The Instructor/Maxims of Filial Duty

Maxims of Filial Duty.


IT is the indispensible duty of every child to obey the commands of his parents. Both father and mother are entitled to his obedience. Children saith St. Paul, obey your parents in all things; and in order to excite and quicken them in the discharge of this duty he adds: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.

II. Consider frequently, you who have parents, what they have done and suffered for you, and let the remembrance of it preserve you from all acts of disobedience. For disobedient children are offensive to God.

III. Let your conduct and behaviour towards them always be respectful, reverent, and submissive, and your words affectionate and humble.

IV. Rejoice to testify, by every means in your power, your love, and veneration, and gratitude to your tender and affectionate parents. It is to them you are indebted, not only for your existence, but also for their care in promoting your welfare, giving you education, and instructing you in the duties of virtue and religion.

V. Listen attentively to their good instructions and advice. It is your interest they have at heart in giving it; and their duty, their affection, and their experience empower, induce, and qualify them to do it.

VI. Be careful to follow their good examples in the practice of every godly, relative, and social duty. For though it is their duty to train you up in the way you should go, and to set you good examples; yet you must remember, it is yours to attend to their instructions, and to tread in their steps.

VII. Where parents are either incapable or negligent of giving good instructions to their children, the greatest care and diligence is required of those children to gain knowledge, and to improve themselves in righteousness and true holiness. For without these no man shall see the Lord.

VIII. The happiness of your parents depends, in a great measure, on your conduct; therefore be careful to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God. By so doing, you will rejoice the hearts of those who have done so much for you. Virtuous children are the joy of their parents. A wise son, saith Solomon, maketh a glad father.

IX. On the other hand, guard yourselves against every species of ill-behaviour, wickedness, and vice, and from doing any thing that may give pain to those persons whose hearts have felt no little on your account. Your ill-conduct will most certainly be productive of their misery. A foolish son is the heaviness of his mother. And if your take up, and persevere in bad ways, you will, in time, bring down their grey hairs with sorrow, to the grave.

X. Be not impatient of parental control. If you suffer the fond desire of acting without restraint, and of indulging your own inclinations to get possession of your hearts, the most gentle authority of your affectionate parents will soon become burdensome to you; and you may lament the time of shaking off your dependence on, and disregard to your parents, perhaps so long as you live.

XI If they see it necessary to oppose your inclinations in any respect, never imagine they do it out of any other motive but love to you. They are ever solicitous for your welfare, and from their experience, are capable of judging what will hinder or promote it.

XIl. Check every temptation to independence by such considerations as these. My parents have the tenderest regard for me. I have experienced their love on various occasions. My father, who has taken such kind care of me hitherto; and my mother, who so often supported me at her own breast, and has shown the most earnest attention to my welfare ever since, can never restrain me from any thing which would make me truly happy, nor advise me to do any thing, but what is for my good. They have lived longer, seen and known more, and are wiser than myself. I am determined, therefore, to subdue my own inclinations, and contentedly suffer myself to be led, and governed by their counsels and directions.

XIII. Never hide any transaction of consequence from them. What you wish to conceal are most commonly such things as are hurtful to yourselves. Therefore, if you have been imprudent, acknowledge and confess it to those who, by their love to you and their knowledge, are calculated to give the best advice, and to mitigate, if not prevent, the impending bad consequence.

XIV. Repay not the fears and anxieties they have experienced for your happiness and success in the world, by disobedience and deeds of unkindness, which will pierce them to the soul, and, perhaps, break those hearts, which you and you alone, have long had sole possession of.

XV. Show the most tender concern for them on all occasions; and if you happen to have a widowed parent, remember to behave to her with a greater degree of duty and love. Double kindness, if possible, and all the tenderness and affection imaginable, are requisite to alleviate the difficulties and sorrows of widowhood.

XVI. Despise not your parents, if happily you should be so blest as to have gained a degree of knowledge or fortune superior to them; but on the contrary, have compassion on their infirmities, excuse their foibles, and, as much as you can supply their wants. They took the greatest care of you in your helpless infancy; and you ought certainly to return it in the helpless and feeble period of their sickness and old age.

XVII. Maintain an affectionate regard for your brothers and sisters. Fraternal love is not only agreeable to nature, and well-pleasing to God, but will likewise promote the happiness of your parents, and be productive of many advantages, and attended with many comforts. Behold how good and pleasant a thing it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.

XVIII Flee youthful lusts; for the indulgence of these most commonly leads to ruin and misery. You have many examples of the pernicious and fatal effects of such ways; therefore let the misconduct of others warn you to avoid the dangerous rocks they have split upon. And happy shall you be, if you this gain wisdom by their folly.

XIX. Use the greatest care and circumspection to avoid bad company of both sexes, but especilly of the female: for bad company of that kind is the most poisonous corrupter of youth. It is the greatest enemy to every good principle, and to good manners.

XX. Never be guilty of the vice of lying; for it renders youth both dangerous and despicable, and sows the seeds of a very worthless and contemptible character in future life.

XXI. Carefully avoid the common and pernicious practice of swearing, as utterly inexcusable. It has no plea of pleasure or utility to urge in its defence, and it is certainly a very great affront to Almighty God. otherwise St. James would not have said, Above all things, my brethren, swear not.

XXII. Use no kind of obscene expressions in your conversation, nor give countenance to it, by listening to it in others. It is the surest indication of an impure and a depraved, as well as a weak heart.

Immodest words admit of no defence,
For want of deceney is want of sense.

XXIII. Idleness is the root of all evil; therefore be not slothful in business.

Flee sloth, the canker of good men and parts,
Of health, of wealth, of honour, and of arts;
Industry choose your innocence 'twill guard,
And health and wealth your labour will reward.

XXIV. Since it is God alone who worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure, constantly and fervently pray to him, to assist you with his divine grace and influence in the due discharge of your duty to your parents.

Finally. If you expect happiness here and hereafter, if you expect favour either from God or man, do not neglect your duty to your parents; but by lives of duty, virtue, and religion, by a conscientious denial and subdual of youthful lusts, by avoiding all bad company, by diligently employing yourselves in your lawful callings, and by keeping your tongues from lying, swearing, and indecency, endear yourselves more and more to your tender and affectionate parents. Give them cause to bless God perpetually for you; give them cause to rejoice, that amidst all the temptations to vice which surround unwary youth, God's goodness hath preserved you unpolluted, and that you live a blessing to yourselves, a comfort to them, an ornament to religion and virtue; and, from your obedience to your parents, are likely to obtain the approbation of God, and be blessed with length of days, even an eternity of happy ages in the land of rest, and peace.