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"Elders that rule well, be counted worthy of "double honour; especially they who labour in "the word and doctrine; for the Scripture saith, "the labourer is worthy of his reward."
How worthy parents are of this, as well as the other sorts of honour, when they need it, sufficiently appears from all that hath been said. If they deserve to be loved and respected, surely they are not to be left exposed to distress and want, by those whom they have brought into life, and for whom they have done so much; but children, even if they are poor, should both be diligent in working, and provident in saving, to keep their helpless parents from extremities; and if they are in competently good circumstances, should allow them a liberal share of their plenty, which they enjoy themselves. Accordingly, St. Paul directs, that both "children and nephews," that is, grand-children- for so the word nephew always means in Scripture, should "learn first to show piety at home, and to requite their parents; for "that is good and acceptable before God." Indeed, nature, as well as Christianity, enjoins it so strongly, that the whole world cries out shame where it is neglected. And the same reason which requires parents to be assisted in their necessities, requires children also to attend upon them, and minister to them, with vigilant assiduity and tender affection, in their infirmities; and to consult, on every occasion, their desires, their peace, their ease. And they should consider both what they contribute to their support, and every other instance of regard which they show them; not as an alms given to an inferior, but as a tribute of duty paid to a superior. For which reason, perhaps, it may be, that relieving them is mentioned in Scripture, under the notion of honouring them.
(8) 1 Tim. v. 4.
One thing more to be observed is, that all these duties of children belong equally to both parents; the mother being as expressly named as the father, in the Commandment; and having the same right in point of reason. Only, if contrary orders are given by the two parents to the child, he is bound to obey that parent rather, whom the other is bound to obey also; but still preserving to each all due reverence; from which nothing, not even the command of either, can discharge him.9
And now I proceed to the duties of parents to their children; on which there is much less need to enlarge, than on the other. For, not only parents have more understanding to know their duty, and stronger affections to prompt them to do it; but, indeed, a great part of it hath been already intimated, in setting forth that of children to them. It is the duty of parents to take all that kind care, which is the main foundation of love; to keep up such authority, as may secure respectto give such reasonable commands as may engage a willing obedience; and thus to make their children so good, and themselves so esteemed by them, that they may depend, in case of need, on assistance and succour from them.
More particularly they are bound to think them, from the first, worthy of their own inspection and pains; and not abandon them to the negligence, or bad management of others; so to be tender of them and indulge them, as not to encourage their faults; so to reprove and correct them, as not to break their spirits, or provoke their hatred; to instil into them the knowledge, and require of them the practice, of their duty to God and man; and recommend to them every precept, both of religion and morality, by what is
(9) Pietas Parentibus, esti inæqualis est eorum potestas, æqua debebitur. D. 27, 10, 4.
the strongest recommendation, a good and amiable example; to breed them up as suitably to their condition, as may be; but to be sure not above it; watching over them with all the care that conduces to health; but allowing them in none of the softness that produces luxury and indolence; or of the needless distinctions that pamper pride; to begin preparing them early, according to their future station in life, for being useful in it to others and themselves; to provide conscientiously for their spiritual and eternal, as well as temporal good, in disposing of them; and bestow on them willingly, as soon as it is fit, whatever may be requisite to settle them properly in the world; to lay up for them, not by injustice, penuriousness, or immoderate solicitude, all that they can; but by honest and prudent diligence and attention, as much as is sufficient; and to distribute this amongst them, not as fondness, or resentment, or caprice, or vanity, may dictate, but in a reasonable and equitable manner, such as will be likeliest to make those who receive it, love one another, and esteem the memory of the giver.
These are, in brief, the mutual duties of pa rents and children: and you will easily perceive that they are the duties, in proportion, of all who, by any occasional or accidental means, come to stand in the stead of parents or of children. The main thing which wants to be observed, is, that from the neglect of these duties on one side, or on both, proceeds a very great part of the wickedness and misery that are in the world. May God incline the hearts of all that are concerned either way in this most important relation, so to practice the several obligations of it, as may procure to them, in this world, reciprocal satisfaction and joy, and eternal felicity in that which is to come, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
IN my last discourse I began to explain the Fifth Commandment; and having already gone through the duties of children and parents, properly so called, I come now to the other sorts of inferiors and superiors; all which have sometimes the same names given them, and are comprehended under the reason and equity of this precept.
And here, the first relation to be mentioned is, that between private subjects, and those in autho rity over them; a relation so very like that of children and fathers, that the duties on both sides are much the same in each.
But more particularly, the duty of subjects is, to obey the laws of whatever government Providence hath placed us under, in every thing which is not contrary to the laws of God; and to contribute willingly to its support, every thing that is legally required, or may be reasonably expected of us; to be faithful and true to the interests of that society, of which we are members; and to the persons of those who govern it; paying, both to the supreme power, and all subordinate magistrates, every part of that submission and respect, both in speech and behaviour, which is their due; and making all those allowances in their favour, which the difficulty of their office, and the frailty of our common nature demand; to love and wish well to all our fellow-subjects, without exception; think of them charitably, and treat them kindly; to be peaceable and quiet; each minding dili
gently the duties of his own station; not factious and turbulent-intruding into the concerns of others; to be modest and humble-" not exercis
ing ourselves in matters too high for us;"1 but leaving such things to the care of our superiors, and the providence of God; to be thankful for the blessings and advantages of government, in proportion as we enjoy them; and reasonable and patient under the burdens and inconveniencies of it, which at any time we may suffer.
The duty of princes and magistrates, it would be of little use to enlarge on at present. In general it is, to confine the exercise of their power within the limits of those laws to which they are bound; and direct it to the attainment of those ends for which they were appointed; to execute their proper function with care and integrity, as "men fearing God, men of truth, hating covet"ousness;" to do all persons impartial justice, and consult, in all cases, the public benefit; encouraging religion and virtue with zeal, especially by a good example; punishing crimes with steadiness, yet with moderation," and studying to preserve the people committed to their charge, "in wealth, peace, and godliness."3
Another relation to be brought under this Commandment is, that between spiritual fathers, the teachers of religion, and such as are to be taught.
The duty of us who have undertaken the important work of spiritual guides and teachers, is, to deliver the doctrines and precepts of our holy religion, in the plainest and strongest terms that we can; insisting on such things chiefly as will be most conducive to the real and inward benefit of our hearers, and recommending them, in the most prudent and persuasive manner; seeking
(2) Exod. xviii. 21. (3) Communion Office.
(1) Psalm cxxxi. 1.