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power that is to be unfolded, as a creature that is to act and to pass through he knows not what, as a canvas that “gives ample room and verge enough,” for his prophetic soul to hang over in endless visions, and his intellectual pencil to fill up with various scenes and fortunes. And, if the parent does not understand his child, certainly as little does the child understand his parent. Wherever this relation subsists in its fairest form, the parent is as a God, a being qualified with supernatural powers, to his offspring. The child consults his father as an oracle; to him he proposes all his little questions ; from him he learns his natural philosophy, his morals, his rules of conduct, his religion, and his creed. The boy is uninformed on every point; and the father is a vast Encyclopedia, not merely of sciences, but of feelings, of sagacity, of practical wisdom, and of justice, which the son consults on all occasions, and never consults in vain. Senseless and inexpert is that parent, who endeavours to govern the mind by authority, and to lay down rugged and peremptory dogmas to his child; the child is fully and unavoidably prepared to receive every thing with unbounded deference, and to place total reliance in the oracle which nature has assigned him. Habits, how beautiful! Inestimable benefit of nature, that has given me a prop against which to sustain my unripened strength, and has not turned me loose to wander with tottering steps amidst the vast desert of society!
But it is not merely for contemplative wisdom that the child honours his parent; he sees in him a vast fund of love, attachment and sympathy. That he cannot mistake; and it is all a mystery to him. He says,
What am I, that I should be the object of this? and whence comes it? He sees neither the fountain from which it springs, nor the banks that confine it. To him it is an ocean, unfathomable, and without a shore.
To the bounty of its operations he trusts implicitly. The stores of judgment and knowledge he finds in his father, prompt him to trust it. In many instances where it appeared at first obscure and enigmatical, the event has taught him to acknowledge its soundness. · The mutinousness of passion will sometimes excite a child to question the decrees of his parent; it is very long before his understanding, as such, comes to set up a separate system, and teaches him to controvert the decisions of his father.
Perhaps I ought earlier to have stated, that the filial connection we have here to consider, does not include those melancholy instances where some woful defect or utter worthlessness in the parent counteracts the natural course of the affections, but refers only to cases, where the character of father is on the whole sustained with honour, and the principle of the connection is left to its true operation. In such cases the child not only observes for himself the manifestations of wisdom and goodness in
his parent, but is also accustomed to hear well of
every way the child is deeply imbued with veneration for his parent, and forms the habit of regarding him as his book of wisdom, his philosopher and guide. He is accustomed to hear him spoken of as a true friend, an active ally, and a pattern of justice and honour; and he finds him so. Now these are the true objects of affection,—wisdom and beneficence; and the human heart loves this beneficence better when it is exercised towards him who loves, first, because inevitably in almost all instances we are best pleased with the good that is done to ourselves, and secondly, because it can scarcely happen but that we in that case understand it best, both in its operation and its effects.
The active principles of religion are all moulded upon this familiar and sensible relation of father
and child : and to understand what the human heart is capable to conceive on this subject, we have only to refer to the many eloquent and glowing treatises that have been written upon the love of God to his creatures, and the love that the creature in return owes to his God. I am not now considering religion in a speculative point of view, or enquiring among the different sects and systems of religion what it is that is true; but merely producing religion as an example of what have been the conceptions of the human mind in successive ages of the world on the subject of love.
This All that we behold, the immensity of the universe, the admirable harmony and subtlety of its structure, as they appear in the vastest and the minutest bodies, is considered by religion, as the emanation of pure love, a mighty impulse and ardour in its great author to realise the idea existing in his mind, and to produce happiness. The Providence that watches over us, so that not a sparrow dies unmarked, and that “the great Sensorium of the world vibrates, if a hair of our head but falls to the ground in the remotest desert of his creation,” is still unremitted, never-satiated love. And, to go from this to the peculiarities of the Christian doctrine, “ Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends: God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son to suffer, to be treated contumeliously, and to die with ignominy, that we might live."
If on the other hand we consider the love which the creature must naturally pay to his creator, we shall find that the affection we can suppose
the most ingenuous child to bear to the worthiest parent, is a very faint image of the passion which may be expected to grow out of this relation. In God, as he is represented to us in the books of the worthiest divines, is every thing that can command love ; wisdom to conceive, power to execute, and beneficence actually to carry into effect, whatever is excellent and admirable. We are lost in contemplating the depth and immensity of his perfections. Every good and every perfect gift is from the universal Father, with whom is no vari. ableness, neither shadow of turning.” The most soothing and gratifying of all sentiments, is that of entire confidence in the divine goodness, a reliance which no adversity can shake, and which supports him that entertains it under every calamity, that sees the finger of God in every thing that comes to pass, that
says, “ It is good for me to be afflicted," believes, that “all things work together for blessings” to the pious and the just, and is intimately persuaded that “our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is the means and the earnest of a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”
If we descend from these great archetypes, the love between parent and child, and between the creator and his creature, we shall still find the same inequality the inseparable attendant upon the