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observe and are thankful for it. But are there not some here and multitudes in our land, who pay little or no regard to this day, but live in the habitual and open neglect and violation of its duties? Such are injuring themselves in this world, and are ruining their souls forever. And the evil does not terminate with themselves; if it did, it would, though great, be comparatively less. But by their authority, influence, and example, they are leading others into the same sin and ruin. They are greatly injuring the cause of religion; they are poisoning the public morals; they are provoking the judgments of God upon our country; and are doing much to destroy our religious and civil institutions, and to banish religion, virtue, and civil liberty from our land. And are not such persons highly criminal? And if they are criminal, what must we think of those who go still further, and trampling on human and divine authority, and setting at defiance the laws of their country, and the laws of God not only break the Sabbath, but oppose every attempt at reformation in this respect? Surely the judgments of Heaven will sooner or later overtake these persons. And we have reason to fear will also fall upon a land, where such a spirit prevails.
If it were not for the despised remnant, who respect the institution of the Sabbath, and who are endeavouring, by their prayers, their example, their influence, and their exertions, to stem the torrent of vice and avert the judgments of heaven, our land would doubtless soon experience the desolating judgments of a sin-hating God.Let those who respect and love the Sabbath, use all lawful and practicable exertions to maintain it. It is the grand palladium of our inestimable religious and civil institutions. If the former be destroyed, the latter must go with it. But my hearers God wili not suffer it to be destroyed. He has maintained it in all ages, and he will still maintain it, against the joint attempts of wicked men and devils. Yea we have reason to believe the time is near at hand, when he will either convert the enemies of the Sabbath into friends, or destroy them. For the time will come, and we hope it is nigh, when according to prophecy, "from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before the Lord." Is. LXVI. 23. The next verse teaches us what will then have become of Sab
bath-breakers." And they (that is all flesh who keep the Sabbath and come to worship before the Lord) shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me; for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.
And now let me earnestly exhort those who have been in the habit of violating the Sabbath, to break off from this sin and remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Consider attentively the reasons which have been offered, and let them have their due weight upon your minds. If you have any regard to the principles of equity, observe the Sabbath, for God has given you six days out of seven. Ought you not then to devote the seventh to his service? If you have any regard to the authority of God, by whom you must soon be judged, keep the Sabbath, for it is his command. If you have any respect to his example, rest on the Sabbath, for he has set you this example. And if you have any regard to his blessing, keep the Sabbath, for he has blessed it, and appointed it to be a blessing. Would you prosper in your temporal pursuits? Would you avoid the blasts of heaven on your pursuits and possessions? Would you not have your very blessings cursed? Would you leave an inheritance to your children without the curse of God entailed upon it? Keep the Sabbath and see that it is observed by all under your care. Do you love your country? Have you any regard to its welfare? Would you promote its happiness, and prevent its ruin? Have you any respect to the laws of your country; and would you maintain a just claim to the character of good citizens? Cease to violate the Sabbath. And above all would you avoid eternal perdition? Would you not destroy your souls forever? And be instrumental in the destruction of the souls of others? Then cease from the sin of Sabbath-breaking, and remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. My hearers, the truth of God is before you,-enforced by numerous and solemn considerations. If Sabbath-breakers are determined to go on, I am clear of your blood, I have warned you. Remember you act contrary to light, and I have no doubt contrary to your consciences. It is at your peril. And in the presence of God, I solemnly tell you in his name, his wrath will abide upon you.
THE FIFTH COMMANDMENT.
DUTIES OF CHILDREN TO PARENTS.
EXODUS XX. 12.
"Honour thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee."
The moral law, summarily comprehended in the ten commandments, was written with the finger of God, on two tables of stone. The first table had written on it the first four commandments, containing our duty to God; and the second table had written on it the last six commandments, which contain our duty to man. We have attended to the duties of the first table, and come now in course to treat of those of the second.
The fifth commandment, respects not only the duties which arise out of the relation of parents and children, in their proper sense; but also relative duties generally. By father and mother in this commandment, we are to understand all superiors in age, gifts, and authority; and consequently by those who are commanded to honour their father and mother, we are to understand not only children, but also all inferiors in age, gifts, and station. In this sense the authors of our catechism, and commentators generally have understood this commandment; and this explanation is warranted by the Scriptures. Thus superiors in age are sometimes called fathers and mothers, as I. Tim. v. 1, 2. "Rebuke not an elder, but entreat him as a father; the elder women as mothers." Superiors in gifts are also styled fathers: Gen. iv. 20, 21;
Jabal was the father of such as dwell in tents, and of such as have cattle. And Jubal was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ." Great men are sometimes called fathers as was Naaman the Syrian by his servants; II Kings v. 13. Men of honour and usefulness in
the church are also sometimes so called. Thus Elisha called Elijah, father, II. Kings ii. 12; and Joash king of Israel called Elisha father, II. Kings xiii. 14. And good kings and queens are sometimes called fathers and mothers, as Is. xlix. 23. "And kings shall be thy nursing fathers and their queens thy nursing mothers." From these and many other texts, we are warranted to explain the fifth commandment of the relations of life generally. Considered in this sense, it will include not only the duties and sins of parents and children; but also of husbands and wives, masters and servants, rulers and ruled, and ministers and people. To each of these relations we shall attend in their order.
The first relation which claims our attention is that of parents and children. The fifth commandment is particularly addressed to children, and especially points out their duties; but the corresponding duties of parents are evidently implied.. We begin with the duties of children towards their parents.
To point out and enforce these duties is the object of the ensuing discourse.
I. What are the duties which children owe to parents? These duties are expressed in the commandment by the word honour, which must be taken in an extensive latitude, as comprising the whole duty of children towards their parents. "Honour thy father and thy mother" signifies the same thing as be dutiful to them.
1. It is the duty of children to love their parents. While children, next to God, they ought to love their parents. Love is one principle from which all their other duties ought to be performed.
2. They ought to respect them. This is taught by the letter of the commandment itself, "honour thy father and thy mother." And we read, Mal. i. 6. "A son honoureth his father"-we ought to think and speak respectfully of them. And on the contrary we ought not to think contemptuously of them; we ought never to speak disrespectfully of them, or speak in an impudent or unbecoming manner to them, as some wicked children do; and we ought never to conduct towards them disrespectfully, or by our conduct in life dishonour them. If they have failings, still they are our parents; and their failings will not warrant disrespect or contempt on one part as chi!
dren. The wickedness of such conduct is clearly taught in the following passages of Scripture-Deut, xxvii. 16. "Cursed be he that setteth light by his father or his mother; and all the people shall say, amen." Prov. xx. 20. Whoso curseth his father or his mother, his lamp shall be put out in obscure darkness." And Ham was highly censured for his disrespect to his father Noah, though the father had acted in a very unbecoming manner.
3. Children ought to render a ready obedience to all the lawful commands of their parents. They ought to study to please them; and when they know their will, be ready to fulfil it, without delay. They ought to obey, not from a principle of slavish fear, or because they are afraid of correction if they do not; but from a sense of duty, and out of love to their parents; and they ought to obey all their commands, with a single exception; for the command of God is,"children obey your parents in all things." Col. iii. 20.
The exception alluded to is this, when parents command children to commit sin. For the command of God is, "children obey your parents in the Lord; Eph. vi. 1. Parents have a right to command their children; but this right does not authorize them to command their children to break God's laws, or require children to obey such commands. The authority of God is paramount to all other; and where the parents commands contradict those of God, children are to obey God rather than their parents. For Christ hath said, Mat. x. 37; "He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me." When therefore parents impose commands upon children to do things forbidden by the law of God, such as to swear, lie, defraud, break the Sabbath, and the like, children are not under obligations to obey such commands. Nay, it is at the peril of incurring God's wrath if they do. But in all other cases, children are bound to obedience.
4. It is the duty of children to hearken to the instructions of their parents, when these instructions, are not sinful. Thus Solomon exhorted, "hear ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding." Prov. iv. 1. It is an important duty incumbent on parents to instruct their children, in the knowledge of the common affairs of life, and especially in the things of religion. And children ought to have a teachable disposition, and