Chapter 8. Children.

"Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth" Ephesians 6:1-3.

"Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord" Colossians 3:20.

For the expression of the relationship of "children," the original has two words: "teknon," and "huios." The former expresses the nearness of that relationship in affection, and the latter, in position, as to the rights and claims springing from it, and the duties connected with it.

It is the same in the English and other languages. If parents wish to express their parental affection to their offspring, they say: "My child."* The very word, "child," at once carries the heart of father and mother back to the days of the infancy of the beloved offspring of their love, from the first moment of its existence, when its first feeble, weeping cry announced its arrival in a world of sin and sorrow, and sent a thrill through the parent's heart; and through the first years of its helpless infancy, drawing forth the tender pity of the father, and requiring the cares of a mother's love by day and night. That single word, "child," recalls, as it enshrines, all those affections of a parent's heart, of which the child has been the happy recipient.

{*In German, "mein Kind;" in French, "mon enfant."}

But when the object of that tender, loving parental care has developed into maturity, and the sturdy youth, or blooming maid, stands before the parents; the latter have to put before them their duties, accruing from their position as "sons" or "daughters," and perhaps, to speak to them the solemn, though loving word of exhortation, where that position of "son" and "heir," as to the corresponding responsibility and duty, might have been lost sight of and neglected. In such cases the father's grave word, "My son," appeals to the conscience of the forgetful young recipient of parental love and liberality; and if that word has found an echo in his conscience, and produced its proper effect, the old cheerful term, "my child," will come as a balm for the heart, like the first sunbeam after the stormy cloud.

And may I ask those of my beloved younger Christian readers, who are in this happy, but none the less responsible relationship: "Does that sweet word, "my child," when coming to you from the lips of a fond parent, recall to your heart the many days and nights of unceasing loving parental care, patience, and forbearance, bestowed upon you from the first moment of your existence, through all the years of your naughty, capricious, noisy, troublesome, importuning, heedless, restless, and boisterous childhood? And if that word, "my child," speaks to your heart, beloved, as I do not doubt it does, has it also a voice for your conscience, as to how you have requited that parental love and tender care, that was, under God's supreme, merciful protection, watching over you all those years, and doting upon you, and taking notice of your slightest wants, with unwearied patience? That love, that watched, during the long hours of the night, over your sick bed, or toiled for you in the sweat of the brow in the heat of the day, or braved the frost, and the storms and waves, that you might be fed and clothed. Nay, more that love that watched over your precious soul, and not only stored your mind with the needed amount of knowledge, to enable you to earn your bread in an honest way, but (if you had the privilege, to be the child of Christian parents) brought you up, in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and wrestled in prayer to God for your soul by day and night, and under God's grace, became instrumental for your everlasting salvation. Have you yielded to God and to your parents the fruits of a Timothy or Jehoshaphat?

I again would ask you: Has that word, "my child," exercised its appealing power upon your conscience as well as upon your heart? If so, you will show that you have understood what the word, "my son," means, and your parent will have no need to address you by the latter term, with the sorrowful look and grave tone of reproach and exhortation, but only by way of encouragement, reward, and confidence, because you have shown by your demeanour, that you understood not only what it is to be a child, but also what it means to be a "son."

Suffer these few words of exhortation, beloved young brother or sister in Christ for you know, the times in which we are living, are called by that most honoured Christian pilot, "perilous times," and these days are the "latter days." And we know how the spirit of the present age, pride and independence, manifested in such an appalling degree in the present "rising generation" of the world, is apt to affect, and, alas! has grievously affected and tainted, with its poisonous breath, the hearts and minds of the younger portion of many a Christian family, and will continue to do so still more, if not carefully and prayerfully watched and guarded against. The Laodicean spirit of selfishness, self-sufficiency, and self-conceit, has not only found its way into the Church generally, but even in Christian families its baneful influence is often most painfully felt, and noticeable even to strangers, in the demeanour and bearing of their younger members. Lukewarmness has manifested its nauseous effect, first as to the affections of the Church to Christ, and, in consequence, as to the natural affections of the members of Christian families one towards another; and not only as to natural affections, but even as to the "great healing principle of humanity" obedience and submission.

But we must not forget, beloved, that after the closing of the door upon the foolish virgins of Laodicea, at the end of the third chapter of the Book of Revelation, "a door was opened in heaven," and the Lord's beloved disciple, the sad spectator of the previous scenes of ruins and decline, was told, "Come up hither," lest, by remaining on the same level with those scenes around him, he should become indifferent, i.e., lukewarm, himself, or reduced to despair, From this world's chilling and nauseous temperature, the Lord's bosom-disciple is taken right up into the warm atmosphere of heavenly worship, where every bosom glows with adoring response to "God and the Lamb," and where no Laodicean heart is to be found amongst those myriads even of angels, not to speak of the redeemed there above.

Let us do the same, Christian reader. For if the heart grows sick and wearied with looking at the Laodicean state around, in church and family-life, the only true panacea is, to rise above it in the Spirit, that "Power from on high," the "Spirit of glory," who has been given us, that we might, in His power, shut the door upon everything within and around us, and have a door opened to us in heaven, to enter in the Spirit into a fuller realisation of those counsels of our glorious God and Father, even the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. We bless Him, because He "hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ, according as he hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy, and without blame before Him in love."

And what is the relationship in which we were to be brought towards God, according to His glorious counsels?

"Having predestinated us" (or marked us out before hand), "unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will."

This, the relationship of children, then, is the first mentioned in the Epistle to the Ephesians, where we have the counsels of God in and through Christ Jesus.

Then afterwards, in the fifth chapter, we have the bride; for the Father had given the children as a bride to the Son.

The same order, though not in a Church aspect, we find in the second chapter of the Epistle of the same apostle to the Hebrews.

"For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings" (v. 10).

Then, further on: "Behold, I and the children which God hath given me" (v. 13). The same in John 17 "Thine they were, and thou gavest them me" (v. 6).

Surely, if the prophetic spirit through David, with regard to God's counsels in Christ as to Israel, said:

"Many, O Lord my God, are thy wonderful works, which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to usward; they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee; if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered;" we, in an infinitely higher sense, may say this of God's counsels as to Christ and the Church.

God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Whose love was perfectly pleased with His blessed Son, Who was His daily delight from eternity, yet did not confine Himself to His only Son, if we may say so with reverence. That love went out farther into a wider range, though all was connected with Christ, by Whom all things were made. God in His wondrous counsels, in which the Son, Who says, "I and the Father are one," agreed with Him (as in everything); God would have children for Himself, and many sons brought to glory." But in order to accomplish those wondrous counsels of blessing, His own Son, His only begotten Son, must suffer and die upon the cross.

"For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings."

And what were those sufferings which have made you, Christian reader, a child of God? Not only had the Lord of Glory to be nailed to the cross, and there to face all the taunts and derision of the assembly of the wicked that enclosed Him — terrible as this was — but more , not only had the Holy One to be made sin for us, and to bear our sins on His own body, without spot and blemish; and not only had the Prince of Life to taste death, (who, and if he were the most spiritual saint of God, could have more than the faintest idea or measure of what that meant!) but more still! The only begotten, well-beloved Son of the Father, upon Whom that Father's heart and eye rested with the supreme and perfect delight of a God and Father — that Son had to drink that awful cup, which that Father's own hand gave Him!

"The cup, which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?"

Christian sons and daughters, children of the same Father, — you, whom the Son of that Father is not ashamed to call "brethren," — have those words of the obedient Son of a divine Father's love penetrated, in their divine power, into your consciences, and been felt in your hearts, in their appealing power?

That cup, filled up to the brim, every drop of whose awful contents would have consumed you or me, beloved child of God, if we should have had to taste it, He had to drink it, deeper and deeper — until it had been drained to the very last drop, and the Son, Who was obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, could bow His head upon that cross and speak the words: "It is finished."

Or can we understand, beloved child of God, what it cost God, not only to give His only begotten Son, but to deliver Him up for us, by His "determinate counsel and foreknowledge" (Acts 2:23)? "

Determination in man only is a sign of a hard heart, or a hard will. God's determinate counsel in delivering up the obedient Son of His love for children of wrath and of disobedience, only manifests His loving heart and gracious, blessed will towards sinners, rebels and enemies, such as you and I once were, Christian reader, that we, through Christ's obedience unto death, even the death of the cross, might be — not only dear, but — obedient children.

There are two reasons why God loves His blessed Son. First, because He is His Son, the only begotten Son of the Father, and, as such, perfect, and the worthy object of God — the Father's delight. When God appointed the foundations of the earth, the Son was with Him, as one brought up with Him and He was daily His Father's delight, rejoicing always before Him.

In that divine Son, there was everything that was perfect, and delightful to the divine Father's heart. But there was another reason for such a Father's love to such a Son! It was not only the divine perfection of the Son of God, but

2. The perfect obedience of Jesus, the Son of Man,

As the co-eternal Son of the Father, He had agreed with Him, as One with the Father, in His counsels of grace, wisdom, and glory, as to the many sons to be brought to glory, for which the Son was, in due time, to suffer and to die. And when the time had arrived, that the word was to be "made flesh," and the Son of God to become the Son of Man; on leaving that heavenly home of divine love, and peace, and glory, to exchange it for a world where sin, misery, hatred, rebellion, pollution, sickness, death, darkness, and every evil and unclean thing are at home, the words of the Son to the Father were: "Lo, I come to do thy will, O God!" — Delightful words to the ears and heart of that Father!

And after the blessed Son, the Lord of Glory, had assumed the humble garb of a servant, and was found in the fashion of man; and when the divine Father's eye followed the steps of that perfect Man on earth, Whose every step, word, action, thought, and feeling, glorified God on earth, where God had been so dishonoured by man, yea, Whose very meat it was, to do the will of Him that sent Him, and to finish His work; Whose every step was a step in the downward road of obedience, — lower and lower, until it terminated on the cross — as ours had been in the downward road of disobedience — with what delight did the Father's eye trace the steps of that obedient and lowly Son of Man, — Who was the mighty Son of God! But it was not this obedience, the obedience of the Perfect Man Jesus, during His life on earth, when opposed at every step by Satan and man, that made, precious to God though it was, Jesus pronounce those words:

"Therefore my Father loveth me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father."

It was on account of the obedience unto death of the Son of Man, obedience perfect unto, and complete in His death, the death on the cross, that the Father loved Him, and does love Him, and will love Him for ever.

But as with the Heavenly Father, so with an earthly, there may be two reasons for loving his child. First, because he is his child, and, secondly, because he is an obedient child. For however impartially a good father may love all his children, yet there is no doubt, that his love towards an obedient child will manifest itself in a very different way from what it does towards a disobedient one. In the former case, the love of the parent flows out unchecked, without let or hindrance, towards its dear object, doting upon it, pouring out upon it all its warmth and full sunshine of paternal favour, not only because he is a child, but because he is an obedient one. In the latter, on the contrary, the parent's love being checked and grieved, can only look with a mother's tearful eye at the self-willed and unsubdued child of her affection, or manifest itself in the father's solemn rebuke, or even in the chastening rod.

Alas! alas! beloved brother and sister in Christ (the obedient Son of the Father's love), is it not often so between God and us? And how often?

There was a time, when you, returning from a far, far country, where you had been boarding with the pigs, and wallowing in the mire with them, covered with rags, but through grace, a repentant prodigal, felt the kiss of a divine Father's redeeming love, because you had, through His grace, Who was looking out for your return, believed in His dear Son, Who in obedience to His Father's will, left His Father's house with the many glorious mansions, to go into a far country — not in disobedience, like you and I — but in obedience to His will, Who would not, that we should die in our sins. He spent "His substance," not like you and I, in "wasting" it, but He had sold all that He had, in order that we might share with Him all that He has. You had felt the welcoming adopting kiss of that Father. The filthy garments were taken away from you, before you were aware of it, and you found yourself clothed, not only with change of raiment, but with the "BEST GARMENT." The gold ring, the expression of your nearest and dearest relationship as a child to the Father, and as betrothed to His Son, had been put upon your finger; the shoes were on your feet, your standing was perfect, for it was in Christ, in Whom there is no condemnation; and sure, for it was on Him as your foundation-stone.

You found yourselves ushered into the banqueting hall of the Father's house. The fatted calf, that had been killed, and roasted, was on the table. How many guests were sitting down there, to partake in the Father's and their common joy, in hailing and welcoming back the one who had been dead, and was alive again, who had been lost away from the Father in the ways of sin and despair, and was now lost in the joy of the Father's heart, and house! How many were there sitting down to that banquet? You could not tell, as little as you could measure the length of the table, where they were seated. Its length was about the same as that from west to east, and south to north. And whilst the vast space was ringing with the merry-making welcome on your return, you were ensconced between the Father and the Son, in that love, from which you felt, that nothing could separate you; and the "Abba" responded to the Father's kiss, and the "Thou knowest Lord, that I love Thee," to the caresses of the lover of your soul.

But it was not only, "Thou knowest Lord, that I love thee," that responded to the love of your Saviour. There was another sentiment in your heart "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" It was that of obedience, that desires to know and to do the will of the one who loves us, and whom we love. And it was not only the "Abba, Father," that responded to the Father's kiss, through His Spirit, by Whom His love was shed abroad in your heart, beloved child of God, but your heart's desire was, to be "led by the Spirit of God" and to walk as a "child of God," and thus to respond to that divine redeeming love, that had sought you and looked out for you, when you were lost, and that hailed and welcomed your return.

Ah! beloved child of God! when the first joy of that wondrous new divine relationship was diffused through every corner of your heart, and made it leap in the power of that Spirit of adoption, and bask in the sunshine of the Father's favour, and when you then, with the eagerness of the new-born babe, turned to the sincere pure milk of His Word, drinking deeply of His Written Christ — for you had "tasted that the Lord is gracious," to get your soul imbued with the sense of the greatness of your Saviour (Heb. 1) and of your salvation (Heb. 2), "which things the angels desire to look into" (1 Peter 1:12), and when you then came to the following verses: "Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end, for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ: as obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to your former lusts, in your ignorance: but as He, which hath called you, is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, be ye holy, for I am holy;" — and when you further on read of the "Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work," and were reminded of that immense prize, with which His love, and the love of His obedient Son had redeemed you: even "the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot"; did not your conscience, equally with your heart, feel and realise the power of those words: "as obedient children?"

You then did not only enjoy the blessing and happiness of your relationship as "dear children" of God, but you felt also the responsibilities as "obedient children" of "the Father, on Whom you call," and Who "hath called you," and says: "Be ye holy, for I am holy." You then felt, that you were not only a dearly beloved, but a dearly bought child of God.

Yes, beloved, there is no relationship without its corresponding responsibility. If I enjoy the privileges of a friend, I have to fulfil the duties or obligations of a friend. And if I am placed in the happy relationship of a child, I have to remember the duties of a child. The higher and nearer the relationship, the more sacred and solemn are the duties, accruing from it, and connected with it.

It was from this reason, that I, at the commencement of this chapter, endeavoured to call the attention, especially of the younger portion of my Christian readers, to the difference between "child" and "son." It is one thing, to enjoy, by faith, your blessed and sure portion and relationship as "children of God," in the sense of John 1:12-13 (the true rendering there is "children," not "sons"); and it is quite another thing, to remember and heed the "exhortation, which speaketh unto you as sons:" (the true rendering,) "My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint, when thou art rebuked of him. For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he, whom the father chasteneth not? "

It is one thing, to enjoy the blessed truth, that "the Spirit of God beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God" (Rom. 8:16); and another thing, to remember what is written in the same precious chapter: "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God."

I have said already at the beginning of this chapter, that the word "son" implies the responsibility and duty, and further the position and rights or claims of that relationship, whilst the word child expresses the nearness of it in liberty and affection. The eighth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, that precious portion of Holy Writ, which deals with the Christian's standing and relationship, makes this distinction between "child" and "son" more evident than any other portion of Scripture, and we find here expressions close together, in the sense I have mentioned, and already quoted from that chapter. (Compare further verse 19, where it is a question of the rights and dignity of the "sons of God," with verse 21, where we have the final result in the full enjoyment of the liberty of "children of God," as to our bodies in glory, which we now enjoy already in the Spirit).

We may have learnt, my beloved young Christian reader, through grace, in our little measure to "behold, what measure of love the Father hath bestowed upon us that we should be called the children (the true rendering) of God;" but it is a different thing to listen to the solemn divine injunction "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty," And at the end of the divine code "He that overcometh, shall inherit all things, and I will be his God, and he shall be my son."

And now let me ask you, that are in the happy relationship of children, under the roof and care of loving parents: have you not only used your eyes, i.e., "behold" that manner of love which the Father hath bestowed upon you, that you should be called "children of God," but are your eyes equally open to the responsibility, springing from that sweet and blessed relationship, i.e., to walk not only as "dear children," but as "obedient children," and thus, by being "led by the Spirit of God, to show that you are the "sons of God," and have understood and realize what that latter expression means and does involve?

The same God, to Whose wondrous love and His blessed Son's loving obedience unto death, even the death on the cross, you owe eternal life, and the divine relationship you are in as "children" and "sons" of God, has placed you here on earth in a similar relationship, where it is His will, that you should reflect your heavenly relationship, and walking in this world, perhaps in the midst of an unconverted family, with unconverted parents, as a harmless and blameless child of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine, as lights in the world, holding forth the word of life."

Beloved "child of God!" your heavenly Father has given you earthly parents, to whom, next to God, you owe your life, and your health in body and mind, and your intellectual and bodily development and attainments, and thus a life-long debt of gratitude for years of their unwearied loving care and patience. Are you endeavouring under the grace of God, to repay to your parents at least some portion of that debt, which you never will be able to fully repay?

In these closing evil days, disobedience, that root of all evil, and of all temporal and eternal misery, is rampant, and fast developing towards its full bloom in the person of Antichrist, the "man of sin," and "son of perdition," whose very character will be "self-will," for he "shall do according to his will." But there is another feature that characterises Antichrist; he shall exalt himself, and "magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods."

Mark the expression: "God of gods."

We know, that God in His Word calls the authorities, whom He has appointed on this earth, by the name of "gods." (Compare Ex. 22:28; Ps. 82:1, 6; John 10:34, 35). They are thus called, because they are ordained by Him to take His place on earth, to rule in righteousness, and to check and counteract the destructive power and undermining, corrupting, and malignant influence of the "prince" and "god" of this world, who himself fell through his pride, in being lifted up against the most High God, and who, ever since Adam's fall, has been at work to inspire man with the same spirit of pride, and independence, and rebellion against God and all divinely appointed authorities i.e., "gods," who are in God's stead, and act for God (such as kings, judges, or magistrates), until Satan's masterpiece: Antichrist, as the first Adam in full bloom, will sit in the temple of God, "showing himself that he is God.

And is not this spirit of self-will, pride, and independence, which, besides that of lying and murder, forms the chief feature of Satan and Antichrist, now pervading this sad world, in every country, and in all ranks of human society? And is not the Satanic spirit of Antichrist, who "opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called god, or that is worshipped,"* now more than ever manifest?

{*The word "worshipped" is used here in the sense of being an object of veneration, in the same way as the judges and magistrates ("gods") are called "your worship" (as much as "your Honour").}

Mark again the expression: "above all that is called god, or that is worshipped" (i.e., "an object of veneration," which is the true meaning of the Greek). That is to say: that spirit of opposition and self-exaltation is not only directed against God, but against all "gods," i.e., divinely appointed authorities, such as kings, judges, and magistrates.

And if God enjoins upon us in His Word, to "fear God," and "honour the king," and to "be subject unto the higher powers," because they are "ordained of God," and "God's ministers," and in that sense are called "gods": do you think, beloved young fellow-believer, that the divine injunction in our chapter: "Honour thy father and mother," is of less weight and importance than that which says, "Honour the king?"

If anything, it is of paramount importance. It "is the first commandment with promise," as the Spirit of God reminds us in our chapter, and rightly so. For if kings and authorities are to be honoured, because they are appointed by a merciful Creator God, to check and restrain Satan's mischievous power over and in this world, and to protect against evil doers, (his instruments), and therefore are "gods," or in God's stead how far more is honour due from you to those, and how far more have you to consider them, not only as your "fathers" or "parents," but as "gods" (in the above sense of the word), whom God has appointed to be, not only the natural protectors and providers for your youth, and whose roof and hearth has not only been to you a shelter and refuge from the storms and dangers of an ungodly and godless world, which lies in the wicked one; but if you have been or are so privileged as to have one or two believing, godly parents, they have instilled into your soul, from your earliest days, the pure milk of the Word of God. And thus, like Timothy, the youthful, and yet so fruitful servant of Christ (whose very name, "fear God," testified to the care his pious mother and grandmother must have taken to instill into his young heart that which is "the beginning of wisdom,") you have known from a child the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus. Do you, my beloved young brother or sister in Christ Jesus, show your Christian parents, in return for their years of ceaseless prayers, and watchfulness, and care, something of that gratitude which the blessed youth Timothy, no doubt, showed to his excellent mother and grandmother, as he did to the great Apostle of the Gentiles and of the Church, who was his father in the Gospel? If so, blessed are you! For it is not merely the promise of long life on earth, or of your earthly welfare, which will be your portion. There is something far higher for you, as you know. You will have in your conscience the seal of the approval of the Lord Jesus Christ, the obedient "Son of God," and the obedient "Son of man" also; and you will, wherever you are, in all your ways and circumstances, enjoy the deep consciousness of God's complacency, the complacency of Him Who said "Thou art my beloved Son, in thee I am well pleased."

And what was it, beloved child of God, that so peculiarly and sweetly characterised the obedience of the blessed child of Nazareth? It was this, that, whilst He always was conscious; even in His human childhood, of being the Son of God, that is, of His divine relationship to His Father in heaven, yet He never for a moment was unmindful of, or forgot His earthly relationship, in which He found Himself, in obedience to His Heavenly Father's will. On the contrary, it was just whilst fully conscious and mindful of the dignity and character, and the obligations (if we may say so) springing from His heavenly, divine relationship, that the child Jesus was such a perfect pattern of obedience and subjection in His earthly relationship. Joseph and the mother of Jesus, after three day's anxious seeking, found Him at last sitting in the temple in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them and asking them questions (for that blessed perfect child never forgot, or overstepped His place!) so that all that heard Him, were astonished at His understanding and answers. His mother said to Him, by way of a gentle reproach "Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing."

Now, in the case of any other child acting thus, there would have been just cause, not only for a gentle reproach, but for a grave rebuke. But this child was first of all the Son of God, before He became the lowly Son of man. Joseph and Mary ought to have remembered this. For had not the angel Gabriel, when announcing to her the birth of Jesus, said, that He should be great, and be "called the Son of the Highest" . ."the Son of God?" And must not that divine, heavenly relationship have the precedence to His earthly one? It was in the sense of that relationship, and in the full consciousness of it, and as the Son of God, that Jesus said unto them: "How is it, that ye sought me? Wist ye not, that I must be about my Father's business?"

"And they understood not the saying, which he spake unto them" (though His mother kept all these sayings in her heart), but Jesus always understood His place and His time. What follows immediately after?

"And He went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them."

Perfect in obedience in His earthly relationship as "Son of man," as He was perfect in obedience as the "Son of God." First His heavenly, divine relationship as paramount in everything; then, as springing from it and in close connection with it, His earthly relationship. Only think; on the one side, the Son of God, the Lord of glory, the Creator of the world, Who called the universe into existence and on the other side, Joseph, the poor carpenter, with his poor wife (though of the lineage of David), despised of men, and counted as nought, as to their social standing! But the Lord of glory, Who was laid in a manger of a stable, and a helpless babe in Simeon's arms, follows, as the child Jesus of Nazareth, his humble parents to their humble abode, and serves Joseph in the carpenter's shop.

The world admires a Czar, whom they call "The Great," because he became a ship's carpenter, to learn the art of ship-building, for the good of his empire. The world admires this as one of the features and proofs of his greatness. But there stood One, greater than the greatest of the earth, in that humble carpenter-shop at Nazareth, of Whom the world's annals are silent, and Whom, when He had accomplished His career of obedience in the downward line (as man's was disobedience in the upward line), they hated without a cause, until at the close of His blessed course, when His obedience was perfect unto death, even the death of the cross, they spat upon Him, and mocked Him with a crown of thorns, and nailed Him to that cross. Such was the close of the earthly career of the obedient child of Nazareth, Who is not only our Saviour, but also our pattern, that we should walk as He has left us an example. Beloved, are we doing so?

He was always "He that is holy," and "He that is true," in His heavenly and in His earthly relationships. In the sense of what He was as the "Son of God," Who "was come from God, and went to God," He could stoop down as the lowly "Son of man," to perform the service of the lowest servant, and wash His servant's feet, and from the temple, in the full sense that He, as the Son of God, must be about His Father's business, He could follow Joseph and Mary to their humble cottage, and be subject unto them.

And in the same measure, I repeat, as we realise our relationship above as "dear children," and "obedient children," we shall know, not only how to behave ourselves before men, but to glorify God in our earthly relationship as children, who are enjoined to "obey" and "honour their parents."

The passage just quoted from Luke 2 as to the child Jesus in the temple, and the child Jesus in the humble carpenter's cottage at Nazareth, as showing His perfect discernment of both His heavenly and His earthly relationship, and yet His faithfulness in each, as found through all the gospels (John 2:4; Matt. 12:46-50; John 19:25-27), affords us at once a practical illustration of the first verse of Ephesians 6, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right." That is to say "obey your parents," and not only "obey them," but "obey your parents in all things;" as the same Apostle writes to the Colossians: only let your obedience be in the Lord, i.e., not against His own Word. The obligations connected with our heavenly relationship must always be paramount. Thus the "in all things" of the Colossians finds its completing modification in the Ephesians in those words, "in the Lord;" lest the subtle flesh and self-will in the "child" should plead the duty of obedience in its earthly relationship, to cloak with a divine precept his disobedience to another divine precept. And from the same reason, the "in the Lord" in the Ephesians has its necessary commentary addition in the Colossians, lest a child should plead its heavenly relationship (under the plea of "conscience," i.e., without the Word) to cover his disobedience in the earthly one. (Compare pp. 158, 137, 139.)

I do not intend here to dwell upon other examples, in Holy Writ, of filial obedience and reverence to parents, such as Isaac and Joseph; the former, in his resistless and quiet, though mere passive obedience on the top of Moriah, the beautiful figure of the One, of Whose obedience unto death I have just spoken, Who was a willing, and yet a willingless victim, bound to the tree of curse; and Joseph, in whose heart all the treasures of Egypt could not chill his filial affections for his father, and even for his brethren,* as all the honours of Egypt could not prevent him from owning his father (the despised herdsman, the "paria" of Egypt), before Pharaoh, and from honouring him before the Egyptians, who would have thought themselves defiled by eating with an herdsman at the same table! We easily can understand the partiality of Jacob's heart for such a son, whatever we may think of his lack of wisdom in showing it before Joseph's brethren.

{*Joseph's first word after he has made himself known to his brethren, saying, "I am Joseph," is, "Doth my father yet live?"}

Beloved, we know what is the spirit of this age. The Word of God has forewarned us, and our daily experience confirms it. The spirit of the present generation, and particularly of the younger part of it, is the spirit of pride, self-will, and contempt of all divinely instituted authorities. If, in the days of John, the spirit of Antichrist, who shall do according to his will, and shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall "speak marvellous things against the God of gods," was already at work, — what about the days in which we are living? Surely everything shows that they are not only the latter, but the very last days! The mystery of iniquity is fast approaching its final outbreak. And though Antichrist has not yet appeared in person, speaking "marvellous things against the God of gods," yet Satan is paving the way everywhere for the fast approaching appearance of his masterpiece, by "speaking marvellous things against the gods," i.e., all divinely appointed authorities, not only in his infidel and rationalistic organs of the press, but in the general tone of conversation, especially on the part of our "rising generation." When they speak, for instance, of their parents, the old sacred terms of "father" and "mother" are shunned, and supplanted by epithets of a mere educational character, with the repetition of which I will not disgrace these leaves. And though I should be loath to think any of my Christian young readers guilty of using such utterly ungodly expressions which are the most flagrant contradiction to the solemn divine injunction "Honour thy father and mother;" yet is not the very fact of the present use of that phraseology, adopted by the young people of the present age, a proof how Satan is paving the way for his great lie: Antichrist, in causing men to speak irreverently against the "gods," i.e., authorities, until he can be bold enough to throw off the mask, and, through his false Christ, "speak marvellous things against the God of gods?" There is everything in man's natural rebellious heart, to yield to that spirit, that will soon culminate in Anti-christ, who is the first Adam in full bloom. Therefore let us see to what is written. "Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life. Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee" (Prov. 4).

And let my young Christian reader remember, that the Word of God, whilst accompanying its divine injunction to obey our parents, and to honour father and mother, with especial promises of blessings, on the other hand, contains and pronounces the most solemn judgment upon those who disregard the Divine commandment, Indeed, there is scarcely any of the various sins, offences and transgressions, mentioned in the law of Moses, where the Divine displeasure and judgment is pronounced in such awfully solemn terms as in the case of rebellious and irreverent children.

I will give a few passages. Let God's own Word speak its own solemn language!

First, I would direct the reader's attention to the place which the Spirit of God in Holy Writ assigns to the parents, as to their place of authority, in closest connection with the holy reverence due to God. In Lev. 19 we read:

"And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy."

And immediately after:

"Ye shall fear every man his mother, and his father, and keep my Sabbath I am the Lord your God!'

Further "My son, keep thy father's commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck, When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee. For the commandment is a lamp, and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life" (Prov. 6:20-23)

"My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother; for they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck" (Prov. 1:8, 9).

"Hearken unto thy father that begat thee, and despise not thy mother when she is old" (Prov. 23:22).

"Cursed be he that setteth light by his father or his mother" (Deut. 27:16).

"There is a generation that curseth their father, and doth not bless their mother; a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness; a generation, O how lofty are their eyes! and their eyelids are lifted up; a generation, whose teeth are as swords, and their jaw teeth as knives, to devour the poor from off the earth, and the needy from among men" (Prov. 30:11-14).

And verse 17. "The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it."

It is said of the well known Adam Clarke, whose pious mother, in his earliest days, had nurtured his soul with the sincere milk of the Word of God, that he, when a little boy, having one day been disobedient to his mother, on entering the garden, saw a raven over his head flying through the air. At this sight, the last of the above quoted passages of Scripture flashed across his young mind, and fell with such power upon his conscience that he, crying and trembling, covered his eyes with his hands, to protect them against the raven, and hurried back into the house.

Let not my younger Christian readers make light of the childish fear of young Adam Clarke, for it was the fear of the Lord, which is the beginning of wisdom. He looketh to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at His Word (Isa. 66:2).

Would, there was more of this trembling at His Word in the "children of this generation," who, in this respect, certainly are not so wise as the little boy Adam Clarke. God, Who used the birds of prey as His messengers, to feed Elijah, His obedient servant, during the time of famine, can use them, if He pleases, and will use them, as the executioners of His righteous judgment upon children who despise those whom God has placed over them in His stead, and who thus despise God Himself, in disobeying their parents. There is something awfully solemn in those words: "The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it." Except that of an idol, there is no greater abomination in the sight of God than a rebellious child. Such a state indicates utter moral corruption, and thus God treats if here, for "wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together."

I know one, who, when a boy of eight years, was present at the death-bed of a pious aged lady, the widow of an officer. One of her sons, a Roman Catholic priest, had, by his uncontrollable temper, caused much sorrow and grief to his departing mother. He did not make his appearance at the death-bed of his mother, but stayed in the next room, until all was over.* And when now the door of his room opened, and the solemn news were whispered to him: "She is gone" and he caught sight of the lifeless body of his departed mother in the next room, he buried his face in his hands, and abandoned himself to such an outburst of grief and "repentance, that was too late," that it made an indelible impression upon the little boy, who was the grandson of the departed lady And as the boy again looked at her pale face, and the lips and eyes, closed for ever in death, that had given him so many loving smiles, looks, and kind and faithful words; and as he looked at her white lifeless hands, that were no longer to caress him and minister to him the countless tokens of a grandmother's love; all at once the remembrance of his many naughty ways, by which he had so ill-requited the love of the departed one, came upon the little boy, and he experienced feelings very similar to those of his uncle in the next room.

{*Peter is not mentioned as present at the cross; John is. And when both ran to the grave, John did outrun Peter. Death is a powerful preacher for the conscience!}

He had something of his uncle's hasty temper, and often afterwards, in his younger years, when he felt tempted to give way to it towards any member of the family, especially towards his parents, he used to turn for a moment aside, and that death-bed scene would rise up in his remembrance, and he used to imagine the beloved one, to whom he at the moment felt tempted to be disobedient or unkind, lifeless before him in the coffin, and the anticipation of a remorse that would be too late, often checked the rising self-will, and prevented the thought or feeling from being uttered.

And if that death scene had such a lasting effect upon the conscience and heart of that unconverted youth, let me ask my Christian reader and myself: has that death scene on Calvary, where the obedient Son of His Father died, and drank the cup of wrath for "children of wrath and of disobedience," its proper effect upon our consciences and hearts? Ah! Reader if you and I were more constantly at the foot of that Cross, where all the fearful consequences of our self-will and disobedience were laid upon that Perfect Son, Who had a right to have His own will, but only used it, as another has said, not to do His own will, but the will of Him Who had sent Him: would not our whole walk and demeanour, especially in our houses and families, bear more the stamp of that cross, where we have been redeemed, and of the glory whither we are called? Not only would our neighbours in the world around us see, that in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ the world is crucified unto us, and we unto the world, but in our houses and families it would be seen, that we are Christ's, and, as such, have "crucified the flesh with the affections (margin, "passions") and lusts."

And now, before closing this portion, let me recall to the remembrance of my young Christian reader two trees, which stood in two very different places in the land of Canaan, where "Jeshurun waxed fat and kicked against his maker." The one of them was a great green oak tree, in the wood of Ephraim, where a rebellious people had fought and lost a great battle against their rightful king and lord. Twenty thousand of them had been slain, "and the wood devoured more people that day than the sword devoured."

And from a thick bough of that oak-tree, suspended by a rope of his own long hair (which, in his case, was no badge of Nazariteship), there hangs between heaven and earth, a son of David, Absalom, the rebellious chief of that routed army, and, worse than this: the rebellious son of the most tender and loving father. For however true it is, that Absalom was a rod in the hand of God for David's chastisement, on account of his grievous sin, this in no wise could attenuate the abominable crime of Absalom's rebellion.

There, suspended between heaven and earth, hangs the fairest among all the sons of Israel; for "in all Israel there was none to be so much praised as Absalom for his beauty: from the sole of his foot, even to the crown of his head, there was no blemish in him." He hangs there, the most awful and hideous spectacle to heaven and earth: a rebellious son; food for the fowls of heaven — a cursed one; for "cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree;" even the mule, that was under him, had betrayed and left him, glad to get rid of such a burden! His rebellious heart is thrust through with three darts, by the stern chieftain of his broken-hearted royal father's army. . . .

At last they take him off the gibbet, and cast him, like the carcase of a dead beast, "into a great pit in the wood, and laid a very great heap of stones upon him," a figure of the final destiny of his doomed soul, . . .

Is there any page in the whole range of Holy Writ, where the righteous, stern, divine displeasure against disobedient and rebellious children is expressed with such an awful distinctness, as in that oak-tree in the wood of Ephraim we have just looked upon? I know of none.

Let us turn now from that ghastly spot to another scene, unparalleled in its solemnity, yet fraught with everlasting blessings for heaven and earth.

Upon the mount of Calvary there stood another tree — a barren tree, barren as Israel's fig-tree — and yet how fruitful! Upon that tree, behold another "Son of David" suspended, but "David's Son," and "David's Lord!" He is enclosed by a host of "rebellious children," but not to be their leader in the war of rebellion against His Royal Father, but in obedience to His Father's will, to lay down His life and die for that nation, "and not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad." And whilst in His obedience unto death, even the death of the cross, His holy, spotless body is passing from life unto death, one precious soul of a gentile, of one "not of that nation," the soul of the captain of the soldiers who nailed Him to that tree of curse, passes from death unto life, and he exclaims: "Truly, this man was the Son of God!"

But there stood two other barren trees, one on each side of the tree of curse, where the obedient Son of the Father was made sin, and a curse for "children of disobedience" and "rebellious children," and where He was "numbered with the transgressors." For on each of those two trees, there hung one who was a rebel against God and men, under the judgment of God and of men. And just before that Holy and Just One poured out His soul unto death, one of those two "rebellious children" (most likely "of that nation"), that were gibbeted along with the obedient One, turned right round, saying: "Lord, remember me, when thou comest in thy kingdom." Again, a soul had passed from death unto life, and he heard from the lips of that Blessed One, the blessed response: "Verily, verily, I say unto thee today thou shalt be with me in paradise."

And after the spotless body of that Holy and Obedient One, "who was made the seed of David according to the flesh," had been laid in Joseph of Arimathea's new tomb, "wherein was never man yet laid,"* and He thus had made His grave with the rich in His death (as in his death upon the cross He had been numbered with the wicked), He was, in spite of Satan's watchmen and seal upon the stone before the grave, to make it secure, "declared to be the Son of God in power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead."

{*Even a babe's dead body, if it had been there previously, would have rendered that sepulchre unfit for the body of the Holy One of God. There must not be even a vestige of corruption, just as the colt of the ass, upon which "the King of Israel" was riding, had never borne the yoke of sinful, rebellious man.}

The Captain of our salvation, obedient unto death, yea, the death of the cross, had been made perfect through sufferings. The awful cry: "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" had been followed by "It is finished," and: "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit;" and many sons had been fitted for glory, whom He is not ashamed to call brethren, and of whom He says: "Behold, I and the children whom thou hast given me."

Child of God and heir of glory! Are we walking in the spirit and footsteps of that obedient One, and do we glorify Him, and His and our Father and God in our earthly relationship, as He was ever the obedient "Son of man," no less than He was the obedient "Son of God." May those words of THE SON for ever be engraven on the memory of our hearts and consciences:

"Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life that I may take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father."

I pray God, that it may please Him to own in blessing, especially to the younger portion of my Christian readers, the remarks I have ventured to offer in this chapter, written in self-distrust and self-judgment, I hope, before Him, who searcheth the reins and the hearts. For the spirit of this age is the spirit of Absalom, soon to culminate in Antichrist.

And if any of my beloved, honest young brothers and sisters in Christ, whilst reading these pages, should discover that they have imbibed something of that spirit (to which the natural heart is so prone), I can but leave them between those two trees: the one in the wood of Ephraim, and the other on Golgotha — and beseech them, prayerfully to look at, and to meditate upon each of them, that their profiting, like that of the good son Timothy, may appear unto all, and that all that are in the house may see the light shining, for the glory of God our Father, and of Jesus Christ, His obedient and well beloved Son, to Whom be glory, and honour, and praise, now and for ever! Amen!