GRATITUDE to our benefactors is a duty both of reason and revelation, and, next to the bounty of Providence, there is none so great as that accorded by parents to their children.* The father is formal cause* of their existence. Medium of their main­tenance he continues to be, by supplying them with food, clothing, and other necessaries conducive to life prolonged and maturity completed: medium, likewise, of their arriving at mental perfection, the proprieties, the merits, and the arts of life: by his own great and manifold exertions on their account acquiring and amassing valuables which he lavishes upon their wants in preference to his own.

The mother, besides being coefficient with the father in causation of life, hath endured all the fatigue of gestation, the peril of parturition, the pain of labour. From the blood of her body was their earliest food secreted and their tenderest life preserved: long hath she watched over them — restrained and instructed them — in the height of her affection sacrificed herself for them.

Thus it is, seeing the affection of parents for their child is an instinctive one of nature, and that there is no need of urging them to an observance of his rights, while with children the case is otherwise,* — thus it is, that in the institutory injunctions chil­dren are much oftener told to be good to their parents than the converse. It is clear then, in all justice, that after duty to our Creator, we are bound to be dutiful to our parents.*

But further, since the all-sufficiency of the divine kingdom is of too elevated a sort for us poor out­casts of want’s narrow lane, in return for bounty without end, to enter upon any the least discharge of gratitude or compensation, (the utmost progress of the pilgrims of devotion being limited to acknowledging their own inability and incompetence,) whereas with our parents the case is far otherwise, their need of us being most manifest on infinite occasions; in some sort their claims upon us may be said to stand first of all. Indeed, by the prin­ciples of the Institute, no less, the rights of men may be insisted on precedently to those of God. Holy, righteous, and supreme, he doth nothing but bestow. Verily worlds upon worlds can add nothing unto him.

The accurate discharge of parental rights may be accomplished by three things: 1. In the heart sin­cere affection, in the tongue and members complete veneration; with conformity in the utmost of our power to all they enjoin or prohibit; — always pro­vided no criminality or breach of duty be involved. Yet should it involve either or both, still is our opposition to be conducted with suavity, not in censoriousness, saving where the Institute demands. Ghazāly gives it as the prevailing opinion of the Fathers, that even in doubtful points we are to obey our parents; how much more in indifferent ones! 2. To afford them the assistance which their cir­cumstances require (as long as it involves nothing impracticable) without application, acknowledgment, or requital. 3. To take every occasion, whether secret or open, of demonstrating our regard; and to observe their every injunction, as well after as before their decease.

And whereas the rights of the father are mainly in behalf of intellectual, and those of the mother in behalf of corporeal benefits, (for which reason it is that gratitude and affection for the former is poste­rior to the power of judgment, while the claims of the latter are recognised from the first; the attach­ment of children being stronger for the mother;*) for this reason, our obligations to a father we should discharge by instances in which the intellectual pre­ponderates, such as deference, prayer, and praise; and our obligations to a mother, by instances in which the corporeal preponderates, such as presents of money and supplies of necessaries.

Disobedience, being that vice which is the oppo­site of this virtue, hath likewise three species cor­respondent to the above.

Now persons holding the place of parents, such as grand-parents, uncles on either side, elder brothers, and faithful friends, are their representatives, and should be treated, as far as possible, with analogous regard. There is a genuine dictum purporting that to pay regard to a father’s friends is the best of good actions. According, too, to what was previously explained touching the force of spiritual affinity, a similar or rather a stricter course must be pursued towards a preceptor, who is father to the soul.*