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such conduct affords, imparts to every gift the sweetest relish. It makes their dim eyes bright again with gladness, and restores to their fainting hearts some of the buoyancy of youth.
In the patriarch Joseph we have an example of this affection never to be forgotten. Many brilliant stars shine on his breast, but among the most brilliant of all is that which tells of the day when, from the land where he had risen to glory, he sent waggons for his aged father, then sinking into want. "Haste ye," he said, "and go to my father, and say to him, Thus saith thy son Joseph, God hath made me lord of all Egypt: come down unto me, tarry not: and thou shalt be near unto me, and I will nourish thee, lest thou, and thy household, and all that thou hast, come to poverty." How well and nobly spoken !" God hath made me," he said. He had not forgotten the great Author of all, either in his adversity or in his prosperity. It was not the mere gold ring of Pharaoh that made him. He was just as noble when he was poor and friendless, as when he stood next to the throne. "Tell my father," he said, "that God hath made me lord of all Egypt, and bid him come down quickly." It was not ostentation that dictated this message. It was spoken because he knew that every word of it would gratify his father's heart and fill his distant home with gladness.
The blessing of God rests upon those who honour their father and their mother. That blessing follows them wherever they go, and does not forsake them even long after their parents have passed away. Other things may bring darkness upon them; but this is a light to them in their darkest hour, and sheds a degree of comfort around the heads of the children and the children's children. The blessing of the Almighty makes it to be well with them. It gives long life to them. It gives them life and glory for ever in the better land.
Never was there a more hollow pretence than the pretence to religion by undutiful children. Never was there a more vain imagination than to suppose that God will accept their services or their offerings, though those offerings were piled upon His altar as high as the stars of heaven. He hides His face in displeasure from such offerings. He will not accept as a gift that which others should have received. His words to all such worshippers are, "Obedience is better than sacrifice;" "I hate robbery for burnt-offering." The only way to please Him is to keep His commandments. Let this commandment, then, be engraven on our hearts. Let it mould all our thoughts and words and actions. Let the blessed fruits of obedience to it be seen in every house and in every land.
THE ESSENTIAL ELEMENT OF EXCELLENCE
"Honour thy father and thy mother."—Exodus xx. 12.
rFHE duty of children to their parents is incul-*- cated in the fifth commandment, and the blessing of God is promised to those who discharge it faithfully. The commandment, however, does not bear upon the duty of children alone. While they are addressed directly, the parents are addressed indirectly, and are reminded of the part which they have to perform. While the children are enjoined to honour their father and their mother, it is very plainly implied that the father and mother are required to fulfil their trust in such a way as to deserve respect, obedience, and gratitude. It is manifestly necessary that the duties on both sides be discharged rightly, in order that the family may prosper, and may not fall into disorder and misery. And while good conduct on both sides is needed for the wellbeing of the whole, it is reasonable to expect that the parents should set the children an example of obedience to the counsels of heaven. What, according to the divine law, ought the conduct of parents to be?
It is their duty, in the first place, to make suitable provision for the maintenance and comfort of their children. Nature itself teaches us this lesson most forcibly, and the Scriptures add their confirming voice. The beasts of the field and the fowls of heaven become our instructors on this subject by their impressive example. The fiercest of them as well as the gentlest are, in their dealings towards their young, models of affection and tenderness. How warm the nest prepared by the parent birds! How assiduous their attention to the naked helpless brood! How self-denying they are in dividing among the little hungry mouths the sweet morsel, found it may be after many a weary flight! How anxious and watchful when they feel that danger is near! How bold and daring do even the most timid often become in defending their tiny charge from some threatening foe!