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to be such as Joseph obtained? "The blessings of thy father," says he, "have prevailed," that is, his virtues had excited a peculiar warmth and fervour in the prayers which he had offered, as his love and attachment for his father had been more eminent and conscious. All his sons were dear to the venerable man ; but Joseph's virtues were of such uncommon magnitude, as might well warrant the distinction with which he is treated in this last paternal benediction. The account contains a prediction of the fate of the future tribes of Israel, and therefore may not, without some assistance, be immediately understood, otherwise I should recommend it to you, my young reader, as highly interesting and instructive.
I have endeavoured to convince you how important the observance of filial duty is to your well doing and comfort in life, nor will it be less necessary to your peace and consolation in death. If, at that awful hour, you should be capable of sense and reflection, will you not be most anxious to approve yourself to God? And how will you support the thought of soon appearing in his more immediate presence, with the guilty consciousness of having violated one of his most solemn commands? In vain will then be the excuses with which you may
have before quieted an accusing conscience; the law you have transgressed was plain and simple: "Honour thy father and thy mother:" it extended to all ranks and conditions, to the prince upon the throne, and to the lowest beggar on the dunghill. None are excluded from the universal obligation who have living parents; no exception is made, whether worthy or unworthy, if they should unfortunately be undeserving, the prayers of the child may then procure a blessing on them, and their wicked hearts be reclaimed by the piety of their descendants. And to those persons who have complied with their duty, how agreeable must be the recollection, the more difficult they found the effort, the more glorious will be their recompence; their Heavenly Father will repay all their obedience to him, however their parents upon earth might neglect their merit. Act, therefore, my young friend, in every circumstance as seeing him who is invisible ;" and whatever your trials may be here, you will hereafter "by no means lose your reward." Your great Redeemer was subject to his parents, when he took upon him the form of a man. His example is of itself sufficient to incite a Christian to filial obedience; but when added to such an inducement, you consider
the various arguments that have been urged, you will certainly "hearken to thy father that begat thee, and consider thy mother when she is old ;" remembering that the father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice, while "a fool. ish son is the calamity of his parents,” a disgrace to his family, and must be himself a most wretched and uncomfortable being.
ON THE RESPECT DUE TO THE AGED.
BESIDES the duty and obedience immediately required towards your parents, there is a degree of respect and deference highly necessary and becoming from young persons towards the Aged in general. Those who have passed many years upon earth, and have seen the various vicissitudes of life, must be supposed to have acquired more wisdom and experience than the most enlightened mind can possess from speculation and theory. The plans of conduct we form while ignorant of the world, do but too frequently miscarry, when brought forth into action, and hence we are often disap
pointed where we had flattered ourselves with the most pleasing success. But from the knowledge of the aged we may reap the fruits of their trials and dangers without being exposed to the like perils, and from the freedom of advice and conversation, may learn that necessary caution which study alone will not sufficiently teach. It is the peculiar excellence of true religion, that it tends to form the manners, as well as purify the heart, and its directions extend to all the reciprocal connexions of human life. In the law of Moses, which he delivered immediately by the command of God, there is a remarkable provision made for the veneration and respect due to the aged; and it is urged as a duty from the strongest of all motives, that of reverence to the Deity himself. "Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God ; I am the Lord.” 'The last clause is here added, as at the end of many other laws, to inculcate in the Israelites the important truth of God's omniscience, and signifies that God was not only the author of these institutions, but would at all times observe whether they were duly obeyed:
"I am the Lord," that
is, I am the watchful guardian of this pecu liar people, and as I have promised them unnumbered blessings, if they observe my statutes, so I shall be ever present to mark and to punish their disobedience. It is always understood, in the holy Scriptures, that the great Leader of the Jewish nation, here styled the Lord, and the Lord God, who appeared to Moses at Mount Sinai, and whose glory afterwards filled the ark of the covenant, and the first temple which was built by Solomon, was that Divine person, who in the fulness of time was born of the Virgin Mary, and was the expected Messiah, and deliverer of all nations; and as he publicly declared, he was "not come to destroy the law or the prophets, but to fulfil them;" so he has still further impressed this obligation on his followers by his example, as well as by his precepts. Though so highly exalted and of such transcendent authority as to be the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords; yet he was subject unto his parents, and though himself all-wise, as well as powerful, he was found in the temple meekly sitting in the midst of the Doctors, "both hearing them and asking them questions." How amiable is the character