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PSAL. cxxvii. 3:
Lord: And the Fruit of the Womb is
HIS Pfalm is probably thought
to be composed by Solomon, who
for the Service of the Temple,
unlefs God fees fit to bless and prosper SERM. them. This Truth the wise Man con- III. . firms by several plain Instances, appealing to our Experience, whether it is not so in the usual Course of Things : As, whether, Pf. cxxvii. in the first Foundation of Societies and ". Governments, the Policy of the Founder avails so much to the Prosperity of a City or Country, as the Blessing of God upon the People, and the Fear of God in their Hearts, intitling them to this Blesing : Or, whether the Care of the Soldier and Magistrate is sufficient to defend them, when, by turning Rebels to their God, they cast themselves out of the Protection of his good Providence. And thus also, Ver. 2. it is to no Purpose for the Tradesman to rise up early, and fit up late, to eat the Bread of Carefulness, and to deny himself the Necessaries of Life; he will never thrive, unless God prospers his Labour ; and many a Man who doth not take Half the Pains which he doth, and gives with a liberal Hand to the Poor, and enjoys the Comfort of those good Things he is possessed of, yet grows rich, and his Wealth increases so fast upon him, that he can hardly reconcile his Incomes with his Expences ; for which no other Account can be given but this, that God blesses his EnVol. II.
Serm. deavours, and, like Joseph in Prison, profIII. pers all that he sets his Hand to do. And,
after the fame Manner, Children are the Ver. 3. Heritage of the Lord, and the Fruit of the
Womb is bis Reward, i, e. it is not in the Power of the strongest and most healthy Persons, (though, according to the Laws of Nature, such Persons should seldom fail of obtaining their Wishes, Nature designing above all Things the Increase of Mankind, yet) even the most healthy Persons cannot have Children when they please to inherit the Riches they have got: But the Lord reserves to himself the free Gift of them; and, as Parents give those Estates they have an absolute Propriety in, to which of their Children they please : So God bestows these Blessings on those Persons whom he thinks most worthy of them, and the Fruit of the Womb is bis Reward. The Words, being thus understood, afford us these two Confiderations :
I. THAT Children ought to be esteemed
Blefings, and that he, who has a numerous Off-spring, ought to be thankful to God for them: For Children are the Heritage of the Lord.
II. THAT God is the fole Author and SERM,
Disposer of these Blessings : The Fruit of III. the Womb is bis Reward.
I. That it is a happy and blessed Thing to be the Parent of a numerous Off-Spring: Happy is the Man who hath his Quiver full of such Arrows as these. For,
1. First, Such a Man is a public Blefsing to the Kingdom in which he lives. The Riches of every Kingdom consist in the Number and Multitude of its Inhabitants; a populous Country is always a rich one; let the Soil be never so barren, or exposed to the Inclemency of the Heavens : On the Contrary, the Wealth of the Indies cannot inrich a Country depopulated either by Sword, Famine, or the arbitrary Government and Tyranny of its Prince. Of which we have a remarkable Instance in the Spanish Monarchy, which by sending out too numerous Colonies of its Inhabitants, like a Body deprived of its best Blood and Spirits, droops and decays; and, what is most strange, is impoverished and in Debt, though continually fed with the Gold of Ophir, and supplied with the inexhaustible Mines of Potosi and Peru : Whereas a neighbouring Commonwealth, E 2
SERM. poffefied only of a little Spot of Ground, III. hardly sufficient to afford Graves for iis
Inhabitants, or to pay for keeping up the Banks and repairing the Sluices, daily improves in its Riches and Power, and is able to oppose the greatest Monarch in the World. For having many Backs to cloath, and Mouths to feed, they are forced to supply, with Labour and Traffick, what is wanting in the Produce of their Soil; and the pressing Necessities they lie under are Spurs to Industry, and oblige them to double their Diligence, and to supply the Defects of their native Country, with the Superfluities of other Nations ; so true is that of the Satyrist, Ingenii largitor venter, Necessity is the Mother of Arts.
FROM both these Examples it is easy to collect, that the Wealth of a Kingdom confifts in the Number of its Inhabitants, and that a Nation then flourishes most, when the People increase and grow too numerous to be maintained by the Country which bred them, of which, I Thall add only one Instance more. The Romans who were famous through the civilised World, for the Wisdom of their Laws, and the Prudence of their Politics, seem to have acted by this Maxim from the first Foundation of their Government;