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yet they are masters, 1 Tim. vi. 1.; and if they be fellow Christians, that takes not away the distance of stations,
3. Carefulness to maintain the credit of the family, not disclosing the secrets thereof, nor blazing abroad their infirmities. The king of Syria was troubled to think that any of his servants should be as spies upon him, 2 Kings vi. 11. And surely tale-bearing servants must be a great plague to a family. It is reckoned among the mischiefs of an evil time, when there is no trusting of any body that a man's enemies are those of his own house, Mich. vii. 6. It is a Judas-like treachery, when men or women are brought into a house to eat their bread and work their work, to go abroad among others and wound their reputation.
4. Standing to the master's allowance, both in things determined by condition and not determined. Some things, are determined by condition, that the servants may require ; and when the master allows that, though the servant may think it two little, he ought not to take more at his own hand. So when servants are allowed to keep so many beasts, and no more, it is their sin to keep more; though they may think it is no fault if they can get it kept secret, it does no great wrong to the master. But that is injustice to the maiter, andy our fin before God, in whose figħt it will be reckoned theft, Gen. xxx. 23. And in things not determined by condition, as the measure of diet and liberty, certainly the master's allowance in that is to be stood to. As to their diet, it is observed of the virtuous woman, Prov. xxxi. 15.“ She giveth meat to her household :” they do not take it at their own hand. The secret waste that fome make in the houses of others for their bellies, is oft-times, I believe, punished with hungry bellies when they come to their own. As for their liberty and time, it is carved out by the masters, not by the servants, ver. 15. 18. And for servants to take their master's time to employ for themselves, without their master's allowance, is injustice.
5. Meek and patient submission to the checks and rebukes of the master, not answering again, Tit. ii. 9. The ears of servants are bored to hear, and their tongues not filed to speak. It is very good reason, will ye say, when we are in a fault; though many will not take a word in that case, without giving the master as good as he brings. But if they have
done no fault, they think they are not obliged to bear a rebuke. But the spirit of God does not teach so, 1 Pet. ii. 18. 19. 20. “ Servants, be subject to your masters, with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. For this is thank-worthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently; this is acceptable with God.” It may be the master's sin to chide unreasonably, but it is the servant's fin not to bear it meekly. Sarah dealt hardly with her maid, which was her fin; yet the angel will not allow Hagar to take her heels for it, but obliges her to return and submit, Gen. xvi. 9.
9. Lastly, Serving them conscientiously and honestly. If servants expect their wages, they owe their master service; and God will have them to make conscience of their service. If we look to the word of God, there is much that goes to this.
(1.) Servants must be obedient and pliable to the commands of the master in all lawful things, Tit. ii. 9. Though the service required may be painful and hard yet they ought not to refuse it. Thus Jacob ferved Laban, Gen. xxxi. 40. 41. without considering, that he was as good a man as his master was. They that put their necks under the yoke, should resolve to bear it.
(2.) Ye should follow the masters direction in the management of the work, not only doing what you are bidden, but as ye are bidden, Psal. cxxiii. 2.
The master is the eye to direct, and the servant the hand to do what is directed. That the servant may calmly advise the master, there is no doubt ; but they that will do nothing pleasantly, if they get not their own way of it, forget themselves and their duty.
(3.) Ye should do your business cheerfully, Col. iii. 23. Such a servant was Jacob to his uncle Laban, Gen. xxix. 20. Sullenness and going about business grudgingly, makes it unacceptable, though otherwise well done.
(4.) Ye should do your business singly. This a servant does when he does not consult his own ease and humour, but his master's true interest, truly aiming at the thriving of his affairs, carefully avoiding every thing that may tend to his loss; and therefore pursuing his interest when the master is absent as well as when present, aiming at his duty, as under the eye of God.
(5.) Ye should do your business faithfully. Faithfulness is a necessary qualification in a good servant, Matth. xxiv. 45. Servants having their master's substance among their hands, had need to be faithful, they having occasion to wiong him easily, if they have no respect to conscience. But the fear of God will make people faithful to men in little and in great things. They must not take of their master's goods to their own use, without his allowance, Tit. ii. 10. They must be faithful in their accounts, and not give up false accounts, as the unjust steward did, Luke xvi. 6.; nor afledge false commissions from their master, as Gehazi did, 2 Kings v. 22. Jacob's faithfulness was his comfort, that though he had his master's flocks among his hands, he was free of them, Gen. xxxi. 38.
6. Diligence and carefulness about their master's business, Prov. xxii. ult. Negligence and carelessness is a piece of injustice, whereby servants defraud their masters, Prov. xviii. 9.; for the loss may be all one to the master, whether it be procured wilfully or through carelessness.
7. Lastly, Readiness and quickness in the dispatch of business. A slothful lazy servant is most uneasy, Prov. X. 26. Such a one, quick and ready, was Abraham's servant, Gen. xxiv. 33. 56. It is an apostolical precept, Rom. xii. 11, “ Not slothful in business ; fervent in spirit ;" for servants should ply their work, and honestly employ their strength for their master's behoof, Gen. xxxi. 6.
Secondly, I come now to shew the duty of masters with respect to their servants, 1. In the choice of them; and, 2. When they have got them.
First, In the choice of servants, two things are to be noticed.
1. Christian masters should look to the converfation of those whom they take to be their servants, that they be piously inclined, as David did, Psal. ci. 6. left they bring an Achan into their camp. A pious servant may bring a blessing to the master, as in Joseph's case. It is observable, that Potiphar saw that God was with Joseph, ere he entrust, ed him with his business, Gen. xxxix. 3, 4. When Jonah came to the shipmaster, he took him into his ship without
asking questions, but ere all was done he was made to do it, Jonah i. 8.
2. They should look to their fitness and ability for their service, Psal. cxii. 5. So Laban had knowledge of what Jacob could do before he engaged with him; for he staid with him a month, Gen. xxix. 14, 15.
Secondly, When they have got them. There are two things in the general that they owe unto them.
1. That which is just. Just things must be done to all, and particularly to those that are under us. God takes fpecial notice of injustice done by superiors to inferiors, who cannot so well get themselves righted. And by the law of strict justice masters are,
(1.) To allow their fervants sufficient maintenance, whether within or without the house, Prov. xxvii. 27. If malters get their work, it is just they should allow them food convenient, whereby they may be fitted for their work. The mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn was not to be muzzled; for our fakes doubtless God faith it, that those who work should eat sufficiently.
(2.) To give them payment of their wages, the keeping back whereof is a great oppression and crying sin, Jam. V. 4. Masters should beware of all fraud and deceit in this. It stands as a blot on Laban's memory, that he did not keep conditions with Jacob, but changed his wages ten times, Gen. xxxi. 41.; for which he might make some plausible pretence as well as others. To pay them what is insufficient, putting them off with any thing that may make up account, is unjust, Amos viii. 6. Nay, the keeping it up, and delaying to pay them, when it is in the power of our hand, is contrary to justice, Deut. xxiv. 14, 15.
(3.) They should require no more of them than they are able to do. Servants Mould not be kept idle, Prov. xxix. 21.; neither should they be rigorously pressed above their power, but allowed convenient time for rest and refreshment, Lev. xxv. 43. It is just, not only because they are fellowcreatures, but fellow Christians.
(4.) Oversight and direction in what they should do, Prov. xxxi. 27. Thus Boaz is found in the field with his reapers. It is very unjust to find fault with what servants do, while men will not be at pains to tell them how they would have their business done.
2. They owe them that which is equal by the law of Christian meekness and charity. Now, thus they owe unto them these things.
(1.) Masters ought to rule their servants gently and meekly, as being of the same blood with themselves, Eph. vi. 9. A proud and imperious carriage does not become Christianity. They should moderate or relax threatening, not do all with them with boasting and terror, but by meekness draw them on.
(2.) They should be ready to hear them in what they have to say. It is the character of a Nabal, that “ he was such a son of Belial, that a man could not speak to him, 1 Sam. xxv. 17. Job declares himself to have been of another temper, Job xxxi. 13. The advice of a servant, modestly proposed, is not to be slighted, 2 Kings v. 13, 14.; and if there be any thing they have to complain of, masters should hearken thereto, and do them right, as they would have God to hearken to themselves.
(3.) They should be wary of hearkening to ill tales concerning them, Prov. xxix. 12.
An easiness to believe every tale makes an uneasy life, especially ill tales concerning those in whom people are particularly concerned.
(4.) They ought to take care of them when they are fick, especially when they have none other to care for them. It is highly reasonable that they should be cared for in their sickness by those in whose service they have spent their strength, Matt. viii. 6. It is noted as a piece of the cruelty of an Amalekite, that he left his servant when fickness overtook him, 1 Sam. xxx. 13..
(5.) They should encourage and shew special favour, even by letting something beyond condition fall to faithful and diligent servants. This is very equal; reason, interest, and religion, call for it, Prov. xiv. ult. For a faithful fervant is one of the best of friends.
(6.) Lastly, They should be concerned for the good of the fouls of their servants. For in this case masters are instead of parents to them. They should instruct them in the principles of religion, and labour to train them up in the ways of godliness, setting them on and stirring them up to duty, Gen. xviii. 19. They should daily pray with them and for them, by keeping up religious duties in their family, Jer. x. 25. And they should labour to bring thein to the public