« AnteriorContinuar »
sonable and tyrannical masters. Such masters commit sin, and for their sin they must render an account to him, who is their master in heaven ; but the sin of masters will not justify the disobedience of servants.
This obedience should be performed, as enjoined in our text, “ in singleness of heart;" that is with a single desire and aim to please Christ, whom they obey, in conscientiously obeying, from a regard to the divine authority, their earthly masters. This obedience should also be performed, not with reluctance, but as enjoined in our text, cheerfully, because it is the will of God; “ With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men. Again, this obedience should be performed, not only in the presence of their masters, or when under their inspection; but also in their absence. The command in our text is : “Not with eye service, as men-pleasers.” Many servants watch the eyes of their masters, and as soon as they are out of their sight, prove unfaithful and disobedient. Christian servants ought not to act thus. Such conduct is forbidden by God, and is very displeasing, to him, whose eye is always upon them. Again the obedience which it is the duty of servants to render to their masters ought to be performed without gainsaying, contradicting, or opposing their commands; and without muttering, or talking back with illtemper, when reproved ; as we read ; Tit. ii. 9, 16; “ Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters-not answering again.”
2. Another duty of servants to their masters, is honour. They ought to respect them, because they are their masters, placed in the providence of God, in a superior station, and over them. They ought to think and speak respectfully of them, and so conduct, as not to disgrace them by their connexion with them. This duty is taught in our text : “ Servants be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling." And also in the following passages of Scripture ; “Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward;" 1 Pet. ii. 18. “ Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God, and his doctrine be not blasphemed ;" 1 Tim. vi. 1. This was the direction to Christian servants, who had Heathen masters. Even in that case, they were
to honour them as their masters, and to count them worthy of all honour. The apostle then, in the next verse gave directions to those Christian servants, who had believing masters. “They that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren ; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved partakers of the benefit ;" i Tim. vi. 2. The apostle supposed that some servants might conclude, that because their masters were brethren with them in Christ, they were therefore on an equality with them, and did not owe them respect and obedience. Such a conclusion he forbids, and teaches that therefore they were the rather to do them service. Because they were brethren in Christ, they owed them, instead of diminished, increased respect and obedience.
3. Another duty which servants owe their masters is faithfulness. Eye-service is forbidden in our text. And servants are commanded, Tit. ii. 10 : “ Not purloining, but showing all good fidelity.” Eleazer when he served Abraham, Jacob when he served Laban, and Joseph when he served Potiphar were examples of fidelity. Our Saviour also taught this duty in one of his parables; Mat. xxiv. 45, &c.: “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household. Blessed is that servant, whom his lord, when he cometh shall find so doing. But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart my lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to smite his fellow-servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; the lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, and shall cut him asunder. and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites."
It is the duty of servants faithfully to attend to the business of their master, with diligence execute his commands, be careful of the interests committed to them, and not suffer things to be wasted through their indolence or carelessness. They ought to make their master's interest
their own; and to pursue it and take care of it as such. u. And this they ought to do not only when their master's mittye is upon them, but at all times. Such are good sertherants, and the conduct of such is well-pleasing to God. dutiest we have reason to fear, there are comparatively few
Thes servants. nes in a master's absence, opposition
or indifference to his interest, carelessness about what belongs to him, suffering it to be wasted, and purloining or pilfering or stealing something that is his, or knowing that others do so and concealing it-these, we have reason to fear, are sins of which many servants are guilty ; and for these sins unless they repent and reform, God will one day punish them.
4. Another duty which servants owe their masters is patience under their corrections, both when they deserve correction and when they do not. It is the duty of servants, when they have received deserved correction, patiently to submit to it; and be sorry for their faults which have made correction needful, and do so no more. And when they have received correction undeservedly, as is sometimes the case, it is their duty to be submissive, and not be impudent to their masters, or rise up in opposition to their authority to take revenge. There is a legal way of redress, in case of injurious treatment, which a servant is undoubtedly authorized to seek. But in case he cannot obtain redress in an orderly and regular manner, it is his duty to commit his cause to God, who has said, “Vengeance is mine I will repay;" Rom. xii. 19; and patiently to bear the corrections which in his providence, he suffers to be laid upon him, and to improve them for his spiritual and eternal good. That this is his duty is clearly proved by the following passage: 1 Pet. ii. 18-20; “Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. For this is thank-worthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently ? but if when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.”
II. I proceed to point out the duties of masters. The command in our text is : “ And ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening : knowing that your master also is in heaven ; neither is there respect of persons with him. By the command, “do the same things unto them,” we are to understand an injunction to perform correspondent duties, and that masters should act towards their servants from the same principles, viz. a regard to the divine authority, and as accountable to God.
1. It is the duty of masters to be reasonable in their commands, and to require nothing of their servants ; but what is right. Masters ought to remember that their servants have human nature as well as themselves, and are descended from the same original, though in the overruling providence of God, they are placed in an inferior condition in society. As said Job, when protesting his integrity : “ If I did despise the cause of my man-servant or of my maid-servant, when they contended with me; what then shall I do when God riseth up ? and when he visiteth what shall I answer him ? Did not he that made me make him ? And did not one fashion us?” Job xxxi. 13,—15. They ought not to require more service from them, than they are able to perform. And they ought not to impose upon them any commands contrary to the law of God. If they do, servants are not bound to obey; for the authority of God is paramount to every other; and in this as in every other, the inferior is bound to obey only in the Lord. A good rule, in every condition and relation in life, is to do to others, as we would have them, were we in their situation and they in ours, to do
2. Masters ought to provide things necessary for the comfort of their servants. The direction of the apostle Paul is, “ Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a master in heaven;" Col. iv. 1. On this head there are two extremes to be avoided. The one is an over delicate treatment and provision. Experience has proved this to be dangerous and wrong: Hence the wise man cautions against it : “ He that delicately bringeth up his servant from a child shall have him become his son at length;” Prov. xxix. 21. The other extreme is neglect ; leaving them to suffer for want of necessary provision, or apparel, or attention and medicine in sickness.
3. Masters ought as our text enjoins to forbear threatening. By this we are not to understand, that masters are never to threaten their servants ; for this is a part of that salutary discipline, which is sometimes necessary. The word "forbearing” in the text signifies moderating; and the object of the command is, to restrain those violent, furious, and terrifying threats, which are the product of unbridled passion.
4. Masters ought when necessary, and when servants are in such a sense under their authority as to render it proper, to correct them. The best good of the servant ought to be sought; and when other means fail to lead him to do his duty, the rod of correction ought to be used. But the good of the servant ought always to be the rule in administering correction. Masters ought never to correct in a passion ; nor ought they to correct to take revenge and gratify passion. Correction, which ought always to be with humanity, may, if administered under the influence of passion, be cruel. Some persons never correct, unless they are in a passion. Such persons are certainly wrong; and their corrections are not likely to do much, if any good.
5. Masters should allow servants when they are accused of doing wrong, liberty to plead, and if they can, to prove their innocency. Job in solemnly protesting his integrity, mentioned this among other things : “If I did despise the cause of my man-servant, or of my maid-servant, when they contended with me;" Job. xxxi. 13. If servants are not guilty, they do not deserve correction. Neither will correction answer any good purpose; for the end of correction is to convince of the evil of a fault, and to lead a person to do so no more.
6. With respect to hired servants, it is the duty of masters fully and punctually to pay them their wages. Hear the word of the Lord on this head : “ Thou shalt not oppress an hired servant ; at his day thou shalt give him his hire, neither shall the sun go down upon it, for he is poor, and setteth his heart upon it : lest he cry against thee unto the Lord, and it be sin unto thee ;" Deut. xxiv. 14, 15. And again: “Behold the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth ; and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth;" Jam. v. 4.
n. Another very important duty of masters towards ser. vants is, the care of their souls. Servants have souls equally valuable with those of their masters. And for the manner in which they have acted towards these souls, must masters one day give a solemn account to their master in heaven. It is important that masters should be impressed with a solemn sense of their responsibility in this