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النشر الإلكتروني


Mutual Submission.


Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

THE Apostle, having exhorted the Ephesian Christians to the duties of social worship, next passes to înculcate several relative duties. This subject he begins with a general exhortation to all Christians to

submit themselves one to another." His subjoining this to his exhortation concerning social worship, intimates, that one great use of joint devotion is the promotion of peace, humility and condescension.

This submission to others can no farther be a duty, than it is consistent with our obligations to God. Therefore the Apostle says, "Submit yourselves one to another in the fear of God." "The wisdom which is from above, is first pure, and then peaceable." The Christian, who is bought with a price, must not be a servant of men. The sense of our text is fully explained by other parallel instructions. "Ye younger, submit yourselves to the elder, and be ye all subject one to another, and be clothed with humility." "Let nothing be done through strife and vain glory, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than him

self."" With brotherly love in honor prefer one another."


This temper was exemplified and recommended by our Lord, when he washed his disciples feet, and instructed them to wash one another's feet. He tells us, that in his kingdom the ostentatious distinctions, so common in the world, shall be unknown; that in point of obligation to justice and charity, all shall stand on a level, with only such difference as arises from their respective abilities: That the highest in office and condition shall claim no other preeminence, than a superior obligation to usefulness. This is his meaning when he says, "The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and they who exercise authority upon them, are called benefactors: But ye shall not be so; but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve; even as the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister,"

Among men God dispenses his blessings with a sovereign hand; to some he gives more, and to others less. But no man is exalted to a state of independence. They who are in highest authority, and in most affluent condition, whatever pride they may feel in themselves, and whatever envy others may feel toward them, are really as dependent, as helpless and as incapable of subsisting by themselves, as the poorest of the human race; yea, more so, for they are less able to endure the hardships, and perform the labors of life. And it ought to be remembered, that in the continual fluctuation of human affairs, the rich and the poor may exchange conditions; and the former be reduced to such impotence, as to need the help of those whom now they despise.

This diversity among men displays the sovereignty, wisdom and goodness of God; reminds us of our constant dependence; renders us mutually useful; and VOL. III. S R

gives opportunity for the exercise of many virtues, for which in a state of equality there would be no room.

The duties which we owe to one another in this diversity of rank and condition, our Apostle expresses by mutual submission. This will best be illustrated by considering it in the different relations of life.

1. It will easily be perceived, that a degree of submission is due to superiors. Particularly,

You must reverence your superiors in age, not treat them with insolence, or assume an impudent familiarity; but pay a respectful deference to their hoary hairs, long experience, grave deportment and sedate advice. "Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head," says Mo"and honor the face of the old man." It is a proof of great depravity, when "the youth behaves himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honorable."


To superiors in knowledge and wisdom you must shew submission, by consulting them in your doubts and paying respect to their judgment. And if you see reason to dissent from them, let it be done, not with haughty assurance, but with modest caution.

Honor a pious and virtuous character, wherever you see it; whether in the rich or poor, in the learned or illiterate. Never attempt to detract from it, but place it before you for your imitation, and propose it to

others for theirs.

Obey your superiors in authority. Cheerfully submit to their just commands, and by your peaceable behavior support and extend their influence. Though in civil society, legitimate authority originates from the people, yet when they have, in any form, consented to lodge certain powers in the hands of particular persons, these persons then become their superiors, and are entitled to their obedience and support in the execution of the powers committed to them. Every attempt to control or embarrass officers of government

in the discharge of their duty, is an offence against nature and society, reason and christianity.

2. Mutual subjection may be considered, as it respects equals.

All men have the same immutable right to an equitable treatment from all with whom they have intercourse. The poor man has as good a claim to justice from the rich, as the rich man has from the poor the private citizen from the magistrate, as the magistrate from the private citizen. This mutual submission implies, that every man should do justice to every man with whom he is concerned; should treat his person with humanity, his character with tenderness, his conduct with candor, and his substance with equity.

All men, as far as their condition requires, are alike entitled to compassion and assistance from those around them. We are to relieve the unhappy, supply the needy, support the weak, vindicate the injured, as far as our ability will extend, and our other obligations will justify." Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

Equals must preserve an affable and obliging deportment; rather decline, than assume a preeminencerather yield than affect a superiority. "Love as brethren; be pitiful; be courteous in honor prefer one another."

This Spirit is peculiarly beautiful and pleasant, when it runs through societies, and unites all the parts into one compact whole. Then each member seeks the profit of many in preference to his own; cheerfully yields to his brethren the preeminence, rejoices in their distinguished merits; and studies to rise, not on their ruin, but on his own virtue and usefulness.

Mutual subjection ought especially to be seen in families. The subordinate members should dwell together in unity, and by love serve one another. The heads should consider themselves as one in interest, and should act as having one Spirit; not enter into


contests for superiority, undermine each other's influence and destroy domestic government; but, by mutual condescension and prudent concurrence, strengthen each other's hands and promote the common happiAll points should be carried by cool advice and gentle persuasion; not by pertinacious contradiction and unyielding opposition. Thus "two are better than one, for if they fall, one will lift up his fellow."


3. There is a submission due to those, who, on some accounts, may be deemed our inferiors.

The same person may, in different relations, be to the same person both a superior and an inferior. Solomon, as king of Israel, was superior to his mother; As a son he was her inferior. In the natural relation he owed reverence to her: In the civil relation she owed obedience to him. When she interceded with the king for Adonijah, she made her motion, not with the authority of a parent but with the duty of a subject. And when she came into his presence, he received, her, not as an ordinary subject, but as a parent. He rose up to meet her, bowed himself to her, and seated her on his right hand.

Farther: Superiors as such owe a respect to those who are below them. They should be easy of access, gentle in their language and condescending in their deportment. Rulers are to be ministers of God for good to the people for whom they act-the rich are to distribute to the needy-the strong are to bear the infirmities of the weak-every one is to please his neighbors for their good to edification.

4. This mutual submission ought to appear in Christian churches. It is to the members of the Ephesian church, that this advice is addressed; and all in that particular character are bound to apply it.

- Christ has instituted a government in his kingdom; but it is a soft and persuasive, not a violent and compulsive government. "God is not the author of confusion, but of peace in all churches of the saints.

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