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obferve how people manage the duties of their relations; and a flaw there is a fad ftumbling-block, that makes others caft at religion. That religion that tends not to the good of fociety, what does it avail? Suppose a profeffor to have a graceless neighbour, can he take a readier way to ftumble him at religion than to be an ill and unconfcionable neighbour? That is a remarkable admonition, 1 Tim. vi. 1. Let as many fervants as are under the yoke, count their own masters worthy of all honour; that the name of God, and his doctrine be not blafphemed. Many pride themfelves 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 fcares many from the religion that we profefs. The malicious. Jews knew very well the influence that would have; and therefore tempted our Lord with a queftion relative to paying tribute to Cæfar, Matth. xxii. 16. c. But fee our Lord's practice, Matth. xvii. 27.
5. God takes fpecial notice of the confcientious performers of relative duties; for indeed thofe that are moft obfervant of them are moft ufeful 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 faid, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do? For I know him, that he will command his children, and his household after him, and they fhall keep the way of the Lord to do juftice and judgement, Gen. xviti. 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 faints; and the neglect of thefe is the ground of the condemnation of the wicked. It is not what paffed or did not pafs betwixt God and them, but what paffed betwixt their neighbours and them, upon which the fentence of abfolution or condemnation is founded.
6. Ere long all thefe relations will be taken away, and then ye will have no more accefs to do a duty to
them. Ordinary emergents may separate betwixt the fervant and mafter, minifter 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 times the neglect ftings terribly.
7. Thy undutifulness that way may ruin thy rela tive; for by fuch a ftroke 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 defires not to fee his brethren. Why, dreadful is the meeting that many relatives will have one with another at that day.
8. Lastly, The neglect of thefe duties will undoubtedly ruin you, if ye get not pardon and grace to reform that neglect, Heb. xii. 14. If ye have any love to your own fouls, then endeavour after this.
I offer you the following directions.
1. Keep up a fenfe of your own inability for relative duties, and look to the Lord for ftrength to perform them. People look on thefe but as common things, and live not by faith with respect to them, and the Lord leaves them fo as they mar all. Prayer and faith in the promises are neceffary 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 leaft at once, So relatives fhould join forces to refift him, and carefully watch againft this fubtile and malicious enemy.
3. Lastly, Confider ye have to do with God in that matter, and not merely with another. It is he that has fet you in your feveral relations, and has prefcribed the laws whereby ye muft walk with him in them. He is your witnefs, and will be your Judge with re
1pect to your behaviour in that relation, according to
THIRDLY, I come now to confider the duties of the particular relations wherein we severally stand; and they are two in general; thofe of fuperiors and inferiors, and that of equals. The former is of two forts. There are fome relations where one of the relatives has power and authority over the other; and those that import a mere preference. The firft of thefe we may confider with respect to the family, the church, and the commonwealth.
In the family we find three relations of fuperiors and inferiors, husband and wife, parents and children, mafters and fervants, wherein one of the relatives has power and authority over the other.
I fhall begin with the family-relations, and therein with the first relation that was in the world, and from which all others do proceed, viz. that of husband and wife, and fo proceed to the reft in order. And we muft be particular, that we may declare the whole counsel of God. I fhall fhew you the laws of heaven with refpect to each of these relations, which if obferved would make happy focieties, families, &c. and when neglected keep the world in wild disorder; and thefe are laws by which we fhall be judged.
FIRST, As for the relation betwixt hufbands and wives, read Col. iii. 18. 19. Wives, fubmit your felves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Hufbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. The apoftle here lays down the duty of married perfons one to another. He begins with the duty of the wife, as that of the children and fervants, because their duty through the fubjection that is in it is the most difficult, and being confcientioufly performed, is the ftrongest motive to the hufband, as to the parent to the children, to do his. And here we have,
1. The fum of a wife's duty to her hufband. Selffubmiffion to him, fubjecting herself to him, comprehending the duty fhe owes to him in her heart, words,
and deeds. The qualification of this fubmiffion, the only restriction of it, is in the Lord; that is, fo as it be confiftent with her duty to God. That limitation obferved, it extends to every thing, Eph. v. 24. (3) The reasonableness of this, it should not be complained of; it is fit, juft, and equitable in respect of God's ordinance enjoining it, the infirmity of the woman as the weaker fex, and the inconveniencies arifing on the refufal of it.
2. The fum of the hufband'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 feveral duties he owes her, yea and will feafon all these duties, and tincture them with kindness to her. The apoftle comprehends all in this, both to sweeten the. wife's fubjection 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.
Hnfbands and wives may not carry to one another as they lift, but must be dutiful to one another according to the word of God, as they will be accountable to God. Here I fhall fhew,
1. The duties common to both husband and wife. 2. 1 hofe more peculiar to each party.
First, I fhall fhew the duties common to both hufband and wife.
1. Conjugal love, Tit. ii. 4. They muft love one another with a fpecial love, not communicable to another. God's ordinance has made them one flesh, and God's law cbliges them to be one heart. They muft love one another more than father or mother, yea as their own fiefh, Eph. v. 31. 28. And where that love is wanting, God is difhonoured, and the fociety is uncomfortable. And however scarce they may be of lovely qualities, we muft love them becaufe they are ours.
2. Cohabitation, dwelling together; which comprehends the ordinary ufe of the fame houfe, bed, and
I board, 1 Pet. iii. 7. 1 Cor. vii. 10. This is such a I neceffary duty, that an obftinate refufal in either party to dwell together diffolves the marriage, 1 Cor. vii. 15. that is wilful defertion. And if a man remove to another place for a long time, and upon no bafe cause, his wife is obliged to go with him, if he defire, unless there be fome imminent danger either of her body or foul; and he is obliged to take her if fhe defire. For though it belongs to the hufband as the head to determine the place of their habitation, yet he cannot fhake off his duty to his wife, 1 Cor. vii. 5. Gen. xii. II.
3. Living together in peace, i Cor. vii. 15. We muft follow peace with all men; but there are double ties on married perfons to follow peace with one another, and to watch that it be not broken. No war is fo unnatural as that which is betwixt them; and none fo hopeless if they make it not up betwixt themfelves. Did we fee a man tearing his own flefl, or a woman beating her head against the wall, we would conclude they were mad. Yet thus it is in effect where there is no peace betwixt husband and wife. The ancient Pagan Greeks, when they cut up the wedding-facrifice, took the gall, and with eager loathing flung it behind the altar, to fhew that in wedlock all bitterness must be put far away. There is none fo hopelefs, if they take it not up between themselves: for there is none to judge betwixt them but God: therefore if they cannot clear, they fhould bury their controverfies, yielding for peace fake. And though certainly it is moft natural that the woman fhould firft yield, yet he is a foolish man that will not facrifice of his own right to peace, and yield though to the weaker veffel, as Mofes did to Zipporah, Exod. iv. 25. 26. Certainly whofo firft yields, fhews moft refpect to God, and ftands faireft for the blefling, Matth. v. 9. Blessed are the peace-makers.
4. Carefulness to pleafe one another. The wife' ought to fuit herself to the will of her hufband, fo' VOL. I. 4 F