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and sisters, masters and servants, which have now been briefly con. sidered, comprehend those which are binding upon us in the capacity of families. They are what are more usually intended by relative duties. Besides the relations existing in a single family, there are others originated by consanguinity and intermarriages, which are sufficiently near to require some duties of the relative class. Among others, the scriptures recognize the relation of grand parent and grand child, of uncle and nephew, and of cousins. Timothy is reminded of the piety of his grandmother, as though it were a thing of much con. sequence to him. 2 Tim. i. 5. Nephews are, by the apostle, classed with children, as though they were under some obligation to provide for their widowed aunts who were indigent, as children were to provide for their mothers, 1 Tim. v, 4. Abraham and Lot sustained the relation of uncle and nephew ; and it is evident that Abraham con
.; sidered it as a relation sufficiently intimate to impose relative duties. See Gen, xiii. 8 and xiv, 12, 16. The relation of cousins was the bond of kindred between the mother of John the Baptist, and the mother of our Lord; and it was not considered as too remote to be noted in the sacred history. Luke i. 36.
But with respect to those natural ties, and such as are still more re. mote, I shall content myself with merely reminding the rader of their existence, and suggesting the thought, that as these ties lead our rela. tives to take more interest in us, so they make way for our nearer ac. cess to them, and lay us under obligation to take the advantage of it to do them good, as we are able and have opportunity, both in the things of time and of eternity,
THE DIVISION HARMONIZED.
The relative duties are in harmony one with another. The duties of relatives are reciprocal; they bind on both sides. If the rulers are authorized to enact laws and execute them, the citizens must be under obligation to be subject to their laws and administration. On the other hand, if the citizens are under obligation to be subject to the laws, the rulers are under equal obligation to enact good laws, and rule in right
Had the scriptures limited the obligation to one of these relations, there would have been an unnatural discord. It would have been so, had they obliged the rulers to discharge the duties of their office, and released the people from obligation to submit to their au. thority; or had they required subjection on the part of the people, without requiring a righteous administration on the part of the rulers. God has appointed that some should sustain the office of rulers, to en. able them to do more for the public good ; and as their work is honor. able and arduous, they have a claim to reward, respect, co-operation, and fervent intercessions from their fellow citizens. Let the word of God be made the rule of conduct, and there will be no oppressive magistrates, nor insubordinate subjects.
There is the same harmony between the duties of the teacher and the scholar. If it is the duty of the one to teach, it is the duty of the other to learn : and if it belongs to the teacher to be assiduous in
communicating, it belongs also to the scholar to be assiduous in acqui. ring knowledge. If the teacher is under obligation to watch over the moral and religious principles of his pupils, they must be under obli. gation to watch over their own morals and religious principles. And if it is the duty of teachers to have good order in their schools, it must be the duty of their scholars to be orderly by being subject to good rules. Let the religion of the Bible influence instructors and their pupils, and all will be harmony.
There is no discord between the duties of a pastor and those of his flock. He is required to preach the word to them, and they are re. quired to hear the word from his mouth. He is required to preach the unadulterated truth, and this they are required to receive. As a father he is to watch over them in the Lord, and they are to be child. like in their behavior towards him. While it is made his duty to devote his time and talents to their spiritual interests, it is theirs, to provide for his temporal support. “Even so hath the Lord ordained, that they that preach the gospel should live of the gospel.” 1 Cor. ix. 14. The duties of the pastor and his flock are mutual, and therefore they are harmonious.
There is an entire agreement between the various duties of domes. tic society. This is strikingly true of the duties of the conjugal relation. God has given the husband and wife their respective places, and pointed out the duties pertaining to each. Their obligation is mutual and permanent. The husband is not commanded to obey his wife ; for the man is the head of the woman. But he is forbidden to be bitter against her, and is required to nourish and cherish her as the Lord doth the church. It was of great importance to the comfort of this endeared relation, that the Creator himself should decide the ques. tion concerning precedence. And all that he has said about their respective duties, must be in harmony with this decision.
There is a harmony between the duties of parents, and those of their children. Parents are allowed to claim respectful treatment from their children, as being their elders in age, and, under God, the authors of their existence : and children are commanded to honor their parents. Parents are to rule, and children are to obey. If God had made it the duty of the parents to rule, and had not enjoined it on the children to obey, there would have been a manifest want of harmony. But the scriptural exhibition of parental and filial duties, is very harmonious. What a sweet harmony between parents being required to make provision for the natural wants of their children during their helpless age, and children being required to provide for the wants of their parents, when, through age or infirmity, they have become helpless and depen. dent. It has been shown that parents are required to care for the souls of their offspring, as well as for their bodies. Were they required to care only for their bodies, and allowed to neglect the culture of their minds, what manifest inconsistency would there be. Or were they required to provide for their bodily wants and for their mental improvement, but permitted to neglect their undying souls, the inconsistency would be still more apparent. There is a harmony between the differ. ent things which parents are laid under obligation to do for the spir. itual interests of their children. They are required to pray to God tions to the Lord's treasury; an obligation which constituted the subject of the last Article of the duties of godliness. But does not the same God who requires parents to support their children, also require them to honor Him with their substance, and with the first fruits of their increase? There is nothing discordant in these two requisitions. We may support our children, without robbing the Lord's treasury to do it: yea, we may keep an open band in supplying his treasury, with. out forgetting the claims of our families. See Ps. xxxvii. 25, 26. Ecc. ii. 1, 2.
The duties of relative life are in perfect harmony with the whole system of experimental religion. That benevolence which is the sum of inward religion, and which will lead us to do good to all men as we have opportunity, will stimulate us to special efforts for the good of those, whom the intimate relations of life give us peculiar facilities for benefiting. If they who rule over particular sections of a country, are under obligation to wish well to the interests of the whole; and they who rule over one nation, to wish well to all nations: then certainly benevolence must excite them to make every exertion to promote the good of those, with whom their respective offices bring them into con. tact. True, it will prevent them from injuring other portions of the country, or of the earth, for the sake of promoting the prosperity of that which is under their particular rule ; but is it not reasonable that it should stir them up to pay very special attention to the prosperity of that portion which Providence has committed to their immediate care, and placed within the reach of their influence? The same will apply to instructors of youth. If they desire the good of the whole rising generation, (and if they are benevolent, they must desire it,) they will exert themselves, in a very special manner, to promote the knowledge, the morals, and the piety of that portion of it which is placed under their immediate direction. So it is with Christian ministers. That universal good will, which leads them to desire the conversion of ev. ery sinner in the world, and the sanctification of every saint, can not fail to stir them up to unwearied efforts for the conversion of those sinners, and the sanctification of those saints, who are brought under their own ministry.
These remarks will apply with peculiar force to the domestic relations. But here it may be asked, whether there be anything in the discharge of the conjugal, parental, filial, and fraternal duties, which is in harmony with the disinterested nature of holy love. It is cer. tain, that mere natural affection is not holiness; and when the dis. charge of relative duties is prompted by this, and this alone, it consti. tutes no part of the practical religion of the gospel. Natural affection is common to men and beasts. It is innocent; and to be destitute of it is reprobated, as being evidential of great progress in wickedness. Rom. i. 31. In this depraved world, natural affection is made subser. vient to the public good; it being one of the strongest bonds by which society is united. The animal tribes could not be preserved without it. And in the absence of holy love, or with so little a portion of it as has hitherto been found among men, human society could not be held together without its aid. But God demands something more from man, than he does from mere animals. When he requires ihe husband
to love his wife as himself, and the wife to reverence her husband parents to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and children so obey their parents in all things; he requires something more than natural affection; he requires actions which are the fruit of holy love-which are the external expressions of inward religion. These actions, it is true, he requires of all inen, even of those who do not possess the religion of the heart : but when he re. quires the actions, it is always to be understood that he requires those affections which will render these actions acceptable in his sight.
Natural affection should be a handmaid to religion, but it should not be made a substitute for it. God requires that the duties of the con. jugal, parental, filial, and fraternul relations, should, like all other du. ties, be performed under the influence of that love which is the fulfil. ling of the law. All are to be done heartily to the Lord. If they be not so done, they will never meet his approbation. There can not be so much natural affection and tenderness displayed in the domestic circle, as to please God, if that love, which is the fruit of the Spirit, be still wanting. Such love will not destroy natural affection, but will sanctify it. Unsanctified natural affection will make us desire the eternal happiness of our relatives, without desiring their reconciliation to God. We shall wish them to be forgiven, whether they repent or not. And when our bearts are brought under the reign of grace, we do not find ourselves divested of natural affection: we still have (and are not condemned for it) a peculiar concern for our “ kindred ac. cording to the flesh.” But now it is our heart's desire and prayer to God, that they may be saved, not merely from misery, but from sin, its guilty cause. See Rom. ix. 1-3, and x. 1. Sanctified natural affection will devoutly desire, that such as are endeared to us by the ties of nature, may love Him whom we esteem as altogether lovely ; and thus become proper objects of complacency, not to us merely, but to Him.
If there is no disagreement between relative duties and benevolence, I think there can be none between these duties, and any Article of our experimental system. The other Articles all grow out of the first, as the branches of a tree do from its trunk. There is no reason to doubt, that the more any one has of holy love, the better prepared he is to discharge every duty of relative life. The more completely his heart is brought under the influence of that experimental rcligion which consists, not only in universal good will, but also in holy complacency, submission to God, repentance, faith, hope, humility, thirsting after righteousness, a spirit of forgiveness, self-denial, thankfulness, and such like gracious affections,--the more thoroughly will he be fur. nished unto all good works.
A right discharge of relative duties, can not but harmonize with tho several doctrines which were exhibited in Part I. Doctrines are things to be believed, and duties are things to be done; and if both are cor. rect and scriptural, they will fully accord. Now in what manner should the relative offices of life be performed, to have them harmonize with the holy doctrines of the Bible? From that sacred book we learn, that we are God's creatures-exalted above all the other creatures of this lower world-made to glorify His holy name, by being subject to his moral government. Now will not the belief that we have such a great and holy Creator
that we have such a high standing among his creatures that he had such an important object in giving us existence -and that it is he who has established those interesting relations which we have been considering :--prepare us to feel that we have du. ties to discharge, growing out of those relations ?
It is a cardinal doctrine of our creed, that Jesus came to save his people from their sins; and that to effect this, he sends the Spirit to renew and sanctify their hearts. What will be the effect of this does trine on Christian practice? If it be cordially received, will not its purifying influence be felt in the family circle? It is another Article of our faith, that all our conduct, not excepting that which we ex hibit before our families, is to be disclosed before the universe ; and that, according as it may have been good or bad, it will draw forth from the Judge a sentence, which will ensure our endless bliss, of consign us to interminable woe. What manner of persons ought we, then, to be, in all holy conversation and godliness. In what a cir. cumspect mamer should we discharge our relative duties, were the doctrine of eternal judgment to be deeply impressed on otir hearts. What an influence it would have on rulers and people, instructors and pupils, preachers and hearers, husbands and wives, parents and chil. dren, brothers and sisters, masters and servants !
REM A Ř K $•
i. The forming of our voluntary relationships in society, calls for much consideration and prayer; since they always bring with them duties, for the discharge of which we shall be held responsible. He who becomes a ruler, is responsible for the discharge of the duties cona nected with his office. Surely then, it behooves him to think of some. thing more than its honors and emoluments. To enter the holy mina istry without deep thought and fervent prayer, would indicate a want of preparation for the discharge of its interesting duties. To form the marriage relation, is no trifling concern; since it imposes a new class of duties, which have an important bearing on the interests of this and the future world. The partics about to form such a connection, ought to think of these duties, and ask help from above in their performance. The birth of a child creates a new relation, and is an event of no mi: nor importance. . So it must be viewed by that parent who considers himself solemnly obligated to train up his child in the way it should go. When the most interesting and responsible relations of life are commenced with vain mirth and jollity, it seems lo import an utter thoughtlessness concerning the solemn and responsible duties which these relations originate.
2. It behooves every individual to inquire what are the relations he sustains in society, and what the duties connected with them. By the tie of humanity, all are alike bound. Nor are there any who are not bound by some of the relative ties. But of these, some have more, and some less. Let each of us inquire, What are the relations 1 sus. tain? What are the duties connected with them? And how am I disa charging these duties? Do Í sustain the relation of ruler of citizen,