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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 so undutifulness is monstrous.
3. Because she is the weaker vessel, 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. ii. 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 con. science of performing their respective duties, that they may die in peace.
As to the relation betwixt parents and children, see Col. iii. 20, 21, Children obey your parents in all things; for this is well-pleasing unto the Lord, Fathers provoke not your children to anger, lest 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
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, Matt. 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 indeed 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 mo tives, consider,
(1.) That parents with respect to their children, do in an especial manner bear an image of God, as he is our Crea tor, 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, must 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 useth not to be overlooked, but as it disposeth to an ill life otherwise, so 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 soon as it is known to be a living soul. I think that no sooner should the mother or father know a living soul 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 sanctification, must live for ever in heaven or hell, and that possibly it may never see 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 seed.'
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 some, 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
the Old Testament, infants were to receive the seal on the eighth day. Now there is no set time, but common equity bids take the first opportunity, and not delay it needlessly. The undue delay of circumcision was punished in Moses, Exod. iv. 24; and the delay of baptism cannot but be displeasing to God too, as a slighting of his ordinance.
3dly, Tender care of them, doing all things necessary for them, while they are not capable to do for themselves, Isa. xlix. 15. And here it is the duty of the mother to nurse the child herself, if she be able, Hos. ix. 14. And this care of infants, the burden of which lies most on the mothers is one great piece of their generation-work, wherein they are useful for God, and which they ought to look on as special service for their comfort in the trouble which therein they have.
3. The duties they owe to them from the time they come to the use of reason, and so forward.
1st. They are to provide for them, and that aye and until they be in a capacity to provide for themselves, 1 Tim. v. 8. This arises from the natural obligation and instinct that is common to men with beasts whereof the wildest will feed their young till they be able to do for themselves. Thus parents are, (1.) To provide suitable maintenance for their children for the present, and to lay out themselves for it, though with the sweat of their brows. (2.) And, as God prospers them, they are to lay up something for them, 2 Cor. xii. 14: for though the possession be their parent's entirely, yet he is stinted to the use of a part according to what is necessary. Only no man is to take from present necessities for future provisions; but what God has given let men take the comfortable use of it; and what remains, let them lay by for their children, Eccl. ii. 18, 19, 24. But for people to deny themselves things necessary and comely, that they may lay them up for their children, is a curse; and if their children should follow their example, to deny themselves the use thereof, to transmit them to theirs, the use of it should never be had: but ordinarily what the parents narrowly gather, and keep so as they cannot take the convenient use of it themselves, the children quickly run through. 2dly, Civil education, that they may be useful members of the commonwealth. This we may take up in these three things.
(1.) Parents should polish the rude natures of their children with good manners, so as they may carry comely and discreetly before themselves or others, Prov. xxxi. 28, It is the dishonour of parents to see children rude and altogether unpolished as young beasts; and religion is an enemy to rudeness and ill manners, 1 Pet. iii..8.
(1.) They should give them learning according to their ability, and see that at least they be taught to read the Bible, 2 Tim. iii. 15. What is it that makes so many ignorant old people, but that their parents have neglected this? But where parents have neglected this, grace and good nature would make a shift to supply this defect.
(3.) They should train them up to do something in the way of some honest employment, whereby they may be use ful to themselves or others. To nourish children in idleness is but to prepare them for prisons or correction-houses, or to be plagues to some one family or another, if Providence do not mercifully interpose, Prov. xxxi. 27. Christians should train up their daughters to do virtuously, ver. 29. For their own sakes, let them be capable to make their hands sufficient for them, seeing none knows what straits they may be brought to. And for the sake of others to whom he may be joined, let them be virtuously, frugally, and actively educated, otherwise what they bring with them will hardly quit the cost of the mischief that their unthriftiness and silliness will produce, Prov. xiv. 3. Whether ye can give them something or nothing, let them not want Ruth's portion, a good name, a good head, and good hands, Ruth. iii. 11. Sons should be brought up to some honest employment, whereby they may be worth their room in the world, Gen, iv. 2. This is such a necessary piece of parents duty to their children, that the Athenians had a law, That if a son was brought up to no calling at all, in case his father should come to poverty, he was not bound to maintain him, as otherwise he was.
3dly, Religious education, Eph. vi. 4. If parents provide not for their children, they are worse than beasts to their young; if they give them not civil education, they are worse than heathens; but if they add not religious education, what do they more than civilised heathens? When God gives thee a child, he says, as Pharaoh's daughter to Moses mother, "Take this child and nurse it for me.' Exod. ii. 9. Though VOL. III. B