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that religion? will God ever accept of that as obcdience to him? No, no, Rom. xiii. 5. 1 Pet. iij. 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 Christ to wash away our guilt in these ; what need we have of the Spirit of Christ to help us unto these duties.
Oh! they are not easy: nature will never comply with the work, or at best but bungle at it. We have much need to pray
for the divine assistance in this matter; as without him we can do nothing, even in these outward duties.
USE II. of exhortation. Set yourselves to make conscience of relative duties. For motives to press this, consider,
1. This will be a notable mean of good to yourselves. 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 personal holiness ye join relative holiness too, Psal. cxix. 6. (2.) It will be a great promoter of personal holiness ; for he that watereth, fhall be watered also himself. (3.) It will waft you in within the compass of the promise in the text.
2. The conscientious performance of relative duties is the way to do good to others. Would ye be useful for God, or useful to your relatives? then do this. This would make you a blessing like Abraham. There is nothing more convincing, and more likely to make others fall in love with religion, than this, | Pet. ii. 1,
3. If ye make no conscience of these duties, it will discover the rottenness and unfoundness of your hearts, Psal. cxix. 6. When God changeth the heart, he writes his laws on it, and these laws among others. And the want of this will bring in that dittay, notwithstanding all thy pretended religion, One thing thou lackest.
The neglect of these duties and unfaithfulness in them does much ill to religion. The world will
obferve how people manage the duties of their relations; and a flaw there is a sad stumbling-block, that makes others cast at religion. That religion that tends not to the good of society, what does it avail ? Suppose a profeffor to have a graceless neighbour, can he take a readier way to stumble him at religion than to be an ill and unconfcionable neighbour? That is a remarkable admonition, 1 Tim. vi. 1. Let as many fervants a's are under the yoke, count their own masters worthy. of all honour ; that the name of God, and his doctrine be not blasphemed. Many pride themselves in their contempt of magiftrates and their authority; but I am convinced it has no fmall influence on the malignancy and atheism of the age, and scares many from the religion that we profess. The malicious Jews knew very well the influence that would have; and therefore tempted our Lord with a question relative to paying tribute to Cæsar, Matth. xxii. 16. &c. But fee our Lord's practice, Matth. xvii. 27.
5. God takes special notice of the conscientious performers of relative duties; for indeed those that are most observant of them are most useful for God in the world. What a noble commendation is that of Enoch, that he walked with God, Gen. v. 22.? of Abraham, of whom the Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do? Fur I know him, that be will command his children, and his household after him, and they fall keep the way of the Lord to do justice and judgement, Gen. xviii. 17. 19. ; and of Sarah, 1 Pet. iii. 6. who obeying Abraham, calling him lord. Nay, at the great day of judgement, it is relative duties that are pitched upon as evidences for the saints; and the neglect of these is the ground of the condemnation of the wicked. It is not what passed or did not pass betwixt God and them, but what passed bitwixt their neighbours and them, upon which the fentence of absolution or condemnation is founded,
6. Ere long all these relations will be taken away, and then ye will have no more access to do a dety to them. Ordinary emergents may separate betwixt the servant and master, minister and people, one neighbour and another. Death comes and diffolves all relations, Job iii. 17. 18. 19. This diffolves the relation betwixt husband and wife, parents and children. Should we not then take that warning? Gal. vi. 10. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them, who are of the household of faith? When they are gone, many tịmes the neglect stings terribly.
7. Thy undutifulness that way may ruin thy rela. tive; for by such a stroke ordinarily it is not one, but two that fall together. And if God do keep them up, yet ye do what in you lies to ruin them. The rich man in hell desires not to see his brethren. Why, dreadful is the meeting that many relatives will have one with another at that day.
8. Lastly, The neglect of these duties will undoubtedly ruin you, if ye get not pardon and grace to reform that neglect, Heb. xii. 14. have to your own fouls, then endeavour after this.
I offer you the following directions.
1. Keep up a sense of your own inability for relative duties, and look to the Lord for strength to perform them. People look on these but as common things, and live not by faith with respect to them, and the Lord leaves them so as they mar all. Prayer and faith in the promises are necessary to the performance of these duties.
2. Watch. Satan bends his force against this particularly, because he is in a fair way to ruin two at least at once. So relatives should join forces to resist him, and carefully watch against this subtile and malicious enemy.
3. Lastly, Consider ye have to do with God in that matter, and not merely with another. It is he that has set you in your several relations, and has prescriþed the laws whereby ye must walk with him in them. He is your witness, and will be your Judge with re
1pect to your behaviour in that relation, according to these laws.
THIRDLY, I come now to consider the duties of the particular relations wherein we severally stand ; and they are two in general; those of superiors and inferiors, and that of equals. The former is of two forts. There are some relations where one of the relatives has power and authority over the other; and those that import'a mere preference. The first of these we may consider with respect to the family, the church, and the commonwealth.
In the family we find three relations of superiors and inferiors, husband and wife, parents and children, matters and servants, wherein one of the relatives has power and authority over the other.
I shall begin with the family-relations, and therein with the firit relation that was in the world, and from which all others do proceed, viz. that of husband and wife, and fo proceed to the rest in order. muft be particular, that we may declare the whole counsel of God. I shall fhew you the laws of heaven with respect to each of these relations, which if observed would make happy societies, families, &c. and when neglected keep the world in wild disorder; and these are laws by which we shall be judged.
FIRST, As for the relation betwixt husbands and wives, read Col. iii. 18. 19. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. The apostle here lays down the duty of married persons one to another. He begins with the duty of the wife, as that of the children and servants, because their duty through the subjection that is in it is the moft difficult, and being conscientiously performed, is the strongest motive to the husband, as to the parent to the children, to do his. 'And here we have,
1. The sum of a wife's duty to her husband. Selfsubmission to him, subjecting herself to him, comprehending the duty the owes to him in her heart, words,
and deeds. The qualification of this fubmifsion, the only restriction of it, is in the Lord ; that is, so as it be consistent with her duty to God. That limitation observed, it extends to every thing, Eph.v. 24. (3.) The reasonableness of this, it should not be complained of; it is fit, just, and equicable in respect of God's ordinance enjoining it, the infirmity of the woman as the weaker sex, and the inconveniencies arising on the refusal of it.
2. The sum of the husband's duty is love to her. This comprehends in it the whole of his duty; for love will always be active, and spread itself into the se. veral duties he owes her, yea and will seafon all these duties, and tincture them with kindness to her. The apostle comprehends all in this, both to sweeten the. wife's subjection on the one hand, and to temper his authority on the other. And therefore he cautions against bitterness, and that both in heart, that he hate her not, nor coldly love her, in words, and in deeds.
Hnsbands and wives may not carry to one another as they list, but must be dutiful to one another according to the word of God, as they will be accountable to God. Here I shall Thew,
1. The duties common to both husband and wife. 2. I hofe more peculiar to each party.
First, I fall shew the duties common to both hufband and wife.
1. Conjugal love, Tit. ii. 4. They must love one another with a special love, not communicable to another. God's ordinance has made them one flesh, and God's law cbliges them to be one heart. They inust love one another more than father or mother, yea as their own fich, Eph. v. 31. 28. And where ihat love is wanting, God is dishonoured, and the fociety is uncomfortable. And however scarce they may be of lovely qualities, we must love them because they are ours.
2. Cohabitation, dwelling together; which comprehends the ordinary use of the fame house, bed, and