Fifth River — Obedience to Parents
“Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lordthy God giveth thee.” — Ex. xx, 12. “Cursed be he that setteth light by his father or his mother.” — Deut. xxvii, 16.
“And he that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death.” — Ex. xxi, 15.
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.” — Eph. vi, 1 .
If you had a map of the Geography of the spiritual world, you would find one of the mostterrible rushing branches of the River of Death is Disobedience to Parents.
A peculiarity of this River is that so many children fall into it, It is one of the very firstStreams into which little ones fall, unless they are very carefully trained. If you have parents whohave kept you from its fatal flood, you ought to shout for joy and run and give them an extra hug andkiss.
Father and mother are your natural, God-appointed protectors, teachers, and governors.How good of God to thus shield and care for you when you are unable to do so yourself! If sin hadnot entered the world and deranged it, doubtless children would never have felt like breaking thisCommandment. God gives the following promises to all who keep it:
Length of life; live “long upon the land.” This embraces an inheritance in the “Land ofSalvation,” and also on earth with those of whom Jesus said:
“Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” — Matt. v, 5.
God’s favor — “This is well-pleasing to God.” (Eph. v, 20.)
“The consciousness of doing right.” (Eph. vi, 1-16.)
Prosperity — “That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.” (Eph.vi, 3.)
The only exception to Obedience to Parents is where they command to do wrong. In suchcases the command of God is plain, and children should follow His instructions, given in Ezekielxx, 18:
“I said unto their children in the wilderness, Walk ye not in the statutes of your fathers,neither observe their judgments, nor defile yourselves with their idols.”
If parents command to steal, or swear, or lie, or cheat, or murder, or to marry unconvertedpersons, or anything else which God clearly forbids, their authority should be kindly but firmlyresisted, even if punishment or martyrdom is the result. If you obey them when they command youto disobey God, then they are your idols, and you are guilty of Idolatry.
Upon loyalty to this Commandment rests largely obedience to government and to God.
Faithful children make faithful citizens and faithful Christians.
“Without natural affection” is one of the marks of apostasy from God, while true religion”turns the hearts of fathers to the children, and the hearts of children to their fathers.”
To violate this Law is to incur as severe a penalty as of any other of the Commandments.
Children break it, and fall into the River in the following ways:
By open disobedience.
By disregarding father’s or mother’s wishes.
By treating their counsels lightly.
By being unthankful for their favors.
By being disrespectful and saucy to them.
By calling them “the old folks” or kindred unseemly names.
By jesting about their old-fashioned ways or speeches.
By being ashamed of their company.
By neglecting them when in need.
By living so as to bring a reproach upon them.
By joining in conversation against them.
By refusing to ask forgiveness when they have wronged them.
By giving to others the love and honor and obedience which is due them only.
By being discontented with them.
By running away from home.
In these and other ways this Law may be broken, and the awful consequences brought onyourself.
Among the results of its violation are the following:
A guilty conscience.
Disrespect for all law and restraint.
Yielding to other sins.
Trouble and disappointment.
An offended God.
Unless rescued by the Life-boat of Salvation, an endless hell. A disobedient child is like–
A serpent which stings the man who saves it.
A man who turns traitor to the government which protects him.
A lunatic who would burn the house that shelters him.
A man who would sow brambles, and look to reap grain.
All who claim the salvation which makes the keeping of this and all the otherCommandments a delight shall live long “upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth,” and shallbe like the “sun when he goeth forth in his might.”
Jesus was subject to His parents when a child, and among His last acts He provided forHis aged mother.
Happy are they who follow in His steps.
He was only ten, and small of his age, but he was a hero, and fought his battle and died avictor before his eleventh birthday. Like many other dying mothers, Bennie’s had left this message,”Take care of father;” and Bennie had answered, “I will, mother.”
And he kept his promise. The gaunt wolf of poverty was always lurking near the thresholdof the desolate room which Bennie called “home.” But the brave child would not allow him toenter. He could not do much, but he fought him off with all the strength he possessed. He helped alarger boy sell papers whenever he could get away from watching his father; he did errands; heheld horses; he sold apples for an old woman who had the corner stand; in fact, he did “what hecould,” and trusted God for the rest. In winter’s cold or summer’s heat he was always to be found atnight in the vicinity of a saloon which his father visited, Whether it was eight or nine or ten oreleven o’clock when his father reeled out, the faithful child was always ready to ‘lead him homesafely. His reward was usually curses, sometimes blows; but Bennie did not murmur; he wouldkeep his promise, whatever his father chose to do.
When Thomas Dunn, Bennie’s father, was sober, he seemed to care for his little boy — onceeven going so far as to put his hand gently upon his head and say, with a half sob, as if realizing thechild’s neglected condition, “Poor boy! poor little Bennie!” But Thomas Dunn’s sober intervalswere getting rare.
Bennie, weary and heart-broken, began to fear that the wolf must cross their threshold, forit took all of his time now to “take care of father.” He was always staggering around somewhere,or stumbling over something; he seemed to need Bennie every moment. One day, as the two werecrossing the street, the staggering man fell, and Bennie’s full strength was used to pull him to aplace of safety. In another moment Bennie’s feet were crushed out of all shape as two runawayhorses drawing a heavy carriage trampled over him. He was picked up gently and taken to ahospital, whither his sobered father followed him.
Terrible days followed — days of physical agony to Bennie; days of mental torture to hisrepentant father. One evening just at dusk, Bennie opened his eyes, in which the light of reasononce more shone. A look of wonder was on his patient face. In the gloaming he could see thehospital surgeon sitting beside him. What did it mean?
“Why am I here?” he asked, his voice faint and trembling.
“You were injured, my boy, and we had to perform an operation,” answered a gentle voice.
“What was the operation?” his voice trembling with fear.
“Your feet were amputated, my poor child.”
“Cut off, sir, do you mean?”
“Yes, cut off.”
“O, sir, what will become of father? I promised mother I ‘d take care of him, and — and –”
“Don’t think about that now, Bennie,” said the surgeon, his voice shaken with sobs.
“But I must think about it, sir; father I’ll be under the horses’ feet, an’ mebbe be killed, an’he ain’t ready to die. Couldn’t I have crutches, sir, an’ go an’ find father?”
Some one whom he had not noticed in the dusk was kneeling at the foot of the bed; theperson now crept nearer, and a voice shaken with sobs said, “You don’t need the crutches, Bennie,lad; father’s here, and he’ll never leave you.”
It was even so; over the faithful child’s crushed feet the dissipated father had found his wayto the Cross.
Bennie died that night. His last words, looking up with a smile, were, “Mother! O mother!I kept my promise; I did take care of father.”
THANK GOD FOR MOTHER
Herald and Presbyter
After one of the hard-fought battles of the war, a Confederate chaplain was called hastily tosee a dying soldier. Taking his hand, he said, “Well, my brother, what can I do for you?”
He supposed the young fellow would want to cry to God for help in his extremity; but itwas not so.
“Chaplain,” said he, “I want you to cut a lock of hair for my mother; and then, chaplain, Iwant you to kneel down, and return thanks to God for me.”
“For what?” asked the chaplain.
“For giving me such a mother. O, she is a good mother! Her teachings are my comfort now.And then, chaplain, thank God that by His grace I am a Christian. What would I do now if I werenot a Christian? And thank God for giving me dying grace. He has made this hard bed feel ‘soft asdowny pillows are.’ And, O chaplain, thank Him for the promised home in glory — I’ll soon bethere.”
“And so,” said the chaplain, “I kneeled by his bed with not a petition to utter, only praisesand thanksgiving for a good mother, a Christian hope, dying grace, and an eternal home in glory.”
PAID IN HIS OWN COIN
If children ill-treat their parents, they may expect the results to come back upon themselvesin similar acts from their own offspring.
A certain son treated his aged and dependent father very unkindly. He would not allow himto have his meals with the family, and compelled him to eat with a wooden spoon.
Seeing his own little boy whittling one day, he asked him what he was making. Theinnocent, though cutting, answer was:
“I ‘m making a spoon for you to eat with when you get old like you make grandpa eat withnow.”
Surely “with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured unto you.”