« AnteriorContinuar »
to be fellow-workers with God in the accomplishment of this great revolution by which He purposes to make all things new. Let us desire, first of all, by our personal characters, to promote in our places the good cause. And let us uphold and extend, as we have power and opportunity, the means which God has instituted, and which He has promised to bless. Let us not give up any cases as hopeless. Let us not rest till the will of God be done in earth as it is in heaven.
THE ESSENTIAL ELEMENT OF EXCELLENCE
"Honour thy father and thy mother."—Exodus Xx. 12.
rjlHEEE is One on high who is the supreme .*- object of reverence. He is the Father of all, the Master of all, the Euler of all. He is the only fountain of good, and the only Being to whom authority belongs. The possessions of men, mental and bodily, and of whatever kind, are entirely His gifts. No man has anything which he has not received. But though all things are of God, yet in the constitution of this world He has made some individuals among men fountains of blessing to others, and sources of power and authority. He has so ordered His allotments as to make us dependent not only on Him, but also on one another. As there is no man who is independent of God, so there is no man who is independent of his fellow-men.
There are thus two relationships in which we are placed by Him who made us, and out of these relationships we cannot live. It would destroy us to break the bond which links us to God; and it would as effectually destroy our life on earth to break the bond which links us to our brethren around us. According as the duties of these two relationships are fulfilled or violated, the inhabitants of the world are happy or miserable. The disorder and wretchedness which abound, show that the violation of them has been great and universal; and it is the object of the moral law of God to restore and to preserve the order and happiness which have been lost. According to this divine rule, and according to it only, can true religion and happy society be re-established upon the earth.
The family is God's institution, and presents to our view society in its first and simplest form. Small and simple as it is, however, it could not be constituted or maintained without order. It could not exist without a head. And it is not a matter of indifference which member is made the head of the family. There are certain members who are marked out by nature for that eminent position; and were any other member to usurp the place of authority, the little society would get into confusion and speedily be dissolved. Order is essentially necessary; and the rule by which that order is maintained has been given us from heaven. The family consists of the parents and the children. They occupy different positions, and have different duties to perform. The duties of the children are summed up in the words —" Honour thy father and thy mother."
There is a great deal implied here in the word "honour." It includes reverence, obedience, gratitude, and kindness.
We ought to honour our parents by showing them reverence—that is, by feeling and acting towards them with the utmost affection and respect. They have, under God, the first claim on our regard. Their authority is the first authority on earth to which it is our duty to bow. Hence every feeling which we entertain towards them—every word spoken to them, and every deed done to them—ought to be marked by this profound respect. How beautiful is the injunction of God when He says, "Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man"! And if age generally is thus to be honoured, how much more is it to be honoured by us when it is associated in our view with the sacred names of our father and mother! Other duties to our parents may cease, because the circumstances calling for their performance may pass away; but this duty of reverence ought ever to be performed. As long as they and we are upon the earth, and after they have departed hence, we ought to entertain and show towards them the same reverence.
Again, we ought to honour our parents by obeying them. As there is a period of our lives when we are unable to walk alone, so there is a period of our lives when we are just as unable to think, or to speak, or to act alone. It is not difficult to anticipate what the consequences would be, were a child left altogether to himself while his limbs were yet feeble and his steps unsteady. Not less disastrous would be the consequences were our minds and actions in early years left undirected and uncontrolled. Falls and injuries and ruin would be as certain in the one case as in the other. The mind is to be trained and strengthened by good instructions, and the actions are to be regulated by wise commands and holy examples. To the parents God has assigned this most necessary