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Apostle thought proper to urge it upon the Ephesian Christians, extends to the Gentiles. The promises to the Jews, in most instances, announced temporal blessings only. Those, which are made to Christians, chiefly convey spiritual blessings. But that, which is contained in the text, conveys temporal blessings also. In conversing with the plain people of this country, distinguished for their good sense, and careful observation of facts, I have found them, to a great extent, firmly persuaded of the verification of this promise in our own days; and ready to produce a variety of proofs from cases, in which they have seen the blessing realized. Their opinion on this subject is mine; and with their experience my own has coincided. Indeed, no small measure of prosperity seems ordinarily interwoven with a course of filial piety. The comfort which it insures to parents, the harmony which it produces in the family, the peace which it yields to the conscience, are all essential ingredients of happiness. To these it adds the approbation of every beholder, the possession of a fair and lasting reputation; the confidence, and good-will, of every worthy man; and, of consequence, an opportunity of easily gaining those useful employments, which worthy men have to give. Beyond this, it naturally associates with itself that temperance, moderation, and sobricty, which furnish a solid foundation for health and long life. In my own apprehension, however, these are not all its blessings. I do not believe, that miracles are wrought for its reward. Neither will I say, that purer gales breathe, to preserve its health; nor that softer suns arise, or more timely rains descend, to mature its harvests; nor that more propitious winds blow, to waft its ships home in safety. But I will say, that on the tide of providence multiplied blessings are borne into its possession, at seasons when they are unexpected, in ways unforeseen, and by means unprovided by its own forecast, which are often of high importance; which altogether, constitute a rich proportion of prosperity; and which, usually, are not found by persons of the contrary character. At the same time, those, who act well as children, almost of course act well as men and women; and thus have taken, without design, the cion of happiness from the parental stock, and grafted it upon other stems, which bear fruit abundantly to themselves. Here, in the language of Dr. Watts,
“It revives, and bears
It is also never to be forgotten, that filial piety, if derived from an evangelical source, is entitled to the peculiar favour of God in the present world, and to the everlasting blessings of the world to come.
5. The Declarations of God concerning this important subject
Jurnish reasons at once alluring and awful, for the exercise of
filial piety. The text is an illustrious example of this nature, of the most persuasive kind. Deut. xxi. 18, gives us a terrible one concerning the stubborn and rebellious son. The eye, says .4gur, that mocketh at his father, and refuseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it. One of the most interesting accounts of this subject to be found in the Scriptures, as it has struck my mind, is exhibited in the 35th Chapter of Jeremiah. Jonadab, the son of Rechab commanded his children, and their posterity, neither to drink wine, nor to build houses, nor to sow seed, nor to plant vineyards, but to dwell in tents from generation to generation. The Rechabites obeyed his voice; and, at the time of Jeremiah, had, for three hundred years, lived in the manner which their Ancestor enjoined. As a reward of their filial obedience, the Prophet Jeremiah was sent unto the Rechabites with this remarkable message. Thus saith Jehovah of hosts, the God of Israel; because ye have obeyed the commandment of Jonadab, your father, and kept all his precepts, and done according to all that he hath commanded you; therefore thus saith Jehovah of hosts, the God of Israel, Jonadab the son of Rechab, shall not want a man to stand before me for ever. 6. The Example of Christ is a reason, of the highest import, to compel the exercise offilial piety. This wonderful person, notwithstanding his great and glorious character, and sublime destination, was the fairest specimen of
obedience to parents, ever seen in the present world. Let children remember, that, if they have not the Spirit of Christ, they are none of his. He was subject to his parents, as a child of their family, until he was thirty years of age; and forgot not, when he hung on the cross, to provide an effectual support and protection for his Mother. Let all children remember, when they are weary of labouring for their parents, that Christ laboured for his ; when they are impatient of their commands, that Christ cheerfully obeyed; when they are reluctant to provide for their parents, that Christ forgot himself, and provided for his mother, amid the agonies of crucifixion. The affectionate language of this Divine example to every child is, Go thou, and do likewise.
DUTY OF PARENTS.
PRoverbs xxii. 6.
Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old he will not depart from it.
In the preceding discourse, I gave a brief account of the Duties of Children. I shall now proceed to consider the Duties of Parents. This, also, I must consider in a very summary manner, notwithstanding the copiousness, and importance, of the subject.
In this passage of Scripture, parents are directed to train up their children in the way, in which they should go: and, to encourage them to this duty, a promise is given, that their children, if trained in this way, will not depart from it. The word, train, originally denotes to draw along by a regular and steady course of eaertions; and is, hence, very naturally used to signify drawing from one action to another by persuasions, promises, and other efforts, continually repeated. In a loose and general sense, therefore, it may easily include all the duties of Parents to their children.
The way, in which a child should go, is undoubtedly the way, in which it is best for him to go, with respect both to his temporal and eternal well-being.
These duties are customarily, and justly, distributed under three heads:
The Education; and,
The Settlement; of Children.
The Maintenance of Children must unquestionably be such, as the circumstances of the parents will admit, consistently with the dictates of prudence; and such as will secure comfort to their children. Their food and raiment, their employments and gratifications, ought to be all such, as to promote their health. They are carefully to be nursed in sickness, and guarded from danger. Their enjoyments of every kind ought invariably to be innocent; reasonable in their number and degree; evident testimonies of parental wisdom, as well as of parental affection ; such as shall prevent them from suffering unnecessary mortification; and such as shall not flatter pride, foster avarice, or encourage sloth or sensuality. They ought also to be such, as to place them upon the same level with the children of other discreet parents in similar circumstances.
The Education of children involves their Instruction, and Government.
The Instruction of children includes,
The Things, which they are to be taught; and,
The Manner of teaching them.
The Things, which Children are to be taught, may be distributed under the two heads of Natural Knowledge; and Moral Knowledge.
JNatural Knowledge includes,
1. Their Learning.
By this I intend every thing, which they are to gain from books; whether it be Learning appropriately so called, or the knowledge of Arts and Sciences. Of this subject I observe, generally, that, like the Maintenance of Children, it must comport with the circumstances of the Parents. It ought, also, to be suited to the character, talents, and destination, of the Child. But an acquaintance with Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic, is indispensably necessary to every Child. It is indispensable, that every child should read the Scriptures, highly important, that he should