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willingly, and with pleasure, and thankfulness, listen to, and receive the instructions of their parents.
5. Children ought patiently to submit to correction from their parents, and profit by it. Correction is a painful duty; but it is an important one, and oftentimes necessary for your good. God has enjoined it upon parents. Thus we read, Prov. xiii. 24." He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes. Prov. xix. 28; "Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying." Prov. xxiii. 13, 14; Withhold not correction from the child for if thou beatest him with the rod he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell." And Prov. xxix. 15, 17; "The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame. Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul." From these texts, children, you see, that God commands parents to correct you, when necessary, for your faults; and when other means fail to restrain you, if they spare the rod, even though they do it out of tenderness to you, it is a mistaken and criminal tenderness, and God declares they hate you. It is the duty of parents to correct their children for their faults, when advice and admonition fail to restrain them; and it is the duty of children to receive their corrections with patience and submission; and instead of being petulant, and obstinate, and feeling anger towards their parents, when corrected, to be sorry for their faults, which has rendered correction necessary, and to resolve to do so no more.
6. Once more. It is the duty of children, to bear with the infirmities of their parents, when they become old; and then especially to be kind to them and endeavour to comfort them; and if parents have become poor or helpless, it is the bounden duty of children according to their ability to assist them. It is recorded to the honour of Joseph that he nourished his aged father; Gen. xlvii 12. And the command of God is, "despise not thy mother, when she is old;" Prov. xxiii. 22. That child must want natural affection, and be a monster in human form, who has wherewith to support and comfort parents in their old age or infirmity, and can see them in want and distress, and not administer the needed support and conso
lation. And I may add further, that the curse of God will rest upon such children. Thus I have pointed out the duties of children to their parents.
Before we leave this head it will be proper to inquire, how long are the duties which have been pointed out, binding on children? Some of them, such as love, respect, and care, and assistance when necessary, are binding as long as the parents live. But the parental authority, at least in a great degree ceases, when the child comes to mature age and begins to act for itself in the world. Until this period, while the child continues under the parents care and subject to his direction and controul, it is his duty to obey, but after this period the strict obligation to obedience ceases; and though the child is bound to love and honour his parents, and respect their advice, yet perhaps we may safely say, parents have no right to impose commands, or go any further than to give advice.
II. We proceed to enforce the duty which children owe to parents.
1. The duties which we have pointed out are highly reasonable. When we consider that parents were the instruments of their being; when we consider the helpless state of the child in infancy, and its dependent state in childhood and youth; when we consider what parents have borne for their children; when we reflect on the great care necessary in infancy; and oftentimes the sleepless nights they have spent, and in time of sickness the painful watchings they have endured, and the dreadful anxiety they have felt, lest they should die and not live; when we consider the care, anxiety, and trouble which children give parents during the whole period of their tender years, the expense of their support and education, and their exertions to render them comfortable and respectable in life, and even after the parents themselves are gone-when we consider all these things, must we not without hesitation subscribe to the reasonableness of the duty in all the extent in which it has been explained, "Honour thy father, and thy mother ?" The duty of children to parents is founded in the nature of things. Reason teaches us it is right, that children should love, respect, and obey their parents, hearken to their instructions, submit to their corrections, and when
they are old, bear with their infirmities, and if necessary, exert themselves to give them a comfortable maintenance. My young friends let me exhort you seriously to reflect on this subject. Think what your parents have endured for you, of the months they nursed you in your helpless infancy, of their anxiety for you during the thoughtless years of childhood, and of the anxiety they still feel during the period of giddy youth. Some of you have perhaps often been sick even before the time of which you now have any recollection. Think of the attention you then received from your parents, of the anxious days and the sleepless nights they then spent, of the achings of heart which they then endured, while your life hung in suspense; and perhaps under God, you owe it to their unremitted care and attention that you are now alive and in health. And can you now refuse them love, respect, and obedience? Can you now do an action which would give them a moment's pain? Much less, car you by your conduct give them more anxiety and pain than your helpless infancy occasioned? Can you by your disobedience, rend the hearts of your parents? Especially can you renew with increased acuteness the pangs of the mother that bare you? Is that mother pious? And is she travailing in birth for your soul until Christ be formed within you? And do you turn a deaf ear to her pious counsels and reproofs ? Ah! cruel youth! you are acting contrary to every principle of reason, and every dictate of nature. Cease from your disobedience, and cruelty; and be persuaded by all that your parents have done and endured and are still doing, to do your duty to them.
2. This duty is enforced by the precepts of the word of God. The command in our text is positive, "honour thy father, and thy mother." Similar to this are several other passages of Scripture, such as the following. Lev. xix. 3. "Ye shall fear, every man, his mother and his father." Prov. iv. 1. Hear ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding." Prov. i. 8.
My son hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother." Prov. vi. 20. "My son, keep thy father's commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother." Prov. xxiii. 22. "Hearken unto thy father that begat thee, and despise not thy mother when she is
old." Eph. vi. 1. "Children obey your parents in the Lord for this is right." And Col, iii. 20. " Children obey your parents in all things." Such are the commands of God, in his word on this subject. Children and youth, do you regard the authority of the great God, who has the right of authority over you, in whose hands you are, and to whom you must one day give an account? then honour your father and mother; for this is his command.
3. This duty is enforced by the promises which God hath made to the obedient. He has declared filial obedience to be well-pleasing to him, Col. iii. 20. "Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well-pleasing unto the Lord." And when he gave the commandment on Sinai, he annexed a promise to it. "Honour thy father, and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee." In the repetition of this commandment, Deut. v. 16. the promise is expressed a little more full. "Honour thy father and thy mother, as the Lord thy God commanded thee, that thy days may be prolonged; and that it may go well with thee in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee." This commandment is quoted, with a little variation in the promise, by the Apostle Eph. vi. 2, 3. "Honour thy father and mother, which is the first commandment with promise, that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest live long on the earth." Hence we learn that God is well pleased with filial obedience, and that he has promised temporal blessings to obedient children. This promise was not made exclusively to the Jews; for the ten commandments were intended for all ages of the world; and the Apostle quotes the promise to enforce filial obedience on the children of christians. The import and force of this promise are well explained in our Catechism.
"The reason annexed to the fifth commandment, is a promise of long life and prosperity, as far as it shall serve for God's gloand their own good, to all such as keep this commandment." This is a promise of a long and prosperous life to obedient children. This was probably more frequently fulfilled, in the letter of it, under the Old Testament than now. The promise is probably more frequently fulfilled now by spiritual blessings. But still I believe it is often literally fulfilled, of which we may be convinced by carefully observing the dealings of divine providence, towards
those who have faithfully discharged their duty towards their parents. There is no duty which God appears more signally to follow with temporal prosperity than this.Would you then, my young friends, have the blessing of heaven to crown your days with temporal prosperity, honour your parents..
4. God has in the strongest manner expressed his abhorrence of disobedience in children, and pronounced dreadful woes against them. In that dreadful catalogue of the sins of the Gentile world which is recorded in the first chapter of the epistle to the Romans, disobedience to parents is mentioned, and classed with the enormous sins of murder, hating God, covenant-breaking, and want of natural affection. And the same Apostle in his epistle to Timothy, speaking of the perilous times that should come in the last days, gives as the reason, that men would be great sinners; and he enumerates a catalogue of most atrocious sinners and classes among them the disobedient to parents. These passages show that this is a heinous sin. And if we look through the Scriptures we shall find many threatenings denounced against the transgressors of this commandment. In the Jewish law, God directed that the obstinately disobedient child should be put to death; as we read Deut. xxi. 18, 21. "If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place: and they shall say unto the elders of his city, this our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice ; he is a glutton and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you, and all Israel shall hear and fear." Again we read Lev. xx. 9. “ Every one that curseth his father or his mother, shall be surely put to death: he hath cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be upon him." This law delivered by God himself to his people of old shows, the evil nature of this crime, and his great abhorrence of it. The great wickedness and danger of transgressing this commandment are also proved by the following texts, Deut. xxvii. 16. "cursed be he that setteth light by his father or his mother: and all the