SermonIndex Audio Sermons
Access over 100,000+ Sermons from Ancient to Modern : Christian Books : IV. THAT pious Parents have Reason to hope it is well with those dear Creatures who are taken away in their early Days.

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

IV. THAT pious Parents have Reason to hope it is well with those dear Creatures who are taken away in their early Days.

I SEE not that the Word of GOD hath any whit passed a damnatory Sentence on any Infants; and it has not, I am sure we have no Authority to doubt, especially considering with how much Compassion the Divine Being speaks of them in the Instance of the Ninevites[p], and on some other Occasions. Perhaps, as some pious Divines have conjectured, they may constitute a very considerable Part of Number of the Elect, and, as in Adam they all died, they may in Christ all be made alive[q]. At least, methinks, from the Covenant which GOD made with Abraham, and his Seed, the Blessings of which are come upon the believing Gentiles[r], there is Reason to hope well concerning the Infant Offspring of GOD'S People, early devoted, and often recommended to him, that their Souls will be bound in the Bundle of Life[s], and be loved for their Parents Sakes[t].

IT is, indeed, impossible for us to say, how soon Children may be capable of contracting personal Guilt. They are quickly able to distinguish, some Degree, between Right and Wrong; and 'tis too plain, that they as quickly, in many Instances, forget the Distinction. The Corruptions of Nature begin early to work, and shew the Need of sanctifying Grace; yet, without a Miracle, it cannot be expected that much of the Christian Scheme should be understood by these little Creatures, in the first dawning of Reason, tho' a few evangelical Phrases may be taught, and, sometimes, by a happy kind of Accident, may be rightly applied. The tender Heart of a Parent may, perhaps, take a Hint, from hence to terrify itself, and exasperate all its other Sorrows, by that sad Thought, |What if my dear Child be perished for ever? gone from our Embraces, and all the little Pleasures we could give it, to everlasting Darkness and Pain?| Horrible Imagination! And Satan may, perhaps, take the Advantage of these gloomy Moments, to aggravate every little Infirmity into a Crime, and to throw us into an Agony, which no other View of the Affliction can possibly give, to a Soul penetrated with a Sense of Eternity. Nor do I know a Thought, in the whole Compass of Nature, that hath a more powerful Tendency to produce suspicious Notions of GOD, and a secret Alienation of Heart from him.

NOW for this very Reason, methinks, we should guard against so harsh a Conclusion, lest we, at once, injure the Divine Being, and torture ourselves. And, surely, we may easily fall on some Reflections which may incourage our Hopes, where little Children are concerned; and 'tis only of that Case that I am now speaking. Let us think of the blessed GOD, as the great Parent of universal Nature; whose tender Mercies are over all his Works[t]; who declares that Judgment is his strange Work[u]; who is very pitiful, and of tender Mercy[w], gracious and full of Compassion[x]; who delighteth in Mercy[y]; who waiteth to be gracious[z]; and endureth, with much Long-suffering, even the Vessels of Wrath fitted to Destruction[a]. He intimately knows our Frame[b], and our Circumstances; he sees the Weakness of the unformed Mind; how forcibly the volatile Spirits are struck with a thousand new amusing Objects around it, and born away as a Feather before the Wind; and, on the other hand, how, when Distempers seize it, the feeble Powers are over-born in a Moment, and render'd incapable of any Degree of Application and Attention. And, Lord, wilt thou open thine Eyes on such a one, to bring it into strict Judgment with thee[c]? Amidst all the Instances of thy Patience, and thy Bounty, to the most abandon'd of Mankind, are these little helpless Creatures the Objects of thy speedy Vengeance, and final Severity?

LET us farther consider, as it is a very comfortable Thought in these Circumstances, the compassionate Regard which the blessed Jesus expressed to little Children. He was much displeased with those who forbad their being brought to him; and said, Suffer them to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the Kingdom of GOD; and taking them up in his Arms, he laid his Hands upon them, and blessed them[d]. In another Instance we are told, that he took a little Child, (who appears to have been old enough to come at his Call,) and set him in the Midst of his Disciples, and said, Except ye become as little Children, you shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of Heaven[e]. May we not then hope that many little Children are admitted into it? And may not that Hope be greatly confirmed from whatever, of an amiable and regular Disposition, we have observed in those that are taken away? If we have seen [+]a Tenderness of Conscience in any thing which they apprehended would displease the great and good GOD; a Love to Truth; a Readiness to attend on Divine Worship, from some imperfect Notion of its general Design, though the Particulars of it could not be understood; an open, candid, benevolent Heart; a tender Sense of Obligation, and a Desire, according to their little Power, to repay it; may we not hope that these were some of the first Fruits of the Spirit[f], which he would, in due Time, have ripened into Christian Graces, and are now, on a sudden, perfected by that great Almighty Agent who worketh all, and in all[g]?

SURE I am, that this blessed Spirit hath no inconsiderable Work to perform on the most established Christians, to finish them to a complete Meetness for the Heavenly World: Would to GOD, there were no greater Blemishes to be observed in their Character, than the little Vanities of Children! With infinite Ease then can he perfect what is lacking in their unfinished Minds, and pour out upon them, in a Moment, that Light and Grace, which shall qualify them for a State, in Comparison of which, ours on Earth is but Childhood or Infancy.

NOW what a noble Source of Consolation is here! Then may the affectionate Parent say, |It is well, not only with me, but with the Child too: Incomparably better than if my ardent Wishes, and importunate Prayers for its Recovery, had been answered. It is indeed well, if that beloved Creature be fallen asleep in Christ[h]; if that dear Lamb be folded in the Arms of the compassionate Shepherd, and gathered into his gracious Bosom. Self-love might have led me to wish its longer Continuance here; but if I truly loved my Child with a solid, rational Affection, I should much rather rejoice, to think it is gone to a heavenly Father[i], and to the World of perfected Spirits above. Had it been spared to me, how slowly could I have taught it! and in the full Ripeness of its Age, what had it been, when compared with what it now is! How is it shot up on a sudden, from the Converse and the Toys of Children, to be a Companion with Saints and Angels, in the Employment, and the Blessedness of Heaven! Shall I then complain of it as a rigorous Severity to my Family, that GOD hath taken it to the Family above? And what if he hath chosen to bestow the distinguished Favour on that one of my little Flock, who was formed to take the tenderest Hold of my Heart? Was there Unkindness in that? What if he saw, that the very Sprightliness and Softness which made it to me so exquisitely delightful, might, in Time, have betrayed it into Ruin; and took this Method of sheltering it from Trials which had, otherwise, been too hard for it, and so fixing a Seal on its Character and Happiness? What if that strong Attachment of my Heart to it, had been a Snare to the Child, and to me? Or what if it had been otherwise? Do I need additional Reasons to justify the Divine Conduct, in an Instance which my Child is celebrating in the Songs of Heaven? If it is a new and untasted Affliction to have such a tender Branch lopp'd off, it is also a new Honour to be the Parent of a glorified Saint.| And, as good Mr. Howe expressed it on another Occasion, |If GOD be pleased, and his glorified Creature be pleased, who are we that we should be displeased?|[*]

|Could I wish, that this young Inhabitant of Heaven should be degraded to Earth again? Or would it thank me for that With? Would it say, that it was the Part of a wife Parent, to call it down from a Sphere of finch exalted Services and Pleasures, to our low Life here upon Earth? Let me rather be thankful for the pleasing Hope, that tho' GOD loves my Child too well to permit it to return to me, he will ere long bring me to it. And then that endeared paternal Affection, which would have been a Cord to tie me to Earth, and have added new Pangs to my Removal from it, will be asa golden Chain to draw me upwards, and add one farther Charm and Joy even to Paradise itself.| And oh, how great a Joy to view the Change, and to compare that dear Idea, so fondly laid up, so often reviewed, with the now glorious Original, in the Improvements of the upper World! To borrow the Words of the sacred Writer, in a very different Sense? |I said, I was desolate and bereaved of Children, and who hath brought up these? I was left alone, and these where have they been?[k] Was this my Desolation? this my Sorrow? to part with thee for a few Days, that I might receive thee for Ever[l], and find thee what thou now art!| It is for no Language, but that of Heaven, to describe the sacred Joy which such a Meeting must occasion.

IN the mean time, Christians, let us keep up the lively Expectation of it, and let what has befallen us draw our Thoughts upwards. Perhaps they will sometimes, before we are aware, sink to the Grave, and dwell in the Tombs that contain the poor Remains of what was once so dear to us. But let them take Flight from thence to more noble, more delightful Scenes. And I will add, let the Hope we have of the Happiness of our Children render GOD still dearer to our Souls. We feel a very tender Sense of the Kindness which our Friends expressed towards them, and think, indeed very justly, that their affectionate Care for them lays a lasting Obligation upon us. What Love then, and what Service do we owe to thee, oh gracious Father, who hast, we hope, received them into thine House above, and art now entertaining them there with unknown Delight, tho' our former Methods of Commerce with them be cut off! |Lord,| should each of us say in such a Case, |I would take what thou art doing to my Child as done to my self, and as a Specimen and Earnest of what shall shortly be done.| It is therefore well.

IT only remains, that I conclude with a few Hints of farther Improvement.

<<  Contents  >>

Promoting Genuine Biblical Revival.
Affiliate Disclosure | Privacy Policy