Imatges de pÓgina
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CHAPTER XII.

ON FAMILY DUTIES.

§ 1.

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VERY considerable portion of human happiness depends on the members of a family cherishing those sentiments, and practising those duties, which spring from the relations of domestic life. The religion of the gospel is designed to diffuse peace, love, and harmony through the family circle; to soften every rugged passion; to strengthen every affectionate feeling; and to open in each house, as well as" in each breast, a little heaven." There are persons who abroad appear courteous and humble, gentle and good-natured, that at home are harsh and passionate, proud or peevish, soon provoked, and easily offended. It should never be forgotten by you, that true piety should be shown at home. Let the family that has daily converse with you, behold its brightest radiance. Thus Jesus acted; Judas, who knew him best, and saw him in his retired hours, had not one charge of folly or inconsistency to bring against him. How different from those of his professed disciples, who are esteemed abroad, but not at home; loved as Christians by those who know them least, but whose profession is doubted or scorned by those who know them best.-Hypocrites in reality, that have given rise to the proverb, "A saint abroad, and a devil at home."

The religion of Jesus, however, is not answerable for the hypocrisy it condemns. The true disciples of the Saviour will act a very different part.

There is no scene in which the all-important graces, meekness, humility, gentleness, courteousness, are more important than at home. There is no situation in which watchfulness over your words and tempers is more necessary. There many little things will occur to vex and irritate; there you are more liable to be off your guard, and thus more liable, by improper tempers and hasty words, to bring sin upon your

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PARENTAL DUTIES.

own soul, and to injure the souls of others. The directions given in the Scriptures, respecting harmony, kindness, care not to provoke nor be provoked, and others of a similar kind, should be impressed on the heart of every Christian, who would honour religion in the family to which he belongs.

In the general it may be observed, that whatever be your situation in the family of which you form a part, as a Christian it should be your constant aim and daily study, to display a meek, humble, gentle, benevolent, affectionate spirit; and to maintain a conscience void of offence. towards all around you. The Scriptures however descend to direction more minute, and peculiarly expressive.

§ 2. Duties of parents.

"These

To instruct their children in divine truth. words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart; and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up." Teach them thy sons, and thy

sons' sons.

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By needed correction to restrain them from evil. “Withhold not correction from the child; thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul fron hell." Eli, though pious, fell under God's dreadful displeasure, because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not.d

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"Fathers,

Not to discourage or provoke their children. provoke not your children to wrath." Fathers, provoke not your children, lest they be discouraged."

To love their children, and to pray for them, as Job and David did, and to labour for their eternal welfare. “Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord."h

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The expression, Train up a child in the way he should go, signifies, to draw along by a regular and steady course of exertions. This calls for line upon line, precept upon precept; continued exertions; continued watchfulness, and unceasing care. Many pious parents, who have done something to promote their children's religious welfare, have still been far from (a) Deut. vi. 6. (8) Deut. iv. 9. (c) Prov. xxiii. 13, 14. (d) 1 Sam. iii. 11-13 (e) Eph, iv. 4. (f) Col. iii. 21. (g) Prov. xxii. 6. (h) Eph. vi. 4.

DUTIES OF CHILDREN.

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training them up in the way of life. Numerous instances can be adduced of pious parents, who have had ungodly children, but perhaps it would be difficult to produce one instance of the kind, in which a parent, who has literally TRAINED up his child in the way he should go, has had to encounter this affliction.

§ 3. Duties of children.

To indulge that honour and respect for their parents, which flow from filial love, which God approves, while opposite conduct incurs his most severe displeasure. "Honour thy father and mother, (which is the first commandment with promise,) that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth." "Cursed be he that setteth light by his father or his mother." "Whoso robbeth his father or his mother, and saith, It is no transgression; the same is the companion of a destroyer."

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To hearken to the counsels of their parents, and obey their directions, excepting only in such cases as would be sinful in the sight of God. "Children, obey your parents in the Lord for this is right."m "Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well-pleasing unto the Lord."n "We ought to obey God rather than men.'

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If in age their parents need assistance and support from them, cheerfully to render this, and thus to minister to their comfort, and requite their kindness. "If any widow have children or nephews, 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, let them relieve them. But if any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel."P

Duties of husbands and wives.

On the part of the wife, submission and affection; on that of the husband, tenderness, forbearance, and love, like that of the Lord Jesus to his church. "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies: he that loveth his wife loveth himself. (k) Deut. xxvii. 16. (1) Prov. xxviii. 24. see also Ezek. xxii. 7. Prov. i. 8. (m) Eph. vi. 1. (p) 1 Tim. v. 4, 16, 8,

(i) Eph. vi. 2, 3. Prov. xxx. 17. (2) Col. iii. 20.

(0) Acts v.. 29.

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DUTIES OF SERVANTS AND MASTERS.

"Teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded."

Duties of servants and masters.

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On the part of servants, respect, obedience, and faithful attention to their employers' interests. "Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh: not with eye-service, as men-pleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; with good-will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men. "Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed. And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort." "Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again; not purloining, but showing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things." "Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.""

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On the part of masters, kindness, moderation, and justice in recompensing services. "Thou shalt not oppress the

hired servant that is poor and needy.”

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"Woe unto him

that useth his neighbour's service without wages, and giveth him not for his work." After servants are directed to be faithful, and to serve with good will, it is added, “ And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him." "Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven."y

After this brief view of some of the duties incumbent upon persons, in several of the principal relations of domestic life, allow me to beg you to consider the importance of regarding

(g) Eph. v. 22-25, 28, 33. (r) Eph. vi. 5-8.

(t) Titus ii. 9, 10.

(w) Jer. xxii. 13.

Col. iii. 18, 19. Titus ii. 4-6. 1 Pet. iii. 1, 7. Col. iii. 23-25. (s) 1 Tim. vi. 1, 2. (u) 1 Pet. ii. 18, 19, (v) Deut. xxiv. 14, 15. (x) Eph. vi. 9. (y) Col. iv. 1.

MOTIVES FOR FILIAL DUTY.

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those which belong to the station that you occupy. Perhaps you are the child of parents still living, whose hearts are wrapt up in you and your welfare. Consider how many solemn motives, enforced by the most encouraging or awful sanctions, urge you to treat them with filial affection, kindness, obedience, and respect. If your heart is open to the impressions of gratitude, you will render this tribute to them, who have watched over you without wearying, who have toiled for you without fainting, who have never thought they could do too much to promote your happiness, who tended you with unceasing care in infancy, and who have followed you with kind attentions even to the present hour.

If promises will encourage a devout attention to these important precepts, you are assured by an inspired apostle, that, Honour thy father and thy mother, is the first commandment with promise. An able American writer observes, "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. I do not believe, that miracles are wrought for its reward. 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."

If the spotless example of the Son of God, when he dwelt on earth, weighs with you, you have that example with all its power to enforce the exercise of filial 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

* Dwight.
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