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equally honorable; but it is not exactly so in the opinion of the world. The world has what it calls its distinctions of rank, its liberal professions, and inferior stations; and in laying out a plan or provision for our children, we must be content in some measure to submit to such opinions. A child will naturally expect to preserve the place, rank, and condition in life, in which he has been brought up. He has had from the first those who accounted him their equal, and he will expect to continue so. And who should say that his expectations are unreasonable? At least they are natural and unavoidable. It is not likely that a child should be satisfied in a condition which degrades and depresses him beneath his acquaintance; and that he should see with patience the children of all other families, whose birth, place, and rank in life were like his own, advanced before him.
The habits of a young person are a consideration of still greater importance than his expectations. To accustom children to habits of ease, amusements, and elegance, and a thousand distinctions, and then to send them abroad into a calling where they must all be given up, or meet every day with contradiction and rebuke, and to suppose that your children will reconcile themselves to the change, is to suppose the children much wiser than their parents; is to expect that from the indecision and vehemency of youth, which you will find is the fruit of reflection and resolution.
The rule we lay down then is this; that a parent is bound, if in his power, for no one is bound to impossibilities, to provide his child with a calling suited to his talents and reasonable expectations, and to supply the exigences of that calling; and those expectations and exigences are to be deemed reasonable, which the generality of others in similar circumstances, or of the same profession, are commonly indulged with ; and then, when a parent has done this, he has done his duty, so far as relates to provision.
We will next see how this rule applies to the different classes and conditions of life, and who are the persons that offend against it.
First, then, the most important, because the most numerous order of men amongst us, are those who have only their labor to live by.
It is manifest that if they accustom their children betimes to industry, and procure them any calling in which their industry will honestly support them, they completely acquit themselves of the duty of a parent to his child; as completely, perhaps
more so, than the man who lays up an independence for his son, in order to raise a family or be in a condition above his birth. He provides his child with a situation suited to his habits; for he took care to habituate him from the beginning to labor and sobriety, and to the reasonable use of exertion ; for the child who expects to live in idleness when his parents brought him up by their labor, cannot be said to entertain a reasonable expectation. And then, as to the demands of the situation, a livelihood for himself, and, in due time, the means of providing a livelihood for a family of his own, is the utmost that either reason or even custom can authorize him to expect. That in fact, with no extraordinary vein and inclination, he will expect. These things a parent cannot supply him with ; but he can do better; for he can establish him in the business which he has taught him, or can get hiin taught, and direct him by the sober and industrious life he has brought him up with, to maintain himself. This is a consolation and encouragement to their condition of life, as it shows that every man who has health, and hands, and activity, need not fear being able to do his duty to his family; and would we did not observe many persons more afraid of the burden of a family than they are of offending God by a life of lewdness and licentiousness! They who transgress against this rule are the people who suffer their children to live in absolute idleness, or what is next to it, in some trifling employment which can never be of service to them when they become men, or in little pilferings and private tricks; and who do not, if they grow up, take care betimes to provide them with masters and honest laborious callings.
The next order of men are those who are in the middle, betwixt poverty and riches; who are of liberal professions, and though of smaller estates, in creditable branches of business. These might provide a mere subsistence for their children by sending them out into the world to get their bread by trade or manual labor; but they would not satisfy by these means the reasonable expectations of their children, which is necessary to be done, in order to give them a fair chance for happiness. Much less are they bound, on the other hand, to make them or leave them independent of any profession. This may happen sometimes; but I believe that there is more pleasure than merit in it, when it does happen. A calling in some degree upon a level, in point of place and station, with that which their parents follow, is the utmost they are entitled to expect'; and yet this simple and practicable rule is often and in various ways neglected. It is neglected from avarice, from vanity, and from
extravagance. Froin avarice; as when a parent sinks his child's profession to save the charges of education, which of all schemes of economy is the worst; for the child, when be becomes master of his liberty and his fortune, will hardly sit down with the calling he is brought up to, and is qualified for nothing better. But this error is not common. Our rule is violated from vanity, when a parent, from some foolish conceit of birth and distinction, thinks the ordinary occupations of life beneath the dignity of his family, and yet is not in circumstances to advance his children into the more honorable professions, and so leaves them to shift for themselves without either employment or profession at all; or, what is worse, introduces them perhaps into some profession or place of public education of some great pame and repute, and yet has it not in his power to supply him with the necessary expenses of the station in which he has placed his child, until he can maintain himself. I call these necessary expenses, as I said before, which all or most in the same situation of life are allowed. This is both folly and cruelty ; folly, for you will hardly ever know an instance of a person succeeding in a profession who is thus shackled; and cruelty to the child, for the thus lifting him up into the higher classes of life, without giving him the means of supporting himself, is only to expose him to continual insult and mortification; to make his life and happiness a prey to every vexation and distress. I am sure that a parent who acts thus does not do his duty by his child, if it be a parent's duty to give his child a fair chance of happiness. He gives him indeed scarcely any chance at all; for there is not any one living whọ can be at ease under the difficulties and vexations which a man is liable to whose circumstances are inadequate to his state.
And lastly, parents do not discharge their duty to their children, or what is just the same, put it out of their power to discharge it, by their
own extravagance. When a parent might, by frugality, and selfdenial, and diligence, put his children into a calling suitable for them, and give or leave them sufficient to go on with his calling, and does not do so, he is then extravagant in the properest sense of that word, and his extravagance has a double effect on his children ; it both accustoms them to high or luxurious living, and deprives them of the means of continuing it. Nor is it an excuse to say that their children shared with them; that they indulged them while in their power with every thing they could afford, or more. This is not that reasonable and permanent provision for a child's happiness which it is a parent's duty to make.
The last order of men which remains to be considered, are those of great fortune and family, and who are bound perhaps to transmit to some one child a considerable part of their fortune. Such child will seldom submit to enter into a profession, nor would the parent be willing he should. When those persons, by luxury or mismanagement, throw away their large fortunes upon themselves, or enjoy it while they may, as it is termed, they leave the rest of their family of all others the most destitute; for they have brought them up with expectations only to be disappointed; with habits which will teaze and torment them, and with a pride which will starve them.
To sum up the whole; the duty of parents to their children, like every other duty, has its limits. There is such a thing as doing too much, when we are so anxious for our family as to be hardly just, and never generous to the rest of mankind. And there is such a thing as doing too little; when we neglect the opportunities we have, or may have, of providing for our children in such a manner as is reasonable, and, if it be not their own fault, conducting them through an ensnaring and precarious world, with comfort to themselves and usefulness to others.
THE DUTY OF PARENTS TOWARDS THEIR
PROVERBS XXII. 6.
Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart
ONE grand article of a parent's duty to his children is the care of their virtue, and the using of proper expedients and precautions to preserve and inculcate it. This, you will say, was the business of education, which has been already treated of; but there are certain other precautions and expedients which do not fall under the notice of what is commonly reckoned education, and which therefore we choose to make the subject of a separate exhortation; though to say the truth, it matters little how our duty is arranged or divided, if it be but understood and practised.
Now the first and principal and most direct way of encouraging virtue in our children, is by our own example. The great point in a young person, or indeed in any person, is the being accustomed to look forward to the consequences of their actions in a future world; and this is not to be brought about by any other method than the parents' acting with a view to those consequences themselves. Whatever parents may be in their own conduct, they cannot but wish to have their children virtuous; both because they know that virtue at the setting out has a better chance for thriving in the world than vice, though with all chances it may turn out otherwise, and because, unless a man has deliberately, and from conviction, cast off all expectation of a future state, which is not, I trust and believe, the case with many, if with any, he cannot but desire, if he love his children at all, to have them happy in that state, he cannot but know that to promote and secure that happiness and that interest, is, after all, the very best thing which he can do for them. And I will suppose it to be the wish and purpose
of every parent. But then how do they go about to accomplish it? They gravely, perhaps, and solemnly give them lessons of virtue and morality, warn them with much seeming earnestness against idleness, drunkenness, lewdness, dissoluteness, and profligacy; whereas they themselves hang about all day without employ, come home disordered by intemperance, are cried out against in the whole neighbourhood for some profligate connexions, and waste and destroy their substance in riot, dissipation, and high living; or they will tell their children, possibly, of the great importance of religion ; that every thing besides is of short duration, and, consequently, small importance, in comparison with this; that death closes all our cares but this; whatever else, therefore, they regard, to take care of this. This is the conversation, perhaps, that they hold with their children, whilst their own conduct all the while has not much of the influence of religion discoverable in it. The offices and ordinances of religion, which are the apparent, and therefore, as examples, the affecting and influencing spirit of it, are put by and neglected, if there be any pretence or cause for neglecting them, not seldom without any pretence or excuse at all.
All that the child sees of the parents is, that they are continually taken up with the pursuit of some pleasure ; or that they