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education; and if this duty were strictly cultivated, it would no doubt lay such a foundation of good conduct in the world, as would be more effectual in training men up to virtue, and preserving them from vice, than any other human exertion that can be mentioned.

In a set discourse upon this commandment, it could be wished that all the children and youth of the parish were present, because the thoughts which naturally occur upon the subject, do immediately relate to their behaviour, and concern their happiness in common with that of their friends. And we may draw this fair, but unhappy conclusion, from the contrary appearance, that if the commandment had taken its due effect in this place, there could have been no room for the present observation: for, alas! how few of the parents themselves are mindful of the duty of setting a becoming example. Now, it is very evident, that whatever deficiency may exist in this respect, on the part of the children, there is still a manifest share of blame on the side of the parents, relations, or guardians of youth, who doubtless are frequently in great measure the cause of their being regardless of their duty: and as this is an undeniable truth, the duties and failings of the former, as well as the neglect and errors of the latter, shall be equally weighed, under the following heads my Discourse, and will supply abundant

of

matter for our serious consideration on this

important subject.

very

By explaining the design of the commandment, in the way of mutual application, this advantage will be derived from my humble endeavour for your instruction, that, though many of the proper objects of the precept may be absent, yet such as are present, and who are essentially concerned in the desirable information, may, with God's blessing, reap benefit by it.

I shall first consider the subject in a more general point of view, by tracing the respective duties of parent and child, and instancing some of the causes why the spirit of this commandment has so little effect upon society; and then,

Secondly, I shall dwell more particularly upon the obligation of it, as being a positive law of God, and attended with the encouragement of a gracious promise and reward.

The wise and affecting design of the Almighty, in giving this commandment the foremost place in a list of relative duties, must be very visible to every thoughtful and judicious person; for, as I just intimated before, if an early care were taken to obey this law, most of the misfortunes and miseries of mankind would be prevented-vice would be nipped in the very bud; for disobedience to parents is the pernicious seed that grows up into disobedience to God; and we may most

reasonably apply our blessed Lord's observation on a similar subject: If we do not love men (parents), whom we have seen, how shall we love God, whom we have not seen? When people are habituated to an unfeeling disregard towards those to whom the dearest ties of nature oblige them to be subservient and kind, it is not at all surprising that they should be regardless of duties that have not the like plea of affection to influence their discharge of them.

As far as both parents and children are concerned in the violation of this commandment, there is no subject whatever that affords so many convincing proofs of the gross degeneracy of human nature. It is to this lamentable depravity of our constitution that we must attribute the prevalence of vice, in those instances, even, where restraints of the most affecting and powerful influence should seem sufficient to check its growth; for, though the divine wisdom hath planted the most prevailing instinct between the parent and its offspring, which, indeed, is essential to the continuance and welfare of the human race; yet we see the poison of original disobedience has so tainted the creature, that even this most endearing tie is often violated on both sides: so that, in the consequence of evil education, we may truly say, the rebellion of children against their earthly parents prepares the way to the contempt of their heavenly

Father. Disobedience of God was the fatal source that gave rise to this ungrateful vice, and every other evil to which we are by nature sub ject, without the regenerating assistance of God's heavenly grace. We shall have abundant opportunities of showing this as we proceed.

1. As parents, by God's appointment, are instrumental to the very being of the child, the bond of affection on their part seems strengthened by the consciousness of the relationship; and yet, alas! so degraded are mankind from original purity, so corrupted in the most exquisite parts of their composition, that we daily see these powerful pleadings of parental tenderness quite insufficient to prevent the most unnatural acts of relentless cruelty: even that parent, in whom, for obvious reasons, the principle should be strongest, is sometimes so callous to the finest feelings of her nature as inhumanly to destroy her innocent, helpless offspring; yet this is so shocking a mark of an obdurate and wicked heart, that the Prophet, in his comparison of the Lord's abundant mercy towards his creature, asks, Can a woman forget her sucking child? Yea (says he), SHE may forget, but the Lord shall not forget thee.

On the children's part gratitude seems to be the particular motive that should stimulate obedience to this fifth commandment. When we are very young, we are insensible to the value of the

fostering fondness of our tender parents; but, as we ripen into observation, their incessant indulgence, their affectionate care, their visible anxiety for every thing that relates to us, good or bad, might promise to accustom children to a sense of their dependence and obligation, to a dutiful return for the years of kindness and generous protection which they have experienced from their loving parents. But melancholy is the fact, that, on their parts again, the evil of universal degeneracy pervades them, even in tender years, before they are hardened by the pernicious example of a wicked world; and, while dependent for their very food and home, and every other necessary comfort helpless infancy requires, insolence and rebellion too often discover a most rapid shoot, and raise the voice and hand against the very object that gave them life, and yields their present

nourishment.

In merciful consideration of the fatal consequences that must ensue in this dreadful change in human nature, and from intimate foreknowledge that the single instinct of the animal endearment would not suffice to keep the creature within bounds of general duty, the Almighty has delivered to mankind a positive law against the violation of these natural ties, which, had man continued innocent, would alone have directed to an unerring rule of conduct; and that

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