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Perhaps they belonged to good parents, who were beloved of God, to whom they often prayed for their children: yet this could not save them. The soul that sinneth shall die. If you have good parents, do not reckon on their piety, godly parents cannot save their ungodly offspring..
Possibly they were children of wicked parents, who not only never taught them good things, but set them examples of all manner of evil. See what it comes to. Though their parents grew up to old age in sin, their children are cut off in a mo ment. Do not think because some escape punishment a long while, that you shall too.
They might be ignorant children, who had never been cautioned against sin, nor told there was a God to hate and punish it: see what a great thing it is to have instruction. If they had been taught as you are, they would, perhaps, have known better, and been saved alive and depend upon it, if those who had not been taught were punished, you who are instructed shall not escape: your punishment will be heavier still.
It is likely some of them were poor children so wretched with hunger and nakedness, that one should have pitied them if one
had seen them.
God saves none who sin, unless they repent. Whatever your misery be, if you continue in sin, God will make it a thousand times worse in hell.
And if they were rich children, in all the pride of fine cloathing, in all the freshness of rosy health. So much the greater their ingratitude, to sin against that God who had given them so many comforts: they ought to have served him the better.
II. Let us now consider their sin, insulting Elisha. They mocked him, and said unto him, Go up thou bald head. Perhaps you think this a little matter if you never did any thing worse you should not be afraid. God did not think it a little thing; and if you do, that wont save you from his
It was very ill manners. He was a man, and very likely a stanger, and to all such respect is due. Our first thoughts when we see such should be, can we do them any service. Good manners, a courteous, respectful, humble behavior, are pleasing both in the sight of God and man. He that has said honor thy father and thy mother, has not given us leave to dishonor any one else.
Again it was disrepect to superiors. Elisha was a good man, one whom God
loved and honored, how dare any to hate or insult him? Many make a practice of doing this; if they see a person more godly than common, they laugh at him; call him a Presbyterian, or a Methodist. Without considering if he is one beloved of God, these insults will come upon the heads of those who gave them.
When we see a man more wise, more good, more afraid of sin than another, let us seek his company, beg his friendship, and entreat him to instruct us, that we may grow better. Those who laugh at and despise the godly now, will be glad to stand among the meanest of them at the day of judgment.
It was very cruel. He was an old man, bald headed. Age had set a mark upon him, which should have been honored. To insult the weak is cowardly. The infirmi ties of age call for pity, and to give them insult is cruel indeed. Old age is honorable, the hoary head is a crown of glory, especially if it is found in the way of righteous
It was very impious. Elisha was the prophet of God. They might have known it by the garment he wore. He was the ambassador of God, to insult him was to insult God. They would have done well to
have desired him to give them his blessing, to instruct them in the will of God. How would the prophet have loved them, how would God have loved them, if they had come round him, and entreated him to tell them how they might please God and obtain his favor. God loves little children; he says those who seek him early shall find him. Christ loves little children, and was very angry with those who wanted to keep them away from him. What a great opportunity did they lose. See that you do not so too. Take every opportunity to learn, for if you let it slip it may never return again: especially take care of despising those whom God sends, for that is to despise him.
III. Now you see how great their wickedness was, you will not wonder that their punishment was great also. There came two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.
What a dreadful punishment, to be torn in pieces by wild beasts. It was worse than a flash of lightning, which would have killed them in a moment. What terror must seize them when the growling monsters burst out from the wood, and rushed in among them: when they began to tear some of them, and
pursue the rest. How painful, to be torn limb from limb: to have one limb trembling with agony, and another torn from the bleeding body to be one half devoured, and have the other still alive, to behold and feel it. What shrieking and calling upon each other for help: calling, though in vain upon their parents for deliverance. But none can deliver when God sends destruction. Now they would see, they would feel the folly of ridiculing sacred things, and bitterly reproach themselves, and each other, for provoking the Almighty to take such vengeance upon them. Torn limb from limb, fainting with agony and loss of blood, they would find death to be the wages of sin. For one sinful pleasure they must die and lose all pleasure. They will see their parents no more, they will sport with their companions no more, and what then? what is a thousand times worse than all the rest, they must sink into hell! The wicked shall be turned into hell. God will say to them, Go, ye despisers wonder and perish. Should not their dreadful punishment make us afraid of sin, you are afraid of death; be afraid of sin, that leads to death. You are afraid of hell; be afraid then of sin, that will plunge you headlong into hell.