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happiness; or if it be true, that an aversion to a particular profession may be involuntary and unconquerable ; then it will follow, that parents, where this is the case, ought not to urge their authority, and that the child is not bound to obey it.
The point is, to discover how far, in any particular instance, this is the case. Whether the fondness of lovers ever continues with such intensity, and so long, that the success of their desires constitutes, or the disappointment affects, any considerable portion of their happiness, compared with that of their whole life, it is difficult to determine ; but there can be no difficulty in pronouncing, that not one half of those attachments, which young people conceive with so much haste and passion, are of this sort. I believe it also to be true, that there are few aversions to a profession, which resolution, perse, verance, activity in going about the duty of it, and above all, despair of changing, will not fubdue : yet there are some such. Wherefore, a child who respects his parents' judgment, and is, as he ought to be, tender of their happiness, owes, at least, so much deference to their will, as to try fairly and faithfully, in one case, whether time and absence will not quench an affeca
tion which they disapprove; and in the other, whether a longer continuance in the profession which they have chosen for him may not reconcile him to it. The whole depends upon the experiment being made on the child's part with sincerity, and not merely with a design of compassing his purpose at last, by means of a simulated and temporary compliance. It is the nature of love and hatred, and of all violent affections, to delude the mind with a persuasion, that we shall always continue to feel them, as we feel them at present. We cannot conceive that they will either change or cease. Experience of similar or greater changes in ourselves, or a habit of giving credit to what our parents, or tutors, or books teach us, may control this persuasion ; otherwise it renders youth very untractable ; for they see clearly and truly, that it is impossible they should be happy under the circumstances proposed to them, in their present state of mind. After a sincere, but ineffectual endeavour, by the child, to accommodate his inclination to his parent's pleasure, he ought not to suffer in his parent's affection, or in his fortunes. The parént, when he has reasonable proof of this, should acquiesce: at all events, the child is then at liberty to provide for his own happiness.
Parents have no right to urge their children upon marriages, to which they are averse ; nor ought, in any shape, to resent the children's disobedience to such commands. This is a different case from opposing a match of inclination, because the child's misery is a much more probable consequence; it being easier to live without a person that we love, than with one whom we hate. Add to this, that compulsion in marriage necessarily leads to prevarication; as the reluctant party promises an affection, which neither exists, nor is expected to take place : and parental, like all human authority ceases, at the point, where obedience becomes criminal.
In the above-mentioned, and in all contests between parents and children, it is the parent's duty to represent to the child the consequences of his conduct; and it will be found his best policy to represent them with fidelity. It is usual for parents to exaggerate these descriptions beyond probability, and by exaggeration to lose all credit with their children ; thus, in a great meafure, defeating their own end.
Parents are forbidden to interfere, where a trust is reposed personally in the son ; and where, consequently, the son was expected, and by virtue of that expectation is obliged, to pursue his
own judgment, and not that of any other; as is the case with judicial magistrates, in the exécution of their office; with members of the legislature in their votes; with electors, where preference is to be given to certain prescribed qualifications. The son may affist his own judgment by the advice of his father, or of any one whom he chooses to consult: but his own judgment, whether it proceed upon knowledge or authority, ought finally to determine his conduct.
The duty of chịldren to their parents was thought worthy to be made the subject of one of the ten commandments; and, as such, is recognized by Christ, together with the rest of the moral precepts of the decalogue, in various places of the gospel.
The same divine teacher's sentiments concerning the relief of indigent parents, appear sufficiently from that manly and deserved indignation, with which he reprehended the wretched casuistry of the Jewish expositors, who, under the name of a tradition, had contrived a method of evading this duty, by converting, or pretending to convert, to the treasury of the temple, so much of their property, as their distressed parent might be entitled by their law to demand VOL. I.
· Agreeably to this law of nature and Christianity, children are, by the law of England, bound to support, as well their immediate parents, as their grandfathers and grandmothers, or remoter ancestors, who stand in need of support.
Obedience to parents is enjoined by St. Paul to the Ephesians : “ Children obey your parents in “ the Lord, for this is right;" and to the Colossians, “ Children obey your parents in all " things, for this is well pleasing unto the 66 Lord."'*
By the Jewish law, disobedience to parents was, in some extreme cases, capital. Deut. xxi. 18.
: * Upon which two phrafes, « this is right," and “ for « this is well pleasing unto the Lord,” being used by St. Paul in a sense perfectly parallel, we may observe, that moral rectitude and conformity to the divine will, were, in his apprebension, the same.
End of the First VOLUME.