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The death of Christ would be vain. Mankind would cease to be saved : and heaven would fail of her destined inhabitants. How desolate the prospect! How strongly would this world resemble the regions of final despair ; where no Sabbath dawns, where no prayers nor praises ascend, no sermons proclaim pardon and peace to sinners, the voice of mercy never sounds, and the smiles of forgiving, redeeming, and sanctifying love never illumine the dreary valley of the shadow of death!
All things pertaining to salvation are social things ; things of general participation and powerful sympathy. They exist. chiefly in multitudes. Without the Sabbath, there is no reason to believe that they could exist at all. Not where one is employed in religious worship merely, nor principally; but where two or three are met together in the name of Christ,' is his presence promised. Not in the closet, the recess, or the solitude, but' on Zion, whither the tribes go up, has the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.'
5. What an illustrious type is the Sabbath of the everlasting rest enjoyed by the children of God!
The Sabbath is a rest from sin, business, and pleasure; a day in which God is worshipped, divine knowledge improved, and holiness attained and increased; a day in which saints delightfully commune, and joyfully celebrate the wonders of creation, and the sublimer wonders of redemption. On the Sabbath God is peculiarly present, reconciled, forgiving, and sanctifying; and the Spirit of truth eminently communicates comfortable evidence of divine love, whispers peace, and inspires joy. The Sabbath is therefore the day of hope and consolation, of enjoyment and triumph; the foretaste of heaven; the entrance to the glorious assembly of the blessed.
The future rest of the children of God is divinely formed of these delightful ingredients. Here eternal peace begins its undisturbed reign over all the great kingdom of Jehovah. Here immortal minds are consummated in that holiness, which is the image of the heavenly Adam. Here those minds, in the exercise of that holiness, with exalted friendship, and pure unbosomed intercourse, commence their everlasting joy. Here . God is all in all.' Here he unveils his face, and discloses the smiles of infinite love to the assembly of the first-born.
And here, the Lamb, the glory of God,' and the light of heaven, illumines all their thoughts, quickens all their affections, feeds them with living bread, leads them to fountains of living waters,' and awakens into transport their hymns of never ending praise.
THE LAW OF GOD.
THE FIFTH COMMANDMENT.
DUTY OF CHILDREN.
HONOUR THY FATHER AND THY MOTHER, THAT THY DAYS MAY BE
LONG UPON THE LAND WHICH THE LORD THY GOD GIVETH
EXODUS XX. 12.
The four first commands of the Decalogue enjoin those which are called, the duties of piety. These were written on the first table, and were summed up by Moses and by Christ in this general one; · Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. We are now entering upon the consideration of the six last; directing what are commonly called the duties of morality, or our duties towards mankind. These were written upon the second table, and are summed up by Moses, by Christ, and by St. Paul, in the second great command,' styled by St. James the 'royal law, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.' The first of these commands is the text. As a general preface to the observations which I propose to make, successively, on these commands, it will be proper to, remark, that they are universally to be extended according to
the interpretation given by our Saviour of the sixth and seventh, in his sermon on the Mount. In commenting on the former of these, Christ teaches us, that to be angry with our brother without a cause,' to'say unto him Raca, or thou fool,' is to be guilty of a breach of this command. In commenting on the seventh, he declares, that whosoever looketh on a woman, to lust after her, the same hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.' Generally, all these precepts are to be considered as directing our duty in all respects which, by inference or analogy, can be fairly arranged under them. Accordingly (to give an example,) I shall consider this command as regulating the duties reciprocally owed by parents and children, magistrates and subjects, and by other classes of mankind in their several relations. That I am warranted in this mode of explaining these precepts is I think evident from the conduct of our Saviour. I shall only add, that in this manner they have been generally understood by divines, and extensively declared in catechisms : For example, in that of the Westminster Assembly, that of Dr. Novell, and that of King Edward. In the examination of the subjects involved in this command, I shall begin with that which is directly expressed; the duty of children to their parents.
The word • honour,' by which this duty is here enjoined, is chosen with supreme felicity; as being sufficiently comprehensive, and sufficiently definite, to express with as much exactness as can easily be compassed all the several branches of duty which parents can equitably demand of their children. Particularly, it is explained by Christ, commenting, Mat. xv. 3, on the vile fetch by which the Pharisees released their disciples from obedience to this precept, to involve the obligation of children to support their parents in their indigence and old age. It is also explained by St. Paul, as enjoining the universal obedience of children. In its own primary sense also, it denotes all the affection and veneration which children owe to their parents, and which constitute so extensive and important a part of filial piety.
Filial duties are so numerous, that many volumes might be written on this subject only, without particularizing them all. Within the limits prescribed to these Discourses, it is obvious, nothing more can be done, than to exhibit briefly the prominent things included in this and the following precepts. Nothing more, therefore, will be attempted. According to this plan, Filial Duty may be advantageously comprised under the following heads :
I. Children are bound to regard their parents with respect and reverence at all times.
Particularly, these exercises of filial piety are, 1. To exist in the thoughts.
• Keep thy heart,' said David to Solomon, with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.' All good proceeds from this source, as well as all evil. In vain will children labour to perform their duty in any other manner, if they neglect it in this. Here, the whole course of filial piety begins; and, if not commenced here, will never be pursued with any success. Thoughts are the soul, the living principle, of all duty. Every thing else is a lifeless body without a soul, a shadow without a substance.
Every child is bound to entertain the most respectful and reverential thoughts concerning his parents, and concerning the parental character. He is to remember and regard his parents, as standing in the most venerable and the most endearing of all earthly relations to him; as those to whom, under God, he owes bis being, and the great mass of his blessings. He is to regard them as the persons to whose kindness, care, and government he has been committed by God himself. He is to consider them as the best of all friends; the most affectionate, the most faithful, the most confidential, the most persevering, the most watchful, the most unwearied.
His affections towards them ought ever to be reverential, grateful, warm, and full of kindness. Whatever his plans or purposes are, he ought invariably to feel, that they will be most safely, and in every case of any importance should be regularly, cntrusted to them for advice and direction. Parents, unless when under the immediate influence of some strong passion or prejudice, very rarely oppose of design the real interests of their children. Almost all the counsels, injunctions, and reproofs which they give, and which the children at times consider as unkind, are given, intentionally at least, for their good, and ought to be regarded only in this manner. Children are bound to fix in their minds an habitual sense of the superior