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too plain a proof of our thinking but little of what we say: for God knows, in my house there has been little difference between a Sabbath-day and another day, unless it be, that the Sabbath-day has been spent the worst of the two; for excepting our just going to church, which also is made a mere diversion, and a kind of entertainment, all the rest is spent in mere revelling, feasting, visiting, and either riding abroad, or mirth and gaiety at home; and this is so notorious, more in my family than in any other, that I am sensible it is high time to put a stop to it, and I design to tell you all my mind this evening, that the reformation may be effectual. I hope none of my children will oppose their own goud.
Son. I hope not, sir.
Fath. Nay, if they oppose me never so much, I-am resolved in this, if they will be foolish and wicked, they shall be foolish and wicked for themselves, not for me, or for any body else. For my part, when I look back upon my family, and consider how we have lived hitherto, I wonder that the judgments of God bave not distinguished my family, and made us as public, and as much the amazement of the world for our punishment, as we have been notorious for our sin and, therefore, if it were only for the fear of the hand on heaven, though I hope I act from another principle too, I think it concerns me to set about a family reformation, with all possible diligence and application,
Son. Indeed I never considered it, sir, till of late ; but for some time past I have begun to see we have not been right. It is true, we do not live as other families do; and I have often thought so, but perhaps not with so much coneern as I should have done.
Fath. Well, child, my design of altering it will be so much the more agreeable to you then, when you come to practise it.
Son. If it were not, sir, it shall be the more agreeable to me, if it be your command. Fath, I would not command any thing that should not be
agreeable, if it were not absolutely necessary. But in things indispensably our duty, the humours of any side are of no weight at all. The duty must be considered, rather than the inclination of those who are to perform it.
Son. I am not only willing to obey it, for its being your command, sir; but my own inclination concerns to set about any thing that will rectify my life, and teach me to govern myself according to my duty.
Fath. What you say, child, is very obliging, as it relates to me; and as I have always showed you, by my own conduct in your education, that I have entertained a particular affection for you more than for the rest of your brothers and sisters; so this return is so very pleasing to me, that I cannot but tell you I will not forget to show it you; and that I think myself very highly engaged by it to distinguish you in my affection, and in concern for you, as you have distinguished yourself in your duty and regard to me on this occasion: but the readiness you show to this work of reformation, from an inclination to the thing itself, is a particular which I rejoice in, and love you for, with an afsection which I was not master of before. But tell me, child, whence came this inclination? how first came any thoughts into your mind about it? I am sure I have never before spoken a word about religion to you in my life.
Son. I won't say so, sir.
Fath. Aye, but I have too much cause to say so; and I am convinced I have not only failed of my duty, for which I heartily beg pardon of Almighty God, but have been injurious to you, child, and to all my children, in not furnishing you with the knowledge of your duty when you were young, and giving you early instruction; by which much of the follies of your lives might have been prevented, alt the time you have now mis-spent had been saved, and you had all been long ago what now I doubt you will not obtain without great difficulty to me and yourselves.
Son. I am sorry to see you afflict yourself, sir, about that, I hope it shall not be too late still,
Fath. But, if not too late, the work is double, the task hard, the attempt almost desperate, and the success very doubtful.
Son. Dear sir, you shall bave po difficulty with me. I am entirely resolved to be guided by your instructions, to follow your rules, obey your dictates, and submit wbolly to your direction, let the difficulty be what it will to me; and, therefore, I only desire to know what the first steps are you would have me take.
Fath. The first steps, my dear, are the breaking off the ill practices of our family, and the regulating the house by rules of virtue, sobriety, and a Christian life,-things we have all been strangers to here.
Son. This, sir, is that which I told you before I had an inclination to formerly, and 'tis with a great deal of pleasure I shall close with all your schemes of that kind; because it is sometime ago since I have seen and observed, that, as I thought, we did not live like Christians, but rather like heathens, and that other families were quite another sort of people than we; and I could not but be in love with them, and weary of oar's; for I cannot but think, that nature itself dictates to a man of sense, that a life of virtue and sobriety is more agreeable to us, as men, than a vicious, wicked, profligate course, which not only ruins the estate, the conscience, health, and the good name of the person, but even his reputation, as to the world also.
Fath. I was asking you before, what first raised these just reflections in you, my dear; for as I acknowledged then, I say again, I own thou art not beholden to me for them.
Son. The first hints I had of this kind, sir, were a great while ago, from some accidental conversation with Mr.
-, our neighbour, when we were little children. Fath. What, the old gentleman ?
Son. No, the young; and afterwards with his mother, when, after our usual recreations, he carried me home to their house.
Fath. How was it, child ? for I long to hear the story. If any good person has helped me to do my work, or dono it for me, I shall be very thankful. .
Son. No, sir, not so much of that; but when I first began to play with that young gentleman, some years ago, his mother heard me use some ugly words, such as I was but too much given to then, and sending her son away, the old lady took me into her parlour, and gave me sweetmeats, and asked me a great many questions.
Fath. What questions?
Son. She asked me, if ever I was taught to swear? I answered, no. She asked me, if my father would not chide me, if he heard me swear? I told her no. But I was sorry for it, sir; for I presently thought, that to say so, reflected upon my father, whether it was true or no; and that I ought to have said, yes, he did, though it was not true.
Fath. Dear child, the sin was mine, and the shame of its being true ought to be mine, and shall for ever be mine. I am glad thou didst not speak a false thing to her. What said she then?
Son. She did not say much to me the first time; but she only told me, it was a sad thing that a pretty boy, as she said I was, should be ruined ; and I thought I saw her weep.
Fath. Did you see her again after that?
Son. Yes, sir, she got me in again the next day, and gave more sweetmeats, and asked me several questions - about God and heaven; and I was sadly ashamed I could answer her to nothing at all,-for I knew nothing of it but what I had heard by chance, or learned by rote. She asked me if I was willing to know any thing for my own good in another world ? and I told her yes, with all my heart. She told me, if I would come and visit her son every day, she would use me like her own child. But she desired me to promise one thing beforehand. I said I would promise any thing she pleased. Then she said, I must prom vise her not to swear, nor tahe God's name in vain. She
told me, that I was a gentleman, and my father and mother were persons of distinction ;-that it was not only a sin against God, but below me as a gentleman, to swear, and use ill words ;-that if I should swear when I grew to be a man, it would spoil all my education, and no sober man would keep me company ;-that if I would not leave off swearing, and taking God's name in vain, she must not let her son play with me, for she should be afraid her son should learn such words too, and then he would be undone.
Fath. And did you promise her, my dear?
Son. Yes, sir, I promised her; but I could not forbear crying ; and when I got away from her, I could not help crying a great while by myself.
Fath. What did you cry for, when you came away?
Son. I cried for shame, to think I should do any thing that need such a reproof, and that it should be counted scandalous or dangerous to any children to be permitted to play with me.
Fath. And did it not make you angry with the lady that had reproved you, and hate her ?
Son. No, sir, it made me lore her; and ever after that, to this day, I have several times gone to her, and made her long visits.
Fath. And does she continue to talk to you so, child, still ?
Son. Yes, sir, to this hour, and calls me her son; and but that I would not dishonour my mother, I should call her mother too, for she has been better than a mother to me.
Fath. How did she go on with you?
Son. When she had gained my promise against swearing, she brought in all the wicked words I had learned among our servants, and made me promise to leave them all off; sometimes she would persuade me, other whiles give me money, and other good things. After that, she asked if I used to pray to God? I told her, I said my prayers. But, my dear, says she, do you know what prayer means? I told her
gave her so weak an account