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Christ is to the church, Eph. v. 25. And if men would reflect on this, it would make them very dutiful, and bear with many things, as Christ doth, else we would be ruined.
2. Because thy wife is thy own flesh, thy second self, ver. 28. 29.; and fo undutifulness is monstrous.
3. Because she is the weaker vefsel, 1 Pet. iii. 7.; for it hath pleased the Lord to exercise the woman with a special measure of infirmity, both natural and moral.
The reasons of the woman's duty are these.
1. Because the woman was created for the man, 1 Tim. ii. 13. compare 1 Cor. xi. 9.
2. Because the woman was the first that sinned, 1 Tim. ü. 14. compare Gen. iii. 16.
3. Because she is the weaker vessel.
Use 1. Let all such as have been, or are in that relation, be humbled under a sense of their sin in that point, and fly to the blood of Christ for pardon. And let every one look on that relation as a serious matter, in which people must walk with God, and under which they are bound to so many duties, of which they must give an account to the Lord.
Let husbands and wives study to make conscience of their duty one to another, and frame their life accordingly. For motives, consider,
(1.) God lays them on. Nature may storm at them, but they are God's commands; and whoso breaketh over the hedge, the serpent will bite.
(2.) Your marriage-vows and voluntary covenant engage to these. Though we forget them, God does not, and will
(3.) Your own comfort depends upon them; and so does the happiness in that relation.
Lastly, Death comes, and that will dissolve the relation. Therefore, before that awful event, let every one make conscience of performing their respective duties, that they may
die in peace.
As to the relation betwixt parents and children, see Col. iž. 20. 21. “ Children obey your parents in all things : for this is well-pleasing unto the Lord. Fathers provoke not your children to anger, left they be discouraged.”
In the first of these, we have, 1. The duty that children owe to their parents ; and that is obedience in all things lawful. The word rendered obey, points at obedience flowing from inward respect to them, 2. The reason of it ; it is pleasing to God, who has enjoined it.
In the next place, we have the duty of parents to their children. Where, 1. There is something supposed, that they must use their parental power and authority over their children for their good. 2. Something expressed, that they use it moderately, not abuse it to the irritating of them, left they crush them, and make them heartless.
Parents and children must carry to one another as they will be answerable to God who has given them their orders. Here I shall shew,
1. The duties that children owe to their parents. 2. The duty of parents to their children.
First, I am to shew the duties which children owe to their parents.
1. Singular love to them as the parents ought to bear to them. This is called natural affection, the want whereof is accounted among the most horrid abominations, Rom. i. 31. Such a natural affection did Joseph shew to his father, Gen. xlvi. 29. when “ he went to meet him, fell on his neck and wept on his neck a good while."
2. Reverence and fear. Their fear is to be squared with love, and their love falted with fear, Lev. xix. 3. The mother is there particularly mentioned ; and that, in the first place, because, as people are ready to break over the hedge where it is lowest, fo children are most apt to despise their mother; and they being much about her hand while
young, lest familiarity breed contempt, God hath expressly provided against it.
They must have a conscientious regard to that authority God has given them over them, and fear to offend them, as those who to them are in God's stead,
3. An outward reverent and respectful behaviour towards them. They ought not to be treated rudely by their children, as if they were their companions, Mal. i. 6.; but they ought to speak respectfully to them, Gen. xxxi, 35.; and carry refpe&tfully to them, Prov. xxxi. 28. This was Solomon's practice, even when a king, 1 Kings ii. 19. ; for as the candle, if lighted, will shine through the lantern, so reverence in the heart will appear in the outward car, riage.
4. A ready obedience to their lawful commands, Col. iii. 20. If it be not contrary to the command of God, they
ought to obey Subjection and obedience to parents is the honour as well as the duty of children. Joseph's ready obedience to his father is recorded to his commendation, Gen. xxxvii. 13. Yea, Christ himself was a pattern to children in this regard to the parental authority, Luke üi. 51.
5. Submission. They are to submit to their instructions and directions, readily receiving them, and complying with them, Prov. i. 8. Man being born like a wild ass's colt, has need to be taught. They are to submit to their reproofs and admonitions, to take them kindly, and amend what is amifs, Prov. xiii. 1. Yea, they are to submit to their corrections, for the folly bound up in their hearts makes the rod neceffary, Heb. xii. 9. They are children of Belial, indeed, that will not bear this yoke of subjection.
6. Bearing with their infirmities, and covering them with the wings of love. Whether they be natural or moral infirmities, they would beware of despising or insulting them on that account, or any way exposing them, as some foolish youngsters are apt to do, Prov. xxiii. 22. Gen. ix. 22.
7. Following their reasonable advice, and taking alongit with them the authority of their parents, in order to their calling or marriage. That children ought not to dispose of themselves in marriage without the consent of parents, is the constant doctrine of the Protestant churches. And the reafons are these. (1.) The scripture gives the power of making marriages for children to the parents, Deut. vii. 3. Jer. xxix. 6. 1 Cor. vii. 37. 38. Yea, even after parties have consented, it is left to the parent, whether to give his abused daughter to him that has been guilty with her, Exod. xxii. 16. 17. (2.) The most approved examples of marriage in scripture go this way, Gen. xxiv. 3. 4. xxviii. 1. 2. and xxix. 19. Judg. xiv. 2. Lastly, The reason is plain ; for the child cannot give away any thing, that is his parents against their will. Now, the child himself is the parents, a part of their felf-moving substance, in which they have a most undoubted property. So, when the devil was permitted to fall upon what was Job's, he fell upon his children, and killed them in the first place. Yet, upon the other hand, no parent can force a child to marry such and such a person; for consent makes marriage, and that which is forced is no consent. The child must be satisfied as well
parent, Gen. xxiv. 57. So the short of it is, that the
consent of both is necessary, and that the parent must neither force the child, nor the child rob the parent.
8. Readiness to requite their parents when they are in need of it ; that as they did for them when young, so they must do for them when old, or reduced to poverty. This God requires of children, 1 Tim. v. 4. It is a piece of that honour to parents which the fifth command enjoins, Matth. xv. 4. 5. 6. So did Joseph, Gen. xlvii. 12. This was a piece of duty which the Lord performed to his mother while he hung on the cross, John xix. 27.
9. Lastly, In a word, children should so live as they may be an honour to their parents ; for according as they are, their parents are either credited or ashamed. Yea, and when they are dead and gone, they should be reverently remembered, their wholesome advices religiously followed, and their debts satisfied, so as no body may get occasion to reproach them when they are away,
Use 1. This may serve for conviction and humiliation to us all, who either have had parents since we came to the years of discretion, or yet have them. Who can say in this, I have made my heart clean?
2. I exhort such as have parents, whether one or more, to be dutiful to them, according to the word. There is in. deed a great difference betwixt children in their father's family, and those forisfamiliated, who, by tacit or express consent, are left to their own disposal; but the duty of filial affection, reverence, and gratitude, abideth. For motives consider,
(1.) That parents with respect to their children, do in an especial manner bear an image of God, as he is our Creator, Provisor, and Ruler. So are parents those from whom, under him, we had our being, by whose care and government God provided for us, when we could neither provide for nor rule ourselves.
2.) Hence it is evident, that do what we can to them, or for them, we can never make a full recompence, but, after all, muft die in their debt. But how little is this considered by many, who look on what they do for their parents in a magnifying glass, while they are blind to what their parents have done for them!
(3.) Lastly, Consider, that God takes special notice how ye carry to your parents, Col. iii. 20. It is a piece of duty
which God readily regardeth according to his promise ; and the neglect thereof uleth not to be overlooked, but as it disposeth to an ill life otherwise, fo God readily pays it home, so as the sin may be read in the punishment.
Secondly, I come to consider the duty of parents to their children ; and I may take up this under five heads, viz. while they are yet in the womb, while in their infancy, from the time they come to the use of reason, at all times, and when a-dying.
1. The duty which parents owe to their children while yet in the womb.
1st, Parents are obliged to use all care for the preservation of the child, to beware of any thing that may harm the child in the belly, and especially that may procure abortion, Judg. xiii. 4.
2dly, Dealing with God in behalf of the child, praying for its preservation, and for its soul, as foon as it is known to be a living soul. I think that no sooner should the mother or father know a living foul to be in the womb, but as soon, with Rebekah, they should go to God for it, Gen. xxv. 21, 22. If Hannah could devote her child to God before it was conceived, 1 Sam. i. 11. Christian parents may and ought to devote their children to God when quickened in the womb. Whoso neglect this, consider not that then the child is a sinful creature, under the wrath of God, and the curse of the law; that it is capable of fanctification, must live for ever in heaven or hell, and that possibly it may never fee the light.
Lastly, Labouring by all means that it may be born within the covenant, which is to be done by parents making sure their own being within the covenant; for so runs the promise, “ I will be thy God, and the God of thy feed.”
2. The duty they owe to them in their infancy.
1st, Parents should bless God for them when they are born, Luke i. 67. &c. Children are God's heritage; the key of the womb is in his hand; he gives them to fome, and withholds them from others; and they should be received with thankfulness from the Lord's hand.
2dly, Giving them up to the Lord as soon as they are born, renewing the dedication of them to God, and accepting of the covenant for them; and procuring to them the seal of the covenant, without any unnecessary delay. Under VOL. III. No. 21.