The Peril of the Times Displayed. Or the Danger of Men's Taking up with a Form of Godliness, But Denying the Power of It.

About This Item

After serving as pastor in the frontier town of Groton, Massachusetts, Samuel Willard became the minister of the important Old South Church in Boston and later the vice president of Harvard College. In this excerpt from one of his sermons, Willard discusses how religion declines from one generation to another.

How to Cite This Item

Willard, Samuel. The Peril of the Times Displayed. Or the Danger of Men's Taking Up with a Form of Godliness, But Denying the Power of It. Boston, Massachusetts, 1700.


It hath been a frequent observation, that if one Generation begins to decline, the next that followeth usually grows worse, and so on; till God poureth out his Spirit again upon them; and for the most part some desolating Judgments intervene. Thus it was with Israel soon after they came into Canaan, Judg. 2. 10 there arose another Generation, which knew not the Lord; and then, verse 14. the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, &c.The decayes which we do already languish under, are sad, and what tokens are there on our Children that it is like to be better hereafter? we are going off, and they are coming apace on the Stage, and the management of the great concerns of Religion will in a little time be devolved upon them; and what aspect hath this upon it in the observation of serious Souls? God be thanked, that there are so many among them that promise well, and the Lord add to, and greatly encrease their number; But alas, how doth vanity, and a fondness after new things abound among them? how do young persons grow weary of the strict profession of their fathers, and become strong disputants for those things which their Progenitors forsook a pleasant Land for the avoidance of, and that not only for themselves, but that their posterity might be removed from the temptations of? Besides, it is almost a general complaint of Family Governours, that their Children and Servants are weary of the yoke, and are not willing to be under their Command, or observe the good order in the Family which they require them to attend: that they are in combination one with another, and do joyn hand in hand in refusing of that subjection on which they owe to their Superiors, and debauching of themselves with their night revels, and meetings in bad houses, so drink and game: they force the reins into their necks, and will be no way curbed in from their exorbitances; and these also the Children of Godly Parents, and such as have been carefully and religiously Educated, and many a time solemnly charged with tears and earnest adjurations, to Serve the God of their Fathers with a perfect heart, and a willing mind, and warned of his fearful departure from them if they do not. How far this decay is to be imputed to the neglect of Family Governours, either in a prudent managing of their authority, or in a careful setting of a good and holy example before their Families, is a matter of awful consideration; for certainly they are sorely afflicted in this matter, and ought to judge themselves upon the account: however, this plainly discovereth that the life of Religion is panting and gasping among us.

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