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No man, perhaps, can feel with sufficient energy all those duties which he owes to his parents, before he himself is a parent, and stands in the same relation to other human beings.-It is then he begins to perceive that the fears are real; that all the watchings, and all the anxieties are true; -that God has made nothing so timid, so kind, so good, as the heart of a parent;— it is then you will discover why a parent is wounded by the slightest neglect, why he is more sensitive in all his joys, and sorrows,-why he rejoices in your faintest glory, why he mourns over your least disquietude,-why he follows you from the cradle to the grave with an affection which no labour can disgust, no peril intimidate, and which scarcely the blackest ingratitude can ever dissolve. Even the rebellion of Absalom could not extinguish the affection of David; but his victory was turned into mourning; the King forgot that he was safe upon the throne of Israel, and called night, and day for his son, weeping in the chamber over the gate, and wishing that God had smitten him with death.
It should be a great incitement to the performance of this duty, that when the time comes for repenting that we have neglected it, when the little personal feuds, and jealousies, which blind our understanding are at an end, and it becomes plain to the judge, within the breast, that we have often neglected the authors of our being, often given them unnecessary pain;-when these feelings rush upon us, it too often happens that all reparation is impossible; they are gone, the grave hides them, and all that remains of father, and of mother, are the dust, and the ashes of their tombs: In all other injuries the chance of repairing them may endure as long as life itself, but it is the ordinary course of nature that the parent should perish before the child; and it is the ordinary course of nature also, that repentance should be most bitter, when it is the most ineffectual.
This commandment to honor parents may, in fact, be rendered subservient to every virtue, and may be obeyed as the mean of inforcing every law of the gospel,-honor your father, and your mother; honor
them with your lives, by your spotless integrity, by keeping yourselves void of offence towards God, and man: If revenge prompts you to break through human laws, and makes you prodigal of life, forgive for the love of your parents.--If indolence and sloth avert you from honorable competition, rouse yourself, that the praises which men bestow upon you, may warm the hearts of your parents;-whenever you are about to do any thing that is wrong, remember there is a father, and a mother, whose hearts you will tear with anguish ;have pity upon them, and bear them in mind in all you do; if you are dishonorable, they cannot be honoured; if you are in wretchedness, they cannot rejoice;-they will burn with your glory; they will blush with your shame;-they have smiled upon your cradle, they will weep on your tomb.
In fine, to fulfil this great duty is an act of religion, as it is one of the commandments of Almighty God. It is a duty, most creditable to the heart of him who fulfils it, because it is an obscure duty, and one of long continuance; yet it is base to say, I
have forgotten the wants, and miseries, of my childhood, and, because I am now strong, I will not remember that I was ever weak;—it is cruel to laugh at that wisdom, in its decay, which has guided us in its perfection;-though his tongue faulter, and though he is bowed down, he is still thy father;-forsake him not, but comfort him as he has comforted thee; and if thy days are long in the land; at the latest, and the last of those days, thou shalt feel that peace which they only can feel who honor the authors of their being, and obey the commandments of their God.