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higher benefits and greater encouragements, cannot reasonably but deem ourselves obliged to sequester and consecrate as much or more time to the same intents : we should indeed be content to withdraw ourselves more frequently from pursuance of our own profits and pleasures to the service of God, to the remembrance and celebration of his favours; we should willingly allow greater relaxation to our dependents; and should the public be deficient in exacting a performance of such duties from us, it would become us to supply such defects by our privately devoting fit and frequent seasons thereto; that in some proportion we may exceed the Jews in grateful piety, as we surpass them in the matter and causes thereof; that we may appear in some degree more charitable than they as we have much greater reason and obligation to be so than they.
I proceed briefly to consider the remaining Commandments, the which immediately concern another object. Those foregoing did chiefly serve to regulate our religious practice in yielding due reverence toward God; these following (which are supposed to have made up the second of those tables which, written by God's hand, were delivered to Moses, and preserved in the ark of the testimony) do guide our conversation and carriage toward our neighbour; in the front of which worthily is placed that which obligeth to dutifulness toward our parents; unto whom, after God and his supreme vicegerents, we owe the highest respect, gratitude, and duty.
HONOUR THY FATHER AND THY MOTHER.
It also compre
Honour : the word signifies to have in weighty regard, and aptly serves to denote those particular acts of duty which are otherwhere expressed in Scripture: fear and reverence,
“ Ye shall fear every man his father and his mother;" l observance and obedience, “Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to God;”? gratitude and retribution, “Let children learn to show piety at home, and to requite their parents, for this is good, and acceptable before God." 3 It also hendeth a prohibition of the contrary acts, contemning, cursing, offering contumely unto, disobedience and contumacy toward parents, the which are forbidden under capital penalties and dreadful comminations : “ Cursed be he that setteth light by his father or mother;”4 and, “The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it,” that is, God in a fearful and strange manner will avenge that wickedness upon him. In the law it is ordained that the rebellious and stubborn son, who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and who, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them, shall
I Lev. xix. 3.
* Deut. xxvii. 16,
be stoned by all the men of the city, and put to death in that manner.
Whence we may learn the nature of the duty here enjoined, and what rank it beareth among other duties, what high obligations belong thereto, of what consideration it is with God, and how grievous a crime the violation thereof is. We are obliged to yield our parents high affection of heart, great expressions of respect, and observance in word and deed. The neglect of these duties is, next to that of profaneness and undutifulness toward God himself, the greatest disorder we can be guilty of: this all civil nations have consented to be our duty; and if we consider the grounds upon which it is built, we shall find that reason, justice, and necessity do require it. St Paul presseth his precept of observance to parents with, " for this is just and equal."? For if we look upon the disposition of parents in their mind toward children, we may presume them always full of tender affection and good-will toward them, full of desire and care for their good, full of pity and compassion toward them, in the highest and most especial degree, beyond what they bear to others; which dispositions in reason and equity do require answerable dispositions in those upon whom they are placed, and who, from them, do receive inestimable benefits; for if we do regard the effects proceeding from them we shall discern, that,
1. From parents children do receive being and life; that good which nature inclineth so highly tó value and
tender, as the foundation of all the good, happiness, and comfort we are capable of.
2. They are obliged to their parents for the pre„servation, maintenance, and protection of their life : it is a long time before we come to be able, anywise, to provide for or to defend ourselves; and the doing thereof, in that senseless and helpless state, relies upon the care, pain, and solicitous vigilance of our parents; the which they are not only always obliged, but are commonly disposed with admirable willingness to spend on their children.
3. Parents not only thus at first undergo such care and trouble to maintain their children, but by expensive education, often with much inconvenience and incommodity to themselves, they provide means for their future support and subsistence during life.
4. Children are so strictly tied to their parents, as by their willing concession to partake in all the comforts of their state and ornaments of their fortune.
5. The goods acquired by the parents' industry do usually devolve upon their children by inheritance and succession; whence that children live handsomely and comfortably, is the reward of their parents' merit, comes from the store which they have carefully provided and laid up for them.
6. To which we may add, that not only the provision for our temporal necessities and conveniences dependeth upon our parents, but the care of our souls and our spiritual welfare is incumbent on them: they are obliged to instruct us in the fear of God, and to set us in the way toward eternal happiness.
7. We may consider also, that all this they do most frankly and out of pure kindness : without regard to any merit antecedent or benefit consequent to themselves. As they received nothing to oblige and move them to such performances, so they can seldom hope for answerable returns. It is abundant satisfaction to them if they see their children do well; their chief delight and contentment is in their children's good absolutely and abstractedly, without indirect regards to their own advantage.
Upon these and the like accounts it appeareth, that as parents have the affections most resembling those of God toward us, as they perform toward us the actions most like to his, as they are the principal instruments of Divine providence and bounty, so they may be deemed in a sort to represent God, and, as his most lively images, have an especial veneration due to them. God himself, to endear and render himself amiable, or in the most kindly way venerable to us, to engage us to a more ready obedience, to declare the nature of our duty toward him, assumes the title of Father; and all nations have agreed to style him so ;2 reciprocally also, whereas the duties toward other men are termed justice, or charity, or courtesy, or liberality, or gratitude, those toward parents in every language, I suppose, are styled “piety," implying somewhat divine in the object of those duties.3 · Deut. vi. 7, 20; Eph. vi. 4.
: Tim. v. 4. 2 Deut. xxxii. 6.