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Emory Women Writers Resource Project Collections:
Emory Women Writers Resource Project

The Gentlewoman's Companion: or, A Guide to the Female Sex, an electronic edition

by Hannah Woolley [Woolley, Hannah, fl. 1670]

date: 1675
source publisher: Printed by A. Maxwell for Edward Thomas
collection: Early Modern through the 18th Century

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The duty of Children to their Parents.

The duties of a Child (Male or Female) to Parents, may be branchèd out into these particulars; Reverence, Love, Obedience (especially in Marriage) assisting them in their wants, nay all these considered as due debt to the world of Parents.

| | 22 You ought in the first place to behave your self towards them with reverence, respect, humility, and observance and although their infirmities may tempt you into a contempt of them, yet you must not despise them in your behaviour, nor let your heart entertain an undervaluing thought. What infirmities they have, you must endeavour to cover and conceal, like Shem and Faphet, who whilst cursed Cham endeavoured to disclose the nakedness of their Father to pubblick view, they privately covered from the sight of others, that which they debarrèd their own eyes to look upon. It is a great fault in our days, and too frequently practifed, for youth not only to deride the imperfections of their Parents, but forge and pretend more than they have, that their counsel and correction may seem rather the effect of weakness, than good judgment in the punishing their Childrens errors. They think they then best express their wit, when they can mmost flout and abuse grave Counsel. Let such, if they will not practise the exhortations; yet remember the threatnings of the wisest of men, Prov. 30, 17. The eye that mocketh his Father, and despiseth to obey his Mother, the Ravens of the Valley, shall pick it out, and the young Eagles shall eat it.

Thus as your behaviour ought to be respectful to them, so ought you to shew them all the demonstrations of love imaginable, striving to do them all the good you can, and shunning all the occasions of their disquiet. This you are obliged unto by common gratitude; for they were not only the instruments of bringing you into the world, but of sustaining and supporting you afterwards; | | 23 if you could but rightly weigh the fears and cares that are required in the bringing up a Child, you would judg your love to be but a moderate return in compensation thereof.

This love is to be exprest several ways: First, in all kindness of behaviour, carrying your self not only with awe and respect, but with kindness and affection, which will encourage you to do those things they affect, and make you avoid what may grieve and afflict them.

Secondly, This love is to be exprest in praying for them. The debt a Child owes her arents is so great, that she can never make satisfaction unless she call God to her aid and assistance, by beseeching him to multily his blessing on them. Do not for any temporal benefit or to be freed from the severity of they Parents, with their death. God in the Old Testament hath denounced death and destruction to the Curser of his Parents and therefore certainly will not let thy ill wishes towards them go unpunished; certainly they who watch for the death of their Parents, may untimely meet with their own.

The third duty we owe them is Obedience; this is not only contained in the fifth Commandment, but injoined in many other places of Scripture. This obedience extends no farther than to lawful things otherwise it is disobedience, and offends against a higher duty, even that you owe to God your Heavenly Father. How little this duty is regarded daily experience makes evident; the careful Mother having her child no longer under her commend, than under the rod.

Wherefore think not, though grown up to Womans | | 24 estate, that you are freed from obedience; and let not your motive thereunto be out of worldly prudence, fearing to displease your Parents, lest they should diminish your intended portion, and os be a loser thereby but let your obedience be grounded upon conscience of duty.

But of all the acts of Disobedience, that of Marrying against the consent of Parents if the highest. Children are so much the Goods and Chattels of a Parent, that they cannot without a kind of theft give themselves away without the allowance of those that have the right in them; and therefore we see under the Law; the Maid that had made any Vow, was not sufferèd to perform it without the consent of the Parent, Number. 30.5. The right of the Parent was thought of force enough to cancel and make void the obligation even of a Vow; and therefore surely it ought to be so much considered by us to keep us from making any such whereby that right is infringed.

A fourth duty is, To minister to, and assist your Parents in what-ever necessities or infirmities God Almighty shall think fit to inflict upon them. It may be thy Parent is weak or decayèd in understanding, supply his or her wants according to thy ability, since in thy infancy thou didst receive the same benefits from them. When an infant, you had neither strength to support, nor understanding to guide your self, but was supplyèd with both by your indulgent Parents; wherefore common gratitude, when either of these becomes their case, obligeth you to return the same offices back again to them.

And as for the relieving their Poverty, there is | | 25 the same obligation with the former, it being but just to sustain those who had maintainèd thee.

How then shall those answer it, who will not part with or circumscribe their own excesses and superfluities for the relief of such to whom they owe their being and well-being? And worse it will be with those who out of pride deny their Parents, being themselves exalted, fearing lest the lowness of their condition should betray the meanness of their birth.

Lastly, that I may conclude this Discourse, assure your self, That no unkindness, fault, or poverty of a Parent, can excuse or acquit a child from this duty. Although the gratitude due to a kind Parent be aforcible motive to make the child pay his duty; yet though our Parent were even so unnatural, yet still we are to perform our duty, though none of that tye of gratitude lie on us.

Take this for all, Honour and obey thy natural Parents in what condition soever, for if they cannot give the riches, yet thy Heavenly Father hath promised thee length of days.

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