Page images

"may be well with thee, and thou mayeft live long on the "earth."

All that fhall be attended to at prefent, will only be a few ob fervations upon feme of the branches of filial dutifulnefs. And O! that the children and youth of this flock may receive and understand the fame, lay them up in their hearts and continu -ally practise them in their lives.

The first branch I fhall mention, is that children fhould un feignedly love their parents. Next to the Supreme God, none fhould poflefs a fuperior fhare of their esteem and affection. Remember what love you owe them in reafon and justice for all their love, care and tenderness to you. How great has been their anxiety and trouble in your nurfing and education ? How many have been the wakeful nights they have watched your fick pillow with tearful eyes and bleeding hearts, left you should die, and not live? They take your happiness or mife. ry to be in a great meafure the happiness and mifery of their own lives. Let not children therefore deprive their parents of comfort, by their misconduct-let them not render them miferable, by ruining themselves. Tho' they fhould chide, reftrain from, and even correct you for doing amifs, let not of thefe things abate your affection to them. Thefe are duties which God requires of them, and they are performed for your good, in order to form you for usefulness in the world, and to promote your happiness. It is an evidence of a froward child, that loves his parents the lefs, becaufe he is rebuked for doing wrong, or refrained from having his own perverfe will. Even though you fhould perceive many faults and infirmities in your parents, you must manifeft your detiful affection by bearing with, and covering these failings and weakneffes. Children who act this part are a bleffing to their parents, and comfort and rejoice their hearts. Let children remark the awful judgements of heaven upon thefe who have


[ocr errors]

conducted themselves bafely and wickedly. What was the dreadful fate of thofe unhappy children, who ran forth and ridiculed and mocked the aged prophet as he paffed by, crying out upon him, "Go up, bald head, go up, bald head." Bears from the woods ufhed forth and destroyed forty and two of them. An. awful punishment for an awful crime.-Wicked ones who difregard and hate their parents, to what fhameful and untimely. deaths are they often brought? Did not Abfolem perish by an unusual death for this fin? Let monsters of ungrateful children, who hate their parents, and wifh them dead for the fake of their honors and property, tremble when they read his hiftory, and the bleedings of his fathers heart. What was the conduct of the wicked fons of Jacob? What was the unnatuzal difpofition they fhowed towards their brother and aged father? Their want of natural affection, and indulgence of the odious paffion of hatred, had well nigh deftroyed Jofeph, and brought down the grey hairs of their unhappy father with forrow to the grave. How fhould fuch ingrates of chil dren ftand aghaft and fhudder, when they hear fuch words as thefe iffuing in a voice of thunder from the mouth of Jehovah, "Curfed be he that fetteth light by his father or mother, and "all the people shall fay, amen."

Secondly, the next particular branch of dutifulness is honor. Children must honor their parents in thought, word and behaviour. They must not even think difhonorably or contemptuously of them in their hearts. They muft not speak rudely or irreverently to them, or refpecting them. They must by no means behave themselves in an impudent or unbecoming manner before them. Yea, tho' your parents be never so poor in the world, feeble in their understandings, and even ungodly, notwithstanding you cannot honor them, as rich, and wife, and pious, yet you must still honor and refpect them as parents, would you defire to be found well pleafing to the Lord. Remember, that the whole will of heaven for the direction of man

when comprised in ten commandments, this is one, and a very diftinguishing one too, for it has a promise annexed. “Hon "or thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long in "the land." "A fon," fays God, by the prophet, "Hon"oreth his father.". The words feem to have a peculiar emphafis, as if he could be no fon, who did it not. And surely those who refuse to give honor to their parents, are unworthy of the filial character. Tremendous was the curfe which fell upon Ham for difhonoring his father, that a fervant of fervants fhould he be, and his children after him.-Good children will rife up and call their mother bleffed. The good breeding, politenefs, and dutifulness of Solomon to his mother, is recorded for our instruction and imitation. "Bathfheba went in "unto king Solomon, and the king rofe up to meet her, and "bowed himself unto her, and fat down on his throne, and "caufed a feat to be fat for the kings mother, and the fat "on his right hand." Here is an example for children to teach them how they fhould treat and honor their parents. Let this copy be conftantly imitated by all. Then you will acquire the character of wife children, that make glad your parents. "A wife fon maketh a glad father, but a foolish fon "is the heavinefs of his mother." The frongeft images in nature are portrayed to view in the condemnation of children. difrefpectful to their parents. "The eye that mocketh at his "father and defpifeth to obey his mother, the ravens of the "valley fhall pick it out, and the young eagles fhall eat it."

Thirdly, the text in our extended contemplations is reduced to a particular place in the enumeration. Obedience is an univerfal term, and inclufive of every thing, yet at prefent, we will treat it in a more limited fituation. "Obey your pa"rents in all things, for this is well pleafing unto the Lord." When we are introduced into this world, it is in a state of weakness beyond other animals, and abfolutely unfit to nourish, provide for, or govern ourselves; hence God in the

onftitution of nature hath made provifion for thefe circum

[ocr errors]

Rances of feeble man. From this fituation originates in a great meature the propriety, reafon and neceffity of obedience to parents. In order to obey their commands and refrain from what they forbid, nothing more is requifite than a natu. ral and predominant Jefire to please them. One would fuppofe this was the easiest thing in the world. To take pleasure to please, and to feel it grievous to give them offence, can any thing poffibly be easier than this? The yoke of Christ is eafy and his burden is light. And of all the parts of the yoke furely none can be more foft and pleasant than for children cheerfully to obey their parents. To good children it is delight and happiness. To be deprived of this privilege they could have neither comfort nor pleafure. They feel this counfel the joy of their hearts. "Hearken to thy father that begat thee, and defpife not thy mother when she is old." An heathen philofopher could fay, "To pay honor to parents and make them the returns of obedience, is only to discharge the oldest, best, and greatest of debts." This obedience is so interwoven in the conftitution, that not to conduct accordingly, feems to be a contradiction to instinctive nature. Nothing strange then that an awful doom is pronounced upon disobedi ent children. They are always inrolled with the most heinous finners. In the catalogue formed by St. Paul they are ranked with the most atrocious tranfgreffors. The difobedient to parents, are claffed with murderers, haters of God, covenant breakers, &c. This fame apoftle in another epistle makes up another lift, like an inrolment of hell, but alas, it is drawn from life in this wretched world. Look into the black return. Blafphemers, traitors, truce-breakers, and difobedient to "parents" This one fin will croud evil children amongst the worst orders in the infernal regions. Wherefore, my precious immortal youth, guard against disobedience as a most damnable crime, and tarry not on the fulphurious plains of Sodom. If you have ever been guilty of this dreadful offence, repent, and fly to the blood of purification or you perifh forever. Im

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

mediately bow your hearts to the order of heaven. "Fear 66 every man his father, and every man his mother." Here it will be enquired, muft children obey their parents when they are come to full maturity of age? The answer here is plain.. God hath placed parents over you, and without an exempted cafe, enjoined your obedience; and are you wiser than Jehovah? Some will be ready to rife on tip-toe to afk, how long are children under the command and government of parents? The answer here cannot be reduced to perfect definition, more than the colours of the rainbow can be exactly difcriminated. Let it be obferved, they are never free from love, honor and reverence till death diffolves the relation, but there are various degrees of parental overfight, which prudence must adjust to the varying circumftances of children. Some are to teach them to go and speak; fome to teach them to read, labour and good manners; some to teach them the fear of God, and the principles of religion; fome to fettle them in the world, and to put them into a state of making a livelihood for themselves. When things are thus far advanced, parental duty appears to be clofing, their obligations of ftrict obedience ceafing, and they take the place of an independent reference to God. Only let children, who have rifen into honor, wifdom, learning and power above their parents, recollect the conduct of the greatest mere man that ever appeared in our world. With all the favours of heaven and wonders he wrought, he did not feel himself exalted above the voice of reason, the counsel and advice of a father. "Mofes hearkened to his father-in-law, " and did all that he said."

Fourthly, another branch of filial dutifulness, is a willing nefs and pleasure to receive instruction from parents. Bleffed are the parents difpofed to give religious inftruction to their offfpring, and bleffed are the children who are ready to receive it. These are matters of the highest command to parents, and of the last importance to children. Let every child hearken to the voice of heaven in the advice of Solomon, which is

« PreviousContinue »