Acacia John Bunyan

Christian Behavior
Being the fruits of true Christianity:
Teaching husbands, wives, parents, children,
masters, servants, etc.,
how to walk so as to please G O D.

With a word of direction to all backsliders.

By J O H N.B U N Y A N.


Written in 1663, while imprisoned in Bedford Prison.
This was John Bunyan's third book during his first incarceration.


There lieth also a duty upon children to their parents, which they are bound both by the law of God and nature conscientiously to observe: 'Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.' And again, 'Children, obey your parents in all things; for this is well pleasing unto the Lord' (Eph 6:1; Col 3:20).

There are these general things in which children should show forth that honour that is due to their parents from them.

First, They should always count them better than themselves. I observe a vile spirit among some children, and that is, they are apt to look over their parents, and to have slighting and scornful thoughts of them. This is worse than heathenish; such an one hath got just the heart of a dog or a beast, that will bite those that begot them, and her that brought them forth.

But my father, &c., is now poor, and I am rich, and it will be a disparagement, or at least a hinderance to me, to show that respect to him as otherwise I might.

I tell thee thou arguest like an atheist and a beast, and standest in this full flat against the Son of God (Mark 7:9-13). Must a gift, and a little of the glory of the butterfly, make thee that thou shalt not do for, and honour to, thy father and mother? 'A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish man despiseth his mother' (Prov 15:20). Though thy parents be never so low, and thou thyself never so high, yet he is thy father, and she thy mother, and they must be in thy eye in great esteem: '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' (Prov 30:17).

Second, Thou oughtest to show thy honour to thy parents, by a willingness to help them with such necessaries and accommodations which they need. 'If any have children or nephews, let them learn to show piety
[15] at home, and to requite their parents:' saith Paul, 'for that is good and acceptable before God' (1 Tim 5:4). And this rule Joseph observed to his poor father, though he himself was next the king in Egypt (Gen 47:12; 41:39-44).
But mark, let them 'requite their parents.' There are three things for which, as long as thou livest, thou wilt be a debtor to thy parents.

1. For thy being in this world. They are they from whom, immediately under God, thou didst receive it.

2. For their care to preserve thee when thou wast helpless, and couldst neither care for, nor regard thyself.

3. For the pains they have taken with thee to bring thee up. Until thou hast children of thy own, thou wilt not be sensible of the pains, watchings, fears, sorrow, and affliction, that they have gone under to bring thee up; and when thou knowest it, thou wilt not easily yield that thou has recompensed them for thy favour to thee. How often have they sustained [thee in] thy hunger, clothed thy nakedness? What care have they taken that thou mightest have wherewith to live and do well when they were dead and gone? They possibly have spared it from their own belly and back for thee, and have also impoverished themselves, that thou mightest live like a man.
[16] All these things ought duly, and like a man, to be considered by thee; and care ought to be taken on thy part to requite them. The Scripture saith so, reason saith so, and there be none but dogs and beasts that deny it. It is the duty of parents to lay up for their children; and the duty of children to requite their parents.

Third, Therefore show, by all humble and son-like carriage, that thou dost to this day, with thy heart, remember the love of thy parents. Thus much for obedience to parents in general.

Again, if thy parents be godly, and thou wicked, as thou art, if thou hast not a second work or birth from God upon thee, then thou art to consider, that thou art more strongly engaged to respect and honour thy parents, not now only as a father in the flesh, but as godly parents; thy father and mother are now made of God thy teachers and instructors in the way of righteousness. Wherefore, to allude to that of Solomon, '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' (Prov 6:20, 21).

Now, to provoke thee hereto, consider,

1. That this hath been the practice always of those that are and have been obedient children; yea, of Christ himself to Joseph and Mary, though he himself was God blessed for ever (Luke 2:51).

2. Thou hast also the severe judgments of God upon those that have been disobedient, to awe thee. As, (1.) Ishmael, for but mocking at one good carriage of his father and mother, was both thrust out of his father's inheritance and the kingdom of heaven, and that with God's approbation (Gen 21:9-14; Gal 4:30). (2.) Hophni and Phinehas, for refusing the good counsel of their father, provoked the great God to be their enemy: 'They hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because the Lord would slay them' (1 Sam 2:23-25). (3.) Absalom was hanged, as I may say, by God himself, for rebelling against his father (2 Sam 18:9).

Besides, little dost thou know how heart-aching a consideration it is to thy parents, when they do but suppose thou mayest be damned! How many prayers, sighs, and tears, are there wrung from their hearts upon this account? Every miscarriage of thine goeth to their heart, for fear God should take an occasion thereat to shut thee up in hardness for ever. How did Abraham groan for Ishmael? 'O,' saith he, to God, 'that Ishmael might live before thee!' (Gen 17:18). How was Isaac and Rebecca grieved for the miscarriage of Esau? (Gen 26:34, 35). And how bitterly did David mourn for his son, who died in his wickedness? (2 Sam 18:32, 33).

Lastly, And can any imagine, but that all these carriages of thy godly parents, will be to thee the increase of thy torments in hell, if thou die in thy sins notwithstanding?

Again, if thy parents, and thou also, be godly, how happy a thing is this? How shouldest thou rejoice, that the same faith should dwell both in thy parents and thee? Thy conversion, possibly, is the fruits of thy parents' groans and prayers for thy soul; and they cannot choose but rejoice; do thou rejoice with them. It is true, in the salvation of a natural son, which is mentioned in the parable: 'This my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry' (Luke 15:24). Let therefore the consideration of this, that thy parents have grace, as well as thee, engage thy heart so much the more to honour, reverence, and obey them.

Thou art better able now to consider the pains and care that thy friends have been at, both for thy body and soul; wherefore strive to requite them. Thou hast strength to answer in some measure the command: wherefore do not neglect it. It is a double sin in a gracious son not to remember the commandment, yea, the first commandment with promise (Eph 6:1, 2). Take heed of giving thy sweet parents one snappish word, or one unseemly carriage. Love them because they are thy parents, because they are godly, and because thou must be in glory with them.

Again, if thou be godly, and thy parents wicked, as often it sadly falls out; then,

1. Let thy bowels yearn towards them; it is thy parents that are going to hell!

2. As I said before to the wife, touching her unbelieving husband, so now I say to thee, Take heed of a parroting tongue: speak to them wisely, meekly, and humbly; do for them faithfully without repining; and bear, with all child-like modesty, their reproaches, their railing, and evil speaking. Watch fit opportunities to lay their condition before them. O! how happy a thing would it be, if God should use a child to beget his father to the faith! Then indeed might the father say, With the fruit of my own bowels hath God converted my soul. The Lord, if it be his will, convert our poor parents, that they, with us, may be the children of God.

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[15] Bunyan's words are 'to show pity,' probably taken from the word 'goodness' in the margin of the Bible; but lest it might be a typographical error, the usual rendering is given in this quotation.Ed.

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[16] 'What is the child but a piece of the parents wrapped up in another skin.'Flavel. On seeing a Mother with her Infant asleep in her Arms.
'Thine is the morn of life,
All laughing, unconscious of the evening with her anxious cares,
Thy mother filled with the purest happiness and bliss
Which an indulgent Heaven bestows upon a lower world,
Watches and protects her dearest life, now sleeping in her arms.' German Poem.Ed.

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[17] Bunyan's silence, in all his writings, concerning the state of his parents as to godliness, may lead us to fear that this fervent ejaculation had often been poured forth by his own soul on behalf of his father and mother. All that we know of them is, that they were poor, but gave their children the best education their means afforded; as to their piety he is silent.Ed.