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both father and mother; and honour them impartially also with respect to each other, but partially or more favourably in a foreign relation, or with respect to other men and women individually; as we should honour our own nation with respect to other nations, and the great community of Christendom with respect to other communities,-i. e. partially and very favourably, but not hostilely or exclusively. Hostility and exclusion are nearly synonymous in this respect, and the property they denote can have no place among Christian modes of thinking and doing, or the genuine principles of Christianity. As the benefits which our father and mother render us in particular and the obligations they lay on us are greater, upon the whole, so should they be individually of greater consideration to us after the rate than those we receive from others. But here I believe, that the common practice is rather opposite to my views: it seeming more common, to esteem the favour of strangers as an high obligation, that of our parents a matter of course: so a plate at some great man's table, perhaps, shall be thought a mighty favour, while any little dainty that may happen to be prepared for us by the same hand that gave us our pap shall be scouted.
2. If such ungrateful conduct be thought natural because it is common, it cannot be thought Christian: though it is possible by mistaking one of our Saviour's precepts to find therein a seeming sanction of the same in contradiction to the fifth commandment, consequently to the example also of the Rechabites which has now been commended, and what is most, to our Saviour's own general example and teaching, as I have shewn before now. The precept alluded to is that where our Saviour observes, 66 If any man come to me, and hate not his father and mother, (with others whom he names,) he cannot be my disciple:" (Luke xiv. 26:) which would seem very different from the forementioned example. But this will be found a mere manner of speaking from St. Matthew's record of
the same precept, "He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me;" (Matt. x. 37 ;) only shewing, that the highest spiritual relation is to be more honoured than the highest natural *. For
3. It is not the Gospel only, but the Law likewise, that sets the love of God up as our sole or first principle of action, and high beyond every other regard, without excepting the love of father and mother, or even of our own life. (Matt. xxii. 37; Luke xiv. 26; John xii. 25, 26.) And there is no work that can please God, or that God will own, but what is done for love of him, or of his Word; as St. John says, "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments:" (John I. v. 3 :) and our Saviour likewise, according to St. John's report, "He that hath my commandments, AND KEEPETH THEM, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father." (John xiv. 21.) In the beloved Son every act is pleasing and acceptable to God, and perfect in itself: the most positive or independent duties, as the use of the two sacraments for example, are as much so, and much more in that case, than any others that we may suppose (for actually they cannot be) to be rather founded in nature and necessity, as filial duty, for example, and others of that class. How different will any duties of the kind appear-when performed heartily as "to the Lord and not unto men," (Col. iii. 23,) from the same when dictated by our own wisdom, or it may be rather by our vanity, prepossession, or caprice! "But ye have not so learned Christ (says the apostle to his congregation at Ephesus) if so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the
And there the gradation must end, as we are all brethren; (Matt. xxiii. 8;) whatever official distinctions may be convenient in the church, seeing it is not given to us to be all apostles, nor all prophets, nor all teachers, nor all workers of miracles, (Cor. I. xii. 28, 29,) if there be any; but one must be one thing, another-another. “I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of ungodliness.” (Ps. lxxxiv. 11.)
former conversation the old man which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." (Eph. iv. 20-25.)
4. In answer to this it may be said, that doating and dwelling with delight on the memory of our ancestors is not like "putting off the old man ;" especially if they, or any of them, who are so kindly remembered, should have had the misfortune to be unbelievers. This would seem like hugging the old man to us, rather than putting him off; yet is no more than our Saviour clearly justifies as afore said: and especially in taking a father's part against the vile sophistry of "that most straitest sect of the Pharisees :" so that it would seem a hard matter to free one's self consistently from one's old connexions. But what may they be? Why too often a mere abstract, not what our father and mother are or have been, but what our fondness would have them to be. In loving them dearly we forget their faults: it is an ideal perfection that we love; and some time, if not after, our ideal perfectionthe predominating image in every true lover will be realized in its proper Object, and in the others perhaps with him: "Whom having not seen ye love, (says St. Peter,) in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing ye rejoice with joy unspeakable, and full of glory." (Pet. I. i. 8.)
It is not any evil or undue affection, therefore, that children are required to preserve in honouring their earthly parents; nor any good affection either that they are required to put off in renouncing their faults, and those of the world generally, as they arrive at the years of discretion. Would to God that children arrived at years of discretion were not too often children without it! that they were more alive to both those parts, and their own precarious footing in relation thereto! Little do young men, entering on the career of life, observe or
consider for the most part, what it is they are about to undertake. They must know, to be sure, at this age what is meant by an engagement before men; yet their engagement before God, which is more obligatory and beneficial by right, they do not seem to perceive or regard, or not to regard it however in the light of an engagement, if they have ever been given to understand it in that light: whereby many a child of promise, an ornament of society that should have been, has been torn from the divine presence, and betrayed into contempt and ruin. They are launching into the dangerous ocean of life without any orders to bind, that they know of, or any rule to direct them; like a thoughtless mariner putting to sea, if such a thing could ever happen, without either freight or compass. Yet "it is written in the prophets, They shall be all taught of God:" (John vi. 45:) and so they would have found it, if they had only been so fortunate as to remember his covenant; but this they have long laid aside, perhaps, among the attainments of their childhood, because they were never made to comprehend its excellence. And now, with such preparation instead of the covenant, as they have been taught to glean from heathen morality and immorality likewise-with other sciences more out of the way, and consequently more innocent, they advance hopeful and cheerful toward the brink of their new element.
At this period they look only to a pleasant commerce in the world, and a safe and friendly intercourse with its inhabitants: whereas their covenant should have taught them, if they had consulted it, that "the friendship of the world is enmity with God;" (Jam. iv. 4;) and consequently cannot be either safe, or peaceful, or any thing like that they take it for. But nothing can be fonder than their expectations, nor wider of the truth than they are from beginning to end. The young adventurer has made up his mind to a certain sphere in life perhaps: below which there can be no such thing as dignity or comfort,
neither indeed is life itself desirable. Thus he stakes his whole happiness on a single cast in the first place. Yet is the object of his hopes and ambition not to be unfairly or dishonestly pursued,-by no means. He only wishes for the dignities and enjoyments of a certain sphere, the path he has chosen to it is perfectly honourable, or so reputed however by men in general; and any one who can. assist him in it shall be his very good friend: so entirely does he measure every thing by the opinion of the world, and its subservience to his humour, without considering what the world is to which he sacrifices his religious engagements, or what that same principle of humour to which his life and labours are so implicitly devoted. And the path that he has chosen too, however honourable it may be in itself as a part of God's service, still cannot be honourable to one who has chosen it purely to serve and please, or to please without serving-himself. Neither are they who do what they can to confirm him in so fatal a mistake by their example and assistance to be accounted the young man's friends in that respect, be they never so nearly related to him: for they are a part of his essential enemies, and not the least formidable part either; though they may have no more thought of injuring him in his existence by what they are about, than they had of injuring him in his circumstances, or of injuring themselves. For, as the Wise man observes, "Surely in vain the Net is spread, in the Sight of any Bird." (Prov. i. 17.) Most kindly and beneficently, therefore, has Providence assigned to every one of us, as well as to the poor birds, two natural guardians, (if they should happen to be spiritual likewise,) and if we have the grace to honour them also as they honour him: that they may guide us in the outset of life, until we have gained sufficient experience with their instructions, which are never to be forgotten, for our conduct through the remainder of the voyage of our life.