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their parents is obedience; obedience in all cases which lie within the proper scope and influence of the authority of parents; where their commands do not lead their children to oppose what God has required, to do violence in matters of conscience to their own minds, or to transgress the laws of their country.
These are the duties which children are bound, from their relation to their parents, to observe. And those children who obey the scripture, will be found dutiful and affectionate, and very observant of these things. Indeed, those parents who are neglected or despised by their children, may generally impute it to themselves. It is the effect and punishment of their own sin. They fostered, when they should have corrected wicked tempers, in their children's earliest years: they shamefully sacrificed parental authority to a froward mind; and abjectly submitted to be governed by those over whom they were appointed governors, in the order of nature, and by the command of God. Or where this most foolish and cruel fondness has not been the cause of undutifulness to parents, a profane education, in ignorance of christian principles, often has; for this encourages a proud independent spirit, which, as it fears not God, will not pay reverence to man, neither feeling obligation, nor bearing restraint. Excepting therefore a few cases, christian parents, through the grace of God prospering their endeavours, will reap as they have sown, and enjoy, even before they leave this world, the fruit of those cares and pains with which they have studied to promote the salvation of their children, and will often die in the pleasing expectation of meeting them in endless glory.
There is still another domestic relation, namely, that which subsists between masters and servants. And the believer in Jesus is furnished with ample directions and cogent motives to discharge his duty in either station with comfort to himself and those around him.
Servants, who receive the word of God, must in the first place be faithful and honest, free themselves from deceit, and incapable of suffering their masters to be injured in their sight. This has been observed in a preceding chapter, as part of their character as christians. Besides this, they must obey their masters without that
surly sullen behaviour which renders their persons offensive, and their services disagreeable. It is ever a sure proof of prevailing pride, when subjection, though ever so reasonable, is galling. They must obey their masters in all things, provided that nothing is required oppressive or dishonest. A surly spirit in servants chiefly shews itself in families, where the lucre of the place is comparatively small, and the servant is wanted not for show or luxury of living, but for usefulness and labour. It is in these instances therefore, especially, that the beneficial influence of christian doctrine is to manifest itself in the behaviour of servants. Christian servants will remember that their duty towards their master or mistress is not to be measured by the splendour of the family, or the gains of the place, but by the order of God, who requires them “ with good will to do service, as to the Lord, and not to men.
Ephes. vi. 7, and Col. ïïi. 22. 2. It is the duty of servants patiently to bear reproof. The pride of human nature rises with eagerness in selfvindication, and is backward to own itself deserving of any blame. From this spirit servants are ever apt to impute the admonitions they receive to ill-nature or peevishness in their superiors; and if they bear without a visible contempt what is said, they look upon themselves at liberty to pay no more regard to it than is necessary to keep their place, if it be a profitable one. But no servant who receives the word of God can act in this unreasonable manner.
It is expressly required of them “ to adorn the Gospel of God our Saviour in all things;” but if they shew themselves deaf to just admonition, and hardened against reasonable remonstrances, they utterly disgrace their holy profession, and make their religious pretences contemptible. Besides, if they are not ready to acknowledge their faults, and will not patiently bear to be reproved for them, they must be void of humility, without which no man can possibly belong to Christ; since this is the direction particularly given to them in scripture, “to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again,” Titus ii. 9.
And as servants who regard their christian duty must be faithful and just to their masters, must obey them with cheerfulness, receive their reproofs with meekness, and be
careful to amend what is faulty ; so must masters, who are in subjection to Christ, conscientiously perform all parts of their duty towards their servants.
1. With respect to the justice, the mildness, the gentleness, and real good-will which masters must exercise towards their servants, these tempers were mentioned before, as necessary to every christian. I shall speak now therefore only of those duties, which are peculiar to those who preside in families. The first of which is, to be careful of the behaviour of their servants.
The head of every family is obliged to watch over those who are subject to his authority. We blame magistrates when they suffer irreligion and dissoluteness of manners among the people. And can masters of farnilies be guiltless, who connive at domestic irregularities, when with far less difficulty they might govern their little commonwealth? They ought therefore to look
upon their servants, not as they do upon their cattle, merely considering the labour and service they can do, but as fellow-creatures capable of the knowledge of God, and as candidates equally with themselves for his eternal kingdom. In this view it is their duty, and a part of christian benevolence, to suffer no immorality, nor any open violation of God's holy law in them
-to oblige their servants to a regular attendance on the public worship of God on the Lord's day, and to insist on their not profaning it—to put books into their hands, written to awaken the conscience, and bring them to the knowledge of Christ-and, if the nature of business does not in fact render it impracticable, to call the members of the household to join in the daily worship of God, who is the fountain of all family mercies and blessings.
2. It is the duty of those who preside in a family, to set a christian example to servants; to be constant in worshipping God on his own day at church, and religiously to abstain in it from both business and diversion—to convince them that you act honestly, as in the sight of God, in all your dealings—to shew them that you are innocent of those common yet presumptuous sins, of speaking loosely, swearing profanely, and living without any secret worship of your God. By this example, as far as means alone can be effectual, you will restrain from much evil, and prove a powerful monitor to stir up ignorant sinful
will be pure
creatures to seek after God; at least
you from their blood, if they obstinately persist in their sin.
The last duty of masters which I shall mention, is to encourage and reward their servants for well-doing. Kind expressions quicken ingenuous minds to diligence and attention; encouragement therefore ought to be given on this principle. Further, when a servant hath laid out his whole time and strength in his master's service, and made it his study to consult his interest; the master is bound, by the ties of justice and gratitude, where there is a sufficient fortune, to remember such a faithful servant in the decline of life. And the cases of sickness, or accidental loss of limbs in service, which disable from labour, and are sometimes even more calamitous than the infirmities of old age, call for equal compassion. A christian master will consider how much others have lost by the dishonesty of those about them;— how much trouble, anxiety, and vexation they have suffered, whilst he has committed, with composure and confidence, his affairs into the hands of a good and faithful servant, and has received no damage ;
-how much of his comfort in this life has been owing to this material circumstance. Where then would be his christian love, his generosity, or his humanity, if he did not take pleasure in shewing kindness in return?
Thus having pointed out the several duties of a christian in his domestic relation, I will conclude the subject with a faithful picture of the good order of a family, in which each member conscientiously discharges the duty of his station, as every real christian will desire and strive to do.
Look at those who preside in it: they love, and are cordially beloved by each other; they both with true benevolence watch over their children, ambitious to educate them for immortality; they therefore discountenance every thing wrong and corrupt, at its first appearance. Both with impartial affection for their whole offspring, gladly give them every innocent gratification, every liberty and joy, which innocence and safety will permit
. Look upon their children! what respect, what affiance toward their parents, what pleasure in their company, what cheerful obedience to their authority! Look
the servants ! faithful to their office, and prudent in their deportment,
they are treated with respect. Whilst parents, children, and servants, meet together each day with one heart to magnify the name of God, and to confess that it is he who maketh them that dwell together in one house, to be thus united and harmonious. Whilst all are looking forwards according to the strength of their faith, to the place which Jesus is gone before to prepare for them, where, without
further trials or any remainder of corruption, they shall dwell together in love and in sinless perfection.-The
in which we live is not void of some such families; and it is only the neglect of the Bible, and the low notions of modern christianity, which make them so scarce, and prevent innumerable individuals from becoming subject to the power and grace of Jesus Christ, and enjoying that peace in him which passeth all understanding.
ON SELF-DENIAL WITH RESPECT TO INTEMPERANCE.
False teachers court the favour of men by preaching to them flattering doctrines; but Jesus, the true witness, abhors such base compliance with our corrupt passions. He places therefore in the very front, as it were, of his camp, before the
of every one assaying to enter into his service, this searching test of courage and fidelity :
Except a man deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me, he cannot be my disciple.”.
No doubt then can be made, whether self-denial is the duty of a real christian. But what the ground of this grace is, what the important particulars in which it is exercised, are points of very useful and necessary consideration. The more so, because superstition has long done every thing possible to make this doctrine utterly contemptible; and enthusiasm is ever ready to place selfdenial in things absurd or frivolous ; whilst the substantial matters, about which in reality it is concerned, are little regarded.
* See Prayer the 11th.