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yourselves fet above you? God has done it; fay you Amen to your own poft. And do the duty of your place and relation; and that will be your greateft honour. The moon fhining by night is very beautiful, but in the day there is little beauty with her. As little is there in those who forfaking their own place and the duties thereof, thruft themselves into that of another, and act without their proper spheres.
SECONDLY, Let us confider the neceffity of performance of relative duties in general. Obferve that the confcientious performance of relative duties is a neceffary piece of true religion. The fifth commandment "requireth the preserving the honour, and performing the duties, belonging to every one in their "feveral places and relations." True religion confifts of faith and holiness; and true holiness is made up of perfonal and relative holinefs. Do not think that religion has no concern in thy domeftic and civil affairs. All of us are in fome relations, hufbands, wives, children, fervants, neighbours. Each of thefe has its own train of duties. Be thou mafter, fervant, &c. here are thy inftructions fent down from heaven, how to carry in thy place and relation. Thou wilt fay, Who is concerned how I carry to my relations? I tell you, God is concerned, and he will require it. His commands are like a man's fhadow; where ever he goes, they follow him. The neceffity thereof is apparent.
1. The confcientious performance of relative duties is neceffary in refpect of the command of God. The command for them is the firft command of the fecond table. God who hath placed us in thefe relations, binds us by his fovereign authority to perform the duties of the fame. The fame ftamp of divine authority is on these commands, that is upon the command to pray, &c. And he will not fit with our overlooking our duty.
2. It is neceffary to evidence us to be Chriftians in deed. No man can juftly pretend to be a new crea
ture, that does not make confcience of relative duties, 2 Cor. v. 17. Saving grace goes through all relations like leaven in a lump, and fets men right in them. It makes the man not only a good man, but a good neighbour, husband, fervant, &c. the woman. a good neighbour, wife, fervant, &c. For,
(1.) Relative duties are an integral part of true godliness; they are a part of the new man, Eph. iv. 24. 25. A body that wants a leg or an arm is no complete body; and a man that wants relative holinefs, is no complete Chriftian, no evangelically-complete Chriftian, 2 Pet. i. 7. 9.
(2.) Relative holinefs is an effential part of true godlinefs; it cannot be without it, more than the body can live without the foul, 2 Pet. i. 7. 9. Shew me thy faith by thy works, fays the apoftle; and fo may we fay, Shew me thy perfonal holiness by thy relative holiness, Eph. v. 9.
(3.) Relative duties are the great trying points of the work of Chriftianity, which, if any thing, will try what metal people are of. A man is that really which he is relatively. If there be any dirt on the hand, it will readily be found on the joints. And if there be any defect in a profeffor of religion, search for it in his relations, and it will readily be found in one or all of them. The pride of mens hearts makes them often very difficult; fuperiors thro' their pride of heart are apt to tyrannize; inferiors through theirs think themfelves as good, and cannot comport with fubjection. Every man naturally loves to be mafter, and feeks himself; hence there is no dutifulnefs to equals.
3. It is neceffary as a piece of conformity to the Lord Jefus Chrift. He is not a complete Chriftian that has not received of Chrift grace for grace. We must prove our union with him by our conformity to him, 1 John ii. 6. He food in various relations, and therein was a pattern to us. He is a loving Hufband to his church, Eph. v. 25.; a faithful fervant to his 4 E
Father; a kind and affectionate Mafter to his fervants; a dutiful fubject to the magistrate; and an obedient child, Luke ii. 51.
4. It is neceffary to make an ufeful Chriftian. Cumber-grounds must be cut down, Luke xiii. 7. An ufelefs Chriftian is like the vine, which if it bear not fruit, is good for nothing but the fire, Ezek. xv. Now fhall we be ufelefs in the world? And useful we cannot be but in our feveral places and relations, dif charging the duties of the fame; and ufeful we are, if we do the duties of the relations wherein we ftand. How is the eye, the tongue, &c. ufeful? Why, if they remain in their proper place, and do their proper office: whereas if they either be removed out of their place, or in it do not their office, they are uselefs. Let us make a help meet for man, faid God, when he brought the first relation into the world. So that relative duties as we ftand in relation to others, in family, church, or state, are the proper orb of ufefulness. They that are useful there are useful indeed; and they who are useless there, are useless altogether in the world.
5. It is neceffary to make a ftraight Chriftian. If we will go ftraight in religion, we must go as it were with these two legs, perfonal duties and relative duties. If either of these be wanting, then our way is like the legs of the lame that are not equal, Prov. xxvi. 7. An unequal pulfe fhews a diftempered body. How many fuch crooked profeffors are there, faints abroad, but devils at home? But fee Pfal. cxxv. 5. As for fuch as turn afide unto their crooked ways, the Lord fhall lead them forth with the workers of iniquity.
6. Lastly, It is neceffary for perfonal holinefs. Thefe are like two live-coals; put them together, and they will burn; but put them afunder, and they will both go out, 1 Pet. iii. 7. A fad evidence of this is to be feen in many, who while they were fingle gave good hopes of themselves, and had fair bloffoms of religion; but being married, and making no confcience
of their duty to their relatives, all good goes from them, their spirits four, their fouls wither, and their spiritual cafe goes quite to wreck.
It is a common obfervation of fuch as flight relative duties, that their relatives are not in their duty to them. But though it be fo, this tie is laid on them by divine authority, and fo cannot be taken off that way. Muft I go out of my duty, because another goes out of his duty to me? No. See 1 Pet. ii. 18. c. It is the way to gain them to their duty, chap. iii. 1, USE I. of information. This lets us fee, that,
1. There is very little true religion in the world, there is fo little relative holinefs in it, There are two things that make this evident.
(2.) The relative duties that are done, how few of them are done in a right manner? To do the duty it self may please men; but God will never accept it if 1 it is not done in a right manner. A good humour
(1.) How few are there that make any confcience at all of their duty to their relatives? We may take up Micah's lamentation over the land at this day, Micah vii. 1.-6. If we look to the church, what confufions are there, with untender ininifters and unruly people? the ftars lofing their light, and trampled under foot with contempt. If we look to the ftate, magiftrates abufing. their authority, and people de fpifing them and their authority too. If we look into families, what diforder is there? parents careless, children difobedient, hufbands untender, wives ftubbond; masters rigid, and fervants unfaithful. A fad evidence of the decay of religion, that they world is fo far out of course,
is all with many, who have no principle of a new nature. A natural affection prevails with fome; love to peace makes others do their duty and fear of their relatives puts on others to their duty; while in the mean time they are nowife ftirred up thereto from the fear and love of God; nor have they any refpect to the command of God in what they do. But is
that religion? will God ever accept of that as obedience to him? No, no, Rom. xiii. 5. 1 Pet. iii. 6.
2. This lets us fee what need all of us have to be humbled for our defects in relative duties; what need we have of the blood of Chrift to wash away bur guilt in thefe; what need we have of the Spirit of Chrift to help us unto thefe duties. Oh! they are not eafy nature will never comply with the work, or at beft but bungle at it. We have much need to pray for the divine affiftance in this matter; as without him we can do nothing, even in these outward duties.
USE II. of exhortation. Set yourselves to make confcience of relative duties. For motives to prefs this, confider,
1. This will be a notable mean of good to yourfelves. He that thus lays out himself, lays up for himself indeed what the world cannot take from him. (1.) It will be an evidence of the fincerity of your obedience, if to perfonal holiness ye join relative holinefs too, Pfal. cxix. 6. (2.) It will be a great promoter of perfonal holiness; for he that watereth, fhall be watered alfo himself. (3.) It will waft you in within the compafs of the promife in the text.
2. The confcientious performance of relative duties is the way to do good to others. Would ye be ufeful for God, or useful to your relatives? then do this. This would make you a bleffing like Abraham. There is nothing more convincing, and more likely to make others fall in love with religion, than this, Pet. iii. 1.
3. If ye make no confcience of thefe duties, it will difcover the rottennefs and unfoundnefs of your hearts, Pfal. cxix. 6. When God changeth the heart, he writes his laws on it, and thefe laws among others. And the want of this will bring in that dittay, notwithstanding all thy pretended religion, One thing the lackest.
4. The neglect of thefe duties and unfaithfulness in them does much ill to religion. The world will