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think of doing ; but remember, not only what you underwent; but how wrong it was, that you should. If indeed you have seen the wisdom since of restraints, that you once thought harsh ones; and found cause to be sorry afterwards for indulgences, with which at the time you were pleased : you must follow your maturer deliberate judgment, not your early rash one ; treat your children as you would now be desirous to be treated, were you in their case, not as you did desire during your ignorance; and by no means think it a reason, for exposing them to ruin by dangerous pleasures and amusements, or for condemning them to insignificance by conniving at their idleness, that you were extremely glad to be thus used yourselves. But then, on the other hand, if you are convinced of this, you ought to consider, as impartially as you can, whether you do no carry it too far: whether your present severer notions be not the effect of prejudices, as natural to riper years, as the opposite ones are to youth : and however certain you are of the contrary, still do your best, to make what is needful for your children easy to them, by telling them the reasons of your proceeding when they can safely be told: and when they cannot, you must give such proofs on other occasions, of judicious tenderness towards them, as may gain their implicit confidence in the fitness of whatever you require; and must not be much offended, if, after all, the obedience, which you receive, be too like that which probably you paid, somewhat unwilling and imperfect. Another duty of parents, which the rule of the text cannot fail of recommending to them, is, making a due and timely provision for the decent subsistence of their children. Either this was done for you, or. you strongly felt, that it ought to have been done for
you. Whichsoever was the case, you are inexcusable if, through extravagance or indolence, you neglect to do it for them: and you are equally so, (for the same plain reason) unless you endeavour with your utmost care and skill, to guard them against all sorts of danger, and secure to them all sorts of happiness, in the world, into which you have brought them.
But then, children should also think ; (and, as they are extremely apt to forget it, should often call upon themselves to think), Were there any one, for whom I had the same anxiety and solicitude, that my parents appear to have for me; and who had the same obligations to me, that I have to my parents : should I be willing to have all my kindness received with contempt or indifference; to have that person prefer every fancy of his own to my comfort and peace ? Should any one ever be put under my direction, shall I be content, that before he can possibly be capable of judging, he should insist on following his own judgment, and pay no deference to mine? Nay, supposing I had faults, many and great ones, would I in earnest be willing to lose all obedience and respect on account of them? Do I not already, notwithstanding all my faults, expect more regard than a little from those, that are younger than myself ? Do I not see all parents expect it from their children? All superiors from their inferiors ? And shall I not most certainly think hereafter, as they do? Why should not my actions therefore now be suitable to what my sentiments will be then ?
A third relation in domestic life is that between masters and servants. Now is it not exceeding natural for each of the former to ask himself, Were I a
servant, as I might have been, should I hold it reasonable to be treated roughly and haughtily, to be blamed or suspected without cause, to have every fault aggravated and treasured up for ever, and little notice taken of my behaving ever so well; to have immoderate labour or attendance exacted, or what is fitting in any kind withheld, or what is due for my service detained from me; to be neglected in sickness or old age, to be exposed without redress to injuries from my fellow servants ; to have no instruction in my duty given me, perhaps no opportunity afforded me of learning those great truths of religion, which are the best direction and support through this life, and the only means of being happy for ever in a better? If I should think, and justly think, myself entitled to receive the reverse of this usage, let me be sure to give it; and study to make that subjection, which cannot be a very pleasing state, as tolerable as can be to those, who are in it: for mine would be a very intolerable one, were there none such.
And surely, on the other hand, all servants, in whatever stations, ought to ask their hearts with equal fairness : Would it seem to me fit, were I a master, that my servant should be dishonest or undutiful, quarrelsome or disorderly, negligent or wasteful in my family, when I had covenanted with him for the contrary good qualities, and was bound to pay him a valuable consideration for them? Would I be willing he should betray my secrets, hurt my reputation, corrupt my children; or any way prove my enemy, when I had brought him under my roof to be my friend? Would I be content, he should quit me without reasonable notice; or bear nothing from me, who perhaps must bear much from him; murmur at every inconvenience, and appear sensible of no advantages ? If not; what I should require, that let me do.
But I proceed now to superiors, not in authority, but in rank only; on account of some one or more of the various pre-eminences, that raise men one above another. For these also, and their respective inferiors, have great need to form their conduct first, and try it ever after by this excellent rule.
They, who challenge reverence on account of their years, ought frequently to reflect, how ill they would digest, were they young, that assuming carriage, which they sometimes use ; how unjust they would deem it to be treated penuriously and rigidly; to be condemned, and it may be cast off, for mere indiscretions, or even a few grosser faults. But then young people, in their turn, cannot consider too much, and very seldom consider nearly enough, how bitter it would be to them were they already in years, how bitter it will be to them, when that time comes, to have their experience and wisdom slighted, and be objects of dislike and ridicule to every raw and thoughtless creature, perhaps for those very things, which ought to procure them honour and love.
Again, persons of superior quality or wealth should bring themselves down in their imaginations to the middle and lower condition of life: consult their breasts, what degree of respect they would like to pay
those above them; what sorts of condescension and subserviency they would think it hard to have exacted from them; what claims of privilege they would judge oppressive and injurious: and let the feelings, which they will thus acquire, and which perhaps will be new to them, regulate their conduct. They should examine well what the real state of the industrious, the needy, the helpless part of the world often is; then place themselves in it a while ; and they would have a strong sense, how criminal it must be in any way to increase their difficulties, how requisite in every way to lessen them. But, at the same time, meaner persons also have full as much occasion to consider, how grievous they would find it, were they in higher stations, to be defrauded and imposed on, how provoking to be complained of without cause, how irksome to be treated with unreasonable requests and expectations; and what a shocking thing it is for them to use such insolence towards their betters, as they would think insupportable, should even their betters use it towards them.
A third sort of pre-eminence without authority is that, which arises from personal accomplishments of mind or body. And here again the rule most clearly directs, those who excel, never to be contemptuous or ostentatious; and those who are deficient, never to give offence by unequal competitions, or marks of envy; for each would account thein extremely injurious, were he in the other's place. But let us now go on to the
Second general head, the influence of this precept, where persons are equal, or, however, may be considered as such. And these are chiefly, either near relations, friends, and intimates, or such as have occasional intercourse, in business, in conversation, in matters of party dispute, civil or religious, in subjects of private offence and resentment, in cases that call for good-nature and compassion.
Near relations always claim peculiar affection and regard, but too seldom pay it. Negligence, ill-temper, emulation, mutual jealousy in point of interest or favour, alienate and sour their minds: and each