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busy themselves about some worldly advantage, as much as if there were no such things as religion and a future state ever heard of. One hour the parent shall be representing to the child the tremendous authority of God Almighty ; that the whole world is in his hands ; that he is the giver of all good, and has the power to inflict upon us every evil ; that he is the author of life and death; that it is he only that can kill the body, and after that can cast it into hell fire; that he is never, therefore, to be named or thought of without awe and veneration. Thus will the parent talk one hour, and the next, perhaps, if a very slight provocation fall in his way, the child shall hear him cursing and swearing, and dealing about the name and vengeance of God, the terrors of hell and damnation, with as little concern, and upon as frivolous an occasion, as if these things were only tales to frighten fools with, and to be sport to the wise man. Even the understanding of a child is not to be imposed upon by such mockery, or made to believe that a parent can be sincere, or really is in earnest in delivering rules and principles of behaviour, which manifestly possess no sort of influence upon his own; which he forgets or breaks on every occasion that arises; and when the child has once found out this, or suspects it, the discovery has a fatal effect upon the parent's authority in general; for whatever lessons of prudence, or maxims of morality, or admonitions, or exhortations he afterwards gives his child, they will only pass with it for so much form and affectation; whereas, did the parent regularly and constantly act with a view to a future judgment and the laws of religion himself, the child would easily learn to turn its eyes and attention the same way, and with very little talking to; and the custom of considering itself accountable hereafter for what it does here, thus silently and insensibly formed by the parent's example, would have a chance of remaining with it to its life's end. This is the least troublesome, and only true way of inculcating religion into young minds, and does not disgust or frighten them with the suddenness of it.
A second thing, by which much may be done towards the preserving and cultivating of a young person's virtue, is in the choice of professions. Professions differ much in the opportunities and temptations to particular vices; young persons differ as much in the disposition and inclination they discover to different vices. Hence, it is manifest, there is room for judgment in selecting professions the least favorable to those vices to which the child discovers a propensity, and the most likely to qualify and correct them. Instances of this may be the
the sudding minds, and with it to
he disposto particulons difererson's me towards
following ; if a youth betray a turn for a loose and dissolute course of life, some calling in which he will be early restrained and live at first under immediate inspection and authority, and above all, one in which his hand and mind will be kept constantly employed, and in which sobriety and regularity of be haviour is the general character, and much insisted upon as a point of reputation; some calling of this kind, and of this sort are most employments in trade and business, seems best adapted to keep within bounds his craving for pleasure, and by degrees moderate it.
If he show a propensity to sottishness, low company, and mean diversions, it may remedy this to advance him into politer stations of life, where he will hear these vices and propensities reprobated, and a spirit of honor and dignity set up against them, and it will carry him away from those places where he is beginning to form mean attachments and bad habits. If there be reason to suspect him of a mercenary, sordid temper, which in youth is not cominon, a liberal education and a liberal profession are the best remedy. An intercourse with young persons of these lines of education and profession will probably cure it. If he be envious, proud, and passionate, impatient of superiority and disappointment, the more private his condition of life is, the better; where he will meet with fewer quarrels, competitions, and mortifications.
This all seems very plain and rational, and yet it is not only neglected in practice, but expressly contradicted, and a rule the reverse of this pretty generally observed. Men choose sometimes their children's professions with a view to the dispositions they remark in them. But how do they direct their choice ? Commonly to such callings and ways of life as are of all others the most likely to foment, call out, and encourage every bad disposition they have betrayed. Thus, does a child seem addicted to dissolute and licentious pleasures, is what we call wild and ungovernable? He is despatched abroad to a distance, and enters one of those professions where he will be out of the reach of his parents' or of any other authority; without superintendence and control; with every opportunity and every temptation to vice, together with the example and encouragement and conversation of those he is placed amongst. If his temper be narrow and mean and mercenary, a trade and employment by which that tendency is naturally increased is sought out for him, where a selfish and avaricious turn will grow upon him, under the name of frugality, attention to business, care, and circumspection ; all which he finds to be quali
ties of great use and esteem in the way of life and among the people that he converses with, and to a certain degree they are both necessary and meritorious. If he be of a wily, crafty turn of mind, proud of a successful stratagem, and laying out to overreach and make an advantage of the simplicity and unsuspicious temper of those he deals with, why then he is made, a parent concludes, for one of those callings, necessary and honorable in their nature, but in the practice of which vileness and craft have too many opportunities, too much success. If his spirit be haughty and ambitious, this is considered as the indication of a lofty and aspiring mind, which must be gratified by placing it in one of those liberal professions where the respect and importance, and dignity and rank of that higher order are apt to flatter the vain, the proud, the arrogant, but in which this sort of temper will have no other effect than to expose a man to repulse and disappointment, chagrin, envy, and vexation, and the whole train of conflicting passions which infest unsuccessful, mortified, or affronted pride. In their arguments no regard is had to the care or preservation of the child's virtue, the subduing of his vicious propensities, the amendment of his disposition, which in reason ought to be the first of all considerations ; but the whole attention is paid to worldly advancement and success, in which also their choice often fails.
Another case in which parents are chargeable with the source of their children's ill conduct, is when they urge them, as it were, into situations in which it is very difficult to behave well. The parent complains that the son is idle, when he has never put it in his power, or given him the means to exert his diligence, with any advantage or encouragement; or that he is fallen into a loose course of conduct, when the parent, probably from pride, avarice, or some such motive, opposed some generous attachment, and prevented that virtuous connexion which might have preserved him from his present course of life. This also is no uncommon case, no uncommon consequence. Or, the child is fretful and discontented in his situation, instead of attending to the business or the duties of it. This also is often the parent's mismanagement, as well as the child's fault. It may be that the parent has advanced his child to a state of which he either cannot or will not supply the expenses, and so he leaves him in much embarrassment and perplexity ; has dignified him with a condition of life beyond his first expectations, or has accustomed him early to habits of luxury inconsistent with the calling he is destined to, or the provision he has given him.
The example of a parent, I have already said, has a great and obvious influence upon the manners and moral sentiments of children; and the greater in proportion as they entertain the more reverence, esteem, and affection for their parents. Young people seldom seem much or well impressed with moral sentiments of their own; and it is not to be expected, hardly indeed to be wished, that a child should condemn or regard with abhorrence what he sees his parent practise. This is obvious. But there is another way in which the child's character is often determined by the parent's conduct, which is not so obvious; and that is, when the parent carries any quality or behaviour to an excess which the child sees and suffers under. The child is apt, when he grows up, to discard the whole principle, and run into the contrary extreme. Thus, when a parent carries his economy to a length which teazes and harasses, and makes unhappy his family and all about him, it is odds but the child despises, when he enters into the world, all economy as so much covetousness, and sets off, as soon as it is in his power, a prodigal and spendthrift. If the seriousness and gravity of the parent be mixed with moroseness and austerity, the effect is, that the child contracts an aversion to all seriousness, and turns out a character of thoughtlessness, levity, and profaneness. If the parent's religion be melancholy or superstitious, it compels him to a constant affectation of it, in season and out of season. If it be a troublesome attention to multiplied forms and ceremonies, there is danger lest the child take up a dislike to all religion, as inconsistent with any tolerable degree of ease or pleasure. The same of many other qualities. We are often disgusted even with virtue itself, when coupled with forbidding manners. A parent, therefore, who wishes to recommend good principles and good qualities to the child, should not render them forbidding in his own example ; and if he wishes to procure and preserve a proper influence, he should not only be virtuous, which is the first and great thing, but take care to make his virtues sit easy upon him, and render even his virtue, what virtue is always capable of being, amiable, easy, and engaging.
Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long in the land which
the Lord thy God giveth thee.
In my last discourse I gave an account of those duties which parents owe to their children. I proceed now to take notice of those which the children, in return, are enjoined to perform towards their parents. And this may be done by examining into the sense and meaning of the words of the text; 'Honor thy father and thy mother. Something may be added, too, with regard to the promise annexed to the performance of this duty,
that thy days may be long in the land, which the Lord thy
First, then, we are commanded to love our parents. But because, properly speaking, it is not in our own power to love or hate, to hope for or fear, when, and what, and whom we will, but according as we apprehend the thing or person to be desirable and lovely; by being commanded to love our parents, we are to take such courses and considerations as may increase our natural affection to them, and avoid all such things as may any way diminish it. How far their being, under God, the authors and originals of our life and existence, may contribute to excite this affection, is not so easy to determine; because life, as it is happy or miserable, is differently to be represented. But parental love, which exerts itself in a constant care and