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love their wives, and, by such kind offices, to express their love to them. This is to love them, as Christ loved the church.
Another reason for this love in the conjugal relation is, that "whoso loveth his wife, loveth himself." The parties are one flesh, and have one interest; and "no man hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it." Every dishonor or injury, which a man does to so intimate a relative, recoils on himself. He must eventually suffer it. His peace, reputation and prosperity greatly depend on the virtue, discretion, serenity and contentment of his wife. If therefore he loves himself, he ought to love her, to bear her burdens, relieve her distresses, contribute to her cheerfulness, encourage her virtues, discover a satisfaction in her discreet behavior, and joyfully accept her friendly assistance in the government of the family, and in the man. agement of their common concerns. In cases of misconduct, he ought not to upbraid with severity, but to expostulate with tenderness. And in cases of difference in opinon, he ought not to oppose with haughtiness, but either to convince by reason, or dissent with moderation.
The happiness of a parent depends much on the virtuous manners of his children; and their virtue will greatly depend on union in the heads of the household. This union can be preserved only by a mild and discreet carriage toward each other. If the husband is the head of the wife, the peace of the family will chiefly lie with him. If he expects submission from her, let him fill his superior station with such virtue and wisdom, as to obtain it without controversy. Submission is then most easily gained, when it is most obviously merited. If there is no prudence, dignity or virtue in the conduct of the man, he has little reason to expect, and less right to claim a cheerful obedience from his wife. The man who acts worthily in his place at the head of a family, will seldom need to enter
into a debate for superior authority. It will usually be yielded without reluctance.
The similitude, which the Apostle here, and in divers other places, draws between a family and a church, suggests to us that religion, in every family, should be an object of principal regard; for without this the resemblance will not hold. It is only the religious husband who governs his family, as Christ governs the church. It is only the religious wife, who obeys her husband, as the church obeys Christ. Where the spirit of religion reigns in both, the union will be easy, and their joint government will have efficacy.
As a family should resemble a church, so it ought to be subordinate to the church; and the church should assist in the government of it.
Parents should early dedicate their children to Christ; for he has said, "Suffer little children to come to me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven." They should educate their children for him and seek his blessing upon them. They should instruct them in his religion and exemplify it to them in their own daily conversation. They should assist their children in their devotions, and require their attendance on the stated worship of the family. And when they arrive to proper age, parents, should encourage their approach to the ordinances of Christ in his church, that thereby they may be sanctified and made meet for the church which is above.
If families were as little churches, the church would receive from them continual accessions; new members would be added to it, and Christ's house would be full.
The decline or revival of religion will usually keep pace with the neglect or support of family order and discipline. And the maintenance of family religion depends on nothing more than the union of the heads. If with them there is strife and contention, the house will be filled with confusion and very evil work. If
they are divided in their opinions, and embittered in their feelings; if they look on each other with jealousy and distrust; if they frequently fall into passionate altercations and disputes; if the wife pays no regard to her husband's pleasure, and he puts no confidence in her discretion; prayer will be hindered, or performed without devotion. For how can they unite in prayers and praises to God, who unite in nothing else, and are become more distant in affection, than if they never had been made one flesh. How can they command obedience from their children, who appear to have no government of themselves?-How can they form their domestics to virtue, who exhibit an example inconsistent with virtue, and shew themselves to be wanting in a most capital branch of religion
Let us then who stand in this connexion, by recip. rocal love and good offices honor our profession and promote each other's happiness, as being heirs together of the grace of life. Then our prayers will not be hindered.
Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor thy father and mother, which is the first commandment with promise, that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. And ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath; but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
IN these words the Apostle states the duty of children to their parents, and the duty of parents to their children,
We will consider them distinctly. First.
The Apostle addresses himself to children in an exhortation to obey and honor their parents. "Obey your parents in the Lord ;" or in compliance with the command of the Lord, which says, "Honor thy father and mother." To enforce this exhortation he re. minds children, that the command to "honor their parents," is distinguished from the others by a parti cular promise of the divine favor. "This is the first commandment with promise."-The promise is, "Thou shalt live long on the earth." This promise the Apostle interprets, not as confined to temporal prosperity, nor yet as absolutely insuring long life; but as signifying in general, that "it shall be well with them;"?
or that God will bestow on them such things, as his perfect wisdom sees to be best for them. “Obey your parents-for this is right." It is plainly reasonable in itself and acceptable to God, that children, who are young and inexperienced, weak and dependent, should honor and obey those who naturally care for them, who are charged with their support and education, and whose superior wisdom and riper experience, enable them to judge for their children, better than children can judge for themselves.
The obedience and honor, which children owe to their parents, comprise several things which are of great importance in this relation.
1. Children owe to their parents an inward affection and regard.
Their obedience should flow from love, gratitude and esteem.
Without a correspondent principle in the heart, external tokens of honor are of little value. The love which parents bear to their children entitles them to reciprocal affection.
Consider, you who are young, in what various ways your parents have expressed and continue still to testify their regard for you. They have supplied the wants of your helpless infancy; watched over the motions of your heedless childhood, and guided the steps of your giddy and unthinking youth. They have spared no pains to inform your minds and regulate your manners, to rear you to manhood, and mould you to virtue. They have anxiously attended you in times of sickness and trembled for you in hours of danger. And your happy return to health and safety has filled their hearts with joy, and their mouths with praise. You, who have seen a brother or a sister wrapt in the funeral shroud, have, at the same time, witnessed the anguish of your parents. Such would have been their anguish, had the same shroud embraced your cold limbs. How are they distressed, when, by your unworthy behavior,