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The Duties of Masters towards their Servants.
If you would have good servants, see that you be good masters, and do your own duty, and then either your servants will do theirs, or else all their failings shall turn to your greater good ".
Direct. 1. Remember that in Christ they are your brethren and fellow-servants; and therefore rule them not tyrannically, but in tenderness and love; and command them nothing that is against the laws of God, or the good of their souls.' Use not wrath and unmanlike fury with them; nor any over-severe or unnecessary rebukes or chastisements. Find fault in season, with prudence and sobriety, when your passions are down, and when it is most likely to do good. If it be too little, it will embolden them in doing ill; if it be too much, or frequent, or passionate, it will make them slight it and despise it, and utterly hinder their repentance: they will be taken up in blaming you for your rashness and violence, instead of blaming themselves for the fault.
Direct. 11. Provide them work convenient for them, and such as they are fit for; not such or so much as to wrong them in their health, or hinder them from the necessary means of their salvation; nor yet so little as may cherish their idleness, or occasion them to lose their precious time.' It is cruelty to lay more on your horse than he can carry; or to work your oxen to skin and bones. "A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast," much more of his servant. Especially put not your servants on any labour which hazardeth their health or life, without true necessity to some greater end. Pity and spare them more in their health than in their bare labour. Labour maketh the body sound, but to take deep colds, or go wet of their feet, do tend to their sickness and death. And should another man's life be cast away for your commodity? Do as you would be done by, if you were servants yourselves and in their case; and let not their labours be so great, as shall allow them no time to pray before they go about it, or as shall so tire them as to
a Rom. viii. 28.
b Prov. xii. 10.
unfit them for prayer, or instruction, or the worship of the Lord's day, and shall lay them like blocks, as fitter to lie to sleep or rest themselves, than to pray, or hear, or mind any thing that is good. And yet take heed that you suffer them not to be idle, as many great men use their serving men, to the undoing of their souls and bodies. Idlensss is no small sin itself, and it breedeth and cherisheth many others: their time is lost by it; and they are made unfit for any honest employment or course of life, to help themselves or any others.
Direct. 111. Provide them such wholesome food and lodging, and such wages as their service doth deserve, or as you have promised them.? Whether it be pleasant or unpleasant, let their food and lodging be healthful. It is so odious an oppression and injustice to defraud a servant or labourer of his wages, (yea, or to give him less than he deserveth,) that methinks I should not need to speak much against it among Christians. Read James v. 1-5. and I hope it will be enough.
Direct. 1v. Use not your servants to be so bold and familiar with you, as may tempt them to despise you; nor yet so strange and distant, as may deprive you of opportunity of speaking to them for their spiritual good, or justly lay you open to be censured as too magisterial and proud.' Both these extremes have ill effects; but the first is commonest, and is the disquiet of many families.
Direct. v. Remember that you have a charge of the souls in your family, and are as a priest and teacher in your own house, and therefore see that you keep them to the constant worshipping of God, especially on the Lord's day, in public and private; and that you teach them the things that concern their salvation,' (as is afterward directed.) And pray for them daily, as well as for yourselves.
Direct. vI. Watch over them that they offend not God :' bear not with ungodliness or gross sin in your family. Read Psal.ci. Be not like those ungodly masters, that look only that their own work be done, and bid God look after his work himself, and care not for their servants' souls, because they care not for their own; and mind not whether
Col. iv. 1.
God be served by others, because they serve him not (unless with hypocritical lip-service) themselves.
Direct. VII. Keep your servants from èvil company, and from being temptations to each other, as far as you can.' If you suffer them to frequent alehouses, or riotous assemblies, or wanton or malignant company, when they are infected themselves, they will bring home the infection, and all the house may fare the worse for it. And when Judas groweth familiar with the Pharisees, he will be seduced by them to betray his Master. You cannot be accountable for your servants if you suffer them to be much abroad.
Direct. VIII. Go before them as examples of holiness and wisdom, and all those virtues and duties which you would teach them.' An ignorant or a swearing, cursing, railing, ungodly master, doth actually teach his servants to be such; and if his words teach them the contrary, he can expect but little reverence or success.
Direct. IX. Patiently bear with those tolerable frailties which their unskilfulness, or bodily temperature, or other infirmity make them liable to against their wills.' A willing mind is an excuse for many frailties; much must be put up with, when it is not from wilfulness or gross neglect: make not a greater matter of every infirmity or fault, than there is Look not that any should be perfect upon earth; reckon upon it, that you must have servants of the progeny of Adam, that have corrupted natures, and bodily weaknesses; and many things that must be borne with. Consider how faultily you serve your heavenly Master, and how much he daily beareth with that which is amiss in you, and how many faults and oversights you are guilty of in your own employment, and how many you should be overtaken with if you were in their stead. "And ye masters, do the same things to them, forbearing threatening, knowing that your Master also is in heaven, neither is there respect of persons with him d" Masters give unto your servants that which is just and equale," &c.
Direct. x. See that they behave themselves well to their fellow-servants: of which I shall speak anon.'
Tit. 2. Directions to those Masters in foreign Plantations who have Negroes and other Slaves; being a solution of several cases about them.
Direct. 1. • Understand well how far your power over your slaves extendeth, and what limits God hath set thereto." As, 1. Sufficiently difference between men and brutes. Remember that they are of as good a kind as you; that is, they are reasonable creatures as well as you, and born to as much natural liberty. If their sin have enslaved them to you, yet nature made them your equals. Remember that they have immortal souls, and are equally capable of salvation with yourselves. And therefore you have no power to do any thing which shall hinder their salvation. No pretence of your business, necessity, commodity or power, can warrant you to hold them so hard to work, as not to allow them due time and seasons for that which God hath made their duty.
2. Remember that God is their absolute Owner, and that you have none but a derived and limited propriety in them. They can be no further yours, than you have God's consent, who is the Lord of them and you; and therefore God's interest in them and by them must be served first.
3. Remember that they and you are equally under the government and laws of God. And therefore all God's laws must be first obeyed by them, and you have no power to command them to omit any duty which God commandeth them, nor to commit any sin which God forbiddeth them; nor can you without rebellion or impiety expect, that your work or commands should be preferred before God's.
4. Remember that God is their reconciled, tender Father, and if they be as good, doth love them as well as you. And therefore you must use the meanest of them no otherwise, than beseemeth the beloved of God to be used; and no otherwise than may stand with the due signification of your love to God, by loving those that are his.
5. Remember that they are the redeemed ones of Christ, and that he hath not sold you his title to them. As he bought their souls at a price invaluable, so he hath not given the purchase of his blood to be absolutely at your disposal.
Therefore so use them, as to preserve Christ's right and interest in them. Direct. II. Remember that you are Christ's trustees, or the guardians of their souls; and that the greater your power is over them, the greater your charge is of them, and your duty for them.' As you owe more to a child than to a day-labourer, or a hired servant, because being more your own, he is more intrusted to your care; so also by the same reason, you owe more to a slave, because he is more your own; and power and obligation go together. As Abraham was to circumcise all his servants that were bought with money, and the fourth commandment requireth masters to see that all within their gates observe the sabbath day; so must you exercise both your power and love to bring them to the knowledge and the faith of Christ, and to the just obedience of God's commands.
Those therefore that keep their negroes and slaves from hearing God's Word, and from becoming Christians, because by the law they shall then be either made free, or they shall lose part of their service, do openly profess rebellion against God, and contempt of Christ the Redeemer of souls, and a contempt of the souls of men, and indeed they declare, that their worldly profit is their treasure and their God.
If this come to the hands of any of our natives in Barbadoes, or other islands or plantations, who are said to be commonly guilty of this most heinous sin, yea and to live upon it, I entreat them further to consider as followeth, 1. How cursed a crime is it to equal men and beasts! Is not this your practice? Do you not buy them and use them merely to the same end, as you do your horses? to labour for your commodity, as if they were baser than you, and made to serve you?
2. Do you not see how you reproach and condemn yourselves, while you vilify them as savages and barbarous wretches! Did they ever do any thing more savage, than to use not only men's bodies as beasts, but their souls as if they were made for nothing, but to actuate their bodies in your worldly drudgery? Did the veriest cannibals ever do any thing more cruel or odious, than to sell so many souls to the devil for a little worldly gain? Did ever the cursedest