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THE YOUNG MAN'S DUTY TO HIS PARENTS.
Eph. vi. 2, 3. Honour thy father and mother, which is the first
commandment with promise, that it may be well with thee.
NEXT to the fear and the love of God, no duty has a stronger claim to the attention and observance of young men than the duty which they owe to their parents.
This duty is founded on the common feelings and instincts of nature. As nature inclines almost all animated beings to nourish and provide for their offspring, so long at least as they need their care, and fondly to watch over and protect them, so it is natural that their offspring should become attached to their parents, as soon as they are so far advanced in growth, to be sensible of their kindness and affection. Such attachment to parents should especially be felt by man, who stands at the head of the animal creation, and whose reason should direct and give strength to the salutary instincts and teaching of nature.
You to whom I address myself should reflect, that as your parents have been, under Providence, the authors of your being, so they nourished and watched over you in the helplessness of infancy and childhood. Consider how hard they have toiled to provide for you food and clothing, how they have denied themselves the comforts, perhaps even the necessaries, of life, that you might not want. Think how many labours, and cares, and anxieties they have undergone on your account, and for your welfare. Certainly you must be sensible that they have the strongest claims to your gratitude and tender regard, that all the common feelings of nature require you to treat them with affection and respect, require you to LOVE, HONOUR, AND SUCCOUR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER.
These suggestions of nature and reason are strongly enforced in the Scriptures. You well know that the fifth commandment enjoins you to Honour thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long in the land, which the Lord thy God giveth thee. The Scriptures of the New Testament enforce the observance of all moral and social duties, not so much by temporal motives, as by considerations derived from the love and mercy of God, and from thankfulness for the atonement effected by the death of Christ. Instead of the promise of long life and happiness in this world, they hold forth the glorious prospect of eternal unfading happiness in the world to come. St. Paul however appears to enforce the observance of duty to parents by an allusion to the promise in the fifth commandment, Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honour thy father and mother, which is the first commandment with promise, that it may be well with thee b. That it may be well with thee. As attention to the relative duties contributes essentially to the well-being of society, so dutiful obedience to your parents will tend materially to promote your own well-being, your own comfort and happiness, in this
St. Paul repeats this injunction in the Epistle to the Colossians, Children, obey your parents in all things,-observe the expression in all things, in all things not contrary to the divine law,--for this is well pleasing to the Lord".
The precepts of the Old Testament are in strict' accordance with these injunctions of the Apostle. My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother : for they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck No ornament is more graceful and becoming to young people, than dutiful obedience to parents. So again. Keep thy father's commandment, and forsake not the lare of thy mother. Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy necko. And thus in another passage of the same book.
Hearken unto thy father that begat thee, and despise not thy mother when she is old'.
This duty vf obedience to parents is clearly en
d Prov. i. 2, 3.
b Eph. vi, 1, 2, 3.
c Col. iii. 20.
forced by the dictates of reason. Your parents have a right to your obedience, in return for their care and trouble, and anxiety in bringing you up.
Consider that their age and experience in the world render them for the most part better qualified, than you can possibly be, to judge what is right, and fitting, and expedient. It is probable too that in what they forbid, or require you to do, your good, your real interest and advantage is the object which they principally have in vicw.
And of this duty to your parents you must never lose sight. As it was the first lesson which you were taught-or should have been taught—when you were children, so you should never forget it, so long as your parents' lives are continued. In this country the laws give authority to parents over their children, in all things not inconsistent with any higher obligation, until the children have attained the age of twenty-one years, or until they have, with their parents' consent, bound themselves to obey soine other person.
But still you must never forget
-o love, hunour, and succour your father and mother, so long as their lives are continued to them. Always treat them with affectionate respect; comply so far as you reasonably can with their wishes; and endeavour to soothe them under the infirmities of their declining years by your kindness and attention. Grieve not thy father, says the son of Sirach, as long as he liveth. And if his understanding fail, have patience with him; and despise him not, when thou art in thy full strengtha. Make every allowance for the infirmities of old age. Bear patiently with any peevishness or quickness of temper, any failure of mind or memory, or with any of the distressing maladies which some time afflict the body in the decline of life. Let nothing overcome the love and respect which is due from a son to his parents.
Such being the suggestions of nature and right reason, such the express injunctions of the Scriptures, it is painful to see young nien and women,often indeed mere boys and girls, long before they have attained the age of maturity,-presumptuously setting up for themselves, and treating the wishes and even the commands of their parents with disregard; sometimes they receive their injunctions or their advice in sullenness, and sometimes openly rebel against it. Headstrong and unruly, they determine to have their own way, to follow their own wills, their own lusts and appetites. Perhaps, if their parents enforce their commands with some degree of warmth, with some angriness of language, these self-willed young persons even go so far as to give them angry language in return. Hardly any thing can be more blameable--more revolting—than such behaviour. A real Christian must not return railing for railing to any one; but to hear a young man render railing for railing to a parent, to hear him use, perhaps injurious language, perhaps even curses and imprecations, to one to whom he owes his being,
a Ecclus. iii. 12.