Expectation that it shall comfort them concerning their Labour[c]. This makes the Toil of Education easy and delightful: And truly 'tis very early that we begin to find a Sweetness in it, which abundantly repays all the Fatigue. Five, or four, or three, or two Years, make Discoveries which afford immediate Pleasure, and which suggest future Hopes. Their Words, their Actions, their very Looks touch us, if they be amiable and promising Children, in a tender, but very powerful Manner; their little Arms twine about our Hearts; and there is something more penetrating in their first broken Accents of Indearment, than in all the Pomp and Ornament of Words. Every Infant-Year increases the Pleasure, and nourishes the Hope. And where is the Parent so wise and so cautious, and so constantly intent on his Journey to Heaven, as not to measure back a few Steps to Earth again, on such a plausible and decent Occasion, as that of introducing the young Stranger into the Amusements, nay perhaps, where Circumstances will admit it, into the Elegancies of Life, as well as its more serious and important Business? What fond Calculations do we form of what it will be, from what it is! How do we in Thought open every Blossom of Sprightliness, or Humanity, or Piety, to its full Spread, and ripen it to a sudden Maturity! But, oh, who shall teach those that have never felt it, how it tears the very Soul; when GOD roots up the tender Plant with an inexorable Hand, and withers the Bud in which the Colours were beginning to glow! Where is now our Delight? Where is our Hope? Is it in the Coffin? Is it in the Grave? Alas! all the Loveliness of Person, of Genius, and of Temper, serves but to point and to poison the Arrow, which is drawn out of our own Quiver to wound us. Vain, delusive, transitory Joys! |And such, Oh my Soul,| will the Christian say, |such are thine earthly Comforts in every Child, in every Relative, in every Possession of Life; such are the Objects of thy Hopes, and thy Fears, thy Schemes, and thy Labours, where Earth alone is concerned. Let me then, once for all, direct mine Eyes to another and a better State. From these broken Cisterns, the Fragments of which may hurt me indeed, but can no longer refresh me, let me look to the Fountain of living Waters[d]. From these setting, Stars, or rather these bright but vanishing Meteors, which make my Darkness so much the more sensible, let me turn to the Father of Lights. Oh Lord, What wait I for? my Hope is in thee[e], my Pure Abode, my everlasting Confidence! My Gourds wither, my Children die; but the Lord liveth, and blessed be my Rock, and let the God of my Salvation be exalted[f]. I see, in one Instance more, the sad Effects of having over-loved the Creature; let me endeavour for the future, by the Divine Assistance, to fix my Affections there where they cannot exceed; but where all the Ardor of them will be as much my Security and my Happiness, as it is now my Snare and my Distress.|

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