Page images

ment, so it is expressly enjoined by the Apostle : “ Chile dren, obey your parents in the Lord," Eph. vi. 1; and again, “Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing to the Lord,” Col. iii. 20. We owe them obedience in all things, unless where their commands are contrary to the commands of God. In every thing of an indifferent nature, whatever they enjoin we are to do. The case is the same with regard to the authority of parents over their children, as with regard to that of husbands over their wives. The Will of your parent is a law to you, as soon as it is signified to you. You are to comply with it imme. diately, not for wrath, not only to avoid this, but also for conscience' sake. Such is the will of God concerning you : so high is the authority which he hath entrusted them with.

6. And yet we are to obey them only in the Lord: only so far as consists with his authority over us. Therefore, if any of their commands are contrary to the commands of God, in that case our duty to God must be preferred. If, therefore, any parent should be so wicked, as to require his child to steal, to lie, or to do any thing unlawful, the child offends not against his duty, though he disobey that command. Nay, he must disobey; otherwise he offends against an higher duty, even that which every child of man owes to his Father which is in Heaven. Yet when it is necessary to refuse obedience, it should be done in so modest and respectful a manner, that it may plainly appear, not stubbornness, but conscience is the ground of that refusal. Let this appear, likewise, by your ready and cheerful compliance with all their lawful commands; as well knowing, that wherever the command of a parent is not contrary to any command of God, there the child is, in conscience, bound to obey, whether in a weightier or a lighter matter.

7. Nothing, therefore, but the unlawfulness of their command, can excuse the disobeying our parents. If any instance of disobedience is more inexcusable than others, it is the marrying against, or even without their consent. Indeed, parents have so peculiar a right to their children, that to give themselves away without their allowance, is

not only an high act of disobedience, but of flagrant injustice. And hence we see, that among God's ancient people, if a young woman had even made a vow, she was not suffered to perform it, without the consent of the parent; Numb. xxx. 5. Indeed children ought to have a negative voice, and not be compelled to marry without their own consent. But if they marry without the consent of their parents, let them expect no blessing from God.

8. A fourth duty which children owe to their parents, is the assisting them in their wants, of what kind soever they be, whether sickness or weakness of body, decay of understanding, or lowness of estate. In all these the child is bound to assist them according to his ability. For the two former, weakness of body and infirmity of mind, none can doubt of the duty, when they remember how every child did, in his infancy, receive the same benefits from his parents. The child then had no strength to support, no understanding to guide itself. But the care of the parent supplied both these : and, therefore, in common gratitude, when either of these becomes the parent's case, the child is to perform the same office again. Likewise, as to the relieving their poverty, it is but just to sustain thy parents, who formerly sustained thee. And that this is also implied in “honouring our father and mother,” our Lord himself teaches. For when he accuses the pharisees of rejecting the commandment of God that they might cleave to their own traditions, he instances in this particular, concerning the relieving of parents. Hence it is manifest, this is a part of the duty, which is enjoined in the fifth commandment. And such a duty it is, that no pretence whatever can release us from the performance of it. This should be carefully observed. No fault of the parent can acquit a child of this duty. For as St. Peter tells servants, that they must be subject, out of conscience toward God, not only to good and gentle masters, but also to the froward: so certainly it concerns children, to perform every instance of filial duty, not only to kind and virtuous parents, but to the harshest and wickedest. For though gratitude to a kind and

tender parent, be a forcible motive to make a child pay his duty, yet that is not the principal, and much less the only ground for it. This is laid in the authority of God, who commands us to honour our parents. And, therefore, were we to suppose a parent to have been so unnatural, as never to have done any thing to oblige a child, yet notwithstanding this, the commandment of God would remain in its full force: and what is prescribed therein we are bound to perform, whether the tie of gratitude be added or not,

[ocr errors][ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

1. St. Paul confirms his Direction to Masters by that consideration, that they also “ have a Master in heaven, and there is no respect of persons with him.” He regards na man's outward condition: the poor and the rich are the same to him, and the servant is as his master. And the Apostle, it seems, had learned of him, to be “ without respect of persons. For he has the same care for servants, as for their masters, and is as large in his advices to them: nay, much more so; probably considering, that they had fewer advantages of education, and fewer opportunities of instruction. He is, therefore, remarkably particular in his directions to these, which are given at large in the epistle to the Ephesians, and to the Colossians. He gives them farther directions in the first epistle to Timothy, and again in the epistle to Titus. If we add hereto the advices given them by St. Peter, we shall have a full account of the duties of Christian Servants.

2. The great duty required of all servants is, subjection or obedience to their masters. So St. Peter, 1 Pet. ii. 18, “ Servants, be subject to your masters; ” St. Paul, “ Exhort servants to be subject to their own masters :" and again, both to the Ephesians and Colossians, Eph. vi. 5, Col. iii. 22, “Servants, obey your masters after the flesh.” Allowing that these are your masters only in a qualified sense, and only during this state of flesh and blood; allowing you have but one proper, absolute Master, to whom you owe unlimited subjection ; yet to these also, as being invested with a part of his power, you owe a limited obe, dience and subjection.

3. Indeed this obedience varies according to the various kinds of service, wherein servants are connected with VOL. IX.



their masters. The sorts of servants most common among us are, 1. Labourers, or, workmen, with whom we agree by the day, to do such work at such a price, and who accordingly serve us during that time. 2. Journeymen, whom we agree with for a longer space, to assist us in our calling on certain conditions. 3. Household servants, who usually contract by the year, to perform, on the considerations specified, either some particular branch of household work, or (if there be only one servant) all manner of work whatever, that from time to time is needful to be done in the family. 4. Apprentices, who are engaged for several years, chiefly to serve their masters in their particular trade or calling. Now, how far are all or any of these obliged, in conscience, to “obey, and be subject to their own masters?”

4. The Apostle answers. During the time agreed, “ Obey your masters after the flesh in all things :" that is, in all things specified in that agreement, which was made, when you entered into service. So a labourer, or workman is, during this short service, to follow the direction of him that hired him. A journeyman is to do the same, with regard to that work, which he agreed to perform. Domestic servants (to whom St. Peter speaks, for this is .the proper meaning of O OIXETC.) are obliged to obey their master or mistress, either in one branch of household business, if they contracted for this, or otherwise with respect to the whole work of the house : doing every thing at such times, and in such a manner, as is appointed by their superior. And an apprentice is to obey, according to the terms of his indenture, wherein it is usually agreed, by his parents or friends, in whai kind of service he shall be employed, according to the discretion of his master.

5. To sum up this.* The first part of a servant's obedience, is, to forbear doing things of his own head, without or against the consent of his master: the reason whereof is plain. During the time of his service, he is not his own;

* Several of the following Paragraphs are partly extracted from AIr, Gouge on Domestic Duties,

« EelmineJätka »