« AnteriorContinuar »
in every thing.' See 1 Cor. xi. 3, 9; Eph. v. 22, | maineth that both they that have wives,' (and by &c.; Col. iii. 18; 1 Pet. iii. 1, 2, 5, 6.
Unquestionably, this duty of obedience is not without limitation. It is binding only in the Lord,'-in conformity with Christian principles, and in so far as what is required is not inconsistent with the commandments of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the head of both parties. Neither of the parties is to yield to the other in any thing sinful. The husband should stand firm against the solicitations of the wife, when they would draw him away from the Lord. See Deut. xiii. 6; Judg. xiv. 16; 1 Kings xxi. 25; Acts v. 111. With the exception of things sinful, however, the wife should conscientiously and cheerfully comply with the known and declared will of the husband. Nor need she fear that this will lower her true dignity, or happiness; for, it will exalt, not degrade her, and will go far to secure for her contentment and peace. The duty she owes him is represented as bearing some resemblance in reverence, strength, and faithfulness, to the duty the church owes to Christ, who is not only the head of the church, but the head of all relations, in whom they have all their sweetness and gracious efficacy.
Husbands and wives are mutually and equally bound to study to promote, in every scriptural way, each other's spiritual welfare and salvation. With this leading end, they should come together, and continue to live together. They should read together, and converse together, on the things of God: they should encourage each other in all piety and goodness: and they should pray together for those influences of the Holy Spirit without which no union and no care can secure piety, virtue, and peace. As the apostle Peter expresses it, they should live as being heirs together of the grace of life, that their prayers be not hindered.' The great influence which this most intimate connection is calculated to exert for good, or for evil, should weigh powerfully, with single persons who fear the Lord, against marrying those who are void of religion. If such an ill-sorted alliance has been contracted, he, or she, that believeth should both guard against being drawn away from God, and also use all prudent methods to win over the other party.
Finally, let husbands and wives be stirred up to the careful performance of all their relative duties by the thought of their coming separation and final account. Let them be duly impressed with the transitory nature of all earthly relations, and look forward to the hour of death and the day of judgment. The time is short: it re
parity of reason, they that have husbands, or other connections), 'be as though they had none; for the fashion of this world passeth away.' Let them seriously consider and suitably improve this affecting and awakening thought, and they will be blessings to each other. Indeed as long as they sojourn together here below, they will be lovely and pleasant in their lives; and if death should divide them for a time, they will soon meet again to part no more for ever.
Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven,' Col. iv. 1.
LET masters, all who have any persons in the capacity of servants in their house, or in any employment under them, take heed to this solemn admonition to conduct themselves towards them as the dictates of common justice and the sacred obligations of the Christian religion require. Be it remembered, too, that, making allowance for obvious differences in some circumstances, under the duties of masters those of mistresses are to be ranked.
One duty which masters owe to their servants, and that which seems to be here most directly intended, is the duty of giving them rcasonable wages. According to the nature and value of the services, the wants of those who serve, and also, in some respects, the ability of the employer, the remuneration should be, not in a cruel and niggardly way, screwed down to the lowest farthing, but bestowed liberally and cheerfully to the extent, and at the time promised. "Thou shalt not oppress an hired servant that is poor and needy;' at his day thou shalt give him his hire, neither shall the sun go down upon it; for he is poor, and setteth his heart upon it; lest he cry against thee unto the Lord, and it be a sin unto thee.'
The duty of masters, however, is not completed by the payment of reasonable wages as stipu.. lated; there is committed to them a very comprehensive and important trust somewhat like the parental. It is their duty to consult the general temporal comfort of their servants. They should treat them with humanity. They should only require of them what is lawful in nature, and reasonable in degree. They should not proudly refuse to listen to what they have to say in their own defence, or for their own benefit. If I did
read, the word of God, and furnish them with other useful books. 'I know him,' said the Lord, of Abraham, that he will command his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment.' They should assemble them to family worship, like David, 'who returned to bless his household.' They should, according to the fourth commandment, enjoin on them, and give them every facility to the observance of the sabbath, and attendance on the sanctuary. And authoritative injunction and affectionate entreaty should always be accompanied with a consistent example. Every head of a family should adopt and act on the principles of the Psalmist, 'Iwill behave myself wisely in a perfect way. O! when wilt thou come unto me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.'
despise the cause of my man-servant,' said Job, | Bethel, under an oak; and the name of it was 'or of my maid-servant, when they contended called Allon-bachuth,' that is, the oak of weeping. with me; what then should I do, when God But if masters are to acquit their consciences, riseth up? and, when he visiteth, what shall I and do justice to their servants, they must also answer him? Did not he that made me in the seek their spiritual good. Let them watch over womb make him? and did not one fashion us?' their morals. Let them do what they can to They should not rule over them with rigour, but regulate their conversation and actions. Let them fear the Lord, Eph. vi. 9: 'And, ye masters, do aim at their conversion to God; or at their edificathe same things unto them,' act on similar good tion, if they are already under the influence of the principles towards your servants, forbearing truth. Let them instruct and admonish them, threatening, abstaining from violent and menacing in a way suited to their age, character, and prolanguage. Let the account of Nabal (1 Sam. xxv.) | gress. Let them read to them, and hear them serve as a beacon to warn masters against such rudeness and violence. 'The man was churlish, and evil in his doings.' 'He is such a son of Belial,' said one of his servants, that a man cannot speak to him.' Masters should consider what the strength of their servants is able to endure, what rest and accommodation they require, and what are their infirmities. They should be kind to them when they are sick, after the beautiful example of the centurion mentioned in the seventh chapter of Luke. They should not be too difficult to please; nor should they be constantly finding fault. Their servants must have uncommonly good tempers indeed, if such treatment do not sour them. While masters should be at liberty to point out what they wish altered, they should, at the same time, notice with approbation what is right, and make reasonable allowance for infirmities and occasional mistakes. Masters and mistresses should not take up vulgar and idle prejudices against servants, as if they were almost all, or even generally, unreasonable and unprincipled. If a ruler hearken to lies, all his servants are wicked,' Prov. xxix. 12. It would be well, if instead of employers dwelling on the faults of their servants, or servants dwelling on the faults of their employers, each party would endeavour to discover and reform their own; for then would the interest and comfort of both be indirectly indeed, but surely and greatly promoted.
Masters should be sensible of the value of good and faithful servants; they should reward such, proportionally to the length and value of their services; and especially if they remain with them, they should not cast them off, but provide for them, if possible, in old age. In some cases, servants have deserved to be treated, and have actually been treated, almost like children of the family. A wise servant shall have part of the inheritance among the brethren,' Prov. xvii. 2. And good and faithful servants should be mourned for when they are removed by death. 'Deborah, Rebekah's nurse, died, and she was buried beneath
Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ: not with eye-service, as men-pleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart,' Eph. vi. 5, 6. HOWEVER some may ignorantly and discontentedly complain of the inequalities of human condition, it is a wise and benevolent arrangement of divine providence that such inequalities should be found. They tend, in many ways, to promote the comfort of our kind; and it is difficult to conceive how any desirable state of society could exist without them. The condition of servitude has arisen, in some cases from inequality of abilities, but in many more, from inequality of property. When a state of servitude is for life, and altogether independent on the will of those who are under it, it is called slavery, than which state nothing can be more subversive of the rights, and happiness, and improvement of our species,
Voluntary service, for a stipulated recompense, | ters of small value, as well as of great:- Not
One of their leading duties is obedience. 'Ser-
It is of importance to notice that servants are bound to be obedient, respectful, and faithful, whatever be the character of their masters, or their behaviour towards them. Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. For this is thank-worthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully,' 1 Pet. ii. 18. Doubtless, meek submission in such cases, is very difficult; but it is very commendable, and instead of justifying such bad treatment, renders it more inexcusable. It should, however, and will, by every ingenuous mind, be felt to be peculiarly pleasant to comply with the desires and study to promote the happiness of pious and kind masters.
An assuming and haughty behaviour
with which they may be favoured in the house in
Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God; the powers that be are ordained of God,' Rom. xiii. 1. WE meditate, this morning, on the duties of subjects to their civil rulers.
guilty of smuggling, or conveying away clandestinely goods for which the legal tribute has not been paid. For this cause pay ye tribute also; for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render, therefore, to all their dues; tribute to whom tribute is due, custom to whom custom.' We are not at liberty to refuse to pay, on the general plea of being displeased with the application of taxes; they are due on our part, if they be actually demanded according to law and the existing constitution. When Christ was asked if it was lawful to give tribute to Cæsar, the heathen emperor, he answer in the affirmative, and enjoined it, in the words, 'Render unto Cæsar the things which are Cæsar's, and unto God the things which are God's.'
1. Obedience. On this point scripture is full and express. 'Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers,' or superior authorities. We should hold a very high standard of submission to civil governors. The only limitation is when they require what is contrary to the will of God; then it becomes not only lawful, but a positive duty, to refuse to comply; and in such instances of disobedience, instead of being guilty of any thing that deserved to be stigmatized as rebellion, 4. Prayer. God alone can qualify rulers for men of God have exhibited some of the noblest their office, and direct and prosper them in it. examples of human virtue and religious courage. I exhort therefore,' says the apostle Paul, 'that, Such noble examples were furnished by those who first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, would not destroy the male infants of the Israel- and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for ites at the command of Pharaoh king of Egypt; kings, and for all that are in authority; that we by the three Hebrew youths, who said to Nebu-may lead a quiet and peaceable life all in godlichadnezzar, ‘Be it known unto thee, O king, that ness and honesty.' we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up;' by Daniel, who, when Darius had made a decree that whoever should ask any petition of any god or man for thirty days, save of Darius himself, should be cast into the den of lions, paid no attention to the decree, but went on to worship the Lord as before; and by the apostles, who, when they were strictly commanded, by the supreme council of the nation, not to teach in the name of Jesus, proceeded to preach notwithstanding, and when called to account for doing so, answered, 'We ought to obey God rather than man.' Nothing, however, but such strong and conscientious grounds as these can be fairly pleaded in defence of not submitting to the decrees of supreme rulers, judges, and magistrates. We are sacredly bound to obey them, in a free country, as long as they act agreeably to the laws, within the limits of their own jurisdiction, and in a way not requiring of us what is sinful.
2. Honour, or civil respect. Though rulers may not be personally characterized by special excellence, their station and rank are entitled to honour. Render to all their dues;' 'fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.' This precept seems to discourage that stiffness, which, under the pretence of Christian simplicity, by disputing such forms, may rather indulge pride, and occasion reproach.
Payment of taxes. Christians should act
These are the chief duties of subjects to rulers; and it is to be observed that they are not limited to any one form, but applicable to every form of government; they are due to 'the powers that be,' to the existing authorities. There are, in free, or comparatively free countries, constitutional means of improvement. What degree of tyranny can justify open resistance is a very delicate question. Surely there is nothing in the word of God which can be fairly interpreted as intended to check the progress of national improvement, to rivet the chains of despotism, and to keep the sword in the hand of merciless tyrants that would oppress, and even slay, the servants of the Lord.
While such are the duties that subjects owe to the authorities that already exist, they have also, in free countries, like ours, a very important duty to perform with regard to the election of rulers and legislators, whose appointment depends on their voice. They ought to choose men of good principles and good character, men of piety and morality, who are disposed to respect all the laws, civil and ecclesiastical, already made, and, (if they are to have legislative power), disposed to support measures for the glory of God, and the real good of the people. Electors may err; but surely they should aim right, and have a fixed determination to choose virtuous men. In cases where they cannot find men in every respect to their mind, they should take those who come nearest to the proper standard.
Strong reasons exist for subjects carefully ful
It is not for
kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, nor for princes strong drink; lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted.' Diligence is also needful to the good management of public affairs,-the intense and persevering application of the mind and powers to the various important subjects which fall to be settled. The honour of kings is to search out a matter.'
filling the duties they owe to their rulers. Civil | moderation and self-command. government, in the general sense, is founded in the will of God, not in an imaginary social compact; and therefore, to disobey, without just cause, is an offence against God. The powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever, therefore, resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God; and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation,' or condemnation. The danger of resistance is great, in all cases, in this world, and in unjustifiable cases, in the next world. Rulers, to be good rulers, should be pious, Civil government is instituted for good ends. ruling in the fear of God.' There is no security 'He,' the ruler, ‘is the minister of God for good,' for the discharge of any duty whatever without to be a terror to evil-doers, and an encouragement the prevalence of religious principle. Those who to those who do well. Disobedience on the part fear not God, are very ready to disregard man. of some tends to a state of anarchy, which is the The need of religion, however, is peculiarly great worst possible state of society, even a bad govern-in rulers. Their duties are arduous, and their ment being better than none. The happy conse- temptations are many: hence the necessity for their quences to the peace and prosperity of a nation, being decidedly under the influence of inward and resulting from the discharge of these duties, should sincere piety. It is their duty to show a good weigh powerfully with every good man. Upon example. Their station is conspicuous; they are the whole, let Christians feel the sacred obliga- like a city set on a hill which cannot be hid. The tions under which they lie to demean themselves influence of power, rank, wealth, splendour, and as good subjects; and let them attend to the fashion is very great, either for good, or for evil. words of the apostle, ver. 5. 'Wherefore ye must In whatever way the great lead, multitudes needs be subject, not only for wrath,' or out of a usually follow. It is their duty, without interferregard to the displeasure of the ruler, and fear of ing with the spiritual independence of the church, punishment, but also for conscience' sake.' to encourage religion in their official, as well as private capacity. Jehovah says to the church, 'Kings shall be thy nursing-fathers, and their queens thy nursing-mothers.' And the sons of strangers shall build up thy walls, and their kings shall civil rulers is clemency. Justice should be temminister unto thee.' Another important duty of pered with mercy. Where the word of a king is, there is power; and who may say unto him, What doest thou? But princes must take care not to become oppressors. A discretionary power is lodged with them to remit, or mitigate punishments, which should be cheerfully, though judiciously used. They should seek to govern rather by persuasion and love, than by fear and force: and they should be much employed in preventing evil, that there may be but little necessity for punishing it. They should seek to promote, by all proper means, the prosperity and happiness of those who are under them. They should avoid selfishness, and cherish a benevolent spirit, remembering that they are raised up, not that they may receive the incense of flattery, and shine in splendour and gratify their pride and luxury, but that they may be blessings to the community.
'The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God, 2 Sam. xxiii. 3. WITH what plainness and beauty does king David, under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, and therefore, in unerring terms, describe some of the chief duties of civil rulers! First. He that ruleth over men must be just.' Justice is an essential ingredient in the character of good rulers. Justice requires them, in the capacity of legislators, to enact equitable laws;-in the capacity of judges, to decide impartially according to these laws; in the executive capacity, to put these laws in force. Rulers must not use their power to injure, or oppress: they must employ it to defend the good, and to restrain the evil; and they must be very conscientious in carrying out the principles on which they are called to act, without any partiality.
In connection with justice, certain other virtues are also requisite to form the character of good rulers. They should be temperate,-characterized, not by excess of luxurious indulgence, but by
The sweet Psalmist of Israel, guided by the Spirit of the Lord, employs, in the fourth verse, the following beautiful comparisons to describe the