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idea is unfolded in a very full, instructive, and | portance of these duties. While young children, comforting way, in the fourth chapter of the and persons in early life, may be considered as
Epistle to the Hebrews. The apostle there treats of the weekly sabbath, the day of rest to be observed by every human being, and of Cannan, the earthly rest provided for the Israelites as a nation, and of both these as a figure of the eternal rest of heaven. 'If Jesus,' that is, Joshua, ‘had given them rest,' perfect and perpetual rest, then would God not afterwards have spoken of another day. There remaineth therefore a rest,' a sabbatism, or a keeping of a sabbath, to the people of God.' 'They who have believed do enter into rest;'believers have rest and peace in Christ; they have rest even in this life, in comparison of the wicked to whom there is no peace, and who are like the troubled sea that cannot rest. But still, their rest 'remaineth,' perfect rest is in store for them in glory; and of this the sabbath of earth in every sense, is a type. Heaven is perfect and eternal rest from labour, sorrow, and sin. Let, then, every day of sacred rest here lead forward our thoughts, our faith, and our hope, to the eternity of rest hereafter. Let us tremble at the idea of coming short of that rest. 'Let us fear, lest a promise being left of us entering in, any of us should seem to come short of it.' 'Let us labour to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.' Let us comply with the invitation to come to Christ, and he will give us rest even now. Let us give all diligence to acquire a meetness for the inheritance of the saints in light. In particular, let us hail the weekly sabbath with gladness; let us improve it to the utmost, as a preparation for the rest that still remains for us; and let it continually keep us in mind of that blissful and glorious state of which it is so instructive and so pleasing an emblem. Dear to us be its opening, its closing, and its every hour: and may the Lord bless to us abundantly the meditation of this present evening.
Honour thy father and thy mother; that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, Exod. xx. 12.
most generally and fully concerned with this commandment, because, in most instances, their parents are alive, and they are usually most dependent on them; it becomes us all to remember that its duties do not cease at any age. Though we may be considerably advanced in life ourselves, yet, if we are so happy as to have both, or either, of our parents spared with us, we are still bound, and should still delight, to cultivate every filial affection, and to discharge every filial duty, as scripture may direct, and circumstances require and permit. The word 'honour' is very fitly and happily chosen, as it is so definite and so strong as to be quite intelligible, and to command attention, and yet so comprehensive as to include all the duties. This commandment is justly viewed as intended to regulate the reciprocal duties of all different classes, in their several relations, as superiors, inferiors, or equals. We shall, however, confine our thoughts, at present, to the duties of children to their parents. Of these duties the following are some of the chief.
I. Reverence, or respect. We have had fathers of our flesh who corrected us, and we gave them reverence,' Heb. ix. 9. 'A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master,' Mal. i. 6. Suppose parents have weaknesses and faults, their children should not notice these with pleasure, or with bitterness. They should never think or speak of, or treat their parents with contempt. If parents have estimable qualities, filial affection will recognise these with delight.
II. Obedience. Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right,' Eph. vi. 1. 'Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well-pleasing unto the Lord,' Col. iii. 20. Let us observe the extent of this duty; it should be in all things,' 'in the Lord,' that is, in every thing lawful.
III. Attention to their instruction. are enjoined to 'teach the things of God diligently to their children,' and 'to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.' But, on the supposition that parents are qualified and disposed to do this, in order to success there must be a corresponding readiness to receive instruction. My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother:
THE important place assigned to the command- for they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy ment relating to the duties which children owe | head, and chains about thy neck.' to their parents, (for it is placed the first in the second table of the moral law, and next to the commandments which enjoin piety to God himself) is, no doubt, intended to show us the great im
IV. Love. This is due to all, even to our enemies. But the precept of love applies here with singular force. Our hearts must be steeled against every thing that is good, if they are not deeply
their own good to those who keep the commandment; but, with that explanation, the promise is not only sure, but precious; indeed, any thing more than this would not deserve to be called a promise.
impressed with this feeling. There is, indeed, a natural attachment without religion, which is little more than an instinct, but let our filial love be something more and better than this. Let it consist in rational good-will, an enlightened and earnest desire for the welfare of our parents, both in time i Let disobedient children repent, ask forgiveand in eternity. Let it express itself in affec- ness of God for the Saviour's sake, and grieve tionate words; and let it appear in the kindness their parents no more. Let those who are on of our actions, in the readiness and satisfaction' the whole dutiful to their parents feel admonwith which we do all we can to contribute to ished to consider wherein they are deficient, that their external comfort, and their spiritual good. they may supply it; and let them habitually, Let it also vent itself in earnest and persevering, cheerfully, and affectionately study to promote, prayers that the Lord would shower down his in every way, the happiness of those from whom, richest blessings on their heads. under God, they derive their existence, and to whom they are bound by the strongest ties of nature and of religion.
These are the strongest reasons why we should attend to all these duties to our parents. We should honour our parents,
1. Because it is the express command of God. Not to advert to other precepts, the fifth commandment is peculiarly positive and solemn. Had we no reason but this, it ought to be enough.
2. We should honour our parents, because it is a debt of gratitude due to them. If we have any ingenuous feeling at all, this motive will be irresistible. What have they felt, and suffered, and done for us! What care and kindness did they exercise over us in infancy and childhood! How many restless nights have we cost them! As they sat by our bed-side, or hung over us in our sickness, how did their eyes fill with tears, and their hearts with unutterable tenderness! How have they denied themselves in many respects, that we might want for nothing! And how did they labour and pray for our everlasting welfare! Shall we, then, act an ungrateful, cruel, and undutiful part to such friends as these! Shall we behave so as to grieve those who have so loved us, and to bring down their gray hairs with sorrow to the grave? God forbid! We can never altogether repay them; but let us study to do so in as far as we can.
3. We should honour our father and mother, because of the promise annexed: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.' 'Honour thy father and thy mother, (which is the first commandment with promise), that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth,' Eph. vi. 2. Dutiful children, by their very dutifulness, are kept out of the way of many evils, have a special promise of God's blessing, and, in so far, are in the likely way to prosperity and long life. All temporal promises, indeed, are conditional, and the particular promise specially annexed to the fifth commandment is to be viewed as made
in so far as it shall be for God's glory and
'But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father, or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me, and honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition, Matt. xv. 5, 6.
In the extensive range of meaning to be assigned to the word honour' in the fifth commandment, we must remember that it includes the duty of contributing to maintain. So the word signifies in other cases; as in the passage, 'Honour widows that are widows indeed,' 1 Tim. v. 3, 16. Children may generally be said to have nothing but what belongs to their parents, having either received everything from them, or been greatly indebted to them for the means of procuring it. Reason and the common feelings of nature combine in teaching, that to neglect one's parents when they are in distress and poverty, is most inhuman. As for scripture, it enjoins the duty of relieving them in the strongest terms. What is included in this respect, in the word honour,' is plainly and fully expressed in 1 Tim. v. 4, 16, if any widow have children, or nephews, (grandchildren,) let them learn first to show piety at home, and to requite their parents; for that is good and acceptable before God.' 'If any man or woman that believeth have widows (really destitute,) let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed.' If their parents stand in need of it, it is the duty of children to minister to their wants, and afford them pecuniary assistance, according to their ability.
The incumbency of this duty is also insisted on by our Lord, in the passage before us this
evening. He had brought forward against the Scribes and Pharisees the general charge of transgressing the commandments of God by their traditions; and here he substantiates a particular example. The law of God enjoining filial duty was express, and it was enforced on the Jews by the most awful sanctions; but their blind guides found an expedient by which it might be quite evaded. The Scribes and Pharisees taught, 'Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift,' (Mark vii. 11, 'Corban') 'by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me, and honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free;' (in Mark) And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother.' Some are of opinion, that this means, that it was taught that a man by simply having made a vow that he would not give anything to his parents, was thereby religiously released, nay, bound up from doing so. And, no doubt, this idea is involved. But on the whole, and especially when it is considered that the Hebrew word Corban signified any offering, any thing given, devoted, or consecrated to God by a worshipper in approaching him; the meaning of this seems to be, that these teachers inculcated, that if any man chose to devote any part of his substance, or what he could spare, to the sacred treasury, he was free from the duty of assisting his parents, nay, it then became sin in him to assist them. That was entirely reversing the maxim, God will have mercy, and not (or rather than) sacrifice.' It was like what became so common under the great apostacy from pure Christianity, namely, giving or bequeathing property to the church, or to religious houses; and charitable endowments, under the influence of superstition, or terror of conscience, or in the expectation of thereby purchasing salvation, while the calls of ordinary benevolence, and the just claims of near relations were neglected. In some countries, a great part of the land had in this way fallen into the hands of the Romish priests. In the charters making over these gifts, this was a common form,- For my own salvation, for the salvation of my predecessors, for the salvation of my successors, and for the salvation of my wife, &c., I give and bequeath to God and the church,' &c. This was always a complete supplanting of the scriptural doctrines of the atonement, faith, and justification, and often a sinful neglect of the claims of relations and friends. Monastic vows fall justly under the same condemnation, as amounting, in all cases, to a dereliction of the duties owing to the public, and, in many cases, to a cruel disregard and desertion of parents and other relations. Of all such
excuses for neglecting one's parents, it may be truly said, that they are not piety, but superstition and injustice, and displeasing to God. ‘I hate robbery for burnt-offering,' saith the Lord. What hypocrisy or delusion must influence those who can hold that it is in their power so to bind themselves by a vow, as that they shall not be able, without great sin, to do what the law of God requires, and that their vow must stand, though his law should be thereby made void!
Let such notions be far from children professing godliness. Let them beware, too, of what are much more frequent causes of such cruel neglect in our day, thoughtless extravagance, and base selfishness: for there are too many who will not live frugally, or deny themselves in any respect, but who will have their own desires gratified, though their parents should be pining in neglected age and want. Instead of this, let us, if our parents are in need of pecuniary aid, cheerfully render it, in so far as we have it in our power, other claims of equal urgency being attended to. Let us also remember that there are other ways of promoting their comfort which we should carefully adopt. One of these is, a discreet, wise, pious, and virtuous conduct. 'A wise son maketh a glad father,' says Solomon, but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother.' thine heart be wise, my heart shall rejoice, even mine.' There are various kinds of attention too, which the truly filial disposition will suggest, and the truly parental heart will appreciate. If they do not live in the same family with us, we should, if possible, see them frequently. We should study to promote their bodily comfort. We should, with that respect which is due to the relation they bear to us, affectionately encourage them to attend to the things which belong to their everlasting peace. We should cheer them with our company and conversation. We should patiently and kindly bear with their infirmities. We should nurse and comfort them in pain and sickness; and do all we can to enliven and brighten the cloudy evening of their days.
'Me, let the tender office long engage
My son, if
With lenient arts extend a mother's breath,
The eye 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,' Prov. xxx. 17.
WE are here called on to meditate on the character and the doom of the undutiful child.
1. On his character. In what black colours is | tened him, will not hearken unto them; then shall it here drawn! and how should it be abhorred! his father and his mother lay hold on him, and There are such monsters. There is,' says Solo- bring him out unto the elders of the city, and mon in the 11th verse, ‘a generation that curseth unto the gates of his place: and they shall say their father, and doth not bless their mother.' unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubThere is, in every age, a race who form a party, born and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; associate together, and encourage, and irritate he is a glutton and a drunkard. And all the men each other to disobey and insult their parents. of his city shall stone him with stones that he They even curse them; or at least, they do not die: so shalt thou put away evil from among you; bless them, or pray for them, which is a kindred and all Israel shall hear and fear.' Though the wickedness. The disobedient son is represented law of our nation does not attach capital punishas mocking at his father. Sometimes this ment to this crime, we have a striking proof of mockery is in words, and sometimes in actions: its exceeding heinousness in the circumstance that but here it is described as in the looks, 'the eye such was the punishment under the Old Testamocketh.' The eye is an index to the feelings of ment dispensation. the heart. We can distinguish a look of distress, a look of joy, a look of fear, a look of expectation, a look of love, a look of hatred, a look of respect, a look of contempt. Alas for the child whose eye mocketh at his father, who regards his father with looks of sourness, doggedness, impatience, anger, defiance, and disdain! If such be the expressions of his eye, what wickedness must there be in his heart! God will certainly reckon with him, as for his words and actions, so for his very locks, which indicate such inward depravity. The eye of such an undutiful child also despiseth to obey his mother.' He not only does not obey her, but he looks at her in a way that shows that he would think it below him to obey her, and spurns at the thought. She is the weaker of the parents, and his base and cruel spirit takes advantage of that. He presumes on her sex, and on her age and infirmities, if she be old and infirm; and though he should not say it in so many words, he declares it in as cutting a way, he declares by rebellious and contemptuous looks, that he will not be controlled by her, and that he despises her. Of what wickedness is not fallen humanity capable!
2. The doom of the undutiful child. How awful the threatening here denounced against him! The words seem to point to the case of a criminal that has been condemned and hanged, and left to hang; or to that of a man slain in battle, or in some more private way, whose body is left unburied, till, as soon happened in countries where birds of prey abounded, ravens, or eagles, lighting on their carcases to devour them, picked out their eyes, and gave them to their young ones to eat.
According to the law of Moses, the obstinately undutiful son was to be punished with death. If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, who will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice other, and that, when they have chas
We have an example of death and ruin coming on undutiful children, in the sons of Eli, as related in the second book of Samuel. Though Eli did not exercise proper authority to restrain them when they made themselves vile, he did say to them, Why do ye such things? Nay, my sons; for it is no good report that I hear.' 'Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father.' The Lord therefore foretold, by Samuel, the destruction of Eli's house; and his sons were slain by the Philistines.-Absalom furnishes another example. He was guilty of the shocking wickedness of rebelling against his wise and affectionate father, and seeking his life. But let us think of him suspended from the tree as accursed, pierced through the heart with three darts, and buried with ignominy; and we shall see the Lord's abhorrence of the rebellion of children against their parents, and what should make us tremble at the thought of the crime.
It is not, indeed, to be inferred from such threatenings and examples that all rebellious children will be brought to a violent death, and their carcases devoured by birds and beasts of prey, and their bones left to bleach in the winds: but many instances occur of a premature and ignominious end, as the result of a career began in disobedience to parents; and it may here be justly apprehended that heavy providential judgments will overtake such transgressors in the majority of cases. At all events, those who despise their parents are a disgrace to humanity, and an abomination to the Lord. If they continue unpardoned and impenitent in that state of sin, they must perish for ever; and they must expect to die in misery. Whoso curseth his father, or his mother, his lamp shall be put out in obscure darkness.'
Let every undutiful child, of every age, take warning. Let none of them say, I allow that this description of rebellious children is awful, and
out the whole process. They should be trained for time and for eternity. Of how little avail to them would be earthly prosperity and fame, if they were to live estranged from God, die in sin, and perish for ever! There is much implied in the word training. It implies communicating knowledge, giving instruction, informing the understanding. It implies that useful and saving truth be conveyed to the intellect, and impressed on the memory. But proper training implies much more. It is the training of the conscience to correct the tender feelings, and of the will to choose the good and refuse the evil, and of the affections to delight in the divine law, and to love God and man.
that they deserve to suffer; but I am not so bad | be taken into account, from the first, and throughas this, and therefore, I need not fear.' If they are bad at all, knowingly and wilfully bad, they are in the direct way to become as bad as this. If they do not stop short resolutely, and alter their course, they will be like other evil men and seducers, who wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived,' till they become a terror to themselves, and intolerable to God. Let them not stifle the remonstrances of conscience. Let them not despise the warnings of God's word. Let them humble themselves before the Lord, cast themselves on his mercy through the Redeemer, and ask the assistance of his Holy Spirit to enable them to act a different part for the future. Let them seek not only to escape the curse on filial disobedience, but to obtain the blessing on filial piety. So shall they yet obtain peace of mind themselves, and rejoice the hearts of their parents which they have pierced through with many sorrows.
The way in which children should go, and of course, the way in which they should be trained, is the way of faith and holiness. It is the way of faith, the gospel way. It is not enough to give them some vague ideas of what unenlightened men call religion; they should be trained in the religion of the Bible. Some only tell children to be good, without telling them how they may become good. They should be instructed, as soon as possible, in the knowledge of their own sinful
'Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it, ness, and of the necessity and method of pardon
Prov. xxii. 6.
WHATEVER assistance parents may employ, they are not at liberty entirely to transfer to others the work of training their children; and they are especially bound personally to instruct them, as well as to see that they are instructed, in religion. These words, then, must be considered as most immediately addressed to parents; and yet they are not to be confined to parents, for they plainly apply to teachers, and to all who are in any way concerned in the education of the young.
through Christ, and regeneration by the Spirit. Children can understand the leading truths of the gospel as soon as most other things that requiro thought; nay, the display of the love of God in Christ is peculiarly calculated to arrest their attention, and to gain their hearts. Let there be no delay in leading the young to the Saviour. This is his own language, Suffer the little children to come unto me.' They should be trained also in the way of holiness. They should be fully and carefully taught their duty to God, to love him, to reverence him, to pray to him, to obey him, to keep his sabbath, and to attend his courts. They should be trained to the knowledge and practice of their duties to their parents, teachers, and friends, and to all men. They should be trained to honesty, truth, charity, purity, self-denial, diligence, and humility.
Training is absolutely necessary for the safety, prosperity, and happiness, of the young, as they are incapable of guiding themselves. Accordingly, the divine command to train them is express; and the same word that contains the command, also contains both general and particular directions as to the way in which it should be followed out. Chil- How great the encouragment held forth to such dren are to be trained in the way they should a training of children in the promise that if they go.' Doubtless, they should be instructed in such are trained up in the right way, they will not secular knowledge as is calculated to enable them depart from it! Such a result may be calculated to gain a livelihood, and to pass creditably and on generally, though in some instances the best comfortably through the present state of exis- human means may fail. Of course, in order to tence: but their education should not be confined secure the permanence of the effects of a good to this; nay, this cannot be considered as wisely Christian education, a decided impression must aimed at, if spiritual instruction be not imparted, be made on the mind. Early instruction is most and if the chief and ultimate end be not the sal-likely to be successful and lasting, because, vation of their souls. Their whole being should though children are sinners by nature, they are