305. THE FOURTH COMMANDMENT.
HONOR THY FATHER AND THY MOTHER, THAT THY DAYS MAY BE PROLONGED, AND THAT IT MAY BE WELL WITH THEE UPON THE EARTH.
So reads this commandment in Exod. 20:12; Deut. 5:16. In the natural sense, which is that of the letter, "to honor thy father and thy mother" means to honor parents, to be obedient to them, to be devoted to them, and to return thanks to them for the benefits they confer, which are that they provide food and clothing for their children, and so introduce them into the world that they may act in it as civil and moral persons; and introduce them also into heaven by means of the precepts of religion, thus providing both for their temporal prosperity and their eternal happiness. All this parents do from a love which they have from the Lord, in whose stead they act. In a relative sense it means that if parents are dead, guardians should be honored by their wards. In a broader sense, to honor the king and magistrates, is meant by this commandment, since these provide for all in general the necessities which parents provide in particular. In the broadest sense this commandment means that men should love their country, since it supports and protects them, therefore it is called fatherland from father. But to country, king, and magistrates honor must be rendered by parents and by them be implanted in their children.