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you bring shame and dishonor on yourselves! What pleasure fills their souls, when they see you improving in knowledge and goodness, and rising to reputation and esteem! All their worldly labors and cares have your welfare and honor for their principal object. Their earthly hopes and prospects are in you.
Can you, my young friends, think seriously on these instances of your parents' regard and affection, and not feel yourselves bound to return love for love? You love those companions, who associate with you in your amusements and diversions. Can you be indifferent to your parents, who daily employ their time, strength and thoughts in promoting your comfort and welfare, and in laying a foundation for your honor in this world, and your happiness in the next?
If at any time, you feel uneasy under the restraints, which they lay upon you, consider, whether they have not given you full proof of their benevolence; and believe that these restraints are kindly intended.
2. You are to honor your parents by external tokens of respect.
Solomon, though his regal dignity raised him supérior to all around him, yet forgot not the honor due to a parent. When his mother approached him, he rose to meet her, and bowed himself to her, and placed her on his right hand.
The natural superiority of your parents, and the important relation which they bear to you, oblige you to be submissive in your carriage, dutiful in your manners, and respectful in all that you speak to them in their presence, or say concerning them in their ab
There is nothing which shocks us more, than to see a youth behave toward his parents with insolence, or to hear him treat their characters with derision.
Never, my children, never expose the secret failings of a parent. You will thus bring dishonor on yourselves, and on the family. If, at any time, you should
have occasion to mention some public instances of his misconduct, speak with prudent caution and tenderness-with filial grief and concern; not in a way of ridicule, mockery and contempt. The impiety of Ham in deriding his father's miscarriage, brought on him a lasting curse; while the filial dutifulness of the other sons, in endeavoring to conceal his shame, entailed a blessing on them and their posterity.
3. You are to obey the just commands of your par
"Obey your parents in the Lord." You are to honor God as supreme, and them in obedience to him. "If any man love father or mother more than me," says our Lord, he is not worthy of me." If a parent should enjoin any thing contrary to the will of God, you cannot be bound to obey: For the authority of God, and the obligations of virtue are always superior to the commands of men. "Obey your parents in all things;" says the Apostle, "for this is well pleasing to the Lord." You must make it your first aim to please God; and in all things agreeable to his will, you must be obedient to them. In matters of which you are not competent to form a judgment, you must submit to their authority, and confide in their superior wisdom. If in these cases you err, the error will be to them, not to you.
You should obey them cheerfully, without complaining, or answering again-without evading or shifting off their orders. For this you have the example of Christ, who, in his youth, was subject to his parents. There is There is a particular curse denounced againt the child," whose eye mocketh at his father, and des. piseth to obey his mother."
4. You are not only to obey their express commands, while you are under their authority, but to receive, with decent and humble regard, the instructions, counsels and reproofs, which they may see fit to communicate afterward. From their age and experience you
may, perhaps, derive some real benefit, as long as they shall live. Though their authority will be superseded by your maturity, yet their affection for you and relation to you will be terminated only by death. Never, therefore, reject with contempt their grave advice or serious rebuke; but hear it with attention, examine it with calmness, apply and obey it, as far as reason will justify. "A wise son heareth a father's instruction; but a scorner heareth not rebuke. A fool despiseth the instruction of his father; but he that regardeth reproof is prudent."
5. You are to remember, and, if there is occasion, you are also to remunerate the favors, which you have received from your parents.
You must comfort and support them under their infirmities, relieve the pains and lighten the burdens of their declining years, and be the staff of their tottering age. This is the instruction of Solomon: "Hearken unto thy father who begat thee, and despise not thy mother, when she is old. The Apostle says, "Let children learn to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents;" or make them a suitable return, when either poverty, age or infirmity calls for it; for this is good and acceptable before God." An instance of this filial piety we have in Joseph the governor of Egypt, who, in a time of general famine, sent to his aged father in Canaan, saying, "Come down to me, tarry not-Thou shalt dwell near to me, and I will nourish thee." Another instance we have in David: Persecuted and driven from place to place by the malice of Saul, he felt an anxious concern for his parents, lest the enemy unable to apprehend him, should take vengeance on them: He therefore brings them into the land of Moab, and says to the king, "Let my father and my mother, I pray thee, come forth and be with you, till I know what God will do for me." It was said to Naomi, that Boaz, who had married her daughter, should be "a restorer of her life, and a nourisher VOL. III. 3 U
of her old age." We have a higher example in our divine Saviour, who, on the cross, committed his aged mother to the care of John his beloved disciple. In reproving the scribes for their hypocrisy, our Lord mentions this as a most abominable instance of it, that, under pretence of piety to God, they absolved men from their obligation to support their aged parents.' "Ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition; for Moses said, Honor thy father and mother; but ye teach, that if a man shall say to his father or mother, This is a gift" dedicated to God, "by whatsoever I might profit, or maintain thee, he shall be free from his obligation to do any thing for their support."-Thus says he, Ye make the word of God, of no effect."
You see, what are the principal duties which you owe to your parents.
For your encouragement in the performance of them, remember, that, to the command, "Honor your parents," God has added a promise, "It shall be well with you, and your lives shall be prolonged."
In all your temporal concerns you will enjoy the smiles of his providence; his favor will multiply your days, his blessing will prosper your labors, and his goodness will supply your wants. His eye will be upon you for good; his ear will be open to your prayers; and no good thing will he withhold from you. He will make the pious labors of your parents subservient to your spiritual interest. Trained up by their prudent care, in the way of wisdom, and led along by their counsel and example, you will find the path more and more pleasant and inviting, as you proceed. Strengthened and animated by the power of God's grace, you will repel temptations and triumph over opposition; you will run and not be weary, you will walk and not faint. We proceed,
Secondly. To the other branch of our subject, which is, The duty of parents to their children.-" Ye
fathers, provoke not your children to wrath; provoke them not, lest they be discouraged; but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." This is agreeable to the wise man's advice, "Train up a child in the way in which he should go." It is illustrated in the example of Abraham, "who commanded his children and his household after him, and they kept the way of the Lord."
Paul well understood human nature; he wisely judged what kind of discipline in a household would be most successful. In both the epistles, in which he treats on family government, he cautions parents not to discourage the hearts, and break the spirits of their children, by provoking their passions. It is a caution, which deserves the attention of all, who are placed at the head of families. In these little societies there must be government, as well as in larger; but it must be a rational, not a passionate-a mild and steady, not a wanton and rigorous government. We must lead and invite our children along in the path of duty by instruction, argument and example, not urge and drive them by force and terror. The former will animate, the latter will discourage them.
The Apostle has a particular regard to the religious education of children. This is the proper import of the phrase, "Bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." By good instruction and example nourish them up in the doctrine of Christ, This is the principal thing: But in connexion with this, there must be also an attention to the nurture of their bodies, and their preparation for business and usefulness in the world.
In all parts of the education, which we bestow upon them, and the government which we exercise over them, we must attend to this caution, "not to provoke, but encourage them."
1. Parents are to instruct their children in the doctrines and duties of religion.