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years, that it is driven out of all its outworks. The atheist has not found his post tenable, and is therefore retired into Deism, and a disbelief of revealed religion only. But the truth of it is, the greatest number of this set of men are those who, for want of a virtuous education, or examining the grounds of religion, know so very little of the matter in question, that their infidelity is but another term for their ignorance n.
• As folly and inconsiderateness are the foundations of infidelity, the great pillars and supports of it are either vanity of appearing 10 wiser than the rest of mankind, or an ostentation of courage in
despising the terrors of another world, which have so great an influence on what they call weaker minds; or an aversion to a belief that must cut them off from many of those pleasures they propose to themselves, and fill them with remorse for many of those they have already tasted.
The great received articles of the Christian religion have been so clearly proved, from the authority of that divine revelation in which they are delivered, that it is impossible for those who
have ears to hear, and eyes to see, not to be convinced of 20 them. But were it possible for any thing in the Christian faith
to be erroneous, I can find no ill consequences in adhering to it. The great points of the incarnation and sufferings of our Saviour produce naturally such habits of virtue in the mind of man, that, I say, supposing it were possible for us to be mistaken in them, the infidel himself must at least allow, that no other system of religion could so effectually contribute to the heightening of morality. They give us great ideas of the dignity of human nature, and of the love which the Supreme Being bears to his creatures,
and consequently engage us in the highest acts, of duty towards 30 our Creator, our neighbour, and ourselves. How many noble
arguments has St. Paul raised from the chief articles of our religion, for the advancing of morality in its three great branches ! To give a single example in each kind : what can be a stronger motive to a firm trust and reliance on the mercies of our Maker, than the giving us his Son to suffer for us? What can make us love and esteem even the most inconsiderable of mankind, more than the thought that Christ died for him ? Or what dispose us to set a stricter guard upon the purity of our own hearts, than
our being members of Christ, and a part of the society of which 40 that immaculate person is the head? But these are only a speciBELIEF OF THE ANCIENTS.
167 men of those admirable enforcements of morality, which the apostle has drawn from the history of our blessed Saviour.
If our modern infidels considered these matters with that candour and seriousness which they deserve, we should not see them act with such a spirit of bitterness, arrogance, and malice; they would not be raising such insignificant cavils, doubts, and scruples, as may be started against every thing that is not capable of mathematical demonstration; in order to unsettle the minds of
the ignorant, disturb the public peace, subvert morality, and 10 throw all things into confusion and disorder. If none of these
reflexions can have any influence on them, there is one that perhaps may, because it is adapted to their vanity, by which they seem to be guided much more than their reason. I would therefore have them consider, that the wisest and best of men, in all ages of the world, have been those who lived up to the religion of their country when they saw nothing in it opposite to morality, and to the best lights they had of the Divine Nature. Pythagoras's first rule n directs us to worship the gods as it is ordained by law,
for that is the most natural interpretation of the precept. So20 crates, who was the most renowned among the heathens both
for wisdom and virtue, in his last moments desires his friends to offer a cock to Æsculapius n; doubtless out of a submissive deference to the established worship of his country. Xenophon tells us, that his prince (whom he sets forth as a pattern of perfection) when he found his death approaching, offered sacrifices on the mountains to the Persian Jupiter, and the sun, according to the custom of the Persians ; for those are the words of the historian . Nay the Epicureans and atomical philosophers shewed a very
remarkable modesty in this particular; for though the being of 30 a God was entirely repugnant to their scheme of natural philo
sophy, they contented themselves with the denial of a Providence, asserting at the same time the existence of gods in general, because they would not shock the common belief of mankind, and the religion of their country.-L
No. 189.-On Unnatural Fathers and filial ingratitude.
Patriæ pietatis imago. Virg. Æn. x. 824. The following letter being written to my bookseller, upon a subject of which I treated some time since, I shall publish it in this paper, together with the letter that was inclosed in it.
MR. BUCKLEY, • Mr. Spectator having of late descanted upon the cruelty of parents to their children', I have been induced (at the request of several of Mr. Spectator's admirers) to inclose this letter, which I assure you is the original from a father to his
own son, notwithstanding the latter gave but little or no pro10 vocation. It would be wonderfully obliging to the world, if
Mr. Spectator would give his opinion of it in some of his speculations, and particularly to
"Your humble servant.' • SIRRAH, * You are a saucy audacious rascal, and both fool and mad, and I care not a farthing whether you comply or no; that does not raze out my impressions of your insolence, going about railing at
me, and the next day to solicit my favour: these are incon20 sistencies, such as discover thy reason depraved. To be brief,
I never desire to see your face: and, Sirrah, if you go to the work-house, it is no disgrace to me for you to be supported there; and if you starve in the streets, I'll never give any thing underhand in your behalf. If I have any more of your scribbling nonsense, I'll break your head the first time I set sight on you. You are a stubborn beast: is this your gratitude for my giving you money? You rogue, I'll better your judgment, and give you a greater sense of your duty to (I regret to say), your
father, &c. 30 ‘P.S.-It is prudence for you to keep out of my sight; for to
reproach me that might overcomes right on the outside of your letter, I shall give you a great knock on the skull for it.'
Was there ever such an image of paternal tenderness! It was
1 The reference is to No. 181: omitted (except as to a part) from this selection.
LIKE FATHER LIKE SON.
usual among some of the Greeks to make their slaves drink to excess, and then expose them to their children, who by that means conceived an early aversion to a vice which makes men appear so monstrous and irrational n. I have exposed this picture of an unnatural father with the same intention, that its deformity may deter others from its resemblance. If the reader has a mind to see a father of the same stamp represented in the most exquisite strokes of humour, he may meet with it in one of the
finest comedies that ever appeared upon the English stage; I 10 mean the part of Sir Samson in Love for Love 1.
I must not however engage myself blindly on the side of the son, to whom the fond letter above-written was directed. His father calls him a saucy and audacious rascal in the first line, and I am afraid upon examination he will prove but an ungracious youth. To go about railing at his father, and to find no other place but the outside of his letter to tell him that might overcomes right, if it does not discover his reason to be depraved, and that he is either fool or mad, as the choleric old gentleman tells him, we
may at least allow that the father will do very well in endeavour20 ing to better his judgment, and give him a greater sense of his duty.
But whether this may be brought about by breaking his head, or giving him a great knock on the skull, ought, I think, to be well considered. Upon the whole, I wish the father has not met with his match, and that he may not be as equally paired with a son as the mother in Virgil.
Crudelis tu quoque mater :
Ecl, viii. 48. 30 Or like the crow and her egg, in the Greek proverb,
Κακού κόρακος κακόν ώόν. .
Of a bad crow the bad egg. I must here take notice of a letter which I have received from an unknown correspondent, upon the subject of my paper, upon which the foregoing letter is likewise founded. The writer of it seems very much concerned lest that paper should seem to give encouragement to the disobedience of children towards their parents; but if the writer of it will take the pains to read it over again attentively, I dare say his apprehensions will vanish. Pardon and reconciliation are all the penitent daughter requests, and all that I contend for in her behalf; and in this case I may use the saying of an eminent wit, who, upon some great men's pressing him to forgive his daughter, who had married against his consent, told them he could refuse nothing to their instances, but that he would have them remember there was a difference between giving and forgiving.
I must confess, in all controversies between parents and their children, I am naturally prejudiced in favour of the former. 10 The obligations on that side can never be acquitted, and I think
it is one of the greatest reflexions upon human nature, that paternal instinct should be a stronger motive to love than filial gratitude; that the receiving of favours should be a less inducement to good-will, tenderness, and commiseration, than the conferring of them; and that the taking care of any person should endear the child or dependent more to the parent or benefactor, than the parent or benefactor to the child or dependent; yet so it happens, that for one cruel parent we meet with a thousand
undutiful children. This is indeed wonderfully contrived (as I 20 have formerly observed) for the support of every living species;
but at the same time that it shews the wisdom of the Creator, it discovers the imperfection and degeneracy of the creature.
The obedience of children to their parents is the basis of all government, and set forth as the measure of that obedience which we owe to those whom providence hath placed over us.
It is Father Le Compten, if I am not mistaken, who tells us how want of duty in this particular is punished among the Chinese, insomuch that if a son should be known to kill, or so
much as to strike his father, not only the criminal, but his whole 30 family, would be rooted out, nay, the inhabitants of the place
where he lived would be put to the sword, nay, the place itself would be razed to the ground, and its foundation sown with salt : for, say they, there must have been an utter depravation of manners in that clan or society of people who could have bred up among them so horrid an offender. To this I shall add a passage out of the first book of Herodotus? That historian, in his account of the Persian customs and religion, tells us, it is their opinion, that no man ever killed his father, or that it is possible such a crime should be in nature; but that if any thing like it