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I St. Peter V. 5.
-Yea, all of you be subject one to another.
HE Apostle having, in many Parts of
this Epistle, given Directions to Christi
ans concerning the Duty of Subjection or Obedience to Superiors ; in the several Instances of the Subject to his Prince, the Child to his parent, the Servant to his Master, the Wife to the Husband, and the Younger to the Elder ; doth here, in the Words of the Text, sum up the Whole, by advancing a Point of Doctrine, which at first may appear a little extraordinary; Yea, all of you, faith he, be fubject one to another. For, it should feem, that two Persons cannot properly be said to be subject to each other, and that Subjection is only due from Inferiors to those above them ; yet
Phil. ii. 3.
Saint Paul hath several Passages to the fame
Purpose. For he exhorts the RaRom. xii. 10.
mans, in Honour to prefer one another; and the Philippians, that in Lowliness of
Mind they should let eacb esteem other
better than themselves ; and the Ephes. v. 21. v. 21. Ephesians, that they should submit
themselves one to another in the Fear of the Lord. Here we find these two great Apostles recommending to all Christians this Duty of mutual Subjection. For we may observe by Saint Peter, that having mentioned the several Relations which Men bear to each other, as Governor and Subject, Master and Servant, and the rest which I have already repeated, he maketh no Exception, but summeth up the Whole, with commanding, All to be subject one to another. From whence we may conclude, that this Subjection, due from all Men to all Men, is something more than the Compliment of Course, when our Betters are pleased to tell us, they are our humble Servants, but understand us to be their Slaves.
I know very well, that some of those who explain this Text, apply it to Humility, to the Duties of Charity, to private Exhortations, and to bearing with each other's Infirmities; and, it is probable, the Apostle may have had a Regard to all these: But, however, many learned Men agree, that there is something more understood, and so the Words in their plain natural Meaning must import; as you will observe yourselves, if you read them with the beginning of the Verse, which is thus : Likewise ye Younger submit yourselves unto the Elder : Yea, all of you be subject one to another. So that, upon the Whole, there must be some , kind of Subjection due from every Man to every Man, which cannot be made void by any Power, Præ-eminence, or Authority whatever. Now, what Sort of Subjection this is, and how it ought to be paid, shall be the Subject of my present Discourse.
As God hath contrived all the Works of Nature to be useful, and in some Manner a Support to each other, by which the whole Frame of the World, under his Providence, iš preserved and kept up; so, among Mankind, our particular Stations are appointed to each of us by God Almighty, wherein we are obliged to act, as far as our Power reacheth, towards the Good of the whole Community: And he who doth not perform that Part assigned him, towards advancing the Benefit of the Whole, in Proportion to his Opportunities and Abilities, is not only an useless, but a very mischievous Member of the Publick; because he taketh his Share of the Profit, and yet leaveth his Share of the Burden to be borne by others, which is the true principal Cause of most Miseries and Misfortunes in Life ; for, a wise Man who doth not assist with his Counsels, a great Man with his . Protection, a rich Man with his Bounty and Charity, and a poor Man
with his Labour, are perfect Nuisances in a Commonwealth ; neither is
Condition of Life more honourable in the Sight of God than another, otherwise he would be a Respecter of Persons, which he affureth us he is not : For he hath proposed the fame Salvation to all Men, and hath only placed them in different Ways or Stations to work it out,
Princes are born with no more Advantages of Strength or Wisdom than other Men ; and, by an unhappy Education, are usually more defective in both than thousands of their Subjects. They depend for every Necessary of Life upon the meanest of their People : Besides, Obedience and Subjection were never enjoined by God to humour the Passions, Lusts, and Vanities of those who demand them from us; but we are commanded to obey our Governors, because Disobedience would breed Seditions in the State. Thus, Servants are directed to obey their Masters, Children their parents, and Wives their Husbands; not from any Respect of Persons in God, but because otherwise there would be nothing but Confusion in private Families. This Matter will be clearly explained, by considering the Comparison which Saint Paul maketh between the Church of Christ, and the natural Body of Man; for the Tame Resemblance will hold, not only to Families and Kingdoms, but to the whole CorRom. xii. 21. poration of Mankind. The Eye, c. xxiii. 26 faith he, cannot say unto the Hand,