« PreviousContinue »
imperfection to which every human charac ter is liable. The best temper may be surprised by sudden vexation, and the gentlest manners are not always equal to resist the troubles of a tumultuous life. Perhaps at the very mo. ment when you think you have the greatest cause of complaint, their aching hearts may be torn with some recent disappointment in which your interest is the sole occasion of their distress.
While you are engaged in youthful sports, or grievously lamenting the confinement your studies require; they are perhaps fatigued with labour to provide means for your education, or perplexed with a thousand cares to form plans for your future settlement in the world. At such critical moments, when they perceive you repine at their injunctions, or it may be by your negligence counteract the schemes they had formed in your favour, it may surely excuse, if it does not justify the degree of their displeasure. But in general this is not the case. inattention to their precepts, if not enforced by a steady authority, will be the means of your undoing. Can they see you guilty of errors, or yielding to evil habits, without proper caution and reproof? Or, if they
could abandon you to any evil propensity, without endeavouring to check it, must they not be highly criminal? Had the pious Eli restrained his sons in their youth, it would. most probably have spared him the sorrow of having witnessed their crimes, and the agony of hearing the dreadful tidings of their untimely deaths; it would have averted the heavy judgments of the Almighty, which were extended to himself and his posterity; and it is a proof he was guilty in the sight of God, for not having sooner prevented their wickedness, since he is informed by the prophet Samuel, that the Almighty "will judge his house for ever, for the iniquity which he knoweth, because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not." Be persuaded therefore to submit with cheerfulness to all that is required from you, by those affectionate directors of your early years; and though you cannot fully com. prehend at present the design of all their commands, yet you may rest assured you will hereafter be convinced of their propriety. "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right," says the Apostle. It is right as it respects your immediate comforts, your happiness in future life, your
reputation in this world, and your felicity in the next. If you are sullen, rebellious, and perverse in youth, you will incur the displeasure of those anxious friends to whose charge the Almighty has in a particular manner consigned your education. They will be obliged to punish when they wish to reward, and to discountenance your ill conduct, when it would afford them the highest satisfaction if they could with justice commend you. This must be attended with uneasiness, will create reserve, and cause that servile fear which is ever an attendant on bad actions. Whereas, if you obey your parents, and make it your daily study to please them at all times, you will ever find them disposed to applaud and encourage you; they will assist you in your schemes, direct your observations, and promote your wishes. Delighted with your meekness and docility, they will never contradict your inclinations but when they are manifestly improper. On you all their own pleasures are centred, and will they not rejoice to make you happy? Do not cherish in your mind the idea that their presence must be a restraint to your innocent cheerfulness; but, by an unbounded confidence, strengthen
the attachment which nature has implanted. Endeavour to deserve their love, and you will be sure to possess it. By your good conduct, you may in some measure recompense their cares. Is it not right, therefore, to obey your parents, and will it not diffuse a sweet serenity over your mind, to be conscious of their approbation? Recollect, my young friend, if you have ever been happy when the frown of displeasure has darkened their countenance towards you. Has not your heart sighed for a reconciliation, and every amusement been insipid, till you obtained a pardon? Conscience will increase the punishments they are forced to inflict, and double every penalty by the stings of reImpress your heart with a deep sense of the importance of filial duty; you cannot entertain too high an opinion of so sacred an obligation. Examine your be. haviour impartially, and see whether you have properly fulfilled it. In matters of moment you have perhaps obeyed their commands, but a good child should be anxious to comply with their advice on the most minute occurrences. Nothing is a trifle which their desires exact; for, if otherwise
indifferent, it becomes your duty when ordained by a parental sanction. It is impossible for you to judge of the probable tendency of those good habits they wish to inspire, or of the bad ones they are earnest to restrain. While convinced of their entire affection, you should implicitly rely on their orders, to be wise, prudent, and essential; and that obedience is doubly meritorious, which is unconditional, and exerted without altercation; whereas many young persons spoil the reputation of a good deed, by making such previous objections, that the grace of compliance is lost, and they seem rather to dispute the point with an enemy, than yield to the wishes of a parent. As a favour is oftentimes greatly increased by the manner in which it is conferred, so the sacrifice of duty will become more valuable when it is willingly offered. The highest happiness of social life is found in the due discharge of reciprocal duties. But the care of your friends to promote your comfort will be all in vain, unless by a compliance with what they request, you resolve to coincide with their kind intentions. At every age man is in some measure, a free agent. While you it is in the power of your superiors