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The Duty of Parents to their Children.

1. ‘Fathers, provoke not your children to wrath:’162162Ephes. vi. 4. that is, be tender-bowelled, pitiful, and gentle, complying with all the infirmities of the children, and, in their several ages, proportioning to them several usages, according to their needs and their capacities.

2. ‘Bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord:’ that is, secure their religion; season their younger years with prudent and pious principles; make them in love with virtue; and make them habitually so, before they come to choose or to discern good from evil, that their choice or to discern good from evil, that their choice may be with less difficulty and danger. For while they are under discipline, they suck in all that they are first taught, and believe it infinitely. Provide for them wise, learned, and virtuous tutors, and good company and discipline, seasonable baptism, catechism, and confirmation.163163Potior mihi ratio vivendi honeste, quam et opime dicendividetur.—Quintil. lib. i. cap. 2. For it is great folly to heap up much wealth for our children, and not to take care concerning the children for whom we get it: it is as if a man should take more care about his shoe than about his foot.

3. Parents must show piety at home;164164Heb. xii. 9 Crates apud Plutarch. de Liber. Educand. 1 Tim. v. 4. that is, they must give good example and reverend deportment in the face of their children; and all those instances of charity, which usually endear each other — sweetness of conversation, affability, frequent admonitions, all significations of love and tenderness, care and watchfulness — must be expressed towards children, that they may look upon their parents as their friends and patrons, their defence and sanctuary, their treasuer and their guide. Hither is to be reduced the nursing of children, which is the first and most natural and necessary instance of piety which mothers can show to their babes; a duty from which nothing will excuse, but a disability, sickness, danger, or public necessity.

4. Parents must provide for their own, according to their condition, education and employment: called by St. Paul, ‘a laying up for the children;’1651651 Tim. v. 1. that is, an enabling them, by competent portions, or good trades, arts, or learning, to defend themselves against the chances of the world, that they may not be exposed to temptation, to beggary, or unworthy arts. And although this must be done without covetousness, without impatient and greedy desires of making them rich; yet it must be done with much care and great affection, with all reasonable provision, and according to our power: and if we can, without sin, improve our estates for them, that also is part of the duty we owe to God for them. And this rule is to extend to all that descend from us, although we have been overtaken in a fault, and have unlawful issue; they also become part of our care, yet so as not to injure the production of the lawful bed.

5. This duty is to extend to a provision of conditions and an estate of life.166166   Νυρφενφατων υεν των ερων πατμφ ερος.
   Μερτρναν εξζι, κουδ ευον δονειν τασε.—Eurip. Androm. 988.
Parents must, according to their power and reason, provide husbands or wives for their children.167167Liberi sine consensu parentum contrahere non debeut. Andromache, apud Eurpiden, cum petita fuit ad nuptias, responidit, patris sui esse sponsalium suorum curam habere; et Achilles, apud Homerum, regis filiam sine patris sui consensu noluit ducere. II.9, 393. Et Justinanus Imp. alt. naturali simul et civili rationi congruere, ne filii ducant uxores citra parentum authoritatem. Simo Terentianus parat abdictionem, quia Pamphilus clam ipso duxisset uxorem. Istitsmodi sponalia frunt irrita, nisi velint parentes: at si subsequuta est copula, ne temere rescindantur connubia, toulue suadent cautiones et pericula. Liberi, autem, quamdiu secundum leges patrias sui juris non sunt, clandestinas nuptias si ineant, peccant contra quintum praeceptum, et jus naturale secundarium. Proprie enim loquendo parentes non habent sive potestatem, sed authoritatem; hebent jus jubendi aut prohibendi, sed non irritum faciendi. Atque etiam ista authoritas exercenda est sccudnum aequm et bonum; scil, nt ne morosus et difficilis sit pater. Mater enim vix habet aliquod juris praeter suasionis et amoris et gratitudinis. Si autem pater filiam non collocasset ante 25 annos, filia nubere poterat cui voluerat, ex jure Romanorum. Patrum enim authoritas major aut minor est ex legibus patriis, et solet extendi ad certam aetatem, et tum exspirat quoad matrimonium; et est major in filias quam filios.—Num. 30. In which they must secure piety and religion,168168Eosdem quos maritus nosse deos et colere s olos uxor debet; supervacaneis autem religionibus et alienis superstitionibus fores occludere. Nulli enim deum grata sunt sacra, quae mulier clanculum et furtim facit—Plutarch. Conjug. Praecept. Gen. 24. Vocemus puellam, et quaeramus os ejus.—The Duty of Husbands, etc. See Chap ii Sect. 3. and the affection and love of the interested persons; and after these let them make what provisions they can for other conveniences or advantages; ever remembering that they can do no injury more afflictive to the children than to join them with cords of a disagreeing affection; it is like tying a wolf and a lamb, or planting a vine in a garden of coleworts. Let them be persuaded with reasonable inducements to make them willing, and to choose according to the parent’s wish; but at no hand let them be forced. Better to sit up all night than to go to bed with a dragon.


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