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order of duties, which we owe to our neighbours, with the honour due from children to their parents. It is remarkable, that this is the only Commandment, in the second Table, delivered in a positive form : and we may further observe, that it is distinguished from all others by a promise of temporal reward to those who should obey it. “Honour thy Father and thy Mother, that thy days may be long in the land, which the Lord thy God giveth thee." The rank, which it obtains in this Table, also bespeaks the importance attached to it: and indeed it seems natural, that the first step, in descending from our duties to our heavenly Father, should lead to those, which we owe to our Parents
It appears that Parents are here mentioned, not merely on their own account, but as the representatives of all earthly superiors: and it has never been doubted, that this Commandment implies a ready and cheerful submission, not only to parental authority, but, in due proportion, to all, whom office or custom, rank or station, pre-eminence of character, or priority of years, has exalted above us in the scale of society. But, how differently must we be disposed towards the fulfilment of this obligation, if we regard it as connected with the love of our neighbour! And it is sufficiently obvious, that this principle must pervade every branch of the duty here enjoined, from the single consideration—that the description of superiors, whom the Commandment has selected to represent and include that of all others, are-our parents ;-persons, whom it is impossible to contemplate but with sentiments of affection. It is by the love which we bear to them, that every act of obedience, every compliance with their wishes, every respectful attention paid to their comfort or their credit, becomes converted from a duty into a pleasure; and, in like manner, by combining a feeling of benevolence with a sense of duty, the submission paid to every other species of superior will assume that character of cordial respect and grateful attention, which the inducements of fear and compulsion alone would never have conferred upon it.
Moreover, as the love of God is inseparable from a sense of gratitude for his goodness to man, or rather, perhaps, is almost entirely composed of that
sentiment; so is the love of our parents in great measure prompted and animated by our consciousness of their affection for us, and of the innumerable advantages which, from our early youth, and especially in the helpless period of infancy, their incessant care has procured for us. But, if we must acknowledge ourselves bound by a similar, though inferior obligation to princes and rulers, to magistrates, to instructors, and especially to our spiritual teachers and guides (which surely no one can withhold, who recollects, what he owes both individually, and as a member of society, to their vigilance and zeal), why should not our dutiful dispositions towards them also be refined and exalted by the motive of sincere and hearty good-will? Of their authority we think only with awe; but, when we reflect, in how great a degree their time, their thoughts, their labour and solicitude, are devoted to the service of the community, narrow and selfish must be our hearts, if our sense of duty towards them is not warmed and stimulated by that of gratitude and love.
All relative duties are, of course, reciprocal: and, as the benefits, conferred by parents upon
children, and, generally, by all, who exercise a legitimate authority over others, are the natural foundation of that love and respect which is due to them; so is it taken for granted, in this Commandment, and in every rule of duty derivable from it, that they are not deficient in extending that protection and support to all, who depend upon them, which it is equally their duty to afford
The remaining Commandments of this Table assume throughout a negative or prohibitory form; enjoining, nevertheless, by unavoidable inference, the most important positive duties : by which consideration, added to that of the length to which their subjects extend, I am induced to regard the point, at which we are now arrived, as the most convenient close for our present reflections.
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS.
MATT. XXII. 37-40.
Jesus said unto him: Thou shalt love the Lord
thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great Commandment. And the second is like unto it: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two Commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.
In addressing you recently upon the subject suggested by these words, I first endeavoured to demonstrate, in a general point of view, how greatly the extent of the duties, enumerated in the Ten Commandments, is enlarged, and their character exalted, by applying to them that golden