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It is more than injustice to wrong a parent; it is more than uncharitableness to refuse them succour or relief; it is more than discourtesy to be unkind to them; it is more than sordid avarice to be, in their need, illiberal to them ; it is rather high impiety to offend in any of these kinds.

He that returns not love in answer to their tender affection; that doth not, as occasion requires and his ability permits, requite the benefits received from them, doth not defer to them an especial reverence, in regard to that sacred name and character they bear, thereby intimates that he would in like manner be unjust, ungrateful, and disingenuous toward God, from whom he hath received the like benefits--the beginning and continuance of his being, the preservation, maintenance, and protection of his life. If he will not honour his earthly parents, whom he bath seen, how will he reverence his heavenly Father, whom he hath not seen? so we may, according to St John, argue.

I might subjoin, that as justice and ingenuity do enforce this duty, so for the good of the world there is a necessity that it should be observed. If parents are not only by natural instinct disposed, but by divine command obliged, and by human law constrained to undergo such hardship for the maintenance and education of their children, it is fit and necessary they should be supported and encouraged in the bearing them by reciprocal obligations in children to return them by dutiful respect, observance, and requital. The world could not well subsist without children being engaged to these duties; there were no reason to exact, there were no ground to expect, that parents should cheerfully and faithfully discharge their part upon other terms.

To this precept there is added a promise, and it is, as St Paul observeth, the “first precept that hath a promise" formally annexed; whereby he enforceth his exhortation to the observance thereof.



So God expressly promiseth to bless dutiful children with a long life in the comfortable possession of those good things which he should bestow upon them; there is also implied a commination of a contrary curse from God upon the infringers of this law, that they should either be immaturely cut off from life (as Abimelech and Absalom were upon this score), or should draw on a wretched life in banishment from the contents thereof. By which things, respectively, are intimated to us the rewards of piety or the punishments of impiety in the future state, whereof the land here mentioned was a shadow or a figure. What length of days in Canaan was to them, that to us is immortal life in heaven; what being excluded thence was then, that now is everlasting death, or banishment into the regions of misery. I might also note the congruity of the reward pro

'Eph. vi. 2.

pounded, that they who are grateful to those from whom, in subordination to God, they received life, shall by God's dispensation enjoy that life long and well; and that they who neglect the authors of their life shall soon be deprived of it or of its comforts. But I find the same reward assigned to the diligent observers of other duties; particularly to them who are just in their dealings; to them who are charitable to the poor; to them who are meek and patient; to them who confide in God; and to all good men that obey God's commandments.

I shall only add further, that we may, according to analogy and like ground of reason, reduce unto this commandment the obligation we have to honour all those who perform towards us beneficial offices like unto those which we receive from our parents ; those who preserve our life by relief, protection, or defence; those who afford us maintenance or education; those who watch over us for the good of our body or of our soul; those who instruct us or advise us: such are our governors and magistrates either political or ecclesiastical ; our benefactors and patrons; our schoolmasters and tutors; our especial faithful friends; and the like.

In the subsequent precepts are contained the prime rules of justice toward our neighbour; the observation of which is not only most equal and reasonable in itself, but necessary for the preservation of civil society and public peace among men; for the procurement of our safe and pleasant living and conversing in the world; men thereby being secured in the quiet enjoyment of God's gifts and the fruits of their industry, and of whatever is dear and precious to them; of their lives first; then of the comforts of their conjugal state; of their possessions; of their reputations : the laws respecting these being here disposed in order, according to the value of their respective objects, in the nature of things, or in the opinion of men, or in regard to the consequences arising from them.

'Deut. xvi. 20 ; xxvi, 15 ; Psal. xxxiv. 12, 13, 16 ; xxxvii. 9, 11, 29; Prov. viii. 16.




Of all good gifts conferred upon us, none, according to the natural and common esteem of men,

is precious than life itself, the foundation of enjoying the rest. God hath therefore reserved the disposal of it entirely to himself, as his special prerogative; neither he that hath it, nor any other person, having, absolutely, any just power or right over it. No man can take away any man's life, but by commission or license from God, reasonably presumed to be granted by him. So may God, the absolute King of the world, be supposed to have committed to lawful magistrates, as his vicegerents and officers, in his name and behalf, upon reasonable cause, for preservation of public justice, peace, and order, to dispose of men's lives, who have forfeited them to the law. “The magistrate,” as St Paul saith, “beareth not the sword in vain; for he is the minister of God: an avenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.” He hath not forbidden sovereigns, in case of necessity, and when amicable means will not prevail, to maintain the safety or welfare of the societies entrusted to their care, even by armed violence, against such as wrongfully invade them. God also may be supposed, together with life, with a natural love to it, with means to preserve it, to have imparted to every man a right to defend his life against unjust, extreme, and inevitable violence upon it. The slaughter therefore which may happen in these cases is not concerned in the design or meaning of this precept. He that kills another, in a way not irregular, as a minister of justice, or in a lawful war as a soldier authorized by a sovereign power under God, or for his own just and necessary defence, doth not, according to the intent of this law, kill, but rather God himself, the Lord of life and death, doth kill; the authority of killing so being derived from him, and his work being done thereby : “Vengeance is his,” and he so, by his instruments, “repays.” But here is forbidden all other voluntary taking away our neighbour's life, when a man acts as a private person, without just and necessary cause, in any illegal or irregular way, upon what motive, principle, or end soever, by what means soever, either by direct violence, or by fraudulent contrivance; immediately by ourselves, or by means of others.

1 Rom. xiii. 4; 1 Pet. ii. 14.


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