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requital. Indeed the apostle tells us, 2 Cor. 12: 14, that parents lay up for their children, and not children for their parents; and so they ought. But surely if Providence impoverish them, and bless you, an honorable maintenance is their due. Even Christ himself took care for his mother.
II. Consider how the example of our Lord, who was so subject to them in his life, Luke, 2:51, and so careful to provide at his death, enforces all those duties upon children, especially upon gracious children.
1. His example in this has the force and power of law, yea, a law of love, or a law lovingly constraining you to an imitation of him. If Christ himself condescends to be your pattern, if God is pleased to take relations like yours, and go before you in the discharge of relative duties; Oh, how are you obliged to imitate him, and tread in all his footsteps ! This was by him intended as a pattern, to facilitate and direct your duties.
2. He will call you to account in judgment how you have answered the pattern of obedience and tender care he set before you in the days of his flesh. What will the disobedient plead in that day? He that heard the groans of an afflicted father or mother, will now come to reckon with the disobedient child for them; and the glorious example of Christ's own obedience, and his tenderness to his relations, will, in that day, condemn and aggravate, silence and shame such wretched children as shall stand guilty before his bar.
INFERENCE 1. Has Jesus Christ given such a pattern of obedience and tenderness to parents ? Then there can be nothing of Christ in stubborn, rebellious children. The children of disobedience cannot be the children of God. If Divine Providence directs this to the hands of any
that are so, my heart's desire and prayer for them is, that the Lord will manifest to them their sinfulness, while they consider the following inquiries :
Have you not been guilty of slighting your parents by irreverent words or conduct ? To such I commend the consideration of Prov. 30:17, which, methinks, should be to them as the hand-writing that appeared upon the wall to Belshazzar : The
that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it.” That is, they shall be brought to an untimely end, and the birds of the air shall eat that eye that, but for the parent it despised, had never seen the light. It may be you are vigorous and young, they decayed and wrinkled with age : but, saith the Holy Ghost, " Despise not thy mother when she is old.” Prov. 23:22. It may be you are rich, they poor; own, and honor them in their poverty, and despise them not. God will requite it with his hand if you do.
Have you not been disobedient to the commands of parents ? A son of Belial is a child of wrath, if God give not repentance to life. Is not this the awful brand set upon the heathen? Rom. 1:30. Wo to him that makes a father or mother complain, as the tree in the fable, that they are cleft asunder with the wedges that are cut out of their own bodies.
Have you not risen up rebelliously against, and hated your parents for chastening you, that they might save your soul from hell? What is this but to resist an ordinance of God for your good ? and, in rebelling against them, to rebel against the Lord ? Well, if they do not, God will take the rod into his own hand, and him you shall not resist.
Have you not been unjust to your parents, and defrauded them ? first, helped to make them poor, and then despised them because they were poor. Oh, horrid wickedness! What a complicated evil is this ! Thou art, in the language of Scripture, a companion with de
stroyers. Prov. 28:24. This is the worst of theft, in God's account.
Are you not, or have you not been ungrateful to parents ? Leaving them to shift for themselves in those straits into which you have helped to bring them. Oh consider it, children, this is an evil which God will 'surely avenge, except ye repent. What ! to be hardened against thine own flesh; to be cruel to thine own parents, that with so much tenderness fed thee, when else thou hadst perished ! If any one of
my readers be guilty of these evils, to humble you for them, and reclaim you from them, I desire that these few considerations may be laid to heart.
The effects of your obedience or disobedience will remain upon you and yours to many generations. If you be obedient children in the Lord, both you and yours may reap the fruits of your obedience in multitudes of sweet mercies for many generations. So runs the promise, "Honor thy father and mother, that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.” Eph. 6:2, 3. You know what an eye of favor God cast upon the Rechabites for this. Jeremiah, 35:8–19. And as his blessings are, by promise, entailed on the obedient, so is his curse upon the disobedient :
Whoso curseth his father or his mother, his lamp shall be put out in obscure darkness," Prov. 20:20; that is, the lamp of his life shall be quenched by death, yea, say others, and his soul also, by the blackness of darkness in hell.
Though other sins do, this sin seldom escapes exemplary punishment, even in this world.
Heathens will rise up in judgment against you, and condemn you. They never had such precepts or exam. ples as you, and yet some of them would rather have chosen death, than done as you do. But why speak I of
heathens ! the stork in the heavens, yea, the beasts of the earth, condemn the disobedience of children.
These are sins inconsistent with the true fear of God, in whomsoever they are found. A man is indeed what he is in his family. He that is a bad child can never be a good christian. Either bring testimonies of your godliness from your relatives, or it may be well suspected to be no better than counterfeit. Never talk of your obedience to God, whilst your disobedience to the just commands of your parents gives you the lie.
A parting time is coming, when death will break up the family; and when that time comes, Oh! how bitter will the remembrance of these things be! Surely this will be more insupportable to you than their death, if, the Lord open your eyes, and give you repentance.
2. Have you such a pattern of obedience and tender love to parents? Then, children, imitate your pattern, as it becomes christians, and take Christ for your example. Whatsoever your parents be, see that your conduct towards them is such as becomes your profession of Christ.
If your parents are godly, Oh beware of grieving them by any unbecoming conduct. Art thou a christian indeed ? thou wilt then reckon thyself obliged to them in a double bond, both of grace and nature. Oh what a mercy would some children esteem it, if they had parents fearing the Lord, as you have!
If they be carnal, walk circumspectly, in the most careful and punctual discharge of your duties; for how knowest thou, Oh child, but hereby thou mayest win thy parents? wouldst thou but humbly and seriously en. treat and persuade them to mind the ways of holiness, speaking to them at fit seasons, with all humility and reverence, expressing your wishes by relating some pertinent history, or proposing some excellent example, leaving their own conscience to draw the conclusion,
and make the application; it is possible they might ponder your words in their hearts, as Mary did Christ's. Luke, 2:49, 51. And would you but add to all this your earnest cries to heaven for them, and your own daily example, that they may have nothing to complain of you; and thus wait with patience for the desired effect; Oh, what a blessed instrument might you be of their everlasting good!
3. Let those who have children that fear the Lord, and endeavor to imitate Christ in these duties, account them a singular treasure and heritage from him, and give them all due
encouragement. How many children; and how many have such as are the very reproach and heart-breaking of their parents, bringing down their hoary heads with sorrow to the grave! If God have given you the blessing of godly children, you can never be sufficiently thankful for such a favor. Oh that ever God should honor you to train up children for heaven! What a comfort must it be to you, whatever troubles you meet with abroad, when you come home among godly children, that are careful to sweeten your life by their obedience! Especially, what a comfort is it, when you come to die, that you leave them allied to Christ, and so need not be anxious how it shall be with them when you are gone! Take heed of discouraging such children, from whom so much glory may arise to God, and so much comfort to yourselves. Thus let Christ's pattern be improved, who by such emi. nent holiness in all his relations, left you an example that you should follow his steps.