Thomas Secker.

Works (Volume 12) online

. (page 1 of 14)
Online LibraryThomas SeckerWorks (Volume 12) → online text (page 1 of 14)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook














Publifhed from the Original Manufcripts

His Grace's Chaplains.



frinted for J. and F. RIVINCTON, in St. Paul's Church-yarJ
and JB. WHITE, at Horace's Head, in Flcct-ftreet.



The Fifth Commandment.


HAVING explained the Precepts
of the firfl Table, which fet forth
the Duty of Men to God; I now come
to thofe of the Second, which exprels our
feveral Obligations one to another.

Now the whole Law, concerning thefe
Matters, is briefly comprehended, 'as St. Paul
very juftly obferves, in this one Saying, fhon
Jhalt love thy Neighbour as thyfelf*. Our
Neighbour is every one, with whom we have
at any Time any Concern, or on whofe
Welfare our Actions can have any Influence.
For whoever is thus within our Reach, is
in the moft important Senfe near to us,-
however difhmt in other Refpedts. To fovf

*Rora. xiii. 9.

A 2 cur



our Neighbour, is to bear him Good- will j
which of Courfe will difpofe us to think
favourably of him, and behave properly to
him. And to love him as ourfefoes, is, to
have, not only a real, but a ftrongand active
Good-will towards him ; with a Tender-
nefs for his Interefts, duly proportioned to
that, which we naturally feel for our own.
Such a Temper would moft powerfully re-
ftrain us from every Thing wrong, and
prompt us to every Thing right; and there-
fore is the fulfilling of the Law b , fo far as it
relates to our mutual Behaviour.

But becaufe, on fome Occafions, we may
either not fee, or not confefs we fee, what
is right, and what otherwife ; our Saviour
hath put the fame Duty in a Light fomewhat
different, which gives the fafeft, and fulleft,
and cleareft Direction for Practice, that any
one Precept can give. All Things, ivbatfo-
?ver ye would that Men Jhould do unto you,
even fo do ye unto them c . Behaving proper-
ly depends on judging truly; and that, in
Cafes of, any Doubt, depends on hearing
with due Attention both Sides. To our

k Vcr, io. , Matth. vii. 12.



own Side we never fail attending. The
Rule therefore is, give the other Side the
fame Advantage, by fuppofing it your own :
and after conlidering carefully and fairly,
what, if it were indeed your own, you
fhould not only delire (for Defires may be
unreafonable) but think you had an equi-
table Claim to, and well-grounded Expec-
tation of, from the other Party, that do in
Regard to him. Would we but honeftly
take this Method, our Miftakes would be
fo exceeding few, and flight, and innocent,
that well might our bleiTed Lord add, For
this is the Law and the Prophets.

Yet, after all, there" might be Difficulty
fometimes, efpecially to fome Perfons, in
the Application of a Rule fo very general.
And therefore we have, in the Command-
ments, the reciprocal Duties of Man to
Man branched out into fix Particulars :
The firfl of which, contained in the fifth
Commandment, relates .to the mutual Ob-
ligations of Superiors and Inferiors *, the
reft, to thofe Points in which all Men arc
confidered as Equals.



It is 'true, the Precept, now to be ex-
plained, mentions only one Kind of Supe-
riors, fhou Jhalt honour thy Father and thy
Mother. But the Cafe of other Superiors
is fo like that of Fathers, that mod of
them have occafionally the, very Name of
Father given them in moft Languages -, and
therefore the Regard, due to them alfo>
may be very properly comprehended, and
laid before you, under the fame Head. It
is likewife true, that the Duty of the Infe-
rior alone is exprerTed in the Command-
ment; but the correfponding Duty of the
Superior is, at the fame Time, of Neceffity
implied : For which Reafon I mall difcourfe
of both ; beginning with the mutual Obr-
ligations of Children and Parents, properly
fo called, which will be a fufficient Employ-
ment for the prefent Time.

Now the Duty of Children to their Pa-
rents is here exprefled by the Word Honour,
which in common Language fignifies a Mix-
ture of Love and Refpeft, producing due
Obedience ; but in Scripture Language it
implies further, Maintenance and Support,
when wanted.

i. Love


i. Love to thofe, of whofe Flefh and
Blood we are, is what Nature dilates to
us, in the very firft Place. Children have
not only received from their Parents, as
Inftruments in the Hand of God, the Ori-
ginal of their Being j but the Prefervation
of it through all the Years of helplefs In-
fancy ) when the needful Care of them gave
much Trouble, took up much Time, and re-
quired much Expence ; all which, Parents
ufually go through, with fo chearful a Di-
ligence, and fo felf-denying a Tendernefs,
that no Return of Affection on the Chil-
drens Part can pofiibly repay it to the full 3
though Childrens Affection is what, above
all Things, makes Parents happy. Then,
as Life goes on, it is their Parents that give
or procure for them fuch Inflruftion of all
Kinds, as qualifies them, both to do well
in this World, and be for ever bleffcd in
another ; that watch over them continually
with nevcr-ceafmg Attention, confulting
their Inclinations in a Multitude of obliging
Instances, and bearing with their Perverfe-
nefs in a Multitude of provoking ones >
kindly reflraining them from a thoufand
A 4 per-


pernicious Follies, into which they would
otherwife fall ; and directing their heed-
lefs Footfteps into the right Way ; encou-
raging, rewarding, and, which indeed is no
iefs a Benefit, correding them alfo, as the
Cafe requires j full of Sollicitude all the
while for their Happinefs, and confuming
tliemfelves with Labour and Thoughtful-
nefs for thefe dear Objects, to improve,
fupport, and. advance them in their Lives,
and provide for them at their Deaths. Even
thofe Parents, who perform thefe Duties
but imperfedly, who perhaps do fome very
wrong Things, do notwithflanding, almoft
all of them, fo many right and meritorious
ones ; that though, the more fuch they de>
the better they fhou-ld be loved j yet they
that do leaft, do enough to be loved fm-
cerely for it, as long as they live d .

2. And with Love muft ever be joined,
fecondly, due Refpect, inward and outward.
For Parents, are not only the BenefadorSi
but in Rank the Betters, and in Right the
Governors, of their Children ; whofe De-
pendance is upon them, in Point of Intereft,

A See Xenophon's Memoirs of Socrates, 1. 2. c. 2.



generally ; in Point of Duty, always. They
ought therefore to think of them with great
Reverence, and treat them with every Mark
of Submiflion, in Gefture, in Speech, in
the whole of their Behaviour, which the
Practice of wife and good Perfons hath
efbblifhed, as proper Inftances of filial Re-
gard. And though the Parents be mean
in Station, or low in Underftanding ; ftiil
the Relation continues, and the Duty that
belongs to it. Nay, fuppofe they be faulty
in fome Part of their Conduct or Character,
yet Children mould be very backward to
fee this ; and it can very feldom be al-
lowable for them to fhew that they fee it.
From the World they fhould always con-
ceal it, as far as they can ; for it is Shock-
ing beyond Meafure in them to publifh it.
And if ever any Thing of this Nature mud
be mentioned to the Parents themfelves,
which nothing but great Neceflity can war-
rant or excufe ; it fhould be with all pofii-
ble Gentlenefs and Modefty, and the moft
real Concern at being obliged to fo un-
natural an Office.

3. Love


3. Love and Refpeft to Parents will always
produce Obedience to them: a third Duty
of the higheft Importance. Children, for
a confiderable Time, are utterly unqualified
to govern themfelves; and fo long as this
continues to be the Cafe, mud be abfolute-
ly and implicitly governed by thofe, who
alone can claim a Title to it. As they
grow up to the Ufe of Underftanding in-
deed, Reafon fhould be gradually mixed
with Authority, in every Thing that is re-
quired of them. But at the fame Time,
Children mould obferve, what they may
eafily find to be true in daily Inftances,
that they are apt to think they know how
to direcl: themfelves, much fooner than they
really do ; and mould therefore fubmit to
be directed by their Friends in more Points,
and for a longer Time, than perhaps they
would naturally be tempted to wifh. Sup-
pofe, in that Part of your Lives which is
already pad, you had had your own Way
in every Thing, what would have been the
Confequences ? You yourfelves mud fee,
very bad ones. Why, other Perfons fee,
what you will fee alfo in Time, that it



would be full as bad, were you to have
your Way now. And what all who arc
likely to know, agree in, you fhould be-
lieve, and fubmit to. Your Parents and
Governors have at lead more Knowledge
and Experience, if they have not more Ca-
pacity, than you. And the Trouble which
they take, and the Concern which they
feel about you, plainly fhew that your
Good is the Thing which they have at
Heart. The only Reafon why they do
not indulge you in the Particulars that you
wifh, is, that they fee it would hurt you.
And it is a dreadful Venture for you, to
think, as yet, of trufting yourfelves. Truft
therefore to thofe, whom you have all Man-
ner of Reafon to truft : and obey them wil-
lingly, who by the Laws of God and Man,
have a right to rule you; and, generally
fpeaking, a Power to make you obey at
laft, be you ever fo unwilling.

Not that Children are bound to Obe-
dience in all Things, without Exception.
Should a Parent command them to lie,
to fteal, to commit any Wickednefs ; God
commands the contrary ; and He is to be

6 obeyed,

12 L:E C T U R E XXH.

obeyed, not Man. Or mould a Parent
command any Thing of Confequence, di-
re&ly oppofite to the Laws of the Land,
and the Injunctions of public Authority:
here the Magiftrate, being the fuperior
Power, in all Things that conferTedly be-
long to his Jurifdiction, is to be obeyed,
rather than the Parent, who ought himfelf
to be fubjed to the Magistrate 6 . Or if,
in other Points, a Parent iliould require
what was v both very evidently, and very
greatly, unfuitable to a Child's Condition
and Station ; or had a clear Tendency to
make him miferable; or would be cer-
tainly and considerably prejudicial to him
through the Remainder of his Life : where
the one goes fo far beyond his juft Bounds,
the other may allowably excufe himfelf
from complying. Only the Cafe muft be
both fo plain, and withal of fuch Mo-
ment, as may juflify him, not only in his
own Judgment, which may eafily be pre-
judiced, but in that of every confiderate
Perfon, whom he hath Opportunity of con-
fulting, and in the general Opinion of

See Tay1or*s Elements of Civil Law, p. 387, 388, 389.



Mankind. And even then, the Refufai
rnuft be accompanied with the greatefl:
Decency and Humility -, and the flridefl
Care to make amends, by all Inftances of
real Duty, for this' one feeming want of

. In proportion as young Perfons approach
to that Age, when the Law allows them
to be capable of governing ttamfelves, they
become by Degrees lefs and lefs fubjecl: to
the Government of their Parents; efpecially
in fmaller Matters ; for in the more im-
portant Concerns of Life, and above all, in
the very important one of Marriage, -not
only Daughters, (concerning whom, the
very Phrafe of giving them in Marriage,
mews, that they are not to give themfelves
as they pleafe) but Sons too, fhould have
all poflible Regard to the Authority, the
Judgment, the Blefling, the Comfort of
thofe, to whom they owe every Thing.
And even after they are fent out into the
World, to (land on their own Bottom, ftill
they remain for ever bound not to flight,
cr willingly to grieve them ; but in all pro-
per Affairs, to confult with them, and



hearken to them ; as far as it can be at all
expected, in Reafon or Gratitude, that they

4. The lad: Thing, which in Scripture
the Phrafe of honouring Parents compre-
hends, is affording them decent Relief and
Support, if they are reduced to want it.
For thus our Saviour explains the Word,
in his Reproof of the Pharifees, for making
this Commandment of no Effeft by their tra-
dition. God commanded. Honour thy Father
and thy Mother : but ye fay, 'ivhofoever Jhall
jay to his Father or Mother, it is a Gift, by
whatfoever thou might eft be profited by me:
that is, what (hould have relieved you, I
have devoted to religious Ufes : whofoever
fhall fay this, and honour etb not his Father
or bis Mother -, hefiallbefree*. In St. Mark,
it is, Te fuff'er him no more to do ought for
his Father or his Mother s . And in other
Places of Scripture, befides this, honouring
a Perfon fignifies contributing to his Main-
tenance : as i Tim. v. 17, 18. Let the El-
ders that rule well, be counted worthy of double
ejfecially they 'who labour in the

Matth. xv. 4, 5, 6. Mark vii, 12,



Word and Doftr'me ; for the Scripture faith*
the Labourer is worthy of his Reward.

How worthy Parents are of this, as well
as the other Sorts of Honour, when they
need it, fufficiently appears from all that
hath been faid. If they deferve to be loved
and refpeded; furely they are not to be
left expofed to Diflrefs and Want, by thofe
whom they have brought into Life ; and
for whom they have done fo much : but
Children, even if they are poor, fhould
both be diligent in working, and provident
in faving, to keep their helplefs Parents
from Extremities : and if they are in com-
petently good Circumftances, mould allow
them a liberal Share of the Plenty, which
they enjoy themfelves. Accordingly St.
Paul directs, that both Children, and Ne-
phcivs, that is Grand-children, for fo the
Word Nephew always means in Scripture,
fhould learn firft to Jbew Piety at Home, and
to requite their Parents : for that is good and
acceptable before God*. Indeed Nature, as
well as Chriftianity, enjoins it fo flrongly,
that the whole World cries out Shame,

fc i Tim. v. 4.



where it is negledted. And the fame Rea-
fon, which requires Parents to be affifted
in their NecefTities, requires Children alfo
to attend upon them, and minifter to them,
with vigilant Affiduity and tender Affec-
tion, in their Infirmities ; and to confult on
every Occafion, their Defires, their Peace,
their Eafe. And they fhould confider both
what they contribute to their Support, and
every other Inftance of Regard, which they
fhew them, not as an Alms, given to an
Inferior : but as a Tribute of Duty paid
to a Superior. For which Reafon perhaps
it may be, that relieving them is men-
tioned in Scripture under the Notion of
honouring them.

One Thing more to be obferved, is, that
all thefe Duties of Children belong equally
to both Parents ; the Mother being as ex-
prefsly named, as the Father, in the Com-
mandment ; and having the fame Right in
point of Reafon. Only, if contrary Or-
ders are given by the two Parents to the
Child; he is bound to obey that Parent
rather, whom the other is bound to obey
alfo : but {till preferving to each all due
6 Reve-


P.everence : from which nothing, not even
the Command of either, can difcharge
him '.

And now I proceed to the Duties of
Parents to their Children : on which there
is much lefs Need to enlarge, than on the
other. For not only Parents have more
Underftanding to know their Duty, and
flronger AfFedtions to prompt them to do
it : but indeed^ a great Part of it hath been
already intimated, in fetting forth that of
Children to them. It is the Duty of Pa-
rents, to take all that kind Care, which is
.the main Foundation of Love ,* to keep up
fuch Authority, as may fecure Refpecl: -, to
give fuch reafonable Commands, as may
engage a willing Obedience : and thus to
make their Children fo good, and them-
felves fo efteemed by them, that they may
depend, in cafe of Need, on Afiiftance and
Succour from them.

More particularly, they are bound to
think them, from the firft, worthy of their
own Infpeftion and Pains -, and not abandon

' Pietas Parentibus, etfi inaequalis eC eorum poteflas, arqiu
debebitur. D. 27. 10. 4.

VOL. II. B them

them to the Negligence, or bad Manage-
ment of others : fo to be tender of them
and indulge them, as not to encourage their
Faults ; fo to reprove and correct them,
as not to break their Spirits, or provoke
their Hatred : to inftill into them the
Knowledge, and require of them the Prac-
tice, of their Duty to God and Man ; and
recommend to them every Precept, both of
Religion and Morality, by what is the
ftrongefl Recommendation, a good and a-*
miable Example : to breed them up as
fuitably to their Condition, as may be ; but
to be fure not above it ; watching over
them with all the Care, that conduces to
Health ; but allowing them in none of the
Softnefs, that produces Luxury or Indo-
lence -, or of the needlefs Diflinclions, that
pamper Pride : to begin preparing them
early, according to their future Station in
Life, for being ufeful in it, to others and
themfelves : to provide confcientioufly for
their fpiritual and eternal, as well as tem-
poral Good, in difpoiing of them -, and be-
ftow on them willingly, as foon as it is fit,
whatever may be requifite to fettle them
7 pro-


properly in the World : to lay up for
them, not by Injuftice, Penurioufnels, or
immoderate Sollicitude, all that they can j
but by honeft and prudent Diligence and
Attention, as much as is fufficient j and to
diflribute this amongft them, not as Fond-
nefs, or Refentment, or Caprice, or Vanity,
may didate ; but in a reafonable and equi-
table Manner > fuch as will be likelier! to
make thofe who receive it, love one an-
other, and efteem the Memory of the

Thefe are, in brief, the mutual Duties
of Parents and Children : and you will
eafily perceive that they are the Duties, in
Proportion, of all who by any occafional,
or accidental Means, come to ftand in the
Stead of Parents or of Children. The main
Thing which wants to be obferved, is, that
from the Neglect of thefe Duties on one
Side, or on both, proceeds a very great Part
of the Wickednefs and Mifery, that is in
the World. May God incline the Hearts
of all that are concerned either Way in
this mod important Relation, fo to prac-
tife the feveral Obligations of it, as may
B 2 pro-


procure to them, in this World, recipro-
cal Satisfaction and Joy, and eternal Fe-
licity in that which is to come, through
Jefus Chrifl our Lord.



The Fifth Commandment.

IN my lafl Difcourfe I began to explain
the fifth Commandment : and having al-
ready gone through the Duties of Children
and Parents, properly fo called, I come
now to the other Sorts of Inferiors and Su-
periors : all which have fometimes the fame
Names given them, and are comprehended
under the Reafon and Equity of this Pre-

And here, the firft Relation to be men-
tioned, is, that between private Subjeds
and thofe in Authority over them : a Re-
lation fo very like that of Children and
Fathers, that the Duties on both Sides are
much the fame in each.

B 3 But


But more particularly, the Duty of Sub-
jects, is, to obey the Laws of whatever
Government Providence hath placed us un-
der, in every thing which is not contrary
to the Laws of God -, and to contribute
willingly to its Support, every thing that
is legally required, or may be reafonably
expedted of us : to be faithful and true to
the Interefts of that Society, of which we
are Members ; and to the Perfons of thofe,
who govern it ; paying, both to the fupreme
Power, and all fubordinate Magiftrates,
every Part of that Submiffion and Refpect,
both in Speech and Behaviour, which is
their Due; and making all thofe Allow-
ances in their Favour, which the Difficulty
of their Office, and the Frailty of our com-
mon Nature, demand : to love and wifh
well to all our Fellow-Subjecls, without
Exception ; think of them charitably, and
treat them kindly; to be peaceable and
quiet, each minding diligently the Duties
of his own Station ; not factious and tur-
bulent, intruding into the Concerns of
others : to be modeft and humble, not ex->
ercijlng ourfehes in Matters too high for



us*-, but leaving fuch Things to the Care
of our Superiors, and the Providence of
God : to be thankful for the Bleffings and
Advantages of Government, in Proportion
as we enjoy them ; and reafonable and pa-
tient under the Burdens and Inconveniences
of it, which at any Time we may fufFer.

The Duty of Princes and Magiftrates, it
would be of little Ufe to enlarge on at pre-
fent. In general it is, to confine the Exer-
cife of their Power within the Limits of
thofe Laws, to which they are bound ; and
direct it to the Attainment of thofe Ends,
for which they were appointed : to execute
their proper Function with Care and In-
tegrity, as Men fearing God> Men of Truth,
bating Covetoiifnejs* ; to do all Perfons im-
partial Juftice, and confult, in all Cafes, the
public Benefit; encouraging Religion and
Virtue with Zeal, efpecially by a good Ex-
ample ; punifhing Crimes with Steadinefs, r
yet with Moderation ; and jlndying to pre-
fers the People committed to their Gharge, in
Wealth, Peace, and Godlinefs c .

a Pfalm cxxxi. i. b Exod. xviii. 21. e Communion


B 4 Another


Another Relation, to be brought under
this Command ment, is, that between fpi-
ritup.l Fathers, the Teachers of Religion,
and fuch as are to be taught.

The Duty of us who have undertaken
the important Work of fpiritual Guides
and Teachers, is, to deliver the Doctrines
and Precepts of our holy Religion, in the
plained and ftrongefl Terms that we can j
infifting on fuch Things chit-fly, as will be
mod conducive to the real and inward Be-
nefit of our Hearers ; and recommending
them, in the mod prudent and perfuaiive
Manner j Je eking to pleafe all Men for their
good, to "Edification d ; but fearing no Man in
the Difcharge of our Conferences; and nei-
ther faying nor omitting any Thing, for
the Sake of Applaufe from the many, or
the few ; or of promoting either our own
Wealth and Power, or that of cur Order :
to inftrucT:, exhort, and comfort, all that are
placed under our Care, with Sincerity, Dif-
cretion, and Tendcrnefs, privately as well
as publlckly, fo far as they give us Opporr-
tunity, or we difcern hope of doing Ser-
A Rom. xv. 2. i Cor, x 33.



vice ; 'watching for their Souls, as they that
miift give Account e -, to rule in the Church
of God with Vigilance, Humility, and
Mecknefs, Jhewing ourfehes, in all Yhings,
Patterns of good Works f .

The Duty of you, the Chriftian Laity,
whom we are to teach, is, to attend con-
flantly and ferioufly on religious Worlhip
and Inftruction, as a facred Ordinance ap-
pointed by Heaven for your fpiritual Im-
provement; to confider impartially and
carefully what you hear, and believe and
practife what you are convinced you ought ;
to obferve with due Regard the Rules e-
flablimed for decent Order and Edification
in the Church ; and pay fuch Refpecl:, in
Word and Deed, to thofe who minifter to
you in holy Things, as the Intereft and
Honour of Religion require ; accepting and
encouraging our well-meant Services, and
bearing charitably with our many Imper-
fedions and Failings.

A third Relation is that between Mafters
or Miftrefles of Schools and their Scholars.
The Duty of the former is, diligently to

Heb. xiii. 17, 'Tit. ii. 7.



inftruft the Children committed to them,
in all the Things which they are put to
learn, fuiting their Manner of Teaching,
as well as they can, to the Temper and
Capacity of each ; and to take effectual Care
that they apply themfelves to what is taught
them, and do their heft ; to watch over their
Behaviour, efpecially in the great Points of
Honefty and Truth, Modefty and Good-
Humour; mew Countenance to fuch as are
well-behaved and promifing; correct the
Faulty, with needful, yet not with exceffive
Seventy ; and get the Incorrigible removed

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14

Online LibraryThomas SeckerWorks (Volume 12) → online text (page 1 of 14)